The Last of the Carpet is Gone

This holiday break is flying by because I'm staying very busy. One of my biggest goals is to finish painting the upstairs floors before I go back to school. So Rand and I carried everything out of this room and took it downstairs. This room had become a giant closet for all of Rand's pool supplies, so I'm glad I'll finally have the opportunity to organize it.

We ripped up the carpet, pulled up the tack strips, sanded, filled holes, resanded, and applied two coats of primer. I am exhausted.

The floors will be Benjamin Moore's Rockport Gray. Hopefully the gray paint will help disguise the usually-not-totally-clean floors a little better than the white painted floors in the bedroom.

These floors were in the best shape of any room upstairs. That saved me a lot of time in filling and caulking. It's just lots of paintbrush time for me.

Here I go...

Easy Cheesy Quesadillas with Mango Salsa


Easy Cheesy Quesadillas with Mango Salsa

  • whole wheat tortillas
  • mango salsa (or whatever salsa you prefer, I guess)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • sour cream (optional)
  1. Get everything ready. Drain and rinse the beans, melt your coconut oil in the microwave, and find your biggest cutting board for a work surface.
  2. Lay out your tortillas and coat one side of them in coconut oil. Then flip them over. The side without the coconut oil will get the fillings.
  3. Pile as much shredded cheese, beans, and salsa you like onto one half of each tortilla. Then fold them over. 
  4. Place your folded quesadillas into a large frying pan and begin frying them on medium-high heat. When one side becomes golden brown and the cheese is melting, flip the quesadilla over to the other side.
  5. When both sides are golden brown and fried to perfection, take your quesadillas off the stove, put 'em on a plate, cut them with a pizza cutter and dip them in sour cream. Oh my....
This recipe is my new favorite because it is so fast. If I have leftover ingredients, I can just stuff them all in the fridge and make more quesadillas later in the week. So easy!

An NYC Holiday Gift Guide

Good morning, friends! Today I'm happy to welcome a guest contributor! Abby currently lives in my favorite place, Brooklyn, NY, so she always seems to know about the prettiest trends and products long before we hear about them here in the midwest. She is a media professional, frequent traveler, and seeker of new food, exhibits, and happenings in NYC and beyond, and I'm thrilled to share this space with her! 

Rand and I are both very fortunate to have jobs with generous holiday breaks, so we try to make a habit of traveling over the holidays. I always vote New York, since it is definitely one of the most magical places to be during the Christmas season. Abby has created a holiday gift guide for others who like to travel during Christmas break or for those who would like some big city holiday inspiration. Take a look at all her wonderful ideas!

See? Magical.
(Photo by Samuel Zeller, via Unsplash)
New York is one of the most exciting places to be during the holiday season. If you live there, you are familiar with the high energy and buzz of the city during December. If you've never been, see the list below and skip to #10 immediately. For everyone else, I've included fun NYC inspired gift ideas to create memories that your friends and family will love. 

1. I recently purchased this assorted graphic card set designed by Rifle Paper Co. that are perfect for the holiday season. Blank cards with festive details, such as gilded lettering or fun patterns that are not necessarily holiday themed, make excellent gifts. This set in particular can be used for multiple occasions. Pink Olive Graphic Card Set. $22

2. L'occitane is the holy grail of hand lotion, which you will need during the dry winters. It feels and smells amazing, both small enough to fit in your bag yet creamy enough to really last. They typically offer gift sets that include different scents which are perfect when you need to get similar items for multiple people in a school or office setting. $28 for a gift set of three.

3.  Any New Yorker will tell you that you've got to visit at least one museum while you're here, so be sure to research your favorite artists to see where you can find their exhibitions. Everyone knows MoMa and The Met, but looking for specific artists will take you on an adventure to excellent new spaces in any city. You will never forget seeing Lautrec at the Frick or Ai Weiwei at Brooklyn Art Museum. Costs will range by event and and admission fees. Some accept donations (The Met, and yes, you can pay as little as a $1) and some do not (MoMa $25), but set aside at least $30 for a ticket to any major exhibit. 

4. After running around the city all day, you must treat yourself to to a massage. Rather than going to high dollar spas, I recommend the small Chinese Body Work shops. It's only $50 for an hour massage and $30 for half an hour. It's pretty no frills, but feels amazing, which is what matters. They are located throughout Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.

5. I'm not totally anti-spas, but I do save money by purchasing beauty products I love at a fraction of the cost. The Boscia black mask is amazing. Buy this for your best friend and she will love you forever. It's a thick, black mud that drys to a thinner film which dries and peels off. It makes my skin soft for days. Bring a bottle of red wine and have a relaxing girls night. Way more fun than the spa!  Boscia Luminizing Black Mask $34 

6. If you have a friend that lives for lipstick, you have to go to Bite Lip Lab in SoHo. You can create your own custom lip color that is perfect for your skin tone. You work with a colorist to find your shade by mixing hundreds of pigments. Once you find your color, you pick your finish and flavor for any gloss, lipstick, or lip liner. I got the lipstick and the color really lasts. Bite Lip Lab - $48 for one deluxe lipstick

7. A great gift for any friend is a convenient wallet that holds everything you need, including your phone. Function is key in the city. I purchased a Lodis wristlet wallet and haven't needed another one since. It's cute, simple, and functional. My kind of gift! $108 

8. If you know someone who loves to create, treat them to a fun art class. The classes at the Painting Lounge are fantastic. It's a 2 hour BYOB painting session where you recreate famous works such as The Scream or Starry Night. 

Another fun options is glass blowing. You get to work with knowledgable staff and learn the tricks behind those swirly colored paperweights. 

The Painting Lounge 2-hour class - $50
Brooklyn Glass - $195 per session 

9. There is nothing better than finding the perfect holiday dress to wear to the most anticipated party. In terms of gift giving, this would fall more so under the category of gifts you'd get for yourself, but I would be delighted if my significant other surprised me with a fun new dress for a specific event (see #10!). For holiday parties, I suggest a jewel-toned color that compliments your skin tone. You will definitely stand out amongst all the LBDs. Dress by Catharine Maladrino - $148 

(Photo by Vita Vilcina, via Unsplash)
10. Booking a spontaneous trip to another city is always exciting. Surprise a friend or your significant other by spending the holiday in another city, preferably New York! If you're already here, you can also plan a stay-cation and feel like you're getting away from the grind by booking a hotel using apps such as Hotel Tonight. It finds deals on remnant hotel rooms in trendy, upscale locations at a discounted rate. You can book the day of, and now they have options to book multiple days in advance as well. Costs vary, but nightly rates range as low as $120 - $300 per night in New York, a steal for the quality of the rooms. In other cities you can find quality hotels for less than $100 a night. Locations and prices vary across multiple cities, and locations change daily, so I recommend checking often and getting on a plane. 


My First Custom Weaving

Here's something exciting: this weekend I completed and delivered my first custom order! It was so fun to work with a customer to figure out what they're wanting, create the tapestry, and see the reaction. She said she loved it!

She selected the colors, and I think it turned out really well. She promised to send me pictures when she gets it hung in her home.

Here are a few pictures I snapped at my house before I delivered it.

I sure would love to do a custom order for you too! Just click the word SHOP at the top of the blog if you're dreaming of having a custom woven wall hanging of your own. :)

Ch-ch-changes for the Etsy Shop

Good morning! I'm trying out a new idea with my Etsy shop. I can't say yet if it will stay, since I'm not completely sure if I like it. But I kind of do.


I've added vintage items to my Etsy shop. I also playing around with adding the words "& Vintage" to my Eck Art shop name, although I'm not loving that name part now that I've tried it. I think I just want Eck Art, but I like the idea of putting my vintage finds in the shop, since I just don't have room to keep it all. And believe it or not, I sometimes find good stuff.

I closed up my flea market booth, by the way. Not only was it too much work hauling stuff over to the booth and dealing with broken or misplaced items, but it also just didn't match my goal. I don't want to be a junk dealer. I want to sell art and vintage items to make homes prettier and more interesting. The booth wasn't supporting that dream, so it's done.

So I stuck in a few items that I'm ready to part with. Just a few random home goods that would look nice in the same home where a tapestry would fit in. Maybe someone out there has the same taste as I do!

All this really brings attention to what I consider my biggest weakness: photography. Especially product photography. It's hard!

I spent all last weekend playing around with a white background  I did a little staging by removing the dust covers from some books and using them as props. I also tried using a falsa blanket as a background, but I think it ended up being too busy. Next, I want to try just photographing the items in my home, where I would put them, but that requires a lot of light and a clean house.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with my inventory so far. And I've got a lot more to add. I just need to get up the courage to try photographing them again.

Papa's Dresser is Finally Mine!

This past summer was one of the best summers I've had in a long time. I always enjoy summer, but this one was packed full of all my favorite things, and I'm confident I didn't waste a minute of it. My days were spent enjoying family, weaving, sleeping, reading, photographing, playing and traveling (I have pictures of my trip to NYC to share with you soon). I grew some food, caught (and missed) a plane by myself for the first time, and acquired some fabulous new furniture.

And now, four months after my summer vacation ended, I've finally managed to clean my bedroom enough to photograph that fabulous new furniture. (Bad house blogger...)

Feast your eyes on my new treasure up there.  Isn't it beautiful? This furniture is great just because its shape and style, but it is extra neat-o because it belonged to one of my favorite people ever.

When my grandma passed away in 2009, all the furniture in her home was given out to the kids who needed it. My college-aged little sister needed a bedroom set, so Papa's set went to her. I really wanted it, but I already had a bedroom set that had belonged to Rand's grandpa, and he didn't want to part with it. So basically, I was stuck with a set I didn't like.

I painted it and added DIY leather knobs, you know the story. Even though I like how that other set turned out, it still doesn't measure up to Papa's furniture, so when my sister decided to upgrade to other stuff in her home, I snagged it.  Our old set has moved on.

Unfortunately, Papa's set showed signs of living in a college student's apartment. It needed a little love.

I really didn't want to sand down and restain this set. The odds that I would get the stain to match perfectly were slim, and also, I just don't like it. I prefer the original, even if it's imperfect. In order to revive, but not redo this furniture set, I dug around for Morgan Satterfield's great post on refreshing old wood furniture.

Side note: Does anyone know what happened to Morgan? She's disappeared from everything, even her online store. I don't know her personally and it's none of my business, but I miss her.

Anyway, I followed Morgan's directions to the letter. I also switched out the itty-bitty knobs for some bigger, louder ones. Two original knobs were missing and the drawer pull from the middle drawer was gone, so I just replaced all those places with my new knobs. I like how it looks cohesive and a little quirky now.

Rand likes all the drawer space. I like the mid-century shape and beautiful wood. And that it was Papa's. And free. Win/win on this one.

Speedy Sarah's Homemade Granola

Lately, my horrible eating habits have been on my mind. I wake up with a headache nearly every day (which is cured by coffee every morning, but still) and I have too little energy. My friends have suggested some vitamins that might help, but before I begin self-diagnosing a vitamin deficiency, I feel like I should tackle an obvious issue in my life: I eat crap.

We're talking fast food nearly every night. Grocery store junk food with lots of hydrogenated (not sure what that means) mystery ingredients. Even when I cook at home, it's pretty pitiful. I've let this part of my life slip pretty badly, and now the thought of cooking healthy, real food has started to feel overwhelming. Where do I start? Won't this be crazy expensive? Thinking about it makes me want to take a nap.

If you follow me on Instagram (and I hope you do), you may have seen me mention my friend Sarah. I often lovingly refer to her as Speedy Sarah, since she is a talented, fast runner with drive that inspires me every Saturday morning. My goal for every run is just to keep up with her. Not only does she work hard to stay fast and fit, but she also teaches full time and is a mother of two kids. And during our runs, she tells me about what's new in her life, and I can't help but think, "How are you awake right now?!"

Not only that, but Sarah feeds her family really good food. She's got me wondering if this is the root of my problem. And I figure, even if it's not, eating natural, healthy food seems like a good idea anyway. But how do you go from eating total junk to eating right? I'm not talking about just picking up an apple. My issue is, I like to eat. If this is going to work, I need some tasty food that I'll actually stick with. It needs to be easy, delicious, and not cost too much. I hope I'm not being unreasonable.

So Sarah gave me a starting point. Let's begin by learning to make just one thing, and let's make it a yummy snack, mkay? Here we go.

Speedy Sarah's Homemade Granola

  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • dried fruit (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread the 3 cups of rolled oats over a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Meanwhile, melt your coconut oil in the microwave and pour 1/2 cup coconut oil and 1/2 cup honey into a mixing bowl. Smart person tip: measure out the oil first, so the honey will slide easily from your measuring cup. Mix it all up and grease a baking pan. I used coconut oil for that, too.
  3. When your oats are browned, pour them into the bowl with the oil and honey. Mix well.
  4. Spread the mixture into the greased baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes. 
  5. Take your granola out of the oven and let it cool. When you think it's cooled enough, plop some on a plate. You can mix in some dried fruit at this point, if you like. Eat and enjoy! Put the leftovers in a sealed container.
So easy! As a very lazy cook, I give this recipe my stamp of approval. It was simple to make (even I didn't screw it up) and now I have leftovers for anytime I need a snack. Another bonus: Rand liked it. We have a winner!

One recipe down. Now I'm on a mission to learn to make another easy something. Another snack maybe?

Dining Room Shelfies

I put up some shelves on the wall in my dining room, and it only cost me $1.

*Results not typical.

What do you think? Not sure why the bottom of this photo looks so weird.

Hmm. I don't feel like this photo reflects it, but those shelves ARE level. I checked.

How were they $1 you ask? I found those white IKEA brackets at a garage sale for a dollar, and I used scrap wood from our garage (actually old original trim pieces) for the shelves. The shelves aren't as deep as I would like, but that can be adjusted later. I was determined to use materials I already had on hand for this project to keep things as cheap as possible.

I added my gold trunk underneath and it fit perfectly. The best part about this project was getting to style up the shelves afterwards. They're still not quite right, but close. Having good shelf space for all my cute crap is da best.

I drilled into studs in the wall to hang these shelves, so I know they're not going anywhere. I still cringe a little every time I set something on them, though. I do that every time I sit in my hanging chair, too. It's still just a little scary, but seems to be holding up. For now.

Ahh, it feels so good to get this done and get some things up off the floor. They're still looking a little bare, but I plan to hang some small frames in those empty spaces and gradually add more plants as I get a little braver. These shelves add more cat-safe real estate where my plants are safe from being gnawed down to nubs. In fact, I think I want to buy two more of those brackets and put some matching shelves on the other side.

I call that a pretty productive weekend.

TRJ trivia question: How many DIYs can you spot in the picture above? :)

You've Got to Be Kitten Me

Our family is growing! Rand, Max, Mitzi and I have welcomed a little redhead to our family. Meet Simon Garfunkel Eckhardt.

Isn't he perfect?

He was born in our garage to one of the regular stray cats that hangs around our neighborhood. We had seen him, his mother, and his sibling hanging out in our yard a lot, and Rand instantly fell in love with him. He began trying to catch him before he got too old, and failed several times, but one night about two weeks ago, we managed to scoop him up and bring him inside. He was MAD.

He screamed and cried at first, and for a moment I worried we had made a big mistake bringing in an almost feral kitten, but within 24 hours he was already warming up to us. Now, after two weeks, he is a total love-cat. He's also the tootiest cat I've ever met.  I mean he toots a lot.

His purr is even louder than Max's. And all he ever wants to do is play. He's kind of wearing me out, but I love him. The big cats are being very good babies by tolerating him politely. They're not ready to be best friends yet, though.

This is the first time we've added a family member in eight years, and it's been a big adjustment. But now I'm convinced I need a house full of cats.

Cheers to many years with this little furball!
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