Little Fireplace Update

Friday, January 31, 2014

This week we finished a little update to our fireplace. The nook above the fireplace has always been an awkward space for me. When the fireplace was green I always felt it looked dated, and nothing really worked decoration wise. We always wanted to make a mantle (and still do) but I still didn't know what to do with the little nook, and we considered even knocking it out. Finally, thanks to good old Pinterest, I found some great ideas that people used as accent walls behind mounted televisions. Once we get better weather, we want to make a family trip to a lumber yard downtown to find our slab for the mantle... But that may have to wait until spring. I love the more modern look this has and it definitely warmed up the white walls and gives the room some character. 

We are bunkered down for a weekend in, Michael working on the basement and me working on our cabinets. Roman is apparently having some car issues so he is going to be staying in this weekend too. :) Happy Friday! 

Real life

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Our quarantine continues this week with the cold weather. I don't remember weeks of below zero weather like this ever and with no end in sight, we have spent the week decluttering, playing, reading 4,593,927 books, playing, prepping the cabinets for paint, planning our April vacation to the Bahamas and even more playing. I also did the blueprint cleanse on Tuesday to kick start healthy eating for an early bikini season, and made cupcakes from scratch today. Have I mentioned I suck at diets? My boys have been making the best of being stuck in the house.... And I have been loving all the extra snuggles and one on one playing we've been getting in. Please excuse the mess of toys, this is real life and in real life we've been snowed in and this mess has been our saving grace. 

^^ Such a climber... When does this phase end??  

^^ Doing it wrong. 


Nothing beats the cold weather blues like vacation planning. We got married at the Atlantis in the Bahamas almost 3 years ago. While there, we dreamed of going back for our 5 year anniversary and are so excited to go back sooner than expected with our monkey. 

^^ Blueprint cleanse. Woof. If I never eat kale or cucumbers again it will be too soon. I will say, I felt fantastic after just a one day cleanse and my energy was back up to normal. But as far as it being the cleanse for foodies? I prefer burgers and cake. #sorrynotsorry

^^ I've mentioned before I hate baking. But we have been snowed in, and all I had to work with was ingredients. They were fantastic, especially after a full day of liquid rabbit food. 

Keep warm! xoxo, Amy

Introducing the 4moms rockAroo!

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's been no secret that we LOVE all of our 4moms products... And this month they released a brand new swing called the rockAroo! 

This will absolutely be on my wish list when we have baby #2, many, many, months from now. Roman loved his swing as an infant, but I hated how large it was and how odd it looked in our living room. It was also way too bulky to move from room to room as needed. Having a baby is the best experience ever, but being able to keep the clutter under control is also very important, especially if you have more than one munchkin. The rockAroo is so compact and has such a stylish design, just like the rest of their product line. Check out the rockAroo HERE... And visit their Facebook page HERE where they are giving away a rockAroo a day and you can enter to win one of your very own! 

Now, if they will only hurry up with the car seat that installs itself and I will finally be on board to have another baby... Is that awful!?

You can also check out my reviews of the breeze play yard which we still use every day when I shower, the spout cover, and the origami stroller

Happy Monday friends!

Snow Day!

Friday, January 24, 2014

We have had a decent amount of snow in Pittsburgh this year, and also very bitter temperatures. I've been dying to take Roman out in the snow all season but have been waiting for a warmer day. Apparently snow and warm don't mix, so I bundled him up and took him on a short trip outside to get the mail. It took about 20 minutes to get him dressed then about 2 minutes to get the mail. He hated it but at least we got to test the waters.... He needs to be ready to snowboard with mom and dad in a couple years! 

Dining Room Update

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I feel like I finished this project forever ago, and was just left waiting on the two 12x12 prints to come in. Does anyone have any idea how hard it is to find 12x12 square prints? Next to impossible and SO SO expensive. Thanks ikea for your fabulous but odd sized frames. I ended up going with 11x14 prints from Shutterfly (hence why they are a little short.) It ended up being like $40 cheaper that way for the pair. I am going to buy new matting but wanted to share pictures since they finally came in. 

I started with the dining room project since I had no idea how painting with a toddler would go. Fortunately, I am a ninja painter and Roman takes a three hour nap most afternoons which was all I needed. Good baby.

Here are a few before pictures. In my defense, Michael chose the goofy lavender color. I never liked it but we weren't even engaged at the time so I tried to go along with some of his choices. I always forget to take before pictures and this was no exception so these photos were after I moved the buffet and started painting. I swear this room never gets used and is rarely messy like this. 

And the after....

We went with Behr Toasted Almond for the walls and Decorator White for the trim. Our furniture is hand-me-down twice over that I stripped and restainded in my past life BR (before Roman.) back then it was completely possible to spend an entire week outside attached to heavy chemicals and a sander. It originally was a deep red mahogany. I reupholstered the chairs with black fabric and will share an easy tutorial later this week. Michael framed our windows with trim, since they came unfinished by the builder. They light fixture we installed shortly after moving in. We purchased it from Overstock. The drift wood, blue frame and lamps are from Homegoods. The white shell frame is from pier 1 like three years ago. The mirror is thrifted from an antique shop. 


Monday, January 20, 2014

We had a great weekend even though I spent Saturday night half dead with some sort of flu. Fortunately, it was mostly a 24 hour thing and by this morning I was feeling myself again. Over the last few days we made some progress on the living room update, so I wanted to share some pictures of our progress little by little since this project will likely take a couple months.

Going from snotty green to bright white has been a bit of an adjustment. At times I love it, but I have had a few moments where I wish I would have done a light beige like I used in our dining room to give the house more symmetry. I'm sure an interior designer would roll their eyes walking into out house, but fortunately we have no interior designer friends. :) I think once I accessorize the crap out of it and get our new furniture pieces, paint the cabinets and install new counters, I will love it. It's just going to be a few months in limbo. 

Next on my list is to finish painting the kitchen, including the cabinets. I'm considering switching our cabinet hinges from the traditional visible ones we have now to the hidden kind. Has anyone ever made this switch before? If so, PLEASE let me know. I need to pick your brain. I'm also mid project of staining pine strips to inlay in the nook above our fireplace which we will install Friday night when my husband frames our windows and sliding door. 

We have a busy rest of the week, tomorrow getting back into our regular library schedule and play dates on the other days which I am really looking forward to. We haven't spent two weeks at home like this without some sort of fun outing since Roman was born. It was nice living in yoga pants.... But it's time to break the slump. Have a great week everyone! 

Odds and Ends

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Odds and ends 

Blogging has been such a great experience so far. The sense of community and support have been outstanding and I am grateful for all the friends I've made so far along the way. 

Last year I loved following along with Erinn from Strawberry Swing and Other Things blog Girl Mom series, and when I saw Elizabeth from Chasin' Mason was carrying it on for us boy moms, I had to jump on board. Head over to her page HERE to read my post from yesterday on being a boy mom to my little monkey. 

I also wanted to share a picture from my best friends wedding from back in November. I forgot to have Michael take pictures so here is one of the photographers photos of us gals. 

The first three girls from the left have been my very best friends forever... And all three of them got married this past year! It's been a crazy but fun year! 

Finally, here is a picture of my little helper yesterday painting. He kept trying to climb on the ladder while I was on it, so I stood behind him to spot and he was able to climb to the very top unassisted. Glad I learned that while I was standing right there supervising.

The living room is officially white. It took over 3 coats. I am going to have to touch up spots today once I give it full inspection in daylight. Michael decorated our fireplace nook last night with cute baby. 

And one more of our billy goat... 

This week has been so busy with chores and house projects. We are welcoming the weekend with open arms! Hopefully you all are doing the same! 

New Year, New Paint

My goal for this year is to update a couple rooms while I can. Sometime after Romans second birthday (October) I want to start thinking of baby #2 so that gives me at least a good 8 months to complete some major projects before I can't paint or do heavy lifting. Michael and I are both very hands on type of people. Right now, he is halfway complete with finishing our basement into a family room / gym. For being an IT guy, he is rather awesome. He built us a powder room down there last summer complete with doing all his own electrical and plumbing and the year before that he built our deck. If we can avoid hiring a contractor we do. Michael and I bought our house when it was pretty much brand new, 4.5 years ago. All the walls were primered off white by the builder and needed some love. We were like kids in a candy store choosing paint colors, and went a little nuts. Literally, I think we were nuts. Lavendar dining room? Lime green living room? Dark red bedroom? Woof. It's time to update a few of the rooms making them a bit more, um adult shall we say? 

Last week, I painted our dining room. I still need to buy a few frames and wait for our pictures to come in before it's ready to share. In the mean time, I am ready to tackle the green in our living room. 

Here are a few before pictures of the space. Our house was a spec home, so we didn't get to choose to cabinets or flooring (two things I look forward to updating when we can afford it.) Also, please ignore the mess. As anyone with a toddler can appreciate, I straighten up and by the time I turn around, it's like a tornado went through. I liked the green for a good year before I started hating it. Keep in mind, there was no Pinterest or instagram 5 years ago for design inspiration. 

Here are some of our plans for an updated space....

I am so inspired by bright white walls.... If you are on instagram, some of my favorite instagrammers with amazing spaces are @madebylon, @natspencer, @devonrachel and @bluebirdkisses. I never appreciated white walls and all their potential in the past but with 5 gallons of white paint purchased I am so looking forward to the clean slate. 

Our cabinets are only 4.5 years old.... It seems wasteful to rip them out just yet even if they are just builder grade wood. It's also expensive to put in a new kitchen. My plan is to paint them white also to buy us a few more years. Along with painting the cabinets I would like to hang some sort of backsplash (either of glass tiles or subway tile) and butcher block countertops. I am still researching these, but ikea has very affordable ones here which could work as a temporary fix.

We would also like to build a mantle for our fireplace. Michael and I are having a tough time agreeing on what it should look like though. He is leaning towards a more traditional design while I am thinking more modern/craftsman (if that's a real thing.) In a perfect world, it would end up like THIS or THIS

Other things on the to-do list include:

- Hang window trim
- Find new prints. I actually am dying over a piece called Banana Mania by Daniel Seung Lee but can't find where to purchase it. Any suggestions??
- New tv (this is the tricky one. Michael will not replace that box unless it breaks. Roman, get on that for mommy!)
- New storage systems. I am loving the ikea Besta pictured above but they are sold out until the first week of February.
- Wood flooring. This has been on our short list to replace the flooring on the first floor with wood for a while now. But this year the basement, front landscaping and a Bahamas vacation won out. Hopefully next year... 
- Replace dinette chandelier which is way too large for the space.
- Reupholster suede chairs which have attracted every bit of toddler food hands. 

I definitely have my work cut out for me these next few weeks but I'm looking forward to a little update. 

Stan's Famous Chili

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I am pretty sure every man thinks their chili recipe is actually famous, but my dad makes killer chili worth sharing. (Of course, what isn't good with a half bottle of honey and 5 scoops of sugar, and by scoops I mean like 5 - 1/3 cup scoops. Hello diet!) 

This recipe is super simple and only improves the longer you let it simmer. I apologize in advance for the measurements. As you can see, Stan's measurements are rather amazing (four shakes of chili powder and three squeezes of ketchup. Very accurate.) We tend to follow the more is more motto on this recipe.  

3lbs of ground beef (cooked and drained)
1lb of ground pork (cooked and drained)
4 onions (diced and cooked until soft)
4 bell peppers (diced and cooked until soft)
3 banana peppers (diced and cooked until soft)
4 cans of diced tomatoes
4 cans of chili beans (2 mild and 2 medium)
A half a bottle of honey
5 scoops of sugar (I used a 1/3 measuring cup to do the scoops)
4 shakes of chili powder
3 squeezes of ketchup (approx 9 tablespoons)
1 squeeze of yellow mustard (approx 3 tablespoons)
*Minced garlic (3 cloves)
*Tomato paste (one can)


Combine in a large pot and simmer for several hours. Makes approximately 10-12 servings. 

Best served with a 6 pack of Yuengling and a loaf of warm bread. Enjoy! 


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