a look inside the life of Whitney


Day 15: A Day of Gifts

7:57 am

First of all I’d like to share that I successfully packed everything! I dare say I would consider myself an expert at this point :). But, if I have to pay some overweight charges on the way back…..then I guess I still have some learning to do.

It hasn’t quite hit me yet that I begin my journey home today. After all, everything yesterday went normally–classes, lunch break, classes, and an evening activity. You’ll notice by the title of this post though that the defining trend of the day was gifts. Let me share why.

Gift Number #1: My first student that morning surprised me with a jar of honey! This was from her boyfriend’s family who raise bees! And it tastes super good! I hope it makes it home ok.

Gift Number #2: Shame on me for waiting until the last minute to get a souvenir for one more person on my list. But, fortunately we had time during lunch break to walk to the big market where there was a booth of handmade items. So I managed to get one last thing as a gift to take home (and I’m being vague so as not to ruin the surprise). Along the way I managed to get one more item I wanted for myself and snap some great pictures of the outside and inside of the Moon Church. The front of the church shows the different phases of the moon along with the time. Its nifty! Not only that, but I also got to try a traditional Romanian “pie.” I forget what it was called but it was a thick “tortilla” made from potatoes, and had sour cream and cheese in it. It was salty, but definitely yummy!

Gift Number #3: We were all told to be back at the church building by 3:30 for a surprise. Well that surprise ended up being a handmade, gorgeous carmel cake! The cake was made by one of the other’s teacher’s students and her friend who is one of my students. We all got to share in it’s wonderful deliciousness! It was a wonderful surprise!

Gift Number #4: My 5 o’clock student gave me a magnet with a picture of Oradea on it. It was very nice of him. And we connected through facebook so that we could stay in touch.

Gift Number #5: My last student (who I went out with Wednesday night) surprised me with a souvenir coffee cup and literature on Oradea and the Fortress here! I was really really excited about this! Now I can read up on the places I saw and tell everyone a little more about the buildings here in the city. Way better than just saying, “I took this picture because I thought this building was cool.”

Gift Number #6: The gift of a good old cookout to celebrate the 4th of July. Of course, this was a Romanian style cookout with traditional food like Mici! (pronounced meech). It was so so good! It has a hamburger-like texture but with a lot more yummy and different flavor. It was so good.

And that’s not all the gifts I have received over the two weeks, that’s just one day! Every single person here that I have come in contact with has been so hospitable and so generous. It didn’t matter what age, every time I was out with my students, especially, they wouldn’t hardly let me buy my own meal if we were eating out. I have been so blown away by it. And the church members are no different. They’ve fed us, given us a place to stay, beds, and everything we need. It’s been so amazing.

So to all of those wonderful people that I have met here, thank you so much! I will never forget your kindness and generosity! I will miss you all very much!



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Adding Scentification to a Room

(yes, I made up the word scentification. But come on, that should be in the dictionary)

There are many things that can affect the mood of a room and can give off an impression of freshness, coziness, food-ness, etc. It’s not always the same for every person, but there are certain elements of design and décor that can often inspire a certain response from you or your visitors. And one of those mood-stimulating additions is candles, or any other scent giving thing that can be placed in a home.

If you haven’t noticed, my topics often come from personal experience. So why am I talking about candles? Because I got a buy one get one free coupon from yankee candle and bought two large jars for the office.

Which made me wonder to myself as if I weren’t a candle enthusiast, “why do people buy candles, wall flowers, reed diffusers, potpourri, etc?” The answer? To inspire a mood. To bring a sense of joy to your room through the wonderful scents you most enjoy. Here’s an example:

You welcome people into your home for a night of rigorous Wii sporting. When your guest step into the room they suddenly stop and say, “OH! What is that wonderful smell of gingerbread and fresh apples??” You reply, “Oh that? Oh I just wanted to test out my new candles and try to inspire and cozy, Fall atmosphere.” What they won’t know is that the actual reason was to disguise the fact that you’re cooking is bland and using food scents would make you’re guests so hungry that they wouldn’t notice. There’s power in the scent of smell. I’ve heard that a certain smell will trigger memories better than any other sense. But I’m not sure if that’s true.

Why do people put cotton-smelling scents in laundry rooms and bathrooms? So you or someone else thinks it clean despite the dirty laundry all over the floor, or the rotten egg smell coming from your water. Like I said, the sense of smell can be a powerful influence.

So this is my tribute to the strategy of scenting. I love candles. The one I bought for my office is called Mountain Lodge and makes it seem all cozy in my little windowless cubicle of the world.

How many of you use candles, reed diffusers, potpourri, or any other type of scenting device for your home? Why? Have any funny stories about your scentful experiences? Do share…

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Two Sofas You Will Find in EVERY Furniture Store

I know I haven’t shared any personal ideas lately, but I haven’t really had one of those sparks of inspiration that relates to interior design. Probably because I’ve been doing some graphic design work for my church’s youth group. My creativity can only handle so much at once.

But! That does not prevent me from finding plenty of things to write about. There are lots of topics in the design world that I find interesting or entertaining. And since I’ve been absorbed in shopping for new sofa as of late, I noticed a little trend in the sofa market that’s been popping.

First though, you may be wondering why I need a new sofa. Well it’s a bit of a funny story actually so I felt you should know about it. I have a perfectly good couch, a high quality one in fact. But, this couch resided at my parent’s house before I got my own place. And during that time, my father grew rather fond of it. You see, they have a large, finished out basement with a big screen TV. And last football season, it became the place for all of their friends to watch the Colts games (we’re from Indiana). And there is already a couch and loveseat there that they had for years. But since they were holding my couch in that basement as well, my dad cleverly decided to build a platform for my couch to put behind the first one. Stadium seating! But since I moved out, they lost that couch and extra seating. And let me just say, that couch was a kind donation from a friend, and it’s a high quality couch worth at least $1200. So, since my dad did not want to spend money on a new couch given how much it would cost to get one like mine, he decided that he would pay me for mine. And I’m not particularly fond of it myself. It’s too tall in the back and stiffer than I like, plus it’s not to best looking gold color. I have a much more modern style, and this is not a modern looking couch. So, I liked this plan and that is why I have been shopping for a new couch ever since.

Which brings me to the point of my conversation today. I’ve been to a bunch of furniture stores and I’ve begun to notice two types of sofas you will find in every store: a sofa with an attached chaise lounge, and a sofa where the frame is different from the cushion fabric, whether by type or color or both. Now, I don’t know if this is a recent trend or not, and seeing as I don’t shop for furniture much, I wouldn’t notice anyways if it was. But I just had to mention these two trends and what I like about them.

First, the chaise lounge addition to a sofa is, to me, brilliant. I’m the kind of person that has a hard time not putting their feet up all the time, especially when lounging. And recliners are ok, but I love the one continuous cushion that a chaise offers. It also makes a regular sofa feel like a sectional without taking up as much space. Plus, manufacturers have gotten clever and made reversible chaise lounge sofas, so that you are not limited by which side the chaise is on. I would be buying one today if adding the chaise to a sofa didn’t also add some $3-600 more to the price. But some day…

The other trend I noticed is what I’m going to simplify into calling the two-tone sofa. Basically, the frame is one color, and often a different fabric like leather, and the cushions are a different color and fabric, often suede or some other luxurious feeling fabric. For those who like the look of leather but the feel of fabric, this couch has combined the best of both. Plus they are often different colors. Most common: Black leather frame with gray suede fabric or dark brown leather with an earth tone suede fabric. It definitely adds interest to a sofa instead of it being all one color and fabric. And it looks just as luxurious as an all leather sofa or even an all fabric sofa. It’s a smooth move by the manufactures, that’s for certain.

I have seen both of these types of sofas in every store. Every single one. I have even seen the same exact sofa in the same colors in multiple stores and entertain myself by comparing prices. There wasn’t much difference though. Still, it was entertaining to see the same sofas everywhere.

Have you noticed any trends in sofas lately?

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The Usefulness of Window Shutters

I think today is a good day to take a break from cranking out ideas from my own brain and share from another source.

Home Made Simple, if I haven’t mentioned already, is a great website I found a while back that has a lot of clever ideas. It reminds me of Better Homes and Gardens, but I like the way they organize and present things better. There are recipes and the like shared on this website to, but I focus on the interior design related articles.  Basically, this won’t be the last time I inform you of the latest thing I found there that I enjoy and might try.

From Home Made Simple

Window shutters. On the outside, they make a home look more country or cottage like in style. And forget functionality. I’ve hardly seen any recently built houses that have actual functioning shutters added to the outside of a house. They are mostly for decoration nowadays. Only the older houses have functioning ones, and that’s if they are still in tact. As for the inside…well its like having heavy duty blinds. Functional (I hope) and again add that country style element. But I know my grandma for one, would instantly mention how one would have to dust all the slats in the blinds all the time, (I think she hates dust). Still, the look of them, whether applied on the exterior or interior, is quite appealing and can add a finishing touch to a home. But I think designers have realized that shutters have woefully lost their functionality in this modern day, so they have come up with different ways to put these decorative pieces of wood back to work.

Thus, I highly recommend you read this article about repurposing window shutters for other uses (click here). It shares four different ways to use shutters for things other than hanging aimlessly around a window; the greatest of these being how they turned a shutter into a side table. Functional and decorative! Awesome! So go check it out!

Honestly though, people do still use shutters functionally to block that pesky sun from ruining furniture our blinding your eyes, or causing skin cancer. I’ve just seen a lot of houses with shutters permanently attached beside windows, which is decorative…but pointless otherwise. There’s no reason to lose the functionality of these things. 

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Custom Headboard

Once upon a time when I prepared to move, I began the search for a headboard. When I couldn’t find one within the time I had to move, I settled on a lift-top coffee table (which turned out to be a smarter and more practical decision) and decided I would design a headboard for myself that my dad could build for me sometime. Because let’s face it, when it comes to designing my own space, I’m very picky. I bet other designers are too. Thus, my solution is just to design it for myself. Haha.

So of course I did a bunch of sketches to brainstorm some ideas based on what I had liked when I was looking for one and I’ll be sharing those today. I also saw a few more different headboards while on my trip this weekend that got me thinking about it designing one again so I’m sharing those today to.

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Basically, I want it to look simple and modern. I want mostly a dark wood but also want to mix in another material like glass or metal. I also want there to be built in lighting so I don’t have to worry about buying table lamps (because I am also planning to design night stands to go with the headboard). I think adding a natural element as seen in some of my sketches would be different, but I don’t know if I’ll stick with that idea.

There’s still a lot of brainstorming to be done, and it needs to be something that I will like enough to keep for a long time.

Question for the day: Have you ever spent months shopping for something thinking “I’ll know it when I see it?” What were you looking for?

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Paint Stick Pendant Shade

Once again, I reveal my obsession with light and light fixtures because today’s idea is another one of these.

I once saw on the Nate Berkus show (I think) a way to construct a simple outdoor walkway light from paint stir sticks and a pipe/tube clamp. I always have a few paint sticks lying around so this idea has always been in the back of my mind.

Well, in studying pipe clamps a little closer, I became less fond of using one for this idea. So lately I’ve been trying to come up with a similar concept. I have seen in my research, that others have painted and attached paint sticks to basic lampshades and hang it as a pendent light. Or even deconstruct a chandelier in some fashion and attach paint sticks.

But, I wanted to do it a little differently and try to use something that wasn’t already intended to be a light fixture. Eventually, I found a paper-mâché box at hobby lobby that would make it easy to attach paint sticks. It was a simple solution. Below you’ll find some sketches that helped me figure out how I wanted to put this together and how I wanted to fashion it decoratively.

I really wanted to make it so that light would shine up, down, and out of small punctures or openings in the sides for maximum luminosity, but figuring out how to construct it in that way with only a limited number of ideas and resources was becoming frustrating. So for now I may simply settle for cutting a hole in the bottom of the box that is small enough to allow my plug in pendant cord through and allow the constructed shade to simply rest as the base of the bulb casing.

Basically, it’s simple, it uses the concept of the original idea, and inexpensive. I plan to construct it for this month’s project so be on the look-out for the project completion post!

Happy Tuesday!

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Metallation Extravagation!

(yeah, made-up words for the title today)

Welcome to Double Feature Monday!! Actually it’s not all that exciting and no, this will not become a regular thing. It’s only because there are two ideas that I love on one page from the DIY magazine I bought.

May I direct your attention to the wall art and beaded window curtains in the picture below.

From the DIY Magazine, Summer 2011, by Better Homes and Gardens

Ok, I will tell you right now that there are a few elements from design, nature, and life in general that I am instantly drawn to. I have already mentioned one, light, in the post Bottled Light. I am naturally drawn to light in any form. So another one is metallics. Anything that is a natural metal, looks like metal, or has a shine to it in general, instantly catches my eye.

So of course when I saw this in my DIY magazine, I instantly thought, “I have to try/have this,” since I have wanted to add a metallic element to my bedroom. So these two ideas are easy and fairly inexpensive ways to accomplish this.

First, the wall art. This is just roof flashing tape (or metal tape that looks like strips of foil), laid out on a white canvas in decorative patterns. The expensive part would be the canvas, and I was thinking what a waste it is not to paint the canvas. I mean, if you’re going to spend money on a canvas, why not paint the background to coordinate with the flashing. A fun color perhaps, or even an abstract composition with the flashing mixed in. There are plenty of ways to spice up this simple ideal.

Second, the bead curtain. These, as you hardware savy people may have noticed, are just metal washer strung together. Simple! And the effect is quite pleasing for something so ordinary. I’d like to see what other little things I could tie in with these washers. Maybe beads, or even nuts and bolts, haha. Maybe use colorful ribbon or string. Plenty of ways to personalize this idea too.

I might as well mention the few other metallic things in this room picture. The pillow has washers sewn onto it like buttons to tie in with the bead curtain. And the coffee table is actually a water heater stand. The room comes together nicely. A little flashing on that lampshade would be fun too.

So that’s my inspiration for the day; sharing my obsession with shiny things and finding a way to easily add this element to a space. Can’t wait to try it!

Anyone else share my affinity for the metallic side of life? Share your comments or thoughts!