impromptu DIY kitchen reno

I’ve obviously put blogging on the back burner the last few weeks, because life. And also wedding season (#weddingplannerproblems). Oh, and also because we lost our minds and started a completely impromptu DIY kitchen renovation a few weeks ago. Nothing like a little demolition and drywall dust to throw a wrench in the wheel of functionality!! If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed my updates on our little project and I wrote this post in the thick of it, so you might want to skip back to that post if you want to see how we got here. {Follow me on Instagram!}

I have never been in love with our kitchen. When we bought our house, it was something I knew we’d update eventually, but it hasn’t been a high priority because the bones of the kitchen are decent. My hubs pointed out that the gateway project was when I decided to paint a chalkboard wall to help me be organized with projects and menu planning for the week. He’s right – the chalkboard wall really did open Pandora’s Box.

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Sunday, 5.1: A simple enough project that lead to something much more intense!

A few weeks after the chalkboard wall happened, I decided to paint the walls in the kitchen white, to help brighten up the space and we even tossed around the idea of painting the cabinetry for a hot minute. One thing lead to another and we were quickly taking down cabinetry and planning open shelving with reclaimed wood. Then we fell down the renovation rabbit hole and took out the soffit. Mind you, the hubs and I are entry level handy. We definitely do not have the knowhow that some of our friends have when it comes to DIY renovations. We’re adventurous, willing to learn and put in the elbow grease, so with a lot of help, advice and encouragement from our more seasoned DIY friends, we made it through the experience relatively unscathed. I have to say, there is something uniquely satisfying about looking at the finished product and knowing that we did it.

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Monday, 5.16: Before – The wall-o-cabinetry and soffit. Cabinetry in country paneled glaze and walls painted with everyone’s favorite shade of dirty olive. Kitchen perfection.
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Thursday, 5.19: “This project escalated quickly” – me

If you’re thinking about removing a soffit, do your research. We knew what we were getting into because we had read a lot about it, but don’t go into this lightly. {Suggested reads on soffit removal: here & here.} What you’re looking at in this picture is close to a best case scenario in what you’ll find after bringing down a soffit.

Now what?

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Friday, 5.20: Re-wiring, with the help of a professional/friend.

One of our friends happens to also be an electrical contractor project manager and his dad is an electrician, so he was definitely the guy to call. There were several lines of romex that were just dangling in the soffit – not up to code. Whoever installed the recessed lighting in the kitchen was probably the same person who rigged the plumbing in the basement full bath to drain into the sump pump pit. Awesome. So our friend, Brian, and the hubs brought the romex situation up to code by drilling holes through the middle of the beams, disconnecting the romex wiring, threading it all through the beams and then reconnecting them again. Do not attempt this without someone who knows what they’re doing, like Brian. You don’t want to screw up electrical work. If you don’t have a Brian in your life, call a pro.

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Friday, 5.20: Putting electrical Humpty Dumpty back together again.

This party went until 1:30am, but they were committed, while I was asleep on the couch because I didn’t want to go to bed in case I could be useful. I’m sure I was a lot of help! So the next morning, this is what I woke up to!

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Saturday, 5.21: Drywall up and waiting for mud.

After the hubs did the first pass at the drywall, I took over. Apparently drywall is a job for someone who has a strong visual attention to detail. It would not be an understatement to describe drywalling as an art. I now have a new respect for the guys who did the drywall in our mudroom in no time, without sanding. {I’ll do a separate post on the tools one would need to venture into this kind of a project in a few weeks and break it down step by step. FYI – for an amateur, drywall definitely needs several passes of mudding and sanding and does not go up in a flash like I had hoped it would.}

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Saturday, 5.21: Drywalling 101, not for the faint of heart.

We did things out of order a bit… Because the soffit and therefore, drywall, was kind of a last minute decision. With the craziness of summer schedules upon us, we took a pause on the drywall, so we could take advantage of the kind offer from another set of friends to install the open shelving brackets with us. We didn’t want to venture into that one alone, because we wanted to make sure we were doing this perfectly so the shelving would hold all of the weight we planned to put on it, and then some. Who better than to assist with this project than my friend Stasi, from the previous post, who works for the Army Core of Engineers and her husband, Adam, a physics teacher. Check and check. Bonus, my mom, who is a recently retired physics teacher as well, was on hand to not only watch the kiddos but to lend her expertise… and talk me down off the ledge when I was getting nervous about amount of weight that would go on the shelves.

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Saturday, 5.21: Initial install of brackets for shelving.

There was a lot of math involved, weighing our dinnerware to come up with an estimate for the amount of weight that would be sitting on each shelf, plus estimates of the shelves themselves. We had weight limits for each of the brackets, so we were able to figure out the minimum number of brackets needed, and then we added more just to be safe. We marked out the options for bracket placement with tape, making sure that every option had the brackets going into the studs. Once we landed on a layout, we opted to use screws meant for installing cabinetry, rather than the screws that came with the brackets, just to make sure that they were extra secure. One note: The shelves are pieces of reclaimed wood from an old brownstone in Lincoln Park, so they’re not completely level in all places. We used a level but ultimately eye-balled it.

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Saturday, 5.21: Shelving dry fit installation + unfinished drywall.
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Still Saturday, 5.21: Get by with a little help from our friends…

With the brackets in place on the walls, we took the shelving down again, to be screwed into the brackets a few days later. Back to the Everest of the project: drywall.

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Sunday, 5.22: Mud, wait for it to dry, sand it down, repeat.
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Monday, 5.23: Mudding and sanding. Ensemble on fleek.
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Monday, 5.23: Drywall dust is no joke.

I’m a pretty clean/organized person, so you can only imagine how I felt about the effing dust from all of the drywall sanding. As if drywall mudding and sanding isn’t tedious enough, you get the added bonus of dust that never ends.

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Monday, 5.23: Finally time to touch up the brackets and paint the wall.

I’ll get into this more on Friday’s post this week, where I’ll talk about this week’s Friday Fave, gold spray paint. But, note the brackets have paint smudges around them on the walls. Installing the brackets to the wall and then drywalling around them caused the brackets to get scuffed up a bit. I could have sprayed a little paint into a lid and touched them up with a small brush, but instead, Adam gave me the idea to just spray the brackets right there on the wall. I just had to angle it upward to make sure I didn’t inadvertently spray the counter. Easy Peasy.

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Tuesday, 5.24: Shelves secured to brackets and organization started.
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Open shelving fully stocked with our most used dinnerware and a few sentimental keepsakes.

And DONE! Shelf styling complete and fully functional. We’ve had it up and running for about 3 weeks and it has been so wonderful! A few observations on the switch to open shelving from wall-o-cabinets:

  • It has really opened up the room and added character and charm, which I love.
  • We adore our dinnerware so having it out on display makes me happy.
  • The shelving is actually far more functional than the cabinetry in that space and we have more things out than we did before, rather than keeping some items in a closet for parties only.
  • When friends are over, they don’t have to ask where they can find a glass because it’s just right there.
  • I feel like this has helped the space to feel less dated from the paneled cabinetry and there’s even an old farmhouse vibe that feels fresh.

New switches/outlets and covers are on the list along with some details on the other side of the kitchen. Until we venture into a major kitchen overhaul, this has made all the difference and we couldn’t be happier or more proud of the finished product.

Upcoming posts on this project… the brackets, reclaimed wood shelving, styling the shelves and future kitchen style tweaks.

xoxo

on rape culture & parenting

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably read some of the think pieces about the recent sexual assault case involving a Stanford freshman athlete. I hope you’ve read his victim’s impact statement in its entirety. If you haven’t, please take the time to do so – it’s moving, gut wrenching and perspective changing. I am now joining the cacophony of angry voices. I can’t keep my thoughts to myself with this one, though it’s not exactly “on brand” for my fledgling lifestyle blog.

My heart is racing right now, as I write. Partly because I’m so angry at the system that has failed in stopping our society’s metastatic rape culture, yet again. And partly because this hits close to home for me. Though my story is nowhere near as jarring as this, I have my own history with sexual assault. It took me years to even acknowledge it and understand it and honestly, I still grapple with it to this day… more than 15 years later.

Thank GOD I wasn’t found behind a dumpster, unconscious and barely clothed like this young woman. That, I cannot begin to comprehend. What I do know all too well, is that rape culture is something that needs to be addressed and NOT the “drinking culture” that Brock Allen Turner, his attorney and his father have all emphasized. Let’s not forget the judge who handed down a laughable and infuriating sentence of 6 months in a county jail, as opposed to the 6 years in a state prison that the prosecution was asking for. To be clear, Brock Allen Turner was convicted on THREE FELONIES, by 12 unanimous jurors. He was stopped in the act by two passersby, who chased him when he ran and held him down until authorities arrived. It doesn’t get any more red-handed than this. Yet, here we are with the old boys club banding together, protecting him from the consequences. Not only that, but he doesn’t even have to acknowledge what he did. This is the part that infuriates me the most, the utter lack of accountability. The “drinking culture” and “sexual promiscuity” clearly lead to this misunderstanding and it certainly wasn’t the rape of a woman who was unable to give consent. Sorry for the inconvenience, Brock; our mistake.

Rape culture might seem like a crass term or even something you may not have heard before, but it’s a very real part of our society and I am one of many women who can speak to this personally. So let’s talk about it.

Rape is not limited to the violent, back alley experiences that we are all familiar with from TV and film.

“Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration, perpetrated against a person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.”

Wikipedia

Rape culture is the normalization of these actions. They are normalized every day through advertising, TV, movies, music {hello Blurred Lines}, jokes, even laws and more. It’s the sexual objectification that is rampant in our society, the trivialization of sexual assault and the impact on its victims, the glamorization of sexual violence and sexual coercion. It all seems so normal because we’re bombarded with this influence daily. It’s just a fact of life, right?

“Rape culture is 1 in 6 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is not even talking about the reality that many women are sexually assaulted multiple times in their lives. Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women’s daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.”

Shakesville

I couldn’t relate to the above statement more and these are all lessons I was taught at a relatively early age. In fact, the “it’s your fault” piece of this statement hits a special kind of nerve for me, as it’s something that I still have trouble shaking. It was my fault. I put myself in the position so it’s on me. But why isn’t it on him? What are boys taught when the emphasis is put on girls to mind their p’s and q’s?

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As a mother to two boys, this is something I’ve thought about a lot before now. I feel a strong sense of responsibility to raise boys and men who do not filter into this cultural disgrace. I think about how I’ll teach them and what I’ll tell them. Do I tell them of my own experiences to help make it real for them? I’m not sure. But I do think this type of education needs to be addressed proactively and directly. The rape culture in our society is much too strong of an epidemic to just assume that raising good kids will be enough for them to not pick up on the social cues that this culture has fueled.

I think this starts at a young age. My boys are 4 and 18 months, but this is in the back of my mind, particularly when the 4 year old is asking for something he wants. Usually he demands something and I tell him no, so he’ll ask politely, but the answer is still no, then he gets more demanding and goes off the deep end. I know this is typical toddler and little kid stuff, but if he learns at 4 that this is how you get what you want, then who’s to say that this won’t turn into a behavior that he carries into his teenage years and adulthood? If you put enough pressure on, eventually you’ll get what you want. You can see how this mentality could be a slippery slope in relation to sexual consent.

There’s a lot to unpack about Brock Allen Turner’s father, Dan Turner’s statement to the court. Read the complete statement here.

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Excerpt from letter written by Dan Turner. Via.

Ultimately, we are looking at an excellent example of how rape culture is perpetuated by parents. Parents who are no doubt, well-meaning and just want to fight for their child’s best interest. However, is it really the best thing for anyone to have people who don’t accept responsibility for their actions? People who don’t admit fault? People who sweep under the rug, explain away, water down and spin their own choices, actions and behaviors so that they are not expected to hold accountability? The verdicts didn’t break and shatter your son and family, Mr. Turner; your son’s “20 minutes of action” did that.

Several people I know and care for have a negative connotation with the word feminism, because I think they don’t fully understand the meaning of the word. But I think it applies here in a way that is tough to dispute. Among other women’s issues, to be a feminist means to support the protection of women and girls against sexual assault, harassment and domestic violence. I want my boys to be feminists. To speak up and be part of the change. I’ve said this before in a previous post about another heated subject, but I’ll say it again: I want my sons to fight for causes that aren’t necessarily their own. This isn’t just a women’s issue, but it’s an issue for all of us. For every mother, sister, daughter, wife and friend, it’s our responsibility to do better.

I don’t know her name, but to the brave young woman who fought for justice: You have been that lighthouse just standing there shining and a great many of us have been moved. I hope that your light is the one to ignite a blaze that will lead to change.

Good Reads:

I Blame Brock Allen Turner’s Father

25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture

the snowball effect: one week kitchen makeover

Have you ever started a project that seems relatively simple and then it takes on a life of its own and turns into something completely different, entirely? That has definitely been me this week. On more than one occasion every day since Monday, I have said, out loud, “What the hell did I get us into?” And my new favorite, “What kind of fresh hell is happening in our kitchen?”

When we first moved into our house, the only thing that we didn’t touch with paint was the kitchen because we just weren’t sure what to do with it. We I really have never liked our cabinets. The word hate would probably be appropriate. It’s some kind of paneling from the 60’s that was painted and glazed with an antiqued vibe. The paint and glaze wouldn’t have been my choice regardless, but on this paneled cabinetry it just isn’t working for me. A particular pebble in my shoe has been this wall of cabinetry. We definitely don’t need quite this much storage, considering everything on the other half of the kitchen and it’s all of that terrible paneling right at eye level.

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60’s era paneled cabinetry, reimagined with glaze. Also, note the charming shade of olive and it’s patchy paint job near the ceiling. Perfect world, I’d be tearing most of this wall down to create a bigger opening into the dining room.

I’ve been daydreaming of a massive kitchen overhaul since we moved into our house five years ago, but that’s definitely not in the cards. After completing our mudroom project this past fall, the contrast between the kitchen and the mudroom, as well as the rest of the house, for that matter, is even more pronounced. Thus, I wanted to come up with a DIY fix that would be a good placeholder until we can do a full kitchen reno.

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The daydream: future kitchen inspiration. Via.

Ideas we tossed around:

  • Painting the cabinetry. While this seemed like a viable option for a hot minute, ultimately painting doesn’t change the paneling of the cabinets and would be a considerable amount of effort considering the amount of cabinetry we have. NEXT.
  • Refacing the cabinets. Apparently our 60’s situation comes with weird sizes so this would be a quite costly, custom job.
  •  Painting the walls regardless of the cabinetry decision. Because, that shade of olive.

We decided last weekend that we were going to paint the walls white and then take it from there. So we bought a couple of gallons of Simply White, by Benjamin Moore, because I felt that shade of white would be a good middle ground with the warm tone of the cabinetry and the more crisp look that I’d prefer. We didn’t want a stark white, because I didn’t want to pick a shade too bright that would make the cabinets stick out even more. The goal is to make them fade away.

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Simply White, Benjamin Moore

Monday morning, I apparently had too much coffee because I must have thought to myself, “Hey! I don’t have childcare today, my four year old is under the weather and there’s a mountain of laundry to tackle, so obviously I should start painting the kitchen!”

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Our kitchen in all it’s olive green glory.

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After: light and bright!

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When your kiddo wants to help you paint, but you don’t want to pause to get him appropriate painting attire. And then he asked why I wasn’t taking my shirt off to paint. #motheroftheyear

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This is the moment when my coffee buzz wore off and I realized what I had gotten myself into. That and the baby woke up from his nap so that made things interesting!

So, you would have thought that I would have learned my lesson and quit while I was ahead. Painting that entire kitchen in 1 day, without childcare was quite the feat in and of itself. And I even responded to emails and did a little work on breaks from painting! I must have been cocky after all of that accomplishment in one day. But it dawned on me. We didn’t need to repaint the cabinets, because we didn’t really need them. We need open shelving.

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I somehow convinced my sweet sweet husband that we needed to remove the uppers on this wall and replace with two large pieces of reclaimed wood for open shelving. I then went shopping for said reclaimed wood with one of my besties, who further solidified this plan in my head!

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Stasi talking to Todd at Reclaimed Wood Chicago about a few particulars with the two pieces we selected.

So we were on our way to our scheduled DIY open shelving install date of this Saturday, yes 5 days after I painted the kitchen. I have my list of things to do before Stasi and her husband come over to help us with the install: patch the wall after the cabinets have all been removed; prime and paint; sand the wood and seal with polyurethane. Manageable with a few late nights this week after the kiddos go to bed.

And then I got this text…

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So now we’re entering into serious kitchen overhaul territory. I’ve read about soffit removal and I know about the insane undertaking that it is, but he’s right. Removing the soffit would make a huge difference. So we checked it out to see if there was any duct work lurking behind the soffit and to our chagrin and excitement, no obvious or major detractors. With some encouragement from friends and neighbors and A LOT of help and pep talking, it looks like this soffit is coming down.

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I knew it was a lot to take on in a short amount of time, but our summer weekends are already completely full between now and late July and I love a project. There’s something kind of cathartic about this kind of project for me, so I’m not as crazy as people think I am. I actually enjoy it! But seriously, this all started because I wanted to paint the kitchen and now here we are. Please send wine.

xoxo

friday faves! kate somerville

Today I’m launching a new series that will celebrate Fridays with a focus on some of my favorite finds. Kicking it off, we need to talk about how I’ve been unfaithful. I have full on cheated and replaced some of my favorite skincare staples. I felt a little guilty about it, but ultimately, I found something that was a better fit and fulfilled my needs in ways that I didn’t know I was missing.

I think Kate Somerville is my new BFF. {Okay, and also the blogger/interior designer whose coffee table book has a prime spot on my shelf and with whom I’ve had a few Insta exchanges lately. I’m convinced we are now friends. Don’t judge.} A couple months ago, I stopped into the wallet vortex that is Sephora intending to grab a new bottle of the cleanser that I’d been using religiously, but instead I scooped up two items from the ExfoliKate line on a whim. The result: my skin hasn’t been this soft in years. Glory, Hallelujah!

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ExfoliKate, Kate Somerville

I am pretty loyal to products that I love, evidenced by my praise singing of the GLAMGLOW masks here and here. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a soft spot in my heart for them, especially the SUPERMUD, but this little gem has changed my exfoliation game. My results from this exfoliation treatment have been very similar to the results I get from the FLASHMUD by GLAMGLOW – my skin is super soft, brighter with a bit of a glow {which is also highly dependant upon how much water I drink and how much sleep I get}, my fine lines are less intense and my pores are clear. But you see, Kate Somerville figured out how to deliver all of this magic in keeping the treatment on for only 2 MINUTES compared to 20 minutes. I don’t know any mama or busy working gal who can’t appreciate that! I actually haven’t used any other masks in at least 6 weeks and I love a good mask. Sorry FLASHMUD, but we have to break up.

Another thing that I love about this product is that it’s available in a small size from Sephora, so you can get your hands on it without dropping a ton of money. This is the size I have been using for the last 2 months and I still have plenty. Once I do run out, I will for sure be getting the full size though!

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ExfoliKate Cleanser, Kate Somerville

The ExfoliKate Cleanser is not the kind of exfoliating cleanser that has little granules as you wash your face – you get the granules in the exfoliating treatment mentioned above. It has a great, creamy texture so my face feels really hydrated but fresh at the same time. It uses other ingredients, like lactic and glycolic acids along with fruit enzimes, to exfoliate gently. It also removes my makeup without requiring a separate step before I cleanse, which is key for me. I think that this has been a step up from the cleanser I had been using, which I still love and choose to be the partner with my Clarisonic a few times a week. But the ExfoliKate Cleanser has taken things up a notch – my pores feel and look better and my skin has been in excellent shape without breakouts or any reactive irritation.

I’ve found that the treatment and the cleanser pair really well together and have noticed a difference in my skin, which is saying a lot from a girl who has super sensitive, dry and reactive skin. One thing that I have learned over the years with regard to exfoliation, is that is great to pair the two types of exfoliation both through physical/mechanical and chemical in your beauty routine. This combo of products does just that and it packs a punch. A gentle punch.

Note: This post has not been sponsored and this is my 100% unfiltered take. This whole blogging project is certainly not a money maker whatsoever, but even if it ever does evolve into something bigger, I promise I will only write about something that I have tried for a considerable amount of time and feel strongly about. Especially when it comes to beauty products. I feel like you need a minimum of 2 weeks to see how it’s working with your skin, so I wouldn’t feel good about singing praises of a product if I haven’t tried it for at least a month.

Happy Friday!

xoxo

 

perspective

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This isn’t the first time I’ve cried for a stranger, but this one hit me hard. Through Instagram, I saw bits of myself, or the version of myself that I aspire to be, in a fellow wedding planner 2000 miles away. Her two littles are the exact same age as mine – 4 and 1. Yesterday, she passed away from the cancer that was diagnosed, as her baby was born, not much more than a year ago. I am heartbroken for a complete stranger and her family. I am shaken to the core. And… I feel a little ridiculous about how I have been impacted by someone I never knew.

It’s no secret that social media is typically a carefully curated and filtered highlight reel that can often gloss over the realities of life. {I am certainly guilty of posting pictures that conveniently crop out the giant pile of laundry that seems to reappear immediately after I get it under control.} There are several people I follow on Instagram and I glance at their photos thinking that their lives really are just one constant highlight reel. Even though I know that’s far from the truth, my mind’s eye tricks me into seeing a perfect photo as a representation of overall perfection, giving me major life goals. In Tori’s feed, that’s exactly what I saw, with the added bonus of seeing slight parallels between us in our careers and children. Until I read about her illness. All of a sudden all of those perfect images that I’ve been re-scrolling through have a different meaning. I think about what she must have been thinking as she held onto her babies, made sure that she was in front of the camera with them, creating something for them to look back on.

When I think about the struggles we all face each day – laundry, stress, money, work, etc. – it all pales in comparison to the struggle of someone fighting to just live. Fighting to be there as their children grow. Fighting for the ability to carpe diem. Our lives are already beautiful, no matter how much they actually line up with the images we post. Even in rubble, there is beauty simply because we woke up today and have breath in our lungs. Right now, I have tears in my eyes for the emotions I’m feeling, joy in my heart for my children, stress for my to do list, a pile of laundry that needs to be folded and a splinter in my foot. It’s just a standard, unremarkable day, but I’m here.

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My heart. Apples & Honey Photography
What do I hope to accomplish by writing this? I want to put it out there as a reminder to myself to really live and be in the moment. I want to hold my children so close that my heart might burst. {Because just writing this now it feels like it could burst in the form of tears all over my laptop, so a group hug seems like better use of that feeling!} I want to tell my husband all of the things that he means to me more than I tell him about the things we need to do around the house. I want to make sure that the people I care about know that I love them, even the people that I’ve drifted from. I want to have more adventures, travels, explorations and experiences and not let the weekly monotony envelope me.

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One of the moments that put my life into perspective. Jen Lynne Photography
So, #fortori, I promise to take advantage of the now; to not wait for a more convenient time. I promise to remember, no matter how rattled I might feel or how much coffee I may need, each moment is fleeting. I promise to live each day with purpose and to fill my moments with zest and light.

https://www.gofundme.com/helpingthehendrixs

 

fifty shades of grayish blue

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Throughout our home, it’s clear that we love gray in all it’s forms: neutral greige, barely there gray, moody charcoal, glossy graphite. I like to play with pops of color in home accents and the occasional bold paint choice, but the one color that makes an appearance in almost every room is some shade of gray. Inspired by the blue washer and dryer we bought when we moved into the house, we immediately zeroed in on the type of palate we wanted for the new mudroom. So, we were off to select our perfect shade of grayish blue.

Here are the factors that we considered when making our selection:

  1. Our washer and dryer are a shade of blue that’s between sapphire and navy. We didn’t want the hue on the wall to be too close to that of the appliances.
  2. We were obsessed with the gray tile for the floor that we selected and again, we didn’t want select a paint color that was too similar.
  3. The one source of natural light is via eastern exposure. After some research and experience with the paint choices in the rest of our house, we’ve learned that rooms with eastern exposure tend to read a little cool. We wanted to pick a shade that had a touch of warmth to it, so that the space didn’t feel cold or stark. I love this piece on how light affects color.
  4. It’s a space that gets an extreme amount of action every day, so we wanted to pick a color that would feel welcoming.

Side note: When we moved into our house 5 years ago, we painted every single room, but for the kitchen, including all of the trim. I am a firm believer in painting swatches on multiple walls, so you can see the way light hits the color options differently and how it pairs next to trim, flooring and other fixtures.

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I probably should have started this blog when we were in the thick of our mudroom project and garage addition, but alas, it was just a vague idea at the time. So of course, this is the best photo I have of all of the swatches.

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Mineral Alloy, by Benjamin Moore

I am IN LOVE with this color and totally want to use it somewhere else in our house – perhaps on cabinetry or a piece of furniture? It’s the perfect calming yet welcoming tone, which is ideal for the space that is our primary family entry and full of chaos. It feels grounded and not too cool, sophisticated and upbeat but not in your face. Mineral Alloy for the win!

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On a somewhat related note, per request, I want to touch on how the herringbone tile connects to the hardwood in the kitchen. The mudroom used to be the spot for my hubby’s car in our former garage.

To keep our costs as low as possible, we didn’t mess with the ceiling that was already in place from the garage. That did tie our hands a bit, thus the mudroom is one small step down from the kitchen. It took about a day to get used to it and our one-year-old got the hang of it in no time. In response to a reader comment: I think the junction between the two flooring materials would have been totally fine even if there wasn’t the step there. There’s other tile in our house that meets flush with the hardwood and it works because the tile defines a separate space.

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Entry from the mudroom into the rest of the house, after the door was removed.

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Small step connecting the two flooring materials.

Next up for this space, open shelving next to the upper cabinets. Stay tuned!

xoxo

finding my voice

 

 

 

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My sugary gumdrop.

When I first set out to start this blog, I had a clear vision of the range of subjects I wanted cover – complete with an idea burst on the back of scratch paper, 3 months worth of blog ideas and a few pre-written pieces. In my blogging research, I read that it’s important to have a pretty specific and narrow subject. I’ve definitely deviated from my initial list and I’m not sure how narrow my subjects have been. I’ve steered off the original path that I planned, touching on subjects that are much more sensitive and personal, but those are the ones that seem to resonate the most. I’m writing about the things that feel relevant, hoping that they connect with others. Reflecting back on the pieces that I’ve felt most strongly about, I think I’m also working on finding my voice not just in writing but in life, in a way.

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Initial sketch of blogging ideas.

I’ve always been very outgoing and outspoken, probably to a fault. It’s like I feel the need to fill silence, in an effort to deflect from my flaws. If I keep talking, maybe no one will notice that I’m not feeling very put together or polished. Part of it is certainly a defense mechanism of sorts, but I also genuinely love connecting with people, be it having a conversation with a stranger or digging deeper with the people in my life. I also don’t have much of a filter. Believe me, I’ve tried, but it’s like I just don’t have the ability to not put all of my cards on the table. I’m terrible at poker. I might be able to smile through frustration and people please with the best of ’em, but typically I’m an open book.

While I anticipated that this blog would center around my favorite products, experiences in renovating and styling our home, parties that I love to host, my career, parenting and pretty little life details, it’s taken an additional path that probably shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Life isn’t always full of fab details and it’s much more than just the outward appearance of things being polished. There’s always something beautiful in the mundane or simple, even if it’s just gratitude for being in that moment and being alive.

Since starting this blog a few months ago, it has helped to keep me accountable in my goals, like being nicer to myself or the constant struggle for work/life balance. The pretty things should have their moment in the sun, sure, but digging deeper is what makes life rich. I’m always looking to make things better, with my life, my family’s experience, my home and my career. Be it broad, I guess that’s my blogging direction; constantly growing and improving. Writing about more introspective topics or taking an unglamorous yet honest tone has been cathartic and now that I’m seeing how this is developing, I want to stay true to that.

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Currently.

What types of posts would you like to see more of??

xoxo

go the **** to sleep

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How did I not know about this giraffe sooner?? We haven’t ever been successful with a formal sleep training program and “cry it out” has never worked for our kiddos – they just escalate and get even more hysterical.

Henry was a not-so-great sleeper until somewhere around 11ish months and then it just clicked. He’s been an amazing sleeper ever since and he regularly goes down with a routine that’s less than 5 minutes long and stays asleep for 11-12 hours. So, with Graham, I committed myself to the idea that it would just click at some point as we got closer to his first birthday. Fast forward 15 months and he was still waking in the middle of the night and never able to get himself back down. Every. Single. Night. That was until about 6 weeks ago when this little magic giraffe arrived. I randomly snagged it during an Amazon haul and OMG. Game changer!!!

You squeeze his belly and he plays classical music for about 20 minutes with a soft glow that lasts about 5 minutes. {I definitely haven’t timed it, so these are just estimates.} It has made going to bed for both naps and night time a breeze, and when he wakes in the middle of the night, he’ll give the giraffe a nudge to start the music and soothe himself back to sleep! {Full disclosure: he still needs a snuggle to get back down every so often, but this is a MAJOR improvement.} Another big change is that he is not consistently waking every night, anymore – he’s staying down for 12 hours more often than not. It might be that it just started to click around the same time we got the giraffe, but the giraffe could also deserve the credit!

I’ve read several sleep books and articles and I know that you’re not supposed to give babies a “sleep crutch.” HOWEVER, when you’re in the trenches of exhaustion and on the brink of insanity, it’s easy to gloss over what you’re supposed to do in lieu of finding something that just works.

What works for us is this formula: binky, blankie, white noise machine on the ocean setting and the giraffe, making sure that we get him down pretty early (6/6:30) so he doesn’t get overtired. And hallelujah, we are now slightly more rested!

Wishing everyone a well-rested weekend!!

xoxo

epic deviled eggs, mimosa punch & traditions

Our first formal hosting of Easter festivities was brought to you by family traditions, Costco and Target. I love hosting family occasions. I mean, I love love love it. I get excited about building new traditions, revisiting some of my favorites from childhood, breaking out pretty dinnerware, menu planning and just the general warm and fuzzies that come from having our house full of loved ones.

Which brings me to this past weekend’s Easter celebration. We made a weekend out of it. On Saturday, we did our weekly trip to Costco to pick up the household essentials and special items for hosting the following day. {How much wine and champagne is a reasonable amount of booze for Easter Sunday??} And then we came home and dyed eggs for the first time with Henry, while Graham napped. I know, I know; we probably should have done this before age 4, but we just never got around to it before now.

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Easter Egg Prettiness

I’m a big fan of the way this ombré egg turned out. I haven’t dyed eggs in about 20 years, so I forgot how easy this technique is. Next year, forget the stickers and wax crayons. This was by far the prettiest of the dozen.

After the kiddos went to bed, the Easter Bunny was in full prep mode. While stuffing plastic eggs with all sorts of candy for the hunt, I realized that when Henry was Graham’s age, I micromanaged his Easter Egg content so carefully – only cheddar bunnies and organic mini cookies. Not this year. We went full monty with super processed bunny shaped colorful marshmallows, chocolate, jellybeans; the good stuff. Life is too short. I went a little overboard in the Tar-Jay Easter department and just the store in general. It’s amazing how fast inexpensive items add up!!

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About a quarter of the goods.

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Go get that super processed, inorganic sugar, G. Get it.

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Loved this little chalkboard sign from Target!

This was Henry’s first outdoor Easter Egg Hunt – they’ve only been minimal and indoors until now. One of my favorite childhood traditions is when my we would do a big outdoor hunt with most of my cousins. Maybe in’s because he’s a little older now, but there’s something about the outdoor element that came with more excitement and anticipation than our indoor hunts of the past couple of years. We were able to easily hold off the boys from going after the eggs by just not opening the doors. Win for the backyard!

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Mixed heirloom vintage dinnerware.

I’m all over any excuse I have to break out my Grandma Jayne’s Wedgwood and some of the heirloom vintage stemware I’ve inherited. {I have more vintage stemware than is remotely reasonable.}

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Mimosa Punch

For bevvies, I wanted something with bubbles, so I threw together some things that sounded like they’d be a good combo and landed on this yummy mimosa punch! I’m terrible with measurements, so if you want a “wing it” kind of cocktail recipe for brunch, try this!

  • 1 Bottle of Champagne or Prosecco {we went with a $6.99 bottle of Kirkland Prosecco}
  • Approx 3 cups of peach-mango juice, to taste {Again, from Costco}
  • Approx 1 cup of pineapple juice, to taste {Costco, of course}
  • Frozen mixed fruit as needed for garnish, flavor and chilling {Yep, from Costco!}
  • Stir, pour, add more bubbles if you want, cheers!

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Epic Deviled Eggs

Without further ado, here are my upgraded deviled eggs. My sister-in-law actually said that they were the best deviled eggs she’s ever had. Commence patting myself on the back, even more than when I tasted this goodness while playing around with the ingredients.

  • Half a dozen eggs – once cut in half, this will yield a dozen deviled eggs. {If you’re like me, boil a full dozen so you have extra and room to mess up.}
  • 4 tbsp mayo {for 6 eggs}
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard {for 6 eggs}
  • 3-4 pieces of bacon {crispy and chopped}
    • Bacon prep tip! If you haven’t tried cooking bacon on a cookie sheet in the oven, try it. Put parchment paper or foil down into a rimmed baking sheet, then place the bacon on top. Easy peasy clean up and no splatters around the stovetop.}
  • 2 tbsp chives {chopped}
  • 1-2 tbsp white or black truffle oil {to taste}
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A few pinches of black truffle salt as garnish
  • 1 Ziplock bag or piping bag

TIP! When peeling your eggs, add some salt to the water. Keep the egg fully submerged in the salt water as you peel. This should help the shell come off more easily. {Also, don’t put the egg shells down the garbage disposal. Oops!!!}

Cut the eggs in half and scoop the yolks into a bowl. Mash with a fork, back of a spoon, or use a mini food processor. Blend mashed yolks with all other ingredients, setting aside some bacon crumbles and chives for garnish. Taste test the mixture and add the appropriate amounts of salt, pepper and truffle oil as needed.

Put all of this yumminess into a Ziplock bag or piping bag if you’re fancy. Cut the corner of your ziplock bag and pipe the mixture into the egg white. Top with bacon, chives and a tiny pinch of truffle salt.

Serve them on a wooden cheese board for a bit more traction or snag an egg platter like this.

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If you don’t love deviled eggs, give these a try. Mind blown.

Hope your next family get together or brunch with friends is full of yumminess and warm and fuzzies.

xoxo

storage upgrade: new pantry reveal

When you buy a house, you can be so blinded by charm and character that you overlook little things that ultimately can turn into very big things. For us, that would be the pantry. Our kitchen is large and there is tons of cabinet space, so coming from a two bedroom condo in the city, we were wowed by the amount of storage we’d be gaining with a move to the burbs. But the pantry. Dear Lord. I did the best I could to make it functional but anyone who knows me has likely heard me bitch about this skinny ass, inefficient, sad excuse for a pantry.

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This pic gives me anxiety. Organizing a broom-closet-turned-pantry is next to impossible.

We have yet to delve into a major kitchen overhaul, but when we decided to build an addition for a mudroom, we took advantage of that project and included new storage solutions, including a pantry. Someday we’ll get around to giving our kitchen a facelift, but now we can just skip right over that tiny joke of a pantry and head around the corner to the new space!

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What used to be part of our garage. The space started to take shape with two separate pantries and an alcove for an auxiliary fridge. {i.e. the beer fridge}

The original idea was to have one larger walk in pantry, with double doors and wrap around shelving. We ultimately decided to break it up into two separate spaces so we could have one area to house bulk Costco items, the vacuum, broom, etc. while the other space would be the food pantry.

I began plotting the organization strategy long before construction was complete, but the current version is the result of many iterations, after seeing what worked the best as we lived with it. I looooove organizing pretty much anything, so this organization project was a dream for me! I’ve titled my organization board on Pinterest, “OCD” because, if the shoe fits.

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Organizing: it has to get ugly before it gets pretty.

For me, when I get any space organized, I start by pulling everything out and spreading it all over the floor, so I can get a clear vision of what I’m working with. The right containers are essential in any organized space. Containers buy you more real estate on your shelves so that you can ultimately fit everything nicely, but moreover, they help keep like items together.

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Pantry Organization = Happiness

For organizing this space, I utilized items that I already had and made a couple of trips to Target. We don’t live near a Container Store anymore, which is probably for the better, because I would have spent a small fortune with all of the OCD candy that is happening in that place. From The Container Store, we already had these canisters, this shelf organizer, and a stacking basket similar to this. I grabbed all of the random, unutilized baskets around the house and put them to work. From there, it was off to Tar-Jay!

On the left side of top shelf, you’ll see this jar peeking out from around the corner. This is the perfect spot for fruit snacks, suckers and other kiddo sweets.

I discovered that these wooden chalkboard milk crates in both large and small are perfect for a pantry. They conceal less-than-cute packaging, multiply available surface area and make labelling super easy.

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I’ve been back a few times for more and more of these canisters in multiple sizes. They are great for pasta, nuts, raisins, you name it. They’re also great for breaking down all of those huge items from Costco. {I’m looking at you, 20 pound bag of rice.}

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One cannot have too much storage, IMO.

Our love for Costco runs deep. I realize just how suburban this fact is, but we definitely do the bulk of our shopping there now and it saves us a lot of money overall. Did you know that Costco brought in more revenue last year in organic items than Whole Foods? We call this the “Costco Closet” and rightly so: bulk paper products, bulk canned goods, extra items to fill pantry canisters, the totally ridiculous barrel of pretzels the hubs just came home with, etc. This is also where our steamer mop, broom and vacuum live, along with the recycling bin and reusable grocery bags.

These wire milk crates, in different sizes, are great for keeping some of those items contained.

I love this little storage tip for canned goods, so listen up! Take a desktop file basket, like this, and pop the cans in on their sides. Labels are still visible yet it’s much more concise than keeping them in the original bulk boxes.

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And there you have it! I’d love to swap out the light fixture in the pantry to something a little prettier, perhaps with a pull string instead of the switch that’s on the opposite side of the door opening. {Logistically, that’s the only place the switch could have gone, but it’s not exactly convenient.} I have a few other tweaks on my list, like adding some additional shelving, paint and wallpaper, but even without those touches, this space makes me super happy!

xoxo

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