If you follow me on Instagram (@ashrowlands) then you probably saw that Jesse and I finally got around to carving our pumpkins for Halloween. We started carving them together last year, which was Jesse’s first time carving pumpkins ever, and are now making it a yearly tradition. So the other night we covered the table in trash bags and got to work! We are pretty nontraditional as far as our pumpkins go, no run of the mill Jack-O-Laterns for us! We like to do something fun, and usually nerdy. For Jesse’s pumpkin he chose to go the Star Wars route and do the Bounty Hunter insignia. Only the nerdiest of children will know what it is. I chose a more fun and girly route. Mary Poppins. And you better believe that I was singing every Mary Poppins song out there while carving. I may or may not have even turned on the soundtrack. We both started by tracing our templates on the pumpkin using a knife, if you push the knife in along the ink line it will even transfer the ink over and make carving easier (like in Jesse’s pumpkin above). Then remove the paper and get to carving! We both used pocket knives for most of the design, but since a lot of the details were so small on mine I found that a paring knife worked best. I did mess up a bit and accidentally broke off the piece between Mary’s carpet bag and the rest of her body, but oh well. It still turned out pretty good. Whether you know what Jesse’s is or not, it definitely looks awesome too. And when you put them together they look great, but don’t make any sense haha. One of our nerd friends made a joke about there being a bounty on Mary Poppins’ head. I guess her magic is a threat to the Empire. (Please ignore that last statement.) I seriously cannot wait for Halloween to show them off! I’m hoping we get lots of enthusiastic trick or treaters that think we’re awesome Do you have any Halloween traditions? Not only do we carve pumpkins and pass out candy, but I’m also obsessed with It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!
Whew! What a week it has been! I feel like it’s both flown by and dragged all at the same time. The fall is definitely a busy time for us, we were out of town last weekend, going to a party/camping this weekend, I’m going on a road trip with my BFFs from college for one of our friend’s weddings next weekend, and then the weekend after that Jesse and I are going to another wedding! Like I said, busy! But despite having all that I’m still trying to be productive around the house. I need to pick a lighter grey to finish painting the living room, get started on the half bath downstairs, finish up a few fall themed crafts for the house, and we still need to get some pumpkins carved before Halloween! After all the wedding craziness is over I also need to make a trip up to IKEA for some items to finish the living room (frames and curtains) and I think a trip to the fabric store is in my future too! I’m just so excited about how the house has been coming along lately that I don’t want to stop working on it, despite my crazy schedule! I’m actually hoping to get the House Tour page updated sometime next week and to do a post about all the things we still
want need to do.
It’s especially hard to lose inspiration/motivation when so many of you are doing AMAZING things right now! I have been so inspired this past week by some of you that I just can’t stop the creative juices from flowing! So here are five things that have really inspired me this week!
Or these adorable Anthropologie knock-off candle holders that Carmel of Our Fifth House shared the other day! I’m not really even into horses, but these are so adorable! I always seem to get a ton of inspiration from Chris Loves Julia too, like the quote wall I just finished in the living room. Right now they are adding a plank wall in their half-bath and I can’t wait to see it finished! It makes me want to start a total bathroom overhaul in our master bath! Jen from The Chronicles of Home is super talented and I love her blog. She really caught my eye with this faux chalkboard decoration for her door! Now I’m envisioning something similar for fall/Thanksgiving. And of course Kim at Newly Woodwards is the party queen! She is always sharing awesome decorations and snacks that she puts together for gatherings at her house. She recently had a pumpkin decorating party for her little one (cutest kid in blogland btw!) and his friends. Seriously so adorable! I need to step up my party decorating game. If you don’t already follow these blogs, do it! Hopefully they’ll give you some inspiration for the weekend! (If you don’t already have 512,645 things going on like I do haha)
Ok, in all honesty I haven’t really owned many camera bags in my lifetime, BUT I am in love with the one from JoTotes that I purchased just before our vacation to Europe! My bag is the Allison in Mint, but there are many different styles and colors to choose from. It is cute, comfortable and has a ton of storage space, and it was less than $100.
I feel like I really put this bag to the test on our vacation and I am so thrilled with it I just had to share with you guys. I used the bag as my carry-on for the plane and it held my camera body and one lens, plus my phone, passport, credit cards, money, camera charger, phone charger, spare batteries, headphones, and a ziplock baggie of lotion, hand sanitizer, and makeup. It was the perfect size for sliding under my seat and there was plenty of room for all of my stuff without cramming anything. (Technically the bag is for a camera body and two lenses, but I only wanted to take one lens and save room for other travel essentials.)
When we weren’t traveling I took a lot of the chargers and extra things out of the bag and carried the camera fully assembled. I love that the bag is deep enough to do that because it is SO much easier than having to reattach the lens every time you take your camera out.
The bag was also great for traveling in crowded places that are known for having a lot of pickpockets. I just kept the bag straps across my body and either in front of me or under my arm. There are two zipper compartments inside the bag so I kept my phone, ID and money in one of those and felt really secure.
But hands down the best part is how comfortable the bag was! I carried that thing around 75% of the trip for over 10 hrs. at a time and I never really felt burdened or uncomfortable. I even took it when we went hiking! Plus the cute design made me feel like less of a tourist when we were walking around and my camera was put away.
If you are in the market for a new camera bag, I’d definitely recommend one from JoTotes! They have a bunch of different styles and colors and the bag is such quality you can’t go wrong!
JoTotes didn’t pay more or give me anything for this post, I just really think they make quality products. All opinions are 100% my own.
I usually don’t post in the middle of Tuesday afternoons, but I’m so excited it can’t wait til tomorrow! My beautiful friend Tori of Marvelous Things Photography finished editing my head shots for the blog this weekend and I just HAVE to share a few of my favorites! The last one of Jesse is definitely my favorite. It captures his cooking face so well! But all of them a seriously gorgeous and I love that I have some great images to use for the blog and social media. Seriously, Tori is AMAZING! If you need a photographer, check her out!
I tweeted and Facebooked about my blogiversary last week, but for some reason I glazed over it here on the blog and that is not something to glaze over. I know 2 years may not seem like a lot to some bloggers that have been doing this way longer, but to me it’s a HUGE deal. Aside from my marriage, this is the longest I’ve ever committed to something! I never did sports, dance or extracurriculars growing up and I didn’t really have any hobbies, so when I started this blog I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with it. I’m so excited that I’ve stuck with it this long, and I definitely love it so much I don’t know if I could ever stop. Not only does it keep my creative juices flowing, but it’s really motivating when it comes to decorating my house. I’ve tried a lot of new colors and styles that I never would have imagined a few years ago.
This little blog has come a LONG way in two years from the photos:
to the projects:
to the quality of stuff I post. (No more I have nothing to say posts!)
So here’s to the blog *holds up glass* and discovering who you are and what makes you happy.
Happy Monday everyone! And thanks for reading!
I’ve never been the person that decorates for Halloween, aside from a few decorations outside to draw in the trick-or-treaters. But since I had so much fun making my decorations for the front door I decided to expand them inside and decorate my mantle too! Most of my supplies came from JoAnn Fabric and Crafts or the Dollar Spot at Target. I got the paper mache witch’s hat at JoAnn and spray painted it black. I added the Harry Potter books for some height and also because I love Harry Potter. My go-to costume is always a Hogwarts student. Wine bottles make for quick and easy additions to any vignette. They are great for added height and all it takes is a little spray paint to make them fit the occasion. The red candle votive is actually something I bought for Christmas last you, but red can be spooky too right? And of course it wouldn’t be Halloween if there wasn’t a pumpkin included somewhere! I always leave my teal frame up on the mantle, it’s where it lives. I feel like I need a piece like that to always keep the mantle tied to the rest of the room. I dont know, maybe I’m just weird. The little “Spooky” piece was another JoAnn find. It just kind of ties everything together and is the perfect touch for Halloween. I got the little bats and ghosts at the Target Dollar Spot, they are the same ones on the front door. And the “web” was something I picked up from my coworkers when they decorated their offices. This whole thing now has me thinking that I need to decorate for Halloween more often and even more so! It was so fun to hang bats, ghosts and webs! I think what I like most is how unconventional the decorations are. There’s only so much “classy” that can go into Halloween decor.
Do you decorate for Halloween or do you just stick to fall decorations? I hope you all have a great weekend!
Some of these supplies were purchased as part of the JoAnn #spookyspaces Celebrate the Season program, but all opinions are my own.
Linking up with 52 Mantels
Thank you all so much for bearing with me today with all my site issues. Last night I moved my site to a different hosting provider and deleted my domain from the former host, without uploading all of files that make up my site. Ooops! Luckily the files were retrievable and my co-workers were able to help me get everything restored and uploaded, so we are back in business!
Before Jesse and I left for our big trip to Europe (which you can read about here, here and here) we finished painting the giant wall in our living room. It went from fleshy peach to a lovely dark gray (Sherwin Williams’ Mink to be exact.)
The new color is gorgeous! And I wanted to do something fun with the wall that didn’t pull too much away from the color. I read this post by Chris Loves Julia months ago and I knew that a 3D quote on the wall was just what I was looking for in this space. Jesse and I played around with quotes for a few days. I knew I wanted something about HOME (cliche, I know) and something that I thought reflected how we feel about our home. I saw the quote “Love makes a house a home” on Pinterest and decided to shorten it to “Love makes a home.” I like short and sweet. So the night before we left for our vacation I went to JoAnn because I heard they were having a sale on their paper mache letters. I got each letter for $2, plus I got 15% off my total purchase, so I spent less than $25.
When I got home the first thing I did was start working on this project. I was excited to get it done! I took all my letters into the garage and spread them out on a table and got to work painting. I used the exact same paint that we painted the wall, so the quote wouldn’t be IN YO FACE but more visually interesting. Look at me trying to act like I know what I’m talking about.
I used the table’s dimensions to make a rectangle in the center of the wall so I could figure out exactly where I wanted my quote to be. Since there are no curtains in that room that the moment I used a scarf to help me visualize where a curtain would be to make sure everything looked balanced. The pile of laundry I hadn’t folded helps with that visual balance too.
Then it was time to start attaching my letters! I recommend the 3M velcro strips if your wall is a satin finish like mine. I had a real issue with my letters staying attached to the wall using the regular poster strips.
Also in the instructions it says to clean the area with rubbing alcohol first. DO NOT SKIP THAT STEP. If you do you will be forced to listen to you letters falling off the wall at all hours of the night. And cursing will ensue.
I used a large level to make sure that each letter was not only individually level, but also level to the rest of the word. And as far as spacing goes there are 2 inches between each letter which I marked with my ruler as I went.
It adds the perfect amount of interest to the wall so that the color is the star, but you still notice them right away. And the best part is that it wont compete with some fun patterned curtains and pillows whenever I get around to that.
I love how the living room is coming along, and I’ve got great plans for colors and art. Now all I need is for this stupid government shutdown to end so my husband to get paid again so we can
pay our bills buy a sectional. It’d also be helpful if I remembered to put the ottoman back when taking blog pictures. *facepalm*
What do you think of this fun 3D quote? Are you obsessed like me?
Last year I was so excited for Halloween in our new house. Our apartment complex didn’t have any children, so I was thrilled to be living in a house, in a neighborhood, where there were children, children to come trick-or-treating at my house! I bought a bunch of candy, we carved pumpkins, I even refused to go out that night because I was so excited to pass out candy to little trick-or-treaters. But something terrible happened, they kept bypassing our house! I was a creeper and kept peaking out the window and saw kids visiting the neighbors’ houses, but not mine. This year I’m stepping it up! I’ve got new light bulbs in all our outdoor lights, we’ll be carving pumpkins soon and the front door is adorned with a wreath to let people know that we’ve got candy. I went shopping at Jo-Ann to get my supplies for this project. It was super cheap, and very simple. All you need are a few 8″ paper mache letters, black spray paint, glitter, some black ribbon and a big Halloween bow (you could also make a bow, but I’m lazy). Since the letters originally come in a blah brown color the first step was to paint them black. Once the paint dried I gave the letters a quick coat of spray adhesive (clear glue or Mod Podge would work too) and dumped on some black glitter. Everything is better with glitter! After it was all dry I attached the letters and big bow to a long black ribbon using hot glue. I seriously LOVE how this project turned out! I think it may be one of my favorites yet! It does bang around on the door a bit when coming in and out of the house, so I added some tape to the back of each letter just to keep everything in place.
Jo-Ann sponsored this project as part of their Celebrate the Season campaign, which I am thrilled to be a part of! They will also be sponsoring projects for Thanksgiving and, my personal favorite, Christmas! And as a special treat for all my readers Jo-Ann also sent me this coupon so that you can get to work on your own holiday crafts.
To see more amazing Celebrate the Season Halloween crafts you can search #spookyspaces on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or Facebook or visit the Jo-Ann Celebrate the Season website.
What fun fall or Halloween crafts have you made recently? Are you just as excited to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters, or is that just me?
*Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft paid for the supplies for this project, but I wasn’t paid to say good things about their company, it really is my favorite craft store.*
For the last week of our trip we stayed in a charming little hotel in the city of love. Paris was so gorgeous, and the food was delicious! We don’t know a lot of French, but we knew enough to skate by and every person we met was super nice and helpful. Paris was also way better than London because we had plenty of down time to sleep in and see the sites at a leisurely pace. Plus every night we had a lovely 3 course dinner and split a bottle of wine, which is probably why I gained 8 lbs. on this trip…
Our first full day in Paris we went to the Louvre Museum. The museum is so huge! There is no way to see and take in everything. It was so overwhelming! However, it was amazing to see Venus de Milo, Hammurabi’s Code and the Mona Lisa in person! And I was very happy to have the entire day just dedicated to visiting that museum.
On Sunday we took the train outside of the city to Versailles. The palace was beautiful, plus it’s so rich in history! It was incredible to stand in the Hall of Mirrors, where so many wars were ended and treaties were signed. Plus the gardens were pretty fantastic too!
My favorite day of all was our second day in the city because it was the day that we climbed stairs to the top of the Notre Dame Towers. The view was incredible and it was so awesome to be at the top of that amazing landmark! After Notre Dame we visited the Paris Pantheon building, went to Luxembourg Gardens, and added our lock to the Pont de l’Archevêché— aka the “Lover’s Bridge.”
The next day we woke up early to go to the Eiffel Tower. We showed up 30 minutes before the tower opened and only waited for an hour total before we were on the elevator headed to the top. It was kind of foggy since it was in the morning, but it was still very surreal to stand at the top of the flipping Eiffel Tower. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
After the Eiffel Tower we went to the Arc de Triomphe, which I was surprised to learn that you could actual go inside it and climb to the top! The view of the trees lining the main streets all around the Arc was very pretty. Especially since Paris was on the verge of fall and all the leaves were starting to change.
The only negative experience that we had in Paris was when we visited Montemarte. I had read such positive things about it being the best view in the city and such a beautiful place, and it was beautiful, but it was also in a not great area of town. All around it gypsies and sketchy looking people had set up shops and games all in efforts to swindle money out of tourists, and they were all very pushy. Groups of them would surround you shoving their souvenirs and hands in your face. Not something I wanted to experience on vacation.
Our final day in Europe was spent at the beaches of Normandy. Our tour guide is an expert on D-Day, especially the US Airbourne, he even bought a house in France because a paratrooper landed in the backyard during the D-Day invasion. As a history nerd, especially when it comes to WWII, this was one of my favorite things that we did. I learned so much and it was just surreal and humbling to stand on the beaches where so many brave young men gave their lives.
I feel so lucky and blessed to have had the opportunity to go to Europe with my husband at such a young age. I know that this really is a once in a lifetime thing and I will certainly never forget it. Now where should we go next?
On the 4th day of our trip (Monday) we left Northumberland and took the train to London. Our train stop was in King’s Cross Station, so of course I had to get a picture of Platform 9 3/4. All the pictures Jesse took of me are blurry so I wont share those After dropping our bags off at the hotel we took the Tube to Harrod’s to have a look around. The place was so huge, but it was full of stores that this gal just can’t afford (like Gucci for babies, who puts a baby in Gucci?!) so we didn’t stay long!
The next day we visited the Tower of London where we got to see the Crown Jewels and the changing of the guard. We walked across London Bridge to the Borough Market for lunch at a restaraunt called Applebee’s (not like the one in the US. There is no kareoke Tuesday). This place was highly recommended by Kristen and Ainhoa, and I’m so glad! It was absolutely delicious! I had the sea bass and Jesse had monk fish, it was awesome.
Wednesday was the day we went to Warner Bros. Studios and did the Making of Harry Potter tour. It was so awesome to see the costumes and actual pieces of the set, plus Hogwarts will take your breath away! If you are a fan of Harry Potter and you go to London DO NOT MISS THIS!!
After Harry Potter we did a tour of Kensington Palace and walked around the park. Kensington Park had to be one of my favorite spots of our time in London. It was just a few blocks from our hotel and if you stand in the center of the park you can’t hear the traffic and it just feels like you’re in a different place entirely. It was so refreshing to walk there in the evenings after a crazy day in packed museums and the Tube. There were also great places to eat a few blocks down from the park and we enjoyed many a glass of wine outside.
On our last day in London we pushed ourselves a little hard and did Westminster Abbey (which was my favorite London activity), the British Museum and the Natural History museum. We were practically limping with sore legs and feet at the end of the day, but we pulled it together enough to have dinner at a cafe called Foxtrot Oscar, which is one of Gordon Ramsay’s (cheaper-ish) restaurants. I also highly recommend it, and if you go, get the scallops! They were to die for! Melt in your mouth amazing!
Overall I wish we had more time in London. Just one more day would have let us slow down a bit so we weren’t so rushed and so tired. We literally collapsed into bed every night after dinner and struggled to get up the next day. But on the bright side the weather was amazing! It never rained on us! There were a few quick showers at night, but always after we were in bed. I also have to make a confession, we never ate fish and chips. They were on the menu most places we went, but we always chose something else. Disgraceful, I know.
If you’ve ever been to London I want to know what your favorite thing was to see and do!