Chalkboard Update: The Elephant that was clearly beyond my skill level.

Good luck. It’s a long one.  There’s a few seconds where basically nothing happens and it’s because I’m getting a snack aka finally eating dinner.  This elephant was wayyyy too hard.  It took basically forever and my arm is literally sore from drawing it.  Definitely headed back to words next time.


Whole30: Week 2

Week 2 was almost harder than Week 1 because the novelty of this thing has officially worn off.  I’m a good bit into Week 3 and I just kind of feel over it.  Nothing is really exciting about it anymore and 30 days is starting to feel like a loooongggg time.  That being said, I’m still 98% committed to Whole30 (the once a week glass of wine is non-negotiable. sorryI’mnotsorry) and I have seen improvements in my skin, sleep patterns – confirmed by my FitBit’s sleep tracker, weight, and body shape.  I’m headed to a conference in Alaska soon and I’m a half concerned I’ll miss out on a rare treat and half terrified to reintroduce the restricted foods.  I’m committed to doing my best, but if there is some crazy amazing can-only-get-it-in-Alaska dessert, I’m going to eat it.  Hopefully there is just mountains of seafood being handed out by the Deadliest Catch guys.  That’s what I’m expecting, Alaska, so you better not disappoint!

In other news I hosted book club this week and thankfully several other ladies are grain/dairy free or paleo or working  on their own Whole30.  I STRESSED over what to make because very technically appetizers shouldn’t be eaten during Whole30 – they aren’t part of a meal, you eat them mindlessly, and (usually/hopefully/deliciously) they are covered in cheese.

After extensive Pinterest-ing, I just decided to get plantain chips (technically compliant), guacamole, salsa, cut up veggies, and strawberries and then make two little apps that just tiny meals really:  BLT Bites and Sausage stuffed mushrooms.

You can see the BLT bites below:  just halved grape tomatoes with a little romaine lettuce and a generous square of bacon.  (It is HARD to find compliant bacon.  Try looking for packages that say “uncured” or “no sugar cure.”  Those are your safest bet.)  They took about 20 minutes to make and were delicious.  They looked so cute too – I definitely would bring them to a party even if I wasn’t doing Whole30.


I forgot to take a picture of the the mushrooms before A) they were mostly gone and B) all the good light was gone.  Sorry they kind of look gross here, but they were also very delicious and very very easy.  I just removed the stems from button mushrooms, cooked them in the oven at 375 while I browned the sausage (spicy Italian from the farmer’s market!  One of my favorite compliant foods because it is packed with flavor) with some chopped onions and the chopped mushroom stems.  When the sausage was almost cooked I just pulled the pan of mushrooms out of the oven, scooped in the sausage mixture, and then pooped it all back in the over for maybe 15? 20? minutes.  Into everything was brown and delicious looking.  I would normally top them with parmesan or nutritional yeast, but they were delicious as is.




I chose The Fault in Our Stars by John Green mostly because I had already read and loved it.  Plus, most of the ladies are busy mamas so a shorter book without a seriously complicated story was most likely to actually be read/finished.  We all agreed it was worth the read  and even worth the price of a movie ticket .  We’ll be headed to see it in theaters in a week or two – after all the crying teens see it.  (SN:  If I was rich I’d rent out the whole theater so that I could see a movie with a few people.  Nothing grinds my gears like a noisy/messy/inconsiderate theater-goer.)  It’s gotten phenomenal reviews, so I’m really excited.  I expected most critics to pan it as a teenage cry-fest, but it’s looking more and more like the next Notebook.



2nd Anniversary

This wall will probably be gone before our second anniversary rolls around on the 18th, but I thought I’d go ahead and update early.  The next few weeks are JAM PACKED which either means I definitely won’t have time to change it up OR I definitely will change it up because it’s such good stress relief.  I loved the spring wall, but I don’t consider May spring.  It’s more “pre-summer.”

Any good ideas for a second anniversary gift? I’m still ironing out the details of my mother’s day gift so we’ll see how this goes.   


I’d also like to mention that this is really the first full hand lettering I’ve done without borrowing anything from something on Pinterest.  I feel preeeeetty proud of myself for that, even though it didn’t come out as well as I’d like.  I would LOVE to find a class on hand lettering and typography but I don’t even know where to start.  


I celebrate all things by updating the chalkboard wall. And videoing it. (I always say videotape but I guess that’s probably not cool anymore? Or even accurate?)

End result:


I don’t LOVE it like the hot air balloon but it’s much better than the crappy bee.

Speaking of our bees, we are still waiting to pick them up. A lot of people are only just now picking up packages so I’m trying to be patient. I do have a cold/allergies/plague so I’ve been taking mad amounts of sudafed and cold medicine and my dreams have been pretty crazy. Last night I dreamt that bees kept flying in and under my veil. But thankfully I’m on a reduced meds dosage so it didn’t turn into a nightmare and I kept calmly removing them and trying again. This differs greatly from the night before where my nightmares would have made Stephen King jealous.

It was my birthday last week and my awesome parents got me:


The suit is full body with an attached hood which is WAY nicer than what I planned on getting myself. This is great because it also frees up our helmets and veils for others to watch or help.

The goatskin gloves are going to be amazing! Again, this will free up our current gloves to be used by others and used as back ups. The goatskin gloves are very thin and soft so you don’t feel like you’re constantly going to accidentally squish anyone.

Our instructor at the last class was very nonchalant about moving bees, shaking them off frames, waving them away, etc. My mom thought that was a bit… impolite I guess? So she got a bee brush to carefully encourage bees to move.

The company’s distribution/shipping facility is apparently severely overwhelmed. Because shipping was so delayed, nothing arrived before my birthday… Or when we celebrated a week later. My mom was obviously upset (she’d ordered everything WEEKS earlier) but she made the best of the situation with the insanely cute mini versions! Plus I had NO idea what they had gotten me and this packaging totally threw me off.

Bee Chalkboard


Admittedly, this chalkboard design is not my favorite – I usually prefer a lot of text, but wanted to try something new.  I was going to do something for my birthday, but that just seems weird so I chose to celebrate getting our hives in April!  I pinned some inspiration here and got to work.  The flowers are supposed to be tulip poplar flowers – likely the trees our bees will visit the most.

I probably will erase this one in the next few days unless I add to it or it realllyyyy grows on me.  It just isn’t my best work.  BUT I am showing it to you because I made a fun time lapse video of taking down the hot air balloon and putting up the bee.  Check it out below!


Bee Chalkboard from Rachel on Vimeo.

How to: Chalkboard Wall

Chalkboard walls are prettyyyyy easy. It goes in like regular paint, there’s fancy ones you can tint any color, and you don’t need special brushes.

Tips for painting:
– don’t think you can just spray paint the wall because the spray paint is way cheaper and you don’t want to buy brushes. Unless the area you’re painting is very small, in which case cover up anything around it and pray pray pray.
– If you have crappy, builder grade paint check the wall for spots that aren’t smooth. I’ve found that a couple of passes of fine grit sand paper will fix that right up. Any uneven areas will be fairly noticeable and trap a ton of chalk.
– smooth, thin coats are best. Take your time and make sure you get good coverage.
– read the directions in your paint can. Every one is different and you may need to be prepared to wait a few days between coats or before use. I generally cut all those suggested times in half because I’m impatient and I’m sure they’re just trying to CYA. I hate letting things “cure.”

Where to add a chalkboard? Anywhere. They’re pretty awesome and are really fun during parties and great for easy decor updates. Here are some great examples and inspiration:

I painted the entire wall around my fireplace. (After checking that the heat from the fireplace wouldn’t cause discoloration or melting.) It’s a small wall (maybe 13’x10′? I don’t know) and the room gets a TON of light because and entire while is a sliding glass door (leading to a future deck.)

Our fireplace didn’t come with a mantel. New houses come with NOTHING. Which is another story for another day. I looked into purchasing one, scoured Craigslist and the nearby ReStores, but I was not willing to spend at minimum $200 for a mantel. The ones I actually liked would run closer to $400. Then I got to thinking about the fact that I don’t even have mantel stuff. No cute books, candlesticks, or vases. No seasonally appropriate framed postcards. All of that would cost $$$$ to. So I headed out to Lowes with a $50 house-warming gift card and spent about $75 total getting supplies.

I got home, started painting wayyyy too late, and totally panicked about half way through. BECAUSE THE WALL IS BLACK. It was so terrifying. But thankfully finishing was easier than the taking everything back to ugly builder “white” so I kept going. And BOOM. I love it. I use chalk from Ikea (kid section) and update the wall every few weeks. I pull inspiration from Pinterest – check out my Chalkboard Wall Board if you’re feeling a little stuck! Pick a theme and run with it. Oh and be sure to enjoy that crisp, dark black color. It will NEVER look that good again so be emotionally prepared for it. Don’t forget to prime the entire wall with chalk – get big pieces of sidewalk chalk and cover the wall before cleaning it all off. If you don’t do this, you’ll always be able to see the first thing you draw. And the first thing I drew was pretty sucky. Consider yourself warned.

My tools for updating the wall include the chalk (obviously), a square, a level, and two yard sticks – one metal and one wood. I’ve been using the wooden one more because I’m nervous about scratching the wall with the metal one. Generally I put a big axis in the center of my design to help keep things even and level. I do a lot of erasing and redrawing. It’s chalk and easily fixable so I don’t feel paralyzed by the anxiety of a potential mistake like when painting. To erase things I use a rag, an old dry erase marker with an eraser in the end, and Coke. Yup. Leftover, flat coke. It’s the only thing that will get the wall 90% clean. I clean the wall entirely between designs and use the pen’s eraser for small errors and cleaning up any guide lines (like the axis.)

Here are some instas of older wall designs: