It’s my THIRD blogiversary!

So, remember a gazillion years ago when I hinted that I had some grand plan that I wasn’t ready to reveal yet?

Guess what. It’s time.

Nope, still not pregnant. I am, however, still a proud mother because it’s this little blog’s THIRD birthday!!

cupcake with three candles

Crazy, huh? I vividly remember writing my first post (about hating winter). I was bored and had been thinking about a recent magazine class I had taken the semester before where the professor basically told us that if we don’t have a blog, we’ll never get hired.

A bit of an exaggeration (on his part), but even so, it seemed to me that having unedited writing samples on hand (as well as keeping my wordsmithing skills sharp) wasn’t a terrible idea.

So with minor trepidation, I created an account on WordPress.

I can’t tell you why I picked WordPress. I had heard it was super simple. I think I googled “blogs” and it came up. Scientific, I know.

Back then, my header looked like this:

Get it? Because I planned to move to New York some day. (Ohhh 21-year-old self…)

I CAN tell you that I was TERRIFIED to push the “publish” button? Terrified.

I mean, in my rational mind, I knew probably no one would see it. I had no intention of telling anyone about the blog, and it wasn’t like with a single post I would become a must-read. But still. I was putting my writing out there. And that used to terrify me.

Side note: I actually JUST realized that this DOESN’T terrify me anymore. I mean, when it’s for more professional settings, I still get a little jumpy, but I used to belabor turning in manuscripts like I was actually opening a vein. Now, I’m a bit more whatev about the whole thing. (That’s a joke some of you will get. Sorry…no more weird inside jokes.)

Anyway, the point is, I was skerred. I finally just did it though, telling myself it didn’t matter anyway because no one would ever have to know the blog even existed!!!

After I got a few posts under my belt, I became a bit addicted to it. Seriously. I started thinking about things that happened to me in terms of how it would be written in a blog post. I’m really glad no one can read my thoughts (that I know of…?), because I would have sounded really self-possessed. I swear I’m not. I’m just a blogger.

Things changed a bit the day I added the link to my blog to my Facebook page. That was even more difficult that simply starting the blog. I was petrified. What if everyone hated it? What if they thought I was stupid? What if I not only never got a job, I never got a boyfriend, never had friends, and my family disowned me for being a sub-par writer?

Around that time, my header looked like this:

New York is still there, but now I’m a bit more diversified.

In the end, I finally just put the darn link on my profile, telling myself, “You WANT people to read your stuff, right? Then they have to know where to find it!”

The fact that my readership lept about, oh, 20 people should have calmed my fears, but the fact that people were reading at all was still kind of thrilling. (Total disclosure: It still is.)

My next big header change? This:

Clearly I’d begun being drawn by mint-y blue/green hues. How do I know? Because this was the next header:

Anyway, the point of that minor history lesson is that for my third blogiversary, I decided to do something kind of crazy: I’m going to pursue turning this little blog into a business.

Eek. Kind of weird to put it out there like that. I mean, I know I could fail miserably at this. But I still think it will be kind of fun to try.

How am I going about this? First, I’m adding sponsors! They are all super cool people with businesses that I really admire, so definitely check them out in the right-hand column or on the new Sponsors page. If you’re reading this on your phone or Google Reader and can’t see what I’m talking about, fear not. Once a month I’ll be posting a little shout-out to those cool people, and occasionally they’ll be sponsoring giveaways on the blog, too.

I know! Giveaways! Just like a real, grown-up blog.

So anyway. I don’t really know what I expect to happen from this. We all know that I’m only doing this to pursue my dream of working at home so I can finally get a puppy. Y’all should know by now that “so I can have a puppy” is my main motivation for most things in life. This is not something I have kept from you. I guess we’ll see how it all works out.

To my lovely sponsors, thank you. You’re awesome. (And if YOU want to be one of those lovely people, email me at justine[dot]lorelle[at]gmail[dot]com!)

And thank you to you. Yes, YOU. No, not him. YOU. You are my lovely reader, and I am beyond grateful to those of you who tell your friends about my blog, subscribe, or even just check in now and then. You rock AND roll, and don’t let anyone ever tell you differently.

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Got stacks on deck like he saving up

Does anyone else have a random running list in their head of things they’d like to buy when their financial situation would make it not a crazy thing to do?

Or is that just me?

Anyway, here’s a quick breakdown of what’s on my wish list currently.

1. Iceland-worthy boots
I’ve had a cautious crush on Sorel boots for a while now. I used to talk myself out of it because they were pretty industrial-looking, but lately they’ve upped the style in the most attractive way. Case in point: The Cate the Great boots.

Gush. And so WARM. And good for icy scenery. Like, say, if you were hiking a glacier. Just saying.

2. Some kind of puffer jacket
This is another search inspired by Iceland. And, you know, my hatred of the cold. I haven’t landed on which one I want yet, but I like this J. Crew version because it’s not too puffy but still looks super warm.

And also this sleek version from Helly Hansen:

3. Pretty plates
Ok, stay with me on this one. It has nothing to do with Iceland, but a lot to do with how much I like pretty things. I am totally obsessed with this dinnerware. Plus, I get 40% off from my job. But it’s still an investment, so I’m trying to hold off until at least next year.

BUT THEY’RE SO PRETTY.

Phew, just had to get that out of my system.

And really, that’s it. I mean, sure, I could make lists of things that I wouldn’t be mad if I owned (see also, my I Would Wear That board on Pinterest), but in general, I’m pretty happy these days.

We’re both reasonably healthy (these lingering cold symptoms and Joey’s still-as-of-today-unexplained migraine aside)(OK, maybe we’re not that healthy…bring on the vitamins), our marriage is better than ever, we have good friends, we live in a really great apartment, we both have good jobs — I mean really, God has been pretty good to us.

I hope everyone has a safe, happy, stress-free weekend (I’m saying this to myself too…don’t stress, self!). I’ll post tomorrow for the blog-iversary (remember, big announcement!), but other than that, you won’t hear from me until Tuesday.

See you then!

How to: DIY Art Print

Ok, so when we last left our hero, she was about to explain how she created the two DIY art pieces on her new floating shelves above the desk. Let’s tune in, shaaallll we?

And that’s about all the third-person talk I can handle in a single post. Anyways.

So as I mentioned, I was really drawn to prints with big, bold typography and maps. I love to incorporate really personal details into our home. I mean, it’s our home — shouldn’t it look like it? Plus, it’s nice to know we have a little something that you won’t find in anyone else’s apartment, ya know?

First, I found a big graphic of New York state on Google images.

That’ll do. Then I took it to Photoshop and filled it in with an olive-y green color. Next, I added the wording underneath. (Tip: I made each word it’s own text box so I could manipulate them to being the same width and roughly the same height.) Finally, I added a little clip art heart.

Which left me with this:

I liked it, but I really wanted the yellow-y parts to be a shiny gold. I thought about cutting out the yellow and layering the print over a piece of gold foil, but I didn’t find anything at the craft store that was the right metallic. Plus, I know myself, and I know I’m way too impatient to cut that carefully.

What I am good at? Coloring inside the lines. (My kindergarten teacher is thrilled somewhere.) So I bought a metallic gold permanent marker and simply drew over all the yellow parts.

Here’s the finished product:

Then all I had to do was pop it into a vintage frame I picked up at Goodwill ages ago. I had actually been about to throw it out because I didn’t have anything the right size for it, but my little print fit perfectly.

The lyric art was even easier. I simply copy/pasted our song’s lyrics into a word document, formatted it to be a 4-inch justified rectangle, switched it into Courier font, and then cut the printed document to fit in a 4×6 frame that I had lying around.

So there you have it! Two custom prints for under $4. (I had to buy the gold pen.)

Want your own customized map print? Send me an email and we just might be able to work something out 😉

Co-workers, puppies, and guest posts

Pretty much anyone who works in an office setting has encountered a co-worker they just don’t…let’s say jive with. And if you haven’t, it’s because you must work in an animal shelter and all your “co-workers” are adorable puppies.

SPEAKING of co-workers and adorable puppies, I’m guest blogging today on The Simple Dude‘s blog! And yes, my post actually does involve both of those things.

Don’t believe me? Check it out here.

Shelve that idea

I recently read a blog post about shelving arrangements. (What, you didn’t know that was an art form? Get with it. I’ve known it was an art form since…well, basically since I read that post.)

But all jokes aside, you have to admit that there’s a definite difference between well styled shelves and poorly styled shelves.

For example, I think you could definitely call what I first threw up on my new floating shelves “poorly styled”:

I mean, it wouldn’t kill me to look at that every day, but it also wouldn’t inspire me. (Though it does still thrill me to walk into the apartment every day and not see the clustercuss of disaster that used to live in the corner of our living room.)

The main issue is that I’m not really a designer. I rarely look at something and just see what it can be. I’m more one of those people who has to mess around for a while, moving things this way and that, and then – lo and behold! – one day it’s like, “Yup. That is it. That is it right there.”

It’s one of the main reasons I like Pinterest. I can let more talented people do all the hemming and hawing and just take what I like from each inspirational photo.

Speaking of which, I of course turned to Pinterest for some shelving inspiration. Here are a few of the photos that caught my eye (click the images for details):




So what have we learned from the pictures I selected? I like texture and 3-D elements. And I really like the look of the frames leaning against the wall. A lot.

But I wasn’t really looking to spend a ton of cash on this little endeavor (especially since I still have to grocery shop for the party!). Which lead to getting a little crafty.

First, I checked out Etsy for some more inspiration. I was really drawn prints with over-sized typography and maps:



Which lead me to make this:

A nice homage to the place where the hubs and I fell in love, married, and first lived together. Check back tomorrow for the details of how I made it.

And see that smaller frame to the left? Well, I wanted to add a second frame to layer over the bigger print. I remembered reading this post on Young House Love (told you I loved those guys), and decided to make a frame with the lyrics of our wedding song, Hold You in My Arms by Ray LaMontagne. Voila!

Then I started doing my usual shifting, shuffling thing until the shelves started looking like something I would want to show off on my blog. Until they looked something like this:

 You might recognize some of those pieces, but here’s a quick breakdown of why they’re all meaningful:

Plus, you know, some of my favorite books. Because I’m me. So there you have it!

I’m pretty happy with the final result. Plus, we can actually use our desk (I wrote this post while sitting at it!). Go figure.

I had this goal of taking a blogging hiatus while I’m off work, but seeing as how I already have several posts written for the next few days, I think I can manage to keep things updated without actually using any vacation time to write.

Speaking of which, see you tomorrow for a how-to on making my DIY posters, and later in the week for a final room update. And if you’re not too busy, don’t forget to check back on Saturday for a BIG blog announcement! (You’re on tenterhooks, I know.)

So excited. And I just can’t fight it.

I’m so annoying when I get an idea stuck in my head.

Like, truly obnoxious. Like, seriously, get away from me because you are driving me bananas.

The thing is, I get excited when I have ideas. Wicked excited. Like, good-GOD-will-you-relax excited.

The effect is only amplified when the idea is also a solution to a problem that has been plaguing me for a while.

You know there’s a story coming along with this revelation, right?

So as you know, I’ve been a bit frustrated with our “office” situation. Namely, in my ideal situation we would have a whole room dedicated to office-y things. But, alas, it turns out one-bedroom apartments are not like houseplants in that they don’t sprout extra limbs willy-nilly. (Limbs equating to rooms here…)(What?)(Moving on.)

The point is, I have accepted that the office dream is put on hold. I HAVE ACCEPTED IT. What I have not accepted? Living with the messy desk that we have currently.

Which brings me to my point. Finally.

I should point out that the credit actually goes to a commenter who suggested we get ourselves some built-in shelves.

That happened on Thursday.

On Thursday night, I spent a good ten minutes staring at the desk imagining it with floating shelves on the wall.

On Friday morning, I started googling floating shelves to compare prices.

On Friday afternoon, I searched “desk shelves” and “floating shelves” on Pinterest. Just to see.

Around 2:00 p.m., I casually mentioned to the hubs over gchat that I was thinking about adding shelves above the desk. He was receptive to the idea.

Around 2:05, I told him that Home Depot seemed to have the best price, especially since I wouldn’t have to buy them online and pay shipping. He agreed that was a good system.

At approximately 2:15, I told him I was going to stop at Home Depot on the way home.

Want to know why? Because I literally COULDN’T wait to get crackin’ on this idea. I’m like the home decor equivalent of these kids:

I would be embarrassed. If floating shelves and marshmallows weren’t so awesome.

The point is, I got to it. I bought the shelves that night. (Though I actually bought mine at Target. I would link to them, but they are apparently no longer available online. Just go to Target, find floating shelves, and they’re probably the ones I bought.)

I came home that night, cleared everything off of the wall behind the desk, and started drilling holes. Then I hit a road block.

The shelves came with a set of anchor screws and regular screws. You’re supposed to drill the anchor screws into the wall, then attach this piece of metal that the shelves themselves hook onto with the regular screws. Unfortunately, the anchor screws that came with the shelves were not what you would call…sturdy.

In fact, they split right down the middle when met with the slightest bit of pressure. Which left me with four GAPING holes in my wall and no way of covering them up.

And enter my temper tantrum.

The fact is, the biggest downside to getting “toddler going to Disney” excited about things is that when it doesn’t happen, you respond with an equally toddler-esque pout fest. I mean, I got over it. But I was majorly bummed for a while. Plus, I had just torn my living room apart making room for the shelves, and now it would have to stay that way until I could get to the hardware store to buy new anchor screws. Le sigh.

Anyway, eventually, it got done. Here’s a quick reminder of what it looked like before:

Blaaaghhhhh.

I mean, right? Disaster. There is so much going on there, it stresses me out just looking at the photo.

Now here’s how it looked after I had installed the shelves:

Ok, ok. I see where we’re going now. There’s definitely more white space, which is nice. (The eye needs resting place, yo.) Then I got to work whipping everything into shape. Which left me with this:

So much better, right? Ugh, I feel like I can actually breathe looking at that. Although…

What?

It’s just…it’s nothing.

No, what is it?

It just seems a little…bare. Right?

Hmm…I see your point. What do you think we should do?

Well…I was thinking something like….THIS:

Whoooaaa! Where did all that come from??

Well, that’s a bit of a story. And our lovely audience has already sat through a rather long post. So let’s save it for later, shall we?

Side note: I really need to start taking pictures during the day. The lighting in my apartment is obviously awful. The trials of being a “housewife” who works full-time. Womp.


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The anti-climactic post.

So…hey guys.

This weekend I was really productive! I finally solved my corner office issue, AND I got new hair. (Well, not like, literally. But it’s a different color AND I got bangs.) AND I picked up a load of party supplies for the Sunday shindig. It was a busy weekend. With a lot of “ands” in all caps.

The only problem? All the photos depicting the above changes are still on my camera. At home. Where I am not currently.

Blogger fail.

But tonight I promise to go home, upload the pictures, and get the posts all ready for the public. It will be grand. Just trust me.

Also, you should cut me some slack because there’s mutiny afoot. I think my body is trying to get sick.

But my stupid immune system will just have to get itself in gear because I gots plans, yo. I can get sick after this weekend.

DO YOU HEAR ME, BODY? YOU CAN GET SICK AFTER THIS WEEKEND. And not a moment before.

Fortunately, I’m loading up on the Emergen-C and various other vitamins, so I think I can beat this. I’ve loaded up on my usual Drug Store Cold-Killing Emergency Kit, so at least I’m giving it my best shot.

Send me lots of good germ-killing vibes today, k?