Spring Decor and Mantlescape

Welcome to April folks! If you’ve been around this blog at all then you know that April is my favorite month. I think it has a little something to do with the fact that Jesse and I’s anniversary is in April. Plus Passover is also usually in April and it is definitely one of my favorite holidays. April is also a month of rebirth, flowers are blooming, things are coming back to life and the weather is finally warming up, it’s just a happy time. This year I really wanted to bring some of that life into the living room in my spring decor. Spring Mantle 2015I love the colorful Alomestria blooms. They are always so inexpensive at the grocery store and they last for freaking ever! I made the vases using old Frappachino containers, they remind me of old school milk bottles. To keep with the colorful display I also framed a fun picture of my favorite dessert, macarons! The picture is actually a card that my old coworkers gave me for my birthday last year. Spring MacaronsOn the other end of the mantle is an apothocary jar, but without lid, filled with fun colored eggs. I got the eggs on clearance at Target (I’ve been super lucky there lately!) the same day I picked up my new dining chairsEaster Egg GaloreOver to the right of the mantle is our wood stove which I’ve decorated to be super bright and cheerful as well. The white candle holder and little bunny are also from Target and I threw in some “springy” books for balance. I also had to add some greenery to the display with the rest of my Almosteria. Spring touchesUnderneath the mantle is a large square hole. It seems like it was maybe originally supposed to be the fireplace, but then the original owners decided to go with a woodstove instead. It has been quite a pain to decorate over the years, but I usually go with the “fill it until it doesn’t look terrible” strategy. It works ok. This time I filled a tin bucket with some glittery stems and flowers and the card mailbox from our wedding. Also birds and teal are totally a winning combo for spring. Fireplace Spring DecorationsI love how bright and colorful this display is. It has to be one of my favorite mantle displays that I have ever set up. I also think all the bright colors and flowers compliment the decor in the dining room too. Spring FireplaceEaster Mantle DecorAnd of course no spring decorations in our house are complete without a wedding photo here or there. This one happens to be my absolute favorite. I paired the picture with one of my favorite candles (it smells like clean laundry and who doesn’t love that smell?!) and some purple Almosteria. Our wedding colors were green and purple, but not in a Barney kind of way, so I thought this was a cute way to tie it all together. Spring Wedding DecorNow that the house is all decorated it’s time for me to actually clean it. Unfortunately, creative Ashley and clean Ashley can’t coexist so if the house is decorated then you can guarantee that outside the scope of the lens there is a disaster area.

What do you think of my Easter/Passover/Spring mantle? Do you have a favorite month or season that you tend to go a little overboard with? I’m definitely a Christmas and Passover person. Which is actually kind of hilarious if you think about it.

Updates to My Favorite Room

Hey there folks! Happy Spring! Like I’ve mentioned several times, this warmer weather has finally sparked my creative fire again and I’ve been working on some things around the house. The fun bright colors of Spring especially inspire me to work in the dining room. When I stumbled across these gray upholstered dining room chairs on sale at Target for $65, I knew they would be perfect for the ends of our farmhouse table. Target Threshold Camelot dining chair

I love the gray fabric and the silver nailhead trim around the outside. It really classes up our dining room and makes the whole room look a lot higher end. Nailhead dining chair

I chose the light gray fabric because it nicely compliments the light gray in the curtains in this room. Everything is light and bright in the dining room. The white from the chairs, the spring green walls, the fun splash of pastel colors from the plate display, it all screams spring. Dining Room Spring 2015

Next weekend Jesse and I will be hosting our 4th Passover dinner and I love that we can invite a few extra guests now that we have more seating. When we built our table we envisioned having a table full of people eating, drinking and laughing around it, and now our dreams coming true. Colorful dining room

This room is seriously my favorite in the whole house. It’s always so bright and happy. I love sitting at my new chairs and eating breakfast every morning, and sitting with Jesse and chatting about our days every evening while dinner cooks. Since this room brings me so much happiness, I eventually want to funnel that joy to other rooms. Everything needs a little pop of pastel and some greenery to make it come alive, and that’s what I want to do, make my whole house seem alive. Upholstered dining room chairs

What do you think of my swanky new Target chairs? Could you have passed up such a good deal? Can’t wait to tune in later this week to show you all my spring decor in the living room!

It’s Minted

Hey all and happy spring! I’m so happy that the weather is finally warming up. The warm weather makes me feel energized and motivated. I’m definitely on the lookout for inspiration for the house wherever it my come up, and I’m loving a lot of the art that I’ve been seeing on Minted.com. There’s seriously something for any room, no matter the color scheme or the style. Minted.com - More art Minted.com - Swift Fox

They also have fabric, which is super trendy and awesome. I absolutely love this feather fabric! I think the fabric would look wonderful on pillows in our bedroom. I’m totally ordering some this week! Minted.com - feathers fabric

And of course Jesse and I love to throw parties, so the photo booth backdrops would be an amazing addition to any party. I really like this city skyline, which gives me some ideas for future party themes. Minted.com - party backdrop

There are also fun banners and other party decor that I’m interested in for our big July party. We want to make it a yearly tradition to have a fun themed party in July. This year we’re thinking action heroes, but are undecided.

Minted also has some fun options for holiday cards, party invites, and baby shower paper accessories. I probably wont send cards again until Christmas, but they have so many cute options I wish it was normal to send spring cards. Minted.com - Christmas joyful

I will keep you all posted on the fabric for the bedroom when it comes in! I’m totally excited about it! Have you ever ordered any of Minted’s paper products? I’d love to know how they work out for parties!

Bring It All Back

Hey there strangers! Long time no see, er blog. Before you read this post I will warn you that it’s not about much in particular. I haven’t blogged in a long time, but I miss it so much. I miss having a creative outlet. I miss chatting with my blog friends. I’ve definitely felt something has been missing from my life without the blog, but I’ve been unsure how to fit it back in. After you take a break from something for so long you adjust to life without it. Now that spring is coming, even though it doesn’t seem like it, I want to return to the things I love doing when it’s warm. Those things definitely include DIY and blogging! Jesse and I never finished the guest bathroom (one of the downfalls of having three bathrooms for two people), I’ve got some furniture I want to makeover, plus a thousand others that involve painting and being in the garage.

I also have some personal goals for the approaching spring. I’ve officially registered for my first 10k at the end of March and I’ve been making excellent progress with my personal training plan. It’s amazing how much better I feel now that I’ve been working on my fitness. I don’t give into excuses for not exercising half as much as I used to and I just feel better. I’ve been using working out as an excuse to not do house projects or blog, but the real goal is to create a balance between the two. I can’t have a well worked body and not use my mind to create things. I want to be well in body, mind and house. Haha, did you like the last one? My house has also suffered a little with my constant trips to the gym. I know that I can’t do it all, but it’s still all about balance. working on my fitness

Now for something a little more interesting, some pictures of what we’ve been up to lately! Of course Valentine’s Day wasn’t too long ago and Jesse and I celebrated by avoiding the crowds and staying in. We went to Fresh Market and bought filet mignon, asparagus and some strawberries for chocolate covered strawberries. We watched the Valentine’s Day episode of Modern Family after dinner and spent the evening on the couch. It was simple and utterly fantastic. Valentine's 2015

After the snowstorm that hit Richmond on Monday evening we had Tuesday off and spent most of the day at my parents’ house sledding in their backyard. There is a giant hill back there and it’s always a good time. sledding

Jesse and I also went to a couple of fun new restaurants here in Richmond over the past few weeks. Cooper’s Hawk is a nationwide chain that is a winery and a restaurant. It’s so awesome to be able to drive 30 minutes for a wine tasting instead of an hour to the mountains. Cooper's Hawk wine tasting

The Tin Pan is a new restaurant and listening room. We had the opportunity of going to their soft opening and listened to a fantastic performer while eating their delicious food, including this AMAZING red velvet fudge pie. Tin Pan Richmond,VA

As always, when I’m not on the blog you can still catch up on what I’m up to by checking out Instagram and Twitter. But hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot more of me around here!

WIAW – Recovery Addition

Guess what! I’m alive! I was hopping on the train to get back to blogging and then I became deathly ill. I seriously didn’t get off the couch for almost 6 days. Now I’m alive and not high on Sudafed, and ready to get back to eating well, exercising, and blogging. Today I went back to eating better and I even managed to get in a short run before my stuffed nose stopped me from breathing. And since I’m back to eating better, that means it’s time to go back to What I Ate Wednesday!

I started my day with a Whole Life Challenge approved breakfast of scrambled eggs (no milk), a clementine, black coffee and a glass of water. Simple, but delicious. IMG_2130After being out for most of last week I’ve been playing catch up, so the morning went by pretty quickly. I blinked and it was time for lunch. I packed my lunch yesterday and it, surprisingly, did not consist of leftover Chipotle. I had some grilled chicken, green beans, baby carrots, hummus and sweet potato chips. The green beans are frozen French cut that I put in a Pyrex bowl with a little salt and pepper and then I cook them in the microwave for 2 minutes. It’s quick and really filling. IMG_2133For the afternoon I was working at the office front desk, which is busy but can be a little monotonous. Since I was planning on going to the gym after work I had a little snack of almonds around 3:30. IMG_2132After 5 I headed over to the gym. I’ve signed up to run a 10k at the end of March, so I’ve been slowly adding a mile to my run every couple of weeks. Unfortunately, after being sick I only got in a mile and a half before I was wheezing, cramping and my nose was stuffed all over again. I’m very disappointed that my run didn’t really work out, but it’s not a huge deal. I’ll get it later this week! IMG_2144After I cut my workout short I headed home where Jesse was waiting with dinner. I’ve got a keeper for sure. He made a WLC approved dinner of chicken, brown rice and sugar snap peas. I also had a little mustard for dipping.IMG_2143I did cheat a little last night with a glass of wine and a small bowl of ice cream, a girl has to live a little bit. I also know I’ll be cheating tonight for Jesse’s birthday. He wants Tiramisu for his “birthday cake” and I wont be able to resist that!

Happy Wednesday everybody! And don’t forget you can also join the What I Ate Wednesday party at Peas and Crayons every week.

Hey There 26

Hey everyone! First things first, thank you so much to those of you that wished me a happy birthday this weekend! My birthday was Saturday and Jesse did a great job of making it a very special day. We started by going to the mall and doing some shopping, and also cheating at the Whole Life Challenge. I had Chickfila for breakfast, Panera for lunch and chicken parm for dinner, plus cookie cake and all sorts of snacks.

We had dinner at Sapori, a local Italian restaurant that I really like, with a few friends and then we had more friends over after dinner for cookie cake and drinks. I wish there were some pictures, but somehow Jesse and I both forgot to snap a few. At least I have the special memories. :)

On a totally different note, with this huge snow storm up North I’m dying for some snow here! So once again I’ve decorated my mantle with a snowy theme in hopes that it will control the weather a bit.

Let It Snow mantleI couldn’t part with all of my Christmas lights, so I decided to keep one strand up on the mantle and add some sparkle. The trees are leftover from my Christmas decor too, and so are the glittery pinecones. Evergreen trees and glitter scream winter right? Winter mantlescape 2015The snowflake votives were Target clearance scores. The combo of the blue and the snowflakes reminds me of Frozen. It doesn’t get any more wintery than Elsa the Snow Queen does it? 😉 Mantle decorI’m really hoping that this mantle does the trick and we can have a decent snow this year. Is it so wrong to want a day of sledding?! Winter mantle 2015So what do you think of my winter mantle? It is my absolute favorite mantle that I’ve ever put together. I don’t know if it’s the lights or the glitter, but I absolutely love how it all came together.

Do you decorate for winter? Or do you embrace the bare surfaces left behind after the Christmas decorations come down?

Modern Masters Metallic Makeover

Say that three times fast heh?

Happy Monday friends! I hope everyone had a good weekend! We got to spend some time with friends and also got things done around the house. A perfect balance! I have to admit I’m more excited for this upcoming weekend though. IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! I hate to admit it, but I’m one of those people that loves my birthday. I fully expect Jesse to spoil me. I even made over a breakfast tray so that he can bring me breakfast in bed. Breakfast in bed tray

Ok, that was a joke. I did makeover a breakfast tray, but it wasn’t just for me to have breakfast in bed. I bought this black tray at a yard sale for $2 a few years ago with the intention of redoing it, but I never got around to it. 

Target mirrored tray - before

After I snagged some of the awesome Modern Masters Metallic paint I knew that it was time to give the tray it’s much needed makeover. I used the Pale Gold Metallic paint for my DIY chalkboard ornaments and loved the sheen and coverage. I almost used the gold again for the tray, but since the paint is semi-opaque I thought the Silver would pair better with the black. The Metallic line has over 100 different colors and shades to choose from. I also have the teal and pink that I am waiting for the perfect project to use for!Modern Masters Metallic paintAnd it did! The black peeks through just a little bit, it makes it look a little nicer than just a solid color. Almost like I didn’t pay $2 for it a yard sale. I love the sheen of the paint and how fast it dried! I painted the tray and let it dry for an hour and it was ready to load up for a little breakfast in bed.  Metallic paint makeover

It only took one coat of paint for the coverage I wanted, which is something that I love about the Modern Masters collection, the coverage is awesome! You may remember that I used their paint line for my front door, and I raved about it then too.ModernMasters Metallic paint effectsAfter painting the outside of the tray I felt like something was missing, so I painted a frame on the mirror around the perimeter of the tray. It really brings things together and finishes things off.Metallic tray makeoverNow that the tray isn’t as much of an eyesore I’m so going to utilize it more often for when we have guests. It will make carrying desserts and drinks in and out of the kitchen WAY easier, especially for movie nights in the living room. But I really love the option of eating in bed. Now I have no reason to ever get up. Just kidding, kind of. Tray makeoverAre you a breakfast in bed person? What do you think of the tray makeover? Have you ever used the Modern Masters line? I highly recommend it! 

*I was not paid or compensated for this post. I did receive my quart of Modern Masters Metallic paint free of charge, but all thoughts and opinions are my own*

What I Ate Wednesday

Happy Wednesday folks! I’m in an especially chipper mood today since I had a two hour delay this morning due to ice. I wish it was snow, but I’ll take an extra 2 hours for sleep for whatever reason. Anyhow, as I talked about last week, today is the day I join the What I Ate Wednesday link party over at Peas and Crayons. I have a weird obsession with reading posts about what people eat, so I decided to join in the fun too. Maybe some of you are as weird as I am and will get a kick out of this post.

Yesterday started the same as any normal work day. Jesse wakes up, showers, wakes me up, I shower and get dressed, then I eat breakfast and leave for work. Since the Whole Life Challenge doesn’t start until Saturday I’m enjoying my last week to have cereal for breakfast. My go-to is the Simple Truth Organic Honey Nut Cheerios with raisins and unsweetened almond milk. IMG_2113My morning at work was pretty busy, so I forgot to snap a picture of the apple that I had around 11am. I did however remember to get one of my morning coffee and water bottle. I try to drink at least 60 oz. of water every day, so that’s about 4 of these cups full. At least it’s a cute bottle.IMG_2114For lunch I had leftover Chipotle from Monday. I love Chipotle, in case you already didn’t know that, and I love even more that I don’t have to give up my Chipotle habits for the Whole Life Challenge. I skip cheese and sour cream and it’s totally approved. My go-to is a burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, chicken, mild salsa, corn, guacamole and lettuce. Yum! IMG_1781The problem with having leftover Chipotle is that I always eat more than half the first day, so there’s never enough for day number 2! I was still a little hungry, so I ran across the street to grab a quick snack pack. It had celery, carrots and cheese, plus some ranch dressing, but I didn’t bother opening it. I hate light dressings. Bleck! IMG_2117My office is kind of a death trap for sweets and treats, so I had a few buckeyes as an afternoon pick me up too. One of my coworkers is from Ohio so she had a ton of these homemade treats for the office to enjoy to celebrate their win on Monday night. And boy were they delicious! IMG_2116

Jesse had plans to go out right after dinner, so when I got home he had dinner ready to go. He made his spin on French ragu and it was absolutely delicious! It’s got sausage, beans, broccoli and kale all in a white wine sauce. IMG_2119After dinner I spent my evening cleaning the house. I always get so much more work done when Jesse isn’t home. He distracts me with his good looks and fun personality. 😉 I had a little dessert after I was done cleaning, but it was a very boring dessert in the form of another bowl of cereal. I didn’t take a picture because it looked almost exactly the same as the bowl of cereal I had for breakfast. Go figure. 😉

Next week I will have started my second Whole Life Challenge, so if any of you are participating (you can sign up here) or doing a Whole 30 we will be meal comrades!

Powder Room Refresh

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! Jesse and I spent the entire weekend spending quality time together, going out to dinner, watching movies and just hanging around the house. It was so nice and much needed, especially with him starting school this week. The time at home also gave me a chance to snap a few pictures of our refreshed powder room. I will warn you, these aren’t the best pictures it’s almost impossible to get a good picture of such a small space! But lets’ start with a before picture, with the fleshy, dull walls. halfbath-beforeI painted the walls a blue-ish gray, which really updated the room and brightened it up. I ventured into new territory and also painted the ceiling the same color as the walls. I was always taught that would make the room feel smaller, but I think in this case it makes the room looks a little bigger. Paris themed powder room

I got the large piece of art from my mother-in-law. She bought it for her house, but it never worked so she gave it to me. I absolutely love it! And I got the shelves from the former Garden Ridge, it’s called At Home now. Bathroom refreshThe shelves are decorated with a few knick-knacks from around our house. The vase on the bottom shelf was made by my paternal grandmother and I got the Eiffel Tower statue when we were in Paris. It pairs very well with my new art too. small bath refreshI’ve had the little bird statue for about of year, it’s also from Garden Ridge. And I finally was a good little blogger and bought a succulent. It’s fake, but it’s still a succulent, so it counts. It was on clearance at Target after Christmas so I couldn’t resist.succulentsI’m very pleased with how the room came together, and it only took me two of my days off to bring it new life. This bathroom is the one all of our guests use during parties or just hanging out at the house, so it’s nice that I’m not totally ashamed of it anymore. Powder room improvementsThere are still a few “large” projects that need to happen in this room, but those will have to wait until we finish the guest bathroom upstairs. (Update on that: we finally replaced the subfloor and had to add a few supports where the giant whole was, but we’re making progress again!) On the agenda for the powder room is replacing the vanity top with something white, the beige clashes a lot with the new color palette, painting the cabinet and replacing it’s hardware and then either framing or replacing the builder grade mirror. I’d love something in a different shape for some more visual interest. Even though it looks interesting enough with my reflection squatting there haha.

How was your weekend? Did you get to knock any projects off of your to-do list? 

 

Hello 2015!

Happy New Year everyone! Long time no see! I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday season, I know we did. It was so nice to have some time off work, away from the blog, for hanging out with Jesse and our families. Things were so hectic for us after November hit that I was starting to feel like it took all my energy to just stay afloat. Jesse was finishing up 4th semester of grad school and was busy every night and I was still getting used to work and establishing a workout schedule and routine, plus trying to decorate for Christmas and buy all of the presents. By the time Christmas hit I was ready for a nap! But now the holidays have passed and it’s back to the real world. I’m back to work and Jesse is gearing up for another semester of school, and we both are already looking forward to our next break!

One of my favorite things about the holidays is all of the traditions that Jesse and I have established over our past 4 Christmases together. You probably saw on Instagram that we went to Busch Gardens for their Christmastown lights display, which we’re hoping to make a bi-yearly tradition because it was so fun and beautiful. Christmastown

We spent Christmas Eve morning at brunch with our friends that were still in town for Christmas, something we started doing last year and hope to keep going over the years. It’s so nice to hang out with friends before spending the next few days dealing with our crazy families. After brunch, Jesse started tackling Christmas Eve dinner. He decided to challenge himself this year and made a roasted duck for us to take to his mom’s house. I’m not usually a huge fan of duck, but he did a phenomenal job and I actually had seconds. Christmas Eve duck

Of course after dinner we went home and started a fire (even though it was 60 degrees outside!) and opened a bottle of wine that we bought when we visited Trump Winery in early November. We used this time to open our gifts from each other and to watch a few classic Christmas movies, while just enjoying the quiet and each other’s company. Jesse opening presents

Christmas Day was crazy, as usual. We spent the early afternoon with one half of the family, including my cousins that I only see twice a year. There were almost 20 of us packed into my grandma’s house having a grand ole time. After eating Christmas lunch/dinner and opening presents we went to my Nana’s house (my mom’s mom) for hor d’voures and more presents. The house is always packed and loud and it’s always so much fun. My Nana has been hit hard by dementia and some other health issues this year, so this Christmas was very precious because it will most likely be her last at home with us. Christmas family time

After Christmas we spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with all of the family from out of town and we took a little road trip to visit a few other family members that we didn’t see Christmas day. I also had all of the days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s off of work, so I used that time to work on some projects I’ve been putting off for the past few months, more details on those later in the week. Powder room facelift

Now to switch gears a bit, I announced on the blog at the end of October that Jesse and I were doing the Whole Life Challenge, kind of. We were following the dietary and basic guidelines, but we weren’t registered for an “official” challenge. Well, there is an official challenge starting on January 17th and we are both registered for it. The Whole Life Challenge is basically like Whole 30, but it is twice as long, and is point based. If you eat something you aren’t supposed to, then you lose a point from your daily total. You start with a base of 5 points to start with, and can also earn additional points for drinking water, exercising, taking vitamins and meditating. The challenge is set up like a game too, so you are competing against your friends to see who can earn the most points over the 8 weeks. There are also different levels to the challenge, so that you can do whatever is most convenient for you and make changes that you will keep after the challenge is over. If you’re interested in joining me for the Whole Life Challenge you can read more about it on their website. Jesse and I’s team name is All We Do Is Win, if you do sign up and want to compete with us! :)

In light of these changes that I’ve made to my diet, as well as going to the gym at least 3-4 days a week and doing a regimented workout, I’ve decided to talk about it a little more on the blog. Before you roll your eyes, I’m not a professional and I’m definitely not turning this into a fitness-centric blog, I’m just living this “new me” every day and so I want to share it. Trying to get in shape is one of the big reasons I haven’t been blogging as much because once I get home from the gym at 6:30/7 every other night and eat dinner and shower, I’m exhausted and ready for bed. The biggest change that you will see on the blog is my Wednesday posts. A few foodie and fitness blog friends of mine participate in this thing called What I Ate Wednesdays and I love reading their posts. It’s basically a recap of everything you ate on a particular day during the week, plus pictures. I don’t know why I love reading about what people eat, but I do, so I’m excited to bring it to my blog. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to share how the Whole life Challenge is affecting my eating habits and to hopefully help other people participating get some ideas for what to eat for lunch and snacks. I may also throw in a few workout/fitness posts, but only if I find something I really enjoy or that I’m working really hard for, like that I’m running my first 10k in March. Workout selfie

Of course, I’m not abandoning the original vision for the blog, but I’m just making sure it still fits me and my life. I’ve thought a lot about this recently and I’m not a professional blogger, nor will I be. Sure that’s the dream, but not while I have a full-time 8:30-5 job. This is a hobby and an archive of my life, so that’s what I’m going to focus on. This is about me and my ATTEMPTS at crafting, DIY, cooking, wife-ing (totally a word), being healthy and living in general.

Also, thanks to everyone for reading, commenting, following and everything else you do to support me. It keeps my blogging and creative fire lit and I love you for it! :)

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