Hey all! Words can’t even describe how happy I am to be in the throes of the holiday season now! The decorations, the time with family, the food! With all the delicious food and drinks flowing this time of year it’s easy to gain a few pounds or to lose all of the fitness progress you’ve made. One of my tricks to help avoid that is to do a diet and exercise routine through the holidays. I will still bake cookies, drink wine and eat up but a challenge helps me avoid stuffing my face until I can’t move.
My fitness challenge is two-fold. One part is diet. I will be keeping track of my calories and cutting back on things like sugar, carbs and processed stuff. Like most of my diets I will use a point system, which means room for cheating with a cookie or peppermint mocha here and there. I also take Thanksgiving and Christmas off. Two days out of a 6 week program won’t undo everything. I also earn points for positive actions, like drinking at least 60 oz. of water each day and taking my multi-vitamin.
The second piece of my fitness challenge is exercise. My goal is to do at least 30 minutes of cardio each day. One day a week, I also let an hour of cleaning floors and bathrooms count as cardio. It totally counts, especially when you’re sprint cleaning to get it in during nap time. I signed up for a 6k that’s in a few weeks so my cardio will mostly be training runs. I also try to do 20-30 minutes of strength exercises or yoga/Pilates each day. Gotta have toned(ish) arms to go with the running legs!
I know all of this may sound kinda crazy and anti-holiday but it really helps me. I don’t just fall of the wagon when I cheat, I jump off the cliff. I’m talking hitting up Taco Bell, eating chocolate chip ice cream every night, and bathing in queso. It’s so bad. And it just happened this past week. I still have postpartum fitness goals to achieve so I’m not taking the holidays off.
Now I’m off to eat some celery or something while I keep decorating…
I’ve been thinking about my design voice a lot lately. It’s probably due to listening to several home/design podcasts. I mentioned listening to Young House Love’s podcast last week, I started catching up on Chris Loves Julia’s podcast this week and I’ve been adding more to my queue. (I will share names as I listen, to make sure I’m sharing something I actually like). I like that podcasts discuss design elements without showing them to you. It leaves a lot more to the imagination.
All of this to say, I’ve been thinking a lot about my home. What does it stay about me? Is it a true reflection of our style and family? I’ve found that a lot of things reflect trends that I liked, but that don’t quite work as a whole. Or things that were heavily influenced by other blogs but aren’t really “me.” There are elements of my home that I LOVE and there are some that I like, and others that I wonder what the hell I was thinking. So I’ve decided to slowly purge what I don’t like and tweek what I don’t love.
I LOVE our dining room. It’s a mixture of southern living traditional and modern patterns. It’s light and bright, yet cozy. It’s the room I really want to echo through the house. I’m starting with paint and then I want to adjust some fabrics and textures in other rooms. There needs to be brighter elements in the half bath and the living room where the couch is, just to really tie it all together.
This is going to take awhile to pull off, but for the first time in a long time I have a plan and a vision and I can’t wait to get started! I’m actually starting this weekend by selling the armchair that I painted and a few mid-century pieces I collected that just haven’t found a place after several years. Hopefully, that will give me some funds to work with for buying other elements.
One of my favorite things about this blog is being able to look back at past posts and see what was going on in Jesse and I’s lives at a given time. I used to write a weekend recap almost every Monday and those are some of my favorite posts to go back and read. Now, our weekends are less exciting but we still have things going on that I’d like to document. With that goal in mind, I’d like to start another series called Friday Potpourri. I may not do a post every Friday, but I want a place to document it when I do get the chance.
So first off, I started listening to the Young House Love podcast 2 weeks ago. I love that I can play it while I’m cleaning or cooking dinner or working out. I feel like I’m learning something and being productive. It’s also been a great motivator to get me thinking about design again. And figuring out what the heck I want to do with the blog.
I really need to get my schedule together to help me with this. I make plenty of time for cleaning, cooking, working out and doing laundry, but I don’t make a lot of time for being creative. I want to set aside more time for that. I think the best way to do that is to set my days up better. I know with a baby it will always be unpredictable but it doesn’t hurt to have better goals. I also need to get the blog organized. I even get frustrated trying to find things on here, which is not acceptable.
On Monday we took Mara out for her first Halloween. We only went next door and to my mom’s house, but it was still so much fun. I jumped on the culturally relevant bandwagon and created a family Pokemon costume. Jesse was a member of Team Rocket, I was Ash Ketchum (get it, Ash -> Ashley) and Mara was Squirtle. We picked Squirtle because when she was smaller she would headbutt us a lot and that’s one of the Pokemon’s attacks. I didn’t document the creation process because I literally used felt and hot glue on a pair of blue pajamas and a tan onesie. But she looked so adorable!
Speaking of Mara, last week she had her first cold. Which she gave to Jesse and I. Being sick with a baby is no joke. And then her first two teeth broke through. It’s been exciting in babyland lately. And exhausting. But mostly exciting.
I hope everyone has a happy Friday and a great weekend! Jesse and I are planning on having a little at home date night after Mara goes to bed. We’ll probably have a drink and watch Bad Moms. Exciting times over here!
It’s not Halloween yet, which means it’s not too late to share my Halloween decorations! I decorated at the beginning of the month, but never got around to taking photos. Plus Mara got sick and then got Jesse and I sick, so we’ve kinda just been in survival mode. She’s on the mend, so I’m hoping we will be too soon.
I’ve been super excited for Halloween this year because it’s Mara’s first! She wont be doing anything special, but I’m still dressing her up. I can’t help it! I hope that my kids love all the holidays and always have fun decorating with me. If not, at least I enjoy it. This year I wanted to take home everything in the Target Dollar Spot. They really stepped up their game for Halloween decor! This trick or treat sign is glittery and super cute. The book page background really ties in nicely with my usual Harry Potter book decorations. My mercury glass votive is from Hobby Lobby a few years back, but they did have gold, orange and brown ones at Target this year. I used books and my “Spooky” sign on the mantle again this year. I also switched out the usual grey rectangular mirror out for this silver one. I thought the silver went better with the black accents, plus it’s fun to mix it up sometimes. I left my lights up again. At this point why take them down? Christmas is right around the corner! To fill in the mantle and make it look more Halloween-y (totally a word, right?) I used some black mesh ribbon and loosely wrapped it around the lights. Then I threw in some fake spiders and foam bats for good measure. Sidebar. I am SO FREAKING EXCITED for the new Harry Potter movie. The previews look amazing. All the excitement, and bringing my HP books out to decorate, makes me want to re-read the series. And drink butterbeer. Ok, back to the post. I swapped out the usual pillows on the couch for some with a black herringbone pattern. They are usually on our bed, buuuuttt I don’t make the bed fancy right now so I put the pillows to work elsewhere. A little known fact about me. I’m a card hoarder. I have cards from when I was in Kindergarten. They are all in a box, sorted by holiday. I go through them every now and then in an attempt to downsize, but that usually doesn’t happen. Sometimes I find some that would look fun framed for holiday decor, like this trick or treat Halloween card. It’s cute, it’s free and unique. I also added a few fun touches to the dining room. This candelabra looks spooky with the spiders and webs. I got it at my friend Cassie‘s barn Sweet Clover a few years ago. If you live near Frederick, Maryland I’d definitely recommend checking Sweet Clover out. Cassie doesn’t own it anymore, but they still have a ton of great things. The new bar was perfect for a little vignette too. I made the “BOO” jars a few Halloween’s ago and I still love them. They’ve gotten a tad beat up in storage though, so it may be time to make some new ones. I also love the bats in the plate wall. So fun!Now I need to get to work finishing our family Halloween costumes! I can’t wait to see Mara all dressed up. Plus, I love passing out candy to the neighborhood kids. Do you have any fun Halloween plans?
I’m so happy that the weather has started to cool-off here in VA. I’ve been making it a point to take Mara out for a walk everyday, which seems to do both of us a lot of good. Speaking of doing a lot of good, it’s been a few months since I posted my original post-baby body photos. I didn’t actually start dieting and exercising regularly until about a month after I posted that. It was hard getting started. Really hard. I got kind of used to eating whatever I wanted to during pregnancy. Plus, being at home bored all day led to wanting to eat constantly. Now that I’m 5 weeks in and feeling good, I figured it was time to share a little update.
The most major changes are in my legs, hips and waist. I’ve got my curves back instead of everything being the same size. There is also a lot more definition on my belly. I certainly still have a pooch, but it shrank a bit. I can now button a few of my stretchier pre-baby pants, but I have to wear long flowing shirts to hide where the pooch either pushes out the top or makes a gross bulge below the waist.
Along with Mara and I’s daily walks, I’ve been running 3 days a week. I’m on week 5 of the Couch to 5k program. Once I get through the program I want to work on my speed and hopefully run a 5k in December. I really would like to run another 10k come April, so the running needs to stick around for that goal. I’ve also been doing some weight training, Pilates and yoga. Mara weighs about 20 lbs. now and has been a little clingier, so I totally attribute that to the little bit of definition in my arms.
On the weekends Jesse and I take Mara together and I get some exercise and some family time. Jesse is great at being supportive and not bringing a lot of bad food into the house. He also encourages my running and hangs out with Mara so I can get them in alone. I don’t have a jogging stroller yet and I like the alone time. It’s amazing what 30 minutes to yourself can do!
The hardest part of all of this for me is definitely the dieting. I’ve basically cut out foods like pasta, bread, white potatoes(aka, loaded with carbs), dairy, sugar and artificial stuff. I do allow myself a carby food of sorts each day or else I get too tired and my workouts suffer. My diet is on a points system with a weekly goal to lose less than 10 pts. a week. This means I can have my occasional fancy Starbucks drink or a slice of pizza. Little cheats along the way make it easier to maintain healthier habits the majority of the time. I also get one glass of wine per week (unless I want to sacrifice a point) this really helps keep my calories in check. I also count calories to keep me from unnecessary eating. I had to add calorie counting to the diet because I was eating like 4 eggs and 2 avocados a day as snacks. While healthy and delicious, it was totally not needed and usually happened while Mara was sleeping and I was a little bored.
My diet ends in about 4 weeks, so I will have to pop back in around then for another update. Plus I need to figure out a slightly less constrictive meal system that will work for me to maintain my weight loss.
*Again, I’m not a professional anything. Please talk with your doctor before beginning a fitness routine or diet*
The sun finally came out this week, so I finally got the chance to take pictures of my fall decorations. Just in time for me to put up my Halloween stuff this week! Funny how that works out and time gets away from you. I haven’t really spent a lot of time decorating the house since Mara was born, so doing this was almost therapeutic. I felt like I was regaining a little piece of myself. Enough blabber, on to the photos! Our living room is such a large space that it can be hard to make things feel cozy. I’ve found that the best thing in this room is warm lighting, blankets and pillows. And candles, lots of candles. I made all of the pillows on our couch, but the blanket was an IKEA find a few years back. It’s so soft. It’s my favorite.The corner seat on the sofa is the best place to curl up with a blanket and a cup of coffee. Not that I get to do that very often. Usually I end up taking a nap if I’m curled up with a blanket. That mug is my favorite for days when I need a really large cup of coffee. It’s from Bass Pro Shop. In the tray (which was a yard sale find that I gave a facelift) is the baby monitor (Mara was upstairs napping) and all of our remotes in a ceramic vase. I HATE having remotes laying around but Jesse likes them easily accessible, so the vase was our compromise. The candle holder is from Target and the ceramic pumpkin is from the Dollar Tree. I’m surprised by the cute stuff they have in there sometimes!The twinkle lights on the mantle add a lot of cozy light to the room. I was just too lazy, and pregnant, to take them down this winter. But I’ve loved having them up all year round and Mara loves them too. I plug them in and she just stares in wonder. I can’t wait to blow her mind with Christmas decorations. The owl on the mantle was a HomeGoods find. I love him and I’m not the only one! I get emails all the time from people that want to buy him. The fall garland is from JoAnn Fabric, as are the votives. Then to top it off is a vase filled with gourds from the grocery store. It wouldn’t be fall in our house without sprinkling owls throughout the house. Now, owls are even more special since they are Mara’s spirit animal too. Though to really capture Mara’s spirit the owls would need to be florescent colors, loud and turning flips. I got this guy at HomeGoods. In case you haven’t noticed, I spend way too much money there.Everything I used to decorate this year was something I already had around the house. When you have a whole storage tub labelled “Fall” you don’t really need to buy anything else. Though I was super tempted by the Dollar Spot at Target this year… The only thing “new” in the decor is the fun gold pillow in my painted armchair. I had a gold owl pillow from Mara’s room down here and I really loved it, but my back loves it more in her glider. So I decided to bite the bullet and buy another gold one for downstairs. It was on clearance at Target so my resistance was futile. I added a few small fall touches to our dining room as well. I love having our new bar in there as another surface for vignettes and seasonal decorating. Plus, it’s gorgeous anyway. Seriously, all of the heart eyes. I’ve had the squirrel salt and pepper shakers for years, I think they were a HomeGoods find. Then I added some faux hydrangeas and a ceramic pumpkin from the Dollar Tree and called it a day in here. On the table I put a pumpkin into this gorgeous green glass bowl that I got from my grandmother. I was going for like a magical Cinderella look. I think Cinderella is going to inspire my pumpkin carving this year. I’ve done Mary Poppins and Olaf in the past, so Disney has been a theme for me.
Hopefully, I will have my Halloween decorations ready to share next week. I feel like a crazy person squeezing taking photos one day only to redecorate the next, but whatever. I am a crazy person.
Guys. This pumpkin spice thing is getting out of control. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love a good Pumpkin Spice Latte and I have several pumpkin spice candles, but whole aisles of pumpkin spice at the grocery store is a bit much. Cereals, granola bars, teas, I even saw pumpkin spice chips the other day. I remember the good old days where it was a special occasion to get pumpkin bread at Starbucks. Speaking of the good old days, aka 3 years ago, I’m resurrecting my post on Jesse’s delicious pumpkin bread. It’s just that good. Plus he made some this week and I definitely cheated on my diet to steal a slice or three. Ingredients:
1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/1 teaspoons salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground gingerPreheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and sugar until it’s all blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until blended. Then bake for about 50 minutes, use the toothpick trick to tell you when it’s done. Let it rest for about 30 minutes, then slice it up and enjoy! **I like it better after it’s sat overnight, it really brings out all the flavors even more!**
You can bet that I will be enjoying some of this again this weekend. I don’t know how I’m supposed to lose the baby weight with this in the house, but it’s soooo worth it. Have a great weekend!
I don’t know if you remember, but WAAAYYY back before I even knew I was pregnant Jesse and I were working on redoing our guest bathroom. We had ripped up the floors, replaced subflooring, laid new tile, painted the walls, and refinished the cabinets. After we got all the big projects finished the bathroom sat that way for a long while. Like over a year. I actually didn’t finish accessorizing until July. Nothing like having company come to motivate you to finish a project. Now that it’s finished, I love it. I know this will be Mara’s bathroom one day, but for now I can hide the baby stuff in the tub, close the curtain, and enjoy my feminine bathroom.
The color on the walls is Olympic Alpine Valley, but it really reminds me of a Tiffany Blue. I wrote in the first post about this bathroom that I originally wanted the walls to be a pale pink. Jesse said no, but then I got pregnant with a little girl and we painted her room pink so win, win for me. The tile was a steal at $1.99 per square foot. It’s 12×24 Metro Charcoal porcelain tile we got at Home Depot. I would love to use it again in another room… like our master bathroom maybe. Once the floors and walls were finished we painted the cabinets Olympic Snow Storm. It’s the same pure white that we used on our dining table and nightstands. At first I was worried about the beige counter top, but the white cabinets really bring out the white in the counter.The hardware on the cabinets is from Hobby Lobby (of course). They are clear, glass bubble pulls. I just love little details like knobs and pulls in a room. The knobs on the closet doors, which we also painted white, are also from Hobby Lobby. When I saw them I knew that they would be beyond perfect for this room. When Jesse and I were in Paris we went to Laduree for macarons. The absolute best macarons ever. I saved the box as a souvenir and it looks perfect in this room. As a bonus the blues match. 😉On the other side of the counter is my face stuff. I’ve never been a big beauty product person. I hardly ever wear makeup, at least I didn’t before having a baby. Now I usually make time for a little concealer, powder and mascara. Just so I feel a little less “Mombie.” NYX products are great and pretty affordable. I’ve also started using a cleansing brush and exfoliating cleanser as part of my skin routine. I never used to do all that, but now my skin needs a night cream and extra TLC. I love the Simple products because they aren’t filled with a bunch of crap and are safe to use while pregnant. (Not an announcement, I’m just too lazy to rotate products based on the state of my uterus). The Tunnel of Love art has been in here no matter what I’ve done with the room. I got it for $1 at a yard sale right after Jesse and I got married. It’s always been one of my favorites. I added the shelf, a jar a Q-tips and picture of macarons. One of favorite things about macarons (other than how delicious they are) is that they are so pretty and colorful. It’s an important part of desserts.
I’m seriously in love with this room. It’s amazing. It’s even more amazing when you compare it to the before. And now, it’s wonderful.
Happy Friday! It’s been an unusually long week, somehow four day weeks are the longest. It’s been a weird week. We had a great weekend though! We spent Saturday morning walking around one of the parks in the city and took Mara with us to lunch. Now that she’s gotten a bit older, as long as we give her something to eat when we first get to restaurants she’s a happy camper. It makes life way more fun and much easier for Jesse and I. On Sunday we went to church and came home to nap. Then Jesse and I went out for a date night. We don’t get to go out super often, so it’s always a nice treat.
A new paint bar, Muse, recently opened on the other side of town and we were lucky enough to get an invite to check it out. We’ve done paint nights before, but this was extra nice because the place is specifically dedicated to painting classes. In restaurants it can be difficult to get a good seat to see the instructor, here there wasn’t a bad seat in the house.
I really loved all of the exposed brick and the walls were covered in other examples of paint classes. Definitely inspiring and motivating. In addition to the main painting space there is also a private room for parties and work outings. I’d love to host one for my friends one of these days.
It was so nice to have some appetizers and a few drinks while spending time with Jesse. When he wasn’t super focused on creating his masterpiece… In true fashion for Jesse and I, we kind of turned the night into a competition of who’s painting was better. The teacher kept reminding the class that it wasn’t a competition, to which we just laughed. If there is anyway to compete, we’ll figure it out. It keeps things interesting. In my opinion, Jesse totally won. He went way more “off script” and it definitely paid off. I think I will stick to painting furniture and walls. 😉 You can check on their website to see if there’s a Muse Paintbar near you! Plus, they offer daily paint classes so it is much easier to find time to book a class. You can see photos of people enjoying their nights out at Muse on their Instagram @muse_paintbar.
After our date we had a late dinner with friends to round out the evening. It really is so refreshing to get out for a bit, baby-free. Even though Mara got extra snuggles when we got home.
I don’t think there can ever be such a thing as too much storage space. I mean I have a half full kitchen cabinet or two, but I still wanted more. Ever since we moved into the house I wanted a bar or buffet for the corner of the dining room. The trick was finding just the right piece. I finally gave up and asked Jesse to build me something for my birthday in January. And boy did he deliver! This hand-built bar is beautiful. I love it almost as much as I love my baby. Almost.He gathered all of the supplies and found some plans on Ana White, then we got a bit of a snowstorm. He was literally snowed in with the project! He finished construction back in January, but the weather was too cold for staining and sealing. Then we had a baby. But Jesse finally finished everything a few weeks ago. I absolutely love it! I had such a hard time finding a bar because I wanted a piece with drawers, glass cabinets and a shelf. You’ve got to have storage, but it doesn’t hurt to have it in a way that can be pretty. Also, I have a disclaimer. When I asked for this bar we didn’t actually have enough alcohol to fill both cabinets. Our friends have a tradition of throwing a Stock the Bar party for dads-to-be. It’s a super fun tradition and it resulted in us getting a lot of scotch and whiskey. Which is something we both enjoy after a long day of parenting. I got Jesse the whiskey decanter and stones a few years ago for his birthday. With all the liquor we have it looks like he could be in an episode of Mad Men. Back to the bar itself, I wanted knobs that were simple but still kind of fun. I found these glass knobs at Hobby Lobby for $2.50 a piece. I really love the way they pair with the dark finish. If I had building plans I would totally share them with you, but other than the Ana White plans I have no idea how Jesse built this thing. I was almost 8 months pregnant laid up on the couch eating pizza and watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix. The blog was really the last thing on my mind. I’m really excited about the extra storage space in the drawers. They are currently housing my table linens and candles, which used to be in a box in the back corner of a cabinet. Maybe I will actually use them now that they are easily accessible. I also love that we will have more space for serving food and drinks for parties. I’m sure those parties will be WAY less adult now that we have Mara rolling around, but hey who says you can’t also serve pizza and KoolAid on a bar!I really feel like the piece anchors the room and it compliments my plate display very nicely. It’s exactly what this room was missing.The dark wood has also pushed me towards painting this room. I LOVE the green color, but it doesn’t really “flow” with the rest of the house. Since the chair rail continues throughout the downstairs, “flow” is pretty important. Sometime (hopefully before Christmas) the lower walls will be a nice soft blue. I had so much fun setting up this blog post! It really has my creative juices flowing again and is inspiring me to work on a few other projects. I don’t know how long they will take, but I consider wanting to do them at all a huge accomplishment. Baby steps.