Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pinning and Doing.

At first I didn't get Pinterest. At all. I was thinking, "What am I doing with all these random pictures?

Then I got really into having an online collection of inspiration: home, photo ideas, fashion, even baby shower planning. I loved finding things on other people's boards. But then I caught a tweet someone wrote to the effect of: "No more pinning until I complete a pinterest project!"


I'm actually supposed to DO the things I'm pinning as inspiration?

Like stencil a wall?

And hang a gorgeous gallery installment?

And achieve my yoga goals?

I don't know, Pinterest. Now you're getting a little bossy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Post-Vacation Glow

After some time away, I really wanted to bask in that post-vacation glow. My skin is amazingly tanned, my hair has picked up some fantastic natural highlights, and I wanted to refresh my look a bit.

Erin at The Blue-Eyed Bride recently wrote about her "Summer Essentials" and mentioned a few hair products, including a link to a video demonstration of the curl down. Always eager to try something new, I got to it Friday before work.

BAM! Nailed it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

We're Back!

We're back from a fabulous, fabulous trip to Greece! After 3 flights, 30+ hours in the same outfit, a horrendous migraine, a vomiting episode, a 4am wake up call in Boston, coming home to a spoiled fridge of food, seeing two clients, and now having a proper night's sleep, I'm just starting to feel human again.

And I've just begun to go through our photos!

What have you been up to lately?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Goin' Camping

When I was a kid, I had a babysitter who would announce she was "going camping" anytime she ate more than she should. It became a bit of a family joke, and any time someone would scarf down a lot we'd ask if they were planning on "going camping?". One of my childhood best friends - the one who the Chinese Birth Chart worked for - was in on the joke too.

What does this have to do with anything? I'm planning her baby shower, and I'm thinking of opting for a camping theme. Here are the basics: she's having a little boy, she wants something suuuuuuper casual and laid back, and the idea of a cookout totally appealed to her. Since you just have to have a theme at a baby shower, I'm thinking something woodsy and campy will tie it all together.

Here's my inspiration so far:

{from tinyprints}

Monday, July 18, 2011

LED Lighting - Try it, we did

I will have to say I was not impressed.  One of the projects a while back was to install down lights in the ceiling of the living room.  Sorry about the photo, while it was one of my favorite projects, I don't think Mrs. Fix-It shared in my excitement.  They basic 4" cans with a reflective cone in the trim ring.  There are four in the space and then a single one over the window.  The one over the window can be switched on separately which I thought would be good to leave on at night or when we are out etc. 

Part of what I do when I am working is consulting on Energy related topics or primarily controlling energy consuming devices.  Lighting is a huge consumer of energy and LED lighting has promised the world when it comes to saving energy and providing quality light.  My opinion is they can do it, but what is the cost.  In commercial spaces where lights are on 4,000 hrs a year the savings can easily justify the cost of some of these fixtures.  How do you bring that into a home where maybe your kitchen lights are on 1,000 hrs per year (8,070 hrs/year, avg 3hrs/day)?  The manufacturers are trying to bring the cost of the lamps down and focus on retrofitting existing fixtures.  They are making products that will sit on the shelf at Home Depot next to your $0.50 incandescent bulb.  These products for the most part suck.
 Why would you want that ugly thing showing in your space at all.  Not to mention you see the heat sink when you install it in your fixture, but you get 3 points of light from the middle of your lamp.  These 3 pts are visible when lit and being in the center, typically miss the reflector of the fixture so your light isn't reflected properly.  Fixtures are designed for specific types of lamps and as hard as they try LED can't replace an incandescent.

There are options though.  The picture below shows an LED lamp that can be retrofit into an existing or a new can.  It replaces the reflector and trim ring for the LED lamp.  This option might cost $50/lamp but these may last you 20+ years.  The reflector and diffuser are designed for the LED light, so the output is better. 
Well, what about your standard light bulb.  There is a great option for that now also.  Philips came up with a remote phosphor technology for the standard light bulb.  The LEDs are arranged to disperse light by shinning through a phosphor coated lens which turns the Blue LED light to white.  The light is even and can be dispersed in many directions.  You can see in the pics below how it glows white and when it is off, the lens is yellowish.  Remote phosphor is also available in other lamps like PAR lamps for your down lights or decorative lamps for chandeliers.   It is a cool technology. 
I think one of the key requirements for a descent LED lamp is that it is not a direct light. It needs to be diffused or reflected.  The lamps with the multiple LED points shinning directly out of a fixture look awful.  So, what about color temperature.  How do you get that wonderful glow in a room like below?  You need to mix light sources, or wait till LED starts providing a color shift along with dimming technology.  You can bring in ambient light from LED sources and then use a lamp with a dimmed incandescent bulb to add the warm glow to a room. 
So what is my point to this blog?  LED is the future, I think it will be a good one, but people need to become educated on what is out there and what works.  Most people who grab a lamp from Home Depot without much thought are not going to be too happy with the results.  This is going to slow the transition for bringing LED to the mass market.  If people are buying the right product, mfrs. will make more of it and the costs will come down.  If you are building a home or remodeling a space, consider LED fixtures.  They will last the life of your space and if chosen properly will provide you with a wonderfully lit space that will cost you pennies on the dollar in energy.

What do you think? Will you give LED a try?  Questions?

Friday, July 15, 2011


If you followed my Weddingbee posts closely, there was an itty, bitty, post that went up just over a year ago. Just a hint of something to come.

We're having a second wedding reception in GREECE! Stay tuned for more info, but for now, eeeeeeeeee! It's really happening - and soon!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

{Guest Post} Let's Talk Doorknobs (The Nodakademic)

Hi! I'm Nodakademic. (That isn't my real name though; that'd be a way weird name.) I'm a late-20s academic nut from the always-windy and often-cold state of North Dakota. 
I blog about my life at 
Oh, and I'm also Mrs. Mary Jane on Weddingbee; that's how I came to know Amanda!

Let's talk doorknobs.

They are one of those details that can make or break the flow of a space. They're so small in the scheme of the room, you wouldn't think it matters. But it does (at least in my opinion!). My husband and I live in a 1920s bungalow chocked full of charming archways, rich hard woods and oiled bronze (or iron!) vents and handles. But over the years, "upgrades" have been made. Upgrades like these.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Photo Safari: Chicago Botanic Gardens

In an effort to improve my photography skills, I decided to go on a photo safari. Have you heard of them? Real photo safaris involve people paying money to go out in a small group with an instructor to shoot in a designated area. In Chicago there are really popular ones that meet at Navy Pier, The Lincoln Park Zoo, and Millennium Park.

My friend Ashley and I decided to have our own photo safari. We took a little road trip up to the Chicago Botanic Gardens (if you haven't been it's GORGEOUS!) and spent the afternoon snapping away. It was lots of fun, and I also learned a lot. I shot on manual the whole day, and remained really patient with myself when my settings weren't just as I hoped. The day was bright and sunny, and generally wonderful for being outside.

Before I share my photos, here are my lessons learned:
1. After several hours of shooting, I only took 69 photos. Either I am a perfectionist, or...
2. I am more inspired by people than plants/flowers/scenery.

Both of these discoveries make sense. I can only take so many photos of pretty flowers. But also, I imagine my shutter would have been clicking a lot more on a human subject. They move, they change expression, they require more "film". And yes, I don't just wing a shot. I have to feel it. So, I guess I only felt it about 69 times. (Could that sound more wrong?)

Here are some highlights of the day:

All images are SOOC (straight out of the camera). No editing!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I saw it, and I knew it.

There was this awesomely bad moment during an episode of House Hunters when a woman said she had a definite style, and when she saw things she liked she knew it. Mr. Fix-It and I enjoy referencing this quote, like, "Oh! You KNOW when you like something?!" Super talents, right there.

I share this anecdote (of sorts) because I was recently looking through my pins on Pinterest. My home inspiration board has a really clear and consistent vibe, that I may not have been able to perfectly describe before. So, yes, when I SEE something I KNOW I like it, too. Thanks, House Hunters girl.

Anyone else love neutrals with bold (yet neutral) prints? Apparently, I do.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


If you're new around here, HELLO!

If you're clicking over from Weddingbee, YAY! Since you're new around here, let's catch up:

1. Click on the "House Tour" link at the top of the screen to see our home improvement projects thus far. Our biggest one was our kitchen remodel. If you scroll through our archives you can get a sense of what a huge project it was (and 100% DIY!).

2. Say hi! I'd love to follow your blog (if you have one). Comment below and let us know if you blog too. Or just say hey. We'll be old friends in no time.

3. Follow in Google Friend Connect. Why? Because it makes me feel cool.

Again, welcome!

A Seashell Farewell {A Weddingbee Post}

For now.

True, our wedding is over. But I can't say goodbye. So, I promise to write an anniversary post, announce a baby Seashell (not yet), or find another excuse (or two) to check in along the way. For now, today, I want to say Thank You.

Seashell Wedding Highlights from Seashell on Vimeo.

Our wedding would not have been the same with out you. Thank you, hive, for sharing in this journey with me. You have made the process of planning a wedding infinitely more fun, more memorable, more detailed, and more rewarding. Every bit of going from a giddy bursting-at-the-seams with excitement engaged girl to becoming a now-almost no longer newlywed reminds me of my time at Weddingbee.

Before I was lucky enough to blog here, I soaked in every bit of inspiration I could find. Thank you for posting your DIY projects, your inspiration hair photos, and your vendor reviews. Someone is eating every bit of that information up. Thank you, bees, who have taken the time to so beautifully share the details of your wedding journey with us. I can say that recapping is a daunting task, but following someone's journey from start to finish is what makes this place so special. That's what drew me in - the stories.

Thank you for letting me share my story.


P.S. For those of you (like me) who refuse to say goodbye, come say hello to me and Mr. Seashell at The Fix-Its. Supposedly we blog about marriage, home ownership, renovation projects and the like, but somehow I got sidetracked and talked about sunglasses in two posts this week. We're always up to something!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Somebody Has New Sunglasses

We may not have gone all enormously oversized Lincoln Burrows around here, but...

...somebody has new sunglasses!

After trying on over (literally) 300 pairs in the past several months, Mr. Fix-It finally pulled the trigger.
I guess that means I have to stop posting photos of Linc. Sad day.

Here's a little before and after action. Not DRAMATIC, but trust me, it's a notable difference.

The only thing I'll miss about sunglass shopping is accusing Mr. Fix-It of looking like a "bad cop" in certain pairs.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sexy Shades

What is it about a great pair of sunglasses that makes you feel sexy? I swear, I'll be bundled beyond belief in the dead of winter but as soon as I slip on a pair of shades I suddenly feel chic. (Man, Chicago has gotten to me.) But really, there's got to be some magic formula for sunglasses increasing your sexy quotient immediately.

As far as I'm concerned, owning great sunglasses is always a good choice. Case in point:

Now, I'm not the kind of girl who gets all crushy on celebrities, but when Mr. Fix-It and I were watching Prison Break a few nights ago I think we both had a moment.

Lincoln Burrows = sunglass perfection

After my hot flash passed, I was reminded of one of my major recent quests: OPERATION GET MR. FIX-IT SEXY SUNGLASSES. For real, people, his sunglasses make me crazy. When we first met I wasn't terribly bothered by these things. But now, whenever he puts them on, I want to "accidentally" pull them off his face and break them. Sadly, he's on to me. When his sunglasses went missing a few weeks ago he was convinced I was part of some sort of switcheroo.

I realize there are starving children in Africa and all, but MY GOD these things drive me batty. They're too small for his face.

Mr. Fix-It isn't entirely opposed to finding a new pair of sunglasses. Here's the issue: the man has a large head. We've hit every Sunglass Shop, Nordstrom, and eyewear boutique I can find. Every time it's the same story: they're too narrow, or just "weird". Big, sexy, oversized aviators don't wrap far enough around his noggin to make the look work. So, I ask you dear readers, do you know of some magical brand that runs a little wide? Where does your man buy sunglasses?