July 31, 2009

admitting defeat

21 days. That's how long our headboard has lasted. No, no, it hasn't broken. Jason has announced it's not what he was thinking it would be. I've sort of given him the "you-couldn't-have-told-me-this-before-I-measured-and-leveled-and-hung-it-on-the-wall-with-painful-carefulness" look, but what can I really say to it? If he doesn't like, it he doesn't like it. I appreciate that he at least gave me 21 days of enjoyment.

He was actually quite cute in finally telling me. We were lying in bed, him already falling asleep, me finishing up back episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (I never watched it when it was on TV). He was tossing and turning, and with each toss the headboard rattled against the wall. Like, all four panels. He looked at me from underneath our marshmallow fluff of a comforter and said, "I don't think I like the headboard! I'm sorry!" and then hid his little face again. We started talking about some of those reasons (the rattling being a big one), but when it came down to it, he simply said, "I just don't know if it fits with our house. It's too...country house." What he meant was, it doesn't match the one piece of furniture we both love, but can never seem to actually build a cohesive decor scheme around (and is the exact opposite of "country house").

Our coffee table. We bought this back in North Carolina (along with some very over sized couches, that we ended up selling) and it's been the one item in our house we've loved more than anything. And, not saying that it doesn't happen, when Jason and I agree on furniture with this much passion, it's a cause for celebration!

It may seem silly to design the whole house around one piece of furniture (Kholer commercial anyone?). I don't know why we feel the need to do it. Maybe because we want our whole house to flow. That was the main reason for our project list, formerly known as our "Home Completion Plans;" so that our house would finally start coming together. But now it looks like we may have to sit down and figure out what "together" really means. We have a few ideas to start heading in that direction, but so much is being put off because of our impending move. I'll be so happy to be back in San Diego, close to familiar shopping centers, stores, and everything else I need in one metropolis. But I digress.

So, once more I'm on the hunt for a headboard. We're talking about an iron headboard--something very old world feeling, without being too medieval or Gothic. Jason has also mentioned he'd love a bench in lieu of a foot board. Upon discovery that in our current room we'd have no space in between our bed and the TV, he happily pointed out it could sit under a window (which would look quite pretty--one point for the husband!) While we both love the look of this bench:

we are skittish about the matching bed:

Both are from JC Penney, and the reviews on the website just rave about the headboard, saying that the pictures don't do it justice. I'm thinking it's all the pink shabby chic-ness of the picture--how is any man supposed to envision that in his bedroom? And unlike the bench, I can't change the color to see how much better it would look in black.

In the meantime, dear readers, can you help us? I know some of you are vested in idea boards, a skill I have not yet acquired. If I asked for a bedroom that had the same feel as our coffee table, could you do it? How about a dinning room? How about accessories? How about keeping it on a very tight budget? If anyone thinks they're up to the challenge please let me know! You can email me (amber@2nutsinashell.com) or leave a comment on this post.

Off to Google...

July 26, 2009

the tilted kilt

Yesterday my friend Katie came up to visit us. She was needing some away time and we told her as long as she didn't mind tagging along to Palm Springs, she was more than welcome! Our day started with a little make-up (by moi)...

And a before shot of my light brown hair! Our first stop was Salon 119 to get it nice and dark!

Outfit details: black lace ribbed tank top by Converse One Star, grey plaid vest by Bitten, jeans from Maurice's, black wedge flip-flops by Colin Stuart, grey velvet choker (Alice's choker) by Twilight Replica Jewelry.

Jason was set to get a massage while I had my hair colored, so poor Katie was stuck waiting for us. But it wasn't too busy and thankfully, she was able to sit in the next hair-chair so we could talk while Brittany (my stylist) turned my head into a fluffy chocolate cupcake. By the time everyone was done, we were starving! So we took Katie to The Tilted Kilt, which is quickly becoming our favorite restaurant.

(Why yes, I do think I'm a hard-core rock star!)

It's a Scots-Irish version of Hooters, but from what my boy-friends have told me, The Tilted Kilt has even better tasting food. I know Hubbs loves their onions rings. My BBF (best-boy-friend) Carson loves their wings and says they're "a million times better than Hooters." He says he'll actually never go back. Being vegetarians, we have to take his word for it.

But I think the boys just like the uniforms!

Dinner was followed by a very disappointing trip to see "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince." Save your money, and wait until it comes to Netflix. The entire ride home all I could say was, "Worst. One. Ever!" Katie put it best when she said, "I don't feel that I got my $10 worth." The movie felt very empty and anticlimactic, which Hubbs kept repeating, was how the book was written. But there were a lot of things left out that he had to explain and once he did, things made a little more sense. So, yes. Worst one ever.

July 24, 2009

love v.s. style

Ilove Victoria's Secret. I really, really do. I've always had such good luck when it comes to their clothes, I've never had any issues with returns or purchases, and the only thing I wish they'd change is the availability of clothing in-store (which is slowly happening). Last night I was suffering from a little case of insomnia, and decided a little shopping may calm me down. Besides, it's been a while since I've bought anything with my allowance!

They're were having some great sale on their henley sweaters, and I love henley's!1 I may also be just a little over zealous to get the heck out of the desert and into somewhere that has cool mornings (more on the in a second). I bought this sweater, in this color (ivory)...

This sweater, which isn't technically a henley, but I had to have it anyway because it was the only one that came in this color (ultra indigo)...

And this sweater (in midnight). I love ¾-length sleeves. Perfect for in-between weather.

Yesterday we found ourselves hit with an out-of-nowhere storm. I mean pouring rain, strong winds--reminded me of the hurricanes we'd have back in North Carolina.2 But to see rain, and to hear rain, it was great! This morning it's also quite gray outside, and it's only in the mid-eighties (it's usually about 105-degrees by about nine a.m. here). So while it's not those chilly mornings I'm longing for--my air conditioner is still on, after all--it's nice to be able to sit and pretend.

1 I love henley's so much that I actually had Jason convinced that Henley would be a great name for a little girl, should we ever have one. But after realizing it really didn't sound good with our last name, I begrudgingly gave it up.
2 I think I'm really going to miss the eastern winters this year. While I don't like being cold, I like dressing for the cold.

July 21, 2009

weight & see

I'm working my butt off--literally! I'm being such a good girl with this new workout regime. When I saw I was up .8 pounds yesterday, I ran an extra half mile on my treadmill before my evening walk. I'm thinking I'll do the same again today. I lost .2 of those .8 pounds gained, which is motivating. I'm determined to hit my goal weight (if not close to it) buy August 7. I plan to keep working out steadily after that as well, because I'd love to get down to my pre-surgery weight with my post-surgery results. I'm also going to stop weighing myself everyday because I know that's not going to be helpful.

The one area I could do better in is my eating. I'm ashamed to admit that the past two days in a row, I've had pizza--four slices each day (damn my compulsive behavior)! This morning I'm sitting here with a bowl of healthy oatmeal, made with only a little bit of vanilla creamer to sweeten it up. Lunch will probably be raw veggies, cottage cheese, and tomatoes (something I truly love to be honest) and dinner will be grilled fish with brown rice and steamed green beans. Truth be told, I could eat fish every day! Hubbs would soon grow tired of it, but not me! Give me fish or shrimp, sautéed, grilled, baked--mm!

I'm not the only one being a good girl though! My friend Katie blogged about our workout routine we've started via telephone. She calls me her drill instructor! I've found that by motivating her, it's also helped me to motivate myself as well. We have daily competitions to see how much water we're drinking, what healthy things we're eating, and how our workouts are going. Yesterday I sent her a picture of my vegetarian black bean burger, celery and carrot sticks with the caption: My healthy lunch. What are you having today?

July 19, 2009

just "hanging" around

Okay, super cheesy shelf joke. But my new wall shelves are anything but cheesy!

I purchased Ekby Östen shelves at Ikea the last time I was in San Diego. They were a mere $5 and their size was to die for (a full 31-inches). Right underneath them were plastic brackets for 50¢. I knew I wasn't going to keep them white, and instead I purchased some metallic spray paint and voila! Copper brackets!

I love the way they look up against our white walls (the top shelf is holding items from our wedding, including a bottle of champagne that was served at the reception; the bottom shelf is holding our collection of shot glasses). I can't wait to buy more. I'm thinking about flanking our bedroom wall in shelves around our bed since it's so nekkid in there!

Oh, a quick note: if you happen to purchase these shelves, make sure you pre-drill your holes for the screws. The first bracket I didn't do this and I was in such a bad mood I wanted to throw the entire shelf across the room. Once I found the drill bits, I was a happy little homemaker!

I'm sure some of you may be wondering why on Earth I'm hanging shelves when we're going to be moving in a couple of months. It's like I told Hubbs, I still have to live here for the next two months and I'd like the house to have some organization to it!

July 18, 2009

the silver lining

Icancelled my appointment with my "stylist" for next month. I knew from the minute she called it wasn't going to be what I was expecting (and hoping). The website claims that your personal stylist is like your "fashionable best friend" and can give you all sorts of advice. But when my "fashionable best friend" called to confirm our appointment, our relationship fizzled immediately (in reality, the personal stylist is more like a personal shopper).

I tried to explain that I wanted to come in for fashion advice as far as what colors to wear, what cuts were flattering, and so on. Her response? "What brands do you wear?" Me: "I don't really wear any particular brands." FBF: "Well, what do you like? YSL? DKNY? Ralph Lauren?" Do my DKNY reading glasses count as me "liking" DKNY? I didn't want to tell this woman that while yes, I wear brands like Prada, D&G, and Armani, I buy them all on eBay or at outlet stores. I've never paid full retail price for any of my designer pieces--and that includes a Fendi bag Hubbs bought me one year for Christmas! We're bargain shoppers for goodness sake!

I decided to skip over that question and told her I really didn't have a preference, as long as it makes me look like a lady and that I love to wear skirts and dresses. This seemed to satisfy her. I tried to explain to her my skin color and what I looked like so she might be able to think of colors for me. What part of "brown hair, brown eyes, fair complexion with a hint of yellow" screams put me in orange!? I'm a Winter! I belong in intense rich colors like navy and red, or icy pastel like bright white and cool blue!

Then suddenly I realized: I didn't need her help. I already know what colors look best on me--the very ones I gravitate towards the most. I need help figuring what looks good on me, whether the brand be designer or store-named, and I had a feeling my new FBF wasn't going to be able to help me. So today I called and canceled the appointment. I'm sad that our friendship lasted only a short time, but my gut told me this relationship was doomed from the start. And while I would have loved adding another "best friend" to my clique, I already have a strong relationship with two fabulous fashionable people who've never steered me wrong.

And in just fifteen minutes of browsing through their website for cut and style advice, I think I'm already healing from my break-up.

July 17, 2009

back on the wagon

Back in North Carolina I was such a good girl when it came to working out! Hubbs and I got up every morning at 5:45 to walk around our neighborhood. It took all of 15- or 20-minutes, but along with watching what we ate, those walks shed pounds like a dream. Then I had my surgery and fell off the exercise wagon. Big time.

I hit "my limit" here in California and really decided it was time to do something. I figured since running and walking have always worked in the past, why not go back to what I know? So, I started running again on June 29. Hubbs and I did a weigh-in with pictures so we'd have before and afters; I think the photos disturbed me more than the weight! Especially the one of my backside! I was horrified. I started pushing myself to run every single day. The first week, I made it Monday to Friday and gave myself the weekend off. The second week I only ran four times because one night was our anniversary (I should have ran in the morning that day instead of using it as an excuse not to run) and Friday and Saturday we were off on Jason's birthday trip. This makes the third full week and so far, doing great! I've run every single day and plan to run both Saturday and Sunday as well.

I've also made sure that I change up my eating habits as well. Anyone who knows me can tell you I loves me some junk food! Most people are under the impression that vegetarian = healthy, but it's not always the case. Jalapeño Cheetos, for example, are vegetarian but that doesn't make them healthy (but they're so good). I still allow myself some junk food, but I eat Pringles instead of Cheetos, and I only have one serving (which is about 16 chips). And yes, I actually count them out, put them on a plate, and put the package back in the pantry.

(These happen to be honey mustard Pringles--very yummy!)

My sweet tooth is also learning its lesson as well. I've cut sugar down to 14 grams in a single sitting--not serving, sitting. For example, after dinner I grab myself a Snickers ice cream bar; it has 15g of sugar in the entire bar. Or I treat myself to the good chocolate (the stuff that's 63% cacao) and I can have about five pieces because it has 14g of sugar in a single serving of five pieces.

And last but not least, I'm reducing my sodium intake as well. I try to limit myself to 600 milligrams of sodium in a single sitting. This is much harder than it sounds. Did you know a can of vegetarian chili has almost 1,800mg in the whole can? Soup too. Even the "low sodium" stuff is still insane. This forces me to eat less store bought foods and make more from my fridge. My one weakness is Red Barron Four Cheese Pizza--it has 700mg of sodium in ¼ of the pie! I usually eat one slice, wrap it up, and it becomes lunch for the next day or two.

It's all paying off big time though! In three weeks I've lost 4.4 pounds! Friday August 7 is when I want to hit my goal weight, so I've got 21 more days to really kick it into gear. That's exactly three more weeks so if I can keep going the way I'm going I'll have no problem getting there!

July 14, 2009

ticking stripe

On Friday I was happily packing up for the weekend when this lovely package arrived on my door step, courtesy of UPS:

Four yards of gorgeousness! I plan on making over sized pillow covers (26 x 26-inches) for a pair of euro shams we'll be buying. I scored the best deal ever on this fabric at only $3.50 per yard. I worked my butt off looking for it, too!

I was obsessed with the idea of ticking stripe pillows. That navy stripes, the rough fabric, the timelessness--I wanted it. I ended up looking all over the Internet for ticking fabric that wasn't going to cost me an arm and a leg; $8 per yard was about the cheapest I'd found. eBay, JoAnn's, Fabric.com--none of them had what I wanted. I even started considering buying pre-made pillow covers from places like Pottery Barn, but at $24 a piece (on sale!) I couldn't bring myself to buy them.

Hancock Fabric was the front runner as they had ticking stripe fabric for $4 per yard, but I believe the nearest one is in Nevada! After a few unsuccessful attempts to get a sample (the fabric looked like black ticking stripe, not navy on the website) I gave up.

One day I happened to be cruising Google when I ran across this article from Apartment Therapy. Wouldn't you know, down at the bottom was a link to a little mom and pop website called Period Fabric. Apartment Therapy had them listed as having fabric for $5 per yard. Lo and behold, under cotton stripes & prints, there it was: navy and cream ticking strip fabric for less than $4 per yard!

I can't wait to get the cases sewn! Unfortunately, lacking a sewing machine, I'll be waiting until my sojourn to San Diego in August. My step-mom has a dandy of a sewing machine so I'm hoping she'll be gracious enough to help me figure out how to use it!

Side note: Jason's birthday was a big bust! He was so sick the entire weekend. He has a terrible cold of some sort and he was running a fever in our lovely hotel room. Poor guy. We've since said we'll be doing a make-up birthday weekend sometime in the future.

July 10, 2009

headboard: done!



The whole project cost around $60. I'm still playing with their placement. Imagine my surprise when they wound up being plastic! The hinges I have don't exactly make them stand they way I was hoping. But since they are so light weight, I may just rig something to hang them on the wall with. I'm very happy with how they look in all their five feet glory! Certainly helps fill up that wall!

Tomorrow is Jason's birthday and we're going out of town--hope you all have a great weekend! See you on Monday! []

Ooh! The UPS man just dropped off my ticking stripe fabric! Wee! More on that on Monday!

July 9, 2009

the damage done

So, lately I've been trying my best to reverse the skin damage I've done over the years. I was a definite sun worshiper when I was younger--I think it's a requirement living in southern California. But now that I'm in my mid-twenties, I've decided that I need to make the conscious effort to stop the damage I've been doing.

Sunscreen vs. Sun Exposure

Obviously, this is the biggest no-brainer. I try to avoid going out when the sun is the most intense (which here in the desert is always), but when I do have to venture out, I slather myself with SPF 50. I've been using Banana Boat Sport with Helioplex, but I don't like it. It seems to make me really warm (literally, after applying it I start to feel really hot), and I doubt its effectiveness. I went to a one hour water aerobics class after putting on four layers of sunscreen and still came back with a very noticeable tan line. Considering that it's supposed to be "water proof, sweat proof" this doesn't fill me with confidence. So if anyone has a brand of sunscreen they absolutely love, give it a shout out!


Before I was simply using sunscreen as my moisturizer, but didn't like the sheen it left on my face (plus, I was breaking out--ick!). Now, I've started using Neutrogena Ageless Essentials Continuous Hydration with Helioplex (it must be the newest thing in sun defence). I was very surprised at how well it works and how much I like it. It's a little thin, but a little goes a long way. It has SPF 25 in it, doesn't have any kind of smell, and keeps my super-dry skin very hydrated. Bonus: it only runs about $13 in-store.

I've also started to consider foundations that will do more for my skin than make it "flawless and dewy." One of the lines I considered was the Olay-Cover Girl compilation of Simply Ageless Foundation. I've heard mixed reviews on it--you either love it or hate it--but I won't be trying it as people seem to be having reactions around their eyes. Being a contact wearer, I just don't mess with stuff like that! So the search continues, but I'm confident my perfect foundation is out there somewhere!


My body is what has taken the brunt of my sun damage, as well as what I'm focusing the most attention on. Aside from bleaching my skin, the only other avenue I had was to use fruit and citrus extracts to help lighten my freckles and correct the discoloration. I started looking for citrus body scrubs. C.O. Bigalow has some wonderful lemon body scrubs, but at $20 per 10-ounce tub it was going to cut into my allowance heavily! Instead, I made my own!

DIY Lemon Body Scrub
3-cups Epsom salt, plus some extra
3/4-cups baby oil
Juice of 2 lemons

1. Pour salt into container.
2. Add oil.
3. Juice lemons and add to mix.
4. Stir. Add extra Epsom salts until desired consistency is reached.

Hopefully, I don't have to tell you please don't use this mix if you have open wounds or if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. And like all cleaners, this is for external use only. Please keep away from eyes!

If the idea of using a lemon scrub doesn't appeal to you, add some full-fat milk to your bath water. Supposedly Cleopatra bathed in milk to keep her skin radiant!

I also started using a lotion containing Vitamin C (according to everything I read, Vitamin C is one of the best things you can use to reverse sun damage). I've been using Beauty Without Cruelty's Organic Vitamin C with CoQ10 lotion. It smells so good! I'm sniffing my arm right now trying to figure out how to describe it. {{sniff sniff}} Roses? Eucalyptus? The best I can say is it smells like a day spa. You know, all those essential oils mixed together? It's divine if you like that kind of smell. Plus, BWC doesn't test on animals and their potions are 100% organic and vegetarian! You can find more info on their website.

Now, for the Disclaimers

I'm not a doctor, esthetician, dermatologist or any other practicing skin-care-know-it-all. I based my regimens on research that I did for myself and my skin type. I only hope to pass on what I've learned and what I'm trying!

July 7, 2009

growing up

In the past few days I've done two things that have made me feel very grown up. Of course, using the term "grown up" probably shows I'm still a way's off from my comparison, doesn't it?

Number One: I made reservations for a car rental.

We've only rented a car one other time, and that's when we road-tripped it down from Pennsylvania to North Carolina after our honeymoon. The car was in Jason's name (since he'd just turned 25) and he was the primary driver. Now, when I make my trip down to San Diego in August I'll be renting a car for the week, all by myself. I've made my appointment with Bad Kitty Photography which means I'll be needing wheels for at least two days that I'm down there (the shoot date and the proof date). I figure rather than put out any family members, a car of my own was the sensible choice. Thankfully our military bank scored me a 20% discount, extra insurance, and a bunch of waived fees. So for a little over $100, I'll have a Ford Focus (or similar) for a whole week.

Number Two: I made reservations with a personal stylist.

I know! How hoidy toidy of me! I actually didn't even know this service existed until I was lurking on the Fashion & Beauty board on The Nest. Apparently, Nordstrom's offers a complimentary personal stylist. All you have to do is make an appointment. I'm very excited because I have some serious questions about the right fits, cuts, and lengths for my body. I have a very odd little shape. I'm kind of short in the torso, I have a large bust, a small waist, big hips, and somewhat short little legs. Jeans that tend to be tight in the thighs gap in the waist. The high waist style doesn't look good on me, but how old can I get before "low rise" becomes a fashion faux pas? High water jeans make me look stumpy, as do Bermuda shorts. Capri pants look great on me--or is it pedal pushers? What about my skirt length? I tend to have a yellow complexion--what colors should I gravitate towards (I'm told I look great in dark colors like blues and reds) and which should I stay away from? You can see I'm riddled with questions! I better save up a bit of allowance now because I'll feel terrible if I pepper my stylist with questions and then buy absolutely nothing from her (or him)!

Either way these two events will be sure to add to an already exciting week. I can't wait to see Cinnamon and the girls again and I've already started preparing for the shoot. This includes running 1/4-mile everyday and putting to use that new Bowflex Hubbs bought! I guess we'll see how well it works in about 33 days...

July 5, 2009

post 4th wrap up

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July [if you celebrated]. We had a beautiful view of the fireworks from our neighborhood, so we only had to walk about three houses over. We went to a potluck BBQ our neighbors were throwing. Imagine their surprise when we showed up with our own [veggie] dogs and hamburgers! I also took this for everyone to partake in.

Amber's Not Quite a 7-Layer Dip:
1-can of vegetarian refried beans
1-packet of taco seasoning [halved]
1-8 oz. package of cream cheese [softened]
1-8 oz. tub of sour cream
1-8 oz. jar of Pace Picante salsa
1-10 oz. block of cheese
Lettuce, olives, avocados, and any other garnishes you'd like to add

1. Cook the beans long enough to get them to a creamy consistency. They don't need to be hot since they'll be chilled later.
2. In a medium bowl, mix beans and half the packet of taco seasoning [a little goes a long way]. Spread into bottom of dish.
3. In another bowl, mix cream cheese and sour cream together until blended. Spread on top of beans.
4. Spread salsa, cheese, and lettuce, on top of sour cream [in that order].
5. Garnish with remaining ingredients.
6. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Note: If using avocado slices, brush them with lemon juice to delay them turning brown.

And of course, I only managed to get two pictures shot that day. A self portrait of Hubbs and I, and one I had him shoot right before we left. Ah well, that's what happens when you're at a party with a bunch of drunk military families. You don't want anyone to handle your camera!

Flag halter top, no label; jean capris; white sequined flip-flops from Victoria's Secret; white sunglasses from Target; diamond earings & DIY eagle globe and anchor necklace; lipstick shade "Don't Stop" from Victoria's Secret.

July 4, 2009

current favorites

The smell and images of lavender. Navy. The color and texture of wheat. The look of rope. Espresso and chocolate colored woods [and snacks!]. Fabrics like linen or duck cotton. The sumptious feel of white sheets and bedding. Copper.

Happy 4th of July everyone!

July 3, 2009

looking forward

You know what I can't wait for?

Clouds. Mist. Drizzle. Rain. Believe me, I never thought I'd be someone who'd actually miss the cold. However, the past week here in the high desert has consistently hit triple digits--and I'm not just talking about a mere 101-degrees F. I'm talking 110. 115. We even had one day where is was a blistering 128-degrees F here! My skin literally felt as though it was burning under the three layers of sun screen I was wearing. I even had to give up a water aerobics class I started taking because an hour in the pool [under four layers of sun screen] was still producing a sun burn!

I'm already thinking of gray foggy morning runs on the beach, splashing through puddles in wellies, and opening my windows to let cool air into the house! Is it time to move yet?