The adorable mess header

The adorable mess header

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Alaska- Anchorage to Seward

This summer has taught me more than anything that time flies.  I mean, I know it flies during the school year and I know it flies during the holidays, but I thought that SURELY it would slow down this summer.  It feels like we just let out of school and here I am trying to get in the mindset of heading back to school.  

Speaking of time flying, I have been meaning to share our cruise to Alaska with you, which happened over a MONTH AGO...a whole MONTH!  I promised myself that I would post as much as a could about this trip because, when I was researching it, I had a difficult time knowing what to prepare for. We chose to go to Alaska in late June and I was completely bumfuzzled about what to pack, how to prepare, and how to cruise to Alaska.  I am also hoping to write a post later about what to pack, which completely stressed me out.  I knew what to pack for a cruise to the Caribbean in the middle of the summer...but Alaska!?!  

Our trip consisted of a seven day cruise down southeastern Alaska with Celebrity Cruises.  There were two route options for us to take, but our specific route took us from the sleepy port of Seward, AK down to Vancouver, BC.  It was absolutely breathtaking!

We began by taking a flight out of Baltimore into Seattle, WA.  This was the first time I'd been on the west coast other than taking a trip out to California while I was in high school.  The best part about the flight was being about to see Mt. St. Helen and Mt. Rainier from the air.  AMAZING!  You can see some of our photos below! :)  We then flew from Seattle to Anchorage, AK.  In all, we spent about 15 hours traveling and we almost saw a 24 hour day. Yikes!!! 

Upon landing in Anchorage, my husband, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and I hopped into our rental car with my in-laws behind us to make the 2-hour journey down to Seward.  One of my favorite memories of the trip was listening to the best of the 60s, 70s, and 80s as we cruised down Alaska Highway 1.  My Starbucks buzz may have also helped the situation because caffeine was the only thing keeping me awake at that point.  

The ride down to Seward was gorgeous.  The sun was still out at 9:30 pm, which was super weird for this North Carolinian/ Virginia (identity crisis moment...still haven't quite adapted to my new state identity.)  In fact, when we pulled into Seward, people were hanging out and about at some of the restaurants and it was broad daylight out.  Weird.  Just weird.  But incredibly intriguing at the same time!   We had a quick bite to eat at Terry's Fish and Chips in Seward and then made our way to Box Canyon Caverns to lay our weary heads down for three hours of darkness and an attempt at sleep.  Check out some of the pictures below.  

If you're heading from Anchorage to Seward, here are a few tips for along the way:
  1. Get an epic playlist going.  The drive is totally worthy of an amazing play list.  You can access ours by clicking on the link here.  
  2. Use the bathroom BEFORE leaving Anchorage.  The only restrooms along the way are outhouses with holes in the ground, literally.  I mean, after working at a camp for four summers, a hole in the ground doesn't really phase you.  
  3. Bring some toilet paper with you, too. 
  4. If you're hungry, eat before leaving Anchorage, or bring snacks.  Snacks are always good.  Or play to eat in Seward.  
  5. Touch the mud (along the highway), stop and take pictures, and if its warm enough, drive with the windows down. 

There were plenty of picture stops along the way...and the mud, I was obsessed with the mud.  I didn't really wear hiking shoes on the plane to be able to get out and explore as soon as we got there, so I just had to look at it from afar.  The water looks just like brown silt.  

The train track and the highway border the ocean for quite a ways.  Our drive was sunny, warm, and beautiful for the first hour.  

We were a little tired by this point...and by a little I mean A LOT!  

 I'll be sure to share more about Seward soon, so stay in touch!  :)

Happy Adventuring,

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Black and Bright Back to School Resources

Happy Tuesday!

I don't know about you, but I am soaking in every last minute of the summer before we head back to school.  However, I couldn't help but get a jump start on things for my classroom.

This year I'm planning to use black and brights as my classroom theme.  What do I mean?  Well, check out these ideas below and the links!

As with all projects, with every theme comes my own modifications.  My old alphabet and number line have seen a few classroom moves and needed to be ditched.  Instead of going with the typical number line from a teacher store, I decided to design my own to match my theme for this year.  Check them out below! :)  If you like them, the links to my Teacher's Pay Teachers Store are included.

Black and Brights Classroom Ideas

Sunday, July 19, 2015

DIY Ikea Kallax Storage Bench

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I have to admit, I can no longer walk into a store and just purchase an item for my house without thinking "could I make this myself?"  crossing my mind.  Thank you, Pinterest.  With that being said, I have thoroughly enjoyed researching how to personalize our home and to do so in a way that satisfies my husbands request that the things in our house be  :)  Which is what led me to our Ikea storage bench.

We're renting a town home that has this cute little window cut out.  As soon as I saw it, I knew that it would be a perfect spot for a storage bench/window seat in our living room.  After a tedious trip to Ikea and trying to explain my vision to my husband, we ended up purchasing and putting together the Kallax storage unit.  I have to admit, it sat in our living room for weeks before I finally decided on colors and baskets.

Today I'm going to share with you how we put ours together and provide links and information, in the event that you decide to make your own.


  • Kallax Shelving Unit $59.99 (see current price here)
  • Particle Board cut to 57 7/8" by 15 3/8" ($9.00 for a huge sheet.  I purchased mine at Lowe's and they cut it to size for me for free!)
  • 3" foam pieces (I used 3- 15"x17" sheets and then 1 sheet cut to15" by 7 7/8")
  • Fabric of choice
  • Quilt batting
  • Staples
  • Staple Gun
  • Baskets (mine: here, other options: herehere and here)
I have to confess, I was initially very overwhelmed by this project.  The original shelving seen in many of the posts on Pinterest was no longer available, the price of foam seemed through the roof at Joann's and it was so difficult to find baskets that weren't from Ikea that would fit the look and style that I wanted for my project. 

Thankfully, a very kind gentleman at Lowe's helped navigate me through some of my pitfalls.  

I began having my husband put together the Kallax Shelving Unit and I took measurements of the length and width of the bench.  I had originally read that MDF was a great option to use for upholstery, by I couldn't find it at a reasonable price for the size that I needed.  So, the kind gentleman at Lowe's suggest the particle board, which they cut to size for me.  He also suggested a basic staple gun and staples which cost me around $10.  

That part felt overwhelming enough, so it took me a bit longer to get to the fabric and the foam.  After pricing items on the internet and in store, I actually decided to purchase my foam and fabric from Hobby Lobby.  I waited until their foam was on sale for 30% off and then used my 40% off one item coupon for my fabric.  

To upholster:

To cover my particle board, I used 3 full sheets of foam and about half of the fourth sheet of foam.  I wanted to lay them out on top of the particle board to make sure that I had enough foam before I began upholstering.  

First, I laid down my quilt batting, making sure it was tight and smooth.  Next came the foam pieces, which I placed end to end.  I made sure that they were placed together as tightly as possible so that there were no spaces or gaps once the fabric was stapled down. 

Then, I laid down my particle board on top of the foam pieces and made sure everything is centered. Carefully pulling the batting so that it was tight and smooth, I worked around the perimeter of the bench, adding staples to secure the foam to the particle board.   Hint: Try not to bulk up the corners of the batting.  If it is too bulky, it will make it difficult to staple down your fabric.  

Finally, take your newly created bench and lay if face down on top of your fabric.  Staple along the length of the bench top and then work on folding the corners in and stapling the width of the bench.  

For tips on upholstering the corners see my step by step pictures below: 

1. Pinch the corner of the fabric and pull snugly.  

2. Pull up on the fabric so that it is perpendicular to the bench.

 3.  Pull it towards the middle of the bench center to create a fold. (Imagine you are wrapping a present.)

4. Staple it down.

5. Fold excess fabric over top and staple down. 

After I had finished with my bench top, I carefully laid it on top of the the Kallax shelving unit and added the baskets and some decorative pillows.  I was quite pleased with the way it pulled our living room together. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

DIY Monogram Key Chain

I know, I know.  It's been almost six months since I posted to the blog and I haven't been keeping things updated very well.  I do have an excuse, we did get married in May, I taught in NC through the Christmas break in NC and then we up and moved to Northern Virginia because my husband accepted a new job.

The move has been AMAZING for us.  We could not be more tickled about the location, our jobs or the opportunities that they are providing.   However, since we've been here this North Carolina girl has seen more snow in two months than I've ever seen in my entire life.  I think we've had around 13 snow days for school since I've been here and I've had a little bit of time on my hands.  I mean, that is between unpacking, decorating, taking care of relocation documents and taking on a new teaching position in the middle of the year.

Today we ended up with a glorious NINE inches of snow on the ground.  NINE!!!!!  It's the first of our snow days that we had enough snow for my Maryland native husband to come home in the middle of the day to hang out with me, which I loved!  Needless to say, we'll be out of school tomorrow, so I decided to play with one of my toys from Christmas that I've been itching to experiment with.... my Silhouette Cameo.

Since we got married I have been monogramming everything (well, kind of).  I've always loved monograms but I knew two years ago that it would be changing once we got engaged, so I had to hold off.  Since May, when we got married, I've gone a little crazy.

I decided today that I wanted to try a monogrammed key chain.   With it being all cold and nasty outside I have been desperate for some spring colors, which you'll notice in my design.  However, you can always change yours to fit your taste.  Mine is a bit colorful! :)

Here are the directions:


  • Clear keychains from Hobby Lobby (Pack of 2- $1.99)
  • White Cardstock (if you plan to cut and print) or Color/Designed Cardstock (if you don't plan to cut and print)
  • Silhouette Cameo
  • Silhouette Design Studio Software
  • Monogram App ($1.99)  

You'll need to begin by launching the Monogram App and going ahead and purchasing the extra fonts.  Trust me, it is totally worth it because a circular monogram fonts are expensive!!! I've priced them and the Monogram App is the way to go.  

If you plan to cut and print because you LOVE the beautiful designs in the app, you'll need to create two monograms: one with your preferred background and one with your preferred monogram.  I had to do this because the original design I chose was very intricate and Silhouette wanted to try to cut all of it out when I traced the image (see below).   If you only plan to cut the monogram, you can just create the black monogram.  
Monogram 1: 

Monogram 2 (because I am IN LOVE with this makes me think of summer and all things happy!)

I started by cropping monogram 2 so that I had just the design to print (I chose to use the top right corner).  This would become my background in Silhouette Design Studio.  

I opened the design studio and imported my selection.  I had already measured the inside of the key chain and knew that it measured 2.25 inches in diameter, which would be the diameter for my circle on the design.  

 Imported Design:

Create a circle that is 2.25 inches in diameter and drag the circle on top of the image that you have imported.  

Next, you'll need to crop the image.  You can do this by selecting all the items (ctrl +A on Windows or command +A on a Mac).  Then, click the modify button.  From those options, you'll want to choose crop.   (select all > modify > crop)

Once you have that set, you'll want to create your monogram.  I opened a new tab and imported my black monogram.  

This is where I ran into an issue.  When I went to trace, it kept selecting way too many things.  This is where I have go give a shout out to Magnolia Lane on helping me figure out how to get just the monogram font.

Once you have your monogram you'll want to go to the Trace button (looks like a yellow and blue butterfly in my opinion).  The trace button will help create the outline you want your Silhouette to cut.  From there you will click on Select Trace Area and create a square over your monogram.

This is the most important part!!!  Instead of selecting High Pass Filter, uncheck it and click Low Pass Filter.  Your square will turn from gray to yellow.  This is a good thing!  

Once you've done this, click TRACE and then you can click on the black part of your monogram and delete the background.  The red trace lines will still be there.  Now, to get rid of the lines we don't want you'll select the entire monogram and right click.  Click on Release Compound Path.  Doing so will allow you to select each line that you don't want and then delete them.  I deleted everything except for the monogram.  I also chose to delete the circles because I wanted to have control over the size of my letters.

I promise, from here it is easy as pie.  Selecting the entire monogram, copy and paste it back into the document where your cropped circle was with the design.  Adjust the monogram so that it is centered and the same size as your circle.  

If you are using a cardstock with a design, you can just send this to the Silhouette to cut (Cut > Standard > Cut) because your circle and letters are set to go and it doesn't matter where on the designed cardstock it will cut.

If you are printing the design on white cardstock, I took three extra steps.

1. Add your registration marks by clicking on the registration mark window. Make sure your design is inside of red and gray lines.  Click print.

2.  I wanted color on BOTH sides of my monogram cut, so I added the same selected image from earlier to another Studio tab and printed it on the opposite side of the paper so that I'd have color on both sides. 

3. With the paper lined up precisely on the cutting mat, load the cutting mat and send the document to cut on the Silhouette.  It will use your registration marks to cut the circle and monogram EXACTLY. 

From there I cut it out, popped open the key chain and inserted my beautiful design.  Voila!  You've got an adorable monogram key chain.  

I hope you enjoyed and be sure to comment if you have any questions.  

Happy Monogramming!