Monthly Archives: March 2012

“Mag Tag” with Better Homes and Gardens {March 2012}

It’s that time again! Time to virtually flip through a recent issue (no…not “the recent” as I just received a more current mag in the mail – They are too fast for me!) of “Better Homes and Gardens.” We are talking about the March 2012 issue, in case you want to join in the convo or want to flip along with me.

For those of you who haven’t been around for this feature before, I share some of my favorite features from the pages of this and my other personal subscription to “Do It Yourself.” I try not to give TOO much away because I always want to encourage you to pick up a copy (or a subscription) of your own. To field any thoughts of reimbursement for this shameless promotion, I must tell you that I make zilcho cash for these features. I just can’t help but gush a little, share the fun tips and (as always) do my best to help inspire you just as I have been!

So let’s get started…

“Color collision” – That just about describes my thoughts minute-to-minute. I am so in love with anything colorful. I’m that consumer product designers are catering to when they offer items in 9 different colors. There’s something so much fun about getting to choose a bright orange or red toaster in lieu of a plain white one. This page of “color collision” products caught my eye immediately. Yes please, I’ll take a bright yellow metal box fan – The retro look and design is enough to make me want to seal that deal. Or that stack of colorful potluck bakers by Crate & Barrel – The $30 pricetag for a set of three isn’t bad at all.

Moving on, I couldn’t help but spot this feature on how to throw a great “grown-up” birthday party. With my birthday in t-minus 18 days, I definitely paused for a moment to think about throwing a similarly swanky fete for myself. But then I remembered that we happen to be throwing a WEDDING 10 days later, and I had to wistfully think of next year…Or maybe one for John’s birthday in September!

If you want to throw your own bash, they offer suggestions like asking guests to contribute to a scrapbook – Provide decorative paper and tape and then let guests explore their creative sides by crafting a page with handwritten notes and well-wishes. The perfect sentimental gift for any birthday girl.

But any good scrapbook needs photos – Have a stack of empty frames and blank chalkboards for guests to use in a makeshift photobooth. Using a polaroid camera (like the one I bought myself last year) offers instant gratification.

As is the theme for this “Color made easy” issue, the magazine’s pages are full of deliciously rich, gorgeous color pallets. As it says below “nothing transforms a room – or a mood – like a shot of color.” Try out their array of four colors below in a living room, sunroom or even bathroom! If you think it’s too bold for you, give your walls a soft neutral and then choose two of the bold colors to use in accessories (think throw pillows, lamps, even a spray-painted picture frame).

Take this little seating vignette for example – Neutral wall and chair colors allow things like the patterns pillows and bright red rug to pop. Throw in some brass accents like the brass flower bowl and nesting side tables to add a little sparkle and pizzazz. (If you happen to click on those links, you probably noticed that the products used were a bit pricey – For budget finds, scour places like Ebay or your local thrift store instead)

Here’s a great spring-inspired color pallet to drool over – Misty Lilac (2071-70, Benjamin Moore), California Dreaming (B28-6, Ace Hardware), Agreeable Gray (SW 7029, Sherwin-Williams), Tin Lizzie (D42-4, Olympic) and Glazed Raspberry (120D-5, Behr).

Most of the home tours in this particular issue were a bit traditional for my mid-century mod tastes, but this one caught my eye because of the punchy color scheme. Just goes to show how you can be inspired by color no matter what the actual style of the room may be. I could easily pull some of the brass, rose and blue-gray tones of this space and use them in a more contemporary way.

Love those shimmery gold frames and the tray style coffee table. Oversized flower arrangements are another thing, like color, that can compliment any style.

The photos below are of another room feature with a spunky color pallet, this time a sunroom. It takes a brave person to paint both walls and trim in bright teal, but it works so well here. All of that saturated color is balanced out by pattern on the blinds, pillows and rug.

As if real-life rooms weren’t enough inspiration, their experts weigh in on the secrets to choosing the right color.

Here are just a few that got me thinking:

  • (#2) “Look to the largest pattern in a room for inspiration. A multi-hue rug or a piece of art can hand you an entire palette.”
  • (#10) “A client recently told me that my best color advice was to not give in to her ‘inner beige monster’ and to try soft blues, grays and taupes instead of off-white.” (Liz Levin)
  • (#16) “When you think you’ve found the right color on the strip, go a step or two lighter. Pale colors are more flexible for pairing with other colors.” (Wish someone had told me that tip before I painted my studio…)

Here’s a quick spring-time DIY project for you – Grab some new natural foliage and lay on top of cold press board cut to the size of a frame. Then choose a bold color of spray paint and spritz over the foliage, leaving a fun impression behind on the paper. Allow to dry according to can instructions and then place inside your frame as art.

I love spring fashion…Bright patterned flats, skirts and dresses, oh my! The spread below features advice from fashion blogger, Lindsey Calla (, who even encourages getting stylish with your umbrella – Why the heck not?!

Besides their ALWAYS incredible selection of recipes…(like avocado and asparagus egg sandwiches and potato salad with sausage and grainy mustard dressing below)

…BH&G also featured a piece on how to eat better and follow healthy nutrition, something that John and I are alllllll about right now (as you may know from this post). Again, here are a few of the tips that caught my eye:

  • To spend less at the grocery store, don’t skip the produce section. Fresh produce can often yield more servings than processed meals by weight and fill you up more efficiently. But don’t buy more than your family can eat since spoiled food is as good as throwing your money away.
  • When you crave the cupcakes at your next office party, it’s likely that you aren’t filling yourself up aquatically throughout the rest of the day. Snack on healthy things like a salad or grapes to curb your cravings in the afternoon. It’s a mental thing too. Ask yourself if you really want the treat and, if you do, try just a small sample instead.
  • Some things to watch for when going out to eat – Consider ordering a sandwich on whole wheat toast, if food is topped with sauce ask for it on the side and use sparingly, order vinaigrettes on the side like you would any other salad dressing as it’s not quite as healthy as restaurants make it out to be.

Hope you enjoyed our magazine chat. Anything you are inspired to try out? I think that I am going to give some thought to my color choices based on the info I read. I tend to go super bold on the wall color and on the accessories. For my next room redo, I’m contemplating a neutral on the walls to let bright accessories do the talking.

Hope you have a great weekend! I am actually taking the day off today to enjoy a little pampering with my make-up artist for the wedding. We are doing a trial to get a good handle on how I want to look on the big day. With my face all done up professionally, I am off to Charlottesville in the afternoon for the bachelorette party my work friends are throwing for me – Let the good times roll…

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Kitchen drawer reorganization

Is there anything more annoying than trying and failing to get your cake spatula to fit into the utensil drawer? Well, yeah…there probably is. Like having to wait more than THREE WEEKS for your sizable tax return (::grumble grumble::) – But that pesky over-filled drawer is still up there on my list of pet peeves.

Our kitchen is, for whatever reason, cursed with the skinniest drawers in the world. They are full-depth, but the width is only about a splayed-hand’s-worth (as you’ll see, literally, in a moment). We couldn’t even fit a standard size silverware organizer in the drawer to nicely separate our knives from forks and forks from spoons. To compensate, we’ve had to put them into plastic boxes meant for pens and pencils – Not ideal, if you ask me. The rest of the kitchen utensil drawers (think garlic press,  spatulas, measuring spoons, etc.) were stuffed willy nilly into the only other two available drawers right next to the oven.

Oh, and would you like to see what I mean by a “splayed-hand’s-worth” of room? Behold the proof:

We needed to come up with a solution and fast. With our wedding right around the corner and the possibility of an influx of kitchen supplies, we needed to be sure that our space could handle it – And as it was, it couldn’t. I had no clue what we could do, though, besides heavily purging. Maybe we could live without the cake spatula? ::dejected sigh::

But then John came to the rescue with another of his brilliant ideas.

You see, we have two massive drawers inside our kitchen island. Like probably THREE-splayed-hand’s-worth. Each. At the moment, they were being used for our laughably large supply of junk – Anything from a label maker and rolls of assorted tape, to an address book and batteries.

I suppose it hadn’t occurred to us to use these drawers for kitchen utensils because they are about three whole steps away from the oven/fridge work area. I’ll sacrifice a tiny bit of convenience in order to have some semblance of order though…Thus, John and I decided to switch the contents of the two big junk drawers with that of the three skinny utensil drawers.

The first step of the transfer was to take everything out of the drawers. While they were empty, I went ahead and brushed out all of the crumbs (P.S. how is it that drawers get so crumby? It’s not as though we eat over them!). I also took the opportunity to lay down some fresh cabinet liner paper – I use a vinyl patterned version that I’ve used and reused throughout three different homes.

We decided to use one of the big drawers for the small utensils and the silverware (still in their pencil cases, but hope to replace those after the wedding with something a little classier), and the other big drawer was filled up with the larger, long-handled utensils. It has actually worked out really well to have the utensils in the island drawers – Apparently I do a lot more prep work on that counter top than I realized, and it’s nice to be able to grab something quickly when I need it. And the big square footage means that I don’t have to paw through everything to find what I need or practically empty out the drawer to get to something on the bottom.

They might not look super organized and beautiful, but for practicality’s sake, it’s awesome.

As for the other drawers, we did our best to purge or redistribute things from our junk drawers (which always seem to exponentially grow over time). What was left got separated into the three skinny drawers – One for office things (stamps, batteries, notepads, address book, label maker, etc.), one for random honest-to-goodness junk (gum, tape, chalk, sewing kit, spare change, etc.) and the last one is all John (iPod cables and earbuds, checkbook, old Blackberry phone, business cards, CDs, etc.).

It’s taking us a bit of time to get used to things. I probably reach for the old silverware drawer about five times a day only to remember that it has moved…But, once we get the hang of things, I’m sure the practicality will be a huge stress-relief.

So tell me, what sorts of random things do you have in your junk drawer? We’ve all got ’em – What do you hide in there? Pet stuff? Flashlights? Photos? Hidden stash of candy? Spill the beans!

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Pinspiration Monday: DIY Chalkboard Menu (Part 2)

Good morning and welcome back from the weekend! Just wanted to thank you all so much for your kind words and continued support from last week’s one year blogiversary! It was so nice to hear from everyone and to get your opinion via poll and comments. Based on your feedback, I will be continuing my “Pinspiration Monday” feature on a weekly basis. Also, I’ll be bringing back the “Thrift Store SCORE!” feature on a monthly basis based on readership consensus. Lastly, you all voted and I’ll do my best to focus posts more on DIY projects with a little bit of organization and family life on the side.

For poll results, feel free to click on over to last week’s post, find the polls and click on “View results” at the bottom-left of each. Thanks again for your feedback and I look forward to implementing some changes that I think will keep things interesting and that I hope will keep you guys coming back for more!

Now for today’s topic – I’m back with a little “to be continued” post to finish up the DIY chalkboard menu I’ve been crafting for our wedding next month. To remind you, here are my Pinspiration images:

Source: This is Glamorous

Source: Style Me Pretty

The frame I used came from a close friend, who offered it to us from her grandfather’s home – We’ve since transformed the crumbling and stained antique into a clean and bright, “like-new” frame perfect for a wedding reception menu.

Next up, we needed to create the inner chalkboard section. To do this, John and I went out to Lowes with frame in hand and picked up a piece of thin wood. We had a lumber department employee cut it to size for us (for free!) and then brought it home for painting.

I used the same can of Valspar chalkboard paint that I’ve used for this project and this one – I think I still have over half the can left. It has served me well…

Using a 3 inch foam roller, I rolled on five thin and even coats of the paint, giving it about 30 minutes of dry time between coats. “Why five?” you might ask – Well I forgot to check the paint can for instructions on painting raw wood and only did so after the first coat. It was then that I found out I needed to prime the wood beforehand. To compensate for skipping that step, I doubled the recommended amount of chalkboard paint coats to make sure the wood was GOOD and covered. Luckily, after giving it a week of dry time, there was no staining or bleeding through the paint so I think we are safe.

If you would rather do fewer coats, by all means prime first and then you’ll probably only need two or three coats of the chalkboard paint.

Here it is after a week’s-worth of dry time:

For the final step, I carted the frame and newly-painted chalkboard over to my dad’s shop. As I’ve mentioned before, he’s a woodworker and is my trusted go-to for finishing touches like this. I wasn’t sure where to start with attaching the chalkboard to the frame, thinking maybe we would need to somehow attach two long and thin pieces of wood across the back. As per usual, dad had a much easier solution.

Instead of using large pieces of wood to secure the chalkboard, he pulled out these tiny metal tabs with holes for screws. Once attached, they would give just enough tension to hold the chalkboard in place.

He started by pre-drilling four holes for the screws, one in each corner. Then he took a pair of pliers and gently bent down the edge of each tab so that, when screwed into the frame, it would put tension on the back of the chalkboard and hold it steadily in place.

Last step – Screwing each firmly into place:

In no time, we were all finished (or technically DAD was all finished since I really didn’t contribute much other than moral support)…

(Yes, that’s a bottle opener on the side of the island in my parent’s house – We are beer connoisseurs in our family, haha. In fact, John installed his own on the island at our house last weekend!)

I know this post is already photo-laden, but I couldn’t help going a little photo crazy in dad’s shop while he worked on the frame. I wandered around aimlessly snapping the things in the shop that I’ve seen and been around for my entire life – As I was editing the photos later, it really occurred to me just how much he’s built over the years and how EPIC his workshop is. He has long since outgrown big box store jigs, etc, choosing instead to design and build his own. Looking around his collection of tools and wood, it’s just so overwhelming and really kind of magnificent. I just had to share.

Can’t be in the shop without a chilled glass of beer to sip on between cuts and drilling…I wasn’t kidding about the “beer connoisseur” thing – In fact now that I think about it, while I was at my parents working on this John was over at his friend’s house working on a home brewing kit!

During my wandering and photo-taking, I stumbled upon this beautiful tool box that he had built for himself. Check out the dove-tail finish…

And lastly, I have to brag about his involvement with the historic home of Thomas Jefferson – Poplar Forest is about five minutes away from my parents’ house (and our house too). Dad has been commissioned to build collectible boxes for the estate shop, crafted using antique wood from the property. You can check out his boxes here (it’s the fourth item from the bottom of the page). Here’s the description from the website to give you a more eloquent synopsis:

Historic Wood Boxes 
Made from historic Tulip Poplar wood from Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest plantation, these boxes and trivets are a beautiful addition to one’s home. Hand-made in Virginia by Patrick Williams.

I can’t get over just how COOL it is to visit my parents house and venture to the basement to see incredibly valuable and historic wood piled on tables ready to be made into boxes. Some of the pieces are even spotted with worm holes. It may seem silly, but I just think it’s so interesting…Maybe all of you other history buffs can understand.

Cool, huh?! The local paper even ran a story on him and another local woodworker – Check that out here.

Anyway, I’m lucky to have a dad who can help with these types of things and I can’t wait to show off our finished chalkboard framed menu at the wedding reception. Only 33 days to go!!!

UPDATE: We got the wedding photos back and I wanted to share a quick image of the chalkboard menu in place and showing off the tasty eats in my mom’s lovely handwriting…Hope you enjoy!

Photo credit: Katie Stoops Photography

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Happy one year, DreamGreenDIY!

Well, it’s official. DreamGreenDIY turned one year old yesterday! It has been an incredibly exciting year, what with an engagement, new jobs, new diets and new friends – Not to mention a new passion born from this blog.

I started DreamGreenDIY as a way to document the changes of our home and also as a way to share my daily interior design inspiration. I didn’t really have any major goals when it came to the blog, but now one year later I can safely say that I love doing it. You can read up all about the readership, my guest blogging and general stats in this post from the beginning of the year, but I always want (and need) to give a big shoutout to YOU, my readers. DG-DIY would be a complete flop if it weren’t for the continued support and suggestions offered by all of you. So thank you thank you THANK YOU!!!

As I enter into my second year as a crafting/nesting blogger, I plan on implementing a few changes. But since this blog is just as much for me as it is for you, I wanted to get some outside opinion and insight. I invite you to share your honest thoughts by taking part in the polls below (and, of course, in the comments section) as I let DG-DIY evolve into a brighter and more helpful blog.




As for definite changes, I am creating a new feature (probably on a random schedule) that will be image-based. Sometimes I feel like I could type and type and type about something that inspires me, but not really get the feeling across. But we all know that photos speak their own language, one that I think is sometimes more effective.

When I was in school studying art, I loved to make collages – Splattering paint and water all over a big canvas and then pasting on pieces of patterned tissue and watercolor paper. It was so organic and I loved the color scheme that would emerge without intention. I’d like to try to recreate that sort of mismatched collage with images of homes, rooms, colors and patterns that inspire me. Stick around for that!

Check out my artist’s website here if you’re curious about that side of my life.

One last change – And this one is actually a bit of a doozy…

When I started DreamGreenDIY one year ago, I went into it thinking that John would be a major part of the blog. I even has the idea that he’d write a post or two. But that just didn’t end up being the case…It has become clear that the blog is my baby. While John is still just as much a part of the background, behind-the-scenes stuff, I’ve decided to take full ownership of the blog in general. If you haven’t already noticed, you’ll see this shift in the “About” page and in the home page photo. But all of you on “Team John,” don’t worry – He’ll always show up in post photos and stories. While we didn’t end up sharing blogging responsibilities, we still very much share a life together – Duh! 🙂

Thank you in advance for your feedback and thanks again for making this blog the success that it is. Here’s to an even bigger and better year number two!!!

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Top three spring cleaning tips

With the new season happily underway, let’s chat about spring cleaning. I’ll readily admit that I winter, fall, quarter-fall, summer and mid-summer clean in addition to the requisite purge session in March/April. My OCD tenancies often get the very best of me and I clean and organize as I go.

But for you sane normal people who are able to stave off the harried need to clean 365 days a year, here are my top 3 tips for house cleaning indianapolis style! Yeah, I said it.

  • Piles: When starting any organization project, I pull everything out of a storage space and sort – One pile for trash, one for donate and one for somewhere else in the house. Anything that goes back as it was can be carefully situated in the now-empty space, free of distraction. And be liberal with your “donate pile” – Purging is tough but it is SO satisfying when your home isn’t weighed down by stuff.
  • Baskets: We have baskets on our entry-way table for holding things like car keys and gloves. We’ve got baskets by the television to hold playing cards and CDs, and baskets in the kitchen to corral coffee supplies. I’ve even screwed a basket to the wall in our bathroom as a towel holder! Not a fan of wicker? Check out Bed Bath & Beyond’s selection of decorative boxes instead.
  • Wipe down: Come spring, if you haven’t hired a round of maids from Tidy TN of Nashville, then it’s probably safe to say that things could use a good swipe with a rag. I use a clean microfiber rag (Crate & Barrel has some great options) to wipe down mirrors, baseboards and shelves. There’s nothing like a spotless, dust-free baseboard, even if it is just for a couple of weeks out of the year…
Now it’s your turn! What are your top 3 tips for spring-time cleaning?
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Pinspiration Monday: Counter top styling

Time for another installment of “Pinspiration Monday” – This time we are talking about the kitchen counter and a couple of quick ways to dress up those every-day things that we need to have on hand that aren’t exactly the most stylish of kitchen accessories.

The first is a “pretty” way to corral the usual won’t-ft-in-the-cabinet-because-they’re-too-tall suspects – For us that includes a coffee French press, an assortment of bottled vinegar and oil, a jar of napkins and my owl measuring cups (although that last one isn’t an eye-sore at all – You know me and my hoot obsession…). To remedy the situation, I took a cue from this pin:

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

The idea is to put all of the random pieces inside a simple wicker basket. Having a special spot for these seemingly-unrelated pieces would allegedly bring a sense of order to the counter top. SPOILER ALERT: It worked.

Here’s a quick peek at those kitchen essentials in question (oh, and please ignore the open upper cabinet doors – I did some paint touchups and they were drying):

They aren’t the most unsightly pieces in the world (again, isn’t that little owl just adorable?? – Thanks to my bff, Beth, for that sweet addition to your kitchen!), but I’m the kind of homemaker that likes “a place for everything and everything in its place.” For whatever reason, putting it all inside a basket would alleviate my stress just a touch and that’s good enough reason for me. Anyone else out there just as crazy and agree??

First, I needed a basket.

When I went out-of-town two weekends ago to visit friends and my sister for my bachelorette party, I ended up getting my first chance to check out a Hobby Lobby. I had a blast curling around each and every aisle looking for fun things to decorate and/or organize the house. One thing I came home with was this pretty rectangular basket – At only $5.99, I couldn’t say “no.” I thought the angled weave was a tad unique and modern – At least as far as baskets go…

Taking yet another cue from my Pinterest image, I tucked a patterned linen napkin inside the basket, a gift from John’s mom at my bridal shower last month.

Here is the newly arranged basket, full of our favorite kitchen accessories! I really do feel like they look a bit better grouped together in an orderly way – I know…My OCD is clearly out of control in this moment…

The next Pinterest counter-related project I worked on was pretty easy and not mind-blowingly creative, but I love it nonetheless. I wanted to join the bandwagon of folks who keep their dry pasta in pretty glass jars on the counter. It looks good, keeps noodles fresh and empties out a little extra room in the pantry – All good enough reasons for me to give it a shot.

Source: beach bungalow 8

 Source: Better Homes and Gardens

These three glass jars below, complete with brushed nickel metal screw tops, also came from my maiden adventure to Hobby Lobby. I walked out with one tall jar for only $4.99 and two medium, shorter jars for $4.79 apiece. Definitely didn’t break the bank on this project.

Here’s a quick look at our pantry, one I’m embarrassed to show you since it’s not very organized. Hopefully someday soon I can tackle it, armed with Tupperware and my label maker. But that’s another day…As you can see, we have a pretty good collection of pastas going (to the right of the photo).

Once I got all of it onto the counter, I was able to take stock – We’ve got an assortment of long pastas (is there a technical term for this?) such as spaghetti, fettuccine and angel hair, and then we’ve got the bite-size options like rotini and penne. We are trying to weed out our plain pastas to make way for whole wheat options (read up on our new dietary goals in this post from last week), and you’ll even see some gluten-free options from that phase of our eating habits.

The penne and rotini got their own jars (to be revealed in full in a moment), and the tall jar was saved for the long pastas. Now to decide who to put in there…So many varieties to choose from!

In the end, I decided to dump all of the boxes except for the gluten-free option into the jar. With the exception of the rice, gluten-free pasta, the rest were too similar to segregate. Our pasta dishes might look a little wonky until we run out of our multi-shaped supply, but I’m happy to get rid of all of those boxes. The jar had more than enough room to fit the four boxes-worth.

Here they are all filled up:

And they are now happily gracing the corner of our counter top. I love the balanced symmetry and there’s something really organic and natural about seeing plain dry pasta outside of those brightly colored and labeled boxes. I feel like Giada would approve.

All together now!!

All in a good day’s work…

What have you guys been organizing lately?

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Confession time: Healthy living

I’ve got a lot to catch you guys up on…
So a few months ago, I made the big announcement that John and I were going gluten-free with our eating. This new pact was based on the assumption that, after years of upset stomachs, a gluten allergy must be our culprit. Except for one blatant disregard for that new promise (as seen here), we were doing pretty well, even choosing to eat out only at restaurants that offered gluten-free options (for locals in the area, this meant Mangia and La Villa).
Then something pretty major happened that, in a way, helped us to explore the REAL root of the issue…John lost his job.
By no fault of his own, John was forced to reconsider goals, routines, finances and the direction he wanted to take in his life. In fact, what could have been the biggest let down of the year, ended up being a major blessing in disguise. Suddenly John had all the time in the world to really get to the bottom of the dietary issue, so he made the appointments and got tested for gluten allergies once and for all.
What we didn’t really anticipate though was the negative result…I think we were so stuck on the idea of a gluten allergy, that the sudden reality of it NOT being the case was a little bewildering. All-in-all, the real issue was nothing more than nutrition. (As a sidenote, I wasn’t able to undergo testing and doctor appointments, but John and I are pretty symmetrical in discomfort so I’m just following his lead.)
Enter Jessi Haggerty of Bee Rooted. Our second major God-send was a random message I got from Jessi, a Registered Dietitian, Personal Trainer and Movement Instructor from Boston, MA.
A blogger herself, Jessi approached me in the hopes of helping John and I out with finding better and healthier balance in our lives in terms of what we eat. Since then, I have learned the ins and outs (no pun intended) of good food and just how much of an impact diet has on our lives, moods and energy.
As I am by no means an expert on these things, and since Jessi is, I’ve gotten her permission to share some simple tips with you all here on DG-DIY to possibly help you along with your own nutritional journey. She started me off by listing some “do”s and “don’t”s for good digestive health:
Things to increase:
-Soluble fiber:  whole grains like oatmeal, barley, and brown rice, starchy vegetables
-Omega-3 fatty acids from whole plant sources: walnuts, flaxseed meal, small portions of fish
-Antioxidants: berries, green leafy vegetables, foods high in vitamin C & E like citrus fruits and strawberries
-Sprouted foods: sprouted quinoa, grains, beans, breads and tofu.  Sprouting is a process of soaking and rinsing the seed, grain, or bean for a number of days to literally ‘sprout’ it, and works to pre-digest it making it easier for your body to breakdown.  It also allows the nutrients to be more available to your body to use.
Things to decrease:
-Large portions of concentrated fat: oils, butter, lard, most processed foods
-Concentrated sweets: juices, sugar/sugary foods like cake and cookies, large portions of dried fruits; can cause excess water to be drawn into your digestive tract
-Dairy: it just doesn’t do good things for the belly!
-Meat/animal products: stick to no more than 3 oz. portions of fish, meat, chicken, etc. per meal.
Quick Tip:
-When you are cooking beans and grains, try soaking them overnight, then drain them and cook as directed.  This helps pre-digest the fibers and prevents excess gas build up.
Who knew?! This first feedback email was incredibly eye-opening. I proceeded to print it out and race home to show John all of the fun new things I had learned. Not kidding. I literally ran inside, practically jumping up and down. In the course of my nutritional health journey up to that point, I had been told what not to eat but not really what TO eat. Well Jessi’s quick “Things to increase” list was only a taste of (again, no pun intended) of what she was to help me understand in terms of my future diet.
To begin the nitty gritty part of the process, Jessi asked me to keep track of what I ate with a food diary spanning the length of three days.
(and no, that’s not me, but I’m all about the visuals today and wanted you to see how poised and focused I MIGHT have looked while keeping my food diary) 
After the three days were up, I had a pretty keen awareness of my normal diet, which is fairly consistent. This is (or was) my typical day’s worth of food:
  1. fried egg cooked over extra virgin olive oil
  2. piece of whole wheat toast (no butter)
  3. blueberry muffin
  4. cup of fresh fruit
  5. cup of plain cheerios
  6. 8 saltine and peanut butter cracker sandwiches (homemade/assembled, not packaged)
  7. brown rice with asparagus, almonds and soy sauce
  8. 3 Hershey’s kisses
  9. a few handfuls of lightly salted peanuts
  10. 1 oatmeal, chocolate chip cookie
  11. Homemade pizza subs (fresh French bread, mozzarella cheese, pepperonis, pizza sauce, shredded turkey lunch meat)
Right away, Jessi was able to point out the aspects of what I ate that might be giving me some trouble. Here’s a quick overview of her suggested “this-instead-of-that” changes:
  • Do away with the egg, toast and muffin since it’s heavy on the saturated fat and a little light on the fiber and plants
  • Instead eat a bowl of plain whole rolled oats (add things like fruit, nuts and a touch of honey for flavor)
  • Do away with the saltines in the peanut butter cracker equation because saltines tend to be more processed
  • Instead eat Triscuits with a bit of peanut butter since the only ingredient is wheat
  • Do away with salted peanuts
  • Instead eat an unsalted trail mix combo with an assortment of nuts and dried fruit rather than chocolate
  • Do away with lunches and dinners high in dairy and meat
  • Instead eat a whole grain wrap for lunch with things like hummus, avacado, lettuce and tomato; for dinners, focus on beans and grains (check out these recipes on Jessi’s blog for delicious-sounding and healthy alternatives to a meaty, cheesy, buttery dinner entree)
Since reading over Jessi’s advice, I have been super focused on transforming my diet. I now start every morning with a bowl of plain oatmeal with honey, brown sugar, bananas and strawberries added to it. For the first time in years, I am able to get to work after breakfast without feeling sick. The other thing is that I’m actually full. I used to get to work at 8:30 a.m. after my fried egg breakfast and feel the need to start munching on snacks right away. Now though, I am able to stave off the hunger until around 10:30 a.m. – This feels like a small miracle to me. I’ve also worked hard to all but eliminate meat and dairy from my daily routine. So far, I don’t even miss it!
I think we are well on our way to regaining control over our food rather than allowing it to control us…
Stay tuned!! I hope to continue to get advice and guidance from Jessi as we work towards our health goals – We’d love to have you guys along for the ride! Also, feel free to provide your own input, advice and/or experiences with us in the comments section.
P.S. In case you were wondering, John is now happily employed and our routine and outlook on life is better than ever!
Want more information and advice from Jessi? Be sure to check out her blog,, for TONS of helpful thoughts on food, diet, exercise and general healthy living. In case you were curious, I am not being paid to talk about her blog – I am just so thankful and appreciative of her help and want to pay it forward. Maybe she could be the answer to your prayers as well!
Speaking of, if you DO need a some guidance, Jessi is offering her readers (and now mine!) a super sweet discount on her consult – Instead of $125 for an initial personalized consult, she’s only charging $50. The consult can be done via phone or skype. If you want to take the first step to a healthy lifestyle, then I highly recommend getting in touch with her. This is starting to sound like an infomercial (which I assure you, it’s not meant to be), so I’m going to stop here.
Have a GREAT weekend everyone!
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Newest post for Breathe Magazine

I’m over on Breathe Magazine’s blog today getting a tad bit emotional  – At least for a Thursday morning! Read up on my legacy as a DIY-er and why I am the way I am by clicking here. Also, feast your eyes on some tree trunk coaster eye candy while you’re there…

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Simple card art

This year for Valentine’s Day, John and I decided to save a little moolah by forgoing a gift exchange. Instead, we simply swapped cards to express our L-O-V-E for one another. After getting a brilliant recommendation from a blog (one I have since forgotten the name of and can’t link to…kicking myself) I went ahead and purchased this little beauty to give to my beloved:

Simple. To the point. Perfection.

It originated from My Little Buffalo Design – Affordable and oh-so-cute, the assortment of cards and art listed on this Etsy shop are worth your time even if you just gaze longingly at them…

But I digress. So after writing a little something special inside the blank card and giving it to John the morning of February 14th, I decided that I wasn’t done with it yet. While John isn’t the type of guy to toss my cards in the trash after reading them, I knew I wanted to put it on display rather than let it be put in a box for safe-keeping.

Enter one of the extra painted frames that we recently made over for the wedding:

This fun, punchy yellow frame was the perfect little place to memorialize the card. All I did was cut a piece of white computer paper to fit in the back of the frame since the card was a bit smaller than true 4×6 dimensions. I layered the card on top, put it behind the glass and tucked it all inside the frame – Voila!

I love the combination of the rose-colored text against the pale yellow frame – Pastel hues are sooooo pretty together. The perfect way to celebrate my Valentine and how we really do go together like bread and butter…

UPDATE: Right as I was heading off for wedding weekend, I grabbed this little framed card thinking it might be a sweet addition to our favors/gift table. It worked like a charm!

Photo credit: Kate StoopPhotography

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Pinspiration Monday: Brass bed

I must sincerely apologize if this blog post is (#1) much shorter and to-the-point today, and (#2) slightly erratic. Whether it was the fabulous, ubber-girlie bachelorette party my dear girlfriends threw for me over the weekend or this DARN time change, I am absolutely exhausted this morning. It’s a miracle I’m posting at all!

Okay, mini selfish pitty party over and on to the good stuff…

So. You all know that I am crushing hard core on brass right now (as evidenced here). I just love that extra glint of rich warmth brass gives a space – Balance is obviously key as we all know how brass can easily turn “bad,” but when done right it can be soooooo good. One thing I’ve really been craving is a brass bed, as you can see from this recent pin on my Pinterest board:

Source: The Blooming Hydrangea

Yum – LOVE that pop of rustic gold. I decided to go in search of a twin bed brass headboard for the bed in our studio guest room. The one in there has been in our family for a looooooong time and just screams “child’s room” to me. There are no children in our immediate future, and this room is a beloved adult getaway space for me and I wanted it to read “sophisticated feminine” instead of “kid-y.”

With a look in mind, John and I made a quick trip to our favorite local estate shop and I was able to pick up the perfect brass headboard for only $25! It didn’t come with a foot board or an actual mattress frame, but I knew I could use a plain metal mattress frame and just sandwich the thrifted brass headboard between the bed and wall.

And here’s the bed with its new crown of brass…

After giving the new set up a long hard look, I decided that I loved the brass headboard but that the bed space still looked a bit adolescent for my tastes. Maybe it was the combination of the bold flowery fabric and canary yellow bedspread, but I just felt like it needed to be a little less match-matchy.

So I took my beloved wrapped canvas art down and put it in storage for future hanging, and instead filled the space with a few pieces of random art for a more ecelctic look. I also folded the yellow blanket to the foot of the bed and covered the rest with a pretty quilt my aunt gave me as a gift. I think the look is much more subdued and mature. I can definitely understand if it’s not everyone’s taste, but having lived with it like this for a week or so, I am falling more and more in love with it every day.

Here’s a look back to what the bed looked like before, with its wooden bed frame – And then afterwards, with new spontaneous art, brass headboard and colorful, vintage bed coverings.

What do you guys think?

Hope you have a good Monday and are faring a bit better than I am with this time change nonsense! I do appreciate the lighter/brighter evenings…

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