12.06.2015

Holiday Inspiration

I wasn't feeling very inspired to decorate our home for Christmas this year. I don't know if it's because we're so distracted with other things going on in our life, but I decided to minimize our decorations and only display our very favorite things. So now our house is decorated for the holidays, but not quite as decorated as last year. And that's totally OK with me. I guarantee my husband doesn't remember how I decorated last year, so he's not losing sleep over it either. We still have two Christmas trees, so I don't think we'll be classified as Christmas minimalists any time soon.

And since I didn't go all out decorating the house, it felt weird to take photos and blog about it like I was doing something special, you know? So I didn't. But the good news is that other people are doing brilliant things and I figured I could point you toward those projects, just in case you are feeling uninspired like me!

Do you follow Orlando Soria on Instagram? You totally should. He's so funny. But he's also the West Coast Creative Director for Homepolish, which means he spends his days decorating and making things beautiful. He made one of the most creative Christmas trees I have ever seen - a 13-foot-tall golden pom pom tree. This is the kind of tree that simply forces you to have a Christmas party just so everyone can see your awesome tree. Get full details on the Homepolish blog.

Photo via Homepolish LA




Do you read House Beautiful magazine? It's been one of my favorites for a long time. The December/January issue features the most gorgeous log cabin I've seen in a long time. It's pretty much the opposite of Orlando's modern home above, but I love them both. Designer Thom Felicia never disappoints. Read his interview about the home.

Photo via House Beautiful

Jillian Harris (of Love it or List It 2 fame on HGTV) is another one of my favorite bloggers. She did a gorgeous holiday home for the Vancouver Home for the Holidays Tour (sneak peeks on her Instagram) and I'm hoping she'll do a full post about it. Meanwhile she shared some of her favorite holiday decor ideas. I'm loving the fairy LED lights in her centerpiece. I want some of those! I'm going to wait for the post-Christmas sales to see if I can get a good deal, though. They aren't cheap.

Photo via JillianHarris.com

Sometimes an image is all you need to be inspired. I practically drooled on my phone when I spotted this snap by Honestly WTF in my Instagram feed. I think it's the amazing mix of textures that really makes this photo the epitome of holiday cozy. I'd love for my home to have this vibe this time of year.

Photo via HonestlyWTF Instagram feed

Now this next blog post isn't holiday related, but it's inspiring nonetheless. Grace over at A Storied Style totally KILLED this bathroom makeover. Everything she does is so unique and fresh, and no detail is overlooked. Read the full details over at Domino.

Photo by Brian McWeeney Photography via A Storied Style

And before I wrap up this post, here are two quick snapshots of our holiday decor so you can see how I have two very different styles going on, as usual.

Over in the den, everything is warm and cozy with a lot of red accents. Our Pottery Barn stockings are hung by on the mantel (last Christmas before we have to add stockings for the twins - eek!) and I fancied up my Threshold wire stag head from Target with a boxwood wreath from Wisteria.


And over in the formal living room, things look completely different. I wanted this tree to match my existing color scheme in this room, so I kept everything blue and green. It was looking a little stark and cold because of all the cool color tones, so we added a bunch of gold ornaments and gold bead garland that really warmed it up. It coordinates pretty well with my pear painting, don't you think? Good thing I never tired of those colors!


Hopefully you're feeling slightly more inspired than I am this holiday, but if you're not -- don't feel bad! We can't do it all. Sometimes simplifying is the best policy, especially this time of year. After all, we are doing all of this to celebrate the birth of Jesus, not to win the contest for prettiest Christmas decor. When I remind myself the true focus of the holiday, I feel a lot less guilty about all of the boxes of holiday decor I left in the attic this year.

I hope you have a great week ahead! We're heading to the doctor tomorrow for our 21-week anatomy scan, and I can't wait to see the twins again. It's starting to feel very real as my belly grows and grows. I'll be back soon with more nursery projects! Meanwhile, follow the progress live on my Instagram.


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11.29.2015

DIY Colorful Dresser & Changing Table

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I took the full week off of work so we were able to really dig in to the nursery projects. This is one of my favorites!

When we got married, my grandpa gave us the bedroom set that belonged to him and my grandmother. It included a bed, dresser and two bedside tables. We've used all of those pieces throughout the house, but the dresser was previously being used in our formal living room. It was originally a shiny cherry wood finish, but we sanded it down to the natural wood. You can see its natural state in this photo from last Christmas.


It was the perfect height and size for a changing table/dresser combination, so we decided to move it into the nursery. Because the majority of the nursery was black and white and gold, I really wanted to have some fun with this piece and bring in a lot of color. I thought about many color combinations, but in the end I decided to paint each drawer a different color.

I'm finding the hardest part about designing a nursery for boy and girl twins is finding colors that work for both genders without being too feminine or two masculine. I didn't want to stick to neutral colors like yellow and green, but I didn't want too much pink or blue. It's been a challenge to walk that fine line, but it's certainly a fun problem to have!

I dragged the husband to Michael's and plopped myself down in the aisle in front of the acrylic craft paints, trying different color combinations. I wanted each drawer to make sense together, so I decided the colors couldn't be too pastel or too neon. The tone of the paint color would be the main thing to keep it all cohesive. I also stuck with matte finish paints because the dresser is matte, and I thought that would make it all look purposeful.

In the end I decided to do a column of drawers with girl colors, a column of drawers with boy colors and a row of drawers at the top that would help tie the two together. I also decided to take a subtle ombré approach to the drawers, keeping the darker shades at the bottom.

I arranged them on the floor at Michael's, gave them my stamp of approval and had to get the husband's assistance to get back up. It turns out pregnancy really decreases your core strength. Who knew?!


The process was simple. I used a cheap black foam brush to apply the paint to each drawer. Each needed 3-4 coats, depending on how dark the color was. This tiny tube of $1.50 craft paint was plenty for painting one drawer each, so it ended up being really affordable. I even used the leftover paints for some artwork for the room, so we stretched the value of that paint to the max.


I was SO happy with how it turned out. It's just the happiest piece of furniture. It makes the nursery feel so playful and whimsical.

I wish my lighting for these photos was better, but it has been raining for four straight days so my "natural light" is really lacking right now. 


Once we painted the drawers, the silver hardware was not working anymore. A quick splash of gold spray paint fixed that problem and saved us from having to buy new hardware. I thought about buying something new, but 15 pulls at $5 each really adds up!


In order to make the dresser into a changing table, the husband used some of his cedar stash to create brackets that keep the changing pad in place. He adhered them to the dresser with a nail gun and some wood glue. They don't match the cherry wood of the dresser exactly, but it's close enough.


Doesn't it look great with the colorful elephant artwork (from HomeGoods) we put on the adjacent wall? I'm really enjoying this view from the chair in the opposite corner.


This is just one of the projects we've finished for the nursery. It's slowly but surely coming together. I'll be back with more projects soon!


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11.06.2015

It's a...

... boy! And a girl!

It's so funny how life works. I grew up with one brother, and I always thought having one of each would be perfect. Of course I never dreamed I would have them at the same time, but He is a better planner than me.
 

I'm 17 weeks along, but I'm already measuring 24 weeks. Our baby boy is measuring quite large (100 percentile for singletons), which I'm blaming on his father. He was a 10 lb. baby himself! Our baby girl is measuring at 55th percentile for singletons, which is right on track. I guess I'm doing a really amazing job eating everything in sight. It's all for the babies. *wink*

Now that we know the genders, we can really get started on the nursery. I haven't bought much just yet, but I've indulged in a couple of cute onesies because I just couldn't resist.


Like I said in my previous post, we have already purchased the cribs and the rocking chair. I've been hunting around for other big pieces like a rug and baby bedding, but it has been hard to zero in on exactly what I want.

I did start putting up my arrow decals, which I love!


It turns out I didn't order nearly enough, so I had to go buy a bunch more. I'm spending way more money than I thought I would on "stickers," as Scott calls them. I tried to tell them they were really "wallpaper" and therefore this was a decent price, but he didn't buy it. Then I just played the crazy-pregnant-lady-who-has-been-dreaming-about-a-baby-nursery-for-a-long-time card and he left me alone to order more decals. Smart man. 

We honestly haven't spent much time planning or working on baby things yet because the husband has been absorbed with football season. His last game is tonight, so his schedule will clear up and he'll have a lot more time to tackle projects. I have some pretty simple requests for him for this room (add a changing area to our existing dresser, add photo ledges to window seat area, paint dresser) that we're excited to get started on.

Does anyone have any good suggestions for baby bedding? I've done a lot of online searching, but it's proving hard to find what I had in mind at a decent price point. I really want vibrant colors and nothing too "precious" so that it doesn't scream boy or girl. I'd even take solid sheets if I could find decent colors! I'd love your suggestions.

I'll keep you posted as we make progress on the nursery. I'm off to continue eating everything in sight...

 
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10.18.2015

Big Life Changes

If you follow me/this blog on social media, you may have seen our big announcement!


EEEKKKKK!!!

I hope that explains some of the silence you've been hearing around this blog. My energy level has been WAY down. It's all I can do to go to work and be productive; once that part of my day is over I have very little energy to do anything else. I've been able to continue my normal obligations, but anything optional (ie: exercising, home projects, writing this blog) has moved to the backburner while I grow these little humans. 

I'm in the middle of my 14th week, so I'm hopeful that the second trimester will bring with it less sickness and more energy. I've been sick, but it hasn't been completely awful so I'm grateful for that. I think I have gone through an average amount of morning sickness, and I really feel for women who suffer through severe cases where they are physically ill all day long. My favorite fix for the nausea was (and still is) Cheerios and Jolly Ranchers. Diet of champions!


If you're struggling to get pregnant, I don't want you to read this announcement and feel sad. Trust me, I know what that feels like and it's so hard to deal with. We have struggled for a long time to start a family, and many of my friends have had a baby (or babies) before we even got a positive test. I was so happy for them, but sad for us. We have been through a failed surgery, failed IUIs, and a failed IVF cycle before being blessed with our two little miracles. All of this just to say, my heart goes out to anyone reading this who is facing a similar struggle. It's not for a faint of heart. You are warriors!

How are we feeling? Blessed. Thankful. Excited. Maybe a little terrified. I think that's normal, right?

You know me - I already started planning the nursery! We don't have confirmation on the genders just yet, but I have identified some major pieces (cribs, rocker) that I wanted for the nursery that are gender neutral. 

First, we bought two of these sweet and affordable cribs from Amazon:

 

I really like the Jenny Lind style because it's so timeless, but the size and scale was also really nice for the smallish bedroom we'll be using for the nursery. They'll be sharing a room, so we didn't need anything too bulky or any cribs that have one side that has to face a wall. I wanted maximum flexibility with arranging the room, because I knew it would be tough to fit two cribs. These fit the bill and with a great price to boot ($199). The husband put them together while I was out of town this weekend and he said it was a piece of cake. 

We also found this swivel chair at Nebraska Furniture Mart that we're going to use as our glider. It's fairly small, so it fits nicely into our room. We wanted something that didn't scream "nursery," so when we found this for what we thought was a good sale price ($275), we went for it. I was amazed by how expensive gliders are in the actual nursery sections of furniture stores. Yikes!





That's all we have so far, but of course I have some plans in mind. Once we know the genders, we'll really get moving on the nursery. 

So anyway, that's what is going on in our world. I'll be back with more nursery details soon!

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9.27.2015

Fall Home Tour 2015

It's still 90 degrees outside here in north Texas, and it doesn't feel like autumn at all. I'm hoping that by decorating my house for the season, I'm somehow ushering in some cooler temperatures!

Every year I use the pretty much the same fake pumpkins and try them in different spots. I'm a big fan of faux pumpkins because I can't stomach the idea of buying real pumpkins (those things aren't cheap!) only to have them rot weeks later! Every single pumpkin you spy in these photos is fake, but from various sources: Michael's, Walmart, HomeGoods. I've accumulated a decent collection over the years.

I do have dried gourds as well, but I'm not sure if those count as fake or not. I'm going to count them as fake since they are preserved and I use them every year.

Here's my general philosophy when decorating for the fall season: focus on a couple of key areas (in this case, the dining room and fireplace) and then casually place little pumpkins and gourds throughout the rest of the house. I don't spend too much time on it and I definitely don't overthink it, but those small touches make the house feel homey and warm.

The dining room is the first room you see when you come in the house, so I did a full autumn tablescape. This is actually practical for us because we don't use this table unless it's a special occasion, so these place settings can stay out as long as I want. Heck, it may look just like this for Thanksgiving dinner.


Pumpkins, gourds and chartreuse pillows (stolen from my mom's pillow stash) add some small touches of fall to the formal living room. 
 

One of my favorite fall decorating touches is to stash a tiny pumpkin under a glass dome. It's just so darn cute.


I kept the mantel pretty simple, but I did buy myself that copper stag head at Target because I just couldn't resist. Target's fall line is to-die-for! I wanted everything. The fact that I walked away with only this is a small miracle.


I had one small gold pumpkin left, so I stashed it in the guest bathroom. Because, why not?


Now that my house is all cozy, can we please have some cooler temperatures? I'm dying to wear my boots and sweaters!


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9.10.2015

My Mom's New House!

After two months of being crammed into our guest rooms, my mom and her dogs have moved into a beautiful new home about 10 minutes up the road!

The home search began in earnest during the second part of July, but the market here is very competitive. The first home she put an offer on ending up receiving 20+ offers! Needless to say, she didn't get that one despite her above-asking offer.

Then she found another one she liked, and she put in a full price offer. The homeowners came back to her and said, "You're the only offer, but we were really hoping to get _____ (which was $5k over the asking price)." So basically they counter-offered at $5k above what my mom offered (which was stinking FULL PRICE)! Would you be offended? We definitely were! The nerve of those people. My mom actually sent them another offer for $5k BELOW her original offer, and we never heard from them again. At least we got the last laugh!

The third house was the charm, though. And I know my mom truly loves her new house, so that makes me feel really good about it. We've missed out on multiple homes before buying our first two houses, and in both situations the house we ended up with was much better than the others. It always works out in the end!

Anyway, I wanted to show you some photos of her new home. She had a lot of work done before she moved in, including removing all of the popcorn texture from the ceilings, painting the kitchen cabinets, removing wallpaper and repainting the master bathroom and laying new laminate floors in place of the peachy-colored carpet.

Her new home has a lot of curb appeal. She really wanted something that felt like a cottage, and I think she got that vibe with the pitched roof lines and pristine landscaping.


When you walk in the front door, the formal living and dining room are directly to the right. These are some photos from the original listing:


This house has a lot of beautiful moulding and trim work. It's very elegant. We're not a fan of those brown boxes on the wall, so those will soon be painted to match the rest of the wall color.

When you look straight ahead, you can see all the way to the back of the house, where the kitchen and great room are located. That hallway to the left contains the three guest bedrooms, two baths and the laundry room. The master bedroom is split to the back of the house, which is really nice.


And here's the kitchen and great room, where I'm sure we'll spend a lot of time hanging out.


Right off the great room is the master bedroom, which features some huge windows looking into the backyard.


And here's the master bathroom, with its dated wallpaper, carpeted floors and shiny gold finishes.


That's how the house looked when she bought it, but my mom started fixing it up right away. I went to visit a few days into the process and grabbed these quick snapshots on my phone. The tile was ripped up in the entryway, along with the carpet in the formals, great room and master. She replaced that with a nice laminate floor.


She didn't want the house to feel too formal - and it leans that way because of all the fancy woodwork and trim - so she picked a floor with a lot of color variation that warmed the spaced up a little bit.

One of the other big changes was in the kitchen. She didn't like the medium brown color of the cabinets, so she painted them Sailcloth by Benjamin Moore. Such an amazing difference! She also painted the walls in the kitchen my go-to color, Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore.


I mean, look at how different this room feels already! It's amazing what some paint can do. We both hated the back splash originally, but now it's actually bearable. It's all about the color combos and how they work together.


She still has a lot of work to do, but she's just getting started. She's unpacking and rearranging and tinkering and doing all of that fun stuff she loves to do. She has big plans, so I promise to share her makeovers with you as we go!

Thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers and well-wishes as we have been navigating these tough couple of months after my dad passed away. I'm so proud of my mom's resilience and strength. It hasn't been easy, but this house feels like a new era for her and our entire family. When tragedy strikes, we have no choice but to do the best we can to put our lives back together. A house is just one piece of the puzzle, but it's a big piece. And it's a great start.

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8.16.2015

Seeing Summer Better

Did you know that I'm legally blind? My vision has been bad since I was a little girl (thanks, Dad), and I truly can't function if I'm not wearing glasses or contacts. 

I wear contacts for about 95% of my waking hours, putting them in first thing and taking them out when I go to sleep. I got my first pair of contacts when I was in 6th grade because I played catcher for my softball team, and you can't wear glasses with the catching mask. I was only supposed to wear them for sports, but I was hooked. Once you realize how much you've been missing out on because you couldn't see, it's hard to go back! I remember coming home from the eye doctor with my contacts in and marveling at all of the individual leaves on the oak tree in front of our house. Before, all I had seen was a big green blob that I knew was a tree, but it was a whole new experience to see the details on the individual leaves.

While I do just fine with contacts, I've always struggled to find glasses that I like. I have a long, narrow face, and most frames stick out far to wide on my face. And since I have such a strong prescription, the lenses end up distorting the shape of my face in the areas where the glasses are too wide. It's not a good look! Couple that with the fact that I have a nose with a big bump on the bridge (the result of a few broken noses during my childhood sports career), let's just say it's really hard for me to find glasses - either prescription or sunglasses - that I like.

Anyway, when Warby Parker reached out to me about their #SeeSummerBetter campaign, I thought it was a great opportunity to see the latest in eyewear and see if I could actually find some glasses and/or sunglasses that are presentable. Plus my best friend has glasses from Warby Parker that look super cute on her so I've been dying to try some myself!

First I picked out my favorites based on our summer destinations with a little fantasy online shopping, and then I actually tried some on using the Home Try On program. Also, I realized I am painfully awkward at taking selfies. (More on that later.)

First up, I needed some shades for our Boston trip. Boston is hip and trendy but retains its classic, historical vibe, so I thought the Barkley shades were the right fit.


While we were in Boston, we made a day trip to the picturesque city of Newport, Rhode Island. That city is all about the grandeur of the Gilded Age, so I chose the June shades, which definitely have a glamorous, vintage feel.


Next we ferried over to Martha's Vineyard, which is basically where preppy clothing was invented. I thought the Madison shades suited the Vineyard quite nicely.


Lastly, we went to Nashville to visit family. Nashville is an all-American city with Southern charm, yet it has a bit of a rock star edge. I thought the Crossfield shades captured that ecclectic mix.


By this time I was itching to actually try some Warby Parker shades myself. I can only do so much online window shopping before I pull the trigger! The company's Home Try On program is a game changer because you can order up to 5 different frames, both sunglasses and eye glasses, and you have five days to try them out for free before deciding which you want. It's really very smart, and it makes choosing your favorite pair much easier when you can show them to your friends and family and get honest opinions.

My favorite part of the Warby Parker shopping experience is the fact that you can filter your options by width. I was able to select "narrow" and see which options might best fit my face. Granted, it eliminated a lot of the cutest options, but it was so much better than trying on 5 pairs and having every single one be too wide for my darn face!

And here is when I began taking awkward selfies. Ugh. It's embarrassing to post these photos, but I will do it for the sake of demonstration. I actually took these photos so I could try out the #WarbyHomeTryOn feature where you post it to social media with that hashtag and Warby Parker folks actually weigh in on which frames they think look best. For the record, they preferred the June and Stockton.



And lastly, Oliver


I even got some of the men's sunglasses for the husband to try on, but he refused to let me post his picture on the blog. Psssh. The mens' sunglasses were cool as well, but I guess you'll have to take my word for it. What a party pooper.

So I'm wondering, does anyone else have the same issues with glasses as me? Have you ever tried Warby Parker, or do you prefer the traditional route where you go in the store and try them on? 

Do you feel as silly as I do when you take selfies? Do you ever take a selfie and think, "Darn, that's what I actually look like?" Just me?


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