Light Bright

Today I snuck out over lunch to run errands. Namely, buy new clothes that will get me through this interim stage where both maternity and pre-pregnancy clothes are unflattering. I’ve been putting it off because I didn’t want to spend money on items that I view as temporary (oh and they will be temporary!) but since I’m going back to the office next week, I need something to wear.

I think they frown on associates showing up naked. Or in jammies.

I was feeling a tad discouraged because everything I tried on made me look ginormous (or is it those damned dressing room lights and mirrors?). I left the store with a few pairs of jeans that will suffice for now and about 4 shirts…and some Weight Watchers meals.

Upon pulling in to my driveway I was struck by just how beautiful all the flowers in our yard look. For some reason they have really blossomed and popped over the last week and it almost took my breath away.

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There were pops of pink and red and yellow jumping out at me, all against a background of luscious green.

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I can in no way take credit for any of it either. I do not have a green thumb. My potted plants are lucky on the days I remember to water them. Fortunately we’ve had a rainy spring which has been the main contributor to our gorgeous garden.

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I plan to enjoy it while it lasts because I’m sure as we get in to the real heat of summer, many will start to dry up and fade. But boy are they spectacular now!

Funny how the glory of nature can put things in to perspective and make a few pairs of jeans seem pretty silly.

 

Interested in reading more? Follow these links!

Summertime One Liners | Out with the Old | What I Will and Won’t Miss…

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Out with the old, In with the new!

Happy New Year! Here’s to lucky number 13!

We rang in the new year in a pretty low key manner. Just the 4 of us at home, playing games, eating and being silly.

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We did our official toast to the new year at 9 pm so that Isabella could participate. We mixed orange juice and Squirt and drank out of wine glasses (champagne flutes are still in storage…) to make it fancy. Then we took some more silly pictures and called it a night!

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Now, let’s talk resolutions…

I started out 2012 with a long list of resolutions (30 of them! Eek!). I acknowledged at the time that it was ambitious and tried to break it down in to manageable chunks. I actually stuck with it for a good 6 months too and can say I crossed off about 50% of the items (I say “about” because some of the goals were in multiple parts or I did a resolution for the first half of the year but not the last, etc.).

I could site many excuses for not doing more (laziness, being pregnant, changing priorities, etc.) but the fact of the matter is that I’m human and can only do so much. I’m not perfect (are you shocked?) and so I think getting through half of my list is pretty darn good.

That being said, this year I’m going to come at it a bit differently. I have 2 goals (you know, other than the Big One of having a baby) and they pretty much go hand in hand:

1. Get our finances in order and pay down our debts

2. Establish and maintain organization in the household

The first one is a carry over from last year. I learned a valuable lesson in the last couple of months – no matter how much money you make, it’s all about how you manage it. To that end, you have to have a budget and a plan, neither of which we really had. I really struggled in December with our money situation and how I let us get here (I’m the CFO of the house). But “shoulds” will not solve anything and all we can do is fix it going forward.

So I took some time over the last couple weeks to come up with a budget, formulate a plan for how we’ll pay down the debt and save money and put it in to action. It’s a work in progress and I’m sure we’ll have to adjust as we go but it feels good to at least do something. Admittedly, we are not nearly as bad off as many others in America and I am truly grateful for what we do have. But it could be better and I’m determined to make it so.

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In my mind, #2 will help us with #1. The more organized we are around the house, the more money we’ll save. Case in point: the other week I bought new toothpaste for Isabella because she ran out, only to discover a couple days later when rifling through the closet that we already had some for her. Also, the more diligent we are about cleaning, maintenance and upkeep of the house, the fewer ’emergencies’ we’ll have down the line with things breaking or wearing out due to improper upkeep.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we’re slobs or don’t take care of things, it’s just that with the daily hustle and bustle, things tend to get dropped by the wayside, forgotten or overlooked and the next thing you know, you’re taking your car to the mechanic for a $200 job that could have been avoided had you remembered to change the oil 3 months ago (not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything…).

So I’ve put together a Household Management Binder that will hopefully keep us on the straight and narrow. In it there are sheets for:

1. Weekly meal planning (this will save us money on groceries and help avoid eating out plus take away the daily stress of “what’s for dinner?”)

2. Weekly Cleaning Checklist – I’m using #2 (breaks up cleaning tasks out by day of the week so that we have a few small things to do each day rather than a huge list on the weekend)

3. Monthly Cleaning Zones (lists out items that need to be done on a monthly basis so they aren’t overlooked)

4. Budget (visible reminder of our budget that will help us see how we’re doing and stay on track)

5. 52 Weeks of Organization (a weekly guide to organizing so that by year end, the whole house will be organized and de-cluttered)

6. Play date Calendar (monthly look at all the play groups, story times and open gym times around town for CJ and Isabella to use)

7. Emergency Contact Information (list of emergency numbers for easy reference for us or baby-sitters)

8. Household projects (list of all the big projects / to do’s that need to be done around the house so that CJ and I can sync up and track them together)

We’ve been using it since Sunday and so far, so good. Crossing items off the weekly cleaning list feels good because it means we’ve accomplished something and that we’re doing good things for our house! And the meal planner has made the week so much easier when it comes to lunches and dinners.

We also got one item checked off the household projects list – putting the storage cabinet together and organizing it!

In our old house, we had this cabinet in Samson’s Room and used it for storing gift wrapping supplies, games, scrapbooking stuff, and miscellaneous small décor items (like candles). We had to take it apart when we moved and it never got reassembled – until this weekend!

The basement went from this:

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To this!

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Pretty awesome, huh? I was able to unpack and toss about 7 big boxes, freeing up so much more space.

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Here’s what the inside looks like:

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On the left is the gift wrapping station (ribbons and accessories on top, bags and tissue on the hangers, and wrapping paper and boxes on the bottom). On the right we have games, memory boxes, extra baskets/art supplies and candles (in the top drawer). Bottom drawer is empty which means there’s room for more!

Feels so good to have that done and I smile every time I go in the basement and see that area!

Cheers to a good year!

Out with the Old + Labor Day Weekend Fun!

I like to have really nice things in our house. But I don’t like paying high prices for them. This is often a conundrum as it seems the things I like most tend to be out of budget and I’m left to dream.

Unless I can score a good clearance deal!

That was the case last week. We bought a new patio set!

Our old set was just that – old. We’d had it for 3 years and over that time the umbrella broke, as did one of the chairs, and the table top was permanently marked up.

It made our patio look junky.

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I wanted something more “grown up”. Something comfortable and functional but with an air of sophistication.

And of course it had to be kid and dog friendly.

So I started watching the sales and low and behold, I saw one that was exactly like what I was looking for, on end of season clearance for 60% off.

I dragged CJ and Isabella to Sears and we ended up with this Ty Pennington set that at full price retails for around $1200 (with the loveseat, 2 chairs, coffee table and 2 ottomans).

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Guess how much we paid?

$425 smacks. That’s right; we got a 6 piece set for almost 70% off. It was on sale already plus they added an extra 10% discount because it was the floor model and last one in the store.

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We love it – and Samson approves too! Not only is it comfy and gives us way more seating but it also makes the whole patio look more put together.

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Isabella digs it too!

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I would like to jazz it up a bit with some brighter colored pillows and add some decorative touches to the table – like flowers or something. Maybe even an outdoor rug. I’m watching the sales now to buy stuff but most likely will wait until next year to put it out since cool Fall weather is right around the corner (Dear God please!) and we’d end up bringing most of it inside anyway.

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The Labor Day weekend was a busy one for us. It started with the patio set being delivered Friday afternoon (yeah!) and then we headed downtown to spend the evening walking around Heartland of America Park.

The purpose of going was to show Isabella the big “rainbow fountain” they have but unbeknownst to us, it was broken. While that was a disappointment for sure, we still enjoyed the beautiful evening by walking around the lake.

We saw lots of ducks and swans.

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And were able to catch the sunset behind the buildings of downtown Omaha.

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Isabella did her best Olympic winner pose as she pretended those rocks were medal podiums.

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Saturday we were up bright and early for Isabella’s dance class.

I wish I could say she loved it and show you pictures of her dancing around in her leotard. Instead, I will report that she basically sits against the wall for the whole class and refuses to participate.

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This week was a little better. She at least stayed in the room with the kids and participated in one game. Last week she clung to me the whole time. *sigh* I guess it’s a process.

But for at least trying, we rewarded her with a trip to Fontenelle Forest to see their Dino Quest exhibit.

She had fun walking through the forest and seeing the replica dinosaur displays.

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She also enjoyed the children’s activity area.

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At one point she was getting tired from all the walking, plus it was humid out, and she basically sat down and wouldn’t go any further.

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So Daddy carried her for a little bit and she was happier.

They also have an indoor exhibit that was fun. Isabella especially liked dressing up in costume.

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This dinosaur head was so top heavy that she had to hold it up to keep it from flopping over.

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GROWL!

Saturday night we went out for ice cream and then I drove around trying to find a fountain for her to look at since we had such a disappointment with the rainbow one. We finally came upon one at a nearby hospital and it had a little trail to walk around it. Perfect! As we pulled up, in the darkness of 8:00 pm, we saw a group of 3 girls standing on the grass by the lake. One had a blanket and one had a basket. They looked at us as we parked and then they quickly jumped in their car and drove off. No idea what they were doing but it was obviously no good, hence their quick getaway. The only thing I can figure it that they were about to go skinny dipping or something.

Sunday was spent at the beach for the last day of pick-up sand volleyball and Monday was a family day over at my sister’s new pad.

It was a very fun and family filled weekend – and I was able to nap every single day! Score!

How was your holiday weekend?

Sitting Pretty

I finally did it! I can now cross another item off my Resolutions List for 2012. Namely, create a sitting room within the master bedroom.

And the best part, I didn’t have to spend a dime!

Here’s how the side of our room looked before:

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Pretty empty…

Here’s a view of it from the other side of the room, looking across the bed.

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(Let’s all play “Pretend” and imagine the bed being perfectly made, with no toys on it shall we?)

I’ve been spending the better part of the year looking around for the perfect chair and table to fill up that space. I wanted it to be a reading corner so the chair had to be comfortable for reading (either a rocker or big armchair) and the table had to be functional yet cute. Every time I wen to a thrift store, I looked at their furniture but never found anything I liked.

Then one day this happened.

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CJ’s dad brought over this rocking chair that he no longer needed. It’s in really good shape and needs no work. There are a few scratches on the seat, which the pillows I tossed on there cover up nicely. So we put it in the living room, in place of the old rocker.

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I like the contrast in color that it adds to the room. It feel cleaner and more grown up too.

So now I had an extra rocking chair that would be perfect for the bedroom!

Check!

Then, while in the basement today with Isabella, I gazed upon an end table that was tucked back in the corner and realized it could work great for the bedroom! Just needed some touching up. So I dragged it, along with a few decorative items and a tablecloth upstairs.

Here’s how it all came together.

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The chair works well as is and tucks in to the corner perfectly. I covered the table up with the tablecloth and put the bowl and candle on it. Then I tucked the little plant in to the corner for some greenery.

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I’m really happy with how it turned out. And so is Isabella, obviously.

We also added in an area rug that had also been collecting dust in the basement.

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(Remember, we’re still in Pretend World where the bed is made!!)

It adds just the extra something that the room needed.

Here’s how the 2 new additions look together.

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The room looks that much more finished and cozy.

Is it done? No. I’d like to maybe change out the cushions on the chair, and probably the pillow too, and add balls or something to fill up the red bowl. Will probably add a little figurine to the table too. Oh and the bulb in the lamp needs to be changed to something brighter so that we can see better.

But overall, it’s a definite improvement and am super excited to cross this off my to do list. I’m particularly pleased that we were able to reuse items we already had! Bonus!

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Master! | New Additions | Little Touches

New Additions

I know I haven’t posted in a while. We’ve been busy. That’s no excuse really but it’s the truth.

I mean, hello, the OLYMPICS were on! I could not tear myself away from the TV – even when the boring sports were on (*cough* the marathon *cough*)!

But now that’s behind us and life can resume its normalcy, if there is such a thing.

We were busy during the last few weeks creating various art projects. All of them (eventually) got hung up on the Gallery Wall too.

The first project was one I did after seeing creations like this. I figured, how hard could it be?

So I grabbed some supplies from Michael’s and got to work. First I spray painted a basic wooden plaque.

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Then I printed an outline of Nebraska, drew a heart in the center (most people put the heart wherever their city is on the state but since Omaha is all the way on the right, it wouldn’t have worked) and lightly secured it to the plaque with tape. Then I took my brads and hammered them in around the outside, trying to get them evenly spaced.

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Then it was time to thread it! I tied the thread (I chose green) in a knot around the top left-hand most brad and then started wrapping it around each brad from one to the next. I measured that there were 4 outside nails to every 1 inside nail so each inside nail got threaded 4 times – 1 per outside nail.

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Once that was done. I took another string and wrapped it from nail to nail around just the heart, to give it an outline and finish it off.

Ta da!

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If I had it to do over, I would have put the brads closer together, especially on the left side. But all in all, I’m happy with how it turned out. It’s something unique and colorful to represent where we live!

And here it is on the wall!

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The other project I did involved some stenciling letters I found in the Clearance bin at Michael’s. They just happened to have a “T”, “C”, “S”, and “I”, for $1 a piece, so I bought all 4, and a canvas, and went to work!

Here is what the final product turned out to be!

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I started with yellow because I’ve decided the Gallery Wall will be a rainbow of colors. I want every color represented. Yellow felt right to me. I wanted the “T” to stand out as it’s the first letter of our last name and therefore the common shared letter amongst all of us. So I made it black. Then I made the other ones blue because I like blue and yellow together, plus it echoes the color scheme of the playroom and dining room.

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Here it is on the wall!

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I haven’t decided if I want to leave it next to the red piece or move it up under the Nebraska thread project. I think I’ll probably move it, to balance out the big blocks of color and fill in the big space on the right.

I am happy with how it turned out. It’s simple yet makes a bold statement.

Finally, the piece de resistance! Isabella’s ode to the Olympics!

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I tried to get her to do something like this but she decided that smearing the paint was more fun. Not what I had in mind but that’s ok – it’s actually something better because Munchkin did it!

So there you have the latest additions to our gallery wall!

I can’t say good-bye though before showing you today’s activity – flying a kite!

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A Spiderman kite no less.

CJ showed her how to do it first.

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And before long she was a natural!

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She had a blast and we’re already looking forward to doing it again!

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