To Boost Your Resolve

by Carly on January 6, 2014, no comments

We’re six days into the New Year and we’ve already had records broken by the cold. Some resolutions may have been already broken, too. If that’s you don’t plop down and sigh at your lack of tenacity. Instead, examine your resolution and see how you can get back on the train of self improvement. Ask yourself these questions:

 Is my resolution too ambitious?

It’s great to have ambitious goals, but it can’t be done all at once. You have to take things in small steps to attain something big. Try making small goals for each week or month, so you won’t become exhausted after two days. Doing too much of something can ruin your resolve for anything.

Also, be realistic. If you have a resolution to sing opera, but can’t carry a tune, I’m sorry to say that you probably won’t succeed. Figure out what your talents are and what you enjoy doing and make goals for that.

What caused me to give it up or stop doing it?

If you resolved to run outside every day for health, but stopped because of the frigid temperatures, cut yourself a break- it’s cold. If some other uncontrollable thing made you break your resolution, don’t let that be the end of it. Start again tomorrow. Nobody’s perfect. Most people don’t like perfect people anyway (exceptions of course are Jesus and Mary Poppins). People do like inspiring people, though, which are the ones that don’t give up even after hardships and shots to their confidence. So be inspiring!

Is it really necessary?

Do you really need or want to do the thing you’ve resolved to do or are you just doing it to have a resolution? If you have to force yourself or it’s not beneficial to your health physically/mentally/emotionally, then don’t bother. Do something else with your time.


I’m not a resolution expert, but I hope these questions will help anybody struggling with theirs. Since this post is devoted to resolutions I’ll share mine for 2014 with you:

  1. Learn a new language
  2. Maintain a daily devotional time
  3. Exercise and eat healthy foods
  4. Keep blogging
  5. Do a weekly tutorial for design/ Adobe programs
  6. Keep working hard at school, even when I’m beginning to get sick of it.
  7. Write things that aren’t school related
  8. Journal regualarly
  9. Try to get a regular routine for working on homework
  10. Read at least 10 books

Ta-dum! There it is. Amy also wrote about her resolutions for this year on her personal blog, so check it out if you haven’t. Happy 2014!

Gifts for a Young Mom

by Amy on December 22, 2013, no comments

Christmas has taken on a whole new life for me since becoming a mother, both in good and bad ways. First there’s the stress. As a kid I never really understood why our mother would get stressed out around the holidays. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But now I know that it was the most wonderful time of the year largely because our mother put in a lot of work to make it so. Baking cookies, taking us to all the special Christmas activities at church, and shopping for just the right gifts that would make us happy and excited on Christmas morning. It’s a lot of pressure. But at the same time I feel like having a child of my own has made me so much more aware of the true meaning of Christmas and my desire to make sure my son grows up to know that Christmas happened all because God loves him.

Needless to say, there’s a lot going on for a young mother at Christmastime. So it stands to reason that she may not have a lot of time to put together her own Christmas wish list. So I’ve put together a few ideas that are sure to make her smile.


Moms don’t have a lot of time to spend on themselves, and many times concerns about beauty and fashion can go by the wayside. So you can treat the young mother in your life by giving her something to make her feel pretty. Maybe it’s as simple as some nice lotion or bubble bath. Or maybe you could go more extravagant and get her some jewelry that she can easily throw on to feel a little more dressed up. A gift card for a facial or massage at a spa would probably be much appreciated as well. Or if she really doesn’t have time to get out of the house, you could give her a Stitch Fix gift card so she can shop for new clothes at home!

Pretty and Practical

This is a category that can be dangerous. Many the unfortunate husband have given their wives such useful tools as vacuum cleaners and slow cookers. And it didn’t go over well. But I think it is possible to give a very useful gift that can also be enjoyed by a mom. I think the key is to pay attention to the design and material. A set of plastic cutting boards from Walmart are useful, but not something a mom is going to get excited to open on Christmas morning. But a handmade olive wood cutting board like this one on Etsy would make a very nice gift. Every time she gets out the cutting board to chop veggies for dinner she’ll get to enjoy the beautiful wood grain and feel like she’s decorating her kitchen at the same time. Measuring cups are mostly ignored, but these sweet hedgehog measuring cups from Anthropologie are too cute to not put a smile on her face. So think about the things she uses all the time and see if you can find a replacement to make a mundane task a little more enjoyable.

Give her a break

One gift that would be universally appreciated by moms is a break. This is also a great option to give if you’re on a tight budget or are doing your gift giving last minute. Offer to watch her kids sometime so she and her husband can go out on a date. Take her kids to the park one afternoon so she can enjoy some down time in a quiet house. Maybe even offer to do some housecleaning for her so she can spend her time pursing other passions. Even some meals for the freezer can be a godsend on crazy days. It may not seem like much, but to a young mom it can make all the difference.

Most of all, a young mom just wants the holidays to be a special time for family. By remembering her at Christmas time, even with a small and simple gift, you are reminding her that she is special too!

Tis the Season

by Carly on December 18, 2013, 2 comments

With Christmas just around the corner, we want to share with you our picks for Christmas gifts. We hope our picks will give you an idea of what others our age may want or if you have any last minute gift shopping, some ideas of what to get. I’m going to give you a list for the college student or young adult in your life. 

1. Money

      I realize this is the most uncreative present there is, but as a college student, money is always a welcome gift. However, there are ways to add a creative flare to this gift. One way is to make a money shirt. I received this from my Aunt and Uncle for an early Christmas present.

You could do some other form of origami with the money, too. There are also interesting money gifts, such as Money Soap or a Money Maze.

 2. Sweaters

    Walking around campus in the winter in cold, blustery weather is something you can’t avoid as a college student. So give the college student in your life something to keep them warm and dry. Sweaters can sometimes be dangerous territory, because there are a lot of tacky, weird ones out there. However, some stores have very cute, and affordable sweaters. Check out Forever 21 or Charlotte Russe to keep you warm and keep money in your pocket.

 3. Technology

     If you have some extra money to spend this season and a college student to buy for, check out some of the new technology that’s out. Laptops are a necessity these days so the Macbook Air or Macbook Pro are reliable options. The new Microsoft Surface is a tablet and laptop in one, which allows for a lot of flexibility and versatility for students. There are a lot of options for tablets, smart phones, laptops, and everything in between these days, so do some research and find what fits your giftees needs and your budget.

 4. Wall Décor

     College students always welcome something to decorate their dorm rooms with. Artwork and posters are great ways to give something creative and unique. Also, if your into DIYs and crafts, then this can be a cheap, but special gift to someone you care about. Pinterest has a lot of DIYs for wall art. If your not the crafty type then check out Etsy for some unique options.

 5. Food

     This is a present that can be really hard to mess up. Every college student needs food for the long nights of studying and the times they can’t get to the dining hall before it closes. Whether it’s just mac and cheese or trail mix, any contribution to the food stash is welcome. Try a goody basket with a variety of snacks and treats. Coffee makers or Keurigs are also great presents for your college student. Every college student needs a little caffeine at some point, so having something on hand is convenient.


These are my ideas of things that I would be happy to have as a college student. These gifts don’t have to be exclusively for students, though. These ideas can be applied to anyone. Putting thought into the gifts you give is the most important part anyway. Just remember, in this stressful season, that the most important gift was given to you over 2,000 years ago in the form of a baby.


Merry Christmas!   

A Little Thanksgiving Inspiration

by Amy on November 18, 2013, 2 comments

I’m getting off pretty easy for Thanksgiving this year. Our parents are hosting. My aunt will be there to help Mommy with a lot of the meal prep before I even arrive. There will be lots of people around to entertain my baby. I’m pretty much just going to get to come, eat a lot of good food, and enjoy the company of family.

But last year I hosted Thanksgiving at my house, so I know how daunting of a task it can be. For anyone else out there who has to plan a menu, decorate a table, and figure out how to fit a dozen people in your home, here are some tips and ideas to help you out.

The Food

The Best Way to Roast a Turkey – This method of preparing a turkey from Simple Bites was what I used last year. It turned out great. Especially considering that it was my first attempt roasting a turkey.

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie – I’ve never been a huge fan of pumpkin pie. But last year my sister-in-law made a pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin. As in she roasted the pumpkin and scooped out the flesh and made it into yummy pie-ness instead of just buying a can at the store. Let me tell you, I thought it made a huge difference. I ate several pieces of that pie.

Sweet Potato Pomegranate Salad – I haven’t tried this recipe from Two Peas and their Pod, but I want to. It looks delicious. I think this could be a good choice if you are just responsible for a single side dish to take to your Thanksgiving dinner. It’s something a little different, and would look lovely in a pretty serving dish!


The Decor

Layered Bean Candleholder

Last year my sisters helped me come up with this simple candle holder idea to line up along the center of our table. It was easy to make and super cheap.

Craft Paper Tablecloth

I love the idea of using craft paper for a table cloth. This table from 4 Men 1 Lady is actually set for valentines day, but I could see it looking really nice on a Thanksgiving table. You could write each person’s name at their place or decorate it with small drawing of leaves or words of things you are thankful for. Any kiddos at the dinner could color on the table to keep themselves amused, and at the end of day you can just throw the whole thing away for easy clean-up.

Thankful Tree

I also think Thankful Trees are a lovely idea to not only decorate your home, but also create a tangible reminder of the real meaning of the day. This Thankful Tree from Simply Vintage Girl uses some really nice chalkboard tags, but you could go a little simpler and just cut out some leaf shapes from fall colored cardstock and have everyone write on that.

Get Organized

If there are a lot of people in your home, it’s important to keep things streamlined and in order. Here are a few suggestions of small ways to make it all a bit easier.

Utensil Holder

We made our own version of this utensil holder last year from The Idea Room. Not only is it pretty on the table, but if you do a buffet style serving line a small sleeve of untensils is a lot easier to pick up and carry with you.

Tag Your Cups

I thought this idea from A Subtle Revelry was brilliant. It keeps your cups from getting mixed up but it’s prettier than the classic “write your name on a cup with a sharpie” move.

Make a Schedule

On Thanksgiving it seems that everything is vying for a place in the oven. It’s essential to make a schedule to plan out what to make when so you can know that everything will be ready and warm by dinner time! This guide from Cooks Illustrated gives some good general guidelines of how to plan for the big day.

I hope these suggestions help make your Thanksgiving a special one.

Our Mystery Build Project

by Amy on November 6, 2013, one comment

What do you get when you combine a box full of random art materials, three sisters, and some colorful Expressionist artistic inspiration?

A pretty fantastic piece or sisterly collaboration, that’s what!


Earlier this year Erin contact Carly and I with an fun idea. She had discovered the “Mystery Build Contest.” This is a contest created by two professional artists to encourage creativity and participation in the arts. This is the way it works:

  • You sign up to enter the contest.
  • You receive a box in the mail full of art supplies and materials. You won’t know what types of supplies you’ll be getting until you open the box (this is the “mystery” part of it).
  • You use the materials in the box (and only the materials in the box) to create a piece of art based on the year’s theme.
  • You submit your creation (and hopefully win a prize)!

Everyone who enters the contest receives the same materials in their box, and it is really interesting to see all the different ways people think of to use them. Some of the things in our box included blocks of wood, wire, a bunch of shredded newsprint, some clay, and a block of floral foam.


Our Inspiration Piece

This year’s theme was “Reimagine a work of art” and we used Marc Chagall’s painting “I and the Village” as our inspiration piece. We loved the bright colors and whimsical, imaginative feel of the painting. Our goal was to transform the 2D painting into a 3D sculpture. This presented some interesting challenges. The painting is very dreamlike, and doesn’t always follow the rules of physics.

Like the upside down lady playing the violin.


And the milk maid inside the goat’s face.

Photo Aug 11, 2 44 24 PM

We loved getting together to work on this project. It stretched us creatively but also reminded us of how well we all work together. It was actually while working on this project that we started putting together our ideas to start this blog!

Public voting for the People’s Choice Award is going on for the whole month of November. If you would like to vote for our project, just go to page 4 of the mystery build gallery and vote for #103: I and the 3D Village.

If you’d like to see more of our process, you can take a look at the short video Carly put together.


Mystery Build 2013 I and the Village from Mystery Build on Vimeo.

Erin’s Adventures in Upholstery, Carpentry, and Lots of Spray Paint

by Erin on October 28, 2013, no comments

I am officially a Chicago resident and have been living here for over a week now!  I thought today I would share with you some of the DIY upgrades I made to my belongings before leaving for Chicagoland.   I spent the weeks leading up to my move working hard to raise my furniture to a suitable level of attractiveness to adorn my already cute apartment.

Telephone Desk

I bought this fun telephone desk at the vendor’s mall in my home town for a pretty good bargain.  As you can see, I was proud enough of the purchase that I decided it must be displayed on instagram with a fancy filter.  For some reason, that is the only picture that remains of the “before” version of the desk, so enjoy the overall yellowy tone.



The first thing that needed to be done was a seat cushion costume change.  I can appreciate an interesting orange textile in general, but it really seemed to be dragging this specific piece of furniture back to the 70s.  It’s also important to note that I already own two large orange furniture pieces, and I don’t really want to feel like I’m living inside of a giant pumpkin.  So I went out and found myself a nice, fresh teal fabric to use for my seat.
I also decided that since this is probably the most unique piece of furniture I own, I should really do something to make a showpiece out of it.  Enter chevron tape and spray paint!  Chevron is a big deal right now, so they actually make specially shaped painter’s tape that helps you incorporate chevron into all of your DIY projects.  I don’t really like chevron that much but I do like diamonds, and if you connect the tips of your chevron tape instead of creating parallel lines you get an alternating diamond pattern!
special tape

Special tape

 I chose a very light cream color for the diamonds so they can stay neutral if my color palette ever changes and I want a different colored seat cushion.  And here is the end result!


Unfortunately, I still can’t seem to find a great spot for this in my apartment.  Figures.

Storage Chair

My next project actually involved a bit of carpentry.  Are you amazed?  Well, it was pretty mild carpentry, but it didn’t feel mild to my arms because I used a hand saw.
So there was a chair at my house that no one was using, and I was like, “hmm, maybe I need a chair for my apartment!” Good idea, right?  Then I was like, “And maybe I should make this chair serve double duty as a sitting place and a storage place!” Good idea too, yeah?  Well, more like good concept.  I’m still not sure it was worth the work, but I am proud of myself for doing it.  Here is a picture of the chair laying on the ground without the seat because I forgot to take a real “before” picture.


So here’s what I did:
There were two-inch panels coming down from the seat of the chair on all four sides.  I decided to measure and cut a wooden base to attach to the bottom of the panels to create a box under the seat.  Then I covered the seat in the same material as my telephone desk and attached it with hinges so that it could open as a lid.  My dad was nice enough to help me drill holes in the chair to attach the hinges.  Here are some pictures.
The saw that built a muscle in my arm.

The saw that built a muscle in my arm.


Attaching the base to the chair


The original cushion was black, by the way.


Wow, a box! And hinges!

It turned out well and can hold small things, like that pair of scissors in the picture (with room to spare!).  I might cover the inside of the box with wallpaper sometime to make it prettier, but that is a project best saved for a rainy day in Chicago.

File Cabinet and Octagonal Table

These were just painting projects.  They were both black and boring. Black used to be a go-to color for me a few years ago when I was dark and mysterious, but it just doesn’t fit with my new scheme, and I was really needing some more bluish greens in my life.   For my file cabinet I just picked a color of spray paint I liked (I believe it was called something oceany like “sea spray” or “ocean potion”) and then I just taped over the handles and painted that thing!  Yay!  So easy, and it looks pretty too!




Of course, I decided to make my table more complicated by painting a pattern on the top.  I could go into detail about the process, but I actually took thorough step by step pictures of this one so I will let them speak for me.


What is she doing here?

What a lovely color!



Oh my, a design!

Oh my, a design!

Wait, what happened?

Wait, what happened?

Ah, yes.  The old "peeling the tape off" trick!

Ah, yes, the old “peeling the tape off” trick!

I had a little accident when I was finishing this one.  I had to wait until the paint was dry on the top and then I flipped the table over onto a drop cloth to touch up the under side of the legs.  But when the legs were dry and I went to put it right-side-up again, there were marks from the drop cloth on the surface of the table.  Ooops!  I may try to fix it one day, but you can only see the weird, crumpled-plastic-like marks if you get up close.
Strange markings

Strange markings

 If you ever come to visit and want to marvel at the HGTV-like beauty that is my apartment, just stay a few feet away from the coffee table.
Am I on HGTV?  Because this is prime coffee table material!

Am I on HGTV?

Working Hard…Is it Hardly Working?

by Carly on October 9, 2013, no comments

Sometimes I just want to get away. Away from the noisy, hustle-bustle of the world. Away from the belief that the busier you are, the more fulfilled your life will be. As if packing your life with activities, projects, jobs, and teams is going to be a life not wasted. I want to get away from the constant striving towards that indefinite something and the mindset that if you can just do something then you will be happy. As if happiness is something to be achieved or earned.

When did our society decide that everything has to be worked for?  Is that the American dream mindset? That you can be, do, gain, anything as long as you pull yourself up from your own bootstraps. That’s a rather self-involved idea. Why can’t someone else come along and help you pull up that bootstrap of yours. Why are we not focused more on giving someone one of our multiple bootstraps, when they have none? Is it really more important to achieve something independently, to rise to greatness, than to sacrifice your own pride to help someone else live a better life?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe working hard is admirable. Working hard is necessary for a healthy life. Hard work can and does bring fulfillment. However, hard work for hard work’s sake is pointless. Having a busy life for the appearance and approval of others brings nothing but weariness. But, having a purpose and meaning outside of your own self interest is worth it. Working for something meaningful brings a certain kind of peace.

However, even working with purpose cannot be constant. Finding a way to block out the noise and pause all the urgency of the world is essential to discovering what is important. It gives you a chance to reflect and observe. You may discover who or what you missed while your eyes were focused elsewhere. So take a little time to get away from the constant hustle bustle and reflect on what or who you’re working for today.





Advice to my sister striking out on her own…

by Amy on September 23, 2013, 2 comments

Erin announced recently that’s she preparing for a big move to Chicago. It seemed like an appropriate time to give her a little sisterly advice…


Carpe diem is a very cliche thing to say to a young creative woman heading out on her own to try to make it in the big city. “Of course,” you may think. “Isn’t that the whole point?”

But as your older and wiser sister, I have something to tell you that you may not know. Normal, everyday days do not often seem worthy of seizing. The daily grind of finding food to eat, keeping your clothes clean, doing whatever job you can find so you can pay the rent, and the cable bill, and the electricity, all so you can veg out I front of the TV at the end of a long day — those days can be boring and don’t appear to have a lot of opportunity in them. “What’s worth seizing?” you may ask. So days will slip by, then weeks and months until you find yourself several years older and no closer to your dream.

So really… Carpe Diem, sister.


You won’t know what the day holds for you until you go ahead and do the hard work of seizing it. And it will be hard work. To truly seize the day you’ll have to work hard at undreamy things so you can stay alive, because being alive is the only way you’ll ever find the chance to work hard on your dreams. You’ll have to take every sliver of time you can find to write and create. There will be times when you’ll wonder if all this hard work is getting you anywhere. If it’s all worth it. Let me tell you, it’s getting you a lot farther than doing nothing. It’s getting you a lot farther than a lot of other people get – those people waiting around for the right day to seize.

You have an opportunity here that not everyone gets. I got married right after college. I don’t regret a second, but my adult life has never been only about me. I’ve never made a decision that didn’t have to take someone else into account. A good marriage takes sacrifice. Being a parent takes even more. I sometimes wonder what I would have become if I had had the opportunity to be selfish for a while. To chase after my dreams with no restrictions. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t be much farther along. I wouldn’t have recognized a few years living the single life as the opportunity it would have been. Just as I didn’t recognize the vast amounts of free time I had before becoming a mother until all that time was suddenly gone. So as only a person looking in retrospect can say, Carpe diem.

Not to be all doom and gloom on you here. Just because you miss seizing one day doesn’t mean you can’t seize the next. I’m writing these admonitions as much for me as for you. And it doesn’t have to mean shutting yourself in all day so you can work, work, work either. Enjoy the ride. Savor the experience. Try new things. Don’t be afraid to be who you’ve always wanted to be. Insert other cliche encouragements here. They’re only cliche because they’re good things to say.

I’m excited for you, sister. You’re on the cusp of a dream come true. And if you ever need a little encouragement, just give me a call. I’m happy to say “Rah! Rah! You can do it!” until the cows come home. And since I don’t have any cows, that could go on indefinitely.

Photo Challenge Recap

by Amy, Erin, & Carly on September 16, 2013, no comments

Remember when we told you we were going to attempt a photo challenge for the month of August? Well, if you don’t, let me refresh your memory. Every day in August we challenged ourselves to take a picture. This may not seem very hard to some of you, but we intended it to stretch our artistic/creative abilities. We wanted interesting pictures with various perspectives, focusing, and subjects. Since the month of August is over, so is the challenge. With our second collaborative post we wanted to share our experience and favorite picture with all of you. If you want to see all the pictures we took go here.

Amy Says:

My main goal for this photography challenge was to get better at using my DSLR camera. I have recently started to learn how shutter speed and aperture and all that work together, but I hadn’t really taken the time to practice it much. I feel like a lot of the pictures I take on my phone are doctored up with filters and such, and I wanted to see if I could get pictures that looked good the old fashioned way.

Favorite photo:


This is a picture of the eagle on top of our flagpole. We had been watching a morning glory vine climb up the flagpole all summer, and this picture was taken the day it finally reached the top. I think I’m proud of this photo mainly because a lot of work went into it. I had to switch out our regular lens for the zoom lens and stand across the street in just the right spot to get the blue sky in the background. If I moved a little to either side you would have seen trees or rooftops ruining the shot. I also spent a lot of time adjusting the settings on the camera until I got a nice glow in the light and had the white balance right so the colors were true to life.

What I learned:

  1. There’s a reason I use my camera phone with filters most of the time. I found it difficult to get out the DSLR camera each day and it always took time to get the settings right. I was often disappointed with the color or light in those photos. I’m sure I just need more practice, but it’s a lot easier to get vibrant colors with my iPhone and a good filter.

  2. It’s hard to get clear pictures of wiggly babies and puppies. I guess I already knew this, but I was surprised at the number of blurry photos I had by the end of this challenge.

  3. There really is a golden hour. And it definitely doesn’t last an hour. There were several times when the whole family would be playing outside in the evening and I would suddenly realize that the light was perfect. I would rush inside to get the camera and start snapping. But usually by the time I had played around with the settings enough, the light would change. I think I got better at this by the end of the month, but I have yet to capture some truly golden light.

  4. It’s fun to challenge my creativity, but it’s hard to keep up with! I definitely admire those people who make creativity a discipline and practice it every day.


Erin Says:

My main goal for this challenge was to summon up enough self-discipline to actually produce an image for each day in August. I’ve mentioned before that completing tasks is not my strong suit, so I thought this challenge would be helpful in training my mind to form habits more easily. Since I enjoy photography as a pastime (albeit crummy iPhone photography), I hoped it would be easy to bridge the gap between irregular hobby and daily habit.

My Favorite Photo:


This was taken from a 9th floor hotel room in a suburb outside of Chicago. We arrived just at the right time to get a great view of the sunset. It’s not the clearest image because it was taken with my phone and was actually cropped from a much larger frame. But I chose this as my favorite because I really like the composition. It had just stormed outside so there were dark, dramatic clouds overhead, and the bottom half of the image is a dark forest area.  With the top and bottom of the picture bordered with darkness, the eye is drawn toward the middle of the image where the sunset outlines a single building standing above the trees. Besides the cropping, I really can’t take much credit for this photo, we were just lucky to have this view from the room.

What I learned:

  1. Don’t depend on a filter. All of my pictures were taken with my phone, and I used filters on most of them. However, whenever I took a lackluster picture with the intention of digitally altering it to greatness, it really only changed from “average picture” to “filtered average picture” and no “great picture” was ever born. I realized that when I actually took the time to try to find better light or adjust the white balance as best I could, I was able to make a good photo look great with just a few tweaks.

  2.  Some days are more inspiring  than others. There were a few days during our challenge when I went outside to get my one shot of the day and came back in with 10 great photos to choose from. Then there were a few days when I was busy and tired all day and eventually found myself laying in bed at night thinking, “Oh! I forgot to take a picture today!”  And of course, I sat up and just snapped a quick pic of whatever was nearest to me. I guess some days just don’t inspire great images, but when there is good lighting outside and all kinds of plants growing and animals crawling around, it’s nice to forego 30 minutes of tv in order to get some great shots.

  3. Interesting compositions are everywhere, you just have to find them. Even if it’s a dreary day, nothing interesting is going on, and no inspiration falls into your lap- if you have the time and energy to put into exploring you can find all kinds of neat shapes, textures, and color combinations in every day objects. I love taking close-ups of fabric, furniture, food, and other household items. It’s amazing how much angles and lighting can change how you view an object.

Carly Says:

My main goal for this challenge was just to find interesting ways to document my life. I don’t take enough pictures in my day to day life, although I’ve always wished I would have been more into it. I guess it’s good that I’m so invested in the moment that I don’t think about stopping and recording it memories sake, but still, I love looking back at the pictures I do have and reliving moments.

My Fave Photo:


This picture is of my dog Eujane. It’s hard getting any picture of her that doesn’t look like a tan ghost of a dog, so this is a rare instance of stillness. I like the weird cropping and angle of it, because it reflects my dog’s playfulness. However, the green and blue hues and soft lighting give it a peaceful quality.

What I learned:

  1. It’s hard to start a new habit. For the first week I was fine remembering, then I started forgetting until the last minute. A couple times I forgot completely. I guess that’s what reminders on phones are for.

  2. Getting good quality pictures on an iphone can be next to impossible. Granted, my iphone is old and so is the camera, but it was the most difficult part of the challenge for me. I appreciate real, only-takes-pictures cameras a lot more now that I know how hard it is to take quality photos without one.

  3. Photography challenges you to see things differently. While looking through a lens you see how things line up and the detail that can be enhanced. When framing something you see how the shape or angles of an object fit within that frame and it forces you to adjust your perspective or angle, which wouldn’t happen if looking at it normally.

I’m Movin’ Out!

by Erin on September 9, 2013, 4 comments

Hello readers!

(I’m going to pretend a lot of people are reading this, even though it’s probably just my mom).

It’s time for me to tell you a little about my life. Have I ever mentioned that I’ve been living with my parents for 25 consecutive years? To be fair, it’s a pretty normal thing to do during the first 18 years of life, but once you enter college times, well most people actually “go off” to college but I just “drove off” to college- every morning. And even more (or less) remarkable than that, I managed to stick around for two more years after I graduated because of a fateful job opportunity (receptionist extraordinaire). Now, I’m not knocking the whole living at home thing. My parents are lovely people to live with, and they have never made me feel like I’m in the way by sticking around. But I’ve been ready to spread my wings for quite a while. Can you tell where this is leading? Yes, I am finally moving out!

Since this is my first big move, I decided to make it as difficult as possible by picking a city 8 hours away and choosing to move up before I actually have a job there. Where am I moving?

Does, this look familiar?


How about this?


Or this?



Last weekend my parents and my co-blogger/lil’ sis’ Carly went up with me to check out apartments. I had made appointments with two apartment finding services in the hopes that they could at the very least give me some insight into the Chicago apartment scene, and at the very best help me find a decent studio apartment in my budget. I made a solid effort not to get my hopes up too high, and it’s a good thing too because after the first day, things were looking pretty grim. I was shown 3 apartments:

The First

was affordable, but VERY small. I always thought it would be fun to live in a tiny apartment and find clever ways to manage space and storage. There are so many cute video tours of tiny spaces that I love to watch on YouTube, but after actually standing in such a small space with four other people, I quickly realized that I would not be able to handle a shoebox as my primary residence.

The Second

was a bit better. And by better I mean big enough for a few pieces of furniture, but otherwise very lackluster. It had carpet. It had kitchen cabinets a fridge. It had walls. It had a bathroom. It had a window. It was livable. it was boring. Nevertheless, this was the best of the day because…

The Third  

was a garden apartment under renovation. It was the scariest looking of the three. Part of that was because it was all ripped up for the renovation, but it also had a back door that led into a creepy looking alley, and a window with no protective bars that led right into “courtyard” outside. In general, I’m a fan of basements and underground buildings, and I could see some potential in the space, but it was definitely not the safest place for a single lady.

I wasn’t really sold on any of these apartments, and neither was my family. But thankfully the man who was showing us the spaces was honest with us and mentioned that if I gave it a little more time, I should be able to find nicer places than these in my price range.

Well, I did give it a little more time- about half a day.

We met with the other apartment finding service the next morning and were lucky enough to be paired with a nice guy again who seemed to understand my needs. The first place he took us to was an open house where several people were already waiting in the lobby for a viewing. We didn’t really like our chances and moved on to the next place. On our way there he told us he really felt like this would be a good place for me. And even before we entered the building, I knew he was on to something. It was located in a quieter, more residential area a little farther away from the city, but close to public transportation. The building was vintage, well kept, and a cute yellow color. Before our trip I just assumed I would end up in a boring building with a boring looking room that I could spruce up on my own, but when I saw this place I remembered something- I really like cuteness. It makes me happy, and being happy is important- especially when you live alone. The inside was just as cute as the outside. Hardwood floors, french doors separating the living space from the closet/bathroom area, and the best part: a separate kitchen with actual dining space (what?!). The fact that this kind of place was available in my budget (although, of course at the very top end) was amazing to me. I could tell by my mom’s face that she was thinking the same thing. So I stopped the viewing process right there and put in an application on this miracle apartment. I didn’t hear anything for a few days afterward, but finally after faxing and emailing a bunch of financial statements and junk, I was sent a lease!  I wish I had taken better pictures while we were there, but I was so mesmerized that I only got a couple of shots of each room. Here’s what I can show you:

French doors leading to closet and bathroom

French doors leading to closet and bathroom

built in shallow shelves

built in shallow shelves

kitchen with lots of cabinets

kitchen with lots of cabinets

dining space

dining space

Since those are bad quality photos, I will leave you with some pictures from the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise we took later that day in much better lighting conditions: