Monday, April 28, 2014

Bedroom Pillow Styling

Did you have a good weekend? Friday was such a hectic day with four flights and a day at the Kohl's headquarters. Our presentation went well and we had the chance to tour the corporate office and meet with some marketing professionals. It was so cool to learn about all of the things that goes on behind the scenes of a major retailer. On Saturday I had so much fun helping my sister pick out wedding dresses. I've never been dress shopping before but I have heard that the bride always goes into it having an idea what she wants, and ends up leaving with something completely different!

What I hoped was a restful weekend, ended up being the opposite and I'm already playing catch up on sleep and work. Aren't we all? It's dead week at school which means it's the week before finals so teachers are supposed to be light on assignments so we can focus on studying. I only have two finals this semester so I'm finishing up final papers. Wahoo!

I came across this styling a bed article on Rue a few weeks back and I kept thinking about it and wanted to share it with you all. I've mentioned many times on here before I'm a sucker for bedding and if I could get new bedding every week, I would. So when it comes to styling a bed, I'm always up for new tips and tricks. Something as simple as your pillow arrangement can make all the difference! Which look is your favorite? I love the stacked pillow look because it's a bit more unique.

Style your bed and send pictures on social media so we can all see each other's favorite style using the hashtag #hhstylechallenge!


Friday, April 25, 2014

Make It: Designer Inspired Zebra Dish

Hello from Milwaukee! I'm on a super quick school trip to Milwaukee today visiting the Kohl's headquarters. I was up at 4am to catch our 6am flight and heading back home later this evening. My marketing class had a competition with Kohl's and my group was selected as the winner, so we are presenting to Kohl's executives and touring the place. Wish us luck! 

Remember that failed DIY that went horribly wrong no matter how I tried to fix it? Well, you're looking at it!  I had a brilliant idea of recreating the Jonathan Adler Zebra dish I love for  a cheaper DIY version. Last week when working on this project, everything that could go wrong, did. I set the dumb thing aside and whipped up the flower necklace DIY so I had something to post last week. The rest of the week I was thinking about how I could salvage the zebra dish because I had already spent so much time on it and I was too stubborn to throw the whole thing out. I stopped obsessing over it and analyzing my every last mistake, and a few days later when I came back to it, it didn't actually look half bad!

While it took me way to many hours than I want to admit to complete this zebra dish, I learned my lesson so I can prevent you from making the same ones. Keep reading for the full tutorial.

Air-dry clay, $10 Hobby Lobby
White and turquoise acrylic paint, $1 Hobby Lobby
Paint brush
Gold spray paint
Rolling pin if you have one
Cutting board
Total $11 

Step 1
I followed the instructions on the package of clay which said to moisten the clay with water and knead until it was easy to work with. My clay was already pretty workable, so I just dampened my fingers with water and kneaded the clay for a few minutes. 

Step 2
Roll out the clay on your cutting board into an even sheet, about a half inch thick. I would use a rolling pin for this step if you have one so you can get an even layer. My kitchen is far from well-stocked (I only have one pan!) so I used the palms of my hands to flatten out the clay into an even sheet.

Step 3
Next, cut out your desired shape! I used a knife while looking at a picture of the Jonathan Adler zebra dish shape online. If you mess up it's not a big deal because you can always add or take away clay. 

Step 4
Once you cut out your shape, you want to smooth any edges and even out the layer as much as possible, but be careful to not make it too thin. Now it's time to start giving your zebra a little shape. I just worked with my hands to create "edges" along the side so the zebra isn't completely flat. I continually dipped my fingers in water when working with the clay because it made the clay more pliable and also helped smooth out finger prints and other indentations. 

Step 5
After you have smoothed out the zebra and are happy with your shape, it's time to let it dry! I let mine dry for a good 24 hours before touching it. When my zebra dried it also "raised" so only the feet touch the surface. Weird, but ended up working out nicely! 

Step 6
If there is any unevenness or edges you'd like to file down, do that after your zebra is completely dry. I used a glass nail file and it worked well. This step is totally optional! My zebra had some areas I wanted to file down and it worked pretty well, but didn't make it perfect.

Step 7
Spray paint the zebra gold. I just painted the top side, but that's up to you if you want to do the bottom as well. Once that dries, paint the outside edges of your zebra with acrylic paint to clean up the look. Now it's time to paint the stripes! I just looked at a picture and free-hand painted the stripes with a brush. I'm sure a paint pen would work great as well. I did about three coats of white paint in the stripes to make sure it was well-covered.

*Editor's note: I thought I was saving time by cutting out a stripe template in paper to then lay on top of the zebra while I spray painted it gold, creating stripes. The template took FOREVER to cut out and it ended up not working at all, so I just spray painted the whole zebra gold. 

This DIY takes a little bit of patience, but if you don't make my mistakes you should have it finished in a couple hours. Overall I'm happy with the result! $32 is not a lot of money for the real thing, but DIYs are all about customizing it to your own liking, right? You can paint it how ever your heart desires! Plus there is leftover clay to make at least 3 more. 

Do you have any fun plans this weekend? My sister who got engaged recently is trying on a few dresses this Saturday and I'm so excited!! One of the dresses I actually spotted online :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shelf Styling Tips

A couple weeks ago I asked on Instagram if you are interested in seeing some shelf styling tips on the blog. I got great feedback and you all couldn't have been more excited about the idea, so I'm sharing my tips and tricks that I use when arranging my shelves and bookcases. Thank you for your input and enthusiasm! It's so exciting knowing how eager y'all are to learn.

When I moved into my apartment in August, I kind of just threw everything on my bookcase without much thought. It was the last of my worries at that point, so I figured I would come back to it and do some actual styling. While I did go back and arrange my shelves a little, I wasn't completely happy with the result, but I had other things to worry about so I just left it as is. Well, over the last several months I managed to accumulate more things, and while I'm happy to have some new jewelry, cute bowls, and clutches, my tiny apartment just doesn't have room to store everything. My bookcase became the catchall for a lot of trinkets and things and it started to get a little crowded.

Here is the before picture. There is clearly too much stuff and a lot of color going on, without any real organization or thought behind it.

Here's the after! While it might not look that different, in person it looks way more thought out and organized, so I'm happy. I kept most of the items I had before, but removed some extras and exchanged a few for items I had laying around my apartment. One thing to remember when styling is that it takes time! I did not whip this up in ten minutes. Honestly it probably took me over an hour. You have to be patient and play with it for a while before finding the "right" design you like. I arranged and rearranged many times before deciding on this.

The two bins are full of DIY craft supplies, so I placed them on top so you can't see the messy stuff inside. If I really want to be picky, I would have painted the pink storage bin white, but I decided not to bother and save time. Also, try grouping similar items. I stacked all of my white books together and kept my jewelry together for the most part. Paying attention to the little details goes a long way. I stuck to only magazines with white binding for a clean look. Just like anything else, as you experiment and practice you'll keep getting better and better.

Were these tips helpful? Do you have any other tips you use when styling? Questions?

Now go test your styling skills and tag me @amandarisius on social media so I can see your awesome job!

Monday, April 21, 2014

11 Facts + Questions

Hello! Did you all have a great Easter weekend? What's new in your life? I headed back to my hometown this weekend. Friday I had a fun night catching up with friends from high school over drinks. Even though we are only a couple hours away we still don't see each other as much as I'd like! Saturday was a work day where I caught up on lots of e-mail and things on my to-do list, but I also got to play with my niece so I still had some fun. She is the sweetest thing and loves to "talk" at three months! On Sunday we had a nice family dinner and then I headed back to school for a busy week ahead. When I'm not at my own place I kind of forget about social media, so I've been MIA lately on Twitter on Instagram. I'm really trying to get better at that and posting more regularly.

This weekend I was asked to participate in the Liebster Award by Emily of The Small Stuff Counts. To be honest, I had never heard of the Liebster Award before. I started reading Emily's post about it and discovered it's a way for bloggers to recognize other up and coming blogs. How cool is that? That is one thing I love about the blogging community so much. Even though we have never met, bloggers are so supportive of each other and I love these little things that help connect you to even more fabulous bloggers and readers. That's what blogging is all about! Thank you so much Emily for thinking of Hammer & Heels and nominating me! What a fun surprise :)  If you're wondering about the name, Liebster is a German term of endearment which couldn't be more fitting since I am German myself.

So here's how the Liebster Awared works: share 11 facts about yourself. Answer 11 questions from the blogger that nominated you. Then nominate other bloggers for the Liebster Award.

11 Questions:

Do you collect anything?
Technically, no. But if we're talking home decor and little trays and dishes and things…that's another story.

If you had a Saturday all alone with nothing you needed to do, how would you spend your time?
That would be a dream! I would probably go shopping, grab lunch at a cute cafe, go thrifting, and catch up on my Bloglovin' feed!

What is your pet peeve?
It's funny because I was just talking about it this weekend. One of my pet peeves is when people upload the worst photos to social media. When I say worst, I mean: blurry, dark, uninteresting, with zero effort. I don't claim to take the best photos and I'm definitely not an expert (in fact, I'm working on improving) but if you can hardly see what the picture is of, why upload it? 

What is your favorite season of the year?
Just recently I had a change in heart and decided fall was my favorite season. For the longest time it was summer, but now that we're recovering from a rough winter, spring isn't looking too shabby either.

If you could travel anywhere in the world and money was no object, where would you go? Why?
Greece! I have always had a fascination with the country and its blue waters and white buildings (probably after watching Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as a kid) and am dying to go ever since. It looks absolutely beautiful, and it would be so fun to experience the culture.

What is one thing on your bucket list?
Honestly, I don't have an official bucket list besides the things I think about in my head. Maybe I should make one. Going to Greece would definitely be on it though!

What is something you fear?
Hmm…the unknown. It really makes planning difficult :)

What is your favorite small business near you?
Raygun in Des Moines carries t-shirts, koozies, and other random things with the funniest sayings related to states in the Midwest. They are so creative and have the coolest shop. That's where I got my "I'm not a player, I just blog a lot" t-shirt!

What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you meet your expectations?
This is so funny to think about now! I went in phases. I used to want to be a cosmetologist and do hair when I was in elementary, then I wanted to be an athletic trainer, then I wanted to be in sports marketing and wear suits every day so I looked important. I'm still in marketing, but I have a much more entrepreneurial spirit and I'd love to start my own small business someday. Fun fact: I never changed my major in college! I chose marketing and thankfully I love it.

What inspired you to start your blog?
I was away from my friends in a new city at an internship I didn't like. I was tired of coming home from  my internship with nothing to do, so I started reading online. I wish I could remember the very first blog post I read, but it sort of just lead me to a new blog, and then another, and suddenly I was obsessed with the blogging world because everyone had a different story, but they were so inspiring. I quickly found that almost every blogger started their blog as a creative outlet, which was exactly the thing I needed. I related with bloggers so well and I admired the whole community they built. I have always been obsessed with home decor and projects, so I used my blog as a way to organize all of my thoughts and share my ideas. It is one of the best things I ever did, and I never dreamed of saying that the very first day I started it.

What’s one piece of advice you have for something thinking about starting their own blog?
Just do it! What's the worst thing that can happen? I remember contemplating starting my blog for weeks, and I thought I needed to nail down every little detail before I started my blog. Remember, nothing is irreversible. If you hate your blog name or design, you can always change it later. I promise, the most important thing is just starting. After that, all of the other decisions will come with time as you begin to find your niche, so don't stress about it too much in the beginning.

11 Random Facts:

1. I'm the youngest of 5 kids, with 10 years between me and my oldest sister.
2. Growing up on a farm meant the closest Target was an hour away.
3. I played volleyball, basketball, track, and softball in high school.
4. I graduated with a class of 42 people. There are 1,000 people in my hometown.
5. I am a night owl and would rather stay up late than get up early.
6. American Idol is one of my favorite TV shows right now. I haven't watched the other seasons in forever, but I'm really into this season for some reason. Jena is my favorite :)
7. Coming up with 11 facts is super hard. I'm already stuck and I'm only at number 7.
8. I don't have one favorite music artist. I usually listen to what's on the radio, but some favorites include Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan.
9. Out of Paris, Madrid, and Barcelona, Barcelona was my favorite city because of the beach and relaxed feel.
10. I would rather choose ice cream over a meal.
11. I have visited about half of the United States and I want to visit all 50.

Now, the fun part of this award is to spread the love to others. I’m nominating these bloggers for the Liebster Award: 

Tiffany Leigh Interior Design - She's also a student and finds the best thrift items. Tiffany is so talented in interior design plus she has amazing drawing skills!

The Makerista - I met Gwen at Go Blog Social without following her blog before. She was nice and then when I checked out her blog discovered she is a DIY genius with the cutest kids ever. Her photography skills are amazing.

Clothed in Confetti - I recently started following Jenna and now I'm obsessed with her style! She is so creative in her outfits.

Charmingly Styled - A fellow Midwest blogger, Maya is the absolute sweetest girl you'll ever meet! 

Amanda Marie - I heard her speak at Go Blog Social and she shared some of the most helpful photography tips. You NEED to check out her Instagram. I check her feed daily for inspiration :)

Ladies, now that you’re a Liebster Award winner, it's your turn to answer 11 questions and give 11 facts and spread the love to other bloggers! Please answer these 11 questions, include 11 random facts, and then nominate 5-11 small bloggers. Since Emily did such a good job with questions, I'm using hers :) 

Do you collect anything?
If you had a Saturday all alone with nothing you needed to do, how would you spend your time?
What is your pet peeve?
What is your favorite season of the year?
If you could travel anywhere in the world and money was no object, where would you go? Why?
What is one thing on your bucket list?
What is something you fear?
What is your favorite small business near you?
What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you meet your expectations?
What inspired you to start your blog?
What’s one piece of advice you have for something thinking about starting their own blog?

There are so many other bloggers I could have included but I've already spent wayyyy too much time writing this post! Can't wait to hear all of your answers and I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about me!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Make It: Flower Necklace

Have you ever had something turn out completely different than you anticipated? I dreamed up (what I thought was) an awesome DIY and started working on it on Monday. Everything was going great and I was pleased with the results so far. Apparently it decided to take a turn for the worst and as I was working on it on Tuesday. Everything went horribly wrong. It was taking much longer than I hoped, the painted stripes looked awful, and anything I did to salvage the project ended up making it worse. And all I could think about was the DIY post I wanted to share with you guys today and all of a sudden I didn't have one at all. *Sigh* Oh, the challenges of a blogger….

So I pulled myself together and decided to test my skills at flower necklaces. At 7pm last night. Luckily this one turned out better than the last and I have a post to share with you! It's a win win. I have a shoot today and wanted a cute, unique necklace. Last week, Erin gave us a glimpse of a pretty flower necklace she made, and once I saw this flower necklace DIY, I decided to make my own! Keep on reading for the full tutorial :)

Inspired by Green Wedding Shoes tutorial with a few modifications.

Flowers, $7 at Hobby Lobby (They always have 50% off sales, so buy flowers when they're on sale!)
Gauge 26 Floral wire, $3 at Hobby Lobby
Yarn or twine
Scissors or pliers (I used a scissors but recommend a pilers if you have one on hand)
Total: $10

Step 1
Cut your yarn or twine to your desired length of necklace. Make it longer because you can always trim it. I wanted to tie mine in the back so I can adjust the size accordingly.

Step 2
Cut wire and wrap it around the yarn to secure it, creating a crescent shape. This adds structure so the flowers hold their form. I used a thicker wire than suggested because that's what I had on hand, and it was much more difficult to work with.

Step 3
Add another piece of wire for added structure. It's okay if it looks messy because it will get covered up by the flowers. Ideally, I would have put several more vertical wires from yarn to wire, but the wire was difficult to secure tight enough so I made due with just one.

Step 4
Start by arranging your filler flowers. I used faux flowers so I could keep my necklace for a while and just trimmed pieces to fit. How you arrange it is up to you, but I wanted some filler to stick out the edges and create shape, so I had them extend from the outside of the crescent. After you arrange your filler, secure it to the wire by cutting a short piece of yarn and using that to tie around the filler and the wire.

Step 5
Now is the fun part! Start arranging your flowers until you come up with a design you like. I removed the flower from the stem by simply pulling on the flower head until it came loose. Once you decide on an arrangement, it's time to secure them in place. Cut a short piece of yarn and wrap it around the green plastic "stem" of a flower. Then, tie the yarn ends around a piece of wire or filler piece to secure it. In the other tutorial they used wire to secure the flowers in place, but my wire was too thick so I used yarn and found it to work much easier.

You can cut a piece of felt to cover the back of the necklace, but I decided not to.

Once I got the hang of the wire and improvised a little, the project went fairly quick and I was done in about an hour. The original tutorial was made for bridesmaids, and the necklace would also be cute for a fun party or celebration! I'm seriously loving this DIY because it's so cute and easy.

Did you like this DIY? Where would you wear your flower necklace?

First photo by Chelsea Photographie 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Style Secrets: $6 Moto Jacket

Oh, hello Monday. Though I had a great weekend, I'm finding myself off to a slow start and wishing I had just one more day to get things organized and get ahead of schedule. But who doesn't, amiright?

I'm going to let you in on a little secret of mine: I don't purchase anything if it's not on sale. This goes for clothing, home decor, accessories…you name it. Call me cheap, but I consider it savvy shopping. Why pay full price if you don't have to? You see, retailers have a cycle they follow. New arrivals come in and are marked at regular prices. After about three weeks, the "new arrival" prices are discounted to move inventory and make room for more clothing coming in. If you're patient enough and figure out the retail cycle of your favorite stores, you can find things for as much as half off or more. So worth it. It's so predictable and every time I walk in J.Crew or Banana Republic I quickly browse the full-priced items in the front then head straight to the sale. Another not-so-secret secret? Stores have sales all the time! Banana Republic is known for their 25% store-wide sale they have at least once a month. If I'm shopping and don't see an extra sale happening, I'll wait. These are not earth-shattering tips people, I'm just super aware of all of the sales happening (thank you, e-mail) and plan my shopping trips around them.

I wish I could say that I was eyeing this jacket for a month waiting for it to go on sale, but I wasn't. In fact, I had never seen it before. In my local mall, shopping is sparse and we don't have a huge selection of stores. I was looking for an outfit for Go Blog Social and needed a moto jacket and wasn't having any luck. JCPenney has the occasional cute piece, so I walked in and had a mini celebration when I found this jacket on clearance. The price? $6. Sometimes you just get lucky! I wasn't sold on the multi-colored buttons, but at $6 I couldn't pass it up.

Last weekend when I wore the jacket to Go Blog Social I got tons of compliments and was asked numerous times "Is that vintage?" and my favorite ,"Is that real leather?" Sorry guys, I'm not that good!

So there you have it, part one of my style secrets. What shopping tips have you learned over the years? Do you have any rules you follow when shopping? Where do you find the best deals?

P.S. Thank you for participating in the Sparrow $50 giveaway! We have a winner!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Life Lately

Happy Friday!! Did you all have a great week? I am busy working on my new website (Which I cannot wait to share! It's going to be good.), finishing up school presentations, and work projects. It's still unreal that I am graduating in ONE month! So much to accomplish in such little time. Anyone that's applied to jobs (so, everyone) knows it is a job in itself, but I'm trying to stay patient and hopeful that the right opportunity will come.

Thank you to everyone who took the reader survey! If you haven't yet, please do. It's a huge help in learning about you guys and what you hope to learn, see, and read about at H&H. It's been unanimous that you want to see more home related and DIY posts which is super exciting! It's definitely something I want to do more of myself, so it's always nice to see when our opinions and thoughts line up :) I'm doing lots of brainstorming post ideas and trying to get organized with my blog so I have an editorial calendar planned out in advance. Usually I write posts the night before (or in this case, the day of) but I want to be better about getting posts done ahead of time so I know exactly what posts are coming up and you can follow along with sneak peeks of upcoming posts for the next week. Would you like that? Another idea I have is giving you guys the option to ask me questions regarding your home decorating challenges. I haven't worked out all of the kinks or figured out exactly how I would incorporate it into the blog, so let me know if this is something you are interested in.

Some of you also mentioned you'd like to see more personal posts as well, and you're in luck! I was lucky enough to be featured by one of my favorite bloggers whom I met at Go Blog Social last weekend, Erin of House of Earnest! I took part in her Meet and Greet series where she interviews up and coming DIY bloggers. Head on over and check out my interview and find out why I started DIYing as a kid!

After the positive feedback on Instagram, I will share with you my styling tips for decorating shelves! Stay tuned for that blog post, hopefully coming next week.

Today is the LAST day to enter the Sparrow Boutique giveaway for a chance to win $50 to their amazing shop!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Go Blog Social 2014 Recap + Reader Survey

Photo by Katie of To Live For Style 

I'm still on a weekend high, you guys. Go Blog Social was more than I ever expected, and I still get excited when I think about all of the wonderful memories and amount of knowledge I took in during the weekend. I was blown away with how open and inviting everyone was. It's always intimidating walking into a room of hundreds of beautiful, successful bloggers, but I never felt more comfortable despite my shy nature and that's because of the positivity and genuine personalities of everyone I met.

With a packed full schedule of 7 speakers both days, I was surprised how fast the days flew by! Each speaker presented great, relevant information along with action steps and I found myself taking diligent notes because I didn't want to forget a thing. They weren't afraid to share resources that worked for them, tell stories, and give us advice for taking our blog to the next level. I was relieved to see no one felt entitled, despite how big their blog following. In fast, the speakers were just as excited to be there as we were, and I felt lucky to be surrounded by such inspiring, motivating individuals. As bloggers, it's easy for us to get caught up in the numbers and compare ourselves to others as if it's a competition. It was so refreshing to hear speakers address this and emphasize how important it is not to compare yourself. At a blogging conference we are all there to learn, and it's important to help each other out. Aside from learning blogging tips, I was inspired by everyone's drive and motivation. We all share a common interest and it was great to bond and give each other advice.

I'm coming away from GBS feeling renewed, energized, motivated, inspired, and happy. Not only do I have a new perspective of blogging and hopes to build Hammer & Heels into a community you will all love, but I developed genuine friendships. Erin was an absolute joy to meet. She is so down to earth and honest, and inspires me to be a better blogger and person. Jessie is incredibly beautiful inside and out. Mary is an amazing food blogger (and author!) who I am so thankful I got to know over the weekend. She's one of the friendliest people I have met.

Photo by Mary of The Kitchen Paper

In the coming weeks I am working on several changes for H&H and I can't wait to share them with you! As much as I didn't want the weekend to end, I was anxious to get home and get to work on new ideas. On Sunday I purchased a domain and now I'm working on a blog redesign! I also have a few other things in store as I refine my focus, write new post ideas, take better photos, and integrate more original content, but first, I need your help! You are what makes H&H worth it, and I want your feedback on blog content. Please take a couple minutes to take this quick survey so I know what you like, what you dislike, and please give any honest suggestions! This will help me create content you will love.

Thank you and I look forward to reading your answers!

*Click here to take survey*

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hello Go Blog Social + Giveaway!

Sparrow Blazer ℅ / Big Star Jeans / Francesca's Blouse (similar) / TJMaxx Betsey Johnson Bag (similar) / BCBGeneration Heels (similar)

You guys, I can't believe it's finally here!!! I have been waiting months for this weekend to arrive and now, today's the day! I'm attending my first blogging conference, Go Blog Social, which means I get to meet so many of my favorite bloggers and readers (um, hello Erin, Lauren, and Jessie) Not to mention, learn a TON about blogging. So many emotions going on right now: excitement, nervousness, eagerness…I want to take as much in as I can. Next week I will give you a run down of the weekend, share my favorite notes, photos and more! Be sure to follow along on Twitter and Instagram for instant updates the entire weekend :)

Anyways, can we talk about this blazer from Sparrow Boutique for a moment? Everything about it is perfection. I'm dying over the gorgeous bluish purple hue because it's so unique, and the zippers add the perfect amount of edgy-ness. You can bet this is worn on repeat! My love affair with blazers continue, and this is my favorite one yet. If you take a peek around Sparrow's website you'll notice that this blazer is not the only gem. In fact, the entire boutique is full of adorable clothes that need to get in my closet. To treat you all for being so lovely, I teamed up with Sparrow to offer you one $50 gift card to Sparrow Boutique. Enter the giveaway for your chance to win until April 11th! Be sure to leave us a comment telling us what you would buy with your $50 gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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