June 28, 2011

Summer Life Lessons

Don't worry, I'm not getting all philosophical on ya. Just documenting a few of the realizations I've come to this summer so that I don't forget having these epiphanies!

  • Patience really is a virtue. Especially on the days I'm watching the 3 wee ones and I'm sick or tired. I have been really conscious of being patient with those sweet babies this summer and it takes a lot of effort and reminding!
  • The more your employees feel valued and appreciated, the more likely they'll be to work hard for you and will want to see your business succeed! This has been such a great learning experience for me, since eventually my husb will have his own Chiropractic office - I'm so thankful to have experienced this life lesson first-hand!
  • Joy is truly contagious. Sharing in other peoples' joy and celebrating with them is good for the soul! If you think about the last time you were really excited about something, it was probably the people who shared in your happiness that made it extra special!
  • I love my family. Like, I really really really love my family. My husb and my Bella just complete my days. And my life! This isn't a "summer life lesson" but just something I am extra aware of lately. But beyond my wittle family, I just really appreciate and love the rest of my fam. Our parents, and siblings, and aunts/uncles/cousins, and all of my grandparents. I realize the older I get how rare it is to be surrounded by so much family on a daily basis - even when we don't live close enough to visit. As our annual family vaca approaches, I'm just reminded of how blessed I am to be so close to my family, and the more people I encounter who think that its really special is just reinforces this!
These aren't earth-shattering realizations, I know. But I think its important to sometimes reflect on knowledge you've gleaned from time to time... and it doesn't hurt to write it all down (even if it is just on your blog!) so that you can be reminded again and again as you read through old posts!

I'm headed *H.O.M.E.* tomorrow night and cannot wait to squeeze my husband and kittyyy! I am soo looking forward to spending a few days in our home town before heading north (way north) for our annual vacation w/ my whole side of the fam! Funny how a yearly trip that you used to dread and take for granted in your whiny adolescent years suddenly becomes the week of the year you look forward to most just a short decade later, isn't it?? :)

Have you learned some valuable life lessons lately? Big or small, take a moment to reflect today - cheesy, but worth your time, I promise!

June 24, 2011

Friday Favorites

I have hardly spent any time on my computer this week! I have love/hate feelings about this.

The better part of my days were spent chasing around 3 cutie little kids (love), and my evenings were consumed with online class and work (hate). Thankfully {or not so thankfully, depending on who you ask...} I discovered the Pinterest iPhone app. And I'm hooked! If you haven't discovered Pinterest yet, you must check it out. But consider yourselves warned: it is addicting!

Here are some of the gems I came across in the webosphere this week that I "pinned" to my online memo boards! This week I have wedding fever. And in true bridesmaid fashion, I've been dutifully scouring the internet for ideas and inspiration for Sheila's big day... among other things!
This has got to be one of the best ideas I've ever seen. Ever. via

How cool is this reading nook? I'm a bookworm... and I need this! via

I have a weakness for lemon-flavored desserts. Lemon meringue cupcakes - YUM! via

Is this not the most beautiful summer appetizer? Caprese sticks... genius! via

American Flag cake ball cake. I will be making this next week! via

L.o.v.e. this idea for Sheila's rustic barn wedding theme! via

These colors are so soft, and feminine, and... bridal? I like! via
It's been a rainy, muggy week in Atlanta... so here's to hoping for a weekend filled with sunshine! On my agenda: catching up on work/school, a little pool time, and enjoying a massage courtesy of my sweet husb!

Happy Friday ~ wishing you all wonderful weekends!

June 23, 2011

Work + School + Visitors = No Blogging

Has it really been 10 days since I last blogged? Seems like its been like 12 hours, that's how fast my week flew by! The busyness of work and school and trying to have a summer finally caught up with me and I was knocked out by a nasty cold. Somehow colds are like a million times more miserable when its nice outside, right? I was a sneezing, watery-eyed, snotty mess.

Perfect timing for my only illness of the year... 2 days before my sister and her bf came to visit for the weekend! Not. I managed to suck it up (this is not my forte... I typically milk my sicknesses as long and as much as I can...) and we had such.a.FUN.weekend!!! Erika and Carter drove all the way from Cincinnati so they ended up staying Thursday-Monday to make the drive worthwhile ~ and we were sure to pack as much excitement into that long weekend as we possibly could! Here is a recap of their visit:

My sister is obsessed with aquariums. So we have to go to the Georgia Aquarium every. single. time. she comes to visit!
She loves to pet the sting rays...

Erika and Carter before the storm rolled in!

Sisters outside the aquarium :)
After the aquarium we hit up Vortex for arguably the highest calorie burger in Atlanta, and waited for the storm to (fingers crossed) blow over so we could get over to the Braves game! Thankfully, the weather cooperated and we were able to see our game (aka: we were able to get our Dippin' Dots and funnel cake and a couple of beers...) and the Friday night fireworks! They lost - boo. But the fireworks - and food - were great! Yay!
At Turner Field
Saturday we ventured over to Sweetwater Brewery for a tour and tasting... 6 samples for $8?! Yes please! So fun. If you live in ATL and haven't gone, I highly recommend it the next time you want to do something different on a summer afternoon.
The men in our life ;)


w/ the husb
I was doing so good with picture-taking, I should have known I was due to mess it up! Insert screw up: I brought my camera-less case with us to dinner Saturday night, and the rest is history. Not one more pic was taken the entire weekend! My sis managed to snap a few, so I'll have to steal from her later! The rest of the visit was pretty uneventful ~ lots of laughing, lounging by the pool, a little vino drinking and reminiscing, and more eating. Sooo much eating! So much that I actually hit the treadmill for a 4 mile run the day after they left. For those of you who know me, this is a serious sign of a fat girl weekend!

Monday I was back to work. Back to class. Back to trying to get my house in order. Catching up on laundry. You know the post-visitor drill... then add to that trying to pack husb and Bella for their week in Ohio and I was just one busy chick! I can breathe a little easier the next 5 or so days before a little trek of my own back to Ohio :)

Hope you all have had a fun-packed week, too!
Whole gang at Sweetwater!

June 13, 2011


Have you ever had a moment where you are so excited for someone that you feel like you are just going to explode with happiness?!?!

I had this happen on Saturday... when my bff got ENGAGED!!!

Its a weird feeling to be giddy with excitement for someone else! Its the same excitement I felt when my cousins each told me they were getting married. And then that they were expecting little babes! Its a different kind of excitement than when something really great happens to you personally...... hard to explain, but so great!

My heart was so swollen with happiness for these two love birds on Saturday that I couldn't help but let out a few shrieks! My poor husb even had to pause our movie a couple times to let me get out my bursts of excitement (and a few dozen texts)!
He captured the proposal! So sweet!
Sheila was my first real friend in Atlanta. One that I know will be a part of my life forever and ever and ever! She is my first close friend to get engaged and I am thrilled to death for her and so honored that I get to be one of her bridesmaids!!! Check out this bling. A ring that's as pretty as she is ~ nice job, Daniel!
Eiffel Tower setting... sooo perf for Sheila!
But after {almost} 2 years of marriage - while I'm no expert on the subject by any means! - I have come to learn that there is much more to a successful, happy marriage than a nice ring and a cute proposal. Lucky for these guys, they've got everything it takes for a lifetime of happiness!
  • They love each other unconditionally. Even when they are stubborn and grouchy, they are respectful and considerate of each other.
  • They value the time they spend together like no other couple I know. Being apart while D travels for work has made them really appreciate the quality time they have together!
  • They strive every single day to make each other happy. They're always surprising each other with fun dates and little presents.
  • They put their family and their faith first in their lives. Nearly everything they do revolves around their families and church.
  • They work hard at making each other feel loved. Daniel brings Sheila a dozen flowers every Wednesday! 
  • They have scarily similar likes and interests! They joke that they were both born into the wrong generation... and they are so thankful that they found each other!
This engagement was a long time comin'  but it was worth the wait! I can't wait to start all of my bridesmaid duties and am sooo looking forward to showering my bestie with gifts and love and attention over the next 9+ months :)

Marrying my best friend has been the best decision I've made in my whole life and I am excited beyond words that Sheila will soon be joining the wives club! Sheila ~ cherish this time because it goes way.too.fast. I savored every moment of love and excitement during my engagement and I'm anxious to pay it forward!
The future Mr. and Mrs.!

June 11, 2011

Friday Favorites (...a day late!)

I kept up with my Friday posts for 2/3 weeks. And even though this one is a day late, there are just too many pretty little pics I came across this week not to share!

No theme, per se... but I have wedding fever. Not for my own wedding, of course. But I've started gathering some ideas for my friends' weddings. And even my sister's. None of them are engaged yet but I have a hunch that some serious wedding planning is imminent for at least one of my almost-bride-to-be bffs :) More to come on that later........

For now, Friday Fave's ~ Saturday Edition:
Cutting board w/ a hole for scraps. Best. Idea. Ever. via
I NEED this to be in my backyard! Neeeeeed. via
Loving this giant sink! Perf for piling up dirty dishes... via
Ob-sessed with these place cards and display! via
Gorgeous bouquet. Rananculous may be my new fave flower! via
Strawberries in bruleed marshmallow creme?! Must. Make. Now. via
Grilled cheese + Avocado... Why has this combo never occurred to me before?! via
Well, that was a fun little Saturday morning post! Made me hungry though... I think I'll rush through my Saturday a.m. cleaning routine and head to Whole Foods so I can try out some of these recipes I've been drooling over all week!

Husb has finals next week. He'll need some brain food to help him study!

What are you all doing this weekend?? :)

June 9, 2011

Easy DIY Decor

I promised some "tutorials" last week... and I don't think I can fully deliver. Not because the crafts weren't easy, and not because I don't love them both - but because I forgot to take pictures! I was in such a hurry that I didn't snap any during pictures, but I did manage to get my act together and take enough after shots to {hopefully} show you what I did!

First up: Framed Chalkboard
What you'll need:
- A Frame. Literally any frame in the world.
- 1 piece of poster board
- Chalkboard spray paint
- Chalk, duh

 Like I said in a previous post, I pretty much followed the directions from this blog and it was basically the easiest, cutest thing I have ever made in my life. Start by removing the glass from the frame and trace its shape on your piece of cardboard. Cut out the rectangle (or circle, or whatever it may be) and head outside with the cardboard and a can of chalkboard spray paint...

This was surprisingly easy to track down at Home Depot. Go somewhere outside that is well-ventilated and away from anything stain-able. I opted for my balcony. Because my options were limited in/around our apartment, and because I was being a bad tenant but I swear it didn't leave much of a mark. Lay your cardboard flat and spray paint away! I did a couple of layers so it was thickly coated, then let it dry for an hour or so. 
Place your chalkboard spray painted cardboard into the empty frame... and then do as you please! I have seen these used as: menu displays, grocery lists, To-Do reminders, kids' daily chores/schedules, and in my case... as a place to display inspirational verses and quotes where we can see them on our way in and out of the house every day!
This is probably my favorite DIY craft of all time. I love how easy it is to customize, and the fact that it took me a grand total of 10 minutes was definitely a plus! I am excited to wipe it clean and doodle on a new verse... its been the same one for a couple of weeks, so I think its due for a change this weekend :)

Second DIY-er on this wall: Book Page Initial
What you'll need:
- Styrofoam square letter
- Hot glue gun
- A recycled book
- Some sort of knife if you are a weirdo like me

I had been itching to make this ever since I made my sister a book page wreath for Christmas! But given the time it took - and the finger burns I incurred - to make her such an intricate wreath, I modified the process a lot for this project. I started with a square of styrofoam from Michael's and used a steak knife (don't judge!) to carve out the initial of our last name. "B" obviously. You can buy foam letters, but I couldn't find a "B" so rather than continuing to look I decided I'd just make my own.
After you purchase/create your letter, sit down at a comfy table... you'll be there a while. Start by ripping out book pages and tearing them into squares about 2"x2" while your glue gun heats up. After you have a couple hundred squares torn up, start literally crumpling them into something that resembles the shape of a paper fan. Dab a few dots of hot glue down on your letter - you can start anywhere, as the whole thing will eventually be covered - and smoosh down the crumpled paper on the glue one square of paper at a time. Careful not to touch it... ouch!
After you've got the main surface covered, start filling in the inside of your cut-outs and cover the sides of the letter. If you look closely, you can still see white styrofoam inside my cut-outs... I literally only covered the areas that were visible from a normal vantage point ~ no more, no less! This recycled book page craft was much less tedious than the wreath I made for my sister, but it still took about an hour to finish. After I was done, I put a nail in the wall and balanced it from the top cut-out of the "B." Then I sat back and admired my work!
The "B" is a nice, subtle touch to the wall. I'm proud of my DIY decor and I'm always excited to find new ways to incorporate a monogram or initial into my life (obsessed? yes)! The total cost for both of these little projects: $30. Not bad, eh?

Easy. Adorable. Custom. Inexpensive. What's not to love?!

June 7, 2011

Baked Sweet Potatoes

There are very few things in life that excite me more than the following two things:

1) Husband cooking dinner
2) Vegetables that taste like dessert

This recipe and blog post involve both of those anomalies. Husb has been on a sweet potato kick lately. He found a simple recipe online and has made enough for a dinner and leftovers for him to take w/ him for lunch the past couple of weeks. I'm not a huge veggie fan, but these are seriously delicious! A vegetable that tastes like dessert = a bold statement coming from this sugar lover!

You'll need:
2-4 Sweet Potatoes (depending on how many you're cooking for)
Olive Oil
Dried Rosemary
Dried Oregano
Salt & Pepper... if you want
Husband w/ a cute backside (Don't have one of those handy? Bummer.)

With the skin still on (we're bein' healthy here, remember?) dice up your sweet 'taters into little cubes. Or if you are feeling like tricking someone into thinking they are fries, cut them so they look like french fries. It makes no difference what shape you choose.
Husb in the kitchen. Wearing J.Crew chino shorts. *sigh*

Sweet potatoes are ugly little suckers before they're cut up. But colorful!
Spread our your diced up sweet potatoes on a non-stick backing sheet or pan drizzled (generously) with olive oil. {This is 2 big, organic sweet potatoes... if you wanted an idea of how much 2 potatoes gets you!} When you are done chopping, drizzle a little more olive oil over top of the cut up sweet potatoes.
See the skin on? That's what gives them a little crunch!

Action shot! Can't take these when its just me in there cooking.
Sprinkle the dried rosemary, dried oregano and (optional) salt and pepper over the potatoes... and pop them in the oven! Bake at 325 degrees for about 30-40 minutes ~ the longer you bake them, the crispier they will get. This is just a matter of your preference, but we like them crunchy on the outside so we generally leave them in about 40-45 min.
Husb is the worst about remembering to pre-heat the oven. That was my job as sous chef!
Since these take a while to cook, husb usually whips up the main dish while they are baking. Some suggestions of meals to pair with these yummy little guys:
  • Burgers (beef or bison)
  • Turkey melts
  • Steak
  • Breaded chicken breasts
  • Salmon
  • Or, if you're weird like us... spaghetti! We did this on Sunday. Odd pairing, but still good.
When they are done baking, they will look something like this (hopefully)... Let them cool for 5 minutes or so before serving {learned this one the hard way this weekend. ouch.} and use a big spoon to sort of mix them all up before you remove them from the baking sheet. This will get all the seasonings and oil spread evenly over the sides that were facing down before baking.

With as good as these will taste, I promise you'll be shocked that they are among the very best vegetables to eat. "They're loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber" according to what I've read. Of course I had to research this wonder veggie after hubbs first made this recipe. This is one instance where something is too good to be true... but its true.

Healthy and nutritious does exist. 

I've seen the light... don't believe it? Then try this one out for yourself!

June 3, 2011

Friday Favorites

Friday again? Already? I could definitely get used to a 4-day work week :)

Unfortunately, my work load was not as abbreviated as my work week. Two jobs + a summer school class is exhausting. I'm soo looking forward to a change of pace next week when I start watching my favorite little kiddos half of the week instead of spending 40 hours cooped up in a windowless office!

As promised, here are some of the pictures I came across this week that I stowed away in my "Someday" folder. This week my attention shifted somewhat... from home decor to decor and food and entertaining. Which means that next week perhaps my interests should shift again. Maybe in the direction of exercise...

I'm all about slathering my veggies in parmesan cheese! via
I love citrus fruits in centerpieces... and I love these colors because they're my sissy's fave! via
These colorful front doors make me smile :) via
How cool is this idea? A frame of special dates! Anniversaries, bdays, etc. via
And here comes the food again. This gluten free pizza looks good enough to....... oh wait. I'll be making this ASAP, thank you very much! via
Wallpaper seems to be making a comeback in a BIG way. I'm not totally sold on the idea just yet, but these pictures have me almost convinced that I need WP on at least a wall someday. via
And there you have it. A glimpse into the ever-spinning wheels inside my head. Sometimes I get a little ahead of myself with planning and idea gathering, but its fun to daydream. And its even more fun to document it for when its actually time to implement later on!

Hope you all have a relaxing weekend! After the shenanigans in our house last weekend, our agenda consists solely of: cologne sniffing, sushi eating, sun bathing, and farmers market-ing :)

Check back next week for a craft tutorial (or 2)!

June 1, 2011

Long Weekends are the Best!

Every weekend should be 3 days long! In fact, yesterday my husb promised that eventually all of our weekends will last 3 glorious days. Someday :) Best news I have heard in a while! Of course, we have several years of hard work to put in before our weekends can start on Thursday afternoons... 

Our Memorial Day Weekend was seriously exhausting. But oh-so productive! We basically did a whole house overhaul ~ replaced furniture, swapped out wall decor and pillows from room to room, added a new entertainment center and monster TV to our living room, and crafted a new decoration or two to add to our little home. Friday night we went on the *big* TV excursion. Thanks to some awesome sales, we scored a 50" flat screen to finally complete our living/entertaining area (2 years later...) and I have never seen my hubbs so excited for something in my life! 

{Click on pictures to enlarge if you want a closer look!}
10 p.m.: Setting up huge TV on miniature stand
10:30 p.m.: Aftermath of the new TV. That I was too tired to clean up.
After bringing home the newest addition to our family on Friday night, it was pretty obvious that we needed a bigger entertainment center for it to live on. We knew this before we bought it, it was just a matter of finding one that didn't break the bank too much. It also became apparent that my beloved black and white photo wall (which Andrew was never a big fan of to begin with) would need a little TLC.  The TV was so big that the pictures looked too small, too low, etc. 

So on Saturday afternoon, after a couple hours of studying and laying by the pool, and a much needed mani/pedi - take a guess as to who did what - we headed to Ikea in search of an affordable 70" long entertainment center. My criteria: under $300, wood, dark brown, storage hidden by doors. This sucker fit the bill! It was our first Ikea furniture experience.......... I can tell you right now that despite how happy we are with the way this looks now, it was not worth the cost savings (my opinion) to weed through the self-serve furniture area to find the exact pieces/parts we needed and haul it all home to assemble ourselves. 

I wanted to rip my hair out. Thankfully  have a handy husb who put this thing together in about the time it took me to make a quick Target run and pick up Chipotle for dinner!
Andrew and his assistant hard at work...
Every time we turned around Bella had a screw or some plastic piece in her mouth. Bad girl!
I wasn't allowed near the construction process of the entertainment center. Which was fair, seeing as I nailed a hole up through the top surface of our last one on my 7th attempt to assemble it without any backward pieces. Since I was banned from this process, I busied myself by moving the old living room TV into our bedroom, and the old bedroom TV into the office.

I realize how ridiculous this thing looks on our dresser... but until we get the chest of drawers to complete our bedroom set this is where it will stay! {Not worth mounting on the wall, because we'd be responsible for the hole repair when we move out.}
Most exciting part of this picture? I can now watch TV from bed without my glasses. Woop!
The drapes are also new-ish (Target clearance find, yay!). And they double as Bella's favorite climbing apparatus.
Before we put the new TV up on its new stand we decided we'd first tackle the B&W wall. I re-purposed some floating shelves (Crate & Barrel) that we had in our office and used them as picture ledges above the TV. We have 2 more shelves that are not mounted yet... my poor husb was growing impatient after hours and hours of shopping, assembling, and cord-organizing, so he decided he needed to plop down for a while and enjoy the fruits of his labor!
Looks sooo.much.better.omg.
First time I've seen Sports Center on in a long, long time. Am I in trouble?
Do you see that smirk?? How excited is he?!
I also was sick of the red accents in the living room. I decided to swap out all red and leave the brown and green. I'm shopping around for some curtain panels, probably something in the sage family. And I'd be content throwing that area rug into an incinerator, but I haven't quite decided what to replace it with - so while I'm still scouring the internet for ideas, it can stay.
Feet up. Sports on. Bud Light cracked. Ahhh he loves his life!
As excited as I was about relaxing in front of our latest splurge, we had a cookout planned for the next afternoon and I just had to get the rest of the house put back together before I could call it a night! I didn't take before pictures of our dining room wall... but suffice it to say, the only thing on it was a silver mirror.

Boring. Blah. Bare. {You can see what I mean in the background of this post}

Since my random collage wall above the TV was no longer in existence, I decided it should be recreated - but better - in the dining room! Here is what I've got thus far.....
Framed chalk board and book page "B" tutorials to come in a later post!
Chalk board idea via
I made a framed chalk board to hang in that room and decided that every so often I would change the Bible verse or inspirational quote so that we could commit some encouraging words to memory. Growing up my mom would always help us memorize scriptures and told us to "hide them in our heart." I love that this is a way for Andrew and I to both commit a few new things to memory and hide them in our hearts to draw on when we need the inspiration most! I got this idea from a blog I love and it was so easy and inexpensive.

I also made the "B" hanging on this wall using a square of styrofoam, a steak knife (woops?), hot glue gun and recycled book pages. Again, easy and inexpensive! I'll give more detailed instructions for both of these DIY decorations in a later post. This one is already a billion years long :) Finally, on to the office/guest room!
The "work" side of our office/guest room

Sorry for the dark pics. Half of these are from my phone...

The "sleep" side of the guest room/office. I'm so glad we decided on a pull-out couch in here!
The old entertainment stand, the mini bedroom TV, and all of the red accents from the living room were moved into the office/guest room! I have been doing some remote work for my Aunt that has to be done on a PC (yuck) so I've been spending about 8 hours a week in this room and am sooo thankful to finally have a TV in here to watch while I work! I also finally got around to hanging up our vision boards, and for now I stuck my painting on this wall to cover up the gaping holes left behind by the screws I muscled into the wall when I was hanging the shelves (now in family room) by myself a couple years back. The husb was not impressed with the craters caused by my a) disinterest in following the directions and b) failure to purchase the required drill. I'm on the hunt for some touch up paint ASAP!

I'm loving the change of scenery we get as we walk in the door! It is so refreshing even though the bulk of what we changed around were things we already owned.
New view of the dining area from the entryway! (Complete with cookout prep set out!)
And finally, the view of the living room, TV, entertainment center, and wall shelves from the entryway!
After working our buns off getting things organized, purchased, set up, built, decorated, and the like all night Friday, most of the day Saturday, and the better part of Sunday... we were so excited to unwind and relax with some friends and enjoy beautiful sunny day with a little pre-Memorial Day BBQ on Sunday afternoon!
I'll share my favorite summer dessert recipe with you all soon! I was too rushed to take pics this time.
Hi Friends :)
Phew! That was a lonnng post. Sorry, everyone! I just was too excited to share my weekend updates and pictures with you all to trim this one down! Last but not least I'll leave you with a couple of iPhone shots of our beautiful city that I snapped on the drive home from Ikea... 

Thoughts, suggestions, etc. regarding our home decor? Feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an email ~ our home is always a work in progress!
I love ATL :)
The end!