Sunday, September 30, 2012

2:26 p.m. on a September Thursday

Making homemade tortillas for dinner along with my crockpot salsa chicken.  That little red and white stick thing is technically the bottom half of a street sign for a wooden train set, but for the last few months it’s been Luke’s “baton” so he can be “like E-Lo (Leo)” from Little Einsteins (Leo is the musical one who conducts).  That thing gets lost about eighty million times a week.  But I love his imagination!

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We played with that bubble sword last week – do you think it has moved from my sink since then?  Nope!  lol


My view from above right now! :) My apron says “The Lady Can Cook” and my mom bought it for me on a trip to Savannah at Paula Deen’s restaurant.  Mom and I used to have a pact that when we turned 65 we were going to let ourselves go like Paula and eat biscuits and cobbler to our heart’s content and just wear loose button-up shirts and flowy pants and also somehow be naturally stunningly beautiful as well.  But then she had to go get healthy and lose all that weight.  So now I have no life’s ambition.  Thanks, Paula.

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Cooking in my vintage yellow Pyrex makes me so happy.  Gwyneth Paltrow trying to be Adele on my Pandora station, not so much. 

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Whizzing by me as I cooked.  Pants were optional today.  I’m just happy he was occupied! 

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Just a regular afternoon at my house. :)

Coming up this week: fall decorations!  Stay tuned. :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

One Million and Counting!

Sometime last week – I think it was last Thursday the 20th? – this little blog of mine hit the 1,000,000 page-views mark.  For some of you with much bigger blogs, that is probably laughable (especially for someone who’s been blogging for 3 years!), but I felt like it was a pretty cool occasion for me nonetheless and I wanted to remember it. :)

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If you’ve been reading for any amount of time you know that I am a stay-at-home mom on a super tight budget.  It was my choice to leave my teaching job to stay home with Luke – and I have never regretted it – but sometimes (okay, really all the time) having a little extra money would be nice. 

Thanks to a certain post about shower mold (gross, I know!) that went viral on Pinterest – I feel like a dork saying that, but it’s had 816,744 views as of this morning (see? the rest of my blog really isn’t that popular!  lol), I have been earning some ad money.  This money is SUCH a huge blessing to me and my husband – it’s helping to pay for our weekend anniversary trip to Boston in two weeks.   

So I just wanted to say from the bottom of my heart:

THANK YOU for visiting, THANK YOU for reading, THANK YOU for commenting, and THANK YOU being such wonderfully kind and supportive readers!  

So far I’ve met two of you in real life (I really need to do a post on that!) and several others of you have been so encouraging through comments and e-mails that I just know we would be real-life friends if we ever got the chance to meet. 

Have a wonderful day!  It’s FRIDAY!!! :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Friday, Saturday, & Sunday Around Here

I don’t do a lot of “our life” posts and I really want to be better about it.

So. :)

On Friday we took Starbucks to Chris at work.  My super hot and smart husband got a promotion at the end of July which means he now has his own office (as opposed to the concrete dungeon with no windows that he used to work in – no kidding, he showed it to me on his last week of work after 2 years there and I could have cried.  Might have been pregnancy hormones, but still).  This office has a big window and it’s spacious and so much happier.  Not to mention that he’s much happier, which is the most important thing to me. 

Luke loves to swirl in the office chair. He thinks it’s super fun to visit Daddy at work!  I love my boy in that Gap thermal.  I got it for $2 off a local Facebook resale site and I was SO happy that it fits him again this year! 

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I was loving my Salted Caramel Mocha (decaf, don’t worry!).  Starbucks if you are reading will you please keep the salt alllll year long?  How hard could it be?  lol

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I am also loving my new Essie “Very Structured” polish, borrowed from a friend.  It’s a beautiful burgundy-brown and it’s such a great fall color! 


While we were out we stopped at Christmas Tree Shop.  That store is like crack for moms on a budget.  For real.  The napkins were even cheaper at the register, so for $1.99 I got a little fall goodness!  Oh and the markdown action on the acorn totally cracked me up.  To me that is the mind of a distracted pregnant woman at work.  lol

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On Friday afternoon I took dinner to a friend who’s been having a rough couple of weeks.  I love making meals for people because I remember how special it was when I had my rough recovery after Luke and people took the time to cook for us.  I whipped up some enchiladas, corn, and my pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  (Recipe for the cookies is here – they’re really yummy!) 

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My boy was being a great helper…until he wasn’t.  I’ve never gotten a time-out-in-progress photo shot before but I’m holding on to this sucker until his wedding! I had to take it with the flash off since I was hiding behind the laundry room door and I didn’t want him to see me!  haha!

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I LOVE when my favorite bloggers write books – and NieNie’s did not disappoint.  I read the entire thing on Friday.  No kidding.  I highly recommend it!  And if you don’t know who she is, her blog is NieNie Dialogues – one of the best.  (P.S. Kelle Hampton’s book Bloom was fabulous, too – although be forewarned of bad language if that bothers you. I read it when we still weren’t sure about Olivia’s situation – and it was incredibly inspiring and encouraging.)

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For the rest of the weekend we mostly hung out at home doing house projects and playing with Luke.  Friends were supposed to come over but they both got colds (bummer) – but I was so excited to make a dessert I’d found that I made it anyway!  I have been SO into apples with this baby – no kidding, a lot of times I eat two a day – and this Apple Crisp Pizza (think apple crisp on a pie crust) was super fab. 

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I didn’t change a thing – and I definitely recommend the caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream she suggests.  Caramel sauce from the store isn’t clean but in my opinion desserts are go big or go home!  :)


Today we went to church and then my parents stopped by for lunch and apple crisp.  Snapped this photo of my dad reading Luke his new favorite book – Eric Carle’s The Very Busy Spider.  My dad just adores Luke and the feeling is mutual. :)

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Chris primed about 3/4 of Livi’s room – yay!!!! So I’m excited to start picking out paint samples this week.  Right now he’s giving Luke a bath and playing his harmonica while Luke splashes.  He taught himself to play this summer and he’s actually really amazing at it.  He just plays all.the.time.  I swear, it’s like living on the set of The Waltons over here.    We’ve worked out a deal where he can play outside or when he gives Luke baths.  haha

I have laundry humming in the dryer and in approximately 16 minutes  Luke will go to bed!  Yay!  :)


Have a fantastic week!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Her Name {And Why We Chose It}

I have a big thing about baby names.  I have spent a ton of time coming up with and thinking about Luke’s name and now our daughter’s name as well.  It is super important to me that our kids’ names have a special meaning *and* if possible honor a family member or something else meaningful in our life.  Plus their full given name has to have a reasonable nickname that goes along with it – no one-syllable names for me, please!  I take my job as a namer very seriously – can you tell?!  lol

For instance, I used to LOVE the name Landon (A Walk to Remember, anyone? haha).  But then I got pregnant with Luke and realized in the baby name book that “Landon” means “Long hill.”  Womp womp.  lol  Totally killed the name for me!  (Still love it and think it’s a cool name – just couldn’t do it.  Plus what’s the nickname for Landon??)

ANYWAY, I have actually had my daughter’s name picked out since I was eleven years old (yup!).  Are you ready?  Her name will be…


Olivia Noelle

{and “Liv” or “Livi” for short}

Now BELIEVE me when I say that I know that Olivia is SUPER WICKEDLY popular right now…and has been for years.  I know, I know, I know – and it kinda makes me cringe.  But I’ve literally had her name picked out for over 15 years  – and I just seriously can’t imagine having a daughter *not* named Olivia.  No joke, my whole life I’ve thought about having an Olivia some day.  I just hope she doesn’t hate me when she’s in high school and has 10 other Olivias in her class. 

I actually fell in love with the name watching The Waltons reruns on tv! Anyone else love that show?!  Oh my goodness, totally wanted to live in that house with all of them!  I thought the mom, who they called Liv/Livi, was so beautiful and perfect and gracious in my 11-year-old mind.  :) I just totally fell in love with the name Olivia then. 

Then in high school (college?) when Lord of the Rings came out and Liv Tyler got talked about a lot, it was only confirmed how cute I thought the name was. 

Olivia is a sweet, girly, traditional name (and I am traditional all the way!).  I love that her name means “peace.” God knew how much I was longing for another child to add to our family – I just thought that child would come through adoption, not birth!  It’s been a long three years (will be three and half by the time she is born) since we first became parents.  She has already brought so much peace into my longing heart. 

Her middle name actually came from me!  Noelle is my middle name (well, it was before I got married, anyway).  Again, I love that it’s super feminine and traditional (unique and modern names are just not me – at all).  It means “Christmas” – my parents gave it to me because my birthday is December 7th.  Even though my girl will have a January birthday, it means so much that she’ll be getting her mama’s name. :)

Our prayer is that little Miss Livi will bring peace to others’ lives and reflect the beauty of Christ {and the meaning of Christmas} wherever she goes! 

I can’t wait to meet her!! :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It’s a Girl!!!!!!!!!!!!

We found out on September 10th - just over a week ago - that our precious baby is a sweet baby girl.  You guys, I am just OVER THE MOON. 


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Before the ultrasound, I was really 50/50 either way.  Having a boy would have meant a brother for Luke and we already have all the boy clothes (the thought of purging boy clothes from the attic made me reeeallly happy!)  haha! 

But of course I thought about how amazing it would be to have a daughter to love and shop and bake with and do all those fun girly things with.  Plus….the clothes. ;) But honestly, adoption is still something we want to do and I knew we would just adopt a sweet baby girl if God had given us a boy again. 

Chris actually said “I hope it’s a girl!” the night we found out I was pregnant.  He has been saying “girl” all the way – as has everyone else, save for my BFF Lindsay (although I think hers was wishful thinking!  lol). 


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Anyway, the tech told us it was a girl and I seriously just burst into tears.  I don’t think I realized how much I wanted a girl until I realized that it was my new reality.  I am SO in love with her and seriously can’t stop thanking God for His blessings.  I think about her non-stop. :)

I love that “her” and “she” is in my everyday vocabulary now!  And I love that little pink clothes with ruffly butts are starting to appear in my house!  After over three years of navy and brown and trucks and monsters, having girly polka dots and pink hearts on everything is a welcome change to my pink-loving heart.  :)

Most of all, we are SO thankful that she is healthy and growing just fine.  I opted to do the Down Syndrome/Trisomy screen at 12 weeks, thinking nothing of it other than a chance to see the baby again in those early weeks.  I am only in my late twenties so the thought of something being wrong honest to goodness never occurred to me.  Long story short, the baby measured fine on the ultrasound but based on my blood work hormones, I was given a 1 in 200 chance of Down Syndrome (and considered high-risk at that point). 


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Those 7 weeks of waiting for the Level 2 20-week ultrasound (to look for physical markers of Down Syndrome) were some of the hardest of my life.  I don’t think I have ever cried or prayed more.  I had God on speed-dial, that’s for sure!  I read passages of Scripture like Job and Abraham sacrificing Isaac over and over and over again. 

In the end, God brought such a peace to my heart (that along with the prayers and encouragement of dear friends and the amazing patience and wisdom of my husband).  I 100% believe that Down Syndrome is NOT the worst thing that can happen to your child – it’s scary and sad to think about your child having to face extra obstacles from the get-go, but it’s not the worst thing.  I was honestly able to say the day before we found out that God is good regardless of the news I was going to hear. 


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But praise God, the specialist wasn’t able to find a single marker of Down Syndrome during my Level 2 ultrasound.  Hallelujah! :) Based on my high hormone levels, my risk level only goes up to 1 in 400 even with a clean scan (someone my age is "supposed” to have a risk of 1 in 670).  However, 1 in 400 is no longer considered high risk – and after that ultrasound, I’m not worried in the slightest!  I had a number of people tell me that my situation happened to them or to a friend – those seven weeks of worry will really do a number on your mental health!

I keep thinking over and over how amazing it is that she is going to be here with us soon – we were not trying in any way to have her (remember, we had *just* gotten licensed to adopt when we found out I was pregnant) yet God clearly wants her here on earth with us!  I can’t wait to see what her life turns out to be! 

Tonight I am just counting my blessings for a sweet little boy asleep in bed and a sweet baby girl due in a few months. 

God is good, and He is faithful! 

{I’ll tell you her name in the next post! ;) }

Friday, September 7, 2012

Our House, One Year Later: Living Room {Part 2 of 2}

Thanks for your kind comments on Wednesday’s post about our living room!  I’m back today with a few more photos to finish out the room so you can get a full glimpse of the rest of it.  (Again, click any photo to enlarge it.)
I’ve showed this dresser a lot before – it’s what you see when you first walk in our front door.  It was $35 at a yard sale and I absolutely, positively love it.  It’s filled with candles, tablecloths, extra dishes, and other items that we use infrequently but I like to have on hand.  It’s fun to decorate the top for the seasons since I don’t have a real mantel. :)
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I showed this chair a loooong time ago – it’s a Pier 1 chair that I scored for $20 at Goodwill!  It’s a little worn and at first I thought I might re-stain it, but it doesn’t bother me a bit.  I love the texture it adds to the room.  The elephant footstool (see? I told you I love them!) is from Ghana – my brother-in-law lived there for a while and brought it back for my husband when he was a teenager. 
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I mentioned yesterday that all the small furniture in the room is heirloom pieces made by Chris’s family – this end-table is another example!  We inherited it from his grandma when she passed away.  It’s simple and beautiful.  The “Amazing Grace” plaque is from Cracker Barrel, and the large frame and tissue box were both $1 at flea markets. Loving the pop of hot yellow the school bus adds – don’t you?! :)
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This is the view from the front corner looking back into the hallway.  I am so, SO thankful for this sofa!  It’s from Raymour and Flannigan – it’s actually a Cindy Crawford couch – isn’t that funny?! For the first 5 years we were married, we had very uncomfortable, very ugly hand-me-down couches.  It’s hard to make a room look pretty when the main element is such an eyesore!  When we moved we promised each other we’d finally buy one of our own.  It makes me happy every day.  Not kidding. :)
The accent pillows are from Big Lots when we first got married 6 years ago.   
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The only part of this room that’s really still “unfinished” is this big wall when you walk in.  I just found a GREAT gallery wall inspiration photo on Pinterest, though – so now I have a plan and I’m excited to decorate this space!
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Isn’t it a little freaky how much this looks like my house??!! lol I love this layout – I just want to do white or light brown rather than black frames.

When we first moved in, all of the interior doors in our house were these cheapo ones – seriously, would it have killed them to prime and stain before they left? lol So we are replacing the doors, hinges, and doorknobs one by one.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to walk in the front door and see white now instead of tan! :)
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A few final before and afters:
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And that’s the tour!  The next room will either be Luke’s room or the kitchen – not sure yet.  :)
More house tour:
Dining Room
Living Room {Part 1}
Linking up with:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Our House, One Year Later: The Living Room {Part 1 of 2}

Hi everybody!  Did you all have a great weekend!  We spent an awesome weekend in PA with friends and family.  Chris and I both agreed it was one of our favorite weekends there yet – we got to spend quality time with everyone, it was super relaxing, and Luke is getting better at adjusting to new environments.  He loves hanging out with all his cousins – yay!

Anyway, today is part 1 of a 2-part post on our living room – only because there are a LOT of pictures to share!  (Click on any picture to enlarge – see part 2 here.)

When we moved in last May (2011), the previous homeowner hadn’t done much in the way of decorating.  (She was a very busy pregnant mom of 5 so I am in NO way judging – just stating a fact!)  Here’s what it looked like the day of the house inspection: 

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On the day of closing, we were left with yellow walls and not much else:

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And here’s what it looks like today!

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The walls are “Palladian Blue” by Benjamin Moore (color-matched at Lowe’s) and we ABSOLUTELY love it.  I have gotten a million compliments on this color!  It is a beautifully warm, green-blue that changes a little depending on the light.  Our last house in PA had brown walls and brown furniture and it was a liiiiitle much.  haha!

I keep the color palette mostly to browns, golds, blues, and greens – the walls are very complimentary to these colors.  It feels very comfortable and relaxing in here. 

As usual, pretty much everything is from yard sales or Goodwill – but if you have a question about something, feel free to ask!  The sphere below is from Hobby Lobby and I LOVE it.  I carried it all the way back from Florida on the plane – if you live near HB count your blessings! :)

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I do love the pop of orange this piece adds, though!  It’s a vintage card table from the 1930’s ($5 at a yard sale!) – my husband just sawed the legs off so we could use it as art. 

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As I mentioned in my dining room post, I gotta have my elephants! ;) The brass one is an antique bank from my husband’s grandmother and the little gray one is from an antique store – I bought it because I LOVED playing with those mini ceramic animals at my grand-grandmother’s house when I was a little girl. I’m told they were from Tetley tea boxes. Anyone else remember playing with them?

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A $4 flea market hamper works great as a place to hold throw blankets.

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All of the small, dark pieces of wooden furniture in this room came from Chris’s family – built by his grandfathers or great-grandfathers.  I love having functional family heirlooms around our house!

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My caramel-colored curtains were an awesome clearance find – only $15 for the pair!  The clock is an old yard-sale find, I made the little plant, and the lamp and shade are Target clearance.  I wish I had taken a better picture of the green table by the door.  It’s got spindles and it’s a really pretty color green!  Only $4 at a yard sale!

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That’s all for now – come back tomorrow for the rest of the room tour! :)


More home tour:

Dining Room


Linking up with: