Why to never, ever ask again, "So when are you going to have kids?"

What a great conversation topic to ask married couples. {Not.}

Why do we feel the need to ask couples who are married when they're planning to have kids? I know you're just asking because it's what you're supposed to do, but really. {Heck I'm guilty of this one myself} Why not just ask how they're doing, what their weekend was like, what they're learning about marriage, or something related to the state of their couple-hood that doesn't have to do with bearing children or starting a family?

Because here's the thing: This question can hurt. Bad.  

This question hurts because when I have to answer and tell you that "we'd like to sometime," or, "we're not sure, whenever God decides," or "probably in the next year," with a smile on my face, what I'm really trying to say is that I just found out last week that I'm not pregnant again and you're reminding me yet again that I don't have that very thing that my husband and I have been praying for for quite some time. I'm tired of the superficial answer of "sometime soon," or "we'd love to anytime," and then you encouraging me with your fertility tips or the anecdote of the fact that it took you two years to get pregnant after you were thirty or reminding me that pregnancy peaks at age 25. Thanks for reminding me, because I know this.  

I also didn't like my answer to this question earlier in our marriage when my husband and I weren't trying and were traveling instead. I always felt like I had to defend myself with my reasoning as to why we chose to take some time together early on in our marriage before we had children because it never quite fit with the expected answer to the "when are you having kids" question. 

It's not that I think you're particularly trying to hurt me when you ask my when we're going to have kids, but I think it's truly just because you're not sure what to ask since I'm almost thirty with no kids and a dog, and that's just the thing to do. What I would love though, is for you to ask me about me. About my faith. About my marriage maybe. About my job or about my traveling or about anything else besides when I'm having children because I'm trying. We're trying. We're trying to have kids but for some reason, it's not in God's plan for us at this current moment and we're trusting him for His timing on what having a family might look like in our lives. When we do get pregnant or have a family, you'll be one of the first to know. 

Going through this and faced with the reality of our-timing-may-not-be-God's-timing has taught me a lot in the fact that you never know what someone is going through, so asking them a private question related to when they are going to share in an intimate moment with their spouse in order to conceive an embryo and then be pregnant for nine months before delivering a baby is actually not the most sensitive or appropriate question to probe in anyone's life. (Unless you're my sister. Then it's okay.) 

Because the other thing in being extremely candid is that it's really painful to hear stories of recent conception and when people are having their fifth when we're trying to have one. And when you ask me when I'm having kids, my heart just stings a little as I try to come up with a polite response that won't overwhelm you or be rude depending on what day it is. I do rejoice with the lives God has given to families and I promise you my friends, I am overjoyed with the blessing of children in your lives. Truly, truly and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. 

But maybe if you've ever been in my position, you know the fleeting thirty-seconds-of-sadness when you see someone else's ultrasound posted to Facebook when you could have sworn you were pregnant that month... only to find out that you're not. And of course then you recover as you always do and become positively thrilled for that friend hoping it will be you some day. 


So, the next time you want to ask a newly married couple, "So, when are you guys planning to have kids?" instead maybe you could ask, "So, what do you like best about being married?" or better yet-- "Let's get coffee soon so we can connect about life," because maybe then I'll share with you the real truth of that having-kids question. 
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Resolution progress | January 2014




This is that time of the year when I tend to have forgotten all of my resolutions and shamelessly given up on anything I set out to accomplish as a goal. I'm happy to report that is NOT the case for this year's resolutions! {Okay, well for two of the three...}

I'm going to do a monthly check-in, partially for my own accountability and partially because I want to be living proof that resolution follow-through can happen in some way, shape or form. Because if I feel this good right now in January, I can only imagine how much better I'll feel in December!

So as a refresher, my resolutions for this year were as follows:

1) Plan out my meals on Saturdays, shop on Sundays and be prepared with cooked meals Monday - Friday. Of said meals, ALL ingredients need to be free of artificial ingredients. No compromises, for reals. My grocery bill may be higher, but my insides will be happier. 

2) Go to the gym after school three days a week. Get 5 minutes of cardio in every day (walk, jumping jacks, jog around the block). I really, really, really need to get moving. 

3) Not use a single credit card for 2014. Not once. Not for perks, not a store card, not for discounts, nothing. Zip. Nada. No bueno. Credit cards are very sneaky little tools that make you think you're getting a lot, but instead are life suckers when they send their bills and after 10 years of owning them, I'd rather just pay cash for everything now, thankyouverymuch. 



Resolution #1: Success

Every Saturday I curl up with my cup of coffee and my computer and meal plan. I dig out recipes I've always wanted to try from Pinterest and visit my go-to favorite websites such as pinchofyum.com or simplegreensmothies.com to pick what I want to have for breakfast and dinner each week. This planning ahead has been so positive in multiple ways, including cutting out how much we eat out or get take-out (we only went out one time this month for happy hour, and went to dinner one night on our trip to Ashland). We also take leftovers for our lunches at school and I drink a green smoothie every day with ingredients like kale, broccoli, spinach, pineapple, oranges, coconut, and multiple other ingredients that give me energy in the mornings while getting my fruit and vegetable servings as well. 

Meal planning has also helped with stress levels after school surrounding "I have no idea what to cook for dinner" (which usually defaults into, "let's just grab a pizza because I'm too tired"). Each day I know exactly what I'm making and I have bought all the ingredients for it ahead of time. Some meals have become new favorites, and some I'll never make again. However, it keeps us out of the restaurants and spending more time together at home as a family which is another positive. I also set a budget for each week and only exceeded it by $50 this month because a) I ran out of saran wrap and Ziplocs, b) I'm making carnitas for the first time and dang those pork shoulders are expensive and c) wine will no longer be on  my weekly shopping list. Gotta save somewhere!

Resolution #2: Big FAIL

I haven't even been to the gym one time. This is why I have a love/hate relationship with gym memberships. I feel great when I have time to go and love going, but then when I can't go or don't have time I'm throwing money away. I have had a meeting after school every day this week and last for at least an hour, and by the time I'm done I need to head home and get dinner started because T gets home much later than I do. I haven't even got moving for 5 minutes each day aside from all the walking I do at school, because I'm full of a million excuses. I hope that February is much different because I don't like wasting money and I do like getting in shape. 

Resolution #3: Easy success!

I don't know why I thought it would be so hard not to use my credit card. A lot of people have wrote me after my initial post encouraging me to use credit cards and then pay them off to get the points and take advantage of their rewards. I totally get that and if you are self-disciplined enough to do so, more power to you. However, something in my brain just gets ticked off when I have to go back and pay a credit card bill. It's like this false security game you play each month where you use a credit card to buy something which doesn't affect your bank account, and then you have to go back to your bank account later and think, "this balance doesn't really exist," to shell out for your credit card purchase. It may sound silly, but really I hate paying bills and I just don't like that extra step month after month of paying on a credit card and then turning around and paying it right off. So this year I just decided I wanted to skip the credit card step altogether and learn the habits where, even if I have the money in a week, if I don't have the money right then in my bank account, the purchase will not be made. 

I've been using cash a lot and it has been so freeing. Not using a credit card has been so freeing. It's really forced us to prioritize what is most important to us and get creative and be content with what we do have. We have to constantly say no to things that we do want to do. 

A few of those recent nos have been:

1) Not putting a down payment on the Alaskan cruise we want to go on in June. Instead we're going to wait until the last minute for a better rate and hope the one we want is still available. 

2) Not going on a spring break trip like we do every year. That would require us to put a down payment on it as well and we don't want to use our cash for that this year. Instead, we're doing an explore-Oregon-every-day spring break trip which I'm actually really looking forward to. :)

3) Not giving into ANY email sales that get sent my way on a daily basis like GAP, Banana Republic or Nordstrom, no matter how good they sound. Some might say, "Just unsubscribe to those emails..." but I like to be able to show the willpower to overcome that temptation. 

4) Not going out for happy hour or going out to eat because we have food in the fridge (read: resolution #1)

5) Not going to the movies and instead watching a RedBox or a Netflix movie at home


These seemingly insignificant "nos" have paved the way for bigger "yeses" to happen later on which I know we will be happy about in the long run. It's not so much that we had issues with credit cards, but its more that we used them without regard and never really thought about anything we were spending our money on. I want our spending habits to change so that when we do splurge on something, we've thought about it and it makes sense and it's something we really want. I am enjoying what we do have, and relishing in the memories of all the past trips we have taken we we do not regret even 1%. 

So far, so good 2014 (minus the gym trips...)-- I'll report back on what February looks like which will hopefully be even better! 




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Reblog: 37 things that you'll regret when you're old



I love this. 


There was a time in my life when I was afraid of everything. I had a deep-rooted insecurity that at the core of it was a fear of the big things like disappointing people, not being good enough for people. From that insecurity came a whole slough of other issues like always settling for sub-par and second best because I didn't think I deserved better, and worrying over every facet of my life: finances, illness, family, you name it. It took a major life tragedy to throw my life back into synch and remind me that fear has no place in the life God has promised for us. 

My life's verse was always Galatians 1:10, "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men then I would not be a follower of Christ." 

That's why I love this list so much. Some of it I'm still working through; some of it I'm proud of. Take this list for what it is, but if you are like me ten years ago, I would have a lot of regrets because of letting fears, worries and insecurities take precedence in my life. 


1. Not traveling when you had the chance.
So many people comment on how much T and I travel. Travel is this luxury that we would gladly give up nice cars, a large house, and high-end possessions for because it inspires us more than I can express. I can't tell you how many people say, "Travel while you can because when you have kids, it all changes." I have no doubts in the slightest that the type of travel we do when we have kids will change, but we absolutely will bring our kids on adventures and explorations. I'm gonna keep traveling, that's for sure. 
2. Not learning another language.
Thirteen years ago I took German because I wanted to be different, and now I regret not taking Spanish. It's really hard to learn a new language, but I so wish I spoke one fluently. I admire those people who stayed committed to learning another language, because all I can really do is read a few different languages, but can't speak a lick of anything. 
3. Staying in a bad relationship.
While I've been in relationships that didn't end up working out, I feel pretty grateful that I didn't spend a lengthy amount of time in any I would consider "bad." However, I totally agree with the original blogger on this one because as she says, "No one leaves a bad relationship without wishing they had gotten out sooner."
4. Forgoing sunscreen.
Gone are the days of wanting to bake in the sun and intentionally skipping the sunscreen because I wanted a nice bronze. There are some scary rays out there and I've seen a lot of people affected by their powerfully negative effects. 
5. Missing the chance to see your favorite musicians.
I have seen every band I LOVE several times. Those shows were some of the best music memories I have, and I fully intend to keep it up. There is nothing like live music!
6. Being scared to do things.
I'm still scared to do things and I want to stop. In fact, I am so scared of flying that I haven't been to Asia yet because of the rough Pacific ocean turbulence and the long flights to Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and Australia. My fear of flying is so deep I literally have anxiety attacks on every flight I've been on in the last year. I refuse to be so afraid to fly that I don't travel, but I would be lying is I said I only go so far around the world based on my fear of flying. This is one goal I have to get rid of quickly. 
7. Failing to make physical fitness a priority.
My New Year's Resolution was to get moving 5 minutes a day and visit the gym three days a week. It's January 10th and I have not been to the gym once in 2014. The only moving I've done is walking to the mailbox and taking the long way to the office at school. It's safe to say I've failed at this one with my laziness and I want to turn this one around right away because I fully agree. Some of the best health and confidence I've had was when fitness was a regular part of my life. 
8. Letting yourself be defined by gender roles.
I'm not entirely sure how important this one is to me, but I know that for me as I love being a wife and a woman in general, I love to work. I know I will love being a mom, but I love to work and be productive and I fully intend to work for as long as I can while still being present for my family. 
9. Not quitting a terrible job.
Heck yes. I've fortunately only had a couple of terrible jobs, but I feel thankful that I had enough sense to get out while I could. 
10. Not trying harder in school.
Unfortunately my freshman year in college was a complete waste because I was overwhelmed in every aspect of my life, I did not have a mentor and I really didn't have any close friends in college. I nearly drowned there and even quit for a semester. However, even though it was really difficult to get caught back up, I did, and graduated Cum Laude (going from a 2.2 to a 3.6 was a big deal to me then!) only graduating one semester later. If I could take that year in college back and do it all over again, I absolutely would and would have reached out for help and gotten connected MUCH sooner. 
11. Not realizing how beautiful you were.
Sigh. If only. I think many mistakes and decisions I made would have been much, much different if I saw this sooner. 
12. Being afraid to say “I love you.”
When you’re old, you won’t care if your love wasn’t returned — only that you made it known how you felt.
13. Not listening to your parents’ advice.
I'm sorry mom and dad. I can only hope my own kids listen more than I did because you were right. 
14. Spending your youth self-absorbed.
My youth was spent being self-absorbed with insecurities. I wasted a lot of time doing this. 
15. Caring too much about what other people think.
See above. 
16. Supporting others’ dreams over your own.
It took my dad awhile to get on board with my dream as a teacher. So much so that I changed my major in college to marketing just to give it a try so he would be proud of me. Needless to say I did not shine in marketing, and had to move forward with my own dreams after college, with our without my dad's support {thankfully, with}. 
17. Not moving on fast enough.
I remember when my mom died, I was tempted to let time freeze. I wanted to lay in bed and cry and cry and never come out again. I realized however, that no matter how depressed, angry, upset, or sad I was, it was never going to make her and Chase come back. Instead, I wanted to live out my life the absolute best that I could-- and really live it
18. Holding grudges, especially with those you love.
Wasted time. 
19. Not standing up for yourself.
There is a fine line between having decorum and letting things go, and being walked all over and not speaking up for yourself. I used to be too shy to say anything if I needed help, wanted to stop being bullied or telling people who were speaking bad about me to stop. I saw my mom be badly wounded emotionally by not standing up for herself, and after she died, I vowed to never let myself get like that. 
20. Not volunteering enough.
I see so many selfless people giving their time and efforts through volunteering and I admire it so much. It's something I want to continually have a part of my life and improve upon in the upcoming years. 
21. Neglecting your teeth.
There is nothing worse at the dentist than them telling you that you need fillings for your cavities, and talking to you, often patronizingly, about how much to brush and floss each day. I feel like no matter how hard I work on my teeth, it's never enough. However, I know that when I have dentures, I will wish I did things differently in my youth. 
22. Missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions before they die.
I've been thinking about this a lot, and want to stop making excuses for why I don't have the time to visit my grandparents more often. I'm very lucky that three out of four of my grandparents are still alive-- at 89, 87 and 80 years old. I want to do video interviews this year with them, take notes, ask questions and record their stories down for history while they are still here. 
23. Working too much.
Last year was awesome, but took a huge toll on me. I don't think I recovered from my exhaustion until December, as I was running full throttle with four jobs {albeit to pay for an amazing, life-changing trip to Europe} and I know for certain that I never want to do that again. :) I want to be present for my family, present for the Lord, present for rest and present for peace. 
24. Not learning how to cook one awesome meal.
I've come a long way since we've first been married, but I've yet to find that one really awesome meal. I'm the girl who's jealous at the potlucks because I have no clue how to cook a rockin' crock pot meal like my colleagues. Getting better at cooking is definitely one of my next big 2014 goals. 
25. Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment.
I can't tell you how much I agree with this. I tried to be so present in Europe because I knew this phenomenal trip was going to be over as quickly as it began. I remember driving down the Amalfi Coast, seeing sights more beautiful that I've ever seen before, and crying because I wanted to be in that state forever and never wanted to leave. The powerful thing though is that kind of beauty is all around me, but it takes traveling for me to appreciate it. I so want to sloooooowww dooooowwwnnn so I do not regret that time when I'm older. 
26. Failing to finish what you start.
Unfinished projects are a huge pet peeve of mine. I also know a lot of people who say wistfully, "I wish I would have finished my Bachelor's," or "I wish I had the time to finish my bathroom." Finishing projects is so satisfying and I want to keep that up for as long as I can. 
27. Never mastering one awesome party trick.
Oh my gosh. I have none. Time to get started...
28. Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations.
I never, ever, ever want to be an ugly American. Enough said. 
29. Refusing to let friendships run their course.
This was really hard for me to fathom as I was growing up, but I remember one pivotal point in my life when someone I once knew said, "People will come in and out of your life for the rest of your life, but hold onto the ones that stick." 
30. Not playing with your kids enough.
I absolutely want to do this 100%. 
31. Never taking a big risk (especially in love).
My husband told me on our third date that he wanted to invest in me for as long as he could. He told me a month after that that he wanted to marry me, and proposed to me exactly two months after that. Three months later and seven months from start to finish, we were married. Never in my life have I moved quicker in a relationship than that, but the adventures we have been on and the things we have been through have been richer because of that risk we took. 
32. Not taking the time to develop contacts and network.
This is definitely something, especially as a business owner, that I want to continue improving in my life. Not even just to grow my business, but to make friends and spread my circle wider. 
33. Worrying too much.
I need to improve this ASAP. It takes up a large part of my thoughts and I am continually praying for peace and rest in it. 
34. Getting caught up in needless drama.
SO THANKFUL those days are behind me. Yuck.
35. Not spending enough time with loved ones.
I will never look back on my life saying, "I wish I had spent more time by myself and less with my family." As I know all too well, things can change in the blink of an eye. Friendships come and go, but family is forever. 
36. Never performing in front of others.
It's a crazy, crazy feeling being on a stage in front of hundreds of other people while they receive what you have to show them, but it's also an immensely energizing and powerful feeling that I hope everyone has at least once in their lives. 
37. Not being grateful sooner.
I used to spend a lot of my time thinking about what I wanted and what I didn't have, and I lost myself along the way. I want to be intentional now and in the future about what I have, who is in my life, and how God has blessed every facet of it in every way. 

What about you? Which of these life circumstances resonate with your life most?


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Thoughts on the Common Core from a Public School Teacher

Parents:

I've seen the Facebook posts and editorials and commentaries regarding the Common Core over the last year and have remained silent on it this entire time. However, I feel that it's time to give you a little bit of information straight from the source regarding what it is, what it isn't and what it looks like in the lives of your kids during each school day that we have together. 

//

I'm not going to get into whether or not I agree with Common Core standards because that is not the point of this letter. 

I can tell you one thing for certain: One single educational policy is not going to transform the state of education today. We all know that. 

The Common Core State Standards are challenging. Each standard is designed to be a target for curriculum development; to instill higher-order thinking; to set the bar high; to prepare students for college and career readiness in terms of writing, communication and hard work; to equip them with skills that will set them apart in the workforce and that all comes through having a target to work towards. I have never worked harder to develop rigorous curriculum at a high standard as I have this year working with the CCSS. 

And the thing is, we differentiate those standards to meet the needs of all of our students. We look at your kids through a lens of uniqueness. We're not robots conducting our classes. We don't bow to the master standards planner and administer mundane tasks to check a box off our list of rote requirements to cram into a 50 minute class period. We're teachers. We do what we do every single day because we care about your kids. 

What the Common Core Is:

The Common Core State Standards are a set of grade-level learning objectives and standards that several states have agreed to align their curriculum to in order to promote consistency and prevent disconnect when students move from one state to another regarding what they've learned. 

The Common Core State Standards are tools we are using as educators to provide a foundation for the curriculum we're teaching our students at their particular grade level, to design rigorous lessons and promote higher-level critical thinking and organization skills. 

The Common Core State Standards are lesson objectives that make their way into meaningful units we've already designed with your students' unique needs in mind. 


What the Common Core Is Not: 

The Common Core State Standards are not delivered by robots. 

The Common Core State Standards are not delivered by idiots.  

The Common Core is not a be all, end all solution to solving the world's educational problems. 

The Common Core State Standards are not pointless, meaningless, ridiculous or hopeless. They're harder than any standard I had or learned when I was in school, that's for sure. 


What the Common Core Standards Look Like in your Students' Classes

In my class you'll see a number of things happening on a weekly basis. You'll see:

  • Students sharing about their weekends, what they had for dinner, and what sports games they played the night before. (I care about this, because it matters and makes them who they are.) We believe that at the center of our classroom is our students. Unique kids who have different talents, interests, beliefs and learn from one another as they interact in a diverse setting. 
  • Studying classics such as The Giver, The Outsiders, Stepping on the Cracks, Harrison Bergeron, The Cay, and more. We believe that reading is essential for your kids' growth and success academically in so many ways, and literacy will always be first and foremost in our classrooms. 
  • Students explaining the "why" in their thinking, instead of filling in the blanks and matching multiple choice answers. We want to see that your kids have learned. If they haven't we're not going to pass them over and say "too bad." We're going to have the opportunity to re-teach it to them so they can catch up and show that they know it. 
  • Generating ideas, revising, editing, revising some more, thinking critically, revising some more, and then publishing on current technology available to them {Google Drive, Google Docs, WordPress, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, etc.}. We want your kids to learn the current technology available in the world so that they have experience when they enter the college and career phase of their life. 
  • Talking  with one another about various topics with higher order questioning and thinking such as "analyzing," "evaluating," "hypothesizing," "proving," and "demonstrating." We want your kids to really own their learning and understanding and make meaningful application of it through different tasks and activities. 
  • Showing in multiple ways that they know something at their grade level, rather than just saying that they do or correctly guessing on a test. We want to make sure your kids are ready to move on to the next level.  
  • Presenting their ideas in writing with organization, correct spelling and grammar, concrete ideas, varying sentences, and on clean and neat papers so that they can be proud of the hard work and effort they've done. We want your students to be competitive in college and the working world through their writing and editing abilities, and this starts at an early age. 
  • Students working hard at the tasks provided to them and being proud of their accomplishments. Practicing giving feedback and critique to their peers; providing constructive criticism and giving authentic praise when it's necessary. Learning to communicate with one another openly and working with people they don't have experience working with. 

There are so many things that we believe are important for your kids and our students to learn in our classrooms each day in order to be successful in life and in the working world. Writing, communicating, spelling, grammar, critical thinking, editing, setting goals, organization, being a good friend, being a respectful classmate, being a responsible citizen and so much more. The Common Core State Standards integrate themselves into what we teach, but not how we teach. We create rigorous, creative, meaningful and engaging tasks on a daily basis so that your students are supported and held to a high standard in the work that they do in school. 

We are teachers. 

We are not robots; We are not puppets. 

We care about your kids, want them to succeed and the Common Core State Standards are one tool that we use in our repertoire of resources on a daily basis to support their academic growth and success. 

If you would ever like to see these lessons in action, please feel free to stop by our classrooms. We'd love to have you. 


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Redecorating on a dime

Considering HGTV is basically the only channel on in our home, I think it's safe to say that I was bitten by the "Design on a Dime" bug this winter break. It was the first time that T and I actually had zero plans to go anywhere or do anything over the break and let me tell you: It was glorious. 

I'm sitting here on my last day of winter break, relishing in the inexpensive and easy home renovations that we were able to do over the course of a week and feeling very accomplished. If only I knew redecorating would be this easy, I would not have put it off for two years!

Project #1: Painting four areas of the house

Total cost: $68.16 {two new cans of paint, brushes, rollers, tape-- we reused older paint we had from a prior painting job when we first moved in}

Downstairs bathroom before (plain white walls-- and sorry for the selfie. It was the only pre-painting bathroom pic I had...)



Downstairs bathroom after (I purchased those prints + frames for $69.90 total. Frames are from Target, and the prints are hand-drawn from my friend Hillary Kupish at www.hillarykupish.com-- they rock!)


Pre-paint entryway before (sorry again-- I forgot to take pre-pics! This was from a Halloween party that we had, and yes, that is a fake cigarette...)



Entryway after



No pre-painting master bathroom photos, but this is the color we chose for our master bathroom (which was a hideously plain white before). It's kind of a Tiffany blue-ish. However, if not matched with the right accompaniments, it has the potential to be very little-boys-room-blue. That's why I'm adding a lot of feminine accessories and complementary colors/patterns so that it stands out instead of looking too much like a primary color. I'll be hanging succulents in here as well to off-set the blue. 


I also purchased these shelves at Target for $25 total and LOVE them. I had most of the candles, etc., that are on them, but bought the two miniature succulents there as well for $9.98. I'm going to pick up another set for the opposite wall in a few weeks. 

Project #2: Rearranging living room furniture

Total cost: Free!

I never liked the fact that our couch faced the TV because when we had company over, the conversation arrangement was quite awkward. I subscribe to Real Simple Magazine, and this month's issue was all about finding balance. Amongst several great articles was one about "feng shui." I've never really felt the need to feng shui my home, but they had some great tips about furniture placement that made sense to me. Instead of having this wide open space like we did before where everything centered around the TV, once we moved the Christmas tree out, we created a new seating arrangement which feels like a cozy conversation nook, but still is functional to be able to watch TV if we want. 

It's amazing what a simple switch of furniture will do to your home! Aside from creating better space for conversation, it also opened up our living area so much more, so it feels very wide open and has a great flow. 

Living room before



Living Room after


Project #3: Restoring vintage night stands

Total cost: $48.67 (plus the night stands we bought this summer for $75 total)

Our friends were selling these gorgeous vintage night stands this summer and we were in the market for some new ones. Their design and hardware was really beautiful, but unfortunately the paint was chipping pretty badly and it was an older, yellowing color that we had trouble matching. Instead of trying to preserve the gold trim but picking the wrong base color, we decided to repaint the entire set completely to better match our bedroom decor. The night stands turned out great!

Night stands before



The project in its entirety took about 36 hours, but about 28 of those hours were spent waiting for the various applications to dry. It is definitely something that could be done on a weekend for sure. I started at 10:30 on Saturday morning and they were finished by 9:00 Sunday evening. 

I had heard about this great painting/priming/bonding/glazing product called "Rust-oleum" which is basically "furniture painting/restoration in a box." Sold. Easy and simple was the name of the game for me, because I've never done any type of furniture restoration before, and quite frankly, construction is not my forte. 

They sell Rust-oleum at Home Depot, so I went down there on Saturday morning and the staff were super helpful. The great part about this kit is that I got to select which paint color I wanted based on my project, which the paint department mixed for me without cost. Home Depot actually has an end cap up right now which shows various products being refinished with Rust-oleum. I was sold. 



I chose the color "Seaside" for my project but allllllmost went with Federal Grey. Now that I know how easy it is, I could re-do it in a couple of years I suppose. :)

The Rust-oleum furniture transformation kit costs $35, but we had to buy masks, gloves, some sponge brushes and paint remover first (paint remover/thinner is not necessary for this project, but because our night stands had a lot of chipping paint, we didn't want to paint over the chips and instead opted to remove all that old paint entirely) which brought us up to $48.67. Not too shabby!

It took T about an hour to chip off all the paint from the night stands, but once he got that done I began step one of the process which was to apply a de-greaser to everywhere paint would be going on the furniture. This took about 30 minutes total. 


After I applied the de-greaser and cleaned it all off, I had to wait another hour before I could apply the first coat of paint. 

The first coat of paint took me about an hour for both pieces + the drawers on all of them. I had to wait 3 more hours to apply the second coat of paint, so I caught up on Parenthood episodes I'd missed while I waited... :)


Three hours later, I applied the second coat of paint which took another hour, and then I needed to wait three more hours to begin step three, which was to apply an {optional} decorative glaze for more of a vintage feel. We decided to do it this time, but I am not sure I would do it on another project. 

While we waited for that second coat of paint to dry, we took my parents out to dinner for their Christmas present, so we passed the time well. 

When we got home that night, I applied the optional decorative glaze, which comes out like a dark brown stain. I think the idea is to have more of a wood texture emerge from the furniture, but the key here is to apply the glaze verrrrrrrrry lightly or it will turn certain parts an orange color if it isn't wiped up quickly. The kit contains a large roll of tacky cloth that is used to immediately remove the majority of the glaze once it's applied so that it isn't stuck on there. 

After the glaze was applied which took another hour, I had to wait eight hours, so I timed it well with bedtime. I finished the glazing part around 11:00 at night, and then when I woke up, I applied the final step which is a thick bonding liquid that kind of looks like glue. I had to re-paint everything again with this bonding material and then it had to sit for 12 hours before being brought back into the house and before the drawer handles could be re-attached. 

Overall it was an extremely easy process, and I am definitely going to do it again! This kit is great for restoring garage-sale or Goodwill furniture pieces that might not be in the best shape when you get them, but with the right DIY tips and tricks can look like a brand new piece of furniture when you're finished. 

Here are some "after" photos of the night stands:




So for $290.70 we got:

1) Four new spaces painted in our home (master bathroom, downstairs bathroom, upstairs hallway/landing area and entryway)

2) Two new night stand pieces for our bedroom

3) A new setting arrangement for our living room space + much more room downstairs

4) Updated decor for the master bathroom

5) Updated decor for the downstairs bathroom

(Both bathrooms were totally unfinished before...)

6) Rug for our entry way

///

Overall I am really happy with everything we were able to do for under $300 which was our budget! I feel like I have a completely updated home and we were able to do this in a very limited amount of time. We started these projects on December 29th and they were finished January 5th. :) 

I'd love to hear some DIY projects you've done "on a dime"-- comment below for inspiration towards my next home upgrade project!

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Stitch Fix #3!

I adore Stitch Fix. Like really really really. 

If you remember my last post back in November, I got my first fix and have been in love ever since. I received this awesome black and tan dress that I wear alllll the time {think: Birthday, work, Thanksgiving, Christmas, work parties, pretty much everywhere...} and get tons of compliments on. I would never have picked it out on my own for sure, and yet it's one of my favorite pieces in my closet. 



What I love about Stitch Fix is that it arrives at my door, my Pinterest style board was taken into consideration, and all feedback I provide on previous shipments is considered and honored. 

I got a Stitch Fix in December, but we're going to call that month, "The fix we shall not speak of." There were a few shipping snafus, styling snafus and pieces that were definitely, definitely, definitely not me. So not me, that I couldn't even bear to post the photos. When I contacted Stitch Fix about such a sad shipment, they immediately righted their wrong and credited me my styling fee in hopes I'd try them again. Okay Stitch Fix, you didn't have to twist my arm too hard. :)

January's fix, however, is BOMB. So bomb that I was looking for any reason or flaw not to take the whole box (you receive a 25% discount on the whole thing when you do!) because I wrote a for-reals blog about resolutions for 2014. That means not buying things I don't have the cash for and not putting things on credit. Soooo I picked three that I could afford, and not five. (See? Baby steps!)

I am so excited to show you this month's Stitch Fix, and I hope you convert to this amazing styling service like I have. Monthly fixes for me mean less trips to Nords (bye-bye level 2...)

Item #1: Rowena Metallic Cross-Back Peplum Top



So what you can't see on this gorgeous little number is that there are sparkles all throughout, and the other fact is that it's a soft and delicate sweater with a peplum style. Something you should know about me is that I adore how peplum looks on cute people who wear it, and yet it always looks awwwwwwwful on me. I thoroughly hoped the peplum trend would disappear fast. When I saw I was getting a peplum top in this shipment, I cringed. And then, the moment of glory happend: It looked cute on me too! The material is so thin and soft and a perfect pair with leggings. It's long enough that it doesn't hit me like an empire waist, but fitted enough that it's flattering. I see myself mostly wearing it with leggings, and maybe with white jeans (if I ever own any--ha). Super happy with this great date night piece-- definitely keeping it! 

Item #2: Harlow Plaid Infinity Scarf



I really really liked this scarf. A lot. Buuuuut, the thing is that I have about 18 scarves already that I rotate through and couldn't justify another one. I treated myself to THREE Gap scarves already in December alone, so my husband {and pocketbook} would probably appreciate not buying another one. I'm sending this one back. 

Item #3: Harlow Plaid Button Up Shirt




So T is obsessed with plaid. He loves plaid scarves, plaid shirts for himself, and is always recommending plaid to me if he comes shopping with me. However, I've never been able to find a cute plaid top that doesn't make me look like a lumberjack. Until now. My stylist nailed this shirt on the head because it can be worn with black and brown. Pretty much any bottoms for that matter {have I mentioned I really want a pair of white jeans??} and for that I am grateful. T didn't even look at the price of the shirt and said "you're definitely keeping that one." Good thing it was only $28. :) Definite keep! 

Items #4 &5: Jordanne A-Line Skirt and Jordanne Long Sleeved Cardigan 


{Hi Zeke}

So I really loved the color of this cardigan, but unfortunately (or again, probably fortunately for my checkbook) the sleeves were too long on me. I love long cardigans, but I do have several so it was probably for the best. Not keeping that one. 

You may not be able to tell, but I'm wearing this really thick a-line black skirt that fits me like a glove and is a definite wardrobe staple. I don't even own one regular black skirt, so I was suuuuuper happy this basic piece was in my shipment this month because I really needed it. 

Third time was definitely a charm for this fix and I am really excited for the next one! If you haven't checked out Stitch Fix yet, you definitely should. I love being able to try on new pieces I'd never pick out myself in person and see how they fit with other clothes in my closet. You set the prices you want for certain pieces and they are always in the range you select. Stitch Fix FTW. 

Happy New Year!
XO

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