Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in review

Holy cow, 2011 is over?! It was just summer 2010 and I was getting married. Where does all this time go? Well, in any case, here's what apparently consumed my time this past year:

01. JAN   My sister finally graduated college... and I got bangs.
02. FEB   Snowpocalypse!
03. APR   The husband celebrated his 27th birthday. What an old man.
04. JUN   We adopted our four month old fur child, Zora!
05. JUN   Family and friends came over and helped us fence in our entire backyard.
06. JUL   Husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary with a trip to Mackinac.
07. SEP   Had 100 yards of dirt brought in to redo our lawn.
08. SEP   Miss Peanut became deathly ill and gave us a huge scare!
09. OCT  Congratulations to Sarah and Phil on the birth of their daughter (Dec.)
10. OCT  Rest in pieces G6.
11. OCT  Trip to West Virginia to visit the folks for 10 days.
12. NOV Clay took a trip to Missouri and brought back 1 of the 5 deer he got this year.
13. DEC  Congrats to my sister-in-law Abbey and Tim on their marriage!
14. DEC  My sister and I celebrated our 23rd and 26th birthdays.
15. DEC  Zora's first Christmas.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe New Year's Eve and a great start to the new year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

DIY: Birth announcement/statistics wall art

My apologies for the abundance of posts this week! It's just that I've done so many crafts for Christmas gifts and I've obviously had to wait until after the holidays to post them. (By the way, this is my 100th post... whoo hoo!) This lil piece of wall art I created for my best friend's new baby, Emmalyn. I thought it would be fun way to display all of her birth statistics.

Prints available in my Etsy shop
Multiple layouts, monogrammed and custom options available.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Makeshift craft room

I live in a 3 bedroom house with my husband and fur child. So if you do the math, that currently leaves us with two "available" rooms. One room is designated as the guest bedroom/hodge podge of college furniture room. The OTHER room..... oh boy. It started off housing all of our home improvement crap. Then I turned it into my paint room while I was re-painting the kitchen table and chairs. NOW, it's my craft room! Well, at least one tiny corner is. I still have to share space with crap. That room is the junk drawer of our house most days.

Needs some inspiration up on the walls, but for now, it'll do.

I was HOPING to fit all my crafting crap into one storage unit. Ha! That's a joke. Side note: why the heck is there no such thing as a multi-drawer unit that holds 12x12 scrapbooking paper AND has deeper drawers for additional supplies? I looked forever and could only find stands that satisfied one need or the other... not both.

But anyways, this is where the (crafting) magic happens. But alas, this is going to be our future nursery someday... so until lil Arch #1 arrives (no time soon, I might add), this is where my paper hoarding addiction will take place.

DIY: Photo canvas

I love the way photos look on canvas... but I dislike how ridiculously expensive they are. Fear not those who agree with me, there is an easy solution that looks great! For Christmas, I created an 8x10 for both my mom and sister of their respective dogs and the quote "All you need is love... and a dog." Let's just say for a first time attempt, I was beyond thrilled with how they came out.

Blank canvas (I found Hobby Lobby had the best prices)
Mod Podge
Large paint brush
Tracing paper
Acrylic paint (optional)

Print an image out on tracing paper (use a laser jet printer). Be sure the measure the front AND sides of the canvas as well as include some bleed for the back. Cut out your image.

Using your paintbrush, coat the front and sides of the canvas with Mod Podge. Press your image into the center of the canvas first, then carefully smooth out the image from the center out. I used both my fingers and the back of a spoon. Make sure every inch is adhered to the canvas! A little planning ahead is necessary to know where your center is... be careful so you don't skew the image and not have enough for the sides.

One the image is securely wrapped around the canvas, allow to dry for a little bit (15 minutes or so). Then apply another coat of Mod Podge over the front, sides and back edges. Yes, it'll make your image look milky... DON'T PANIC! Mod Podge will dry clear.

On the sides of one of them, I dry brushed on some black acrylic paint to give it a worn/antique-ish look. Totally optional though.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

DIY: Notepads and padding compound

This is a cheap, easy and fun way to make customized notepads with your favorite papers or personalized messages! I used a dog paw paper punch to make these as Christmas gifts for my mom and sister. I punched every sheet of paper in the same spot except for 20 of them. On those, I used the punch on colored paper and then glued the pieces onto the sheet that was going in the notepad. That way, every 6th sheet would allow a colored paw to show through and the rest would just be the outline.

Stack of paper with at least one flush edge
Binder clips
Cardboard (optional - for backing)
Padding compound OR make your own

I opted to make my own padding compound. I found a 2 oz. bottle on Amazon for $8 or I could buy all the supplies for roughly $10 and have enough to last me the rest of my life. 

DIY Padding Compound

Pour 1/4 oz. (1/2 Tbsp.) of unflavored gelatin into 3 Tbsp. boiling water. Use a whisk to stir mixture until it has dissolved and no grains of gelatin are visible.

Add 1 Tbsp. vinegar and 1tsp. glycerin. Whisk for 1 minute of until thoroughly mixed.

Pour mixture into storage jar and allow to cool to room temperature before use. The mixture will be a jelly-like consistency when ready to use. 

If mixture becomes too stiff to work with, I threw it in the microwave for just a little bit until it went back to the jelly consistency.

Combine all of your paper into a neat stack with one flush edge. Put a scrap piece of paper on top and on the back just in case the padding compound starts to drip. Put binder clips on the side of the stack to hold things in place.

Use a paintbrush to apply the padding compound onto the flush edge. I ended up doing 3 generous coats for a 100 sheet notepad and it was a perfect hold. In between each coat of padding compound, add more binder clips along the flush edge for added support. When the final coat is dry, remove the extra sheets from the front and back. Ta da!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry (day after) Christmas everyone! I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend with friends and family. I know I sure did. Christmas day was busy as usual for Clay and I. Opened up gifts in the morning with my parents, sister, her boyfriend, Clay and all 3 dogs. Then we made it to grandma and grandpa's in time for an amazing dinner (as usual). Feeling all sorts of full and ready for a nap, we played Catch Phrase, our gift exchange game and opened gifts from the grandparents. Around 5:00, we left to go over to mom and dad Arch's house. Today we celebrated Christmas with only the immediate family over at my in-laws.... exchanged gifts and played the annual Christmas trivia gift game.

I am fortunate enough to have always gotten what I wanted/more than what I needed for Christmas. My parents and grandparents are the most generous people I have ever met and they make sure that Christmas is amazing year after year. A simple thank you to each and every one of them will never be enough, but in case you're reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making the holidays truly special for me. I hope someday that I can repay you for all that you've provided for me.

Among the piles of new clothes, jewelry and household whatnots, there were two specific gifts that I'm overly excited about. From my mom, a brand new Singer Curvy sewing machine! My mom is a great seamstress and I hope some of that rubbed off on me. Considering I haven't sewn anything since 8th grade home economics, I may need to watch some tutorials. Any suggestions?

My other super awesome gift is this beautiful, custom-made speech bubble hanging bookshelf that my dad made himself (and mom painted)! My dad is an incredible craftsman and has made so many beautiful pieces of furniture over the years... some that can even be found in my home. I cannot wait to hang this shelf over top of the desk that he also built. Thank you both for these great gifts! 

Update 12/28: I almost forgot about a couple other very special gifts! My cousin Miranda made all of us cousins a make-up bag out of Great-Grandma Toni's old dresses. I absolutely love gifts like this! Sure I have some nicknacks and whatnots of Gma T's, but there's just something about functional, repurposed items... especially stuff that she use to wear and us "kids" remember. Thanks Miranda for such a great gift!

...and speaking of Gma T, my sister, being the hoot she is, got me this ornament:

Yes, that is a pierogi ornament. She also included a tag on it that said, "In loving memory of Great-Grandma Toni; making people fat for almost a century." God Bless my bake-aholic, Polish grandmother. xoxo

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Xmas Eve: Spoiled

What a perfect Christmas Eve with my lil family. Went to church with my parents, cooked up a fettuccine dinner, opened gifts from each other and watched a movie. Miss Zora even learned how to open her own gifts! (Never mind the fact that she has destroyed 2 out of the 3 new toys already).

... and by the way, my husband spoils me. xoxo

Friday, December 23, 2011

DIY: Paper starburst garland

Soooooo, many moons ago, I started hoarding paper samples, magazines, old books, etc. Then I got this 2" circle paper punch. Now I hoard circles.  :/

Paper punch addict.

I recently used some of these circles in my paper ornament ball tutorial. Today's crafty project is a paper starburst garland. Depending on the paper color and print, this can be holiday themed or just every day decor.

2" circle paper punch
Greetings cards or cardstock

Fold the circles in half and really make sure you have a distinct crease. I used 12 circles for my particular garland.

Choose a pattern and begin gluing the backs of each half circle together until you form a complete ball. 

String them along the ribbon or string of your choice and display!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Celebrity dinner party

Happy holidays! You have the chance to host a hypothetical dinner party for you and 10 celebrities (alive or deceased). Who would you choose and why? Here's my list:

  1. Paul Walker - because he's nice to look at, duh
  2. Gerard Butler - also nice to look at
  3. Daniel Tosh - no dinner party is complete without a comedian! 
  4. Josh Hartnett - alright, so I like nice things to look at while I'm hosting parties, no big deal
  5. Paul Wesley - hypothetically, my husband is off hunting, so he's my date
  6. Paula Deen - well SOMEONE has to cook! ... with lots of butter
  7. Cesar Millan + dogs - in less time than it takes to clean up, he can break Zora of all her bad habits
  8. Michael Henry + Justin Robinett - my favorite cover artists can serenade my guests after dinner (they're a package deal... who can share a plate for all I care)
  9. Emma Stone - funny girl always ready with some witty comments
  10. Katherine Heigl - always liked her as an actress, but love her now after discovering her involvement with animal rescue

Sunday, December 18, 2011

30 Day Lemon Water Challenge - update!

Welp, I'm a little over halfway thru my month long lemon water challenge. Unfortunately, I had to revise my parameters right off the bat. Trying to go cold turkey on caffeine was a horrible mistake... you know those kind of headaches... where it hurts to raise your eyebrows or blink. Yeah. I tried gradually weening off the coffee in the morning, but drinking water at 7 AM is disgusting! So my new guidelines are my 2 cups of coffee every morning, but after that, it's water for the rest of the day. Even though my lover Diet Coke calls to me for a lunch time rendezvous, I have been successful at telling him "no."

My parents have jumped on the lemon water bandwagon as well. Mom bought me this cool little handheld juicer. (I have a odd obsession with kitchen gadgets.) We've read that you need to include 3 TBSP. of lemon juice in your water to make it worth it. That much of the bottled lemon juice was pretty gross, but I love the fresh stuff!
Yay cool juicer! 

Daily water intake (in ounces)

I started off pretty strong right off the bat, but I need to get back into it. However, some of the benefits I noticed even after the first few days include:

  • Not feeling nearly as sluggish in the afternoon... my 3 PM coma is hardly noticeable!
  • My skin and lips aren't dry (even as we approach the cold winter weather)
  • My complexion is surprisingly clearer than normal
  • Before drinking water, my body would feel almost bloated and fatigued after sitting at a desk all day, but now I feel like it's a second wind!
  • ...and the best possible outcome... I don't feel the need to snack in between meals! Woot! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A letter to my dog

"A Letter to My Dog is a blog and book project by renowned photographer Robin Layton and publisher PQ Blackwell. In 2012, Robin will be photographing dogs and dog-lovers across America. Famous and unknown dog-owners who all have one thing in common: a love of their dogs.

If you too adore your dog, we’d love you to participate by posting a photo and letter. Exceptional letters and their canine recipients will be contacted to be photographed for the book, a contribution from the proceeds of which will go to the Humane Society of the United States."

After coming across this blog, I thought "Hey! I love my dog and this is for a great cause... I'll do it!" So I submitted a brief letter and Zora's picture. My letter didn't turn out as well as I would have hoped, but it was fun. If you love your dog too, submit a letter! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

DIY: Paper ornament ball

These fun paper ornaments can be made out of old Christmas cards or any cardstock. You will need the following supplies:

 1", 1.5" or 2" hole punch
Old greeting cards or cardstock
Xacto knife or scoring tool
Fish line/yarn/string/ribbon
Triangle template (download here)

You will need 20 circles (all the same size). Have fun mixing colors and patterns!

Cut out the appropriate triangle template and trace it on every circle. Use a scoring tool of the tip of an xacto knife to gently score all three sides. Fold the flaps inward.

After gluing the top row together, tape one end of the string onto the inside. Continue gluing the circles on. The top and bottom pieces will each be made up of 5 circles and the middle row will be the remaining 10.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

DIY: Card keepsake book

Being a closet hoarder and overly sentimental, I use to have a rubbermaid FULL of cards/notes/letters from an abundance of people. Shortly after I got married, I decided to have a "clean out my life" day and starting throwing a lot out. However, I do have quite a few cards and notes that I still like to hang on to... including every card my husband has gotten for me over the last decade.

This was a quick and easy project that made my card collection more obtainable and easier to look back on. For most of them, I cut the card down the middle and glued the front cover and the inside message part back to back. Why? No real reason, but I felt it made the book more compact and less pages. I opted to have all the cards flush to the bottom left. If you chose to do this, make sure you find the smallest card first and then mark where you want the holes to be punched. Some binder rings, a whole punch and a few minutes later, I had a nice little keepsake. Be sure to include an envelope in the mix to include any small notes, etc.

Card keepsake book

Monday, December 12, 2011

30 before 30

I see that it is fitting to post my "30 before 30" list since it was my 26th birthday yesterday. My sister and I celebrated our birthdays with an evening in downtown GR at Mojo's and a family dinner at home. Yes, my sister and I share the same birthday... 3 years apart. As my dad tells everyone, he only gets it once a year. Funny, but they are my parents, so eww. Anyways, I've seen some friends post their lists, so I figured I'll jump on the bandwagon. I don't currently have any sort of list compiled, so let's see how I do coming up with 30 different things at one shot. Welp, here I go:

Babies  :)
Take a road trip around the country
Get a tattoo
Learn how to seamlessly use a digital SLR/become a better photographer
Get back down to my wedding weight (and hopefully maintain)
Learn how to cook/bake as well as my mom and grandma
Go on a weekend getaway with my love to somewhere we've never been
Learn how to do my own hair
Do something that makes a huge impact on the fight against animal cruelty
Go skydiving with Moose
Build a piece of furniture (with Dad's help)
Learn HTML
Build my own website
Plant a garden (and keep it alive!)
Join a new church
Learn a different language
Learn how to fillet a fish
Pay off all debts (except for maybe our mortgage)
Purchase a piano and hopefully remember how to play
Begin writing a book for my children someday
Learn to sew
Train my dog to walk without a leash
Learn how to play the guitar
Do a 365 photo project
Advance in my career (freelance or other)
Have something published
Host a holiday party and prepare all the food
Go on an extreme outdoor adventure
Buy, refurbish and sell a piece of furniture
Witness a miracle

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas card/infographic

I can't take all the credit for this because I stole the idea off Pinterest, but I decided to do away with the traditional Christmas letter and turn mine into a letter/infographic. With it, I included our family photo.

Merry Christmas everyone!

The Archambaults

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gaslighting: Women are NOT crazy!

"You're so sensitive. You're so emotional. You're defensive. You're overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You're crazy! I was just joking, don't you have a sense of humor? You're so dramatic. Just get over it already!"

That was the introductory paragraph to a story written on the Women's page of the Huffington Post website a few months ago. The author, Yashar Ali, writes about how women are emotionally manipulated by both men and other women alike. Allowing this sort of belittling is an epidemic that defines women as "crazy, irrational, overly sensitive and unhinged." Insert term: gaslighting

Gaslighting a term used to "describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they're crazy."  The term comes from the 1944 movie Gaslight where the main character's husband wants to get ahold of her jewelry by having her certified as insane and locked away in an asylum. To do this, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker on and off and tells her she's just seeing things when she reacts to it. In this case, he is the gaslighter: "someone who presents false information to alter the victim's perception of him/herself." 

Although not always pre-meditated or intentional, gaslighting creates a reaction -- whether it's anger, frustration, sadness, etc. and the victim is left feeling like their behavior/feelings are rational or normal. Who has the right to dictate how another person should feel or react in any given situation? The familiar quote "don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes" comes to mind. 

Ali continues to write about men find it easier to place their own emotional burdens on their shoulders of their wives and female friends/co-workers rather than impose them on the shoulders of men. Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: It renders some women emotionally mute and these women aren't able to clearly express to their spouse that what is said or done to them is hurtful. 

It's a great read, check it out. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

30 Day Lemon Water Challenge

I came across this pin on Pinterest about the multiple benefits of drinking lemon water:

  1. Balances pH - Lemon is an acidic food, but once metabolized, it becomes alkaline. Alkalies help keep the oxygen in our blood at a safe pH level which helps our body heal itself, assimilate nutrients and fight off unwanted sickness. I tend to avoid green vegetables like the plague, so this seems like a more manageable approach for me. 
  2. Keeps skin clear + glowing - Hydration moisturizes our skin from the inside out and lemon also contains lots of Vitamin C, which helps with wrinkles and blemishes. As a 25-year-old with the skin of a prepubescent teenager, I'm already sold.
  3. Kick starts the digestive system - A big glass of water encourages the liver to produce bile which in turn aids in digestion. It increases urination which helps purify it. It also helps with heartburn and constipation.
  4. Helps with weight loss - Keeping the body in an alkaline state apparently helps people lose weight baster. Lemons are high in fiber pectin which helps keep one full longer. They also have a diuretic effect which helps with water weight gain.
  5. Helps kick the caffeine habit - All I can say is, "I sure hope so." I drink a thermos of coffee (roughly 2 cups) every morning at work. I don't necessarily drink it for the pick me up, but more so to hold off needing to eat breakfast until later in the morning. I also use to never drink pop. One can a month... maybe. Now, thanks to Gentex and their free pop, I'm a Diet Coke addict. Crap.  

I no nutritionist and I'm pretty naive on the nutritional disadvantages or benefits of most foods. So I have no idea how much of that is true, but I do know that water = good and caffeine = bad. With that said, starting today, December 1, I am giving up coffee and pop for the rest of the month and replacing it with as much water as I can handle.

Will keep you posted on the progress and on any noticeable advantages.
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