Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Visiting the Outer Banks and 5 Fun Things to Do

Last week we had the opportunity to take our College students on a retreat to the Outer Banks.  This was our second time taking them and each time has been so much fun.  Its such a great start to our summer and we love that we get to see some of out students that have been away at College all year.  We did a lot of fun things but ultimately my favorite thing of the week was the time spent in the word with our group.  Each morning we gathered and shared verses or passages and a little bit about what we were learning from them.  Starting your morning getting saturated in scripture was so wonderful.  Each night we spent time studying in Colossians.  Those moments were so important and I will not soon forget what God is teaching us.

There is something really special about the Outer Banks for me.  We are fortunate in NC to have some amazing and beautiful beaches but for me, the Outer Banks takes the cake.  For the most part, its quiet, feels secluded and non-commercial.  I love that aspect of it so much.  There is so much to do there - outside of your typical putt-putts and water parks so I wanted to share my favorite 5 things to do in the Outer Banks.

1.  Jockey's Ridge Park - There is no other place like this.  Jockey's Ridge is the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern United States.  Our group has made it a tradition to go and watch the sunset here at least once on our trip.  Because of the Dunes you are able to watch the sunset over the water (a rare occurrence on the East coast) and it is so beautiful.  Its a great place to explore, fly a kite, have a picnic and just relax and enjoy the scenery.  Also, you never know who you will run into - we came across several storm troopers and other star wars characters. We pretty much went crazy when we saw them.

2. Exploring Nature/Wild Horses - The northern Outer Banks happens to be the living quarters of Wild Horses - not to mention so many other great animals.  There are many ways to see the horses, you can drive yourself on the beach (if you have 4 wheel drive), rent a 4 wheel drive vehicle or take a guided tour.  However last year we decided to walk.  Although we never saw any horses we did enjoy it.  The northern tip of the outer banks is completly secluded - its all natural and its awesome.  You can walk along the shores hunting for horses and gathering some of the largest shells I have ever seen.  While staying in the Outer Banks we also saw deer, a fox, an osprey and its nest and so many other little creatures.  Our nature/animal loving son looooves it. 

3. Visit the Lighthouses - The Outer Banks has many lighthouses to visit and a couple that you can actually go inside and walk up to the top!  Last year we visited the Currituck Beach Light House in Corolla and ventured up to the top.  Its quite a little walk up , but really cool when you get there.  This area also has a little museum with some aquatic animals and some little shops and eateries in the Corolla Village.  

4. Kayaking - We had the best time kayaking this year.  Probably because we turned it into a tournament (with a bracket system and everything) but it was also something really fun for Justin, Silas and I to do as well.  The house we rented was right on the sound and had kayaks already there and available for us but there are a ton of places to rent them as well.  The sound here in the Outer Banks is such a great place to go kayaking and I always feel like I'm getting a good workout while also relaxing somehow at the same time.  

5. Eat something really tasty - Hello Duck Donuts.  We actually stayed in Duck this year so we were really close to the original Duck Donuts so naturally we had to get a dozen or five!  They are just so good.  But I love how the Outer Banks is largely made up of local business.  The best seafood I have ever had was in the Outer Banks.  But it also has many other types of restaurants to choose from.  If you have a larger group like we had I would reccomend Mulligan's in Nags Head (its also almost right across from Jockey's Ridge).  It has plenty of room for larger groups, a nice environment and plenty of seafood/non-seafood options and different price ranges.  Plus- the food was good!  So enjoy the local fair and try something new!

So have any of you visited the Outer Banks?  I would love to know some of your favorite things to do! Share in the comments!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

One Item, Many Ways - Bright Top

Its been over a month now that I have been living with a simplified closet.  Everything was slimmed way down and my wardrobe is much more versatile now.  When you have fewer things it kind of forces you to become more creative in your outfit choices and rethinking what you can put together.  So today I chose a simple blue t-shirt and mixed it up in a variety of ways to show you just how many different looks you can get out of one item.  This blue top is not necessarily a neutral color but I was really surprised how well it went with so many things... You can wear color and have a versatile closet!  You don't have to have a closet full of black and gray to go with a more minimalistic lifestyle.  

Here's a little breakdown:

1. Paired with a Patterned Skirt - Just because a top is a bright color doesn't mean you can't pair it with a bold pattern.  The brighter blue and black come together really well and it is a little more interesting than wearing just a black top.  I think any colored top would work well with a black patterned skirt! 

2. Paired with Solid Neutral Bottoms - I could have left it at the blue top plus the black short but that was a little boring.  Adding a lightweight cardigan, a bold statement necklace and patterned sandals gave this look the interest it needed.  A gray cardigan, patterned cardigan, a denim jacket would all be great completer pieces here.

3. Paired with a Utility Vest - I'm always trying to find new ways to wear my utility vest because I love it so much.  I have a tendency to get into a rut and wear it with the same gray top or striped shirt over and over.  At first I was a little hesitant about putting the two pieces together, but I really liked it.         Just by adding a vest to a normal t-shirt and shorts really changes thing up.

4. Paired with Patterned Pants - These pants are my new favorite thing.  They are sooooo comfortable, light and fun.  At first all I could wear with them was a white top - so I'm branching out, I know I need to settle down. I love the bright color together with them.  If you are wanting to try patterned pants but feel like its outside of your comfort zone, start with a smaller subtle print like these.  They're great, I promise.

5. Paired with Patterned Shorts - I think I have a thing for patterned bottoms, at least that is the theme of the day.  This is one of those things I would have never put together before I simplified my closet.  It never dawned on me how great the blue in the top brings out the blue in the shorts.  Once again like the patterned pants, I would only do a white top with these shorts.  Now I can think of several more options to wear.

Take away from today - Take a look in your closet and try to rethink some of the items you have, you never know what new combinations you can come up with!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Framed Instagram Photo Collage

I love all of the little candid shots I get from my phone.  They are usually the more {in the moment} type snapshots that really capture your memories.  After living in our home for 4 years now we still have lots of bare walls that need something and hardly any family photos framed- so what better way to utilize precious wall space than to use some of those fun instagram shots.

So I've had this frame just lurking around for years, probably 10 years or more.  Its an old antique frame that had an old print that wasn't really my style in it.  For years I have wanted to use it in some way and I finally figured out what to do with it.  I wanted a white frame so I simply spray painted it white - just a couple of light coats will do the trick.

I found out through the years that I really dislike taping windows and glass - blame it on painting every single window frame in our house inside and out.  So I didn't even bother to do any sort of taping and just painted it right on.  Later I just sprayed a little cleaner on the glass, let it sit for a while and it scraped right off.  It seemed like that felt easier and actually gave me a better painted edge.  But either way will accomplish your goal.  

After I had all of the paint scarped off I had a great helper who cleaned the glass for me.

So now for the fun part, the photos!  I decided to order my prints from a company that uses your photos straight from instagram.  They are called Print Studio (formerly prinstagram) and I have to say I love this company.  This is not some sort of sponsored post, just an actual real life feeling.  The photos are awesome quality, its really simple to use, they came really quickly and have great customer service.  They also have a lot of cool printing options other than just photos.  So definitely give them a look. 

Narrowing the photos down was the most difficult part!  Justin and I worked together to pick our favorites, mostly all memories over the last year or so.  After we had the dimensions figured out I laid out a plan and got to work.  My first idea was to use photo mounting tape to adhere it to some paper (that I had cut to the right size) and then insert that into the frame.  But after I did that, it wasn't as straight as I was wanting it to be and after fiddling with it for a while I took a different approach.  

It was easier to lay the photos out on the glass and tape them together from behind.  It just kept everything really straight and even.  Then I covered it from behind with my backing paper. 

Yay!  I was finally done.  I love it so much.  So many great memories in one space.

So have you guys ever utilized your instagram or phone photos for a fun project?  Share with me!

Linking Up Here:

The Happy Scraps   Photobucket

Thursday, May 7, 2015

DIY Tassel Necklace

Yesterday I shared a little tassel necklace I had made and today I'm here to share with you how you can make one of you own!

Making a tassel is really simple.  Here are the supplies you need:

- Thread or embroidery floss (the blue thread I used here is hand dyed rayon ribbon, you can find it here).
- Jump ring - you can find these in any craft store or use one from an old necklace
- Round Nose Pliers (for opening and closing jump ring)
(*If you don't feel comfortable using a jump ring the simple using a piece of your thread make a knotted loop that you can gather around the middle of your thread.)
- A chain to attach the tassel to

After you have made your tassel you just need to slide it on a chain, either one you make or use an old necklace!  If you don't have anything on hand that would work, check out your local thrift and second hand stores for jewelry.  I have found some great long chains that way.

Below is the tassel I made for yesterday's post using embroidery thread.  After making the tassel I made a beaded strand attached to some chain.  You could simply string some beads on some thread and tie the ends and attach a tassel if you wanted something similar.  Using the jump ring makes it easy to remove and attach easily to whatever necklace you want.

This can be as simple or as intricate as you would want it to be and both are pretty when paired with your outfit.

There are so many possibilities and different designs you could make!  You could also use your tassels for bracelets, keychains, earrings or even make them from yarn and do some pretty graduation party decorations!  I love the versatility of these!  Have some fun and make something today!

PS - I have some other easy diy jewelry projects to check out-

Linking Up Here:

All Things with Purpose
The Happy Scraps

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tassels, Gladiator Sandals and Putting it Together

When the temperatures start to rise I usually start struggling with putting together a good outfit.  All I want is to not be hot and to not feel sweaty so I could care less about style.  I'm sorry if that's TMI but its true!  In the early spring, fall and winter you can add layers galore and feel really put together and have fun configuring different outfit ideas.  But when its hot, you don't have the luxury of layers and I can feel a little stuck. 

So what's a girl to do? I think accessorize is the answer!  I'm still able to wear jeans here without hating it yet but I had to lighten it up a bit so I went with a flowy tank- anything more and I would have been miserable and honestly that combo was pretty boring on its on.  I think the two best things to tie everything together when its sweltering is wearing a fun pair of sandals and a statement necklace.  

I love these gladiator sandals from Target (super comfy) and they add some interests to everything and the necklace adds a nice pop of color -  now I feel like I have a completed outfit and I still feel cool and comfortable.

I'm loving the tassel necklaces I've been seeing everywhere so I made this one on my own!  Tomorrow I'll have an easy tassel necklace tutorial so you can make one too! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Spring Vignettes

There are little places or moments in our home that I enjoy.  Those little vignettes that remind you to smile and enjoy your home for what it is.  Its not perfect and I don't think it will ever be- but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it, just the way it is.  

We don't have a fireplace mantel in our home so my favorite place to decorate and change out things for the seasons and holidays is the top of our antique cabinet.  To create something new you don't need new things, you just need to grab a few items around the house and make a new grouping.  I tried to find similar hued items and wanted something that looked fresh and bright.

Here I used my DIY boxwood square wreath as a focal point, an old window, lanterns (I kind of have a thing for lanterns), a mason jar and a candle.  Simple.  Adding some fresh flowers really makes it springy for me.  I love that when I first made this wreath it was for Christmas - but it totally works for spring too...its all about reimagining and using what you have.

There are other moments I enjoy, like a succulent wreath on the door and adding different brighter pillows to the mix.  Sometimes just grabbing pillows from one room and changing their place really freshens up your space.

I love the mix of old and new, like a fresh hydrangea and an old milk bottle.  This just works for me, I will forever love blooms in an old bottle or mason jar.

So even though we have doors that need to be replaced, a room that needs to be painted, thresholds installed and the list could literally go on forever....I'm not going to worry over it and instead enjoy the good moments, because a home should be enjoyed and there will always be something to fix.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Easy Outdoor Updates

Last week I spent a lot of time talking about simplifying.  Mostly, that had to do with simplifying all of the stuff piling up and so I had started a great purge of my closet.  Living more simply though definitely translates into other areas of your life.  Getting rid of the useless things is part of it but it also means being intentional of how you live.  Not doing things just to do them, not taking on too many busy projects and enjoying the people God has put in your life.  A better life focus, if you will.  We are inundated with the constant desire for more, or are surrounded with the push of consumerism - when really we already have way too much.  So today its about using what you have, making something of it and making it usable.

This plant stand on our patio was by all means trash, rusted, peeling, and old.  Probably something I needed to throw away. But instead, I decided to shine it up a bit and use what I had. 

It took some scraping, cleaning and a little spray paint and it was looking just as good as new.  There is something really satisfying about taking a piece of junk and making it pretty again.  And this was not a fancy project, but a simple one that made a huge difference in how it looked.  

We also spent some time before Justin's surgery to utilize the flower bed next to our house to plant some veggies and herbs.  I don't have a before picture, but this space was so overgrown, neglected, and terrible looking.  But with some effort we were able to clean it out and make it into something usable.  Another completely satisfying project and something that felt like it was worth the time and effort.

The best part about the little garden, in my opinion, is the time Silas and I can spend taking care of it.  He loves going out to water, clean out a few weeds, and watch it all grow.  

Take some time to look around and find something useful out of something that may be old and overlooked!  Sometimes its just the simple things.