Category Archives: Design

DIY Monday: Happy Couch Pillows :)

Happy Monday Ya’ll! I am so happy January is over. That was a tough month for me. It’s always kind of shaky getting back on your feet after the holidays. Combine that with some harsh weather and you get a very sad, cooped up kind of life. But only for January! And now it’s February and spring is a whole month closer!

So this weekend I got Saturday off at the very last minute and I got TWO whole days off in a row. Woohoo! I took complete advantage of it by snuggling in for some terrible TV for pretty much the whole two days. I also decided it was time to break out the new sewing machine I got from my parents for Christmas.

It is unbelievably cool. They’ve invented so much neat stuff since the last time I sewed (about 10 years ago?) So I got the requisite pant and shirt sleeve hemming out of the way. And then I began on our new couch pillows!

photo 3

photo 5 photo 4

Some old (18″x18″) pillows from Goodwill, simple cotton fabric, and about two hours of machine time and I had these babies! I took a lot of inspiration from Pinterest but I needed to make some that wasn’t too girly (in consideration for the man I share a house with) but was also kinda funky and cute. I love them.

I used this awesome guide for fold over pillows.

TIME: 2 hours sewing time

COST: about $10 each

LEVEL: beginner – pillows are SO easy. The hardest part was sewing in circles for the eyes.

photo 2

What do you think?

Happy February! 🙂

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Friday Design: Make Your Own (Awesome) Belt!

Do you have a favorite belt? That piece of leather and buckle that is worn, soft, and molded perfectly to your body? Me too. I had it for 10 years. It was falling apart for 3 of those years. I bought it curved. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. The curved belt means that you never have the flap at the back of your pants that lets everyone see your crack! It was amazing. I got it at Gap and they nor anyone else ever carried it again. What to do, what to do? Finally I decided to make my own! Duh.

I quickly found out from the leathersmith that cutting it out curved would be $300+. No fricken way. So I visited a leather supplier in town (who even knew they had those??) and they suggested that I buy a raw leather belt, soak it in water, and curve it myself. Then I could dye it and add whatever buckle I wanted. Sweet! So I bought two lengths of leather (if I’m going to do it I might as well do two) and two sets of dye (brown and black). The guy there was super cool and he let me use all the tools in the shop to punch holes and cut them to the right length.

Then brought them home and started the very long and involved process of curving, dying, and finally installing the buckle.

photo 1< First I cut all the holes and shaved down the area that would fold around the buckle so it wouldn’t be fat and catch on my pants. Yes that bandaid is from that Exacto.

photo 2< Then I soaked the belt and let it dry around the upper part of a fitness ball. This gave it the curve. After it dried the side walls of the belt were also curved from the ball. I rewet it and laid it flat on the floor. I kept the curve but flattened the sidewalls by letting it dry with heavy books on top of it. You can rewet and remold as many time as you want!

photo 3^ Then began the dying process. I had to remove the buckle again for a blank canvas. Then I left the belts on our coffee table for several weeks and just applied a coat of dye once every few nights. I stopped when it wouldn’t soak up anymore. Once the color was done. I started on the matte top coat.

photo 4< The state of our coffee table for a month. Then I mounted the buckle. Took it back to the shop for a final trim of length and …

photo 1 copy Voila! This belt buckle was repurposed from a belt I got in Spain when I was 13. The leather was falling apart so I just cut it off and put it on my new one!

photo 2 copy ^ After only a few times wearing it, this one is showing some usage. I love it!

photo 3 copy< And no matter how hard you look, you can’t see my crack!

I loved this whole process. It was so cool to see it transform into something pretty. And it was SO easy! Now I’m thinking of bigger and better things. I do love my leather purses…

I hope you all have adventurous weekends 🙂

Friday Design: Christmas Cards and Snow!

I haven’t mentioned Christmas much in this here blog. That’s because everyone celebrates different holidays in different ways and I want to continue to deliver information for health no matter what the season. However, today I am just TOO excited! In fact, it’s 6 am. I’ve been awake for an hour. After 5 hours of sleep, I woke up and can’t force myself back to bed. Thank goodness for blogs! A few reasons I can’t sleep:

  1. The world didn’t end, so that’s cool.
  2. Mike and I leave for San Diego today.
  3. I get to see my family for the first time in 6 months!
  4. This will be Mike’s first time meeting my very rambunctious siblings and my wonderful Gran and Grandpa. Should be interesting.
  5. I haven’t packed yet and still have a full work day ahead of me.
  6. We had a blizzard in Peoria yesterday and the city is so beautifully coated with snow (see below). I am SO thankful, though, for the dedicated people that wake 5 hours before me to plow and shovel it all out of our way.

FirstSnow^ check out our back porch.

Ok so! This year I decided that I wanted to do some Christmas cards. Somehow I have managed to live my life in a such a way that a lot of my very closest friends and family are scattered all over the world. China, Britain, and every corner of the US. How do I tell them I love them without spending a fortune? Handmade Christmas cards!

ChristmasCard

These babies took me about an hour each. I made 13 of them. [I’m not sure these have reached everyone yet so if I love you and you haven’t gotten one yet, hold tight] Aside from the card, I also wanted to give them a gift. Something that everyone could use, something healthy, and something easy. Mulling spices! I made my own mulling spices, packaged them up, and put a satchel in every card.

I love these cards. I put a lot of heart and effort into making them. But JEEZ they took a long time. Also, they ended up being rather expensive to mail because they count as a “package” rather than a “letter.” Obviously my loved ones are worth it but they may be getting something a little less bulky next year.

Anyway, that’s my story for today. I’m completely exhausted but totally giddy. I get to see my family today!! I hope you all have wonderful weekends planned. Keep on smiling, they’re even more contagious this time of year 🙂

Friday Design: Me!

Alright so yesterday I said I changed a big thing in my life. Well here it is, I got a hair cut! Haha. To some people, men especially, it may not seem like a huge deal but, to me, it’s huge. I chopped off about 6 inches of hair and now have a cut comparable to that of Justin Beiber. And I love it!

Here’s a short story for you: When I was in kindergarten, my mom was having my three siblings and my stress levels were through the roof (anxiety from a young age!). I never wanted to leave her side and when I did, I would pull my hair out. Literally. I would twirl it around my finger and pull it out. Eventually my parents had to cut it very short and everyone in my class called me a boy. It was awful. Every Christmas and birthday all I would ask for was “long hair like a princess.” My hair grows VERY slowly and, needless to say, when it finally hit mermaid length (long enough to cover the ta-tas) I was very attached to it.

I have had a couple of chops since my senior year of high school but nothing like this. The first one was to shoulder length and truly a terrible haircut so it scared me away from hairdressers for several years. Now, as a working adult, I realized that my hair was thin and straggly and it was an effort for me to look at all professional and put-together.

^ This is the “before.” I was just a little nervous.

So 5 days ago I decided to cut it all off. Thankfully, my mom has a pixie-like cut and looks beautiful and sexy in it so I had high hopes I could pull it off too. My main fears were that a)I would look like a boy, b) I would no longer be sexy, c) it takes a spunky and fun kind of person to pull off a haircut like that and d) I would look like a boy.

^ That’s a lot of hair.

Well check it out for yourself. I think that, yes, people could mistake me for a boy, until their eyes travel down and they see the curves I have going on. And yes, some people may not find a cut like this sexy, but who cares because Mike loves it! And yes, I AM a spunky, fun person and I CAN pull it off. It’s pretty crazy how a new cut has absolutely changed my perception of myself. I keep getting startled by my reflection, then eyeing myself and thinking, “dang, that’s actually kinda cool.”

^ And here it is! According to Mike it looks much better in person than in the photos. But I love it! ps. I did not color it, all natural baby!

BIG shout out to my Dad today. One year ago he started his own big redesign when he signed up for the Challenged Athletes Foundation Million Dollar Challenge. Together, he and his awesome friend Steve have raised $20,000 to help physically challenged athletes get back on their game. But that’s not all. Starting tomorrow and over the next 7 days, they will be riding 620 miles from San Francisco to San Diego. 620 MILES! I have no doubt that training and raising money for this ride has changed my dad’s life. He has been touched by so many athletes that he’s met along the way, and I’m pretty sure he’s been amazed at what he can still make his body do. I can say that I am in awe of his drive and enthusiasm for the cause. He has, once again, proven himself to be an incredible role model and wonderfully giving man. Go dad! I love you.

I hope you’re all having wonderful days. And don’t every be afraid to take the plunge and do something crazy.

🙂

GO DAD!!

 

Friday Design: The Bike/Exercise Room

 

Alright, back by popular demand (kind of): Friday Design days! As you all know, Mike and I recently moved to Peoria, Illinois and we moved from a tiny space to a much larger one. Seriously though. We moved from half an attic and sharing a bathroom with another couple to a two bedroom apartment with a deck and a community pool. It’s awesome! Another awesome but expensive thing was that we had absolutely no furniture, aside from a bed, when we moved in.

I decided that I wanted to decorate this right by taking the time to paint the walls pretty colors and search for cheap, cool furniture. Until I found out that we weren’t allowed to paint the walls and no furniture is cheap. Haha. But alas, our apartment is pretty much done and we both love it. It’s comfy and cozy and has some really cool touches here and there.

One of our favorite rooms: The Bike/Exercise Room.

Our goals:

1. Keep our THREE race bikes, workout, outdoors gear plus everything else (like travel stuff) in this room.

2. Make sure it could double as a guest room.

3. Clear enough space so that I could do my daily workouts in there.

4. Make sure we could do all kinds of dirty stuff, like clean our bikes ;), in the room.

The Solutions:

1. Install our wall-mount bike racks and all the other nifty but ugly storage gadgets in this room only.

2. Find a cheap futon on Craigslist.

3. Keep everything off the floor and on the walls.

4. Cover the whole floor with puzzle-like foam mats. They’re cheap, comfy for workouts, and keep the carpet clean.

 

^This is before any kind of organization. It was a daunting task. Thinking back, I’m so glad it’s over.

 

^The same corner with our kits all hung up and a lot of our other gear in the closet (I really wish I could find my real camera for this). Everything on the walls are things that we loved but deemed not classy enough to be in our other living spaces.

 

^ Our beautiful bikes with our “bike care” center on the right and our new futon in the left corner. I was so stoked last week when we found the futon on Craigslist for $40! Also check out the floor mats. Bought those at a Menard (similar to Target) for $30 total. Everything else in the room we already had or “acquired” for free!

Anyway, I work out (and dance) in here every day and absolutely love it. I still can’t believe we have all this space 🙂

Ashley Life Update: Did the bad habit again last night and got a solid night’s sleep. Yesterday was a rough day for me, I was lacking motivation which is not allowed for my job. The sleep helped me wake up this morning feeling refreshed and ready to get people healthy. Pre-sleep experimentation will continue next week. Until then, I am going to look forward to sleeping in on Sunday.

I hope you’re all having great days and making progress in whatever area of your life that you’re struggling with.

xoxo 🙂

 

Sunday Seriously Fun Day!

Whew! What a weekend! Mike and I just finished unpacking from an action filled, awesomely adventurous weekend in Chicago. We did a little bit more of celebrating my birthday and a lot more of exploring Illinois. I can officially say that, as an architecture nerd (aka Archie), foodie, and culture lover, I LOVE Chicago. It’s like a perfect cross between Boston (my most favorite city) and NYC (my least favorite). So many gorgeous parks and mindblowing architecture. I just love it.

Because of the fact that I workout and eat right pretty much every day of the week, when I go on vacation, I’m on vacation. I learned this from my Momma and it works out pretty well. You get to enjoy the leisure of sleeping in and eating whatever strikes your fancy for a few days AND it’s a fantastic reminder of why I live the way I do. I now feel like a donkey’s rear end. An ass’s ass you might say. I am incredibly lethargic, having stomach cramps and bloating, and sore everywhere from a lack of stretching and muscle strengthening.

On that note, here is a photo montage of our weekend in the Windy City.

Question: For those of you following via email, can you see these photos in your message?

^ View of the skyline from the ferris wheel on Navy Pier.

^ Had to hit up Trader Joe’s to stock up on the cheap almond butter and other treats.

^ Mike and I at the Bean (aka Cloud Gate) in Millenium Park. Definitely my favorite area of the city.

^ We went to the Grand Lux Cafe for my birthday lunch. SO GOOD. Thanks Mom and Dad!

^Let’s start with a pineapple basil mojito and fresh calamari with zucchini and onion.

^ Kobe Meatballs with Cheesy Polenta.

^ Happy Belated Birthday to me!

^ Lava cake. When I broke it open the chocolate sauce poured out. I almost hyperventilated with glee.

^ Aw. He’s my best friend and my love. 🙂

^ Gorgeous drive home. Go sustainable energy!!

It was a fantastic weekend with my wonderful boyfriend. Thanks to my Mom and Dad for giving us a chance to live like we have money. I’m such a happy camper.

Maybe my smiles tonight will radiate all over the world and rub off on you guys 🙂

Friday Design: Remember the Love.

I have piles of Birthday, Christmas, and Graduation cards from loved ones. You know the cards that they’ve really put some effort into writing? The ones that you can’t bear to throw away. I thought of a solution!

This is in our hallway, across from the bathroom door. It’s great at taking up wall space without seeming too imposing. Our hallway is tiny and this fits just right.

^ This is the literal version of Pintrest! Pinned to it are lots of special cards, postcards to remind of places we’ve been, and happy photos of us. I smile every time I look at it.

^ Just some hemp cord, wooden clothes pins, and thumbtacks. All bought at Kmart!

I hope you’re all having a happy Friday. Even if you don’t have room for this, take a look through your old cards, its sure to put a smile on your face.