April Showers Bring…

Happy May Day!

The start of a new month means it’s time to look back at the previous one and see how I’ve been doing with my New Year’s Resolutions.

Before we get to the specifics, let’s take a moment to look at how many I’ve crossed off completely – a whopping three (organize the front room, break Isabella of her “oobie” habit, and move Isabella to a toddler bed)! Doesn’t seem like a lot given that my original list had 15+ things on it but most of those items are ongoing, longer term habits, which is different than getting one thing forever done. 

In the spirit of honesty and transparency, I have to admit something. I removed 2 of my goals. Both were in the “Spiritual” category. One was to find a church that we would go to regularly and one was to pray every day. These are both very good goals to have and important for sure, but I just cannot seem to make them a priority. Does that make me a heathen of some sort? No, I don’t think so. We do pray and we talk about spiritual things to Isabella, and someday we’ll find a church that is “us” but just not today. 

Now, let’s get on to the rest of the list!

Family and Home:

1.  Do at least one family outing a month. We did all kinds of things this month! We went to a couple of new playgrounds (one of which Isabella fell off of…scary!),


out to dinner at a new restaurant, and wandered around the Gene Leahy Mall downtown (granted this was for family pictures but it totally counts). 

2.  Tackle the following home projects this year:

  • Buy and hang curtains on all the windows.  Still waiting for the back-ordered drapes for the MBR to come in. They are due in on 5/3 so hopefully I’ll have a post dedicated to that finished project soon. Also need something for the LR and kitchen. 
  • Unpack the remaining boxes in the basement.  Hurray! I’ve actually made progress on this one! I was mad at myself at the end of March for saying 3 months in a row that I didn’t have an update so I got off my lazy butt and started to do something about it. Basically, I told myself that every time I went to the basement to play with Isabella (she has a whole other toy room down there), I would go through at least one box and figure out what to do with the contents. I can happily report that 3 boxes are gone for good (with the stuff either donated or tossed) and several other boxes have been reduced and combined. In fact, it was this exercise that spurred me in to doing the gallery wall.

These 2 home accents also came about as a result of digging through boxes in the basement.

This is an antique end table that was gifted to CJ. I finally brought it up and put some stuff on it.


It’s sitting in the space between the kitchen and living room:



The flower print and wooden gazelle were both Goodwill finds. The rest I found while digging around in boxes.


This tray and these mugs were also dug up from the basement. The tray used to look like this:


I changed it by cutting some scrapbook paper to fit the bottom section and glued it down! An easy change that made a big difference.


I also brought up this plant stand that had been lurking downstairs and put it to good use!


The coffee décor were other basement finds.

I tucked this at the end of our kitchen island. I originally had a plant on the island itself but it was taking up valuable space.


Moving it off to this stand has really opened up the room and made a huge difference!


  • Create a sitting room within the master bedroom.  No progress on this one. I keep looking for just the right chair during my Goodwill and thrift store shopping adventures. Nothing has jumped out at me yet though. 
  • Add built in shelves to the living room by the end of the year.  I’m starting to get antsy about getting this one under way. Soon, my precious, soon. 

3.  Have Isabella potty trained by her 3rd birthday (September 30). No real progress here. I am feeling pressure like we should be doing more. Just not sure what. Ugh.  

4.  Research pre-schools and enroll Isabella in one to start in the fall of 2012. No progress on this one either. Need to start making appointments to visit them. 

Financial and career:

5. Attend one career professional event a month.  Done!

6.  Spend less money.  Doing  pretty well at this. Am figuring out more and more ways to save which is satisfying. Also got a good chunk of the credit card paid off but then we had to turn around and charge $1000 for Samson’s surgery. 1 step forward, 1 step back. 

Physical and health:

7. Adopt one new healthy habit each month:

  • March – Do some type of physical activity IN ADDITION to regular workouts
  • April – Drink at least 64 oz. each day (includes water, tea, or juice. Does NOT include pop or alcohol)
  • May – Make a daily gratitude list
  • June – Try to walk 10,000 steps every day
  • July – limit sweets to once a day 

I’ve made a mess of this list. I switched March and April because March was too chilly for outdoor activity. So April was supposed to be about doing more physical activity in addition to daily workouts. It didn’t exactly happen. There were a few days where I went for an extra walk in the afternoon, but those were rare. I really wanted May to be about limiting sweets to once a day (which is supposed to be July’s habit). 


I just can’t make up my  mind. What it comes down to is this: I really think that if I drink more water and eat fewer sweets, by body will follow with more energy, fewer zits, and fewer  pounds. So that’s what I’m doing for May – essentially taking a redo on one habit and adding in the other. It won’t be easy as those are both big weaknesses of mine, but it’s now or never.

Social and cultural:

8. Attend at least 4 cultural events this year (e.g. Broadway shows, concerts, museum exhibitions).  I don’t think there were any this month. Though we did buy tickets to see Red Hot Chili Peppers when they come in October! 

9. Regularly participate in events put on by the social clubs I belong to (speakers events, parties, happy hours, etc).  I participated in a happy hour for work and in another social outing to plant flowers (wherein I bought this guy). 

10.  Go on a date night with CJ once a month. Ya know, I don’t think we had a date night in April. Epic fail!

All in all, I think I’m doing well. Could be better but could also be worse, so I’ll take it. Still plodding along and getting things done! 

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The Gallery

Ever since we moved in to our house, I’ve wanted to create a “gallery wall” along the stairs to showcase family photos and fun prints.


It only took me 7 months to get it done!

Part of the reason it’s taken so long is because I wasn’t sure what images I wanted to use. We have so much more wall space in the new house that I’ve had to slowly get a feel for a room before deciding what to hang in it. What worked on say the living room wall in the old house doesn’t quite fit in the new one.

That and my perfectionism. I mean, what if I hang up a picture and it looks bad? Eeh gads! The world might end!


At any rate, on Sunday I was playing in the basement with Isabella and started going through boxes to see what was in them. I came across a framed piece of art that we had in the kitchen of the old house, and which I had not been able to find since moving. I immediately knew it would be perfect as part of the gallery wall and suddenly I was inspired.

I started pulling together family photos and other small pieces of art that would work with it.

My 2 rules:

  1. Each piece had to have either a black or white frame. This would keep the wall unified despite the images themselves being different, and
  2. Nothing larger than an 11 x 14” frame because I wanted each piece to be medium to small size so they’d be more of a collection.

I also didn’t want TOO many pics – I didn’t want to cover the wall completely.

OK so that’s 3 rules.

Once I had the pics, I had to determine the best way to lay them all out together. You can’t just randomly start hanging them up; you have to put a little thought in to it first. What I did was trace each picture frame on a piece of white paper and wrote on it what the picture was and what color of frame it had. Then I laid out all the pieces of paper on the floor and moved them around until I had an arrangement I liked. From there, I used a small piece of tape to put them up on the wall to see if the arrangement translated vertically.


I left the paper up on the wall for half the day in order to “live with it” for a bit. Seeing them from different angles and walking by them several times helped cement the arrangement.


I used this “break” to bake up some Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies.


OMG. These are so good. Even CJ, who normally doesn’t like peanut butter in desserts, raved about them.


But I digress.

Also during my “picture hanging marinating period” I had to run to the store and buy a couple replacement frames as some of the ones I had were a little beaten up or not made for hanging on the wall. Turned out Target had all their frames on sale, plus I had a coupon for buy 2 frames get one free (I needed 5 frames) AND I had a gift card. So the frames were practically free! Ok maybe not but still darn cheap none-the-less ($28 for all 5 frames).

Now it was time to hang!

This would normally be the part of a DIY blog where a person talks about some really cool tool they used to mark holes on the walls so that everything was nice and even and aligned. And how they used a level to get it all straight.

That person would not be me.

I pretty much just eye-balled it. If I were doing a gallery wall where all the frames were the same size and I wanted them squared off and even, I would have taken more time. But since I had some variance and the point was to be purposely misaligned, I just went for it.


And it turned out pretty darn good.


I had to get CJ to help me with the picture in the upper left-hand corner because it was too high for me to reach (and needed a screw and a drill), but otherwise it was all me.

The Chrysler Building print was a Goodwill find for $2.99. I like it because it represents my previous life in NYC (I lived there on and off for about a year) and it’s an architectural type drawing (CJ and I are architecture geeks).


The white “You Make Me Smile” print was also a Goodwill find for $2.99. I liked the simplicity of it and the message. I kept it down low so that when Isabella can read, she’ll see it every day and know I was thinking of her when I bought it.


The “Don’t Be Afraid of Tomorrow, God is Already There” piece was the one from our old kitchen that got this whole project kicked off. It was a gift from a friend many moons ago.


And the rest are pics of family. For now I’m happy with these 9 pieces. Obviously there’s room to expand if we decide to add more but I also don’t want to take over the whole wall either.

Not yet anyway.

Oh and Isabella was a big help in taking this project over the finish line…


After doing all this work, CJ and Isabella decided some yoga was in order, to stretch out their muscles.

Plow anyone?


And don’t forget downward dog!


And it all made her so tired, that she slept part of the night half in and half out of her bed.


So there you have it! The start of the gallery wall. I see this as a fluid space that will change and grow over time. For now, it makes me really happy. Every time I walk by the stairs and see it, I smile.


With each project that gets completed, the house feels more and more like ours.

Have a great evening! I’m off to scarf down a PB truffle brownie!

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Stormy Saturday

Today’s the day a giant catastrophic storm is supposed to roar through our area. Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel is even here.

That’s not good.

However, so far the storms have been fairly mild. Some rain here. A few thunder claps there. Nothing that would suggest the end of the world. But you never know with Nebraska, it could change in an instant.


I used the inside time today to be both productive and relax. Isabella and I ran to the store for supplies (like water) and then we lazed around watching TV. We also took a nice long nap. That felt good. There’s nothing better than napping on a stormy day.

Before the nap I got the hall closet organized.


I forgot to take a before picture (oops!) but imagine it was something like this, only inside the closet:


I culled through our towels and sheets, getting rid of ones that were old or mismatched. I kept enough for each of us to have 3 towels each, and 3 sets of sheets (for me and CJ – Isabella’s bedding is stored in her room). I also went through all the toiletries, medicine, and other paraphernalia and organized it.



Putting frequently used meds on the turntable works great. It’s handy because everything can be “up front” with a quick turn.

I also corralled all the bulk stuff (big bin on the left) so that I know what I have and what I don’t.


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run out and bought deodorant or something only to realize later I had an extra one on the floor of the closet. Hate that!

You can see that all my mani/pedi supplies were consolidated as well. Now I can just grab that whole bin and take it with me when I want to paint my nail, instead of searching for everything I need.

Feels good to check that project off the list.

Changing subjects….

Now to some random odds and ends from the week that I have been meaning to blog about but never got around to.

I love fresh flowers. I used to think they were an occasional treat but now I try and have them around the house all the time. Nothing brightens up a room better.

I bought a bouquet on sale for $5 the other day and split it up. This vase is sitting in our dining room.


And these little beauties went up in to Isabella’s room!


Funny how something so simple can make a big difference.

Remember how I told you about our puzzles at work?

Well we finished another one!


As you can see this was a 3-D one. I found it at a used toy store for $3 and thought, what the heck?


To be honest, I only put like 5 of the pieces together. I was too busy to help much this time around but the other gals did a bang up job!


We’ve already taken this one down and started puzzle #3. It’s a landscape scene with lots of water and sky. We’re about halfway done so far. I’ll share when we finish completely.

And now for a story about the Dog “Whisperer”

Samson was taken to the vet last week to have his leg looked at. He’d been limping around for a month or so. They x-rayed and found a sprained knee and really bad arthritis in both hips. He had never limped or shown any signs of the hip pain before. Doc said it’s because he’s so athletic and strong, that he was able to transfer the weight off his hips to his knees. But unfortunately, that’s how his knee got sprained. Anyway, he’s doing fine, just has to be on pain meds for a while. But we’re also supposed to keep him from running or playing too hard.

You tell me how we’re supposed to keep a lab from running?

Anyway, the other day, Samson started feeling his oats and grabbed one of Isabella’s stuffed toys and ran around the playroom with it. I yelled at him to stop and drop it and he ignored me. I yelled again and he just stood there with it in his mouth.

I was obviously having no effect on him.

Isabella calmly walked over to Samson, stood about a foot in front of his face and screamed, “DROP IT!!!!” at the top of her lungs.

Samson promptly opened his jaws and released his prisoner.

Isabella picked it up and brought it to me saying, “Here you go mommy. I got it back for you.”


Here’s hoping the big storm goes around us! Stay safe!

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S & C

I don’t consider myself to be a crafty person. An artist, yes. Crafty, no. There is a difference but don’t ask me to explain it because I can’t. Kind of like the difference between jelly and jam or muffins and cupcakes. Everyone knows they’re not the same thing but does anyone really know why? (If you do, keep it to yourself or you’ll ruin everything.)

Despite my crafting deficiencies, I’ve actually been doing quite a bit of it lately. I spiffed up a lamp shade, repainted some mirrors and snazzied up a stool.

And now I’ve gone and done it again.  

See, most of our efforts on the house have been concentrated either on the first floor, since that’s what most people will see, or Isabella’s room. Our bedroom has gone pretty untouched. Then I stumbled across this blog post and was inspired.



Aren’t those awesome? We all know how much I love Samson. What better way to honor him than by placing his beautiful silhouette front and center on our wall? That started the wheels turning and before long, I was digging out my trusty can of spray paint again.

There are many ways you can do this project. You can trace an outline of your pet on the canvas and then paint around it. You can put a stencil on the canvas and spray paint over it. You can make it all up on the computer, print and frame it. Or you can do what I did, which seemed the easiest: spray paint your canvas whatever color you want. Print out a pic of your pet that measures the right size and then cut it out with an Xacto knife. Cut it out again on white archival paper and then glue it to the canvas with spray adhesive. The whole thing took me about an hour from start to finish (not counting drying time of the paint).

Here’s the result:


I so LOVE how it turned out!

Isn’t he regal? 

But why stop there? While I was at it, I did a silhouette of Isabella too! Can’t play favorites with your kids you know!


LOVE! Love! Love! That pose is very indicative of her personality too. Always heads down figuring stuff out.

Remember in my post from Sunday how I mentioned spray painting an “S” and a “C”? Well, those went up on the wall with these beauties!

And now for the big reveal!


Ta da! At first I was worried that it was too much black and white. But now I love the graphic nature of it. High contrast with a hint of color in the red ribbon gives our room a slight edge, so it’s not too “fluffy” (I’m not a very fluffy person).


Pretend there are curtains on the windows. This shot would look much better with curtains. I had planned to have some up by now but Target thwarted my plans. It’s a long story. Suffice it to say I bought 2 sets of curtains from there only to have to return all of them for one reason or other. I finally settled on some from JCPenney, which of course were on back order. They should be in our possession some time in May.


I also like how the black/white above the bed ties in with the black frames on the adjoining wall. I have read over and over that you can unify pictures just by keeping the frames consistent. So the rule in our house is black frame, white matte. Always.

I’m super happy with how it turned out. In my head, I had pictured hanging the letters by the red ribbon. But when I went to implement, I didn’t like it. So I went with this instead. MUCH better.

I’m also happy that CJ’s didn’t have a name that started with “M” or our bedroom would take on a whole other theme…

Oh, and another “crafty” project I did a while back but forgot to share was this –


I needed some sort of yellow tray to put on the dining room table to bring more of the sunny color into the room. Then I read in a magazine that you could take an empty frame and put fabric in it to make a tray. Voila!

It just so happened that I had some fabric leftover from reupholstering the dining room chairs so I used that! It worked out beautifully!


All right, that’s enough “Craft Time with Sarah”. I’m really excited about how all these house projects are turning out and love sharing them with you! I hope it gives someone else inspiration too!

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Look out Martha!


This weekend was full of projects. I’ve had a few things in mind I’ve been wanting to do for a while PLUS I got a few things at Goodwill recently that needed a little TLC. I finally decided to bite the bullet and just get to work.

These mirrors I found at Goodwill a month or so ago.


Both are in great condition and a good size (the small one was $2.99 and the big oval one was $4.99). I wasn’t in love with the color though so I bought some spray paint and got to work. The little one was going to be black and the big one white, which would go in Isabella’s room so she’d have a mirror at her level. Wasn’t quite sure where to put the little one but figured black was a pretty safe color that could go anywhere.

I started by taping over the mirror with newspaper so it would stay clean.


Then set them up outside, on some more newspaper, so that I’d be working in a well ventilated area and wouldn’t have to worry as much about overspray.

Here they are after the first coat.



As you can see, it would take me several coats to fully cover them.

Getting closer…



I didn’t count the number of coats but I think it was about 5 for each.

Here they are in their final state, hung up to enjoy!

The big white one went in Isabella’s room, next to the door so that she could see herself after getting dressed.


I ended up putting the little black one by the front door to use as people are coming/going and want to check their hair, make-up, hats, etc.


I’m really happy with how they turned out and both were super easy.

Another painting project from yesterday was this stool I got at Goodwill for $4.99.


It’s the perfect size for Isabella’s playroom (and we needed one to help her reach some books). The natural wood color was ok but didn’t really go with the theme of the recently redone playroom. So, I got out my trusty white spray can!

Here it is after one coat.


It took about 5 or 6 coats for this as well, due to all the little divots of the wood and wanting to get those filled in.

Here’s the final product, set up in it’s new home.


Isabella already loves it and will pick it up and carry it around to various rooms!

While I was spray happy, I took on some wooden letters. See, I want to put an “S” and “C” up on the wall above our bed and I’d like to put at “I” above Isabella’s! I happened to find a wooden “S” at Goodwill for $.99 (see a pattern here?) so all I had to do was buy a “C” and an “I”. Isabella helped me pick them out. She wanted a glittery pink “I” for her room. While I could have made one myself, I opted to just buy one that was already done.

Here it is hanging on her wall.


Not the greatest pic but you get the idea.

The “S” and “C” had to be painted though because they were plain white.


I painted them black so that they’d stand out from our bedroom wall (which is a light tan) and provide some good contrast. Of all the painting projects that took place yesterday, they were the easiest. 2 coats later and they were done!

You’ll have to wait for the final reveal on those as I want to show them as part of the finished bedroom wall. More to come on that this week!

I also fixed up our living room lamp yesterday. The lamp itself was another Goodwill purchase made over the summer and it cost $14. The shade however was on it’s last legs. It worked for a while, until Isabella knocked in to it a couple weeks ago and broke it beyond repair. So, I bought a new lampshade (no, not from Goodwill…from Target…geesh).


It was a nice lampshade. Contemporary, with the cylinder shape and made of burlap, but a tad boring. So, I bought a clearance roll of ribbon from Michael’s and got to work. I basically took some spray adhesive and sprayed the top of the shade, as well as the back of the ribbon, and then just laid the ribbon around the top. It took me all of 5 minutes to complete.

Ta da!



I really like it. The change is subtle but enough to give it personality. I plan to add another ribbon along the bottom but I ran out and have to go buy more.

Finally, I tackled the kitchen pantry.

Here is the “before” shot.


Things were randomly jumbled in there and it was getting harder to find things.

I started by taking everything out and categorizing it – cereal, baking supplies, cooking, snacks, etc. Then I looked at each group and further sub-categorized (for example, in “snacks”, we had crackers, bars, bagged stuff and candy). Each category then got contained in a bin of some sort, labeled and put back on the shelf.

Here’s the after.


Look at how much more room we have! And it’s nice because some of the staples that I use for cooking or baking are corralled all together so I can just pull out the whole bin and have everything handy! Oh, and of course I got the bins at either Goodwill (for $.39 each) or the Dollar Store.

Here are a few more pics of items that I’ve ‘scored’ recently while thrift shopping!

This circle-patterned pillow ($3.99) on the living room couch.


Some summer shoes for Isabella ($2.99 each).


Some scarves and a vest for me (scarves $3 each and the vest was $5.99).


AND this toddler chair for Isabella to use at the table instead of her high chair (which I’ve been wanting to get rid of for a while)!


This was a huge score. We found it at a used children’s place for $5.50 (normally they can be in the $20-$30 range)! She absolutely loves it too! We also found a potty seat for when we start potty training. It was also way marked down to $5.50 (and it’s a nice one that converts from a self-contained potty, to a stool and seat that goes on the adult potty).

Well there you go – that was my Saturday! Seems like a lot for one day – and I guess it was – but most of it was quick. The painting takes a few seconds to put on one coat. It’s the drying that takes the most time. The pantry was the biggest project, which I knocked out during Isabella’s nap.

I LOVE it when ideas from my head come out in real life just as I pictured them to! And it feels even better knowing they were all thrift store finds (the most money I spent was on the spray paint at $6 a can. Considering I got 7 things painted using 3 cans, I think it was still a good deal)!

Now I’m off to play outside with my sweet daughter and handsome hubby!

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