Friday, February 27, 2015

Stye Spotlight: 1960s

The 1960s! Usually things that come to mind when someone brings up the era are, "groovy", "hippies", and "peace, man". The 1960s started to show a shift from the conservative styles of the late 1950s. Bolder colors were beginning to be incorporated. A lot of greens and reds were being utilized. Below, a pattern is being used that can also be seen in an episode of "Madmen", from season 6, set in the 1960s. This show has been known for it's historical accuracy in its set design.

MM_611_Trueblood-AMC
Style Spotlight: 1960s

Monday, February 23, 2015

Prints from Selected Artists

Art work can be an awesome addition to any space. It all depends on what style you like and what will fit into your space. Here is a selection of some various prints/artists to purchase if you can find them!

Wassily Kandinksy

from ibiblio.org

Edward Ruscha

from wikiart.org


from blogs.getty.edu

Takashi Murakami
from museografo.com

Piet Mondrian

from piet-mondrian.org

Steve Powers

from thefoxisblack.com

Edward Hopper

from edwardhopper.net

Ansel Adams

from historyplace.com

Henri Silberman

from art.com

Renee Magritte

from en.wikipedia.org

Friday, February 20, 2015

Chalkboards

ChalkBoards-01

These things are great, and the ways in which you can use the look and feel of a chalkboard are endless! Here are a few ideas that you can run with for inspiration!

Make a Chalkboard with a Frame

chalkboard_frame
from wikihow.com

By utilizing the frame backing, you can create a custom chalkboard!  Remove the glass. Make sure the backing is in good shape first. Maybe do some cleaning to make sure frame is solid, then you'll want to apply a base coat, followed by a coat of chalkboard paint. Then let dry and that's basically it

Label Jars

chalkboard_jars
from cremedelacraft.com

As an overview, you can use any jar you want. Simply paint them white, then paint the lids whichever colors you choose. Then you'll need some card stock paper to cut out and paint with chalkboard paint. Once you have that done just glue it to the jar!

Chalkboard Mug

chalkboard_mug
from witandwhistle.com

Create a chalkboard mug with some chalkboard paint on a porcelain coffee cup! Just tape off the top half like you're painting anything. Then, let the paint dry for 24 hours. After that, bake the mug for 35 minutes at 300 degrees. Once that is done, turn off the oven and let the mug gradually cool to room temp (this part makes it microwave and dishwasher safe). Just make sure you don't fill your cup with a hot beverage before doing this experiment!

Serving Tray

chalkboard_tray_white
from mysocalledgreenlife.com

Take the steps from the chalkboard frame, and instead apply the paint to the glass, making sure to properly prime the glass with a coat of glass paint to make the chalkboard paint adhere better.

Necklace

chalkboardheartpinnable
from oneartsymama.com

This idea is awesome because by using a chalkboard marker, you can change what it says easily with just a damp paper towel, but it won't smudge if your fingers brush against it! You'll need a small wooden heart tag, some adhesive chalkboard vinyl, a leather cord, a hole punch, and some scissors. Trace around the heart with the vinyl, marking where the hole is. Then peel off the backing and stick it to the wooden one, attach the cord, and then get creative with a chalkboard marker!

These are just some of the many, many things you can do to utilize the appeal of a chalkboard. Get creative and crafty people!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Recommended Headphones/Earbuds

Headphones
When it comes to headphones and earbuds, there are tons of options to choose from. So how can you decide which ones to get? Well, there are some factors to keep in mind, such as audio quality, comfort, durability, and price.

Some people like over-the-head style headphones, while others prefer the smaller sized earbuds. I've only known a few people that like the around the ear, sports style ones. You just gotta figure out which ones work best for you, then narrow it down from there. For the traditional headphone junkies, here are a couple good ones:

Beats By Dre
beats
from beatsbydre.com

We'll start with these because after 7 years they are absolutely iconic. Beats by Dre are some of the best selling headphones out there. I mean, Dr. Dre is a hip-hop legend, so why wouldn't he produce some sweet headphones? With good reviews across the board, and genius marketing strategies, it's no wonder why NFL players have been using them even after being fined. There are different styles and prices range from about $200 - $400. Some do utilize wireless technology. There is also a selection of earbuds as well!

Bose
bose
from bose.com

Bose headphones are another great option for quality audio. After all, that is what they are known for. They consistently receive positive reviews (about 4.5/5 stars on Amazon)  Their biggest competition is Beats By Dre, but how does the audio compare? Bose is likely a bit better, however, aside from crazy audiophiles, the difference will probably be hard to notice. About $250 will get you a good pair of wireless Bose headphones. Definitely worth looking into!

Of course, there are plenty of other options (many of them cheaper) that you should consider by brands like Sennheiser, Sony, JVC, and Logitech. Now, for the earbuds:

Apple Earpods
apple earpods
from store.apple.com

These make the list because they are a go-to and come with a new iPhone. At only $30, they offer pretty decent audio quality, much more comfort than the older generation of ear pods, and they are what can be described as "slightly noise canceling" - perfect for when you want to drown out conversations going on around you, yet still be able to hear if someone asks you a question.

Panasonic

panasonic
from shop.panasonic.com

The Panasonic RPHJE120K earbuds are a great budget-option. They are the number #1 best seller on Amazon currently, and they are only $7 - $8. Their average rating is 4.4/5 stars, so definitely worth checking out. The price is even less than Skullcandy, yet with higher average ratings, so you do the math!

Sennheiser
sennheiser
from amazon.com

The Sennheiser CX 300 II boasts "precision bass enhanced" in it's product name. With an average 4 star rating on Amazon, and a $30 price tag, they are a pretty good buy. Of course, they offer noise-canceling capabilities, and 3 different sized silicone eartips; features that most other brands offer. Overall, you'll know you're getting a solid headphone that won't break after being repeatedly shoved in your pocket for a couple weeks.

Of course, there are plenty other options that are pricier, but offer higher quality audio and other features, such as wireless technology offered by Beats By Dre and others.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

With this basic overview, hopefully you'll have a little more insight for your next headphones purchase! Be sure and check online reviews to see which ones have the qualities you are looking for. cnet.com is a great resource to check into for all things gadget-related. They often have earbud/headphone reviews -worth checking out!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Ideas

With Valentine's Day coming up, we decided to create a list of some easy date & gift ideas. Most of these ideas you will be to for very low cost or free, depending on what you have around. While going out to dinner at a fancy restaurant is always nice, those places are usually packed on the 14th. So if you don't have a dinner reservation, or you'd like to do something more laid back and personal this Valentine's Day, this list is for you!

Warning: Some of these may sound corny, but hear us out!

Cooking Together
While cooking can sometimes be a chore, cooking together can be fun. Have some wine and try a new recipe, making something different can be an adventure.

Watch The Sunrise or Sunset
If the weather isn't too bad, there is a certain beauty only nature can provide. These moments are good for heart to hearts, cuddles, or just beautiful silence.

Indoor Picnic
Being February, an outdoor picnic isn't on anyone's mind right now. However, an indoor picnic can be just as nice and romantic. Laying a blanket down, grabbing some wine and candles, and enjoying some good food indoors is a great way to go out on a date without actually going out.

IOUs
Some will appreciate these more than others. Some may say this is a lazy gift idea, but its up to you to make it personal! Give out coupons to your Valentine for things like a massage, a date night, or something else they'll enjoy.

Romantic Movie
Grab a bottle of wine, some blankets, and cuddle up on the couch for a good romantic movie. Its nice to stay in sometimes and just enjoy each others company!

Mix CD
We live in a world with YouTube, Spotify, and iTunes, CDs are slowly dying out. So why not make a nice mix CD while blank disk are still available? Pick some songs that mean something to you and your Valentine, the song that was playing when you first met, or songs that make you think of them. As long as you put some thought into it, they'll appreciate it!

Wine
Wine has already been mentioned a few times on this list, it's about time it got its own spot! Wine can go with a lot of these activities, it's also just a romantic drink of choice. Why not just enjoy a bottle with your Valentine and chat?

Go For A Walk
Going out for a walk is a great way to get some conversation going. If you're comfortable with it, you can hold hands. Again, this depends on the weather.

Make Your Own Valentine's Day Card
Valentine's Day cards are always great to receive. If you do decide to get a card for your Valentine, you should try making your own! It may sound cheesy, but making your own (even if it doesn't come out that great) shows how much you care. Writing something meaningful is always better than a store bought "Be Mine" card.

So there you have it, a few date and gift ideas for Valentine's Day. No matter what you do, as long as you put some thought into it, your Valentine will appreciate it.

Happy Valentine's Day!





Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Color Wheel: Ivory

For a sense of elegance and calming, try adding the color ivory into your space. Ivory is a cool color with a hint of warmth. It can evoke a sense of history, purity or virtue. It is often paired with gold to emphasize the elegant nature of the hue.

Ivory

Monday, February 9, 2015

Style Spotlight: Bauhaus

The Bauhaus is another pioneering design movement. It took place from about 1918 - 1933. It is known for incorporating different aspects of design into each piece. The style of architecture was streamlined and built for the purpose that was intended. Emphasis was often placed on horizontals. Their idea was to find beauty in lack of ornamentation, and to embrace the material for what it is - all while pushing experimentation. Some of the items below are trademark Bauhaus designs, such as the Wassily chair (on the left in the middle column), the Barcelona chair (second to the right in the middle column), and the Laccio coffee tables (bottom right).
Bauhaus
Bauhaus by hp-design featuring a knoll couch

Friday, February 6, 2015

Multitasking: Does it Really Work?

multitasking-01
Ahh yes, you're checking Facebook, your phone, and emailing your mom, but actually you're mainly studying. Are you retaining info for that upcoming test? If so, is it an effective method of doing so? The topic of a Forbes article from last year is titled, "Multitasking Damages Your Brain And Career, New Studies Suggest" It then goes on to say,  "Even if it doesn’t cause brain damage, allowing yourself to multitask will fuel any existing difficulties you have with concentration, organization, and attention to detail."

If you think about it, you technically can't work on more that one thing at a time. You can only focus on one separate task for a short time before jumping to another. Sometimes this can be nice when you're working on a project, and then you switch it up to do something else for a while. Then, when you come back to that project again, you may feel refreshed or even come back with another idea or two.

There are situations where this technique poses problems; the most obvious/dangerous one being texting and driving. Another would be during class or in a meeting. You know, situations where paying attention is kind of important.

Then the issue becomes what is classified as multitasking? Is it multitasking when you're switching back and forth from your work email to your document at your job? Is it multitasking if you're listening to music and working on a project, while munching on a snack? In the end, they say that any form of multitasking degrades productivity to some degree. Yet, there are plenty of circumstances where multitasking is needed, at least in some form or another. If you struggle with staying focused while studying, they say to put yourself in a situation that will facilitate it, like going to the library.

So the point is, do what works for you! Some of us are prone to get distracted easily (I feel like that's most of us), and some can switch between tasks like a pro, and still ace that test!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Indoor Activities For Cold Winter Days


Ok, so as far as winters in Iowa go, this year has been pretty good so far (up until the last week that is). However, as many of us know, warm weather isn't as close as we would like. So what can you do while it's freezing outside? We've compiled a list of indoor activities to keep you both entertained and warm!

Watch TV:
Terrible weather is a perfect excuse to stay in and watch Netflix. You can grab a nice blanket, some hot chocolate or coffee, and finally catch up on that TV show you've been wanting to watch. No one else will want to do anything due to the weather, so you can do this guilt free!

Read A Book:
I know a lot of people (myself included) wish they had more time to read. Why not open a book while you're bundled up on the couch? It doesn't take much moving around so once you find that perfect spot where your blanket is finally covering your feet, you are golden.

Snuggle Up:
I included snuggling up with the last two activities because thats how great it is. Having some blankets around is always great. Not only can you snuggle up and stay warm, but you could also make a blanket fort with a sign outside reading 'No Cold Allowed'. Pets and people are also good for snuggling (if available).

Bake:
Baking some warm goods is another great way to spend some time indoors. Not only can it be fun, but being around the oven will also keep you warm! Now would be the perfect time to try out some new recipes!

Make Coffee:
Coffee goes well with just about everything, cold included. While doing any of these activities you could be enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee. Not a coffee person? Hot chocolate works just as well. They are both hot and delicious!

Work On Things:
While it's cold out and not much is going on, why not catch up on school or work? You'll be in the comfort of your home and once you get bundled up in a blanket and start working, you'll hopefully get a lot done! If you do decide to do this, you may want to stay away from some of the other activities on this list (other than the coffee and blankets of course).

Whatever you decide to do, we hope you stay warm and find some time to enjoy yourself!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day

Remember that one time that we got a ton of snow last night? Could that be a sign that winter hasn't yet given up for the season?

February 2nd has traditionally been celebrated as Groundhog Day in Punxsatawney, PA since the 1800s. It is said that if the groundhog, Phil, sees his shadow, there will be 6 more weeks of winter! Groundhog-01
This year, at about 7:30am, the furry fella did in fact see his shadow and apparently you're supposed to now be tweeting "#sixmoreweeksofwinter" But according to AccuWeather, he's about 80% accurate. But then again, just how accurate is any weather source? Either way, hope your prepped for the possibility of some more of the usual, rather unpredictable Iowa winter weather. Stay safe and warm out there people! Oh, and just as important: hopefully you'll be able to catch the classic movie Groundhog Day, starring none other than Bill Murray!
groundhogday
from vankaos.com