Friday, May 1, 2015

Exterior Before and After

True story...I just gasped in horror at how hideous this house used to be.  I honestly look back at these pictures and still see potential but I also think to myself...what in the hell were you thinking?  So here it is people.  This is the house we bought 6 years ago in hopes to fix it up and make it beautiful, and by golly we did that for sure.  Let's start with the siding.  Yikes!!! This white siding was turning yellow, chipping right and left, and was covered in I don't know how many years of dirt.  As you can also see, the shutters needed some help(hahaha I mean whatever was left of them).  I'm not really a fan of most shutters so ya... they just had to go!  The landscaping was our worst nightmare.  Every plant was overgrown and weed infested.  The grass was more like a field of dandelions and those poor trees hadn't been pruned in like a decade.  So we basically ripped almost everything out and started new.  New sod, flowers, shrubs, and to top it all off, we moved around those giant boulders.  Because really?  Who puts 5 giant boulders in the very middle of the yard?  Here are the before pictures...


This house of ours got a major re-haul.  I was really going for something that reminded me of the northwest.  I loved the two tone and contrast between the siding colors and styles.  The new windows really open up the front of the house and the roof is just so crisp and clean.  When we moved in, the house didn't have any gutters and I am so amazed at how just adding gutters made the house feel so updated.  As for the landscaping, I went with an organic feel.  I didn't want the yard to look super polished.  I wanted the shrubs and flowers to feel like they had been there forever.  They create a bit of privacy and noise blocking from the road.  I'm more than pleased with how it all turned out.  I'm also pleased that it's the sexiest house on the block!  If you want to see more of our house before and afters check them out here, here, here, and here

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Finding "home"

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet Gabrielle Stanley Blair of Design Mom.  She was having a book signing of her book 'Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: a Room-by-Room Guide'. She was just beyond fantastic.  I've been reading her blog for a while now (thanks for introducing us Pinterest) and I fell in love with her style and insight. 

It wasn't until today that I realized I never read what she had written to me when she signed it.  I flipped open to the page and there it was, 'wishing you luck on finding "home"'.  Seriously?  How more amazing can this lady be.  Here we are selling our "home" and in search of new one and I read this!  So now I'm stuck in deep thought about "home".  What is home? How to we define home?

I'll be honest in saying that when we first bought our house it took a while to make it feel like home.  Yes, it's where our stuff accumulated and our house started to resemble our 'sent' (I'm not talking body odor, people, I'm talking that defining sent that your personal house just smells like.  you know?).  But what made our house a home was memories.  The more memories we added to our house the more and more it felt like "home".  The place where our emotions can run freely, laughter is heard, tears are shed, and joy is felt.  This house of ours is HOME and soon we will be saying goodbye to it and making a new house our home. 

I'm not one who holds on to objects. I'm the 'I haven't used this for a while I'll toss it out' kinda girl.  So when selling a home I'm not worried about purging more than half of the crap we own.  But what I'll struggle with is looking around those empty rooms that are full of so many memories.   I'll see in that empty room a cradle that held my babies while they slept, and in another, a table where we ate our favorite foods together. 

"Home" is brought with us.  Home is in our hearts.  It's the special memories we make with one another, wherever that may be.  So, here's to our new home...whichever one we choose...that is too can hold many precious and special memories we will create. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Kitchen Before and After

Here we are selling our house and I'm just now getting around to posting these before and after photos.  But, if I'm being totally honest, it's because the kitchen has had a 'projects to finish' list for like 5 years. It's funny looking back on it now.  Most of the projects we wanted to get finished only took a couple of hours to get done and a few bucks here and there but when life gets crazy busy all the to-do lists get pushed aside.  Good thing we got these done before putting our house on the market though. 

So, when we bought this house the kitchen was one of the worst rooms of the house.  It was the only room that had a sink in working order, but the floors had barely any covering (seriously just subflooring) and the cabinets were super old and flimsy.  Honestly, there really wasn't anything in this kitchen we could salvage.  It was a total tear down.  And so, that's what we did.  We gutted the entire kitchen and started all over again.  We rearranged the set up a bit by moving the oven and fridge and all the gas plumping and electrical to go with it.  We also got rid of all the windows and got new ones in a better arrangement.  It brings in so much more light now. The whole reno was insane!  But worked out so well. 

Here are all the before pictures!!

Here are all the after pictures!!

I really went with an earthy look in the kitchen.  With slate subway tiles and a butcher block countertop it brought in a lot of natural textures and colors. I kept the cabinets white to brighten the kitchen but to also allow for easy spot cleaning.  The color on the walls is from Valspar and is called Brown Buzz...which is weird because it's green. The red accents were for a little pop of bold color, and I always make sure to add living plants to the mix.  They not only clean the air but bring in a bit of the outside in.  The kitchen is always a congregating space, so I always make sure to have things for the kids to do at the table while I make dinner or clean up.  I keep a rug and basket by the door for easy shoe removal (although I am always having to remind the kids) and some coat hooks to collect all jackets, bags, and whatnots that need to be off the floor. 
Though this kitchen is a bit tucked away from the center of our house, its inviting and spacious.  We spend a lot of time in this area of our I'm sure you all do in your kitchens.  Hope you enjoyed!  More to come soon.  If you're wanting to see of few of the other areas click here, here, and here!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Friendship as an adult

Months ago I found myself in search of 'new friends'.  Not saying that the friends I have are horrible or anything but the truth of the matter is this...we need friends in our lives.  It's been a fundamental truth since we were little.  You make friends and all is right in the world.  Well, as an adult friendship seems to change.  And it's that fact right there that I feel the need to wright about what I think friendship is and why it's so freakin' hard to make friends as an adult. 

So, here I am jotting down my thoughts while my kids take a nap and I intermittently shove leftover spaghetti in my mouth.  Honestly, I was up most of the night being a total mope about not being able to make new friends.  It's like I was having flashbacks of Jr. High and eating lunch alone in the bathroom stall.  Which is so sad and so's just nasty. I feel as though I've tried every option as to set up girls night out evenings with friends that, for the most part, everyone is too busy to make room for in their schedule. So, I've done my best to talk with those around me, get involved in social occasions, and I just feel out of place.  Like, am I not cool enough?  What's wrong with ME?  It got me to thinking...why is it so hard to make friends as an adult?  Now I'll admit, I don't think it has anything to do with being an adult at all.  I think it has everything to do with our hook on social media.  Yes, we are all connecting to each other in some way or another.  We know this person who knows this person and so on. We are able to freely look into people's lives and get to know their personalities.  But, because of the fact that we aren't personally talking to these people (even though we think it's totally fine to write random strangers advice and congratulatory messages) the makeup of what a friendship really is, is lost.  Our minds are starting to think that when we 'follow' someone we are in return connected to them somehow.  That when they respond to a comment we wrote we are, in return, buddies. 

What ever happened to book club and quilting nights?  Why have pot lucks been lost and visiting on ones couch become a foreign thing?  I'm starting to think that friendship means 'you do something for me and I'll do something for you'. I sincerely miss the days of getting together for no reason but to talk and enjoy one anothers' company.   So many of us feel so alone.  Whether it be in motherhood, or a specific life altering event, and yet why do we feel that way?  It's because we are reaching for strangers rather than the people near us.  Who's to say the gal behind you in the grocery store is struggling with the exact same thing you are.  What a perfect friendship and bond that would make.  Or how about the woman at the park who has 3 more kids than you do...but don't you want to pick her brain at how she does all that she does. 

Let start making friendship personal people!!  Let's make time to get together, to meet new people, and to exchange PHONE NUMBERS NOT INSTAGRAM NAMES!!!  Lets invite each other over for lunches or, for hells sake, to binge watch The Blacklist with someone.  It's these small and simple acts that build lasting friendships.  Showing someone that you care. 

So...I guess all I'm saying is let's be friends.  I'm really good at it...I promise!!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Disneyland tips from an obsessed mom

It's the truth...I really LOVE Disneyland.  Since I was a child, Disneyland has always been a special place for me.  Some of my fondest and most dear memories involve trips to Disneyland.  I've been going since the People Mover was still up and running.  I still remember when the parking lot was where California Adventure now stands.  I can remember the first time Indiana Jones opened and the long lines and hours of waiting it took to finally enjoy the 2 minute ride.  I can still recall the first year Fast Passes were invented and how long it took to finally figure out how they worked...and how they totally ROCK!  But beyond that, Disneyland always involves my family. This is me and my Grandpa on the People Mover in 1989!!!

Before I had kids, we ran from ride to ride and asked to sit in the front or the back (because I guess the middle of the ride totally sucks?).  We saved our precious pennies to be able to buy churros.  The kiddie rides were so not cool to be seen on, and we avoided the Characters like they were the plague.  Now, Disneyland isn't so much about the rides but the magic.  I look at my kids faces as they look up at Mickey Mouse and nothing beats the joy that shines from their tiny little eyes.  I'm more excited to see their reaction than I am to feel the jolts, twirls, and tickle hills on a ride. And, even though we still went on most of the rides, we made it a point this year to take in ALL the entertainment.  We watched the parades, saw all the shows, and made sure to stand in line to see the characters.  So, I feel like I've truly seen it all at Disneyland. 

With that said, I've decided to share a few tips that can really make your trip more enjoyable.  Whether its 'where to sit' in a show, or what's my favorite ride, or the yummiest food, I'm dishing all the dirt on Disney.


My absolute favorite show to see at Disneyland is Aladdin (now Frozen).  It's like seeing a mini Broadway play!  The music is fantastic, the acting is great, and the set...I mean...WOW!  They really went all out on this one.  The great thing about it too is that it plays multiple times a day so you can plan ahead as to what show to see when you're over in that area.  Thanks to my awesome step-mom, we found the best place to sit!  It's my opinion that you should get there at least 45 minutes before the start time of the show.  That seems like a lot of time to wait, but it's worth it to get into the Orchestra seating section.  When the doors open to the show you'll be guided up some stairs on your left and into some doors.  DON'T go all the way down to the ground floor!!!!!  Instead, sit on the front row of the top part of the Orchestra seating.  You'll be able to see what's happening all around, and the kids will get close up visitors in the play!  Just trust me on this one!

In that same area is Turtle Talk with Crush.  This show is interactive and totally hilarious.  Kids are allowed to sit on the floor in front of the 'underwater' screen and interact with Crush from Finding Nemo.  He asks questions to audience members (adults and kids) and teaches the kids how to speak turtle.  It plays a lot during the day, so if you're over's a must see.

I also loved The Frozen play in the Royal Theater.  Last year was Rapunzel and it had great music, was really funny, and was interactive.  This year was Frozen and it was equally just as great!  This play does require a Fast Pass!  It plays multiple times during the day so if you miss one just hurry over and get a Fast Pass for the next showing.  The kids are allowed to sit in the front on the floor and you get to hang out on the benches behind and rest.  I personally like finding a seat in the very back so I actually have a backrest. Ha ha...I'm like totally an old lady!

The parades are another must see with little kids, but really I quite enjoy them myself.  There's so much detail in the costumes and floats that I'm always blown away!  My kids just sit there in awe and wave at everyone!  It's adorable!!  I would suggest sitting with the sun behind you.  There are a few places I always try and sit and are always taken, so if you really want a great seat, you need to get there early.  For me, the best place are the benches on the right of Sleeping Beauty's Castle (if you're looking at it).  The benches are actually built into the wall so they have a backrest and no one can sit or stand in front of you because they are right up next to the street. 

The Tikki Room is one I used to hate!  Now that I have kids, it's one of my favorites.  Here's why... it has it's own separate bathroom, you can eat in there, the long line to get dole whips can be skipped if you get them on the opposite side where the Tikki Room lounge is, and it's nice and cool in there.  On really hot or rainy's like the best thing ever!!!   Any seat is a good seat, and if your kid is really feeling brave, they can ask the cast member to wake up Jose.

Lastly is Fantasmic!  I also really love Word of Color...but there's something about Fantasmic.  Mostly I think it's because it's the same it's been since I was young.  There's fire and water and fireworks and, or course, there's Mickey!  Now that Disneyland has gotten all Fast Pass crazy, it's really the only way to see it...unless you know the inside scoop.  Eat dinner at Café Orleans!!!!  You get a delicious meal that's not too crazy in price and they will let you stick around and watch Fantasmic from their outdoor seating section.  Make sure to get reservations ahead of time and make sure that your dinner time is as close to Fantamic as possible! 

 Meeting The Characters:

For the most part you can wait in lines all around the park to meet the characters...which is what we always do but for Mickey...we visit his house in Toontown.  Here's my tip...go to his house about a half hour before the park closes.  He's still there, usually, and no one else will be in line.  This means two things, one, no line...totally awesome, and two, Mickey will actually interact with your child.  A few years ago we took my oldest daughter to go see Mickey at his house.  We waited in line for about 30 minutes and when we got in there we were hurried and rushed to take a picture and get out.  I totally get it...long lines call for desperate measures, but this time was so much better!!!  After visiting Mickey, go snoop around all of Toontown without all the crowds.  It's a ton of fun!


I know it sounds crazy to even put food as a category but Disneyland has some of the best food!  Yes you'll find some of the basics like burgers and fries and mac and cheese, but some of the best food I've ever had has been at Disneyland!  Here's a list of things I can't go without eating while at Disneyland.

Rice Krispie Treat
Corn Dog
Dole Whip
Mint Julep
Fried Pickles (I just really love pickles) They are only served at Carnation Café on Main Street
Clam Chowder Bread Bowl
 and that's just to name a few...

A must for me and Mike, though, is eating at Blue Bayou. It's the restaurant inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. We ate there on our Honeymoon (yes we went to Disneyland...I told you I love this place) and we have eaten there almost every visit since.  We usually ask our family to watch the kids for us for an hour while we have alone time, but if are aren't able to have someone watch your kids then I'd just skip it.  It's more of a romantic place.  It's pricey for sure, but the food and ambiance is totally worth it!  You HAVE to make reservations in advance...and I'm talking weeks, especially if you want dinner. 

So there you have it.  Just a few tips and things about Disneyland.  I'm full of them, so if you have questions just leave a comment.  If you've never been...lets go together!!! I'm always down for a Disney trip!