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4.29.2016

Do I Like Orange?

I was browsing rugs at Crate and Barrel the other day, and off all their rugs, this is the one that really caught my eye. I remember thinking it was exactly what I was looking for. Absolutely perfect...except for it's orange.
The more that I think about though, the more I think my initial gut reaction was right; and that maybe...

I actually...sorta...really...like decorating with orange.

Let's take a look at the evidence.

In the living room, where I was envisioning the above rug going, I already have pops of orange peeking through in both the paintings and the pillows.
I've had the chevron Jonathan Adler pillow for awhile, and just recently purchased these pillows from Target to add to the mix. I thought it was the hot pink I was digging, but maybe it's the orange.
Next, in the family room, I've had this orange (excuse me, persimmon) side table for ages. I got it from West Elm (still available in other colors here) when we painted the living room of our first house peacock blue.
That's not the only pop or orange in here either. Bill's telescope is orange, and remember that rug I bought awhile back (see here)? I've since put it away for a little bit because I didn't want it to get ruined; but I still love it, and it has a lot of orange in it too.
Moving into the dining room, I can actually put together an all-orange place setting! Granted, it's just the one, but still. Even my fine china has touches of orange in it too (see here).
The kitchen has a touches of orange in it here and there too.
We even have this little guy hanging out on our fridge.
Finally, we can't forget about Madeleine's room. She's been rocking this orange floral bedding for awhile now (still available here).
It's not just our decor either. Check out Bill's bags! We were talking about favorite colors with the kids the other day, and he recently admitted that orange is a favorite color of his.
I think it's safe to say, that I like it too!

At least, definitely as an accent color. I'm drawn to jewel tones - teal, navy blue, fuchsia - and I think orange accents all those colors nicely.

I also like rainbows, which orange is an integral part of. Yes, I could make an orange place setting above, but I could also do the same with red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Same goes for my cooking utensils and kitchen towels. I want anything that comes in lots of different bright colors, so I usually end up accumulating orange items that way too.

Bill is also bringing orange into the house whether he realizes it or not. He reminded me during the writing of this post that he actually has a third orange bag! He says he likes the visibility of the color. A lot of his workout wear is orange, so that makes sense. It makes sense decor-wise too. It's a great pop of color and instantly draws the eye to it.

Needless to say, we're friends of the color orange around here. It's bold and bright and cheery; and I'm happy to have it in my home.

4.27.2016

I Have A Dream

Today, I wanted to talk about dreams. Not the "I hope to do this someday" kind of dreams, but the actual dreams you have while sleeping - specifically recurring dreams.
You see, I have a recurring dream. The circumstances of the dream change a bit, but the overall theme is always the same. It goes something like this...

I'm in college, getting myself ready for the day's classes. Except, I don't remember what classes I have that day, what time they're at, or where they're at. I am continually packing my backpack as I try to remember, but the packing is never done. I'm continually packing and re-packing my bag trying to get myself out the door. I also realize that I've hardly gone to any of my classes, and it's almost the end of the year. I stress about this as I pack and pack and pack. I usually wake up sometime about here, but sometimes I actually get to campus and wander around as I try to figure out which class I'm supposed to be at and where it is.

Or it goes something like this...

I'm getting ready to go on vacation. I have everything laid out to pack in my suitcase and start packing; but the packing is never done. Every time I think I'm done I'll look over and there's an entirely new pile that now needs to go in the suitcase. I start stressing that I'm going to miss my vacation as I pack and pack and pack.

Or this...

I'm a teenager, and I'm supposed to be going to my Confirmation classes, but I can never remember when or where they are, so I end up just driving around and don't go to class. I realize that Confirmation is coming up, but I haven't gone to any of the classes in ages and worry they won't let me get Confirmed.

Or this...

I'm in high school, and I only have a few minutes to get from one side of the school to the other in between classes. I'm at my locker switching books, but I can't find the book I need because I don't even remember where I'm supposed to be. I dig through my locker endlessly looking. If I do manage to find what I need before waking up, then I end up wandering around the school trying to remember what class I have and where it is.

I don't exactly remember when these dreams started, but I've probably been having them for a couple of years now. They don't happen every night, but obviously often enough that I recognize them. They're usually every couple weeks or once a month, something like that. It's funny, right?

Now, what do we think they mean? I've come up with a few theories.

The obvious one, is that I'm feeling very unorganized in my life. In all the dreams, I can't find what I'm looking for, or I'm not remembering where I'm supposed to be. Then, along those lines, my work is never done. The continuous packing and repacking. Even if I know where I'm going, I physically can't get myself there. Then, there's the stress that I'm missing important life stuff because I can't even get myself out the door.

That seems to be the most literal interpretation, but what if it's something bigger. Maybe, I don't know where I want to go in life. I have aspirations and dreams, but I don't know how to achieve them. I don't even know where to start.

I do feel unorganized a lot of the time, but I really don't feel like I'm all that stressed about it. I'll admit to sometimes using it as crutch though. "I want to do all these amazing things, but real life keeps getting in the way" - That sort of thing. The reality is, I'm scared to try. What if I fail? I know it's better to try and fail then never try at all; but it's a whole lot easier to just never attempt and blame it on just being too busy.

Whew, didn't mean to get so deep on you there.

What do you think my dreams me? Do you have any recurring dreams? What's the craziest dream you've ever had?

4.25.2016

Book Report - Little Women and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

Time to talk about a few more books I read as part of the Pop Sugar 2015 Reading Challenge. Louisa May Alcott's, Little Women, crossed off "A book from your childhood" and Betty Smith's, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, crossed off "A book your mom loves".

First off, Little Women.
Little Women tells the story of the March family, specifically four sisters - Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Their father is away serving as a chaplain in the Civil War, but under the guidance of their wise and loving mother, Marmee, the girls learn and grow from children into young women; experiencing life and all it has to offer along the way.

Perfection.

I'd love to leave it at that, but when you love a novel as much as I love Little Women, you have to gush.

I don't remember the first time I read Little Women, but each read since then has been just as enjoyable as the first. As I child, I identified with it so much. I am one of four sisters, and I related to the March girls a lot. It didn't matter what point I was at in my journey from girl to woman; there was always a lesson to be had at the hands of one of the March sisters most likely going through the same thing (or the 19th century version of it). However, this is the first time I have read the book since becoming a mother, and all of a sudden I'm identifying with Marmee! I couldn't have been more delighted. There are few books I hold as dear as Little Women, and I look forward to the day I introduce it to my own children.

Next, let's take a look at A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.
Francie Nolan is navigating childhood in Brooklyn at the turn-of-the-century. Her family is poor, but she's a dreamer like her father and hard-working and practical like her mother. It's a combination that just might allow her to escape the hard and sometimes cruel life of the deeply impoverished.

When I asked my mom to recommend a book she loved for me, I was honestly surprised when she told me to read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. I had never heard her mention this book before that I could remember. I had heard of the book, but didn't even know what it was about. So, I basically went in blind.

OMG, this book is amazing! It's definitely another "how did I go my entire life without reading this" kind of book.

Francie Nolan is an amazing heroine right up there with Elizabeth Bennett, Anne Shirley, and well...Jo March!

Her story is tragic and real; yet full of hope and promise as well. The cast of characters that surround her are flawed; yes, but each have something good to offer Francie as well. She's a product of her environment, but she doesn't let that define or encapsulate her. There's an authenticity to this novel that will really resonate with the reader.

So, there you have it, two great classics! On the off chance you have not read either of these, do so now! If you've already read them, now's the time to read them again. Either way, you won't be disappointed.

And how very apropos that I would get to reviewing a book my mom loves right before Mother's Day. Thanks Mom, for introducing me to such a wonderful book.

Do you know your parents' favorite book? My Dad introduced me to The Jungle by Upton Sinclair years ago, and it's become one of my favorite books since then. Ask them, and see what they say. Books are such a great way to bring people closer together.    

4.22.2016

2016 Mother's Day Gift Guide

Mother's Day is May 8th, so now's the time to start shopping for all the special moms in your life. I put together a little gift guide to help if you're stuck for ideas. Enjoy!

Carnival Crystal Mini Pendant from Kate Spade ($78)
You know I love me some Kate Spade jewelry, and you'd be hard pressed to find a mom out there who doesn't as well. Her pieces are fun, classy, and surprisingly affordable too. You really can't go wrong. 

The Getaway Duffle Bag from Ban.do ($54)
These duffles are adorable and can be used in all sorts of instances - a trip to the beach, the zoo, or even a weekend away. Bonus points if you include that weekend away with the bag. A trip to a spa or a girls getaway. 

Hedgehog Trinket Dish from Paper Source ($12.95)

Such a cute little trinket dish with a message any mom would be happy to receive. It's sure to bring a smile to her face every time she sees it.

Alphabet Brush Pots from The Cool Hunter ($65)
These little initial cups are fun, bright, and will make a cheery addition to her desk at work. Every time she reaches for a pen, she'll think of the family she loves and can't wait to get back to.

Spring 2016 nail polish collection from Essie ($8.49 per bottle)
Put together a little basket of nail polishes and other manicure goodies - then make sure to include a gift certificate to her favorite nail salon. She'll love being able to sneak away for a little alone time and pampering.

What do you want this Mother's Day? If you're a mom of little ones like me; I'm a big believer in the best Mother's Day gift being a break from having to be a mom. But what about if you're kids are grown? Do you still want a gift, just a little acknowledgement like a card or flowers, or would you rather just spend a little time with your grown kids?

P.S. 2015 Mother's Day Gift Guide

4.20.2016

This And That

And now, a random post about a bunch of things I've been meaning to share, but don't necessarily warrant a full post. Enjoy!

1. My Birthday.
I turned 37 a few weeks ago. It was a pretty uneventful birthday, and 37 feels pretty much the same. I re-visted my 5-Year Plan, and realized I'm two years in and haven't crossed much off my list. I'll have to write an update post though. Even though I can't fully cross anything off the list, I have made progress. I'm actually feeling like life is pretty good right now, and I plan on really enjoying these last few years of my thirties.

2. Crochet.
I've been wanting to learn how to crochet for ages now. So, while my mom was in town, I had her start showing me some of the basics. I can make a chain, and I'm rocking the single crochet stitch, but haven't learned much beyond that. I just need to sit down and watch some YouTube videos. I definitely see lots of afghans and blankets in my future though.

3. What I'm watching.
Season 2 of Outlander started back up, and it's as good as I was hoping for. Two of my favorite Netflix shows just started back up again too - Season 2 of Daredevil and Season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. So far, I enjoyed Season 1 of each of these shows better than Season 2, but I still find them both entertaining enough to finish the second season of each.


4. Working Out.
I've been working out a lot lately. For the past month, Monday through Saturday, I've been getting up at 5am and doing a Tracy Anderson workout DVD. Then, just last week, I switched to running in the morning and doing strength training every other day. The scale hasn't noticed a difference yet, but I can tell I'm getting stronger and have maybe lost an inch or so here and there. I'm hoping I have actually developed a new and good habit here and can actually make some progress towards my fitness goals.

5. Seamus.
Seamus finally figured out how to climb out of his crib, so we're moving him into a toddler bed. I ordered this one, and he can't wait for his red bed to come. I'm hoping to finally finish decorating his room now that the crib is gone too. It's the end of an era!

So, that's what's been going on with me lately. What's new with you?

4.18.2016

Touring Arizona - Sedona

It's been almost two years since I went to Sedona last (see here). So, when my parents came down for a visit last week, we decided to all take a day trip North to see the beautiful red rocks.
We timed our arrival so we'd get there by lunchtime. We ate an early lunch at HP Cafe, which I thought was just okay. It suited our needs though.  It was also cooler than I had expected, and I was glad we had brought our jackets.

After lunch, we went on a Pink Jeep Tour. I was looking for an activity that would allow us to see more of the red rocks, but keep the kids contained. This worked perfectly.
We did the Red Rock Range Tour, which started out with a really windy drive through Sedona. We had our hoods up and covered ourselves with blankets too!
The kids loved when the jeeps finally went off-road!
Ours was actually a pretty mild tour on mostly dirt and gravel paths, but some of the tours are really hard core off-road experiences. I'd love to do another more intense tour some time.
Ours did offer some really great views though. Bill even spotted some old cliff-dwellings!
There was gorgeous scenery everywhere you turned. Bill took all these photos with just his GoPro and selfie stick. He would just stick the camera out the window of the jeep and snap away with the remote.
There was so much to explore and see...including the biggest anthill I have ever seen in my life! I think the kids really enjoyed themselves.
Heck, I really enjoyed myself. I'm continually amazed how beautiful Arizona is. Can you believe this is only 90 minutes from our house?
Sedona is such a gorgeous place and I look forward to many more visits there.

4.15.2016

Toddler Shows That Aren't Too Annoying

As a parent, you end up watching a lot of children's television. A lot of it is really, really annoying (I'm talking to you Team Umizoomi). But every once in a while we stumble upon a show that is not only good for kids, but entertaining for adults too. Here are my top four shows for toddlers that I honestly don't mind watching with the kiddos either.

Tumble Leaf on Amazon

We found this one pretty recently and I love it. It's a sweet little show about a blue fox named Fig, his pet worm Stick, and their other animal friends. Fig lives in a shipwreck, and at the start of each episode a little crab throws something that has washed up on the beach into Fig's treasure chest aka "The Finding Place" for Fig to discover and thus starts his daily adventure. It's very innocent and perfect for the preschool crowd. What really gets me though, is the animation, or more specifically the stop motion animation. It's all so intricate and colorful and I find it fascinating. There's an innocence and stillness factor to this show that really appeals to me as a parent and a person. I could watch this one all day.

Sofia the First on Disney Jr.

Okay, so I'm sure you already know about Sofia the First. Most of what Disney touches turns to gold, and Sofia is no exception. However, I think this show actually deserves it, as there's something about Sofia that I find really appealing. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and their other shows (including their newest The Lion Guard) are all okay, but after awhile I get so sick and tired of all of them...but Sofia? Not yet. The animation style was really different when it premiered, and a few years later it still seems fresh. Sofia is a great heroine, and her princess lessons are lessons we want all our kids to learn. Combine that with a fun cast of characters, bright colors and costumes, and great music too; it's a show I always enjoy.

Phineas and Ferb on Disney XD

We discovered Phineas and Ferb when Madeleine was still pretty young and have been fans since. Two step brothers, Phineas and Ferb, along with their little friends spend each day of summer vacation (104 days to be exact) building some sort of out-of-this-world invention and having crazy adventures. Phineas' older sister, Candace, spends her days trying to bust them. There's also an evil scientist and a super-spy platypus - oh, and the music in this one is really fun too. Phineas and Ferb is probably more for the 7+ age, but it's innocent enough that toddlers will enjoy it too. There's plenty of jokes thrown in just for us adults, and the running gags make each episode a ton of fun.

Peg + Cat on PBS
 
This little gem is my favorite one of all. Precocious Peg and her talking cat (whose name is also Cat) solve problems using math. This show is silly and hilarious. There's so much in it that makes no sense if you think about it too much, but it works. Your kids will start learning all about shapes, numbers, and basic math concepts. They'll love how silly it is, and the fun songs too. You'll tune in for the super quick and really smart jokes (usually told by Cat). Peg + Cat is the perfect mix of innocence and sass.

Those are my favorites. What are yours? I'd also give honorable mentions to My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic and Miles From Tomorrowland. Which shows can't you stand? For me, it's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Team Umizoomi, any 90's cartoons on Netflix like Sonic, Pokemon, or Dragon Tales, and most everything on Nickelodeon.

4.13.2016

Children's Book Report - Mix It Up!

I've been meaning to share this fun picture book for ages. We actually gave it to Madeleine for Christmas...in 2014! Better late than never though, so let's check out, Mix It Up! by Hervé Tullet.
This is a great little book that teaches kids all about color and what happens when you mix different colors together. The best part is that it is completely interactive, and really puts the child in charge of the story.
Kids are asked to smear, press, shake, and open-and-shut the book to mix up the colors. When they flip the page, they see what new color their actions made. It's so much fun!
The graphics are simple. If I'm not mistaken, they are photos of wet paint (versus drawn illustrations), and the texture just jumps off the page. They're messy, and real, and full of color. Kids will have so much fun interacting with Mix It Up!, that they won't even notice they'll be learning the entire time too. Definitely check this one out!

4.11.2016

Prepping for New Backsplash

We're slowly making progress towards finishing the backsplash in the kitchen. As you'll recall, it originally looked like this...a dark and heavy slate subway tile.
The removal process didn't go as smoothly as we had planned (see here), and we were left with a terribly uneven surface, and even some holes!
We debated whether we should try and repair it, or just cut it out and replace with new drywall. We opted for the latter. Which brings us to where we are currently.
Bill got to work cutting out the damaged wall, and fitting in new pieces of dry wall. He also made sure the walls were ending up level as well. In a few places, he had to fit dry wall shims behind each sheet to make sure that happened.
Then, he taped the seams with dry wall tape and used thin-set to fill any remaining gaps.
It's a vast improvement to the shape the walls were in before, but we still have a bit of work to do yet before we're ready to start tiling. We're getting there though.

In the meantime, check out all the past posts detailing the great kitchen refresh of 2016 so far. Enjoy!

I'm Dreaming Of A Grey Kitchen
Bye-Bye Backsplash
Prepping For Paint - Part 1
Prepping For Paint - Part 2
Three Shades of Grey
Yay for Grey!
Can You Handle It? 

4.08.2016

Pumped Up Kicks

Have you guys been noticing the white canvas sneaker trend out there lately? I have been seeing them all over the internet, and I've been itching to hop on board. They're cool, classic, and effortless. Simply match them with a pair of boyfriend jeans and a t-shirt, and you're good to go.

I decided to get in on the trend with these Chuck Taylor Shoreline sneakers from Converse.
I love them because they're slip-ons that look like lace-ups, and they don't make my feet look super tiny like some sneakers do. They also go with practically everything, and I've been wearing them every chance I get. I was a little worried that they would get really dirty really fast; but I've had them about two months now, and they still look good. Plus, I'm thinking if I throw them in the wash they'll whiten back up no problem.

I rounded up a few more options for your browsing pleasure. They're all super cute and affordable too. Enjoy!
What do you think of this trend? Are you into it, or is it not your thing? What other trends are you loving or hating right now?

4.06.2016

Gift Guide - New Baby Gifts

Apparently, I have babies on the mind. Which is not to say that I want any more personally. We're totally good over here with our two. It's just I'm appreciating all the squishy cuteness my friends have produced lately. I visit, I cuddle, and then I go home to my 5 and 3 year old and appreciate the fact that I get to sleep (most nights) and am so very close to being done with diapers. In light of all the feels, I thought I'd share some of my favorite items to give friends and family when a new baby enters their life. Enjoy!

Sweet little Sophie. I got this for both of my kids, and it truly is the best first toy out there for new babies (plus it's French!). She's soft to the touch, easy to hold, squeaks when squeezed, and is made from 100% natural rubber and food grade-paint. She's completely safe to chew on, and chew they will. (Madeleine was always chomping on her Sophie.) It's an adorable little addition to any nursery.   

These teething necklaces are both functional and stylish, and we all know how hard it is for a new mom to feel stylish. They add a punch of color to any basic outfit all the while allowing baby something soft to grab at and chew. Such a great idea!

5-Pack Body Suits and Essential 2-Pack pants from Carter's ($22 - $26.00)
(Boys Body Suits and Pants | Girls Body Suits and Pants)
Baby clothes are always fun, but I specifically like to give these body suit and pants sets from Carter's. They're cute, comfy, and really practical. High quality, but not at all expensive. They're perfect for everyday wear. (My kids lived in these sets as infants.) I also love to give Carter's footie pajamas and sleeper gowns too.

BabyLit Primers by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver ($9.99 each)
Books are always a great gift for baby, and I especially love these board books based on classic literature. They're cute and the colors and illustrations are bold and fun. (Seamus still loves his Sherlock Holmes one, and we have Moby Dick too.) It's never too early to get them into the classics!  

Chamois Stroller Blanket from Pottery Barn Kids ($29.50 + $9 for monogramming).
I received this blanket from a family member for both of my kids (actually Madeleine received two!) and I loved them so much. They're really soft and the perfect size and weight too. They're great to throw over the car seat or stroller when its chilly or downright cold. (My kids still use theirs all the time.) I can't recommend this blanket enough, and definitely spring for the monogram to add that sweet little personal touch.

There you have it. Hope this helps the next you need a new baby gift. Some other easy and practical things to give are diapers from The Honest Company (so cute!) or a gift card to Target. Sandra Boynton board books are really fun too! 

4.04.2016

Do-It-Yourself Diaper Cake

A friend of mine recently had twins! For her baby shower (way back in January), I decided to take a stab at making her a diaper cake. It ended up being super easy, so I thought I'd share with you a little tutorial in case you ever wanted to make one of your own. They make such a fun addition to any baby shower. I remember, my aunt made one for my own baby shower, and I used every single diaper from that cake! Nothing like decor that is pretty and practical!
Here's what you'll need...
Diapers - in size NB or 1 (I wasn't sure how many I would need when I took this picture, but two packages or around 75-80 diapers worked perfect)
Three Circular Pans in different sizes
String and/or Rubber Bands
Empty Paper Towel Roll
Hot Glue Gun
Ribbon and other Decorative Items

Starting with the largest circular pan, place the diapers in the pan one by one. Each diaper should be inserted behind the next, sticking slightly out further than the one in front of it. Continue around the pan until you have a basic circle, and then fill the center by rolling a few diapers and putting them in upright. Do the same thing for the next two smaller circular pans.
Next, slightly lift the diapers out of the pan and put a string or rubber band around the entire circle to keep the circle in place. Rubber bands are easiest and creates a tight hold. I used rubber bands on my smaller two circles, but had to use string on the biggest one. Once the circle is secure, turn the pot over and pop-out the diaper circle.
You should be left with three circles in different sizes. Now's the time to adjust the diapers, if needed, to make sure the overlap is consistent all the way around. You'll notice on the smallest circle there ended up being no center hole to fill.
Next up, stacking the cake. Grab your empty paper towel roll and stick it in the center of the biggest circle, then slide the middle and top layers onto the roll. You'll be left with a sturdy little structure that looks like this.
Note, if I had to do it again, I would have used a brand of diapers that didn't have an overall design on it, like Pampers. I forgot that you would end up seeing the design when it was all put together. Pampers has that yellow line in the middle, but it would get covered by the ribbon in the next step and end up looking more like just a regular white cake instead. I shrugged it off as a rookie mistake though and just kept on going. Finally, it's time to decorate the cake!
I wrapped a ribbon around each layer and secured it with my hot glue gun. Bill helped with this step by holding the ribbon taut while I glued. I added a pink and blue pom-pom on top (because she was having boy/girl twins), and added a little pom-pom garland around the bottom of each layer too.
For the final touches, but totally optional, I wrapped a wooden "T", which is the first letter of their last name, with multi-colored yarn and picked up little stuffed elephants (her favorite animal) in pink and blue to flank the cake on the table.

There you have it! The perfect little addition to your next baby shower. Enjoy!