Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A 3-MONTH HIATUS + SPRING JEWELRY TRENDS


Welcome back! Not that you're stalking my page waiting, but ugh, I haven't written a single post in literally over 3 months. In fact, I don't think I've even logged into Blogger in weeks.

I know that blogging is all about "consistency" and "drawing a bigger audience" and "scheduling posts" which is great and all but, I like to actually live life too.

The weather in good ole' Charlotte, NC has been so wacky, first it's 78 degrees and quite literally the next day there's an inch of snow on the ground, then it's a 2-day monsoon and 50 degrees. Despite the unpredictability, this time of year is still my favorite time to be outside. Now granted I might have sunburn under my scarf, rain coat and boots, but it is what it is.

Let me quickly update you on my "where I've been" before we dive into the one productive thing I've done for this blog in a whopping 90-ish days.




1  | We bought new cruiser bikes and went on a Charlotte adventure.

2  | We celebrated both mine and Kevin's birthday's, with a helicopter ride around Charlotte and a new grill.

3  | We ran a 5k in the snow and ended up covered in green chalk.

4  | We celebrated National Puppy Day with our 125lb "puppy".

5  | We hit the driving range with friends we hadn't seen in a while.

6  | I traveled to Las Vegas, NV and met Hall Of Fame Quarterback Randall Cunningham.

7  | We tried 5 new restaurants and an ice cream parlor in the Charlotte area.

8  | I participated in blindfolded yoga to support the Metrolina Association of The Blind.


These 8 things barely even touch on all the adventures we've had lately, but I'm sure you get the point that I wasn't behind the computer screen much!




Which brings me to my next topic, Spring Jewelry Trends.




Every now and then I go through a jewelry making phase in which I spend way too much money on 3rd party supplier materials and attempt to turn it into something fashionable and functional. More often than not, I hate the way it turns out and literally "undo" it all so I can reuse the materials.

The best use of my time? Probably not.
My "Like" to "Don't Like" ratio? Probably 1 to 4.

Regardless, it's an activity I find super therapeutic and at the same time it's incredibly flattering to say "I made it!" when someone asks where I got it.

So today I wanted to share with you 4 of my favorite hand-made pieces as well as outfit styling go-to's!


Style 1: Pink, Black & White



 Style 2: Teal, Silver & Blue

Style 3: Brown, White & Gold

Style 4: Cream, Gold & Orange




I'm planning on crafting a couple more jewelry pieces to style this spring and can't wait to share with you all! In the meantime, keep your eyes out for a few new posts as I get back into this whole "blogging while still living" thing. 


Friday, February 10, 2017

VALENTINES WATERCOLOR PRINTS


I can't explain to you guys how excited I am that it's Friday. Kevin has been working all week from 12pm - 9pm and it's throwing off my groove by, like, 110%. Although he works this Saturday too I'm honestly just excited because it means the week is over and we only have to do this one more time. Hallelujah.

We're completely spoiled in the sense that we get to come home within an hour of each other every night. We get to sit down, talk, and have a home cooked meal, just the two of us! Once every couple weeks he'll swing by Harris Teeter to pick up what he now refers to as the "Kevin Special" (hold on, I'll explain it in a minute) and it puts this big ole' cheesy grin on my face.



I've started joking with him by saying "Happy Valentines Day!" on random days of the week, but in all seriousness he really makes me feel that way. So, sorry not sorry if you think I'm overly mushy because 1) 'tis the season and 2) the "Kevin Special" is a huge bouquet of flowers AND wine(s).

How do you say no to that? 

Since I'm feeling extra soft, and the international day of love is right around the corner, I wanted to share some of my DIY Valentines Watercolor Prints with you. You can either use them for inspiration or simply clip and print to give to your own Valentine! (Use the snipping tool, print screen or click the link below each picture to view in Google Docs)

Consider it this year's gift from me to you <3


For my materials I used;

Crayola Marker and Watercolor Pad Paper
Crayola Markers (I used 2 shades of pink, red and black)
Crayola Colored Pencils (I used yellow, orange and red-orange)
Medium Sized Foam Brush
Small Foam Tip Brush
Crayola Washable Watercolors Paint Pallet
Black Pen

And when you're done looking at how neat and clean those turned out, here's what my desk looked like afterwards.

Sometimes life isn't always as pretty as the pictures we post! ... And I almost drank the water in the clear (now pink) cup like 3 times.




I hope that everyone has a wonderful Valentines day, but more importantly that your every day is filled with love... because you deserve it! 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

LOFT MAKEOVER PLANS: THE REVEAL


Well, friends, somehow I managed to complete the impossible. In just under 3 weeks I successfully converted our wacky loft space into a functional, organized office. I cannot wait to share the reveal with you! Albeit a few obstacles, I couldn't be happier with the results.

Before, we were using the loft space as a workout area (think yoga mats, weights and medicine balls on the floor) and the dog used it as his spare bedroom when we weren't home. We had an old coffee table in the center (I mean what else am I supposed to do triceps dips on?) and a TV cabinet Kevin's sister-in-law gave us that was against the back wall. These were both moved into one of the spare bedrooms, opening up the space and allowing my planning imagination to run wild.

Now, the space is being used to neatly store and organize craft supplies, bills, receipts, books, important paperwork and other miscellaneous office items. It's quickly become one of my favorite spots to spend time in and I find myself just staring at it every time I go up or down the stairs. Because that's not weird, right?


You can catch up on the other weeks here: Plans | Week 1.5 | Week 2.5 


Let's take a walk down memory lane to see what the space looked like before (these pictures are actually from the previous owners). It's was an odd-shaped loft area at the top of our staircase that was literally being used for anything and everything.





LOFT MAKEOVER REVEAL


Now, it looks like THIS!

Please note I will be writing a separate post with product links, if possible, or similar products.


My Dad is incredibly talented. Kevin and I showed up with (incorrect) measurements and a rough sketch and then, two Lowes trips and 4 hours later, my Dad brought this desk to life. We originally planned to use just the two bookcases as the ends (see my Week 2.5 update for what it looked like before) but ended up adding a cabinet we already had on hand for further support and function. How the extra cabinet was the exact measurements I needed, I'll never know, but I do love that we have now have the closed space for storage too.


I went to town throwing out almost two grocery bags of dead pens, broken pencils, erasers that smeared instead of erasing, dried out markers and stickers from 3rd grade that said "Property of Alyssa", I kid you not. I ended up with neatly organized (and labeled) supply boxes that fit perfectly into the bookshelves, making my supplies accessible and aesthetically pleasing.


I had to get budget-creative for my command center. I was running low on funds (and running out of time) so I scooped a weekly chalkboard planner from Target ($3!) along with a chalk pen. I re-purposed an old gold frame as a dry erase board. Then, I spray painted an old cooling rack and some mini clothespins for a DIY memo board. The 3-bin desk organizer (holding the paper clips and clothespins) is just a re-purposed condiment holder that I got for Christmas this past year! I also spray painted the pencil cup (it was silver) and added the gold stapler to complete the look.


My favorite part of this area has to be the gold magazine holders. Would you believe me if I said these are old cereal boxes? I can't wait to share the tutorial!


The desk chair was purchased from Walmart and I simply spray painted the silver legs with Rustoleum spray paint in Metallic Gold to match the black and gold theme.


The cube organizer is exactly what I had envisioned. In the cubbies you'll find some of our favorite books, a few gold trinkets, a blanket and my favorite wooden bins ever (thanks, Michaels!). These can serve multiple purposes, but I really just love how the look of them ties everything in the room together.


I added the Brooklyn Bridge canvas, a gold desk lamp, a small TV and a DIY $1 gold tray, which I'll share my tutorial on soon! On the side wall you'll find three abstract prints (also DIY!) inside unique Dollar Tree frames to complete the art.



I don't think I could love this room anymore than I already do. Aside from potentially adding a ceiling light fixture, I called it quits with 3 days to spare. I went slightly over my estimated project cost but we'll break that down in another post. For now, just enjoy staring at these pictures like I stare at it in person and stay tuned for breakdowns and tutorials of my DIY pieces coming soon! 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

LOFT MAKEOVER PLANS UPDATE: WEEK 2.5


Another week down and LOTS of progress made on the loft space in our house! This week I'm providing another progress update and sharing what's left to complete. I challenged myself to get everything done by the end of the month, which means I officially have ONE week left to finish. Oh boy!

If you're just catching up, find out the original plans here and my week 1.5 progress here... why I'm doing this in .5 increments I have no clue, but hey, at least it's getting done.



PROGRESS 


The desk has been built. I repeat, the desk has been built! This was by far the most nerve wracking part of the entire project. I kind of have a champagne taste on a beer budget - in this sense meaning I want things to look expensive but I don't want to pay full price for it - and I was really wondering if my desk plans could become reality, all while sticking to budget. I got 1 of 2 things; my budget is blown but the desk looks pretty freaking awesome. Props to my dad here for his skills & tools!

Total Desk Materials: $80 

Even though the 8-cube organizer was already assembled, I didn't like the way it looked in the room and thought it needed to sit higher. While we were creating the desk, we had just enough extra wood to create 6, 5" risers. These came pre-painted so we'll just need to attach.

Cube Organizer Risers: $0

The cover for the gateway (our ugly black modem/router combo from AT&T) has been made. I created a fake 'book cover' just to sit around it so it's less tacky looking and fits in with the black and gold decor. I'll share a tutorial soon!

Gateway Cover: $0

From an organization standpoint, I turned the wall next to the desk into a functional space by attaching a large chalkboard calendar and an old cookie sheet spray painted gold. I also added a few gold frames I got from the dollar store a while back with 3 inspirational quotes. All are attached to the wall using simple command strips since I'm literally the worst at leveling and if I mess up I can re-do it instead of patching nail holes.

I created file folder organizers using old cereal boxes, gold spray paint and scrapbook paper I had lying around. Can't wait to share the tutorial!

Chalkboard Calendar: $3 / Everything Else Organizational: $0





LEFT TO DO


Final touches to edging around the desk with wood glue need to happen before we can actually use it. I also think we might need to add additional support to hold the weight (TBD).

I need to attach the risers to the cube organizer.

Next, I still need a desk chair (which I think is the final piece that will cost money! WOO!)

Then hanging the canvas and final decor touches are last on the list!



-----------------------------------

8-cube organizer: $52
Gold Desk Lamp: $20
Wooden Boxes & Misc. Organization: $28
Decor Items: $15
Canvas: $25
Desk Materials: $80
Organization Wall: $3

TOTAL REMAINING IN BUDGET: 
- $23 

Lowe's Gift Card: $20
So, actual spent over budget (so far): $3

-----------------------------------



It's down to crunch time but I'm pretty impressed with how this room is coming along. Just one week left before I share the final reveal, so stay tuned!


Thursday, January 19, 2017

LOFT MAKEOVER PLANS UPDATE: WEEK 1.5


Wow, this week and a half has completely flown by! I feel like I'm already falling behind and running into obstacles. This week had been more of the planning, pricing and measuring aspects so hopefully next week things will really start to come together visually. 

I shared my loft makeover plans and mood board with you last week but, in case you missed it, I chose this as my first big project of 2017 for a couple reasons;

  • I had no idea what to do with the awkward space. It was being used as a yoga studio/workout room/place where the dog lies when we're not home. 
  • Every chance I had to work from home, I found myself sitting at our kitchen counter on a bar stool... which also means I was staring at the fridge.
  • I swore in my 2017 resolutions I'd get organized.

I really wanted to make this area of our home something functional, attractive and clean so I'm hoping these mood boards will give you a sense of my direction!


 

PROGRESS


So far I've ordered and received the 8-cube organizer from Amazon and I love the look of it! It was a relatively decent price but why are these things so dang expensive?! It didn't take too long to put together (maybe 20 minutes) but I am going to build some risers/add legs to lift it off the floor a bit. It's too short for the look I'm going for and that, unfortunately, will add to the total cost.

8-cube Organizer from Amazon: $52

I scooped the desk lamp (that you see in my plans above) from Amazon too. It's a gold finish with 6 dimming settings, 3 color temperature options, a USB port and it's completely foldable. This was a huge steal as the original price was $80.  

Gold Desk Lamp from Amazon: $20

I've purchased 3 assorted-sized wooden boxes from Michaels that are dark brown with rope handles and chalkboard labels. I can't find these listed online, but I linked similar ones here that can be stained and/or painted. The boxes were 50% off in-store, plus I had 20% off entire purchase (including sale items) and a coupon for 40% off one regular price item. The boxes, along with some chalkboard labels for the desk and white planter base, came home with me.

Wooden Boxes & Misc. Organization from Michaels: $28

I bought some miscellaneous decor from Burlington Coat Factory (my hidden gem, I find SO many things here!); a gold dipped candle holder, an adorable golden owl figurine, the softest golden speckled blanket and a handlettered pillow to go on the desk chair. 

Misc. Decor Items from Burlington: $15

I also purchased this huge (and freaking awesome) black and tan Brooklyn Bridge canvas print that I think is going to look amazing mounted above the cube organizer. Unfortunately, I can't find a similar product to link, but it totally makes sense because I don't think it's real life that I got it for so cheap anyway, #winning.

Bridge Canvas from Burlington: $25




TOTAL REMAINING IN BUDGET: 
$200 - $140 = $60.00 = ALYSSA WAS WAYYY OVERCONFIDENT 




LEFT TO DO 


I still need to complete the entire desk portion of the room. One of my main obstacles so far has been trying to recreate the desk I used in my mood board. My original idea was to use two file cabinets as the end pieces, but to be completely honest, I had no idea how expensive they were. The cheapest I could find was $42 per cabinet at Walmart (which makes things tough seeing as how I have $60 TOTAL left to spend). I'm still working on the best option here and might call in my handy-dandy Dad for reinforcements (aka his woodworking skills & wood).

Next, I need something to sit on at said desk. Enough said.

I need to make the Gateway cover (to hide the ugly black, blinking Wi-Fi box!) and I'll be sharing this tutorial in the near future as well.

Desk organization items are still on the list too. I can DIY most of these (think old cardboard boxes + spray paint) and I have a really cool idea for a wall organizer using an old cookie sheet which I'll share later.

Styling, hanging the canvas and finalizing details will be last. 


Stay tuned for more updates as I head into the new week! This has already been a challenge staying within my budget but it's creative crunch time. Let's go! 




Monday, January 09, 2017

OUR HOME: LOFT MAKEOVER PLANS


I need to confess something; I'm cheating on my blog. Okay, maybe not cheating but definitely not staying true. It's Day 8 and the COCKTAILS part of Cocktails & Creatives is just hangin' around gathering dust while I sip on tea, fruit infused water, coffee and anything else I can ingest to avoid pouring myself a glass, or 6, of wine.

Let me explain...

A few weeks back I shared a post for a DIY Christmas Card Display and after briefly recapping my weekend in the intro, I swore I'd detox. Well then NYE happened and my best friend got engaged and we were "lit" (as the kids say). Now, it's 8 days post New Years Day, I haven't had a drink in 2017 (I really, really wanted to after my so-called "fixed" vacuum broke) and I'm second guessing my entire blog concept. Should I rename it Chamomile & Creatives?

Disclaimer: I'm not really feigning for a drink. I'm merely sitting this round out because I recently read that most local Charlotte IPAs have 400+ calories per drink and I started my first project of 2017 last week; it's called "Find Alyssa's Abs".



Speaking of projects, one of my 10 Resolutions for 2017 was getting organized. I'm kicking this goal off by challenging myself and converting our weirdly-shaped-but-kinda-practical loft area into a functional office space in just one month. Although these "Before" pictures were actually before before (they were the previous owner's pictures), it still gives a great idea of the space and the natural lighting available.

This open room is just to the left of the staircase and really isn't ideal for quiet time, but since we don't have kids (yet) it's really not something we need to worry about. Plus, since it's right in the open, it will give me incentive to keep it clean and organized. 

I plan on using it as a multi-functioning craft and office space with some cozy seating, plenty of sunlight and a large 8-cube furniture piece for storage. We'll have a desk on the other side of the room with 2 file cabinets as the end pieces. I'll be using one of the walls next to the desk to incorporate a memo area, complete with a large calendar, chalk board and push pin options. Although the space is already carpeted, I might add an additional rug for contrast and warmth, depending on what's left in my budget. 

This is just a rough mood board outlining my plans, but I'll be sure to check back in with progress and pictures as the room evolves!





Bedford 5-drawer Corner Desk (I plan on DIY'ing this, not purchasing) │ Embroidery Cushion Pillow │  
Minimalist ArtSnille Swivel Chair (plan to spray paint base gold) 




I can't wait to get started on this project! I'm fully confident I can stay under my $200 budget and turn the space into something livable, functional and clean. Now if it stays that way 24/7? I make no promises. Stay tuned!



UPDATES:

Thursday, January 05, 2017

10 RESOLUTIONS FOR 2017


It's 5 days into January but better late than never on resolutions, right? Good thing one of mine isn't punctuality.

To be completely honest, it was pretty challenging coming up with a list of 10 resolutions. The first 5 were a breeze but I really wanted to put some thought into the remaining 5. For me, resolutions are more than just a list of things I'll forget about in a week and more than just writing them down to say I wrote them down. In 2016, not only did I reach all my goals but I began incorporating them into my everyday life and I think that those positive habits can extend (and multiply) into 2017.




For my 2016 Year in Review, click here.



Face My Fears | Except spiders. Because I just can't, I'll die. I want to head-first tackle things like fear of failure (ie: trying a recipe with unfamiliar ingredients/methods or taking on a new task at work) and fear of the unknown (I don't always need to be in control of the next step).

Improve My Blogging Presence | I'm really looking forward to taking my blog to the next level in 2017. That may mean from a financial standpoint, improving content, or even teaming with sponsors. I also want to work on driving traffic from social media platforms. My boyfriend, Kevin (have I told you guys how awesome he is??), got me a Cannon DSLR for Christmas and I can't wait to step up my photography too! 

Play More | I'm sure as hell not getting any younger so why not enjoy it while I can. Is it creepy if I go to a playground without having any children? Do they rent kids to take to Pixar movies? No? Okay, just wondering. #StillGoing

Increase My Confidence | I mean this in both a personal and professional manner. Often times I find myself second guessing if I'm "good enough", if I "look okay". I want to work towards the mentality that I AM capable, I AM strong and I AM good enough.

Get Organized | Those of you that know me are probably rolling your eyes because you already know that all my craft supplies are in Rubbermaid containers with labels on them. And you also know that my linen closet is also labeled with handwritten tags and that all my towels are folded the same way... and color coded. Although that may appear (overly) organized, it's really just an organized mess. Said craft supply containers are in a room that looks like a bomb went off. My bin of miscellaneous tools, screws and command strips is in a closet next to a suitcase full of junk. This year I want to find a proper place for things! This may even mean working on a new office/craft room, we'll see.

Volunteer | A huge goal for me this year is going to be volunteering my time. Last year I was able to donate a small amount of money as my way of giving back, but often times we realize that time is truly more valuable than money. I'll be looking into local Charlotte organizations to see how I can become involved in the community.

Increase My Skills | Not to brag, but I like to think I'm pretty handy when it comes to household stuff. Just yesterday the vacuum stopped working so I had to take it apart and when I did, I realized the belt was broken. I also just want you know that I successfully put it back together, which in reality is the hardest part. However, I still have so many things I could learn when it comes hands-on skills. Maybe furniture building? Maybe how to change a tire?

Spread Positivity  |  I can't stress enough the importance of this one to me. There is an overwhelming amout of negativity that surrounds us on a daily basis - everything from the media to people's attitudes - and in 2017 I will 110% strive to be on the positive side of things. Everyone has something to complain about, but why not go against the grain? Someone a few years ago once said to me, "Are you ever not smiling?" (I immediately thought about the movie 'Elf', "I love smiling, smiling's my favorite!") but in reality it was the one of the greatest compliments knowing that my positive attitude was that contagious. I want to bring that back.

Settle In | Since moving into our home in August we have made an ever-growing list of projects we want to complete; an entryway table, built-in shelves in the library, a table for our vinyls, towel rods in the bathrooms... it goes on and on. In 2017, I want to really settle in and stop worrying about what "work" we have to do next. I want to be able to sit on the couch, watch a movie with my boyfriend, eat some popcorn and not worry about what needs to be done. Except laundry - that's infinite.

Make Moves | AKA stop freaking procrastinating. I've needed to replace the vacuum filters for like 3 months... probably why the belt broke. I've been meaning to go to the eye doctor and try out contacts, yet I've been wearing the same frames for 5 years and still squint when I drive. I know things need to be done yet I put them off and end up stressing over small stuff. In 2017, I'll work to get things done when they need to get done. I think it'll help in the long run.




Where do you see yourself in 2017? Are you someone that sets weekly, monthly, yearly goals? Do you set goals at all? Bring it on, 2017.







Wednesday, January 04, 2017

YEAR IN REVIEW │ 2016


I started last year with a blog post highlighting 10 resolutions I wanted to reach in 2016.  To be honest, I never thought that all of them were truly obtainable, more like they were kind of just a "guide" for forming better habits. But now, as I start 2017, I couldn't be happier to share that I successfully accomplished each and every little thing I had mentioned.

Although this is super wordy and isn't exactly filled with helpful information, bear with me because I think that reflection is one of the best ways to grow in both a business and personal aspect. Have you set goals for this year?



If you want to see my 2016 detailed resolutions click here.
For a 1-month resolution update, go here

To find out how I ended the year in regard to my goals, keep reading!  


Learn Something New 


I learned how to;
Make a basket from scratch using materials directly from China (literally, our teacher ordered them from her sister).
Roll my own sushi. 
Handletter.
Code in HTML so I could improve the appearance of my blog.


Read More


I finished reading;
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
A Million Little Pieces - James Frey
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? - Mindy Kaling 
All The Pretty Horses - Cormac McCarthy

Adventure


I visited (this is just outside of Charlotte!);
South Mountain State Park, NC (x2)
Charlottesville, VA (x3)
Asheville, NC
Grandfather Mountain, NC
Brevard, NC
Boone, NC (x3)
DuPont State Forest, NC 
Gorges State Park, NC 
Pittsburgh, PA
Raleigh, NC
Atlanta, GA
Chimney Rock, NC
Galax, VA
Ocean City, MD
Edisto Island, SC
Orlando, FL
Savannah, GA
Hilton Head, SC

Keep In Touch


I spent way more time with my family, and not just on a Holiday.
Kevin & I sent out Christmas card photos to all our friends and family.
I mailed handwritten Thank-you's and Birthday Cards.


Be Present


Aside from taking a million pictures, I stopped looking at my phone every 10 minutes and stopped checking in on Facebook everywhere I went. We intentionally went places without cell phone service and left them in the car on adventures.


Take Risks


I let Kevin plan an entire trip without me knowing a single detail. We do still joke around though because somehow I was still more prepared than he was. I guess some things will never change!

I moved out of my townhouse of 3 years and moved in with Kevin after knowing him for less than a year. I don't think I could be any happier with our decision and every day we grow closer.

Purge


I got rid a toxic relationship.
I seriously deep cleaned during my move from the townhouse.
I got rid of junk, old clothes, worn out shoes and stuff I didn't need.
I let go of a lot of negativity and negative people.


Give Back


I started a (small) monthly donation to St. Jude Children's Hospital in hopes that my little bit means a lot. 


Save 


I was able to pay off half of my credit card from college/post graduation. 
I'm 75% through one student loan and working towards the other. 


Don't Forget About Me


I took baths.
I went on solo trips.
I got manis & pedis.
I found time to workout (and even tried Pure Barre for a few months!)


Ask For Help


I'm just gonna leave this here and say that I probably drive Kevin up the wall asking for help. Last year I was Miss I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T (do you know what that mean?) and this year I'm all like "Kev, can you change the smoke detector batteries?" "Babe, can you take this upstairs?" "Hey when you get a chance can you ....". Thanks, handsome!

Tons of friends and family have helped watch the pup, Boone, when we're out of town. Especially on short weekend trips it puts us at ease and saves us money from having to board him!




I still can't believe that I reached every single one of my goals. And while 2016 was one heck of a wild, accomplishment filled ride, I know that this year is going to be even better (if that's even possible). I'm looking forward to sharing my resolutions for 2017 with you in my next post! Happy New Year!