Monday, September 27, 2010

First Blogiversary!

It's hard to believe that I have been blogging for a whole year! Sohl Design turns one today. I feel like a proud parent. I discovered the land of blogs sometime last summer, when I was looking for sewing patterns and craft ideas online. I was introduced to "a whole new world" (feel free to sing along...) of crafters, designers, antique collectors, home decorators, cooks, fashionistas, foodies, moms and people I could relate to, sharing their talents, lives, struggles and joys. My daily blog list grew and grew. As many of you know, one blog leads to another. And another. Each one interesting and inspiring. People with DIY projects, life experiences and honest and useful information. It was eye-opening. And addicting. I caught the blog bug. So I decided to start one of my own.

And thus, Sohl Design was born. A combination of my name, Sarah Ohl and my profession, graphic design. But also a play on "soul," in the sense that my soul belongs to the Greatest Designer of All, Jesus Christ. He gets all the credit for any gifts and talents He has given me. I get so much joy out of making things, capturing the beauty in this world, re-purposing old stuff, and being creative.

What's amazing to me, is that people out there, you reading this, are interested in what I'm up to and are incredibly supportive. I can't thank you enough for "following" and leaving such wonderful comments. Just when I think no cares or this is just a silly little hobby, one of you will make my day. Weather you tell me in person, or take the time to write a comment, it means more than you know. Thank you for making this first year of blogging a great one!

It started with my first ever furniture project, refinishing my childhood desk. I shared my tote bag and baby bib making obsession. I was featured on Someday Crafts, for my foam core wall letters. Which I was completely ecstatic about! I shared my trip to Arizona with you. Some good recipes, like vegetarian lasagna. Our HUGE bathroom remodel. A little bit about my husband and our home. And many projects and random information in between. 102 posts to be exact. I can't believe it's that many! Wow.

I plan on keeping Sohl Design going strong, so stay tuned for year numero dos. I hope to keep posting at least once a week. But don't hold me to it. I may post more. You'll just have to keep following to find out! I have a pretty good idea that many of you check my blog, but are not official "followers." That's OK. I am so blessed and amazed to have 26 followers! But, I'm not gonna lie, it's pretty exciting each time someone new is added. However, if "following" is too much of a commitment, you do not have to be a follower or have a google account to post a comment. Just select "anonymous" from the comment box drop down menu. In other words, don't keep your comments to yourself (well, the nice ones that is). I'd love to hear what you think, your suggestions and questions. So bring it on! It will make me feel like we're growing closer in our blog relationship :-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday To My Seester!

Today, is my one and only sister Lisa's birthday. (It's a significant one, that's all I'll say) We have always had a unique relationship because of the years between us. Back in the day, she changed my diapers. Humbling, yes. I always wanted to tag along with her and her friends. When I was eight, I was the flower girl in her wedding. I have always looked up to my sister. When she was in high school, I thought she was so cool and grown up. I wanted to be just like her. I especially wanted her handwriting. Still do. And her Cabbage Patch Kid. Her's had a shirt AND a windbreaker! Mine had a sweatsuit. I'm pretty sure I got a second Cabbage Patch Kid because I whined so much. That's what's sweet about being the baby in the family. Growing up, she was a great big sister - she played games with me, taught me how to make a magazine picture collage, how to draw and how to swim. I'm sure she baby-sat me a bazillion times too.

Look at us ladies of the 80's. My Mom is on the left, rockin' a ruffled collar and embroidered sweater. My sister is in the middle, with perfectly feathered hair. No bump-it, this was all-natural people. Thanks to cans of Aqua-net hairspray. And that's little me with bows in my hair and a sour smirk on my face. Apparently I didn't want to cooperate that day.

I am so proud of my sister. She is an amazing wife and a Mom of two great kids. And she works outside the home. I hope to one day be able to care for my future family as well as she does. She is thoughtful, beautiful, creative, organized (have you seen her calendar and date book?), caring, funny, and a woman of God (just to name a few). I admire her faith and her boldness to stand up for what's right.

Here we are a month ago with Emma, Lisa's daughter (my niece). We aren't really the talk-on-the-phone-every-day kind of sisters, but we are always there for each other and have "catch-up" sessions to check in. We live just 2 miles away from each other, which is nice. Although we are different in a lot of ways, we are so similar in others. For example, we both love chocolate and hazelnut. And coffee. And reading. And sleeping. And like the house to be clean. And we're not the most spontaneous people. That's what's great about having a sister. Someone to share the same quirks and idiosyncrasies that no one else understands. I am glad God gave me a sister to share life with.

Happy Birthday Lisa! Love you.

P.S. Don't be mad at me for posting photos of you.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Zach & Maura's Wedding

There's a new Mr. & Mrs. Ohl! What does that make now? Six? This weekend, we traveled to my husband's home state of Pennsylvania, to celebrate Zach and Maura's wedding. What a beautiful wedding it was. They had a picture perfect day.

Bagpipes played as we exited the church.

And guests blew bubbles when the new couple came out.

This is my favorite photo of my Sweetie and I that day. I like when he wears pink. It's my favorite color.

The reception was held at Saucon Valley County Club, a gorgeous location for an outdoor evening celebration. Picturesque tables scattered the lawn during cocktail hour, with hydrangeas and candlelight.

The sun was just starting to set and cast the most beautiful light. I love peaceful water and bridges like this.

Guests moved inside the tent for dinner. Then the party really started!

We got to sit with our cousins, who are growing into such beautiful young ladies. It's hard to believe they are in junior high and high school.

It was wonderful spending such a fun day with family. Uncle Don and Aunt Fran, parents of the groom. Fran is one of my blog supporters. You two looked fabulous!

My in-laws, Denny and Marilyn, also looking fabulous.

My brother-in-law, David (who kindly drove us to and from PA) and his beautiful girlfriend, Alex.

We had so much fun dancing the night away. I think just about everyone was on the dance floor. That explains why the dance floor broke. Now that's a party!

Time for cake! 

Maura's wedding gown was absolutely gorgeous. I loved her one shoulder style dress and the way it gathered to one side, held by a loose bow, with elegant lace at the bottom. And her hair! Stunning. She looked like a bride from a magazine. Picture perfect.

Their favors were hand stamped with their initials and the date. Such a personalized touch. Maura is a fellow artist.

Zach and Maura, we are so blessed that we could share in your special day! Everything was simply beautiful. We love you both and pray that the Lord richly blesses your marriage and fills your years with much joy. And lots of children. Who are like Maura. Kidding! You're probably on the beach in Jamaica right now. So jealous! Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Ohl. Welcome to the club!

And just for fun, here are two more of my beloved blog supporters, Uncle Mike (from Colorado) and Marilyn, my Mother-in-law. I love you guys! See, I promised you would be on my blog. Keep reading and I'll keep posting! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Talapia Topped with Fresh Salsa

Have some salsa you want to put to good use?
Looking for a way to dress up a boring fish dinner?
Salsa + fish = delish.

These are not the greatest photos, but trust me, this meal is a good one. Anyone have suggestions on photographing fish? Didn't think so. I'll try to make it look prettier next time.

I like to keep a bag of frozen fish fillets, usually talapia, in the freezer. They are individually wrapped, so you can take them out as you need them. Make sure to thaw ahead of time. Or in a pinch, run them under water for a few minutes to quick thaw. I always give the fillets a quick rinse to get rid of any fishy-ness. Pat the fillets dry with a paper towel. You can certainly use fresh fish (even better). Lightly coat the bottom of a baking pan with a little olive oil and swirl it around. Place the fillets into the baking pan, and get both sides oily.

I like to make a quick fresh salsa with the following ingredients:
1/2 - 1 whole tomato, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 teaspoons (or more) of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, diced
salt & pepper to taste
Stir all together in a small bowl

Spread the salsa mixture on the fish (2-4 fillets), and bake uncovered for about 15 minutes (sometimes I leave them in for 20 minutes), or until fish easily flakes with a fork.

This time I topped the fish with fresh salsa that I made using a package mix. It was just as delicious and had some kick to it because it was a hot salsa mix (even though the packet in this photo says mild). In that case, all you need to add is the tomato and onion. The packet contains all of the spices. This recipe is open to interpretation. You could use lemon pepper seasoning if you like. Or add green onions. You could use Mahi Mahi or whatever kind of fish you prefer (maybe not salmon though).

For last nights dinner, I pared it with a cheesy baked potato. The salsa adds a lot of flavor, so rice or a vegetable would go perfect with it.

If you're daring enough to give it a try, let me know what you think! Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A New Kind of Chalkboard

(Photo courtesy of Memories on Clover Lane)
Is everyone familiar with chalkboard paint these days? I have seen it on many blogs. What a fun idea! The photo above is a framed magnetic chalkboard wall, that one of my favorite bloggers made in her kitchen. Here's a link with details about how she did it. You can write on it AND it's magnetic. So cool.

I just had my first experience with chalkboard walls. My friend Stephanie asked if I would help write on the walls of their new youth rooms at church. I didn't know what to expect or how the chalk would go on. I brought some old-school stencils, my rulers and pencils. It took me back to my Wegmans sign shop days. We used to write out all the chalk boards for the store that we worked at. That was until they replaced our custom hand-rendered lettering with magnets. There goes that job.

This is the junior high room. The kids can write their prayer requests on the "Prayer Wall." Isn't that a great idea? You can't see it from these photos (taken on my new phone, that I'm still learning how to operate) how cool the rest of the room looks. It has a lime green accent wall.

This is in the senior high room, which has an orange accent wall. They too, have a prayer wall as well as room for announcements and upcoming events.

The wall was basically perfectly smooth and easy to write and chalk on. This paint was black, but I think you can mix it or get it in any color. Stephanie used it in her daughters playroom. The possibilities are endless. I found a plethora of sites with great uses for chalkboard paint. It can be implemented in just about any room, as seen here. You can do all kinds of home decor projects. You can even use it on objects like this silver tray. It's certainly not limited to walls, and works on pretty much any paintable surface, as seen here on Design Sponge.

With the arrival of the white board, which has taken over every classroom and conference room (with those stinky markers), it's nice to see the chalkboard making a comeback. I'll admit, I feel like a teacher at the front of a room, every time I hold a piece of chalk in my hand. And I try to write extra neat.

Long live chalk!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Before & After Home: Living & Dining Room

Last time, I showed you our entry and kitchen. Our living and dining room is next. We liked the existing color scheme and re-painted with similar colors. Sherwin-Williams "Blonde," a light honey yellow and "Nuthatch," a chocolate brown (also used in our bedroom). This room, out of all the rooms in our house, has had the most furniture configurations and rearranging. And is the most-used room in the house. I think we've finally found a set-up that works.

First, let's take a look at the BEFORE:

This is where the previous owners had their large TV. It was the focal point of the room. I like the cut-out glass shelving in the wall.

This is a view through to the dining room and the second front door and closet.

I'm sure the previous owners weren't expecting us to take photos of their stuff that day, much less display them on a blog, but this is the best BEFORE photo I have of the other side of the living room. The couches were far away from the TV, on the other side of the room in fact. The open floor plan, multiple entrances to the room, window placement and TV hookup, made arranging this room a bit of a challenge.

This is a look back at OUR  FIRST ARRANGEMENT when we moved in:

We pretty much put our furniture in the exact same places they had theirs. This was before I ever laid eyes on Young House Love, and became the decorator I am today. Yes, we needed rabbit ears on our TV. Cable is expensive!

Our couches were under the windows on the other side of the room too. These couches were gifted to us by my parents from the house I grew up in. They are the most comfortable couches ever. I just wish they weren't so floral. That's why I recovered the love seat. I never ended up recovering the couch, but it works for now.

We used to have a recliner in there too, but it was a little awkward. You can see the old purple kitchen in the background.

Now, a look at THE ROOM TODAY:

How did I not notice the dish towel on the kitchen floor? I love the side table, clock and mirror arrangement. It's the perfect size for this amount of wall space, between two doorways. I talk more about where I got them here and here.

I was completely inspired by Young House Love's multifunctional living and dining room (below).

So, I moved our dining room table out of our "dining room" (which is a whole other story), into this corner, where the TV previously was.

I removed one of the glass shelves to allow for taller display items.

And I designed a wall of white frames, also inspired by YHL.

I purchased a pair of chairs from to provide more flexible seating options. I love the look and size of the chairs, but I am not very happy with the fabric or the quality. I definitely foresee a chair-covering project in the future. I haven't been able to find an area rug that I love, in the size I need, at an affordable price. So, I used two smaller cream-colored area rugs that we had, and put them side by side for now. I added a smaller accent rug in brown, for a little rug-on-rug action.

To beef up the window treatment, I added two chocolate brown panels, that were $6 at Marshalls! The light tan swag came with the house.

I like the TV in front the window. It creates a more intimate seating area. I can also see it while I'm in the kitchen cooking. Win.

The floral couch "blends in" a little more, since the rest of the room and elements are neutral tans and browns. I really like this seating arrangement and our multipurpose dining room. If we need to extend the dining room table to accommodate 8 people, we can just move the accent chairs.  This room feels a lot more pulled together and functional now.


What do you think? Have you faced any furniture arranging challenges? Ever moved a room around a hundred times? Don't loose heart. You'll find a setup that works. Look for inspiration in magazines, furniture catalogs and blogs. A room you love could be easier to achieve than you think!