Memory Jar, 2012 Edition

Happy New Year, readers! This year instead of coming up with any resolutions and looking forward, Matt and I took a little time on New Year’s Eve to look back. We did this with the help of a little DIY project I started over a year ago – a simple memory jar. I originally took this idea from YoungHouseLove, where I believe they do this during the month of November to keep track of what they are thankful for, but I modified the project a little and lengthened the time period to a full year.

The jar we used was a large mason jar that I spray painted white. It’s not perfect, and I had intended to paint some words on there, maybe with some chalkboard paint, but of course I never got around to it. In the end, the jar served it’s purpose anyway.

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So, for the past year Matt and I have been saving little mementos – ticket stubs, receipts, a score card from mini golf – or just jotting down random memories on scraps of paper and leaving them in the jar, which we placed out on our console table by the front door so it would always be within our view. Then, on New Year’s Eve came the best part – it was time to empty the jar and read through the last year.

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It doesn’t look like a lot here, but there was a good amount to read through.

Sifting through the memory jar was more fun than we both expected it to be. There were plenty of things we remembered clearly, and would have remembered without the memory jar, like watching our friend Irene run her first half marathon:

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Or the time we visited our friend Dustin for a weekend:

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But there were also some smaller things we may have forgotten if we hadn’t written them down and left them in the jar:

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Part of the fun was that each time we sifted through another item, we wanted to text someone and remind them of the memory too, as evidenced below.

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We’ve already decided to keep the jar out again this year and fill it with all the great things we’re hoping 2013 will bring, but as far saving this year’s items we decided to scrapbook them. I picked up a Smash Journal from Michael’s for half off and as soon as we choose some pictures from the past year, we’ll get those printed out and add them to the items from the jar. So far the memory jar has to be one of the easiest, cheapest, and still rewarding, projects we’ve done, and will hopefully continue to do.

What about you guys – any New Year’s traditions out there that go beyond the typical resolutions? Or are you super serious about resolutions and are among the few people who are able to work on them and keep them all year? (Although after looking through that memory jar I’m starting to think maybe I should make a resolution to improve my handwriting…)

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Every time a bell rings…

Besides reviving this blog, I’d also like to reboot it a little. The first time around, I thought I had to keep this blog strictly home-related. I didn’t really have any fun or personal posts. I’m gonna give those personal posts a go this time around and see how it goes.

So, I’m going to make the first non-house post about something I’m really excited about and a little proud of. I ran a 5K! If you know me at all, you know I’ve never been a runner. I half-heartedly played a few sports for most of my adolescent life, but even then I never would have considered myself as an athlete. And I would dread the days in gym class when we had to run the mile. Throughout college and the past few years I would sort of start a gym routine, or try out yoga or zumba, but they would never stick.

Then, after watching my best friend – who is amazing by the way – run a half marathon and seeing how awesome that was, I decided I wanted to try to stick to something for once.

I had also heard really good things about the C25K app. Now, after using this app for 9 weeks to work my way up to a 5k, I only have good things to say about it as well.

The app starts you out with a walk/run routine, so in the beginning you’re only running for a little bit and then walking to recover pretty frequently. As the weeks progress, you’re running more and walking less but you’ve eased into it. I never thought that within roughly two months time I would go from huffing and puffing after a few minutes to running a solid half hour without stopping. (Granted, I’m not very fast, but I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made so far.) In fact, the first day I ran 20 minutes straight without stopping (which may have been a first for me) I immediately went home and registered for a 5K.

And I am so glad I did.

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I did the It’s A Wonderful Run 5K in Seneca Falls. For anyone unaware, Seneca Falls is believed by some to be the town Bedford Falls (of It’s a Wonderful Life) was based on . So, each year the town holds a festival with events and shows and people dressed as characters from the movie walking around town. It’s basically the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit.

The run starts on the bridge in town – or the bridge George Bailey visits in the movie – heads through the some residential streets, and takes you right down main street right before you cross the finish line. Oh, and the run begins at dusk, so you can fully enjoy all the Christmas lights around town.

And BONUS! Irene and I whipped up some DIY race shirts to commemorate our first (hopefully not last!) race together.

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Originally we thought about making a shirt that would look like the rugby shirt George Bailey wears in the movie, but during a trip to Michaels to scope out what supplies we would need, we found these instead:

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We got our wings! These were simple iron-on decals that cost i think less than $5 each. The t-shirts were also pretty cheap, and the rest of the supplies were things I already had, so these shirts cost us less than $10 each. The absolute best part about that, though, was the fact that more than one person approached us to ask us where we had bought our shirts and to compliment them. To make them we just ironed the decals on the back and drew in the phrase “Every time a bell rings” on the front using stencils and sharpie markers.

The race itself was fantastic. I was nothing but nerves the day before and the day of the race, and probably stayed that way right up until the start. Definitely experienced some adrenaline though once I started running. I had never run with people before and suddenly I was surrounded by ~3,000 other runners, including tons of people dressed in costumes or other festive decorations. I’m pretty sure the adrenaline also helped my time because I crossed the finish line with a time of 28:50, which was a full minute faster than what I had been doing in the practice runs leading up to the race.

And I love the shirt the runners got too! Basically, everything about this race was awesome and I was on a high for the rest of the weekend.

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Overall, I can’t say enough positive things about this experience. If you’re thinking of running but don’t know where to start, use C25K! I seriously cannot recommend it enough. If you think this run sounded like fun, sign up for next year! I already can’t wait to do it again.

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Anyone else out there doing any runs lately? Any races out there you know of that are a must?

Awreatha Franklin

Yes, I named my Christmas wreath. Why? Because it’s an awesome name. Moving on.

Pinterest struck once again. And various blogs I follow. And basically everywhere else I looked online. I kept seeing adorable little homemade wreaths and decided it seemed like a simple enough project to tackle. Plus, it’s Christmas and our front door did need something added to it to make it a little more festive.

On a recent trip to Michaels I picked up a wreath… form? frame? I’m not even sure what it’s called, but I got one. I also grabbed a roll of red yarn and a sheet of green felt. Overall, with some coupons, I think all of this was less than $10.

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I started off by simply tying the yarn around the wreath form and gluing it into place a little bit so it wouldn’t slide around while I was working.

Then, I just started looping the yarn around the form. And around and around and around. I would suggest watching some TV or a movie while doing this part. I put on Love Actually to help get into the Christmas spirit.

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I stopped every once in a while to adjust the yarn and make sure it was coming out even. It was bunching a little in spots on the inside since there was less surface area to cover, but I like the way it looked so I didn’t fuss too much.

When I got to the end, I secured the yarn by tying it to the end I started with and gluing a little bit again for good measure.

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I really liked the plain red look, but I thought it was a little too plain, so I added some white yarn I found around the house. For this, I just very loosely looped it around the wreath diagonally, and then came back around the other way. I secured these the same way – a little bit of knotting, a little bit of glue.
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After that, I simply cut some holly leaves from the green felt, made some berries from some of the leftover red yarn (I did this by first knotting a piece, then just wrapping the yarn around itself and gluing the back the secure it). I didn’t have a wreath hook and didn’t feel like going out to buy one, so the Awreatha is support by a simple plastic 3M hook and some gift wrap ribbon. It’s not the prettiest solution, but it works.
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Overall, it’s a very simple wreath. And maybe a little amateur, but I like it. I like her, and that’s why I named her Awreatha Franklin. (Just wanted to say it again.)

And that little stencil is another cute, recent addition to the front door. That wasn’t a DIY in any way, Matt just found the stencil on Etsy and slapped it up in under 5 minutes. Probably the easiest and one of our favorites additions to the house.

Are you guys getting into the holiday spirit yet?! Any other holiday crafts out there?

Return of the blog and DIY wall art

First thing first, I’ve already admitted I’m terrible at blogging.

But, let’s try this again! I’d really like to keep this up, but letting it go almost a year without updating is ridiculous.

Things have not changed too drastically around these parts since the blog died off. We haven’t had any major renovations or anything like that, but we’ve done enough that I should have been more vigilant about keeping this thing alive. For some reason, keeping this blog – even though I barely did any work with it in the past – felt too cumbersome. Or too time-consuming, which is really ridiculous when I’m honest with myself. I was just being lazy for the past 6+ months.

Anyway, let’s try this again, and if anyone’s still reading… maybe it’ll be more successful this time.

Speaking of lazy and cumbersome, let’s start out with a project I undertook that I ended up really almost hating halfway through. It felt like it took forever. FOR-EV-ER. (Sandlot, anyone?) Realistically, I was just kind of being lazy about it (seeing the trend here?) and putting it off too much. I don’t even remember how long it took me. More than a month probably. Maybe a few. Whatever.

Anyway, I got the inspiration from Pinterest, of course, so maybe I have to say I got “pinspiration” or “pinspired.”  (Has anyone made a craft or cooked anything in the last year or so that didn’t come from Pinterest?)

(via Caring.com, found on Pinterest)

I was going to write up this blog post and leave a big ta-da! for the end. Like, “and guess what it’s made out of?!” But, I’m not really sure how to go about the rest of the post without just saying it up front – I made wall art from toilet papers rolls.

The best thing I found about making something out of toilet paper rolls is that it kind of makes it a conversation piece. Whenever someone asks about it or points it out, I immediately make them guess what it’s made out of. The cons of using toilet papers rolls? Pretty much everything else. Collecting used rolls, cutting up rolls, tediously gluing them together, painting them, gluing them again onto a canvas… Basically it’s a good thing I liked the way these turned out, or they would have immediately been used for kindling, simply out of pure rage.

 However, since it turned out successful, here’s a few simple steps toward toilet paper roll wall art, should you wish to increase your blood pressure as well:

Step 1: Start collecting toilet paper rolls. You’re going to need a bunch. To be fair, I didn’t have to do this too much. Once I mentioned I needed to start collecting these little guys, they started coming in from what seemed like every member of Matt’s extended family. And I’m pretty sure everyone thought I had sort of lost it, just collecting old garbage.

Step 2: Cut those suckers up. I neglected to take pictures of this project while in the process, so I’ll do my best to explain. Basically, squish the roll so it’s flat and then cut it into equally sized strips. Those strips will automatically open up into little petal shapes. Repeat this for what feels like an infinite number of times.

Step 3: Glue those suckers together at the points, forming a flower shape. Play around with the number of strips you use and the shapes you can create. I decided to try and get as much variation as possible. I would recommend using a glue gun for this. I used regular glue, and I have no idea why. This probably contributed to a lot of the rage.

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Step 4: Paint those suckers. I have no idea what would actually be the easiest way to do this. I used spray paint and was kind of annoyed at the number of coats I needed just to be able to get into all the little nooks and crannies without just soaking the things in paint the first time around. Overall, each flower probably only had a few coats at the most, but it felt like every time I looked at them, I found another spot that had been missed. Although I would wager painting them by hand wouldn’t be too fun either.

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Nooks and crannies galore.

Step 5: Glue those suckers to a canvas. This was my own step. I don’t remember if I had seen anything like this beforehand. Most examples I saw online, people had just glued the flowers to each other and then hung them on the wall or just created one giant flower. I had the canvases anyway, so I thought painting them gray and then gluing green, yellow and white flowers on top would help add some contrast against the blue walls in the living room.

Originally, I had bought the canvases with the idea of cutting card stock into petals and creating some kind of flower design that way. 15 minutes into that and I realized there was no way it was going to come out as clean and polished looking as I would want it to.

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And I’m thankful I came to my sense early on and ended up with this instead:

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Admittedly, they are a little too small for the spaces they are in currently, but it’s better than nothing on the walls. Which is exactly what we had before. So, for now, they’re just fine.

Whew! And with that, we’re back up and running with this whole blogging thing. Is anyone still out there?