Friday, February 12, 2016

Five on Friday

Happy Friday!  I haven't done one of these in a while, so today I'm joining up with April, Christina, Natasha, and Darci for their Five on Friday link up.  Here are the top five things on my mind this Friday.

1. Our Kitchen Renovation- Thanks to everyone for your sweet comments on our kitchen renovation!  It's one of my favorite rooms of the house (and one that's the most complete) so it was fun to finally share it with you all.  If you missed the post you can see it here.

2.  A Trick For Freezing Bananas- Most mornings I try to make a smoothie for both T and me for breakfast.  Frozen bananas are the perfect base for any smoothie, and this week I learned a really cool trick.  Instead of having to slice the bananas, freeze them on a cookie sheet, and then transfer them to a ziplock for storage, I've learned a shortcut.  Peel the banana, place it in a ziplock sandwich bag, and mash and break it up a bit with your finger tips.  Lay it flat int he freezer, and the next day the banana just peels right out of the bag.  This is what they look like when you put them in the freezer.

3. Simplisafe Security System- T recently changed jobs within his company, and his new gig will have him traveling a bit more than he has in the past.  We live in a pretty safe neighborhood, but we decided to get a new security system for my peace of mind when he's gone.  We opted for the Simplisafe system, and it came in this week.  I'll be working on getting everything hooked up this weekend, and I'm so excited to see how it all works!  The system seems to have some great features, it's completely customizable, no contracts have to be signed, and monitoring for the system is only $14.99/month.  There's a 60 day money back guarantee, so we're going to give it a shot for 2 months and see what we think.  I'll be sure to report back with our thoughts.

4. Maternity Leggings- I mentioned in my day in the life post yesterday that pants have been a challenge for me and my ever-growing tummy.  Thankfully these leggings that my sister April wrote about recently have been great.  I think I'll be getting a second pair soon.  I find myself doing a load of laundry just so I can wash them and wear them again.  They are so comfortable, full coverage in the belly area, and nice thick fabric.

5. Valentine's Day Treats- Somehow Valentine's day completely snuck up on me.  T and I aren't huge celebrators of the holiday anyway, but we both kind of dropped the ball this year.   You know who didn't?  My in-laws.  We received this package of Shari's Berries and Truffles yesterday from them.  The perfect gift for someone who is currently wanting everything sweet in sight.  I've never had Shari's Berries before, but I was really pleased with both the packaging and quality of the berries and truffles.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Day In The Life

One of my favorite kinds of posts to read on other blogs is a day in the life post.  I love getting to read about what other people's days look like.  The mundane things that they do and the not-so-blogworthy moments are sometimes just as interesting to read about as those beautifully staged ones.

I want to preface this post by saying this season of my life has been completely different than any other time for me.  This fall, I decided it would be the best decision to leave my nine to five and pursue my jewelry business full time.  The timing of this all couldn't have been more perfect.  Being able to work from home during my pregnancy has been absolutely amazing.  It's given me the opportunity to finally take things easy, and while that will only the be the case for three more months before baby arrives, I'm soaking in every minute of it.  So, while my schedule may seem a little more relaxed than most, it's going to change very soon, and I'm taking advantage of that while it's here.

7:30- Wake up and head downstairs to make breakfast for T and me. Breakfasts this week are these Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothies.  They both satiate my never ending preggo sweet tooth, and give me some extra iron to start my day.  I've been taking the gummy prenatal vitamins which have no iron in them, so I try to supplement each day with leafy greens.  T likes them because they taste like a Reese's Cup.


7:45- Do a quick kitchen clean up getting everything washed that I was too lazy to do last night after dinner.  Also, go ahead and take chicken out of the freezer to thaw for tonight's dinner.

8:00- T heads to work with the dog, and I sit down in front of the TV with my smoothie and computer.  Catch up on emails and make my to do list for the day.  Wednesdays are doggie day camp days, they run a $10 Wednesday special, so George goes every week.  It's the highlight of that dog's week, he sits by the door and waits any time he hears us say "camp".  It also gives me a break from having to let him out every 10 minutes to chase the squirrels like I do every other day of the week.

9:00- Shower and get ready for the day, which includes the search for a pair of yoga pants that still fit over my ever growing belly.  It's a daily struggle, and my selection keeps on getting smaller and smaller.

10:00- Make several necklaces to complete a wholesale order for a local shop.  Today I set up shop at the kitchen table and watched some episodes of Broad City.  I usually like to have a TV show or pod cast on in the background.   Seems counterintuitive but it keeps me from getting distracted.

11:15- Just an ordinary day so far, but things went haywire around lunchtime. While making necklaces I started hearing a weird meow/scream coming from upstairs.   I usually only hear noises like this coming from our cat when the dog is taunting her, so I went upstairs to see what was going on.  Our poor cat Lulu had blood coming out of her mouth and was clearly in pain.  After further investigation I realized that one of her bottom canines was completely hanging out of her mouth.  I have no clue how this could have happened.  I called T freaking out and thankfully he was already about to head home for lunch.  Once he got home we wrangled her in to the crate, and I headed for the vet.

12:15- Back from the vet, and got some positive feedback from them.  She's no longer bleeding and doesn't seem to be in too much pain right now.  They've got her scheduled for a checkup, teeth cleaning, and extraction so hopefully things should be all okay.  She'll have to stay the night at the vet though.  Poor baby. Looks like the whole thing's gonna cost upwards of $800.  I've been putting money away for months to go towards a new couch for our den that we desperately need.  The one we have has been recovered, but it's older than me.  That money will now go towards our cat dental bill.  So that's just awesome...

12:45- Finally calmed down from the chaos of the cat drama.  Made a salad for lunch with romaine, grilled chicken, chick peas and veggies.  I love that T comes home for lunch each day.  He works less than 2 miles down the road, so it's really convenient for him to just come here instead of eating out. When the baby is here it will be even more useful, I'm hoping he can eat and watch Thompson while I have an hour to shower or get anything else done I need to without a baby in tow.  While he's home, we both realize how quickly Valentine's day is approaching and the fact that neither one of us thought to make a reservation anywhere.  You can tell we're both romantics...haha.  We decide to call a little German place in Asheville that we visited years ago on a Grove Park trip when I was still in college.  It will be fun to take a little road trip this weekend and get to visit this place again.  Hoping the food is as good as I remember!

2:00- I very rarely do this, but I decide to get out of the house and take my computer to Starbucks for the afternoon.  Tax season has been looming over me, and I'm still pretty behind on getting all of my small business stuff in order for filing our taxes.  Hoping that getting out of the house might force me to really get shit done.

5:00- Wrap up at Starbucks and head home to start on dinner.  Proud of myself because I made a lot more progress than I thought I would with taxes.  Pour myself my current favorite mocktail, Coconut Lacroix with a few maraschino cherries and some cherry juice, and get to cutting up chicken.  Tonight we're having prosciutto wrapped chicken stuffed with goat cheese with cherry tomatoes and roasted carrots.

6:00- T gets home with the dog and we sit down while dinner cooks to talk about our days with the National News on in the background.

7:00- Dinner's ready.  We have developed the bad habit of eating on the couch while watching TV.  We recorded episode 2 of The People vs. OJ Simpson, we watch that.   I was so young during all of this that I don't really remember much from the trial.  Because of that I find this show fascinating.  We also watch an episode of Silicon Valley, a show we just got into on HBO.

9:00- TV is off and we do a quick kitchen clean up to put the dishes away from dinner.  Since I've been pregnant, I get sleepy really early so I'm off to bed.  I go through my usual nightly routine, and then pop a Zantac and a Unisom, and rub my favorite Belly Balm all over my stomach.  I have loved being pregnant, but I do miss the days when I slept just fine on my own and didn't have insane heartburn every hour of the day.

9:15- I coax T into giving me a foot rub and feel baby Thompson moving all around in my belly since I'm laying still.  He seems to be most active at night and in the morning.  The combination of these two things works like a charm, and I'm out.

And that's a little look at what my days look like.  All will change completely in about three months when our baby arrives, but for now this is it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Kitchen Renovation

When we moved into our house over six months ago, the kitchen was the first room that we tackled.  We worked with contractors to get it 95% finished, and it was up to me to finish the remaining 5%.  And half a year later, I've finally gotten it done.  There are still things about the room that I'll probably end up changing at some point (like the cabinet and drawer pulls) but the room is finally fully functional.

The kitchen was by far the room that needed the most work.  Floral wallpaper, stained linoleum, fluorescent lighting, and a pink bathroom tile backsplash.  These are some of the pictures that were taken from the original house listing.  

We were able to keep the existing cabinetry which thankfully saved us some money, but everything else was replaced.  We replaced all appliances, new sink, hardwoods were installed, wallpaper removed, new backsplash, counters, pendant lighting, and can lighting replaced the fluorescent box light.  Oh, and we also decided at the last minute to install a little breakfast nook seat in the bay window.  Something I'm SO happy that we did. 

Since the breakfast nook was a last minute decision, we had very little money left in our budget to install something.  We originally got a quote for a fully finished boxed in window seat which would have been great, but was way over our budget.  Instead, we decided to get crafty, and I worked with our contractor to create a seat that was secured to the stud, reinforced by turned legs, and painted white to match the rest of the trim.  I stained some milk crates and attached casters to the bottom of them for some extra kitchen storage, and stuck those underneath.

Since the color pallet of the room is so white, I wanted our pendant lighting to be a focal point of the room, and bring a bit of color back in.  I fell in love with these copper pendant lights from Dot and Bo.  They're currently sold out of this exact style, but I included links to two very similar styles below.

One of the most useful parts of our kitchen isn't even really in the kitchen.  It's just around the corner in the adjoining laundry room.  We had a little bit of extra space in the room, so I decided to put a tall stainless rack in there to hold all of our pots, pans, and small appliances.   I have loved this thing.  It holds all the appliances that usually take up space all over the kitchen counter.  We even keep our toaster plugged in on the rack, so we don't have to move it every time we want toast.  Best $80 I've spent in a long time. 

Here's a list of the sources for everything in the room.  Affiliate links have been used.

Paint Color- Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray
Counters- Mont Blanc Marble
Sink- Home Depot
Faucet- Similar
Table and Chairs- Antique
Pendant Lighting-  Similar here and here
Boxwood Wreath- West Elm
Decorative Piece Over Microwave- My O'verlays
Utensil Holders- Similar
Copper Fruit Basket- Anthropologie
Outlet Covers- Amazon
Chrome Rack- Amazon

Monday, February 1, 2016

Super Bowl Appetizer Ideas

Happy February! I am so excited that this month is finally here, not because I love the month, but just because we're one month closer to March! This coming weekend T and I are having our supper club group over for a Super Bowl party. We are the assigned hosts for the month of February, so we figured it would be fun (and probably easier) to have the group over for appetizers and beer versus a full sit-down dinner.

I plan on making several different appetizers for guests to munch on while they're here, because, after all that's what this game is all about, right? :) Here's a peek at some of my favorite appetizer recipes, I'm still finalizing the menu, but several of them will be making an appearance that night.

1. Crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato Jam

2. Bacon Wrapped Tater Tot Bombs

3. Cheesy Chicken White Bean Dip

4. Chicken and Waffles Bites

5. Cheesy Hearts of Palm Dip

After putting this list together I've realized that all my favorite appetizers are fully focused on cheese and carbs, or a mixture of the two.  I'll be looking to add a few other apps in that have some vegetables, are lower carb, and may be a little bit more on the healthier side.  Any suggestions?  I'd love to hear what you're making for the big game!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pregnancy Update: 22 weeks

It's been several weeks since my last pregnancy update, so I figured I'd share what's going on at the 22 week mark.  We had a couple of inches of snow this weekend, and I managed to get a few pictures while our backyard was still pretty and white. 

How Far Along?  22 Weeks

Size of Baby:
  A Papaya (10.5-11.8 inches)

  A BOY!

Weight Gain: 
 Around 8 lbs

Maternity Clothes: Pants are a must, but I'm still able to get away with some non-maternity tops.  Once we reach springtime, I will be in full-on maternity wear, but I'm trying to postpone that for as long as I can. My two favorite pairs of pants are these black pants from H&M and these skinny jeans from Loft.  I had a hard time finding pants that were tight enough in the leg to fit down into boots, but these two pairs were perfect.

 We've made some good progress in the nursery so far.  We completed the closet this week (see post here) and we'll be assembling the crib this weekend.  We also bought a rug,  glider, and ottoman which I'm pretty darn excited about.  It's been so fun to see this little space come together, now I just want the room to be finished! 

  Feeling movement from the inside AND outside now, which is the best.  Having T be able to feel little kicks at night has been so special. 

 My back pain has subsided thankfully after a month of weekly chiropractic visits.  Having to tinkle much more frequently now, so I'm becoming very familiar with the locations of bathrooms in all my favorite stores.  All in all though, I'm feeling great. 

Sleep: I've slept great throughout this entire pregnancy.  My dreams can be a little crazy from time to time, after watching an X-Files episode this week, I dreamed that I had the baby early, and that he was an alien.  I guess that means no more Scully and Mulder for me.

Cravings:  Anything and everything sweet.  My first trimester I was all about the savory foods, and now this trimester I cannot get enough sweets.  It's a very odd feeling because I've never been that much of a sweets person.  I keep break and bake cookies in the fridge and make a couple most days after lunch.  

What I Miss: I have had such an easy pregnancy that there's not much that I miss, but I do look forward to being able to do more house projects on my own.  I've needed T's help with completing several projects when they involve paint or fumes that I'm not supposed to be around. 

Best Moment This Week: Hooking up headphones to my stomach and getting to play music for baby Thompson for the first time.  I let T choose the first song he'd hear, and naturally he played our alma mater's fight song, The Tiger Rag.  I felt a lot of movement when we played music, so I think he liked it!   Oh, and we also booked our babymoon this week!  We'll be headed to Sedona, AZ for a long weekend in March at a resort and spa.  The weekend should be a good mix of exploring and pampering, and I am so excited for it.  

Looking Forward To: My doctor appointment next week.  As I approach the 6 month mark, I have so many questions I'd like to get answered.  I've had a little bit of anxiety about having gestational diabetes after my sister's recent diagnosis, and with it being my first baby, there's so many unknowns that I have about the entire process.  

*affiliate links used

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Nursery Closet Renovation

It's safe to say that nearly 95% of our house, if not more, was built to contractor grade and never changed before we moved in.  The brass light fixtures, unfinished bathroom mirrors, and bare bones closet configurations were three of the things that stood out to me most.

Earlier this summer when we moved in, we knew that the smaller of our two guest rooms would one day be the nursery, so we decided to leave it as is until we knew what we wanted to do with it.  The great thing about the nursery is it was a complete blank slate.  The walls were even still painted with just the coat of primer that the builders painted over sheetrock...over 20 years ago.

Here's a peek at what the closet looked like before.  Old, dirty, and not the best use of space, especially for teeny tiny baby clothes.

I originally figured we'd hire a good friend who's a contractor to help us rework the closet, not even thinking this was something we could tackle ourselves.  But, after some brief browsing online, I realized it wasn't going to be so difficult after all.   Enter: the Ikea Pax.

First things first, we got the boring part out of the way by removing the existing clothing bar, repairing the holes in the wall, and repainting the closet with a good coat of white paint.  Next step, head to Ikea.

Before this project, I had never purchased anything from Ikea.  T and I went in there once to look around, and wound up getting so overwhelmed by everything that we left 20 minutes later.   This time, we came with a plan.  The closet is modeled after this post, and modified just a bit for the size of our closet.  We were able to get all materials from Ikea and the hardware store.

This is what was on our Ikea shopping list:

Pax Wardrobe Frame  ($50)
4 Small Shelves  ($5 each)
Medium/Large Shelves ($10 each)
4 Drawers-  ($20 each)

Ikea Total: $190

And this is what was on our Lowes list:

1x3 plywood
White latex paint
1 1/4" wooden dowels
4 sets of closet rod holders
3 L-brackets
wood screws
Wood stain (I used Minwax Early American)
Disposable foam brushes

We started by assembling the wardrobe frame as the directions showed and positioning it in the center of the closet.  My main concern about this was that it wouldn't be secure enough to the wall.  They do supply you with materials to mount it to the wall, but it wasn't secure enough for my standards.  Instead, we purchased three brackets and screwed two of them into the baseboards, and one into the stud behind the wardrobe.  The stud wasn't completely centered over the wardrobe,  which meant the bracket on top wouldn't be centered, but you can't see it when you're standing in front of the closet.  I know how babies use anything and everything to pull up on when they're learning to stand and walk, so I wanted this thing to be virtually immovable.

Once the wardrobe was centered and secured into the wall, I then cut 4 pieces of the the 1x3 plywood to fit the depth of the closet.  Once the wood was cut, I painted it white to match the inside of the closet.  We mounted two slats on each side so we could hang two clothing rods on each side, securing each to the stud with long screws.  I mounted the wood at 42" and 72".  These heights are slightly different that what the "standard" closet rod heights are, but they worked for us.

Once those were screwed into the wall, we screwed in the rod holders, and cut the wooden dowels to fit.  I painted the dowels with a coat of stain to give them a little bit of color first.

Next we cut the larger shelves to fit on each side of the middle wardrobe, they needed to be about 20" wide for our closet.  Once cut, they rest on the 1x3 block on the wall side and then we used the pegs that came with the shelf to screw into the wardrobe.  The pegs fit right down into the pre-drilled holes so the shelf won't slide.  

This is what it looked like after all shelves and rods were installed.

And then came the fun part, getting to fill it with all the cute baby clothes I've been collecting, and picking out baskets for storage.  We found exactly what we needed at Target, and picked up 5 small structured baskets, 2 larger totes (similar here), and 3 smaller totes (similar here).  I also purchased these adhesive bookplates to mount to each of the drawers for labeling.  Right now they're labeled 0-3 months, 3-6 months, etc, etc, but as he grows we can switch the labels out to customize the drawers for what we need at that time.

My little nesting self it just head over heels with this neatly organized closet.  The rest of the room is in shambles right now,  but getting to peek in the room and see this tidy closet makes me so, so happy.   I was shocked at how simple this project turned out to be.  I completed about 85% of it completely by myself, with a little help from my mom and T.

Now that the closet is finished, we'll be tackling the rest of the nursery.  You can see a few glimpes of what we've done so far in a few of my pictures.  We've painted the walls, hung curtains, and purchased a rug.  And that's about it.  We'll be getting our crib this weekend, so I hope that may be the catalyst for getting everything else into place.  Even though we have 4 more months until this baby's arrival, I'm just so ready to have the room D-O-N-E.

Please feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions about this closet project!  I'd be happy to help.

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