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6.29.2016

The Story Of A Table

Awhile back on one of my bi-weekly trips to Target (seriously, I have a problem); I spotted this table and knew it would be pretty perfect in the kitchen. It had nice mid-century lines, square, a good color, seated four, and had a nice large surface area. It was also only $200, which is a great price, but for whatever reason, I held off that day. Weeks went by, and I knew I should just buy the table already as things sell out really fast at Target. Seriously, my motto there is usually, Buy First, Return Later. If you like it and think it will work, just buy it when you see it or you might never see it again. You can always return it later if it doesn't work.
For whatever reason though, I kept passing on the table. Then one day, it went on clearance for $149.99 and I went into panic mode. It wasn't on sale, it was on clearance, and clearance furniture at Target usually means already gone. I asked the associate if they had any left, and sure enough, they were out!

I decided to just order it online, but it wasn't available there either. They did show a couple of Targets that still had some though, so I started calling around. Even though they were showing as having them online, all said they were out. One store said they were showing a Target in Mesa had some (even though online it said they didn't), so I gave them a call expecting them to say they were out too.

Turns out - they had two! I asked them if they physically saw them and weren't just going off a computer. They said yes. I asked them if they were still new-in-box and not display. They said yes. They also said, since it was clearance, they couldn't hold it for me. I literally dropped everything and headed to Mesa. A 45 minute drive later, the table was mine! 
That's not even the best part though. I fully expected the table to be $149.99, which is still a good price. When I got it to the register, it rang up for $60! I literally asked the cashier if that was maybe wrong, but it was oh so right! I had a $10 gift card, plus my Target debit card which gives me 5% off all my purchases, so all in all, I paid $51.96 for this bad boy.
It fits the space great, and just to be safe, I picked up the matching chairs right away. They were not on sale; but I figured since I had the table I should just complete the set before the chairs were gone too.

There you have it. That's my long-winded way of saying I got this sweet table for only $50!

Have you ever scored a great deal?

6.27.2016

Let's Go To The Movies - Finding Dory

The whole family headed to the movies on Saturday. We saw Finding Dory, and it was Seamus' very first movie! He did great - sitting in either his chair or Bill's lap the entire time and probably eating way too much candy.

After living happily with Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo for some time, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) has a sudden memory flash of her previous life and family. Determined to find them before she forgets again, Dory sets out across the ocean for a second adventure of a lifetime.

It was about time Finding Nemo got a sequel, and it was good one too! Finding Dory is a journey story like its predecessor, but thanks to a clever story, entertaining new characters, and a 13-year gap since the original, it felt fresh and fun. The backstory with baby Dory was simultaneously adorable and heartbreaking. The animation is amazing. And it's another great story of perseverance, but with an added reminder that having a disability does not mean one cannot live an independent and full life. I will admit to still loving the first film more (I vastly preferred the ocean setting to the aquarium setting of the second) but as a sequel; Finding Dory is about as good as it gets.

6.24.2016

Scream and Grout

Alright, time to get back to the kitchen. We grouted! I have been digging the white subway tiles with dark grout look, so we picked up this grout in charcoal. It was the darkest color grout available, and is pretty much the same color as our counter tops. 
Let me tell you, there's nothing like smearing essentially black grout on your newly laid white tiles. Yeah, this didn't cause me any anxiety at all.
As far as the grouting process goes, we spread the grout on with a grout float; working no more than 2-3 feet at a time. Then, we would immediately wipe off the excess with wet towels. We had a big bucket of water that we kept in the sink and would continuously fill and dump as the water was dirtied up with grout. We always wanted to be working with the cleanest water possible.
Some grouts you can spread over the entirety of your surface and clean off later, but this particular brand of grout did not work that way. That stuff began to harden really quick, so I'm glad we took the time to watch a few videos and read all the instructions carefully before starting.
Grouting is by far the most satisfying step in the tiling process. The tiles go from unfinished to finished with one swipe of the cloth. It's like magic!
This is also the cleanest our kitchen has been in ages. Oh, and don't mind that little paint swatch you're seeing here. We're in the process of picking a paint color, but that's not it.
After the grout dried, we updated the outlets to tamper-resistant ones and switched to white outlet covers too. The old outlets just looked so dirty and dingy next to the new white tile. I'm torn on the covers though. The whites don't quite match. I'm thinking gold might be fun, but these will work fine for the time being. 
We even updated a few of the outlets to ones that have USB chargers! Look at us all living in the 21st century and everything. It's so convenient to just plug straight into the wall without having to mess with a converter anymore.
Finally, I had to include this last pic, as it probably shows the colors more true than any other photo I've taken thus far during this whole process. I didn't even have to edit it or anything! It was a photo miracle.
We are on our way to the finish line now. Painting and those final decorative touches are all we have left. Yay!

If you're new to the blog, you can catch up on the entire kitchen refresh by checking out the links below. Enjoy!

6.22.2016

My Favorite Color Is Rainbow

I recently talked about how I may secretly like the color orange (it tends to creep up a lot in my decor, see here), and how one of the reasons I end up with a lot of orange is because I'm so attracted to rainbows. I can't help it; they're so bright and cheery! I figure why pick one color when you can go with all the colors!
Image from here.
I thought it'd be fun to round up all the rainbow decor items that have been catching my eye lately. There isn't a room in the house that can't be instantly brightened with a little splash of rainbow!
Rainbow Peak Blanket ($79)
Banded Color Stripe Rug ($399-$799)
Rave Rainbow Shower Curtain ($39.97)
LIXHULT Storage Combination ($210)
Melamine Round Serving Tray ($9.99)
Elevate Utensils ($8.99 each)
Rainbow Knife Block Set ($79.99)
Gemma Campaign Extra Wide Dresser ($1,199)
Fiesta Dinnerware (prices vary)
Aren't you in a happier mood now? I picked up the round rainbow tray for our kitchen a little bit ago - it's currently holding our mail. I've also been an avid Fiestaware fan for ages (see here). What I'm really digging is that campaign dresser though. So cool!

Do you love a good rainbow? What are your favorite colors to decorate with? Do you stick to a consistent palette throughout your house, or is each room a different color?

6.20.2016

Tile It Up

We finally finished putting up the new subway tile backsplash!
If you're thinking that took forever, well, you're right. It was definitely a learning experience.
That combined with the fact we could only work on it a couple of hours at a time here or there.
Plus we were constantly working around the kids too. DIY + kids...it can be done, but it takes a lot of patience.
We're definitely nearing the end, but there is still a lot more do to. 
Next up is grout, but for now we're just enjoying the fact that all the tile is finally up! Stay tuned.
In the meantime, you can catch up on the entire kitchen refresh by checking out the links below. 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?
Prepping For New Backsplash
It Has Begun
It's All In The Details

6.17.2016

What I'm Watching

I recently discovered this great new show on Bravo of all places. It's called Odd Mom Out and it's so much fun! I binge watched Season 1 On Demand (only 10 episodes), and am all caught up to Season 2 which just premiered. The star, Jill Kargman is my new hero.


I also just finished up watching a sweet little mini-series on Amazon. From the creator of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, brings to life Anthony Trollope's novel, Doctor Thorne. It's witty and fun, and I'd say, classic Trollope, but I've never read Trollope before! A fact I'll be sure to rectify soon after enjoying this program so much.  


What have you been watching this summer? Do you catch up on TV you missed over the summer, or take a break from shows altogether for awhile? I think I'm a little bit of both. I like the break, so if I am going to watch TV, it has to be good TV that is worthy of my time.

6.15.2016

It's All In The Details

Before we could finish tiling the last wall of the backsplash, we had to address our kitchen window. There is no trim on any of the windows in our house, and to me, they all look unfinished. It's a very big trend here in the Southwest though. I'm not sure if it is a cost saving thing during the construction phase or if it is the preferred style of those who live here, but regardless I'm not a fan.
So, I tasked Bill with adding trim to the kitchen window. It's something I hope to do to all the windows in the house eventually, but this one had to be done now, as it would affect how we cut and laid the tile surrounding the window.
Here she is now! All decked out...or trimmed out rather.
Bill boxed in the window frame, and then added simple trim around the edges. He matched it to what is currently around the doors throughout the house, so it makes for a nice cohesive look. I know it's not a huge change or anything, but it makes me happy.
We still have to fill in the nail holes and gaps and then paint it, but the tiling project can officially move forward. We're so close, guys!

6.13.2016

Beat the Heat

It's getting really hot here in Phoenix (like seriously, they're predicting we'll hit 120° this week!!); and as fun and refreshing as our pool is, it's not always the easiest thing to do or the funnest activity for Bill and me (#firstworldproblems). It's crazy the amount of time it takes to get everybody in their swimsuits, lotioned up with sunscreen, and out to the pool. Then, Bill and I have to, obviously, be actively watching the kids in the pool at all times. It's a lot of work, for what is, at the most, an hour's worth of activity before the kid's lips are turning blue and it's time to go back in. I'm missing our beautiful winter days where the kids would just open the back door, run outside, and play to their little hearts' content.

Then, I remembered an old post I had read on Cup of Jo (a fantastic blog, by the way) about how a friend of hers had gotten a little bouncy house to use in the winter months that fit in their living room of their New York apartment. What a great idea!

A little bit of research later, and we had pulled the trigger on this bouncy house.  I thought it was reasonably priced ($170), it fit in our living room, supposedly inflated and deflated in only 30 seconds, and had amazing reviews on Amazon.  I was sold.
We opted for the one with the slide to give the kids a little bit more variety.
It's a definite hit with the kiddos!
It takes up most of our living room, but honestly, we don't use that room much on a day-to-day basis anyway. So, why not, right? (#YOLO)
For now, we just leave it deflated in the living room, so we can inflate it anytime Madeleine and Seamus feel like using it. I wish I could say they play in it for hours at a time, but it's really more like 15 minute stretches here and there throughout the day. Since it inflates and deflates so quickly though (30 seconds as promised), it's super easy to just switch it on and off as needed.

The kids love it, and I love it! They get their energy out, and Bill and I get the occasional break. Win, win - and quite possibly the best $170 I've ever spent.

6.10.2016

Book Report - The Devil In The White City and Then She Found Me

The next couple of books I read as part of the Pop Sugar 2015 Reading Challenge were Erik Larson's, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America and Elinor Lipman's, Then She Found Me which marked off "A book that takes place in your hometown" and "A book written by an author with your same initials" respectively.

First up, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson.
The Devil in the White City recounts the remarkable events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. A non-fiction account presented to the reader in a novel-like format tells the story of both Daniel H. Burnham, the extraordinary architect behind the "White City", as the fairgrounds came to be known; and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who sets up shop nearby to easily lure victims traveling far from home to his carefully crafted hotel of horrors.

This was my first foray into reading Erik Larson, and if it's any indication of what the rest of his library of works is like, then I'll be sure to read him again. The book reads as pure fiction and was a great history lesson on a topic I would normally care nothing about, the construction of the Chicago World's Fair. Of course, the part of the book that really kept me coming back for more was the true-crime portion surrounding H.H. Holmes, America's first serial killer. It had me totally enthralled. Just a fantastically interesting read overall.

Next up, The She Found Me by Elinor Lipman.
April Epner leads a simple life. She teaches high school Latin, and is content to stay at home most evenings. Her life gets turned upside down, though, when brashy daytime talk show host, Bernice Graverman, reveals she is April's biological mother. Determined to make amends and make up for lost time, Bernice is now butting into April's life every chance she gets - full of unsolicited advice for April about love, life, and everything in between.

I'm trying to think of a word to sum-up Then She Found Me, and I think the word is, "meh." It wasn't necessarily bad, but I was never dying to get back to reading it. I enjoyed April's relationship with fellow teacher, Dwight Willamee; but found Bernice to be a bit annoying and pathetic. I'm not exactly sure why April put up with her. All-in-all, I'd classify this is an okay beach read. Something to distract you for a little bit, but requires very little effort from you as the reader.

What are you reading these days?

P.S. Hah! I just realized while writing this that both authors share my initials! I wish I had realized that earlier. I would have totally read another Erik Larson book instead!

P.P.S. Did you know H.H. Holmes and his creepy hotel was the inspiration for American Horror Story: Hotel? Also, Devil in the White City, is slated to be turned into a movie too, with Leonardo DiCaprio playing H.H. Holmes and directed by, of course, Martin Scorsese.

6.08.2016

2016 Father's Day Gift Guide

Father's Day is fast approaching, which is crazy because...HOW CAN IT BE JUNE ALREADY!!! If you're stuck on what to get that special dad in your life, I rounded up a couple surefire winners.

Nextec Right Angle Impact Driver from Craftsman ($69.99)
I got this for Bill a while back for something or other, and it is far and away our most used tool. It's essentially an electric screwdriver, but it's the handy shape that makes it such a winner. It can get into all sorts of tight spaces, and will make all his DIY jobs just that much easier. 

Original Wayfarer Classic sunglasses from Ray-Ban ($150)
A pair of classic, well-made shades will make any dad feel instantly cool and hip.

Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow ($14.67)
From Mel Brooks to Jerry Seinfeld, this collection of conversations compiled over the course of 30-years with writer and director, Judd Apatow, should be an enjoyable read for any dad out there who's a fan of comedy.

LoDo Backpack from Case Logic ($89.99) (currently on Amazon for $68.20)
This stylish backpack can easily be dressed up or down, holds a 14-inch laptop, tablet, and most everything else a dad might need for their day-to-day activities.

FitBit Blaze ($199.95)
For all those techy and/or active dads, this watch has it all. Track your steps and heart beat, control your music, connect to GPS, text and call alerts, plus much more. It's sleek design doesn't scream fitness tracker, and there are even more stylish leather and metal interchangeable bands that can be purchased separately. He'll love it!

What are you getting your dad or husband this Father's Day?

6.06.2016

Last Day of School

Madeleine is officially done with Kindergarten!
Her school had a little graduation for them, plus a big end of the year performance by the entire school. It was a fun little night, and we're so proud of her.
Here she is her first and last day of school. I cannot believe how much she has grown in just 9 months!
She had a great first year, but we are all ready for the break. Time for summer!!

P.S. First Day Of School

6.03.2016

It Has Begun

You guys, we've officially started putting up the new kitchen backsplash!
It's taking a lot longer than I thought it would, but we've started; which means we'll finish it...eventually.

The first thing we did, was gather all our materials.

We debated whether or not we needed to purchase a wet saw, but after calculating rental costs it made better sense for us to just buy our own.

Then of course, there was the tile. We went with this basic white 3x6 in. subway tile. We also decided to go with the 1/3 offset pattern instead of the 1/2 offset.
Next, we covered the countertops with paper to protect them while we worked. I'm glad we took the time for this step, as tiling is pretty messy (at least it was for us first-time tilers). With all this done, there was nothing left to do but get to work!
Let me tell you, I had some pretty severe anxiety as we started. I was so tense with worry we were going to mess it up. There was a definite learning curve, but I soon realized tiling was not rocket science or anything, calmed down, and found my tiling rhythm.
At the end of the first night, after working about two hours placing each individual tile, this was as far as we got.
Oh, and remember how I was terrified we were going to mess up. Yeah, we totally did, or more precisely, I did. Can you spot the mistake? I'll give you a hint, it's in the top row.
Remember how we were doing a 1/3 offset pattern? Yeah, I forgot to cut the first tile as I started the top row!! I put a full size tile down instead of one cut down to 4 in. wide. We didn't realize it until the next night too. Luckily, the adhesive takes a long time to fully dry, and we were able to use a crowbar to pop off that row of tiles. Phew! Crisis averted. We were actually able to reuse the tiles too, as the adhesive just peeled off like silly putty. Other than time loss, there was no harm done. It actually made me relax more about the whole project too. It helped me knowing if we made a mistake we were capable of fixing it.

So, that's where we're at. We have a ways to go, plus grouting too, but we'll get there...one tile at a time.