Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Hi friends.

Just dropping in to let you know that I am still here.

Lots going on in our neck of the woods in the last few weeks. Some things personal, some things home related, some things exciting, some things boring.

I am struggling a bit lately with the "having it all" concept in life. I feel like I do want it all. I feel like I can manage to have it all. But where is the line drawn between having it all and just doing too much and burning yourself out?

For example:

I want to be a great wife and mom.
I want to be healthy and fit again.
I want to work full-time. Well, actually, I have to work full-time. That's a given. But I also enjoy this time outside of the house.
I want a beautiful home. I want to work hard to make our home a happy, welcoming place to be.
I want to be a better, more consistent blogger.
I want to be able to sell my handmade items on channels like Etsy and at craft shows.

With all these things in mind, these are how my days and weeks have been panning out:

5:00 AM. Wake up. I sleep in my workout clothes so I just roll out of bed, throw on some shoes, and get my work out done. Currently using the Focus: T25 program. Have you tried it yet? It's awesome.

5:30 AM. Coffee, shower, get ready for work, pack lunches, prep ingredients for dinner, empty dishwasher, run a load of laundry.

6:45 AM. Wake Peyton up. Get her dressed and ready for her day.

7:15 AM. Out the door. Drop Peyton off at Mom-Mom's and off to work.

8:00 AM-12:30 PM. Work at the desk job.

12:30-1:30 PM. Use my lunch hour to run any errands to save myself from doing these in the evening or during the weekend.

1:30-5:00 PM. Back to desk job.

5:00-5:45 PM. Pick up Peyton and head home.

5:45-6:30 PM. Snuggles with Peyton, catching up on her day, Denny comes home, and I make dinner.

6:30-7:30 PM. Dinner. Family time. Clean up.

7:30-8:30 PM. Bedtime prep and put Peyton to bed. Pray she falls asleep before 10:00 PM. Repeatedly go upstairs to make sure she isn't systematically tearing apart the second floor.

9:00 PM. As for me? I'm usually crashing and burning. Time for bed, because 5:00 AM comes around again preeeeetty early.

Even though I'm off from the desk job on the weekends, there is always so much to do that my schedule pretty much looks like the above, except we are running running running all day. Family time, work around the house, work in the yard.

So, my friends, my question to you is this: how do you fit in the things you enjoy doing while not losing your mind?

I enjoy blogging. But the evening is usually my time to blog and by 9:00 PM and Peyton is in bed...well, I'm ready for bed too.

I enjoy my crafting and making handmade things. But if I'm pooped by 9:00 PM and really want to be blogging too, how do I juggle both?

Needless to say, I think I am in a funk. I had a nice M-W-F schedule set up for my blog for a while and it was working beautifully, but I found myself struggling to keep up to provide enough decent content.

I dubbed March "Mudroom Makeover Month" and then petered out after one weekend because I put so much pressure on myself to get all this stuff done on the weekends, and I just shut down.

I bought supplies back in February for Easter decor and crafting. I scheduled myself time to create the projects, time to photograph the projects, and then when I would be posting them here. Like a good, well-disciplined blogger.

And then I rallied against the man (myself, go figure) and didn't touch any of it.

Because, let's face it: when you only have your weekends, something has gotta give: family time or project time. And to be frank, I'm not sure I'm willing to allow my family time to suffer in the name of the old bloggy blog here.

I feel very whiny and Millennial-ish complaining about this on a blog. But I feel like I do have some consistent readers out there who deserve an explanation.

Things might change around here. Schedule-wise. Content-wise. Everything-wise.

I'll share my DIYs when I get them done, not to fit in with a predetermined posting schedule. I'll share crafts when the mood strikes, not because it's April and OMG Easter is in two weeks and I need to get some Easter/Spring crafts posted. I'll share a little bit of family stuff, because that is what my focus and priority in life is. And I think I'll still do my Five Friday Faves, because I like sharing fun stuff with you.

I do have quite a bit to post about. There is so much going on (gardens! backyard! planned vacations! birthdays! baby showers! weddings! life!) that I feel like I don't want to inundate you with ALL the things at once. So I'll be taking it a little bit at a time.

Hope you'll stick around with me, friends. I do miss this space, but I want to be able to take the time to know for sure what I want this space to be.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Building a Garden Wall - The Beginning

I had every intention of moving right along with the mudroom makeover this weekend. But when the forecast for your Saturday is sunny and 60 degrees followed by a forecast of 12 solid hours of snow, well...sometimes your plans change.

In my case, I was overcome with despair at the thought of MORE SNOW, so we decided to stick it to the man and get some work done outside on our beautiful day before round 65981 of snow fell.

More specifically, we were going to build ourselves a fancy garden wall in our front yard.

I know, so random, right?

I really have the hubster to thank for this idea, since in his many travels in his line of work he stumbles across some pretty cool stuff. He often comes home and tells me about antique stores, estate sales, and other goodies that I otherwise wouldn't normally know about.

So when he came home on Tuesday night and told me we could do some hardscaping on the cheap thanks to a supplier he found with a ton of discontinued pavers and garden blocks, I couldn't resist. Especially since the weather was going to be so nice. And especially especially since it was going to snow on Sunday night into Monday and this was the perfect opportunity to flip Old Man Winter the bird.

Early on Saturday, we took a quick 10 minute zip down the Garden State Parkway to the treasure trove of discontinued stone that was up for grabs:

Hello, I'll take you all.
 Peyton even got in on the action:

The guys in the sales office apparently couldn't resist this cute, seemingly innocent face, so they gave her a lollipop.
At 9 :00 AM.
 We quickly replaced the child with our garden wall blocks, 72 of them to be exact, for a whopping total of about $100.

And sloooooowly and carefully drove home. While it took us 10 minutes to get there, it took us about a half and hour to get back.

Once home, it was time to start digging out our new garden space. The photo below shows some progress on digging up the sod, but I basically followed the line we spray painted onto the grass. Also, looking at this photo now makes me cringe because we really left our garden bed to look like this all winter (well, when it wasn't covered by snow). Sorry, neighbors.

You guys, digging up sod is hard. It took me about an hour and a half to dig up enough sod to expand the garden bed to the size we wanted. 

And while I feel guilty about taking out some perfectly good grass, I did promise my pile of sad sod that I would plant beautiful things in it's place.

All dug up. 
 Seriously, I have the best little helper.

Once the sod was out and we had dug down about 4 inches from our border, it was time to turn our attention to our blocks. All 72 of them. I feel like I should warn everyone that you should a.) lift with your legs and b.) wear gloves. I did a.) and got a great leg work out (sore today!), but I didn't do b.) and now I have rough and scary man hands.

Getting the first row perfect is the hardest part. As long as the first row is level, your remaining rows will be level (science, sometimes you can't fight it).

To start, we shoveled some crushed concrete into the border of the bed, and used a hand tamper to pack it down. We tried to get it as level as possible here, which set up a good foundation for our blocks.

And then we started working our way down, checking the level with the addition of each new block and add or taking away some of the concrete until it was right, or using a rubber mallet to pound it into the concrete until it was level with its neighbor. Getting this first row level took about an hour and a half.

Rows 2 and 3 took about a half an hour combined.

 For this front section of the wall, we still need to cut some blocks in half to fit into the brick pattern we laid and find a nice matching stone to run down the walkway and along the house. These stones will need to be thinner because we have a sprinkler head 4 1/2 inches from the walkway.

Once that's done and after our frost-free date, we'll put some gravel down to help with drainage, layer on some topsoil and compost, plant my seedlings (which have ALL finally germinated!), mulch, and enjoy ourselves a fabulous raised garden bed. I can't wait to share the finished project with you!

And now I will present to you my view out the back door this morning.

Winter, you are killing my spirit.
Wanna see where I party? Click here for an awesome list of link parties I participate in..

Also linking up to:
Coastal Charm
Savvy Southern Style
Imparting Grace
Jennifer Rizzo

Friday, March 14, 2014

Five Friday Faves

Another Friday, another weekend!

We had a bit of a Spring teaser this week with temperatures on TWO days above 50 degrees (Tuesday was in the mid-60s!). Yesterday it was 30 degrees. Tomorrow is going to be in the high 50s, and the forecast is for rain AND snow Sunday into Monday.

I bum hard when I think about how some parts of the country haven't seen the temperature drop BELOW 50 degrees all winter (I'm looking at you, SoCal). I also realize that I talk a LOT about the weather on Fridays lately, but seriously Mother Nature, get your ish together and give me Spring NOW!

(cue foot stomping and pouting because I really just can't take it anymore)

Anyway, I have plans to keep on trucking with the mudroom makeover. I'll probably tackle upholstering that bench, finally. I've been saying I'll do it since we moved in, so we pushed it into the mudroom and there it sits, collecting dust and our stuff (but not anymore! Check out this post on how I am now keeping our crap off the bench!).

We also have plans to spend the majority of the day outside on Saturday working on the yard. We have plans to:

  • Dig out the new garden spaces in both the front and back yards and start prepping the soil for planting.
  • Smash up the concrete pad that sits smack dab in the middle of the back yard
  • Begin building the paver patio and fire pit over the spot where the concrete pad used to reside.
Now mind you, these plans did not actually occur until Tuesday evening. But there you go. Things are finally a-moving over here in this household, and I'm just going to run with it.

Here are my Five Faves for the week. I might be cheating and adding a couple of my personal photos, but I feel like they are up there on the faves list this week:

I love this pillow. Starburst patterns are so pretty, and the detail on it is just lovely.  

The adult sippy cup. I snagged this gem from the Atlantic City Home & Garden Show last weekend and I have every intention of putting it to good use while I dig and dig and dig and dig garden beds and curse the idea that I ever had a green thumb in the first place.

Contemporary Paints Stains And Glazes by Columbus Paint & Wall Coverings Sherwin-Williams

I am loving this paint by Sherwin Williams--Lighter Mint. The wheels in my head are turning for a room makeover for Peyton (maybe this summer?) and in my head this paint would look so pretty on her walls. She gets the best natural light in the house and this color would be a stunner as an accent wall.

 via Instagram

Peyton has been going to preschool for a little over the month now, and my heart just about explodes when she brings home her art. She is so proud of everything she creates on her own. I need to decide how to display this stuff and come up with a filing system for what she brings home, because mama ain't parting with any of it (someone call the production company for "Hoarders" now).

This Prisma Wall Decor from Urban Outfitters is super modern and way pretty. I've been seeing a few Himmeli wreath, mobile, ornament, and general decor tutorials floating around the interwebs that this could probably be DIYed with the right supplies and a little patience.

Hope you enjoyed my Five Faves for the week!

What's the weather like where you are? If it's nice, do you mind if I live vicariously through you until, oh I don't know, mid-May?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

DIY Wall-Mounted Coat Rack

Phase One (of many phases, yowzers) of the mudroom transformation is complete!

I'm particularly excited about this project because this was my very first solo DIY. In the past, I've had the hubster help me when it came to the power tools, but this time I was determined to do this from start to finish myself. And while it's not perfect, it's a nice addition of functionality to the room that I can say I created myself! 

High fives, everyone--girls can use power tools too!

Previously, there was absolutely no sort of storage whatsoever in the mudroom. No hooks, no coat rack, no baskets, nothing. Things just kind of got piled up on the bench (which is really just an old coffee table that I have plans to upholster...stay tuned!) and looked cluttered and messy. That's why I made it my own personal mission to have the first project tackled in this room provide a means to keep things off the bench and looking tidy.

The supplies:

-1x6 whitewood board. I bought a whole board and cut it to size at home, but you could have it cut at Home Depot or Lowe's.

-Wall hooks of your choice. I used four of these in antique brass.

-Stain. I strayed from my usual Dark Walnut stain and went with Minwax English Chesnut. I give it two thumbs up.

-Wood screws

Not pictured:
-Saw (I used our circular saw)

-Foam brushes



-Tape Measure

I started off by measuring my wall, and then measuring my wood pieces and making the required cuts. This was the first time I used the circular saw solo, but still had Denny supervise in case oh I don't know, I broke the saw or was going to cut off my hand, etc. etc. etc.

I gave the board a quick sanding, focusing really on smoothing out my cut edges, and then applied a coat of stain with a foam brush.

After about 15 minutes, I wiped off the leftover stain with an old t-shirt and was left with this finish:

It was also at this point that I kind of wished I had used wood conditioner. 
 I didn't want anything suuuuper dark because I knew these were going to be at eye level and didn't want to weigh down the room too much, but still add warmth against the cool tone of the paint. So, I decided that one coat would do it, and once it dried I applied two coats of Polycrylic.

Here comes the not so fun part--to me, anyway. I love painting things, I love staining things. I love thinking up new projects. I HATE measuring things. I understand that measuring things is a pretty essential piece to DIY, but I always freak myself out and second-guess and neurotically measure over and over and over again and then I mess myself up. I did my best to measure the spacing for each hook based on the measurement of each board AND keep them level, but unfortunately I let one hook get the best of me. Honestly, it's not super noticeable and once things are hung on it, you can't even tell.

But for real, friends, MEASURE THINGS. Channel your inner Ana White and do it right!

The level proved itself unnecessary to me since I apparently drill things to the beat of my own drummer.
But really, levels can be your friend. I encourage everyone to use them.

Once I had screwed all four hooks to the board, it was time to mount them to the wall. We decided to screw them directly into the wall, using the studs to provide the most support.

This is where I did bring in Denny for backup. He held the boards to the wall and made sure they were level, while I drilled them into the studs.

And here they are, hung up all pretty in the corner of our mudroom.

I implore you to forgive the lighting. This room is TINY,  impossible to photograph in one shot,
and has but one, sad, pathetic boob light.

And naturally, I couldn't wait to get things off my bench and onto those hooks!

The screws I used are SUPER silver, so I am in the process of tracking down a furniture stain touch-up pen to color in the screws so they blend in a little more. I got desperate and tried to use one of Peyton's magic markers--with no luck.

And there, my friends, is Phase One (Operation Get-Things-Off-the-Bench-Already) all wrapped up.

We still need to:

-Upholster the bench
-Add a shelf above the bench for a basket to hold hats, gloves, scarves, and other random smaller items
-Replace the sad little boob light
-Buy and DIY some art
-Figure out a ground-level storage solution for shoes

I am looking forward to getting this room done once and for all, and giving our home the functional (and pretty) mudroom it deserves.

How do you handle storage in your mudroom/entry? I'd love some suggestions!

Wanna see where I party? Click here for an awesome list of link parties I participate in..

Also linking up to:
Coastal Charm
Savvy Southern Style
Imparting Grace
Jennifer Rizzo

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Quick Note--Another Feature!

Hi again, friends!

I just noticed another one of my projects is featured over at Roadkill Rescue! I am loving the ingenuity and creativity of the features on this blog and am so so happy to be included among them! Feel free to go check it out if you have a minute.

This is the end of this public service announcement. Carry on with your Monday.