Friday, September 25, 2015

Outdoor Dining

Welcome Fall!  It's my absolute favorite time of the year, as I'm sure you know by now! The weather is slowly turning cooler around here and it's so nice to be outside enjoying it.  All summer long, we've been working hard to get our back deck in shape, as well as our yard and the patio underneath the deck.  Tim sanded and stained our deck and I painted the rails white.  We love the difference this has made!  It was such a large undertaking and it took quite a bit longer than we had anticipated, but we are so glad we did it.  We're still not quite finished,  but we're finally at a point where the hardest part is done and we can relax and enjoy it.

Max and I spend most mornings out here sipping coffee and watching the birds.

The small table is perfect for our family of five when want to eat outside, but it's really not large enough when we are hosting guests.

So we decided to make better use of the space underneath our deck and turn it into an outside dining area.  Tim took an old work table and made it into a farmhouse style table.  Then we hung up strings of lights to give the space a nice ambience. 

Over the past year, we've also been removing unwanted plants and bushes that were scattered throughout our back yard and have planted grass in their place.  We've found that we really enjoy having friends and neighbors over for a casual dinner out back or s'mores around the fire pit.  And it's nice to have a yard for the kids to run around and play games, while the grownups talk. 

Last weekend, Tim got a smoker, which we are so excited about.  Now we can smoke large cuts of meat like ribs, brisket and pork loins.  We are looking forward to weekends spent smoking meat, inviting friends over to share our meals with, and making memories out back.  So fun!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Closet turned Art Space

Remember my new table?

Well, since I love it so much, and although I don't mind if it gets normal wear and tear from eating on it, I don't exactly want my kids doing art projects on it.  I want to keep markers, paint, and glitter glue as far away as possible.  But I love that my kids do art, so I knew I needed to figure out a way to still have an art space in our home.  One night around 3:30a.m., as I was laying wide awake after one of the kids had woken me up from a nice sound sleep, I was brainstorming what to do about this dilemma.  I actually love figuring out ways to make the spaces in our home work extra hard for us.  Our house is not large, the bedrooms are on the smaller side, and every inch counts.  I knew there was a lot of wasted space in Peyton's closet and it was not being used to it's full capacity.  She is also the one who does the most art, so it made the most sense to me to convert her closet into an art space.   

My original idea was that Tim would build a desk into the closet, but then we decided that it would be easiest and quickest to buy a desk and just put it in there.  Then we measured my desk (below) and realized that it actually fit perfectly.  

So rather than buying a new desk for her that would get covered in messy art projects, we decided to give her my old desk and get an update for me.  Although you can't see it in the pictures, there are spots that are less shiny and even a bit splotchy from when I spray painted it white a year ago (it used to be yellow). 

We found this cute Josephine desk on sale at World Market for me.   

I love the X for the legs.  It gives it a little more style and sophistication than my simple parsons desk.  It's definitely an upgrade.

Here is the before picture of Peyton's closet (after we removed everything)

And here's the after picture:

We painted the inside a soft shade of blue so that it would stand out from her gray walls.  Getting that desk in there was quite the wrestling match, but Tim squished and squeezed and pounded it in there.  Since it fits so snugly, it kind of looks like a built in. Then I made a list of everything we needed to store and organize (crayons, markers, stamps, paper, glitter glue, play doh, watercolor paints, brushes, etc…) and I hit up Marshalls and Ikea.  

If you're wondering what we did with all her clothes, everything fit into her dresser, except for a few nicer dresses that I hung up in our closet.  And the kids keep their shoes either on a shelf in the garage right outside our kitchen door or under their beds. This arrangement may not work forever, but that's okay.  It won't be a big deal to pull the desk out and convert it back into a closet if the day comes where we feel that that would be the best use of the space.  For the time being though, this is just what we need. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Balls

Hi there!

I just wanted to pop in today and share a quick recipe with you guys.  I do hope to be back in this space more often.  All my kiddos are in school these days, so I want to get back to blogging more.  I miss it.

You may have already seen these Peanut Butter Balls on Pinterest, but if not, I wanted to share the recipe with you.  It's one of our favorite snacks around here.  I will warn you that they are very addicting though and you won't want to stop eating them.  I started making them two years ago and haven't stopped yet.  As soon as we run out, I find myself making another batch.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned these to a friend and she accused me of holding out on her for all this time.  So I apologize because I've been holding out on all of you guys too. But I'm here to share the recipe with you today... so better late than never!!

The recipe is super simple:

1 cup oatmeal
1 cup shredded coconut (I buy unsweetened)
1 cup Peanut Butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I actually never measure these, I just dump some in)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp chia seeds (this is optional and you can also use flax seeds or something else you want to sneak in to the mix)

I try to buy good quality, pure ingredients so that they are as healthy as possible and I can feel good about letting my kids eat these.  

Basically, you just measure everything out and mix it all up in a bowl.  And this is where you must show some restraint because you will end up wanting to eat the entire bowl.  

Then you roll them into balls for easy snacks.  Put them in a sealable container and keep them in the refrigerator. We like them best when they're cold. 

Super simple.  Plus it's healthy.  And they're delicious too.  

Hope you like them!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Back to School Interviews

It's become a tradition now that each year before school starts, I interview the kids.  I use the same questions every year because it's fun to go back and compare their answers over the years.  See previous entries here and here

Hudson : Age 5 (Kindergarten)

Favorite thing to do: Go to P.T. (Physical Therapy - he goes once a week)

Favorite thing to eat: Ice Cream and Mac and Cheese

What do you want to be when you grow up: Work at Duck Donuts

Favorite color: Green

Favorite show or movie: Minecraft videos on you tube and Rudy (the movie)

Favorite book: Football book

What do you like to learn about: Minecraft, motorcycles, monster trucks, race cars

What do you like to do with Daddy: play baseball and football

What do you like to do with Mommy: snuggle

What makes you happy: presents

What are you really good at: football

Favorite thing you did this summer: watch fireworks, play mini golf, and ride race cars

Peyton : Age 7 (2nd Grade)

Favorite thing to do: Lay around

Favorite thing to eat: cookie cake

What do you want to be when you grow up: teacher or police officer

Favorite color: all the colors except yellow

Favorite show or movie: Barbie, Minecraft, Wild Kratts

Favorite book: Swiss Family Robinson

What do you like to learn about: baking

What do you like to do with Daddy: Go on daddy dates

What do you like to do with Mommy: Go shopping for clothes

What makes you happy: snuggling with my stuffed animals

What are you really good at: Making daddy cry (She laughs saying this. Tim gets teary eyed when he tells her how special she is to him and how much he loves her and this makes her laugh.  She has him wrapped up!)

Favorite thing you did this summer: Staying with mimi and pop pop

Tyson: Age 9 (4th Grade)

Favorite thing to do : Play with my friends, video games

Favorite thing to eat: Cookie cake, ice cream, and pizza

What do you want to be when you grow up: Nascar Driver, but you probably won't let me do that because I would die.

Favorite color: red, black, blue, hot pink, yellow and orange

Favorite show or movie: Minecraft videos and Swiss Family Robinson (movie)

Favorite book: Swiss Family Robinson

What do you like to learn about: Minecraft, animals, and math

What do you like to do with Daddy: wrestle, play football, wall-ball, and games

What do you like to do with Mommy: play games and wall-ball

What makes you happy: snuggling with Max, playing games

What are you really good at: Math, mine craft

Favorite thing you did this summer: Go to Florida

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Salvaged Farmhouse Table

Well, Hello!  Does anyone still come to this space anymore?  It's been awhile since I've sat down to blog.  There are many reasons for this and right now I won't go into them, but today I wanted to pop back in and share something that recently happened and left me so encouraged. 

I'll begin by saying that over the course of the last few years, God has been changing my perspective of him.  He's teaching me to come to him as a beloved child instead of an orphan. He's teaching me to trust him with the desires of my heart, however big or small. He's been taking me by the hand and walking me out of guilt and fear and leading me into the love and freedom that can only be found in him. It's taking time and the change is slower than I would like, but I can look back and see how he's led me so kindly into trusting his goodness and faithfulness to me. He doesn't always give me what I ask for, but sometimes he does!  And this is a story about one of those times that he surprised me and made a little one of my dreams come true.

A few years ago, we had a lot of family coming up to visit us and we needed a bigger dining room table to host them, as well as room to host friends when they came over. At that time, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted in a table and we didn't want to spend a lot of money, so we found a good solid table on Craigslist and hauled it home.  It was nice enough and it worked for what we needed.  

(our craigslist table)

But then a few months ago, I just fell in love with the salvaged farmhouse table from Restoration Hardware.  We're pretty frugal and careful with how we spend our money, so a RH table was far beyond what we would even consider spending on a table.  But because God has shown me how he delights to bless his kids, I asked him for it anyway.  I would talk about it with him and even allow myself to dream just a bit that maybe one day I would get one.  I scoured craigslist almost everyday looking to see if someone posted one for sale.  

Then one day, we were out at the Leesburg outlets and we stopped in the RH outlet to look around.  I asked them if they ever got the salvaged farmhouse table in their store.  They replied that it was pretty rare, but that every once in a while, they do get one.  They added my name to a preferred customer waiting list and promised to call me if one ever came in to the store.  

One Friday a few weeks later, I got the call that I had been waiting for from the RH outlet.  They informed me that they were expecting to get a salvaged farmhouse table into the store on Sunday.  They were having a 25% off sale at the time, so not only would the table be marked down to the outlet price, but I would get another 25% off of that price.  I was so excited, but my excitement quickly deflated when the sales rep informed me that someone else had already put it on hold.  She offered to put in on a second hold for me, meaning if the guy that had it on the first hold didn't get it between 10am - 12pm on Sunday, then they would call me and hold it for me for two hours.

I was hopeful and even had a little feeling that this was God answering my prayers, but I was also trying not to get too excited about it.  I didn't want to be devastated if it didn't work out.  I knew I just needed to wait, trust him, and see what happened.  In the meantime, I talked to him about it, but promised him I wouldn't beg (cause I just hate it when my kids beg me!).  

And then around 11:30 on Sunday morning, RH outlet called to let me know that the guy decided not to get the table.  I was stunned!  Really?!!  They told me the reason he didn't want it was because there were oil spots on the table.  After asking the RH rep to describe them to me, I wasn't too concerned because the table is a very rustic table and I don't mind some imperfections.  I always just call those kinds of things "character".  And after all, there is nothing perfect about the table to begin with.  I also knew that we weren't going to be keeping the table in pristine condition or anything, because we have three kids who spill and drip stuff all the time.  

I quickly called a neighbor and asked if my kids could come over to their house to play for a few hours so Tim and I could drive to the outlets, which are about 45 minutes aways.  We needed to be able to use the entire back of the van to get the table home.  The funny (or not funny) thing was that the air conditioner in the van had just stopped working a day or so before this and it was blazing hot outside, so Tim and I had to drive the entire way in an un-airconditioned van in the middle of summer with windows down.  I promised Tim I would treat him to a starbucks frappuccino on the way home.  Our little drive to the outlets, windows down, music blaring, felt a bit like a fun date in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. 

Upon arriving to the store, we went straight to look at the table and honestly, I couldn't even find the oil spots.  I had to ask the sales rep where they were.  After she pointed them out, I could see them, but they blended in so much with the salvaged, rustic look of the wood that they were just barely noticeable.  I could not believe that someone passed the table up because of them.  Yet, deep in my heart, I knew that God had orchestrated the whole thing for me because he loves me!  Seeing those oil spots bring joy to my heart.  I look at them as God's fingerprints, put there by him to make sure I got my table. 

This table is such a reminder to me of God's love, how very personal he is with each one of us, how he delights to bless his kids, and his ability to maneuver events and bring His purposes to pass in our lives. 

I am hoping to be back in this space blogging more soon, so don't give up on my just yet! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Master Bedroom Makeover

I'm back! It's been awhile, hasn't it?!  Today I have our master bedroom makeover to share with you.

But first, a few weeks ago, I was cleaning out stuff for a garage sale and ended up rearranging a few things.  I took down my faux fireplace and brought my parsons desk upstairs to put in it's place.  It's a fun change for now.  I enjoy switching things up every once in a while and I have a nice place to sit and blog.  But I'm holding on to the faux fireplace because I may want to put it back up in the Fall.  You just never know!

So let's get started on the makeover pictures:

Originally, our master bedroom looked like this

It wasn't awful, but it wasn't cozy or inviting to me either.  I never walked into our bedroom and loved it. It had become a mix of things we had on hand and some random things I'd bought because we needed something immediately and didn't have time to find what we really wanted (like the nightstands that I found cheap on craigslist).  We hated the rug because it was constantly slipping around and bunching up, making it a tripping hazard. After several bad experiences buying cheaper types of rugs, we've learned not to skimp on them anymore.  A good quality rug really is worth the extra money. 

So one day back in April, a rug that I had been eyeing for months on rugsusa went on a huge 75% off sale.  Without the sale, the rug is way out of our price range, but with the amazing sale, we decided it was too good of a deal to pass up.  And that one purchase was the inspiration that led to the complete re-doing of the entire room.  

As I was waiting for my rug to arrive, I decided to re-paint the walls.  They were a darker gray than I really wanted and it had been bugging me for quite some time.  I felt like the dark gray walls were hindering me from making the room into something I loved.  And I figured that it would be best to re-paint the room before the rug arrived.  The walls are still gray, but they're a much lighter gray now.  I also took everything out of our room that I didn't love - which pretty much was everything except the bed, our dresser, and the tobacco basket hanging above our bed (which I had removed in order to paint).

After that, the room was barebones, but it allowed me to envision what I wanted it to become.  I was really drawn to neutral cozy spaces on Pinterest.  I liked simple rooms with natural elements that were almost minimalist.  They seemed so relaxing to me.  The Nester has coined a phrase called the "cozy minimalist" and I've decided that's exactly what I am.  I don't like a ton of stuff, but I love a room that feels cozy with layers and textures, a plant or two, a candle, and just a few meaningful pictures.  I don't like clutter.  So with that in mind, I went on the hunt for finding and adding in only the things I loved.  And in the end, I have a room that I love.

The nightstands were the absolute hardest things for me to find.  We have a pretty tiny room and finding two that would fit was challenging.  Plus I had a pretty good idea in my mind what I wanted… I just couldn't find them.  I wanted something a little bit rustic looking, washed wood, with drawers (not shelves), and I wanted them to have simple lines and a similar style as our dresser.  When I stumbled upon these from Anthropologie, it was love at first sight.

They are the exact same shape as our dresser; from the rounded edges, to the feet, the simple drawer faces, and even the ring drawer pulls.  Perfection.  They go well together, but they aren't matchy matchy.  And they weren't too big for our room either!  

There is always a bit of a balance when re-doing a room (unless you're just rolling in money).  It's important to decide where you want to splurge on getting what you absolutely love and where you can save money without taking away from what you want the room to feel like.  We splurged on the rug, the nightstands, and our bedding.  And when I say splurged, I mean we still used coupons or sales to save money on every single one of those things, but I wasn't willing to compromise on the quality and look of those items because I knew they would be the things that made the room for me.  But curtains were not a big deal to me.  I didn't need expensive curtains to get the look I wanted.  I love the $20/pair of white curtains from Ikea.  They're simple and quiet, but they make the windows feel finished. And I saved money on the rods by getting bamboo sticks (in keeping with using natural elements) from Michaels and painting them to go with the rest of the room.  I got the lamps from Ikea too.  I like their simplicity and we really love the warm cozy glow they give the room at night.  Tim is also a big fan of the little black button that turns it on and off. #itsthelittlethings

Remember the dresser I found on the side of the road in my neighborhood and gave a makeover?  This was another place where we saved a bunch of money by not buying something new.  It's one of my absolute favorite furniture finds ever.  It pays to be patient!  I also wanted to make sure to put only a few favorite things on the top of the dresser to keep it feeling clutter-free.  The canvas picture of Tim and I dancing in front of the Eiffel Tower last year is super special and reminds me of the amazing things God can and does pull off for us just because He loves us.

The tobacco basket was something Tim and I bought in Tennessee several years ago.  I got it for a steal at only $20, which is pretty much unheard of for a tobacco basket.  And to think I almost walked away from it because I wasn't sure if I really loved it.  Well, years later, it's still one of my favorites.  It's a piece that makes a great focal point over the bed, but because it is neutral and made of wood, it still feels simple and minimalist to me.

And let's not forget the rug because it is amazing.  It's 100% wool and it feels so soft and luxurious on my bare feet when I  get out of bed in the morning.  This is probably not a rug that I would put in a high traffic area with kids and dogs, but that's exactly why it feels so special to have it back in our master bedroom.  It makes me feel spoiled, like we have a little retreat all to ourselves (except that kids and dogs still try to sneak in and lay on it :)  ).

Our room is so cozy to me now and I enjoy being in there.  I think when you are intentional about only keeping the things that you love or find meaningful or useful in a room, then it pays off in the end with having a room that you love.


Wall color : Behr's Irish Mist
Love You X Forever Pillow : Etsy
Lamps: Ikea
Washed Wood Nightstands / Neutral : Anthropologie
Belgian Linen Quilt/ Platinum : West Elm
Curtains : Ikea
Tuscan Morrocan Shag Rug : RugsUSA
Moroccan Pouf : Morocco (Tim got it on a work trip)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Guest Bathroom Makeover

In my last blog, I mentioned that we had been working on a few smaller projects around the house.  One of them was a mini-makeover for our basement bathroom.  I'm back today with some before and after pictures for you.

Since this bathroom is down in the back of the basement, it rarely gets used by our family, but it is the main bathroom for any overnight guests because our guest bedroom is also down in the basement.  And since it is the guest's bathroom, I wanted it to feel fresh and welcoming for our friends and family when they come to stay with us.  I know that bathrooms really can make a difference in how someone feels when they stay in your home.  A nice bathroom can make guests feel comfortable and relaxed, whereas  I felt that ours was dingy and out-dated.  We weren't ready to give it a complete gut job, but I knew it wouldn't take much to give it a fresh, clean look.

Below are the before pictures:

As you can see, it was basically green and brown and very blah.  

I knew I wanted to update the mirror.  What I didn't realize was that when I took out the mirrored medicine cabinet, we would have a giant hole completely through the entire wall.  This meant that Tim had to fix the drywall before I could do much more to the bathroom.  Drywall isn't exactly his favorite thing to do, but he's a trooper and got it done for me.  Meanwhile, I painted the sink cabinet and shopped for the perfect mirror, towels, and accessories. 

After Tim finished the drywall, I gave the ceiling and the walls a fresh coat of paint and then he put everything up on the walls.  

Since I didn't really take any progress pictures, we get to just jump right to the after pictures.

I found this chippy cabinet at HomeGoods one day and it really was the inspiration for the entire bathroom. Before I saw this cabinet, I knew I wanted to eventually update the bathroom, but I didn't know what I wanted to do in there.  I felt stumped and un-inspired.  But this cabinet gave me the perfect starting point.  

It brings in a lot of fun character and interest, not to mention a little bit of extra storage to this tiny little bathroom.

I painted the sink base with Annie Sloan's Duck Egg chalk paint.  Chalk paint is so easy because there's no sanding involved. I just wiped the entire cabinet down and then started painting.  Afterwards, I sealed it with Annie Sloan wax. 

I really love how this bathroom turned out.  It wasn't a big investment of time or money, but the changes are dramatic.   And I hope our guests enjoy their newly updated bathroom.  


Walls - Behr's Irish Mist
Sink Base - Annie Sloan Duck Egg
Mirror - World Market
Chippy cabinet  - Home Goods
Hand Towel - World Market
Towel Hanger - World Market