16 December 2010

Announcing: The new Wibu Design site

My hubby and I have been diligently working on a new website for our design firm, Wibu Design. We wanted to create a bright and fresh site that would better represent who we are the design that we love to create. We developed each hand-drawn graphic alongside a gardening theme and we're thrilled with the result. Take a minute to see our work! 

14 December 2010

I want to make... Broccoli Cheese Casserole

I love casseroles, I love broccoli, and I love cheese. So this dish seems like a winner to me. If the title didn't win me over, the picture would have. Yummmm. 

13 December 2010

All Aboard the Polar Express

 { via Hip Hip Hooray }

When I was teaching, one of the things I looked forward to most was reading The Polar Express with my class in the month of December. It captures the magical feeling of Christmas that I hope all children feel this time of year. The last school I taught at had a Polar Express Day in which everyone wore pajamas and slippers, drank hot cocoa, cycled through various Christmas stations in the classrooms, sang carols, and ended the day by watching The Polar Express {Tom Hanks is the ideal train conductor}. It really was enjoyable for everyone, although the setup was a bit extensive. The kids went home with a bell to remind them of the spirit of Christmas, and the teachers went home with a a sore throat and tired feet. All in good fun.

I want to start creating holiday traditions that our peanut will remember as she gets older, and The Polar Express will absolutely be one of them. To make it even better, I'd love to add some details that carry over from the movie and invite her cousins over to join the fun. Slippers will be a must. You can spruce up the movie by printing train tickets, crossword puzzles, or color pages from Houghton Mifflin, incorporating some small party ideas from Peppers and Pollywogs, or whipping up some yummy treats to enjoy while watching.

03 December 2010

A weekend with friends

It might sound crazy {I actually think it does}, but my hubby and I haven't spent a single night apart other than the night before our wedding. Add to that the fact that in the last 4 months we've spent less than 5 hours apart at a time, and even that has been rare. Like I said, it sounds crazy, but it's true. We work from home, together, everyday, all day, and we absolutely love it. I realize how lucky I am to have a husband that not only inspires me in our creative field, but one I also can stand to spend basically every waking moment with. {If you're gagging, I'm sorry.}

However, this weekend will be our first few days apart. I'll be on a girls weekend with five of my favorite college friends. We're all thrilled to get some uninterrupted time together being that our last few get-togethers have been weddings. We also get to see and stay at a friend's very first home, drink lots of wine, eat junk food, and go to a Chelsea Handler comedy show. Eeeee {this is actually a sound I make when I'm excited}.

So, about Chelsea Handler -- honestly her books are probably the funniest material I've ever read. As I'd get each new one {there are a total of three now}, I would try to space out my reading so I wouldn't be bummed out when I was finished with it in two days. Ed would come to bed and find me reading {and laughing out loud} more times than I can count. Needless to say, and I mentioned this on Sweet Little Thrills, give them a read if you're in the mood for a laugh.

Enjoy your weekend dear friends!

30 November 2010

Another new month begins

{ via weheartit }

Tomorrow begins the month of December. How did November pass so quickly? Perhaps it's because I longed for Thanksgiving dinner most of my November days. It was worth it.

Now off to December... the month of crazy holiday shopping, beautiful light displays, making oodles of cookies, and finding my winter boots for slushing around outside.

I love the holiday season. I love the holiday cheer and Christmas songs. I love the smell of evergreen {I grew up on fields of evergreen trees}. I love candles and cozy things.

I'm in the process of collecting DIY holiday decor for Christmas. In the meantime, there is a collection of DIY wreaths on my design blog, Sweet Little Thrills, for you to look at.

22 November 2010

Homemade holiday gift projects

I'm beginning to contemplate which projects to undertake in making homemade holiday gifts. There are thousands of ideas out there, but of course, I want to choose useful and uncomplicated projects. Some of my favorites are:
1) Bath Fizzies from Martha Stewart 

2) Mulled cider sachets from Real Simple

3. Herb-infused oil from Budget Fashionista

If I made these, I would definitely have to make extra for myself. I'm being ambitious to think I will actually work on three separate holiday gift projects, but in case I do, these are by far the ones I'd pick. I love the idea of the holidays being a bit homemade, whether its your dinner, gifts, or decor.

17 November 2010

Safe oven cleaning mixtures

A close friend recently asked for tips on cleaning her oven, and to be honest, I couldn't name the last time that I actually cleaned my own oven. After a few spills and bubbly casseroles, I found it to be necessary. I've done my research on safe oven cleaning methods and found many mixtures that you can make with products you probably already have. I've still been on my chemical-free cleaning kick (I'm going to be positive and say I won't ever go back to bottled chemical cleaners) so the natural ingredients were important to me.

Depending on your supply of home products and the dirtiness of your oven, you can choose the cleaning mixture that suits you.

- 5 tbsp. baking soda
- 3 drops hand soap or liquid dish soap
- 4 tbsp. white vinegar

Mix above ingredients until they form a thick paste. Apply paste to inside of oven and scrub with sponge. Wipe clean and rinse thoroughly.

Use equal amounts of lemon juice and salt. Apply paste to stubborn stains and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. Scrub with brush and wipe clean.

- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 cup water

Make a paste and apply it to the inside of the oven. Close door and heat oven to 500 degrees for 60 minutes. Turn off oven and allow to cool. Wipe debris from oven using a moist sponge. Rinse well.

- By heating your oven to 200 degrees and then shutting off the heat source and spraying/wiping the oven cavity with cleaning solution, you'll get a head start on hard-to-remove stains and problem areas. The heat will help the cleaner penetrate the oven cavity and make your job easier.
- You can guarantee you've removed all cleansers from the oven by rinsing with vinegar and water.

{ Image credit: Good Housekeeping }

16 November 2010

Tips to make your holiday easier

I admit that I've been a bit neglectful of my dear Lovely Wife Life blog the past month {and I'm sorry}. Our design company, Wibu Design, not only moved our office, but we also added an intern to our team! As things begin to settle back down, I have many ideas for holiday tips and crafts that might ease your seasonal stress.

Since Thanksgiving is only a little over a week away {yeesh!}, here are some great links to get you started on your holiday meal, decorating, and even cleanup:
- Common Thanksgiving problems solved!
- Pick and choose recipes from these Thanksgiving menus
- Autumn centerpiece ideas
- Set a fun holiday kids table
- Post party cleanup tips
- Too many leftovers? Try these recipes

{ Image credit: Martha Stewart }

04 November 2010

Comfort food warms the soul

 The forecast for tonight and leading into this weekend is.... wet snow. Eesh! As soon as I heard that, I started a crockpot of applesauce {same recipe as previously posted with the addition of 1 tsp. lemon juice}. For this weekend, I am already thinking of chili.

Comfort food is one of the inescapable aspects of cold weather. It goes with winter the way grilling goes with summer. I've always looked forward to my mom's amazing chicken pot pie & meatloaf, and my dad's pot roast & chicken georgio (named after himself). Now in my own kitchen, I'm starting to realize which recipes are always successful and tend to be crowd-pleasers. Go figure that they are mainly comfort foods. Fine by me.

What is your favorite comfort food? What recipe do you go back to time and time again?

{ Image credit: Cookin' Canuck }

01 November 2010

Happy November sweet friends

First day of November. NOVEMBER. In a blink of an eye, it will be Thanksgiving. I'm ready {and waiting} for the delicious food... but not as ready for the snow that typically accompanies the holiday. After bundling up for trick-or-treating last night, I realized it was time to pull out the winter outerwear and retire my autumn jacket.

I have an unexplained and unnecessary love for coats. My hubby likes to point out that our coat closet is about 90% mine, 5% his, and 5% peanut. I shrug my shoulders, smile, and respond, "They are different lengths and warmth levels. I need them." I have to pat myself on the back for not purchasing any new coats this year {however a gorgeous peach-colored velvet blazer was bought for me by my lovely mother}... but this fact doesn't keep me from admiring coats all over the internet.

Cute & affordable winter picks for women:

{Hooded wool blend toggle jacket also from Old Navy}

{Tweedle dee coat from Ruche}

And of course a few choices for the rest of the family...

{If you noticed reoccurring coats from Old Navy, it is because that place has some great styles for amazing prices! It's become one of our go-to stores for family shopping.}

19 October 2010

Make your own mulling spices

Last year, I went through multiple grocery stores in an attempt to locate mulling spices. I had thoughts of warm mulled apple cider (or wine on a particularly chilly evening). But, alas, I was left dumbfounded when I couldn't find them ANYWHERE. So this season, instead of grocery store hunting again, I decided to make my own.

I found some wonderful recipes and variations, and look forward to some lazy winter weekends to try each of them. Some of my favorites are:
- Mulling Spices Recipes: Warm Your Winter
- How to Make Your Own Organic Mulling Spices
- Mulling Spice Blend Recipe

18 October 2010

Nature at its finest

 { a dream scene }

Each time I visit my parents, I come back home with an overly full stomach, a bag of goodies/groceries/leftovers, a smile, and a desire to live among the beautiful scenery that I just left. I grew up with a "backyard" of 150 acres of land that held a stream, a swamp, large fields of Christmas trees (which my dad sold for the holiday when I was young), an expansive forest, and multiple looping paths on which to ride a four-wheeler or take a walk. It is truly one of the most breath-taking places I have ever seen and provides inspiration for amazing photos. There is little that can compare to the beauty of this untouched nature.

My husband and I have a goal that in 10 years from now we will be able to build a house on that land. We want our peanut (and hopefully more children) to have that outdoor environment to grow and play on. In my mind I can see a bountiful garden of vegetables and flowers, afternoon family walks through the woods, and room for picnics and an outdoor fireplace (I swoon over them every time I see one in a magazine).

Last weekend, on a particularly phenomenal October weekend, we took a four-wheeler ride up through the property and forest with our camera in tow. The photos turned out beautifully!

15 October 2010

Currently coveting lollipop pies

I found these delightful pie pops awhile back and have been waiting for a good reason to make them. Since reasons have come and gone, I might make them for no reason at all, other than to take pride in the process and relish in the taste. They look amazing, I can't fight it any more. {The rest of the lollipop pie pictures presented by Luxirare are stunning.}


14 October 2010

Cute DIY halloween costumes

As a self-employed wife and mother, I see the need for quick and easy tips that will save time (and hopefully money, too, if I'm lucky). I have been using my natural cleaning products, vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice, since my post about the topic. While my husband may mention (frequently) that our house smells like salt and vinegar chips, it's been an easy transition and I feel good about not using chemicals.

I'm always on the hunt for more quick and easy tips, which is one huge reason I love the magazine Real Simple. It is filled with numerous lists of reuse ideas, recipes, and tips for your daily life. Today on their website, I found these adorable DIY Halloween costumes for youngsters. You could grab most of the costume pieces from your child's wardrobe (or your own!) and create a cute, inexpensive costume without much hassle.

12 October 2010

DIY projects: how many is too many?

After a long weekend away from blogging and focused on a mini bathroom makeover, I make my return with thoughts of home improvement projects. It requires ambition, of course, which I may not have today. But the feeling of achievement when a project is finished... it's worth it.

These are some ideas I would love to try in my house. They may happen, they may not... but what fantastic inspiration they provide. 

I love the idea of various size drawers/boxes on their sides on the wall. It not only provides a design element, but also extra storage (which everyone needs!). The chalkboard background is so useful.  Looking at these colorful chairs makes me realize that I'd love some bright chairs as well. The lighting fixture looks like it has feathers on it - I am in love!

 { via this old house }

Our kitchen is not nearly as beautiful as this, but with some easy additions, it can get a lot closer. We already have the pendant light and white cabinets, so updating the cabinet hardware might be my next project. I also like the petite, striped window treatments. So cute. I still need something for ours to add to the blinds. We even have a beautiful, new faucet to install waiting for us in the attic.

The dark color inside this fireplace gives me inspiration the paint the inside of ours. Also an ornamental fireplace, I've wondered what to do with this great piece of architecture. We have leftover charcoal colored paint from painting a wall in the dining room that would be a great compliment. A coat of paint plus the decor I already have might be the perfect combination.

I suppose I should stop adding to our already bulging list of tasks and things to be done. First I need to find time to carve a pumpkin, THEN more house projects. Priorities, check.

06 October 2010

Wedding nostalgia turned honeymoon recap

Today on Sweet Little Thrills, my design and inspiration blog, you can see more photos from our beautiful wedding. After getting the post together, I was feeling a bit nostalgic and began looking through oodles of photo folders on my computer.

Upon looking at our honeymoon pictures, I was transported to Northern California where we spent a week exploring new places, holding hands, and laughing. We had such a marvelous time and brought back many memories of our trip (I nabbed a pair of one-of-a-kind vintage red cowboy boots that will go down in history as the best honeymoon purchase ever).

 Our first few days were spent in San Francisco, specifically in Union Square. We stayed at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, which just so happens to be in the heart of the shopping district. We leisurely walked into dozens of stores and took the streetcar or trolley wherever we pleased. The temperatures never rose above 55 degrees, but with a scarf and light jacket on it was very comfortable. (Back at home, Erie was battling temps in the mid-90's... and we don't have AC! Needless to say, we were happy to be bundling up.)

Next, we picked up a rental car from the airport and drove up to Napa Valley. We honestly couldn't wait to get there. We had booked a one-bedroom condo that turned out to be one of the most gorgeous places I have ever seen. Pleasantly surprised and delighted, we picked up some groceries and started cooking in our state of the art kitchen. With a fireplace, balcony, full kitchen, and jacuzzi tub, there wasn't much to leave for. We made a daily trip to the beautiful pool area and made sure to eat out at least once.

 We drove around (sometimes with purpose, other times aimlessly) and took photos, drank wine, and simply relaxed in each other's company. It was glorious... and a very difficult place to leave.

05 October 2010

Infographics: Information and design combined

 { via metrobest }

Some of my favorite updates on Twitter come from Web Design News, and I am constantly clicking on the links they post. A particular link the other day became an immediate favorite and was quickly bookmarked on my browser. I was led to The Infographics Showcase, a collection of infographics from all over the web. After a subsequent search in Google, I lost about two hours of my afternoon in looking at these well-designed graphics that display large amounts of interesting information. Now I ponder what I can make one about.

A few to take a look at:
- One of the weirdest and yet most intriguing is The Human Tongue Infographic.
- An infographic that might make you think twice about recycling is How Much Do We Really Recycle?
- After being a teacher, one of my favorite infographics is Education By The Numbers.

04 October 2010

Halloween project hunting

My goal for this Halloween is to infuse a little extra creativity into the traditional aspects of the holiday. In order to achieve any of these, it requires a little early planning. So I'm starting some of my online hunting for creative ideas that I can put my own twist on.

This is what I've found so far:

1) Carve-by-color pumpkins from Martha Stewart

 Night owl pumpkin

 Faux-bois pumpkin

2) Fright on the fridge from Better Homes and Gardens

3) Deadman's finger sandwiches from Disney Family

4) Halloween yarn wreath from Hilarie's Random Stuff (and seen on Stretch My Check)

If you have created or seen anything that you would like to share, send it my way!

01 October 2010

Friday image roundup: Bright colors and rainbows

We are officially welcoming October with another gray and dreary day (the sixth in a row, I think)... so instead of feeling gloomy, I decided to feature some cheeriness today. Enjoy!

{ via weheartit }

{ via weheartit }

{ via weheartit }

On another cheery note: My honey and I have been married for two months! Since there isn't a 31st of September, I suppose the 1st of October will do. I love being his Mrs. :)

30 September 2010

Delicious dinner: Chicken casserole

I have previously mentioned my love for autumn temperatures, which today is something that translates into a perfect cool weather meal. Each time I've made it, I have received rave reviews and barely had any leftovers. This three cheese penne with chicken and broccoli casserole is perfect for with a side salad, Italian bread, and a white wine.

Next time I make this recipe, I'd like to add corn to the mix. You could also add peas, carrots, or celery to try a few varieties of the original.

Now for the recipe -- click on the picture below and print. Take it to the kitchen & you're ready! Try the recipe this weekend and I'd love to know how it turns out for you!

29 September 2010

Reduce, reuse, and upcycle

As I browse on Etsy and other online shops, I find so many items for sale that have been "upcycled" -- making new uses for old materials. I love the concept because it is something that naturally makes sense. Why throw the spaghetti jar away if it might possibly have a new life as something else?

On the Re-Nest website, I discovered a gem of 49 Creative Reuse Ideas that inspired me to take a look at my attic's holdings with fresh eyes.

One of my favorite upcycled items is this repurposed printer drawer jewelry hanger.

I adore almost anything made with chalkboard paint. In our next house (at least two years down the road at this point), I would love to have a wall or cupboard in the kitchen painted with chalkboard paint for grocery lists, messages, or perhaps a calendar. In the meantime, I can make do with upcycled vintage frames with a chalkboard center. I love this vintage green and gold frame chalkboard.

What have you upcycled?