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A hub for all things to do with design, furniture painting, photography, style, event planning [and some foodie bits for good measure].  

First 24 Hours with the Apple Watch: First Impressions

So I bit the bullet. I drank the kool-aid. I went for an Apple Watch [insert cheeky emoji here!]. I know, I know, this is entirely a splurge purchase, and I've hemmed and hawed about going for it for months now. My reason for purchasing it wasn't just for the gimmick factor [though I'm unabashedly an Apple fiend!]. I've been a Fitbit user in the past, and I genuinely find having a product that helps track your movement and exercise vastly helps a person like me. Short of having a personal trainer, this is the best way for me to hold myself accountable for my movements [or lackthereof!]. Unfortunately, my fitbit died a couple months back, so rather than purchasing another one, I opted to switch over to the Apple Watch! 

My new little toy only arrived late on Wednesday, so I'm writing this after having explored it for a solid 24 hours. I have started watching all sorts of youtube videos about tips and tricks for using it, but right now I'm just reviewing the basics of the watch and its ease of use. 

I picked up one of the newest color options in the entry level sport edition [mine is 38mm and $349] in gold and antique white. After watching the recent Apple Keynote [again, massive Apple nerd!], I saw this color combo and new it was made for me.  I'm slightly worried about it getting dirty [I do paint for a living...], but right now I'm just keeping it on all day, and not being too precious about it.

I opted to use a standard watch face in blue, mostly because I'm partial to having certain pieces of info readily accessible.  Right now, I have it set to show the date [top left], current temperature [top right], fitness [bottom left] and battery life [bottom right]. I was worried about the battery life, but so far I've used the watch constantly, and it manages to last all day and night. I had it on for nearly 18 hours, and it was still at 30%. 

It's a little finicky to put on and I'm still getting used to having it on tighter [the image above has it on probably one notch less than it should be in order to best get your heart rate [I'll go into depth on that in another post!]. But I think the strap is lovely and looks quite nice on my wrist!

One thing I wish Apple would do was allow us to even further customize the various watch face options. I LOVE having the time on a gigantic setting like this, but since it only allows you to have the time and nothing else, it just doesn't work for me. I think I'll likely set this face when I'm running, since I'm constantly checking the time anyway [hoping the run will be over, eep!].

Here, you can see a few of the notifications I get, along with my most frequently used app, Instagram. Anytime I receive a like, message or any sort of notification on Facebook or Instagram, my watch vibrates and the notification pops up briefly.  I can quickly glance at it and dismiss the notification, or click through to see more information about it. It's instant and I'm finding it allows me to speed up my social media 'work.'

Onto the main reason I purchased this...for working out! It's only been 24 hours, and so far I've taken this bad boy on one run and a full day of working and walking, and I'm already really pleased with it! I love how easy the watch is to use with various workout activities. I really like how I can set myself goals for each workout [ie: how many calories I'd like to burn, time, miles or just an open goal when I'm maybe just trying to get in a quick activity]. The watch will even remind me to move around a bit if I've spent too much time sitting in front of the computer [like I am today!]. Whether or not I use the rest of the features on this watch, I know all the fitness features will be well worth the purchase.

One feature I didn't realize about the watch was that I could actually load music onto here and go running with just the watch [I HATE dragging my phone around with me when I run, even with the armband...it's just a pain!]. I need to pick up a pair of bluetooth headphones in order to do this, so I'll be on top of that asap!

If you're a person who gets TONS of emails during the day, and most of them can easily be deleted [ie: too much junk mail!] then the watch will expedite your inbox tidying! I'm usually just awful about keeping on top of checking and deleting emails, but now my inbox has never been more organized!

There are some basics that are quite useful, like having the weather forecast on hand at any time. 

With my phone, I constantly use the alarm feature, since I always need to set reminders for myself, and I always use this when cooking. Having it on my wrist makes it impossible to miss if I've set an alarm, and it's super simple to set it just using the watch. 

I'm shocked at how easy it is to make and receive phone calls using the watch. Apparently, I'm a little LOUD when talking through the phone, so I need to work on the settings a bit, but I think this might be a game changer for when I'm driving. 

Right now, I only have a couple photos saved to the phone, but it's surprisingly convenient to have access to photos from the watch.  When I'm at a store with a client, having plans accessible or color palettes, makes it easy to shop around for the right items. 

If you didn't know, I'm a massive Hunger Games nerd [this post makes me seem really cool, I know] and yesterday I picked up my tickets for the premiere of the latest movie. What's cool is with the Fandango app, I've got the ticket immediately sent to my watch and on the day of the movie, I just need to walk up to the ticket taker person [there must be a better term for this], hold up my arm to the scanner, and off I go into the theater!

Watson is also thoroughly enjoying his mom's new toy and seems oddly fascinated by the screen on it! It's really just the cutest thing you'll ever see. 

So, it's just 24 hours in but it's 100% Jo approved [and Watson approved!]. It looks great, it's incredibly easy to use, despite the screen size being so small, and it's actually useful in more ways than I had imagined. I'll update you again next week, after I've learned more of the ins and outs of the Apple Watch! Happy Friday! [pray for good weather Atlanta and hope that this massive hurricane doesn't affect the rest of the eastern seaboard!] -Jo

DIY and Organize: Paper Wrapped Cans

The start of a new year always brings the inner organizer out of me [and it seems like everyone else I know!].  Most people get this itch to declutter, organize, and just start fresh.  With all my painting supplies, I really need to work on having everything in its place so I don't waste time and money looking for supplies or replacing things I already have. I've always used old jars and cans to organize everything, but I thought it would be easy enough to make my storage pieces pretty for a change. Using a combination of papers from Paper Source and Kitchen Papers, scissors, Mod Podge glue and a foam brush, I was able to turn these old cans into something beautiful. Which one is your favorite? [I'm pretty partial to the little chicks!]

For the love of Crafts: Paper Wrapped Box

Sometimes I get in these moods where I just want to create.  In a way, I suppose the word 'create' is part of my everyday, as I reinvent a piece of furniture with paint, work on design projects, style, photograph said furniture and other various endeavors. But the kind of creating I'm talking about is of the crafty sort. I was never an intense crafter. I had friends whose passions involve scrapbooking and card making, and so I'd join in on the Paper Source-obsessed fun every so often. So you might say I dabble in the craft world. For a friend of mine who loves paper and all things Paper Source, I decided to make her something out of two of her favorite things: paper and boxes.  I also know the love of a good container.  I love to mask my hoarding with an excess of bins and baskets and boxes. I organize my chaos fairly well.  However, this box wasn't for hoarding. My plan is to slowly fill said box with some of my own personal recipes I'd like to share with her. We both cook, and are on a mission to cook healthier, so it seemed like a nice idea to share that with each other. Since she's already given me a cookbook compilling her favorite recipes, it's time I do the same! So I suppose this is a recipe box, though I imagine she can use it any way she'd like.  But I have to say, there's something so satisfying about taking a plain box and transforming it into something lovely with just a sheet of pretty, textural paper.

DIY Washi Tape Art: a study on patterns and color

This weekend, I had the sudden urge to create. The other day, I was on a Target run, and no trip to Target is without its impulse buys [I really should be banned from Target!]. Before I knew it, I was drawn towards the craft aisle [let's be real, this always happens!] and I quickly snapped up a few rolls of washi tape [here's an article explaining the wonders of washi]. I had an idea in mind.  I have tons of canvas boards at home, and was envisioning a grouping of fun, graphic art using my new washi loot.

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This weekend, a friend and I created eight distinct washi tape pieces, and I really love how they all turned out! 

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I kept things simple with my designs. I was inspired by all sorts of plaid patterns. I kept envisioning bright, colorful plaid button downs.  There's something so simple about them, but I love how the varying colors and lines come together and converge to create new colors. It goes without saying I have a slight affinity for guys in plaid! 

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My friend Katie took a different approach to her washi tape art. She was inspired by graphic pieces she'd seen on Pinterest, and I absolutely love them! Each one is so unique and has a great modern aesthetic. 

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Creating these was very simple.  All you need are canvas boards [these are 8x10], a few rolls of washi tape in whatever colors tickle your fancy [they literally come in every color or pattern imaginable] and a pair of scissors.  That, plus a little imagination or inspiration, and anyone can make some great graphic art!

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When all eight pieces are placed together, they take on a whole new feel.  Combining the more traditional patterns of plaid with the modern, geometric pieces just makes for a great wall of art.

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I can't wait to frame all of these and test them out on a gallery wall.  I think they'll make for a bright pop of color in any space!

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Custom Painted Frames at A Simpler Design

I'm always so busy painting furniture these days, it's actually quite refreshing to paint something on a smaller scale for a change.  Last month, I completed two more sets of frames for my friends' wedding gifts, and they're quickly becoming one of my favorite projects! I just love being able to take old, worn frames that don't necessarily match and transform them into a cohesive set, made even more interesting with sanding, distressing and waxing. As of right now, I've only matted and framed art prints that my aunt has done [she's an amazing artist!], but I've decided to start offering up custom painted frames for any prints!

I'm hoping to have this section of my site launched by next week, but the plan is to offer photo printing [your own personal photos, or photos I've taken] along with matting and framing the photos according to your specific size, color and style requirements.  For now, I'd likely only offer standard sizes, 5x7, 8x10 and 11x14, but I still think that will give a nice selection for you to choose from!  So stay tuned for this next venture of mine!  But, if you're eager to get your frame painting on yourself, I have a few classes coming up over at Kudzu Antiques where you'll get to learn all my painting tips and tricks, along with getting to paint and take home your own custom frame. I'd love to see you there! Happy Weekend :) -Jo