Thursday, April 30, 2009

summer time = swimsuits = terror

This time last year by body looked like the ones in the swimsuit catalogs that you get in the mail (minus the boobs). Not this year! I live about 2 miles from the beach and it's already hot here. This means I am about to have to enter brand new territory......buying a swimsuit to fit a far-from-perfect body. I realize this is a normal situation to be in but I am terrified.

I refuse to let that keep me off of the beach and out of the pool. Really. I could let it do that to me. It is tempting. But that is not the way I want to live my life. So today I did some research on how I can make this situation better and came up with some really great solutions.....

Merona Dotty Tankini: Target $15.99 for each piece

Malibu Dream Girl Hibiscus Swim Seperates: From Kohl's $30 each piece
(obviously I would choose the one on the left)

Solid Twist-Front Swing Top: From J.Crew $55 for top only

Women's Bessie Swimwear Separate: From Kmart $18.99 each piece

Aren't these swimsuits fun? My biggest problem area is my belly, and shopping in the maternity department seems to be off limits when you are not pregnant, but I think I was able to find some really great suits that might work with the most unflattering parts of me.

I know most of you are probably not quite in swimsuit season yet but full blown summer is almost here and sometimes it takes me a while to emotionally prepare for things such as this. I also wanted to post this for a couple of reasons. #1 when I post something to my blog it becomes more real to me for some reason. #2 I don't know many people who feel beautiful wearing a bathingsuit and maybe somehow, knowing that someone else feels the same way, this post could encourage you to be a little more gentle with yourself this year.

Be bold. Be you.

EDIT: ok, ok, ok! My closest friends keep sending me messages letting me know that it is NOT ok for me to wear a swimsuit with a skirt! I personally think skirts are adorable and will wear one if I want to....but I get the point already...bathingsuit skirts are not cool to the general public!!! And we all know I am all about being cool, right?

Monday, April 27, 2009

fun with wood

Out of nowhere, a couple of weeks ago, I imagined a necklace that I wanted to own. I stopped what I was doing and immediately sketched what I saw in my head.

A couple of days later I made the trek to Hobby Lobby to see what I could find to make this project a reality. Look what I discovered!!

Have you ever seen these before? I haven't and I'm not sure why! It was a very exciting moment.

I had the rest of the materials I needed on had.
  • wood stain
  • acrylic paints
  • leather cord
  • those circle things to connect the pendants to each other and the cord
  • clasps
  • a hand drill (not the electric kind but the kind that works like you are rolling up a window)
Below are a few designs that I came up with. I really, really love them. Really, really love them.

Of course I had to try them all on at once. Good lord you can see every pore on my neck...look at those wrinkles...oh well, at least I finally have a little cleavage (it's about time). Lovely.

Is that a weird picture? I just wanted to show what it looked like when it was on but it's hard to take a picture of yourself from that angle. I promise I am not trying to show off my exciting new-at-thirty-one-years-old-cleavage.

Anyway, what do you think?

hold on to authenticity

I have not liked the past couple of days. I have felt a lot of really sad emotions. I have not been gentle with myself.

After I got back from my absolutely amazing vacation this week I just couldn't pull myself together. I was feeling all sorts of yuckiness that reminded me all too much of my past. Immediatly I became fearful of everything. I was afraid of my craft room..... of my computer......of my blog.....of going back to work on Monday.....of the things I thought my friends in NC were thinking after spending time with me for the first time in a couple of years.....of repeating the mistakes of the past...of the bulge in my belly that will NOT go away no matter how much i exercise or change my diet (nope, no baby there).

I allowed the yuckiness to linger for a couple of days, teling myself that there is a time for everything. I tried to be gentle with myself but it was a struggle. I kept getting angry and impatient. Thoughts like "you should be creating something," and "your life is perfect, you have no right to feel this way," and "here you go again, you will never get it right" kept creeping into my head over and over and over again. Reruns of Law and Order were not helping. I'm not sure why I thought that would work because I never watch TV, I don't really enjoy it. But, I guess I just had to "be" in it. I had to go with it.

I am a firm believer in living an authentic life. I just don't think it is worth living any other way. But I have a confession.....I have been avoiding my blog for a couple of days because I knew I couldn't fake a happy post and I was in a wierd spot of being too scared to talk freely about my real feelings. My rationalization was that I didn't want to bring anyone who happened to encounter my blog down too. Then I realized....Ashley, who do you think you are? Do you really think you have that much power? Then I started being mean to myself again. It is an ugly cycle.

So finally today I knew I had to take some sort of action to release these very real feelings of inadequacy, sadness, insecurity and fear. I knew that Kelly Rae would be able to help. She always helps. I spent a good 10 minutes on her blog and I was able to gain perspective. I think she is one of my heroes.

Here are just a few tidbits that I picked up from my 10 minutes spent in her world:

Good stuff, right? I am grateful for Kelly Rae.

Later this evening.......posting some really fun necklaces that I managed to make during the "slump." Very easy, quick and cheap. Actually, i hate it when people say that about their projects....not only does it sound cliche' but "easy, quick and cheap" are absolutely and completely relative and can make people feel like crap. I will never say that again. I promise.

Also, I went to a VERY heavy metal concert last week and learned more than I ever imagined I could at such a thing. Now this is not something I do on a regular basis...actually it's not something I do EVER. I'll be sharing about that soon.

I am feeling a mixture of things right now. I feel freedom and peace and light. But I still feel a bit insecure and afraid. Such are the ingredients of authentic living. I honestly wouldn't have it any other way.

One more thing.....I keep seeing this really great poster that I need hanging in my home, office, car and gym....I leave you with it's message.....keep calm and carry on. Its true. Very true.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Vacation, Shout & Birthday

I am going on vacation! We leave tomorrow for the week to visit dear friends in North Carolina. This means no posts for a bit. I wanted you to know in case you began to wonder if I just don't love you anymore. Not true!

So I will leave you with a couple of things that completely revolutionized my life.

#1 Shout Color Catcher: Are you aware of this almost too-good-to-be-true product? Now, I am extremely domesticatedly (is that a word?) challenged. And I certainly don't do things such as separating whites from darks. This creates quite a dilemma when i buy new fabric and need to wash it before I sew with it (I am really into red right now). Because lord knows I am not going to run 3 or 4 wash cycles in a day (i am lucky to do that many a month). Shout to the rescue! I promise these things are amazing! You can throw one in the wash with all your whites and darks AND new red fabric TOGETHER and you don't end up with pink towels! Go buy some right now so they won't stop making them. Please.....for my sanity.

#2 Spencer: Happy Birthday to my greatest love.

The boy, not the cat.

See you in a week!

Friday, April 17, 2009

apron love

I needed to own an apron. All the cool people have them. They are uber stylish and can make you look super thin. That's the point of an apron, right?

Well I did it. I sewed my very first apron. I got the instructions off of the craft gossip site but I am weary in directing you to the exact instructions because there were errors in them and quite simply horrid and impossible to follow. Really I kind of made it up as I went along. And I KNOW....I went a little ruffle crazy.

Now, more than likely, I will never have this super cool, stylish and slimming apron on my body again. I don't cook.....ever. Spencer, on the other hand, is a Chef at a fancy restaurant (you know, the kind of place where you have no idea what the things are on the menu...the kind of place where I don't eat anything except bread because I prefer my food fried and served in a basket). But still, something tells me it's just going to end up in the closet. Ooooh...I could hang it in the kitchen and pretend like I am a cool kid that wears an apron...then it would become an interior design AND fashion statement. Good idea. I am going with that.

During the apron photoshoot the camera somehow got turned on Spencer as he performed his Tong Tricks. His tongs hold a very special place in his heart. I am so proud.

So my next sewing ambition.....a skirt! No ruffles involved.

Anyone know of a good skirt tutorial?? Preferably one where I don't have to make up my own instructions.

p.s. I don't really prefer my food fried and served in a basket but I do live at the beach in's nearly impossible to find anything that is not fried and served in a basket.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

DIY business cards

I am a huge advocate for branding....personal and business. I honestly believe in it. Most of the time, the company (or the employee) who has devoted energy and time to brand themselves end up on top. I would be willing to bet that it is the reason I have gotten the majority of the jobs I have had in my life. I am sure there have been plenty of times where I was under-qualified for a position but was hired simply because I understood the importance of branding myself.

I did some searching around on Flickr and came up with several DIY/handmade alternatives to the traditional printed business card. If you are in need of some cards but don't have the budget to hire a designer and/or to have them printed, you have come to the right place.

The examples below can all be made from supplies found at a craft store or by ordering a custom stamp (just look in your local phone book for "stamp supplies" - the turn around time is usually only a few days and the cost is surprisingly low).

There are plenty of alphabet stamp sets in the scrapbooking section at places like Micheals, Hobby Lobby and even Walmart. The stitching above was done with a sewing machine but how cool would it be to add some simple hand-embroidery? Image found here.

The cards above were cut out of old menus using decorative scissors and typed with an old typewriter. Find the designer, Contrary, here.

The black cards above are so simple yet so powerful. Cut up some card stock and stamp away. Found this in a great portfolio set on Flickr.

Very cool. Very simple. Very handmade. Found here.

The cards above were actually intended to be table seating cards but they could easily be used as business cards. Found them here.

The cards above were hand stamped but you could also print your cards on your home printer and use a hole punch to add interest. Image above found here.

A few posts ago I wrote about my first attempt at carving my own stamp. It was very rewarding but it certainly requires patience. Found the image above here.

Go big. Very cool stamped cards above found here.

The cards above were screenprinted. I know we don't all have access to screenprinting materials but I thought they were too cool to leave out. There are plenty of resources online for creating your own screenprinting methods. Found the cards here.

The cards above are by far my favorite. They were made completely out of materials the designer had on hand. Image found here.

I really love this card. Found it here.

Many of the cards above were made out of materials you might already have in your craft room or office. I challenge you to look around at what you already have and see what you come up with. If this post inspired you to create your own business cards please share! I want to see!

Have fun!!!

EDIT: I just realized that I instructed you to look in your local phone book for stamping supplies. Why on earth would I do that??? I don't even own a phone book! Let me change my can check out for local stamping supplies or you can google "custom stamps" and you will find a ton of resources for ordering online. Sorry for the silly suggestion.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pretty Coasters

I have a new obsession....linen. I absolutely love almost anything made from linen and I honestly don't think anything made out of linen could look bad.

The back of these coasters are canvas and just machine stitched to the linen. I just cut up a washcloth for absorbent stuffing in the middle and the embroidery around the edges is really what holds everything together. I don't know if it is smart crafting but it sure is cute.

I have played Easter bunny for my parents since I was 11 years old and this year these coasters made it into my moms basket.

I think I could have made 100 of these...quick, easy and fun. Perfect.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Day Job

I always enjoy seeing the workspaces of fellow bloggers and designers, even if the spaces aren't cool. I work in a very run down, boring office building but the design room is kind of fun and quirky. Warning: Bad lighting = unforgiving photos....sorry! There are some things that Photoshop just can't fix (ok, thats not true...there are some things that I just cannot fix with Photoshop).

Also, we had an Easter egg hunt in the office yesterday. I found the most eggs (though I did NOT find the Golden Egg which, by the way, was hidden in the soda machine). These eggs were filled with the yummiest candy. Not the crap candy you would expect to find at a company Easter egg hunt (company Easter egg hunts are normal, right?)...but the really good kind.... NAME BRAND. Finding the most eggs = getting the most candy = spending the rest of the day in the bathroom. How old am I?

These photos are WAY over Photoshopped, and those swirly things are so last year....I know.

I am working on my art/music/computer room right now at home which is where the really fun stuff happens. Mass quantities of art/craft supplies, musical instruments and computer cords. I found a cool desk on Craigslist that I am going to pick up today. I think I might paint it bright pink.

Also, more projects coming soon. Think Linen.
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mexican Revelation

Do you know those moments when you realize you really LOVE something and can completely identify with it? It sounds cliche but it really is like a light bulb going off in your brain...suddenly you can see something you were completely blind to before. It happened to me today...with Mexico. Mexican style jumped right up and slapped me in the face. I am so happy it did.

Mexico and I are now kindred spirits. I found all of these beautiful items at aida coronado.