Fireplace Makeover

This past year, while the kids and I took a trip home (Ohio) during Spring break, Mr AW Exquisite Design decided to tackle a quick weekend project: making over the fireplace in our living room! I believe he spread it out over the course of the week since he also had to work.

The past 2 years have been insanely busy with transforming our home to look more like our style. It’s been fun but wrought with plenty of angst, trial and error. It is exciting to see marked progress with all the projects so far.

Okay, so let’s go back. Wayyyy back to the beginning when we first moved in to get a clear picture of what it originally looked like. We didn’t do much of anything to this space until recently. Starting with this fireplace.

*Please kindly forgive the grainy photos and decorating; I had a very difficult time rummaging through tons of old photos to find anything decent that shows how it was before. It continues to evolve into a more pleasing aesthetic-

Christmas 2012

Because of the lack of vision for the space partly due to the bare bones structure , there was a severe absence of real design. Read: BORING! Even Christmas decor didn’t do much to dress it up. At least my cute kids made for something interesting to look at in the picture. 😄

This winter has been an exception but we love nice, cozy fireside time when it is bitterly cold outside. Yes, even here in Atlanta it seriously gets too cold some winters. This one has been the mildest that I’ve ever experienced in all the time I’ve lived in the south. So I don’t believe we’ve even lit the fire once this winter. For good reason too since we are currently putting in hardwood flooring! That was a long time coming and dream come true for sure! If you follow me on Instagram, you will see some of the progress peeks. It is definitely exciting!!!

Fireplace warmth

Okay, so Michael took a few shots but hardly as many as I would have taken to document the process. I give him a hard time about it since I know how easy it is to forget certain things unless there was a picture taken or written down. I wonder if he could be coaxed to join me in writing posts on this little blog of mine to give his educated insights and angles that would prove resourceful to others. 😉   I’m glad he did get some “during” shots so I have a blog post to write about. Haha!  It’s all in the details and start to finish in my book! I like to see ALL the good, bad, AND ugly. That is real, unglossed-over life!! Some of you just care to see the after and that’s okay. But in the end the important thing is if the end result is a big difference and wows you!

The demolition:

Layering on the stone veneer flats and clamps holding 2×4 wood in place

While tackling this job, Michael also decided to install a couple recessed lights above the fireplace. He attempted to see about installing more throughout the outer edge surrounding the tray ceiling but because of the hvac duct system running right above we can’t. 😞 😭

 

We are so glad to have this small but significant change in the main area and now are you ready for the – AFTER – ?

Funny thing about this picture though? It is actually a “before” since this was taken just prior to beginning the major living room makeover ! 😄 We were actually removing everything from this area hence the stacked pillows on the couch, no curtains on the rods, and dvds in the basket. 

                                STAY TUNED for more transformations of this living room!

                           

 Thanks for stopping in for a little visit!

 

A New Year And My Word For This Year & A Printable

                                             Here we are in the new year – 2017!     

There is a preponderance of expectancy, hope, dreams, and reflections that abound on most peoples’ minds when a new year comes around. There also may be regrets and disappointments thrown in. For me personally, I intentionally try to keep my focus on the former rather than the latter negatives. Why? Because as most know, when we allow ourselves to stew and grovel in the ills of the past year, we can impede on the potential possibilities that lie before us in…

  • Making progress
  • Moving forward!
  • Facilitating change to make our world a better place for me & others

So….. what does this look like?

For me, it comes in the form of a word (or rather, a phrase) to help define and color my decisions, thought processes, etc. so that no matter how small, another leaf was turned. A stone was moved. A bridge was forged. A door was open or closed. A mountain was climbed. And so on and so forth….

The inspiration for this years’ word hit me right on the eve of New Year’s like a sudden light bulb moment. I was quietly surprised. Usually, one of two things happen.                                                                                  I, a) do not have a specific word speak to me, or b) it comes much later…. like months later.  Last year was a good example of a year when I didn’t have one particular word but looking back there was definitely a theme. Overall, it was upheld. It was to reduce the busy, the clutter, the excess of living a more effective, quality life.

To say that word we dread to say to things and others – “NO”.

And, oh, all the prunings were not pretty, people.

It was a hot mess. It almost made things come undone. Like, irreparable come apart….. okay, maybe not quite that bad but seemed like it.

It caused some misunderstandings, emotional distance but it was a definite necessity in order to move forward, to reach another threshold of growth and development. To be still in a world of calamity, chaos, and crazy is a vital step to reach the efficacy of impacting the world around you and effectively accomplishing your goals.

Listen, you will do nobody (least of all yourself) any favors if you don’t care for yourself properly (not just physically but emotionally,mentally, & spiritually too!) and that may take longer than some of you would like. Yeah, here’s talking to you, oh impatient, restless, antsy, overly ambitious, type A. extroverted one!
Did I use enough adjectives?!

😂😄😂

I’m happy to report…. that we are stronger and more intact for all the tribulation we went through this past year. We’ve *hopefully* learned a few valuable lessons along the way AND progress HAS been made!

                                                                 So…… about the word of the year for me is this: 

                                                                                Intentionally Fearless                                            Word For 2017                                                        

 

I tend to always want to control things & people (don’t we all? but some more than others). Because of that obsessive need to be in control, I often find myself criticizing how others do things then try to correct them. That it has to be my particular way or it’s not done right (I’m an idealist by nature). Feeling so pressured that I project extreme agitation over small inconveniences. Because of this feeling of needing to control and be in control, I in turn give in to fear.

  • Fear of being truly real
  • Fear of what others may think, say, or do
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of showing vulnerability
  • Fear that I’m too sensitive
  • Fear that I’m too cruel
  • Fear of saying or doing the wrong thing which may (and often does!) land me in hot water
  • Fearing the worst in many situations
  • Fearing for my kids
  • Fear from media-induced neurosis [hard NOT to get sucked into that vacuum!]     
  • Fear of loss of control    
  • Fear that it’s not perfect enough [this really relates to one of the main reasons I haven’t been active on my blog; this needs to change 😉]              

Instead of allowing fear to dominate my life and thoughts, I will be intentional in NOT giving those fears a foothold to keep me in shackles. I will deliberately move forward through the fear and in spite of the fear.     This may be painful at times but like Rachel Platten sings in her song “Nothing Ever Happens”, we need to get out of our own way.                                                                                                                     Dreams and visions can’t become reality by playing it safe and giving in to our fears, big or small.                                                                     Yikes. Did I just say in essence to take a deep breath and jump??!  
  Yeah.

I think I did! 

Oh man, what did I just get myself into? 

That is why I juxtaposed the word “intentionally” with FEARLESS – because the fear may still be present but you can consciously choose to not let it cripple your potential or keep you from a call to action.

So this year, I purpose to “lighten up” a bit and choose to make the best of a less than ideal (in my mind) situation. Even if my posts aren’t what I think they should be, just publish them anyway;so at least there will be some consistency.                                                                                To let go (a little, haha….. baby steps, y’all) of trying to micro-manage every tiny detail of all the joint projects we need to accomplish.                  To be okay with not-quite-perfect (bear with me, those of you who just want to grunt impatiently because you think it’s just fine and go “next!”).                                                                                                                                                  
Below is a free printable I decided to make for all of you to remind ourselves that we do not have to live by fear.                    

This is actually a photo my husband, Michael, took on one of his snowboard trips out west (I think this is Utah?). He is an example of not letting fear stand in the way of enjoying life to full capacity as he plunges down those formidable depths!

For Personal, Non-Commercial Use Only. *You MAY NOT sell, redistribute, or claim the original or derivative (redesigned from the original) design as your own without written permission.

  

 

Here’s an original song that fits well with this post- written and sung by my sister, Graceanne ~

– Oh, and this post only took a month (singular) instead of month(s) to put out to pasture! I think I’m making progress already in putting my word into action! Yay! 😄

Have a fantastic week! I hope you leave feeling inspired in some way! 

 

First Day Of School Sign Tutorial

 

 

Back To School Chalkboard  

 

 

School is back in full session and I wanted to share with you guys a little tutorial for creating a cool “first day” school sign.

I cannot believe the school year has started already!   Georgia starts early. Like too early. The beginning of August is really not a good idea for kids to be heading back to school. I mean, c’mon! Summer is still going strong and many schools do not implement enough physical activity that most children require. I know I may be treading on dangerous territory here ….. BUT….. I have to say it.  Cutting their summers short in the name of shoving more academia down kids throats is not [necessarily] in the best interests of these children. They NEED a full 3 months of Summer-          To enjoy liberating and non-structured days to regroup for the highly-stressful, demanding, and very little spare time during the remaining [should be] 9 months of the year.                                                            

How many of you remember once upon a time school didn’t begin until *after* Labor Day?  Maybe it still does in some regions but not here in Georgia.  I remember having the full months of June, July, AND August free from school-related activity. Those were the days!

And need we be reminded we are only kids once. ONCE!

Yeah? Amiright??! Who’s with me?  In case you didn’t pick up on it…… {wink, wink}, I’m TEAM SUMMER!!! Whoopee!!! Okay, now that I got that off my chest………

I wanted to share with you, my friends a little project that I’ve started to do at the beginning of each school year-  Making 1st-day-of-school signs for my kids to happily hold up for their first day back to school pictures that I take every year since they’ve started school.  

  • Oh, and please excuse some of the photos…. grainy, a bit blurry, and/or poor quality are in play. Always aspiring to improve my skills but sometimes even with decent edits, the photo still is lacking in perfection. Many were taken with my phone so we all know how phone camera quality is!

   Close Up Of Kids 1st Day Of School 2015             

 

 

 

 

 

Really though, my kids don’t mind. Most of the time. We all have our bad days mixed in with the good, if we are honest to admit. Actually, since my little princess started preschool I’ve been snapping a daily shot of both my kids for each school day. If you follow me on Instagram, you will see that I post a daily photo of the kids at the bus stop just to memorialize the day in their school years. I also like to switch up their outfits to showcase everyday kids fashion. They rarely wear the same outfit throughout the entire school year.                                                                                                            

Here is last years’ conglomeration of bus stop pictures:                                                                                                        Paid HIGH Quality Insta School Collage photovisi-download

 

This was actually last years’ 1st day of school project but took me an entire year before I could get this post together ~ Uh, yeah, I’ve [reluctantly] accepted that this is how I roll…… years behind everyone else.  Better late than NEVER has become my motto.

 
 
 

        
 
 
 

 

 

First Day Of School Sign Tutorial

 

 

 

First:   Gather all your supplies.

  1. Scrapbook papers, cardstock (any light color – I used a cream colored one), and  regular copy paper
  2. Canvas rectangles (I used 11×14 panels)
  3. Glue
  4. Pencil (to trace)
  5. Scissors
  6. Craft paint
  7. Assorted artist paintbrushes
  8. Letter and/or number stickers (if not using a painted cutout, like I did)

Now, we are ready to get started:      

Choose your theme colors to go with your child’s outfit. Now, this is totally optional but adds a nice touch. I played around with different patterns, colors, designs before I got my final idea.                        


School Outfit and Sign Coordination

 

School Outfit and Sign Coordination - Girl

              

 

                                      

                                     

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Using a piece of copy paper, trace the frame.

School Sign Instructional 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
 After you’ve traced your frame, put the cardstock paper on top of the traced frame and trace the final shape to cut out.

School Sign Instructional 10 - Brighten

 

 

Next, choose your scrapbook papers:  Use your imagination here. I decided to have a large background piece and 2 thin contrasting, complementary strips for the edges…

School Sign Instructional 2 Sharper Img

School Sign Instructional 8

 

 

 

 

 

 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
 
 
                                                                                                   
                                                                                                       

                                                             Lay the bigger piece where it will be on the canvas then take your contrasting scrap paper and follow as shown in picture below:

 

School Sign Instructional 5

 

 

School Sign Instructional 4

 

School Sign Instructional 3

 Here’s what it looks like before applying the cardstock inner frame:

School Sign Instructional 8

This is what you should have so far, before you write or apply stickers:

Blank Frame Positioned

Cream colored cardstock cutout frame

I decided to use stickers since it was easiest and I had time restraints ( I did this project the day before they started school; Yes, I always love pushing things til the very last minute for some reason) but you could write/paint in the words instead. I will say, even with stickers, it was kind of tricky to get everything proportionate in the frame. It helped to draw (very) faint lines with a pencil which I erased after everything was done.

Close Up 1st Day School Signs 2015

School Numbers Close Up

Freehand painted number cutouts

School Sign Instructional 6

3rd Grade Sign

20150810_085332-1st Grade Sign watermark
 

 

 

So, there you have it. My twist on all those popular “First Day Of School” signs.  Okay, let’s keep you here just a tad longer and give you a few more shots of the kiddos sporting these signs!    

 3rd Grade Son School Sign

1st Day of School Year 2015-2016- K-1stG

 

Picmonkey Edit Both Kids 1st Day Signs

Picmonkey Watermark- AJ Closeup 1st Day Sign 2015

Picmonkey Watermark-Kaiya 1st Day Sign 2015

 

Kids w1stday School Signs 2015 #3

 
                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here is this years’ First Day (2016-2017 school year):                                      1st Day Of School 2016

The comparison of last year (August 2015) & this year (August 2016):

Transparent background -PicMonkey Collage

 

                                                         Hope you found this tutorial enjoyable and/or inspirational! I hope you also had a satisfying Labor Day!!     ❤
Initials Signature 2