Saturday, November 24, 2012

Eye Candy Holiday Merchandising

Santa's elf was up early this morning.  I was so excited to pull together my vision for our holiday merchandising and decor at the optical.  The theme is "How Sweet It Is" and boy oh boy, it turned out "sweet"!

I chose to bring together a color scheme based on reds, pinks, lime greens, and kelly greens.  It is fun, bright, and whimsical.  Let me share a few of my favorite highlights from this sweet candy land:

1.  Peppermint Paradise:  Using two chinet cardboard plates facing each other, I drew peppermints with red permanent marker.  Then, using iridescent cellophane and pink ribbon, I created a "wrapper" over the mints.  For the lollipops, I used wooden dowels to create a lollipop stick effect.  These giant peppermints and peppermint lollipops now hang from the ceiling and adorn the doors in the shop.

2.  Funky Nutcrackers:  Lime green spray paint makes a modern statement for these fun nutcrackers.  It was a little bit of an experiment, but they turned out really fun and funky!

3.  Candy in glass jars:  It took a little bit of sorting, but color appropriate gum balls are perfect in this glass jar.  Large lollipops from a candy store and giant peppermint sticks bring the pinks and reds into the scheme!

4.  Sparkle and Shine:  decorative shiny grass (with little kids coming through, we may regret this one) and white/clear marbles give a bright backdrop to the colorful frame lines we featured.  The iridescent candy wrappers on the peppermints also bring in some sparkle and shine to the look.

Woodsy Wonderland

Remember those fabulous orange candles we used for Halloween at the optical shop?  Well, we were able to create a simple intermediate display for Thanksgiving/Fall without shopping at all! Here's how I did it:

1.  I used the two pillar candles I had purchased for the Halloween display.  I love that these candles are different heights and were orange scented (so fresh!).

2.  I gathered some oak leaves in peak colors and pressed them under some heavy books.

3.  I used what we had:  including some woven wood orbs, cork textured contact paper, & orange and clear marble stones.

4.  I featured wood-tone frames as well as some really neat frames that are made of actual wood and bamboo.  We also featured fall-hued sunglasses as well!

Remember to look for items you have around your house that might go well with other items.  I like to create motifs based on themes, rather than have everything match-matchy.  Here we created a woodsy feel using wood tones and orange hues.

Only a few days late, but have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Gothic Halloween

As the merchandiser for a local high-end optical, I wanted to make sure that any holiday decor stayed classy, yet still featured the merchandise well.  For Halloween, I had a $50 budget for merchandising/decor and I wanted to make that stretch as far as I could.  So...I hit the thrift store!  I found fabulous candle holders and a brass candelabra.  All were different heights and different shapes.  I also found gorgeous orange candles from Bed, Bath & Beyond and fake spider webbing from the grocery store.  A few coats of black spray paint later and a little creative arrangement made for an romantically spooky Halloween display that was perfect for the optical shop's all black frame line.  

Here is the final product:  

What we focused on with this project:
1.  Feature a frame line that normally gets left out of the spotlight, but is perfect for the Halloween season!
2.  Stay within budget...
3.  Create a clean, classy look that says "Halloween" without being too overt
4.  Reuse and repurpose items, rather than buying "all new"
5.  Create a display that has some versatile items that can be used in other seasonal displays (black candlesticks would look gorgeous with red candles for Valentine's...)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Minimalist Furniture

This article could not have come at a more opportune time.  We are in the midst of yet another move!  Yes, that's right.  We are moving across the country again!  Hopefully for the last time!  

Moving makes you really consider what you need and what to purge.  Fortunately, from all of our moves, the purge pile is actually pretty small.  We are on a constant search to simplify our lives of clutter, and moving has made that much easier.  We did a huge purge of furniture when we moved from CO to Nashville.  Now, as we look to move back, there really is not much furniture I feel we "need" to get rid of.  I still have in my mind, those lists of furniture pieces I would be fine with seeing gone, or those that we absolutely need.  It feels good, though, to know that we have just what we need.  It also feels good not to feel emotionally attached to furniture.  It is a very freeing feeling!  

While the writer of this article may be going a bit extreme, I think it's great to approach furniture like this.  It makes you really consider if you "need" it.  Here are some the pieces of furniture she said you don't "need" (my thoughts in italics):  

1. Dresser. Instead, try fabric shelves that hang from the closet bar. I use them myself for socks, undies, and folded clothes, and in my baby's room for everything from onesies and sleepers to bibs and washcloths.
I don't personally use a dresser.  I have plastic drawer bins and baskets that I use in my closet.  All of my clothes fit in my closet area.  However, if I had a dresser to use, I might use it, but I've been able to make do without.  
2. End tables. In my opinion, all those extra little tables that live in corners, and at the ends of couches, are just magnets for clutter.
Sometimes you need a place to set a drink.  We use our end tables, so I don't see these at clutter.
3. TV stand or entertainment center. I've eliminated the need for this monstrosity by ditching my television altogether. But if you're not ready to go that route, you can simply hang it on the wall.
In a rental, it's a lot of work to think about hanging a television, so we love our dining buffet-turned tv stand!  
4. Buffet or sideboard. Say sayonara to all the fancy table linens, and the heirloom (or wedding) china you never use, and skip this storage piece -- giving your wallet, and your dining area, a little more breathing room.
I keep my china stored in a secure bin and can pull it out whenever we serve a nice meal.  If I had a place to display them, I would, but it's not essential to me.  I also use my china teacups for things like holding baking soda around the house on shelves as air fresheners or to display a rose bud.  
5. Curio/display cabinet. Do away with the tchotchkes and knickknacks, and you can do away with this massive (and potentially expensive) furnishing. You'll also spend less time and money acquiring dust-collectors to fill it up.
Yea, no.  We don't like dust collectors, so I'm going to agree with this comment!  
6. Recliner. Sure, it's nice to put your feet up -- but not exactly a necessity.
We don't have one, but I some comforts in life are nice to have.  
7. Ottoman. See above.
8. File cabinet. Get a scanner and go digital for your non-essential paperwork. By minimizing the amount of paper that enters my life (and doing an annual paper purge), I'm able to get away with one box of "must keep" documents tucked away in a closet.
I scan all of our documents, but even still, our family is so complicated that we need to keep current papers organized, so my filing drawer is a must!  
9. Bookshelf. As a minimalist writer, I have a love/hate relationship with books; that is, I love the content, but hate the physical (heavy, unwieldy, difficult to move) format. Ebooks have been the answer to my prayers -- enabling me to forgo a bookshelf, and carry my entire collection with ease.
I agree with the love/hate relationship with books.  I haven't been able to jump on the digital book bandwagon.  I'm a purist when it comes to reading!  
10. Nightstand. If your bedside accoutrements are few, consider attaching a small shelf to the wall instead.
Need it!  Between alarm clocks, glasses, retainer, glass of water, lotion, and so much other stuff, I use my nightstand.  The floor is great to set stuff on, but when you have puppies, you want to make sure your stuff is up safe.  
Feeling inspired? Ambitious? Intrigued? Living without the next five items is a little more unconventional, but can save you a nice chunk of change (and some serious square footage):
11. Desk. If you use a laptop, you may not need a dedicated work surface -- you can surf, check email, and pay bills on your dining table, coffee table, sofa, lounge chair, or floor. In one of my apartments, I used adeep windowsill as a workspace.
I'd love to get rid of our desk, but until our desktop computer poops out, I feel like we need it.  I'd love to be back down to just laptops someday...
12. Desk chair. There's no need for a desk chair if you don't have a desk.
13. Sofa. It might sound crazy to go without a couch, but it's doable (and kind of fun!). The alternative: a lounge chair or two, or simply some cushions arranged on the floor.
We have to have a sofa!  It was the best investment we ever made.  Not only does it serve as comfort for us, but allows us to entertain, which is important to us.  And it serves as a really comfortable guest bed for the occasional guest who needs it.  Seriously, it's really comfortable.  
14. Dining table. Like a sofa, a dining table is typically considered a household essential -- but it doesn't have to be. If you don't mind sitting on the floor, a coffee table may suffice. In fact, in some cultures, a simple low table is the norm.
We need our table, but we only have one.  I like not having a dining table and a kitchen table.  Simplifies things!  
15. Dining chairs. If you don't have a dining table, you don't need chairs; if dining at a low table, a few cushions will do. Such an arrangement can have a serene, Zen-like feel, or if you're so inclined, a more bohemian, Arabian nights ambiance.

To see the full article:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Eco-Friendly & DIY Christmas Decor

Now these are super late!  But it's never too early to start thinking about holiday decorations.  (Or in my case, in advertising, we're already shooting Christmas trees and planning for the holidays in July!)  These are some of the decorations I made for Christmas 2010 when I hosted my family.  My decorations were focused on using natural materials, reusing materials, or using items that can be used year-round.
*  Spray painted branches and used them in an everyday green-tinted vase
*  green tablecloth that I use all year round

* green tinted coke bottles (already red and green!) with ribbon as candleholders

* home made swag made of spray painted branches

* pine cones collected on our dog walk and ribbons 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

the lure of the wild

the lure of the wild

a calm, sweet mist crawls over the bay as we catch one last glimpse of a land so magical.  
mere days, mere hours seems hardly enough to grasp even a slice of this heaven.  
yet, somehow I manage to grasp but just a little.

the lure is in the land, with its endless team of snow-packed peaks.  
peaks glimmering in the brilliant sun, yet shrouded in the mystery of a rainy fog.  
this same land so suddenly turns to a boggy sponge sloping down the terrain.
and home to creatures so magnificent; their eyes seem to hold an enigmatic wisdom.

the lure is in the sea, lapping quietly in and out with the coastal tides.  
it is murky and dangerous; it is brilliant green and crisp.  
cold and furious, yet soothing and quiet,
it is that deep reflection showing but the tiniest glimpse of the world below.

the lure is in the air, clean and crisp.  
it will sudden your breath; it will soothe your tired soul.
among it glides the regal bird, scoping out the world below.  
he knows this space is his and his to own.

the lure is in the people.  People who work and toil and laugh and LOVE.
people who embrace fear and unknowns.  
people who have seen and know a glimmer of the mystery.
people who know something that not many else can claim to know.

the lure of the wild.  the lure of beauty.  so pure. so true.

alaska 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

AK is O.K. - fresh tracks in alaska

Our fresh tracks led from Tennessee all the way up to Alaska last week!  This was a new adventure for both me and the hubbs.  We literally were able to make fresh tracks - in the snow!  Hubbs went back-country skiing in fresh powder!  And we've both wanted to go to Alaska!

In honor of our trip (and to add a little whimsy), I decided to make some Alaska shirts for our trip.  One of those viral pins on Pinterest about bleaching t-shirts with a bleach pen was my inspiration.

Take One:  Bleach Pen T-shirt

1.  I decided on the phrase for the shirt "AK is o.k." and googled images for moose heads to emulate.

2.  I used stickers to place out a rough guideline as to where I would "draw" with the bleach.

3.  I placed a piece of cardboard inside the t-shirt so that the bleach would not bleed through to the back.  

4.  I used that dexterity God gave me and my design education from Judson University to sketch out the image on the shirts.  

5.  Sadly, the bleach did not work out as I had hoped.  The bleach was too sloppy and runny on my shirt, so I decided I had to scrap that.  Then, the hubbs' shirt (below), which was made of a softer cotton, would not bleach.  After I washed the shirt, you could not tell that any bleach had been soaking on the shirt at all!

Take Two:  Screen Printing Ink!

1.  I headed on over to the craft store to look for fabric paint and left with this:  

2.  I followed the instructions on the bottle and here were the results!  It was super easy!

Moral of the story:  AK is not just o.k. - It's Amazing!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I did it! Re-purposing a dog pillow

My good friend, and now blogger, introduced me to this idea of making pillow slipcovers about a year ago! I love her blog: Madindy. She has so many great ideas on it.

Last week, I decided that the poopies' dog pillow needed a redo. It was getting worn and getting holes in the cover. I have had this fabric shower curtain that we got for our wedding. However, based on the places we've been living in the last three years, we haven't needed a second shower curtain. So, I cut it up and made it into a new cover for our dogs' pillow. The fun thing is that the fabric matches our colors in the living room already! And-this project didn't cost me a dime! If you're looking for the original post, go here:

(Copper always lays down on my projects when I'm working on them in the living room!)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

8 Ways I've Simplified My Kitchen

When you do your wedding registry, you put all sorts of things that you really don't need. That laser gun is just so fun! But now, a few years later, I have realized a few things about how I manage my kitchen that have made my life easier and more simple. Check 'em out:

1. I have realized that I hate metal pans. I should have just registered for glass bakeware, because all of my metal ones have gunked up from non-stick spray baking on them. I've heard good things about the silicone bakeware, but for some reason I'm still skeptical. I feel like "they" will come out in a few years saying that silicone is unsafe or something. So far, glass has worked out the best!

2. Along the same lines as #1, buying expensive cookie pans is a waste, but also are really cheap ones. I've accepted the fact that cookie pans won't last very long. Between cutting up homemade pizza, non-stick spray, and other fun adventures, I don't expect them to last very long.

3. I have realized that the crock pot we bought was way too big for just two of us. Someday when there's more in our family, it may work, but almost any recipe I've tried is just too dry. My hypothesis so far is that a smaller crockpot may help keep more moisture in the actual food. We'll see....haven't given up yet!

4. For a non coffee drinker, the cheap-o $10 coffee pot I bought from the grocery store works great. It's big enough to make a couple cups of coffee for when I have guests staying over, and it's small enough to not impose on the day to day.

5. I realized I never needed to register for china. First of all, the everyday china we registered for to try to consolidate our dinnerware, chipped almost right away. We returned it and got all white dishes. We love our white set! Second of all, I inherited my grandmother's gorgeous china, which means so much more than a set I would have registered for.
6. Cloth napkins work great! We haven't bought a single paper napkin in our house! This is partly for environmental reasons, party for fiscal reasons, and partly because it's just easier. We have enough fabric napkins to last us through while dirty ones are being washed.

7. I have realized that kitchen utensils (tons, wooden spoons, spatulas, etc) are not very expensive and can easily go in the dishwasher. I used to hand wash everything outside of dishes, glasses, and silverware. Now, I've started putting more of my utensils in the top rack of our dishwasher, and even some of our older pans.

8. I have learned to save glass jars from pasta sauce, jam, and more to pour in bacon grease. Oh! and splatter screens are a must for making bacon!

Monday, March 26, 2012

enjoying the little things in life

the little thing of today: smell of freshly cut grass

Sustainable Cycle of Life

It's that time of year to start thinking about sustainable living again...

It seems that I go in cycles of focusing on living responsibly. Unfortunately, Tennessee has been a harder place to live green. The town we live in doesn't even have curbside recycling as an option! Which means more work for us! Heaven forbid!

But seriously. In our busy lives, between jobs and family and meals and errands, finding the time to go drive over to the recycling center isn't always the most important priority. However, with the start of spring and all of the rebirth of plants and now a more settled pace of life personally, I feel like I can once again focus on living sustainably. I found myself thinking about how I could reuse some food containers as "tupperware" for lunches. I found myself thinking that I should use my "shreddings" as gift stuffing. I found myself using the back sides of paper at work for my scratch paper. I found myself really excited about the steal-of-a-deal jeans that I found at Goodwill.

What else can I be doing? What do I have that I don't need? How can I be living more simply. I amd finding myself beginning to get back in that mode. Especially with Earth Day coming up in a few weeks, I want to start thinking about what I want to do. I've never done anything specifically for this day, but have always wanted to. So, I figure, if I start to think about it now, maybe I'll physically do something this year!

Bucket List Take 2: Skydiving!

Check! and Check! Yup, that's right folks, we went skydiving! This was something new for both me and the hubbs, but was such a fun adventure to do together. It was great to face a fear and to do something out of our comfort zones. I wonder what we'll do next....oh wait, that's right: Alaska! Yup! All fifty states are going to have seen me by the time I die and Alaska is the next stop! But, that's another adventure to be told...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

7 Steps to Moving Responsibly

Well, it looks like it's about that time for us to move town that major moves this time!

How many times has it been since I graduated college? Either way, we've got it down to a science now. Moving can be such a wasteful endeavor. So, how can we keep our move more earth friendly? Below are some of the things we're doing to keep things responsible:

1. Plan Ahead! It's a few weeks before we really have to be packed up, but we're already collecting boxes whenever we can. If you wait to the last minute, you end up having to scramble and buy boxes.

2. Check out craigslist for people getting rid of boxes from their move. (Note to self: post on craigslist about free boxes after our move!)

3. Ask stores for boxes that they normally crush. I've been hitting up the flower lady at the grocery store and a local bookstore for our boxes so far!

4. Get creative with your packing solutions: Use your suitcases, backpacks, and reusable grocery tote bags to transport stuff.

5. Recycle the cardboard boxes and paper packing supplies after the move!

6. Avoid styrofoam stuffing for fragile items. Save up packing supplies as you see them come in at work and home deliveries.

7. Use what you have to pack! Pack fragile items in tshirts and towels.

Any other tips would be appreciated! Feel free to pass them along!