Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween Done Right

So after having our trip cancelled at the last minute, Nathan and I forged ahead on planning a staycation. While we eventually decided to play it by ear and be bums the majority of our time off, we knew one event we wouldn't miss would be my parent's Halloween. 

For those who know my family, know my parents put up the best Halloween display in the town, complete with a full cemetary and moving props. For the past 3 or so years, Nathan's willingly been my dad's partner-in-crime, offering opinions and insights into everything that's scary. This year was no different, and most of Halloween day was spent over at their house putting together last-minute props and ensuring everything was perfect in time for trick-or-treaters.

This picture doesn't do it justice, but my camera died so alas this was the only night shot I got

The night went off without a hitch. Little trick-or-treaters everywhere braved through the cemetery, some going through multiple times, with minimal criers this year (there's always gotta be one, right?). The pigs also got into the Halloween spirit and donned matching cowboy outfits. 

Daisy's grey muzzle in this pic makes her look so old, but she's still my pretty pig!

Overall it was another nostalgic Halloween and a great way to kick off the holiday season. Here's to looking at the next frightening thing to add for next year!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I'm back

Due to computer availability (as in there was none on hand in our household but our awful desktop), I went on a bit of hiatus. I can gladly report I am typing this on my brand new refurbished laptop. Let's get back to these blogging shenanigans.

Leaving sorta where I last left off where I proceeded to write every other post about my love of skiing, this one is no different. In just a few short days Nate and I were meant to be on the slopes, enjoying some mountain air and soaking in the beautiful views. Well, that was the plan, until mother nature decided to get all hot and bothered (literally). With just 72 hours until our trip, Copper Mountain made the call to push back opening day another week due to the seasonably warm weather.

Alas, our trip was cancelled, and there's a good chance I'll miss out going the entire 2014-2015 season now. So while I was being unproductively mopey our after hearing the news, my mood lifted after browsing the interwebs and running across this quote.

And then I remembered: I have it good. This one little trip I was definitely looking forward to, but I really, truly have it good.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Holy Shiz, My Brother Got Married

Where did March go?! I feel like I haven't slept since February, and every weekend has been crazy busy. 

So one tiny big detail I left out from my Colorado trip is that my older brother casually told me mid-car ride that he was proposing to his girlfriend of 5 years. Yea, nbd, I'm just getting a sister-in-law, ya know. Well, actually, I should say I now have a sister-in-law, officially speaking and such. Unfortunately they had to move up their wedding date to say, a week to the day after they got engaged (they picked the wedding date 2 days before the actual wedding) since she's from Hong Kong and doesn't yet have a visa. Crazy, right?! But also super exciting. Nate and I had 2 years to plan a wedding, and here we were, 72 hours before the big day and trying to put together a small but beautiful wedding for them.

My dad and I (being the most A type personalities in the family) immediately started playing wedding planner. I ordered the cake and bouquet, my dad found a beautiful venue, and my brother and his fiance got everything worked out with a photographer and pastor. Nate also stepped up as husband of the year and made some kickass cake pops that the bride had always wanted (since I was knee-deep in wedding projects). Seriously, I think there's nothing that kid can't do. 

 Last Saturday was a blur of us getting pampered for the wedding with appointments for hair, nails and makeup. Finally the time rolled around, and I have to say, it went off beautifully. Her dress was gorgeous, they were surrounded by friends and family, and the food/drink/cake was delicious. It still hasn't sunk in that my brother is now married (I was the first one to take the plunge in our family), but I'm super happy for him and his new wife.
Nate's magnificent cake pops

Ready to go to the wedding!
All of the most important men in my life
The happy couple!

So March 2014 in a nutshell: went on vacation, brother got engaged, brother got married, got a new job, and begun the backyard patio project for our house (more to come on that last one later). 

I'm now going to take a nap for the remainder of April. Wake me up when it's May :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Colorado recap and photo dump

What a crazy couple of weeks! Between going to Colorado and accepting a new job life has been anything but dull.

The Colorado trip started with a 9+ hour car ride with my 2 brothers, my husband and my 8 year old nephew. If you've never driven across western Kansas, you can safely say you're not missing anything. After miles of tumbleweeds, brown dead grass and the occasional rest stop, we finally reached the mountains. We immediately checked in at the condo and grabbed our lift tickets/rentals at the ski shop before making a little dinner and calling it a night. 

The next 3 days filled with beautiful.scenery, great food, and of course, skiing. We skied all day every day, and even hit up the terrain park the last day to see my brothers go off some jumps (I attempted once, only to chicken out at the last minute). It was our first time at Copper mountain (usually Breck or Winter Park are our regular choices), and after going once I can 150% say we'll be back next year (I may have already bought the lift tickets...). The people that worked there were so friendly, it was an easy mountain to navigate and it's close enough to Breck/Frisco in case you want to check out some other fun ski towns.

First day of skiing and taking a rest break outside one of the mountain lodges.

Top O' the mountain on St. Patrick's Day.

Giant Hamster ball they stuck my nephew in that my older brother (left) and Nate (right) pushed him around in.

Kids in ski gear = I die.

Get it?

S'mores after a long day of skiing!

I can't wait to go back. For now I'll take the spring weather, but I'll still be counting down the months I can see those beautiful mountains again. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The End of an Era

So last week was absolutely amazing (I could ski every day of my life and never get tired of it), but a post-vacation recap will have to wait. I have some big news.

Because it's work-official, I can now say that I've accepted a job at a different company. Since college graduation I've worked at the same company, have loved my coworkers, and have really grown both personally and professionally. I never thought I'd be taking the next step and moving to another company to get more experience, but it's happened.

I can honestly say it's bittersweet. Don't get me wrong, I am so so so excited to start a new adventure at a new job, but leaving behind what I've known and who I've known is tough. I've made some amazing friends, and telling them this week was hard. I know we'll still keep in touch (it's not like I'm moving), but it'll be weird not seeing their faces everyday. Professionally, this is a great move for me, and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity. Realizing this in my heart helped me make the decision that it was time to move on.

So here's to new adventures, new scenery, and loving the future while not forgetting the past.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday everyone! I'm super excited this week is almost over, especially since most of next week I'll be on vacation! At the last minute we threw together a ski trip to Colorado with my husband, brothers and nephew. I do have to admit I'll miss the spring weather we've been having recently, but I'm sure as soon as my skis hit the slopes I won't mind the winter weather as much :)

So ending this week on a high note, let's get through some of my favorites from this week!

1. I laughed for at least 5 minutes straight when I saw this. Reddit always knows how to keep me entertained at night while lounging on the couch. How has no one thought of doing this before?!

2. Lunches outside the office. This week I've been enjoying the beautiful weather by getting out of the office at lunch and soaking up some vitamin D. Getting in a needed break while also enjoying some time with friends is a win/win. 

3. Yard projects. I think what makes me feel like actual adult is the fact that I like doing yard work/projects now. Last weekend Nate and I went to the HD to browse some patio stones (we'll be ripping out our decrepit deck next month and replacing it with a patio) as well as grab materials to make some raised garden beds. I'm a big veggie/fruit eater, so I'm pretty excited to have our own garden this year. We're also hosting a good friend's graduation party as well as my sister-in-law's baby shower in our backyard this spring, so that provides even more incentive to get to work on making our yard beautiful!

I've come to the realization that this is verbatim what we said to some friends last weekend. Nice lil' Saturday planned at Home Depot!

4. Forever 21 Jewelry. I'm not a huge fan of their clothing (being 5'9" provides some challenges when you're not a huge fan of mid-drift shirts or bottoms that barely cover your tush), but I love their jewelry. It's so inexpensive that you don't mind if an earring goes MIA, and they basically run the gamete of jewelry styles so you can always find what you're looking for. I picked up some bib necklaces, basic earrings and fun new rings and my total was still less than $30. Score!

5. All of the fun new flowers popping up in our yard. Last year, Nate and I scored some flower bulbs on sale. At first we planted them very strategically, but after awhile we just decided to abandon that route and threw the rest of them in a 5 gallon bucket. We mixed them up, planted them in random spots, and called it good. When it was nice last Sunday we were working in the yard and saw these beauties greeting us. I can hardly wait to see what other fun flowers come up! 

Hello little baby crocuses!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sunshine to start off this beautiful week!

So with 2014 I made a comeback to blogging, and have been nominated for a Sunshine Award by one of my favorite blogs to read, A Redhead's Guide. What is it, you ask? Well, it's just a fun lil' exercise for some blogging friends to do. The rules are as follows:

1. Post 11 random facts about yourself
2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the nominating blogger
3. Nominate 11 bloggers you think bring sunshine into the world (I might only have 1 or 2 here as I am fairly new to this whole blogging deal :-))
4. Come up with 11 questions to ask them

Okay so now for #1 - 11 random facts about myself

1. I have never broken any bones in my body, like, ever. I was a pretty active kid (and still am, as an adult), but the only time I've been to the hospital was when I got 8 stitches in my chin when I fell on the ice during ice skating  figure skating practice. Yup, that's right, figure skating. That's what happens when the first part of your childhood is spent just minutes from the Canadian border.

2. I can bend the last knuckle on all of my fingers.

3. I was 22 when I got married, and my husband was 27. The judgment I got from complete strangers about my husband and I being young when we were getting married really bummed me out. Yes, I understand my husband looks younger than he is and I really was young when we got married, but 1. If you knew me, you'd know I've always been mature 2. I knew my husband was the one and 3. it's our life, we're not hurting anyone else, so why do you care?. 4 years married and 9 dating, and we're as strong as ever.

4. I frequently have conversations with my dogs, as if they could answer me back.

5. Speaking of the pigs, I used some of the money I got from High School graduation to buy my first dog, Max. Yes, I know you're supposed to use it for college textbooks, but a pug seemed like a better choice. I still stand by this decision :).

6. If I had a ton of money and could drive any car, it would be a Range Rover. Despite the awful reviews and fuel economy, it's my dream car.

7. My best friend is the exact opposite of me. She's in a band, currently has teal hair, is covered in tattoos and is a bit of a wild child. I went to business school, am blonde, have no tattoos, and work a 8-5. It works though, and even after 17 years we have just as much fun as when we were kids.

8. I'm 1/4 Russian. My grandpa immigrated to the US in his 20s, and thanks to him I know maybe 20 words of Russian.

9. My least favorite house chore is ironing. I can never get the shirts 100% perfect and it drives me nuts, so lately I've just been having a dry cleaners launder my button-ups :)

10. I'm not a concert person. I've never really seen the appeal of standing for 3 hours surrounded by a bunch of other sweaty people as your favorite band plays live (but never sounds as good as the record). I'd rather just buy their album, and then listen to it in the car.

11. I was always the kid that fell asleep first at sleepover parties. I've always been a sleeper, and even now I still need 8-9 hours of sleep (or more if I can get it) in order to function the next day.

#2 Answer the questions from the nominating blogger:

1: Do you like to cook? What is your favorite dish to make, and do you just make it up or do you follow a recipe? I'm definitely more of a baker than a cooker. I can make a decent meal, but 9 times out of 10 I'd rather bake something than cook. I mostly just grill/bake some kind of protein for dinner, and then serve it with a side of veggies and rice (we have a rice cooker so it's easier to have rice as a starch than say, a potato). My favorite dish to make is lasagna because it's easy, you can make it up as you go along, and it's pretty fool-proof.

2. Cats or dogs? DOGS! I grew up with cats as a kid, and I definitely love all animals, but as soon as I got my dogs I realized how much of a dog person I actually am.

3. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why? Definitely have to give this one to Denver/Breck/WinterPark in Colorado. I'm a mountain person vs. a beach person, and I love Colorado no matter what time of year it is. The area is just so beautiful, and if I could wake up every day and go on a hike or ski, I'd be one happy lady :).

4. Are you a parent? Do you want to have (more) kids? Nope, I am definitely not a parent! I do want kids though, just not today.

5. Porch swing or hammock? Well, we have actually have a porch swing, and since it's not very comfortable, I'd have to go with hammock.

6. Margarita or wine? Or do you prefer the brew? I'm actually not a big drinker, but if I had to choose, I'd go with a glass of wine.I also like a good mojito. Over everything though I'd go with a chocolate bar over a sugary cocktail.

7. What's your favorite Tom Hanks movie? Oh man, this is so hard! I really liked Road to Perdition.

8. The greatest life lesson you've ever learned? I think for me, it's just that family is important and every day you should always try to be a good person. It takes 2 seconds to ask someone how they are, and that just might make the difference in someone's life.

9. What's your favorite quote? "Background and circumstance may influence who we are, but we are responsible for who we become." I can't remember who it's from.

10. Favorite color? Oh gosh, this changes probably daily. Right now I'm digging mint, but ask me again in a day and I'll give you a different answer.

11. If you won the lottery, how would you spend it? I think I'd donate a lot of it to charity (mostly pediatric cancer research), but I'd also make sure I'd take care of my family and maybe would buy a couple of houses and some expensive handbags :)

My nominated bloggers:

Just Jenny Lynne

The Life of a Running Momma

Fleming's First

My questions:
1. What would your perfect night consist of?
2. If you could meet any person (living or dead) who would it be?
3. What do you do for a living, and what do you like most about it?
4. Do you have pets, and if so, what are their name(s)/age(s) (give us a pic if you have it too!).
5. What's your favorite food?
6. Have you ever won anything? What was it?
7. What's the most exciting thing that's happened to you in the past year (or two)?
8. What's one place you haven't visited but would like to?
9. What's your favorite space (can be a place you like to go, an area in your house, etc).
10. If you had unlimited store credit to any one store, which store would it be and why?
11. What's some good advice?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Valentine's Weekend Recap

This year I can honestly say Valentine's day was done right in our household. While (most) couples were hitting up the fancy schmancy restaurants and dropping $100+ on dinner, Nate and I celebrated Valentine's day in the best way we knew how: a night of margs, mexican food, and lounging. The couple next to us even gave us a $5 coupon that they weren't using. And while we didn't totally skip out on the holiday (he got me the prettiest bouquet of roses AND cleaned the house while I got him a 6 pack and a hoodie from his favorite brewery), we definitely kept it more low-key.

I could never have enough margs with chips and salsa. 
A low-key Friday was then filled with a jam-packed Saturday as my friend came down from Minnesota, bringing her beau and a couple of friends. We all had tickets to go to the KU basketball game, and it being my first I was pretty pumped. Being a KU alum I'm sort of ashamed to admit I've actually never seen a game in person, but with tickets not being cheap and students having to camp out to get tickets, I've just never gotten around to it. Alas, 3 years after graduating I finally made it to one, and it was amazing. The energy from the student section is unreal, and being surrounded by a full house of KU fans was so much fun.

The photobomber to the left of me had us laughing for at least 5 minutes straight.

The view from our seats. We showed up an hour before the game to snag them as we were in general admission :)
So after dominating the other team by 30 points, we had to celebrate our victory by going out. By 1 am I was spent, and the next day I woke up and (no surprise) was feeling a little rough. After breakfast, a shower, and saying goodbye to my friend, I headed straight to the couch for much needed recovery time. I found enough energy to get in a run just before dinner, and then we took it easy the rest of the night. All in all it was a great weekend, and the perfect way (in my opinion) to celebrate V-day.

What did you do for Valentine's day?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Training

Over the past few weeks my training has been pretty consistent, with 3-4 workouts per week. The whole healthy eating thing is working as well, although I do still let myself cheat a little too much when it comes to the weekends. I'm still seeing progress, however slow it may be, which is good. Now I just got to keep it up, and with this week being Valentine's Day week I can already feel my motivation being challenged.

Last Saturday I got in my 4th workout for the week by hitting up the local ski place with my bros about an hour away. I figured this would be a way to curb our craving for Colorado skiing. Fail. Epic fail. I loved it so much that I'm now determined to go to Colorado next month. Fake snow is great, but I need the mountains and fresh powder. We'll see what we can put together last minute, but I'm hoping we can all come together and agree on a condo to rent and a place to ski. Skiing to me is the equivalent to a beach vacation, but without the pain of coming back and having to diet (hello, 8+ hours of activity per day).

Me and my lil bro taking a break for lunch inside the lodge. 

So while my head may already be in the mountains, I'm still going to try to stay grounded by making some goals this week.

Goal 1: Get in at least 3 workouts this week. 1 down, at least 2 more to go.
Goal 2: Take tape measurements so I can check progress with something other than the scale.
Goal 3: Find items I'd like to buy (new running shoes/cute workout tops/etc) that are motivational that I can reward myself with once I've reached certain stepping stones. Looks like I'll be binge-pinning to my boards this week.

Linking up for Move it Monday!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Five Faves

Happy Friday everyone! With having two snow days this week it feels unreal that it's Friday, but without further ado, here are my five favorites from this week.

1. Tory Burch for Fitbit. Yes, you read that correctly. Tory Burch will launching a line of accessories this spring to house your Fitbit Flex device so you can look stylish while getting your fitness on. I've only been wearing my Flex since Christmas, but I totally plan on sprucing it up when the line comes out. If you want to be the first to know when the line launches, you can sign up via email here.

2. Russian Figure Skater Tatiana Volosozhar's Cinderella costume. The Winter Olympic Games have always been my favorite, and even though the opening ceremonies were today (and will air tonight, which everyone should watch!), I still got my Olympic fix in yesterday by watching pair/team figure skating.And you guys, I totally would take up figure skating again (yes, I said again) if I could wear Tatiana Volosozhar's Cinderella costume. It was perfection.

3. Girl's night out. Nothing says 'Happy Friday' like some girl time! And tonight I'm welcoming the weekend by treating myself to a little nail therapy. I'm going with a girlfriend after work tonight to relax and unwind at the nail salon, and while I'm sure the nail techs will have quite a task in front of them (it's probably been at least a year since I've gone), I'm looking forward to a little pampering.

4. Skinny Cow Cookies N' Cream Ice Cream Sandwhiches. I've been getting back into the swing of eating healthy and exercising, but every once in awhile I still need an indulgent treat. Ice cream is pretty much religion in our household, although with most of our favorites containing 250 calories per measly half cup (and who only eats half a cup?!), we've had to find a substitute. These hit the spot every time, and I don't feel guilty afterwards.

5. Miley Cyrus' Adore You. Okay, so Miley may have had a little  of a wild streak lately, but I still love her music. Sometimes it takes me a couple of times listening to a song for me to decide if I love it or not, but her song Adore You I instantly fell in love with. I may have even belted the words in the car when I was parked in the garage after coming back from the gym. When Nate came out to see if I needed help bringing in my gym bag/groceries, and then realized I was knee-deep in Miley glory, he went back inside. Sorrynotsorry. 

What were your faves from this week? 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

For the Love of All Things Snow

So this week it snowed a whopping 14" here in Kansas, and while for most it meant snow days (myself included) and winter fun, it made me a little bummed by reminding me that this year we won't be traveling to Colorado. I've always been a mountain girl over a beach girl, and with Colorado ski country just 9 hours away, we've gone at least once annually. This year will mark the first year in the past 5 or so that we haven't made the trek to enjoy my favorite sport, but I'm still getting my winter fix by watching the pros on TV and  enjoying a visit to our local ski spot this weekend (it only has 4 runs, 2 of which are bunny slopes, but it's better than nothing, right?!).

To commemorate the many fun moments I've had in Colorado, I give you the highlight of our trip last year. Mr. Moose.
He looked a lot bigger in person.

This was the one time in my life I can say I've almost ran into a wild animal. I guess that's what you get when you're enjoying the scenery and not exactly catching on that people have stopped in front of you. Uh, whoops. Luckily, this little fella didn't hurt anyone, although my mom was probably asking for a mauling while she was taking pictures of it with her flash and volume up on her phone. My favorite part? When I told my mom after the encounter that I was afraid she was going to die by Moose mauling, she simply said, "But wouldn't that be a great story, and such an interesting way to go?" Uh, no, no it wouldn't.

And while we're at it, below are some other fun pictures from last year's trip. 

Ready to go down one of the runs. 

Beautiful scenery! Oh mountains, how I love you.

Grabbing a spiced hot chocolate at one of the watering holes in Winter Park after a long day of skiing.
And even though Kansas skiing and landscape does not compare to Colorado, snow days in the flat lands still have some highlights. 

I got to snuggle with this handsome boy and his sister for 2 days straight. 
Did you have any snow days this week with the winter storms? What was your favorite part about being snowed in?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Easy Healthy Buffalo Chicken Wraps

So one of the goals I set for this week was to test out a new recipe. Well, this so much wasn't a recipe, but more a "let's just throw this together and see if it works" type meal. I had purchased some Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce when grocery shopping last week. With no calories and a ton of flavor, I'm officially hooked. These wraps satisfy my hot-wing craving while being guilt-free. Win-win my friends. Win-win. 

So this is what you'll need:
1 1b Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
1/2 C. Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce
2 C. Shredded Lettuce
1 Package Reduced Fat Shredded Cheese (I used Sargento Mexican Four Cheese Blend because it was what I had in the fridge already)
1 Package medium soft taco flour tortillas (I used Mission Carb Balance tortillas because they have more fiber and protein than regular tortillas. They're pricier than regular tortillas but they're totally worth it)
Light Ranch to taste

First thing you'll do is cut up your chicken into bite-sized pieces. I cooked the chicken in the crock pot with the hot sauce added in for about an hour and a half, but if you're short on time you could always grill/bake your chicken and then toss them in hot sauce afterwards.

Buffalo chicken deliciousness. 

After the chicken is cooked, proportion out your chicken onto tortillas (I was counting points so I went with 2 oz of chicken on my wrap, but you could do more/less depending on how full you want them), top with 1/8 cup shredded cheese, as much lettuce as you want, and drizzle about 1 TB. light ranch on top. And then enjoy! With all of the ingredients I used, it was 6 WW PointsPlus values per wrap. Not bad, not bad at all!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The BIG Kitchen Remodel

When I thought about blogging about each room we remodeled after we bought our first home, I was going to start off with the family room and then gradually work on posts over our dining and formal living rooms before getting to the "big kahuna" of our remodel - the kitchen. BUT, this being my blog, I can do whatever I want, so we're going straight to the kitchen.

The one thing I said to my husband before we even put an offer in on the house - "You have to promise me we'll remodel the kitchen the minute we step foot in this house." He promised, and literally 5 minutes after we walked into our house after closing, we started bashing out cabinets and removing cabinet doors. The kitchen wasn't 100% terrible, but it definitely was still out of the 70s and for the love of all that's good, they had brown black splash. I've discussed this before, but to clarify - the previous owners had an affinity for brown that made me cringe.

Some "before" pics for your viewing pleasure

Now, when I told Nate he had to remodel the kitchen, I knew we would be operating on a limited budget. Really, the biggest issues I had with the kitchen were that:

1. It wasn't as open as it could be (you can see the top cabinets in the first pic on the left blocking the view to the family room)
2. I hated the doors (and those scallop touches screamed outdated)
3. I didn't like that the microwave was on a baker's rack (which didn't come with the house) and wasn't under a cabinet above the stove.
4. That backsplash. Oh, that backsplash had to go.

So after nit-picking everything in our kitchen, we decided really the only thing we'd be keeping would be the box of the cabinets. Nate also couldn't stand the soffits (the box thingy above the cabinets that comes out from the wall), so we decided to rip those out as well. We already had somewhat of a game plan before we even closed, so we started working on everything starting the day we got the keys.

First up: remove the soffits, tear down that one cabinet blocking the view to the family room/eat in part of the kitchen, and patch everything in one weekend before the painters coming to take down the popcorn ceiling come the following Monday. Easy, right?

Except there's a pipe there. Uh-Oh. 

Down to bare bones.

A little better with the drywall completed. 

It was a a pain. A total pain. But, not really for me. Luckily my amazing in-laws along with my husband and father all worked together in a mere 3 days to get this done. Who can say they have a mother-in-law that not only knows how to drywall, but will do it at 6 am on a Monday morning because she knows you have a deadline until the ceiling guys come in? Very few I'm guessing. And you guys, she even brought homemade muffins with her.

I wish I could say this was the hardest part of our remodeling journey, but it wasn't. After tearing out the appliances (because my parents are awesome and helped us out with getting new ones), we ran into the issue of the cabinet by the refrigerator being too close to the wall because the previous fridge was keebler-elf sized. So we had to remove the cabinet down a couple inches, which we luckily did before we got our hardwood floors refinished in that room, because the owners had installed the hardwood floors after the cabinets. This meant we literally had to cut the bottom of the cabinet to move it, and then have the hardwood guys patch the floor.

The big ol' hole where the cabinet was. 

We couldn't afford to put in brand new cabinets, but we had done our research and decided instead to paint and install new doors. After paying for a couple of samples, we ordered custom doors from Cabinet Door World. This would give us the "new kitchen" look while saving us thousands of dollars.We however, did add a few stock-cabinets from Home Depot to our kitchen. We replaced the cabinet above the oven and refrigerator. This made it so we could put a microwave above our stove and we could fit a normal-size fridge in our kitchen. We also installed an upper and lower cabinet where the old baker's rack used to be to provide us extra storage. The best investment we made while going through this process was our paint sprayer. It cut down our paint time and made the finish look professional. I would highly recommend investing in one.

After priming/painting/installing the new cabinets, doors and appliances, we decided to also replace the counter tops (because when you're doing everything to the kitchen, might as well, right?). We chose a black/white granite that would mesh well with our white cabinets as well as a black undermount sink to match. We also tore down that nasty brown back splash and installed a tin back splash which we got via The Tin Man. The Tin was incredibly easy to install (just cut and add some liquid nails) as well as really affordable. Add some crown molding on top of the cabinets, some new hardware and lighting, and we were finally done!

We paid a little extra for the granite on the peninsula to come out farther to give us a "breakfast bar." Totally worth it.

No more Keebler Elf fridge and extra storage to boot!

Bye bye scallop details!

I'm so in love with the new kitchen, and all of the money and hard work we put into it paid off. My husband and our family did everything ourselves with the exception of installing the granite and patching the hardwood floors. This was the longest project we did, spanning the whole summer, but now that it's done we get to enjoy it for years to come.

Have you ever done a kitchen remodel before? What tips/tricks did you learn along the way?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Feeling the burn

Lately, I've been trying to get back into the routine of getting my sweat on at least 3x per week and eating healthier. After what felt like 3 months of one junk-food laden event right after another, I was entering 2014 is not such a great place food-wise. This wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't started majorly slacking off  in the workout department since uh, summer. I mean, doing renovations burns some calories, right?

So it's back to the grind. This is the third week I've been making steps towards getting on the right track. What definitely motivates me is my Fitbit Flex. I live for seeing that baby reach 5 dots and see all of the smiley faces next to my activity, step and calorie progress bars on my Fitbit App.While I don't think it's 100% accurate, it does the job in making me less lazy and more motivated to get my workouts in.

The other thing that's been motivating me lately is my small group personal training sessions. They're so hard, but so good. I hate it sometimes when I'm huffing and puffing in the midst of running up that 5th flight of stairs or attempting to hold a decent form while on my last burpee, but having someone push me by telling me "30 seconds, Alex. You can do anything for 30 seconds" makes me work so much harder. I'm sore for at least 2 days after, but hey, that's part of becoming stronger, right?

My goals for this week:
-Work out 4 times
-Find a new healthy recipe to try (and share it on here!)
-Pamper myself at least once after a workout session with a pedicure/time in the sauna/ etc.

What are your goals for this week?

Linking up with Ashley for Move it Monday!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Five Faves

With the re-start up of this blog, I would like to introduce the first session of Friday Five Faves. 

1.The Mindy Project. Move over New Girl, hello Mindy! I've been obsessed with Mindy Kaling since her Office days (Kelly Kapoor was one of my favorite characters), and her new show is hilarious. Nate and I spend every Tuesday night looking forward to it, and when it does finally come on (8:30 after New Girl), we are always laughing. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, but the winter finale was amazing! Oh, Danny and Mindy, you are so perfect for each other. 

2. My Thursday night small group personal training class. Ohemgee, it is so freaking hard you guys, but it is totally worth it. Last night we had to run stairs before and after our insane circuit workout. My legs felt like lead and I am so so so sore today, but I always feel amazing afterwards. She pushes me to do more than I would do on my own, and at $15 for each session (it was $60 for the four-week group), it was such a steal. 

3. Tennis sessions.  3 years ago one of my coworkers suggested I do a parks and rec tennis class with her, and ever since then I've been hooked. I've met a lot of friends through the class (including the instructors) and having new friends and partners to play with is so much fun. This past Sunday I was treated to an hour and a half session in beautiful 60 degree weather with 2 great gals followed by beers at a local brewery. Such a perfect way to end the weekend. 

4. All of the Valentines things. Yesterday, my friend Jenny and I went to Target to break up the work day and explore their Valentine's day section. We were walking past the coffee mug section when we saw these gems on the end-cap, calling our names. I had to buy the blue one for Nathan (hello, it's got a pug on it and says "I Woof You" on the back!), while Jen decided to go with the red one. I was originally going to give it to Nate for V-Day, but my impulses got the best of me and as I walked through the door when getting home I shoved it in his face saying a little too emphatically, "OHMYGOD I GOT YOU THE BEST PRESENT EVER." He took the mug, saw the pug on it, and instantly laughed. Totally worth it. 

5. The Book Thief. Since Nate's job requires him to drive a lot of the time, he often downloads books on the Audible app and listens to them in the car. Now, I'd much rather read a book than listen to it, but he convinced me that I would love The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and after he downloaded it on my phone, I caved and decided to start listening to it on the way to/from work. I love the narrator, and the book is really interesting. It's also a refreshing change from listening to the same music every day. 

What were your favorite things from this week?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Family room reno and explorations in white-washing

When we first got into our house, we knew we'd be renovating multiple rooms simultaneously, but we wanted to go for the "easy wins" first. This, for us, included knocking out our family room quickly. Structurally, I loved the space. It had these awesome wood beams, and a floor-to-ceiling fireplace, and brand-new carpet. Unfortunately, the brick, beams and wall color made the room look straight out of the 70's (which the house is, so no surprise there).

The before picture with the prev owner's stuff still in it

Finding a neutral wall color and white trim color we both agreed on was easy. We used Sherman Williams ProClassic enamel paint for the trim (also used for our kitchen cabinets) and Cashmere paint for the walls. 

Major rule of thumb for painting: don't cheap out on quality brushes and paint. 

We used crappy brushes at first (we didn't skimp on the paint, thank goodness) and I almost lost my religion. White paint + crappy brushes with black fibers = frustration. So we bought some Purdy brushes (available here), and since they're so nice you can continue to wash and re-use them, they end up being about as economical as the crappy $5 brushes we originally bought. Same goes for the tape. Don't buy the cheap house brand (frog tape is best, but if that's too expensive, any scotch blue painter's tape will work). If you do, you'll just be pissed later when you have you re-touch 5 million spots because your paint leaked through.

For the beams and fireplace, I knew we needed a change, but I was stumped. Then, I found this blog post over white washing brick, and after mulling it over, we asked the painters who would be removing the popcorn ceilings if they could just add this on as an extra project (my hubs wanted us to do it ourselves but I was convinced I'd get the whitewash on the carpet). They quoted us at a couple hundred bucks on top of what we were already paying. Done. I wasn't sure aesthetically how it would turn out, but it had to be better than it was currently, right?  So one week later, we walked in, and saw the end result.

With some our furniture. Still need some decorations, but those won't be hard to find :)

Overall, I personally love the way it turned out. It's brighter, lighter, and definitely more our style. We still kept the personality of the room, but we updated it to fit our taste. The money we paid for the fireplace and beams to be done by professionals was definitely worth it, although the technique they used wasn't far off from the blog I had originally found, so this could definitely be a DIY project. It was a major relief to get one room checked off our list so we could start the real work on the other rooms. More to come on those later!