Seeing Summer Better

Did you know that I'm legally blind? My vision has been bad since I was a little girl (thanks, Dad), and I truly can't function if I'm not wearing glasses or contacts. 

I wear contacts for about 95% of my waking hours, putting them in first thing and taking them out when I go to sleep. I got my first pair of contacts when I was in 6th grade because I played catcher for my softball team, and you can't wear glasses with the catching mask. I was only supposed to wear them for sports, but I was hooked. Once you realize how much you've been missing out on because you couldn't see, it's hard to go back! I remember coming home from the eye doctor with my contacts in and marveling at all of the individual leaves on the oak tree in front of our house. Before, all I had seen was a big green blob that I knew was a tree, but it was a whole new experience to see the details on the individual leaves.

While I do just fine with contacts, I've always struggled to find glasses that I like. I have a long, narrow face, and most frames stick out far to wide on my face. And since I have such a strong prescription, the lenses end up distorting the shape of my face in the areas where the glasses are too wide. It's not a good look! Couple that with the fact that I have a nose with a big bump on the bridge (the result of a few broken noses during my childhood sports career), let's just say it's really hard for me to find glasses - either prescription or sunglasses - that I like.

Anyway, when Warby Parker reached out to me about their #SeeSummerBetter campaign, I thought it was a great opportunity to see the latest in eyewear and see if I could actually find some glasses and/or sunglasses that are presentable. Plus my best friend has glasses from Warby Parker that look super cute on her so I've been dying to try some myself!

First I picked out my favorites based on our summer destinations with a little fantasy online shopping, and then I actually tried some on using the Home Try On program. Also, I realized I am painfully awkward at taking selfies. (More on that later.)

First up, I needed some shades for our Boston trip. Boston is hip and trendy but retains its classic, historical vibe, so I thought the Barkley shades were the right fit.

While we were in Boston, we made a day trip to the picturesque city of Newport, Rhode Island. That city is all about the grandeur of the Gilded Age, so I chose the June shades, which definitely have a glamorous, vintage feel.

Next we ferried over to Martha's Vineyard, which is basically where preppy clothing was invented. I thought the Madison shades suited the Vineyard quite nicely.

Lastly, we went to Nashville to visit family. Nashville is an all-American city with Southern charm, yet it has a bit of a rock star edge. I thought the Crossfield shades captured that ecclectic mix.

By this time I was itching to actually try some Warby Parker shades myself. I can only do so much online window shopping before I pull the trigger! The company's Home Try On program is a game changer because you can order up to 5 different frames, both sunglasses and eye glasses, and you have five days to try them out for free before deciding which you want. It's really very smart, and it makes choosing your favorite pair much easier when you can show them to your friends and family and get honest opinions.

My favorite part of the Warby Parker shopping experience is the fact that you can filter your options by width. I was able to select "narrow" and see which options might best fit my face. Granted, it eliminated a lot of the cutest options, but it was so much better than trying on 5 pairs and having every single one be too wide for my darn face!

And here is when I began taking awkward selfies. Ugh. It's embarrassing to post these photos, but I will do it for the sake of demonstration. I actually took these photos so I could try out the #WarbyHomeTryOn feature where you post it to social media with that hashtag and Warby Parker folks actually weigh in on which frames they think look best. For the record, they preferred the June and Stockton.

And lastly, Oliver

I even got some of the men's sunglasses for the husband to try on, but he refused to let me post his picture on the blog. Psssh. The mens' sunglasses were cool as well, but I guess you'll have to take my word for it. What a party pooper.

So I'm wondering, does anyone else have the same issues with glasses as me? Have you ever tried Warby Parker, or do you prefer the traditional route where you go in the store and try them on? 

Do you feel as silly as I do when you take selfies? Do you ever take a selfie and think, "Darn, that's what I actually look like?" Just me?

Best Blog Tips


DIY Wood Sign

This sign is something we have been talking about making for a while, but we finally got it done this weekend. Football season is just the deadline we needed to kick our butts into gear!

If you don't know our story, my dad passed away suddenly back in May. After he died we learned about his "And Then Some" legacy, and it became our family credo. We want to be people who do what is expected, and then some. That's what it is all about!

One of the really cool things that spun out of the And Then Some legacy is that Scott's football team (Scott is a high school coach) has taken on "ATS" and "And Then Some" and the team credo. Scott's boss was present at my dad's memorial service when the pastor explained how to be an "And Then Some" person, and he was inspired to bring that message back to the team. Now 300+ high school boys will have And Then Some wristbands and t-shirts. Isn't that wonderful? I'm really happy to see such a positive message being spread to an age group that sometimes needs an inspirational push.

Anyway, we thought it would be really nice to make an And Then Some sign for Scott's office. This is where all of his football work happens, including meetings with fellow coaches and the players. It's basically a cinder block room with a window, so it could use a little something special.

My goal was to design a sign that was both masculine and modern. The football offices are actually pretty sleek (lots of white, silver and glass), so we thought the wood would warm up his office and make it more comfortable. He spends a lot of time in there so comfort is key.

This sign was a true labor of love. I designed the concept and drew the letters. Scott cut the letters out of the wood. I stained the wood, and Scott put the wood together. I painted the edges of the letters. He attached the letters to the sign. Teamwork is a must!

Let's start at the beginning.  We went to Home Depot to pick up the lumber. We bought five 1x3" cedar boards (8 feet long)that were smoothed out on one side. We also bought a 1x6" cedar plank (smooth on one side) that was 8 ft. long. We had the rest of the supplies already, so that helped us keep the costs down.

We bought the thin boards to use as the back of the sign, and we bought the larger plank to create the letters.

The first step was the stain the smooth side of the wood. We decided to tint it with gray stain because 1) gray is one of their school colors and 2) we wanted it to have a different finish from the cedar FM sign he already had in his office. (Read about that project here.)

My staining technique is very simple: I use a rag dipped in the stain to brush it on very lightly, using that same rag to wash the stain into the wood. I like a light stain so I can still see a lot of wood grain. I am the official "stainer" in this house because the husband is a little heavy-handed and the finish ends up being opaque instead of transparent.

Scott used some simple wood pieces on the back to fasten the thin planks together and sanded the edges to make it more polished and less of a splinter hazard. He cut the planks down to 6.5" long and used the extra scraps to brace the back of the boards.

Once I had stained all of the wood pieces, I started drawing the letters on the rough side of the 1x6 plank.

I knew I wanted the letters to be the same size, so I started each letter by creating a box that was 4 inches wide and 6 inches tall to draw in. Then I penciled in my letters, making sure each took up the full box. I used a ruler to make sure my letters were 1" thick.

Some letters were easier than others, of course. Any letters with curves were just freehanded, but I think they turned out fine. If the letter wasn't perfectly symmetrical, I had to draw it on the smooth side of the board. When possible I used the back of the board to draw the letters so that the pencil marks wouldn't show after the cuts.

Once I drew the letters, Scott used his scroll saw to cut them out. He just purchased this saw on Craigslist, so he was itching to use it. This was the perfect project to test its capabilities. If you're not in possession of a scroll saw and want this project to go a lot faster, you could just buy your letters online. I've ordered from Woodland Manufacturing a couple times and have been very happy with the products.

Once the letters were cut out, we used some sandpaper to smooth the edges. Since the letters and sign were stained the same color, I wanted to add some dimension by painting the sides. I used navy acrylic paint and a stiff artist paintbrush (which gives better control than a soft paintbrush) to paint the sides of each letter. I have no photos of this part because I had paint on my hands, but let's just say that was more tedious than I thought. I had a case of carpal tunnel by the end!

We let the letters dry overnight and began the process to affix them to the sign the next day. We used masking tape to create a straight line on the boards, which was really helpful as we measured and spaced out each letter.

Each letter is 1.25" a part, and each word is 4.75" inches a part. It took some time and mathematics for us to get those measurements just right, but thank goodness my husband has math skills. (Me? Not so much.)

Once we had the spacing right, we used wood glue to adhere the letters.

About an hour later, we took the sign outside and added nails to make sure each letter was secure. We used a nail gun and added the nails from the back of the sign so that the letters wouldn't have nail holes.

We didn't have a good hanging kit for the back of the sign, so the husband used his MacGuyver skills to fashion one out of electrical wire staples. He's resourceful, that one. Anything to avoid a trip to the hardware store when a project is this close to being finished.

Finally, we took it up to the office and hung it up above his window. Now it's the first thing you see when you walk in!

I wish his office was a little more visually appealing, but let's be real: It's a man's office. This is not the right place for me to go all "Pinterest-crazy" and over-decorate. Restraint is key. :)

We are so happy with the sign and with the message it represents. I'm still grieving the loss of my dad, but we're focused on living our lives in a way that makes him proud. I know he would LOVE this sign so much and would be happy as could be sitting in Scott's office, talking about sports and life and all those good things. We really miss him, but projects like this make us feel close to him.

Best Blog Tips


Wood (5-Year) Anniversary Gifts

We celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary on Friday (woohoo!) and we had a lot of fun buying little gifts for one another. We always stick to the traditional gifts, and the 5-year gift is wood.

I took the liberty to round up some of my favorite ideas, including all different budgets. Can you guess which ones I got for him? (It was much easier than last year's traditional gift, fruit!)

Wood Anniversary Gifts

Wood lamp
It may be made by a children's company, but it has grown up style.

Wooden Abstract iPhone 6 Case
This is a smidge more interesting than the average phone case.

California, Here We Come
Dreamy budget? Take a dreamy weekend trip to Hollywood! Talk about an awesome anniversary surprise.

Wooden Stump Table
They don't sell this table at West Elm anymore, but it's a perfect candidate for a DIY gift. And nothing's more romantic than something made with love. :)

Cutting Board with Removable Cutting Mats
Perhaps not the most romantic gift in the world, but it's so very practical and useful. I feel like any foodie could appreciate this gift. I am constantly wishing I had more cutting boards so I'd love this set.

Stainless Steel Water Bottle
I had to buy this for Scott because he's constantly drinking water and loves cool-looking water bottles. It promises to keep drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours. So far he loves it!

Olive Wood Nesting Bowls
I'm a sucker for wooden bowls, and these are lovely and unique.

Trip to the Redwoods
Ok, so I thought of this present about two weeks ago and I'm so bummed I didn't think of it earlier! Wouldn't a weekend of "glamping" in the Redwoods be so awesome? I'm adding it to our future trips list when I have a little more time to plan.

DIY Modern House Numbers
This would be such a fun gift, especially if you recently bought a new home. It looks like a fairly simple DIY, too.

Apple Watch Stand & Charge Station
Married to a techie? How about this sleek and functional charging station? At $11 it's only a fraction of the cost you spent on the actual technology, so you'll be feeling good about that.

Dining Table
This beautiful table is sold out from HomeDecorators.com, but I included it in my roundup because it's just so darn beautiful. Sigh.

Wooden Wedding Band 
The husband has one very similar to this and he really loves it. The best part is that he hasn't run into anyone else with a wooden wedding band. It's only $30 - doesn't it look much pricier than that?

Sawdust Scented Man Can
These manly candles are awesome. They come in tons of scents, but of course the sawdust one is perfect for the wood anniversary. 

Amazing Wooden Art
I'm obsessed with artist Ariele Alasko. You simply must visit her website and peruse the awesome things she creates from the wooden walls of Brooklyn brownstones that have been remodeled. She has everything from salad forks to massive tables. It's pretty darn fantastic and could possibly be the Cadillac of unique wooden gifts!

I hope these give you some good ideas for your anniversary! I get a big kick out of rounding up presents. It fulfills my shopping urges without me actually spending much cash. Win/win!

Best Blog Tips