Turning memories into decor and my thoughts

And the countdown is on. In less than 48 hours, Dave and I will be en route to Florida. Our flight leaves super early on Saturday morning, so we will be basking in the Southwest Florida warmth of my parent’s house by the early evening that day. To say “I can’t wait” would be a major understatement. 

Today, I’m going to share some random thoughts with you, in a quasi-round two of last week’s “Thinking Out Loud.” But first, I’m going to show you something pretty cool I made.

Having a chance to decorate

When you read A Lady Goes West, you’ll notice how often I mention the size of the tiny city apartment that Dave and I live in in San Francisco. Well, it’s true. While we love our awesome Nob Hill neighborhood in the heart of the city, the tightness of our living quarters has been an issue over the past few months as we grow out of this little spot. We’re in the process of finding a new place to live in early 2015, and with a new home and more space, comes the chance to decorate.

My decorating style usually varies from room-to-room, which is a luxury we don’t have today, as it’s basically all-in-one right now. But because we have our hearts set on a two-bedroom place, I’m hoping to end up with an office/guest-room, which I can decorate differently from our pale, elegant and simplistic bedroom. How will I do it? Using some of the mementos and memories that we’ve had stored away for years, of course.

Creating thoughtful decor using technology

About a month ago, I was delivered a brand new Sprout by HP, which is not only a fully functioning computer, but is also a creative workstation with a big screen and fancy touch-mat. You can look back and see that I used the Sprout to create my Christmas cards last week. And this week, I put the Sprout to another test …

And just so you know, I have a love for bright things, bright primary colored paintings and bold pieces to be exact. And Dave and I have often perused the paintings at festivals and galleries with our eyes on some contemporary canvas paintings with city scenes, but we’ve not been able to decide on a purchase. Not to mention, many of those paintings are super expensive and way too big for the wall space we’ve had available. So I decided to make my own modern scene.

Here’s what I started with: A “memory” box that has been tucked away on one of our shelves, holding nearly every card we’ve ever given each other and the ticket stubs to all the events we’ve attended while living in both Orlando and San Francisco. 

Memory boxThis box has been around since before we even got married, and it is stuffed full of so many sweet words, pictures and trinkets from our lives.

I’ve always wanted to find something to do with the ticket stubs, and I knew my Sprout would be perfect for this task. Boy, was it easy. I arranged all of the tickets stubs on the Sprout’s touch-mat, moved them around into the right place, and then scanned them into one big image with the click of a button. A bright overhead light flashed over the objects on the mat, then instantly the preview popped up on the monitor. Magic!

Events collageHow cool is that? Years of events on both coasts captured into one JPEG file. I knew I was saving those stubs for a reason, but I sure didn’t know it would be so high-tech.

I wasn’t done there. I wanted to add some more color to the image, so I chose my favorite symbol and placed two big, red, bold hearts onto the background. It took a little time to get it right. In fact, at first I toyed with drawing the hearts myself, and it just didn’t pop as much as the filled-in hearts did.

Using the Sprout by HP via A Lady Goes WestShown above from top left to right: A full-body shot of the Sprout, and me using the stylus and my hands to create projects on the touch-mat. It’s really quite fun.

No that’s not a hand model up there, those are just some freshly-manicured fingers, which I got done during a lunch-time special on a very rainy Tuesday afternoon. I’m hoping the gel color stays nicely through next week. But I digress, let’s get to the final product, and how the image looks today …

Memories and loveBig, bold and just what I was hoping to create. A whole lot of meaning behind one image.

These hearts not only stand for Dave and for me, but they also stand for all of the love we developed and shared while experiencing so many fun events throughout life. Three Dave Matthews Band concerts, theme parks, vacations, the ballet, the symphony, the fabulous Live in the Vineyard weekend, Beach Blanket Babylon, tons of sporting events, you name it, we’ve done it.

As we get closer to moving into our new place, I’m going to get this piece printed onto a canvas, so we can hang it in my office. But for now, this little beauty will be the background on my Sprout and my laptop, so I can soak it up every day. 

How’s that for taking some old mementos and putting them to use?

Before I end this story, in case you missed my first post about the Sprout, here are a few details on it in my own non-techie words:

  • It’s a functioning Windows PC computer, but oh-so-much more
  • Has a huge flat-screen 23-inch monitor, which is also a touch-screen
  • Features a high-quality camera and web-cam
  • Has an LED light and a 3-D scanner, which can also be used to scan documents
  • Even though it can do some amazingly creative things, it’s very user-friendly
  • Offers an app store, with tons of apps ready for Sprout use
  • Comes with a touch-mat, wireless keyboard, mouse and stylus, even though it can be used solely as a touch-screen without any extra accessories

It goes without saying that I’ve had a lot of fun with the Sprout. In addition to using it for blogging, browsing the Interwebs and scanning, I’m also starting to really enjoy the fun apps that it comes with. You can turn your pictures into water-color paintings and even make puzzles. Awesome stuff! And now …

Some more Thinking Out Loud

Because you guys seemed to dig my random thoughts in last week’s Thursday post, I figured I’d do it all over again. This time, it’s getting even more random.

  • Mail, like snail mail. I’m obsessed with the mail. I check it once, maybe twice a day if it’s not there yet. I also stop by the front lobby of our building at least once a day to see if I have any packages. I just love getting mail, especially all the cute Christmas cards as of late. Does anyone else feel that way? 
  • Bumps and bruises. Do you know there is rarely a day in my life in which I don’t have a bruise for some reason? My knees are always a little bit red from teaching group fitness classes and having them down on the gym floor. And because our apartment is so small (there I go mentioning it again!) I often knock my shins against the coffee table or bed-frame or hit the tops of my hands while trying to dig something out of a stuffed cabinet. Needless to say, I’m always all banged up. No big deal when I’m covered up in the cold weather, but I’m hoping my latest marks clear up before I put on shorts next week.
  • Airport food and traveling. Because I travel the same flight-path to Florida so often and usually fly on Southwest, I know what I can expect at airports and on planes food-wise. For instance, the Las Vegas airport has horrible food. Just horrible. And I always land there hungry for my delayed layover. But on Saturday, when Dave and I fly out, I’m going to be armed with a ton of food. I wasn’t sure if you could take a small yogurt through security, but I did it in October and you can. Now you know. I will have yogurt, I will have oats, I will have protein bars, and to top it off, I will have a baked sweet potato slathered with almond butter. There is no chance I will get hungry and need to purchase Cheez-its or Ho-hos, no chance, my friends. But if Dave buys them an offers me a bite, it sure doesn’t count.
  • D-I-Y. Or Do-it-Yourself. Outside of my blogging endeavors, this is something I sort of fail at. I see so many bloggers posting these incredible photos of little things they’re creating from scratch to give as gifts, like body oils, scrubs and home-made baked goods. I’m so impressed by this. I just want to say to all of you out there, bloggers or not, that take the time to do D-I-Y gifts: You go girl or guy! Totally. You do. Can you send me one just for fun too? Please? I really like getting mail. 
  • Packing. I’m waiting until tomorrow to pack for my trip (because we can’t leave out a big suitcase in our tiny apartment, ohhhh there I go mentioning it again!), but I’ve been mentally picking out my outfits. I’m a really good packer. Truly. I excel at it. You’d know this if you read I’m an expert at … But I know it will take me a while to pack, so I plan to put on the Christmas tunes and give myself all of Friday afternoon to accomplish it.

How’s that for random thoughts?

That’s all she wrote for today. Thanks, Amanda, for hosting the fun and thoughtful link-up party. Make sure you all come back by the ole’ blog tomorrow for some “Friday Favorites.” See ya!

* Disclaimer: A portion of this post is sponsored by Collectively on behalf of HP. While I was provided the Sprout by HP and compensated in exchange for my review, all of the words, thoughts, pictures and commentary is 100 percent my own. Honesty matters, my friends. And who wouldn’t love this awesome toy?

Questions of the day

What’s something you would like to turn into a piece of decor? How have you been creative lately? Do you have a favorite style of painting or picture? Tell me a random thought!

Ashley signature


, , , , ,


  1. What a cute little project! As I was unpacking, I found a ton of old ticket stubs my hubby has saved (since before I even met him) and was thinking of pitting them in a mason jar or something! Oh and I get excited everyday to check the mail….especially this time of year hoping for Xmas cards! Have a great trip in Florida!!

  2. And yet MORE things we have in common. I too LOVE real, actual, tangible snail mail. It’s just the best. And I also bruise easily and often. I swear, even if the wind hits me the wrong way—-BRUISE. Safe travels to Florida! And hopefully you get some more Christmas cards in your mailbox before you leave. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Courtney! Hahaha how about that? We sure do have a lot of similarities! I’ve got more days to get mail before I leave, so here’s hoping … Are you doing anything special for the holidays?? Time off work perhaps? πŸ™‚

      1. Nothing too special for me. Our firm is closed Wednesday-Thursday-Friday both weeks, so I will have a little time off. Probably catching up on my DVR’ed guilty pleasures (kudos to you for breaking that habit) and hopefully getting in some sunshine. I know you are looking forward to reuniting with Florida weather!

  3. Such a great project! We have all of our stubs in a basket too – so that seems like a great solution. I love getting mail too – I don’t go twice a day since it actually quite a walk from our apartment (it’s on the other side of our complex). But I always look forward to walking over there and getting mail or a package. Have a good one!

  4. You’re too adorable with the mail! I feel the same way, though. I notice not as many people send out Christmas cards anymore, and it makes me sad! I loooove getting cards in the mail, and while I get that electronic ones are faster and more convenient, there’s something to be said about having tangible ones that you can decorate your fireplace mantle with.

  5. I used to travel weekly as a consultant and I knew exactly what airports had what for food and I always packed food to take along with me. People thought I was obsessed, but when I get hungry it’s not pretty and searching for healthy food is impossible with a fuzzy mind. I always packed yogurt, boiled eggs, turkey sandwich, apple, carrots, almonds. Basically a full meal because even when you do arrive at your destination, you’re usually hungry too.

    1. Hi Megan, Not to mention, when one flight is delayed, sometimes you don’t have time to wait in line for a meal before your next flight. Being prepared is smart! Glad you agree. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Lauren! I think I’ll get more into DIY, once I have more space for crafting. But then again, maybe not. Hope you have a great Thursday! Thanks for stopping by:)

  6. I’m so impressed with your project!! What a great piece of wall art to display in your home filled with so many memories and meaning behind it! I absolutely love it.

    I’m totally with you on your obsession with the mail…especially this time of year. πŸ™‚ I’ve even turned Hunter into getting excited about it. I say, “Hunter, should we go get the mail?” And he starts getting all excited yelling, “Mail! Mail!” (although it sounds more like “mah” – ha!). πŸ™‚

    I’m always impressed with DIY projects others are doing as well. I totally go in phases with it. Every once in awhile I get ideas and extra energy to do some stuff, but I find that a lot of my creative energy goes into the blog. And then being a mom and wife and all of other life demands…there isn’t always a lot of time. It sure is fun when I do find the time though!

    1. Oh my gosh, I can just picture his cute little face getting excited for the mail! Love it!! And yes, there’s always so much going on, it’s hard to focus on DIY. I hope to do more of it one day though. Thanks, Ashley!! πŸ™‚ Oh and happy graduation to your bro!

    1. Hi Jocelyn,

      Thanks for stopping by! Yes, definitely a cool way to save the memories and look at them on the wall. Hope you have a fabulous Thursday! πŸ™‚

  7. Hi Ashley!

    Your project is beyond adorable! It’s going to look so great up on your wall when you move! I have been saving all of my ticket stubs ever since I went to my first concert way back in the day and have always wanted to do something fun with them but never really settled on anything. This is such a great idea!

    1. Hi Tricia! Oh thank you. I hope it looks good on the wall. There are so many ways you can use them. Have you thought of a shadow box? Or a mason jar? Paper mache? ahahaha some are quite advanced though. Hope you have a great evening:)

    1. Hi Brittany! Good to know I’m not alone in the bruising. Thanks for stopping by and hope you have a great night! πŸ™‚ It’s almost Friday!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.