The Mondays

Hi, Friends!

Happy Monday to you!

Let’s talk about this day, shall we? It comes with a lot of mixed reviews. Some people love Mondays because it’s a fresh start to the week and a return to your regularly scheduled programming after crazy weekend shenanigans.

Others hate Mondays because they can be blah and mundane. Going back to “work” after the fun of being off since Friday at 5:02 can be such a drag.

I get it.

I don’t know about you, but I happen to fall into the camp of loving Monday.

I haven’t always felt this way.

I remember years ago when I’d get this feeling… I call it the Sunday Night Sink. Monday Eve hits and the weight of the upcoming weeks starts to ease its way into my mind, distracting my from the blissful weekend.

Then I had an idea.

What if I planned something I could look forward to every Monday? Something I saved especially for this day to give it a bright shiny new appeal. Something to get rid of the sinking feeling for good.

Nowadays, Monday nights mean Bachelor viewing parties with sisters and friends while eating mexican food followed by coconut ice cream.

Take that, Monday blues.

Even when the Bachelor or Bachelorette isn’t on, we still get together and watch The Voice, Dancing With the Who the heck is that, or a movie on demand. We don’t really care what we do. We just hang out.

Your Monday might look totally different than mine. Maybe you could start treating yourself to your favorite Starbucks treat on the way to work every Monday morning. Or maybe Monday could become family pizza night.

Who says all the fun has to be reserved for the weekend? Spread the love and give Mondays a whole new meaning.

Now what to do about Tuesday…

Here are a few of my favorite things I found over the weekend!

Laura

Hello bag – Kohls $14.99 // Straw hat – J Crew Outlet $14.99 // Zip Up Sandals – Target $24.99

Also, the inside of the bag is blue and white stripes. I repeat:
THE INSIDE OF THE BAG IS BLUE AND WHITE STRIPES.

Simple Tips for Drinking More Water, Eating Cleaner Foods, and Getting Your Workout On

I think most of us could say that we wish we were a wee bit more disciplined when it comes to the daily drudge of drinking, eating, and working out. Here are a few tips I’ve found to help keep me on track throughout the week!

Drinking More Water…

1. Drink as soon as you wake: As soon as I wake up and brush my teeth, I go ahead and drink two water bottles full of water. This comes out to be about 40 oz. Then as the day gets busy, as long as I can drink one more water bottle full before lunch, one before dinner, and one after bed, I’ve had at least 120 oz of water.

2. Drink from the same water bottle every day: I know it sounds crazy but if I don’t have my trusty water bottle with me, I just don’t drink enough. I love these you can get from target or order from amazon. They’re glass but also durable because kids.

3. Drink lemon or lime in your water: Some people hate the taste of water. I happen to love it but I also love the taste that citrus fruits add to my water drinking experience. So if you’re one of those people that rolls their eyes at the idea of having to drink more water, maybe this could help.

Eating Cleaner and Exercising More…

1. Incorporate Cheat Meals: I love food. Love. It. I also happen to love the typical southern diet of Chick fil a sweet tea and all the fried things. But not only do I dislike the way I feel when I eat a steady diet of this kind of food, I also don’t like the way my clothes fit… or don’t fit. So the way I’ve found to eat clean the majority of the time and enjoy the indulgences is thru a percentage system. I know it sounds funny but stick with me. If you’re eating 21 meals a week and 3 of those meals are “cheat meals”, then you’re still eating about 85% clean. That’s pretty dang good! It’s not all or nothing. Enjoy the foods you love but also try giving your body more of what it needs.

2. Define “Clean”: Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a ton of different answers to this question! Some people stay far far far away from dairy and carbs (I see you, paleo) and other people are all about greek yogurt and whole grains. But I think there are a few things we can all agree on. The unclean foods we want to avoid most of the time would be fried foods, white flour, sugar, and processed foods (anything out of a package). Trying to stick to as many raw fruits, vegetables, and meats on a daily basis will help to keep your body healthy and fit.

3. Exercising More: So many of us struggle on the regular to get into the gym. But nowadays there are so many at home workout options available that don’t take a ton of time but still offer great results. Even if you’re not ready to start a consistent workout routine, just start using dead time to get moving. I found some of my daily “dead time” is while I’m making dinner so I will just drop down and plank for 30 second intervals in between stirring. I also do the same thing while I’m giving the girls a bath at night. When we’re playing outside during the day, I’ll invite them to play “workout with mommy” and we will do jumping jacks, burpees, and sprints. They love it and it’s a great way to get my booty moving!

I have to constantly remind myself that big changes are the result of lots and lots of small changes. Do little things here and there and you’ll start to see a difference!

Happy Thursday!

Laura

House Updates

We are finally moved back into our house after a CRAZY renovation experience. Let’s just say that if you asked me if I’d recommend our contractor, I’d say (to quote Meghan Trainor) “My name is NO”.

But they’re finally out and we are enjoying being settled back into our little white house. I wanted to share a few before pictures of what the house looked like when we originally bought it in April, 2009 followed by the most current updates we’ve made this year.

The goal all along with the renovation has been to return this house to it’s probably never realized before glory. It’s technically a cape cod style but what I loved about it from the first time I laid eyes on it is that it has kind of a farmhouse feel. It also has some traditional elements so I suppose the best way to describe her would be an eclectic hybrid… or just confused. We’ll go with hybrid.

To get us started, just in case you’ve never seen the exterior of our “1980’s traditional cape cod farmhouse” stunner…

Our House  

Kitchen BEFORE
Kitchen AFTER
We used Benjamin Moore White Dove on the cabinets and went with a grey and white quartzite countertop. We changed the entire layout of the kitchen to make it more funtional. Moving the sink to the new bar gives me the ability to watch the girls outside thru the bay window while I’m making dinner. Love it. Most of the finishes in the kitchen are polished chrome. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to feel about this look but I LOVE. IT. Elegant without being stuffy.

Dreams do come true… in the form of big ol sinks and chrome faucets.

Sweet little bar area where the girls eat breakfast every morning.
We got rid of our microwave because we prefer the old fashioned way of heating our food. Seeing how this mini mantel came together just confirms that we made the right call. Sorry, convenience lovers!

The breakfast room before.

Breakfast room AFTER.
I prefer to call this the breakfast nook. Sounds so much cozier. Plus, the word “room” is far to generous for this tiny little space. It’s my favorite place to sit and talk with Matt in the morning before the girls get up. It’s also my current work area while my custom desk is being built in the den (stay tuned!). We added a new light fixture and furniture but that’s all it took to update this little space.

Dining Room BEFORE

Dining Room AFTER
New paint color, new flooring, farmhouse table, buffet complete with a Magnolia wreath because #joanna
We LOVE eating in this space. This Horchow chandelier was a splurge that I saved up for but it was worth every. penny. Love it so much!

Stairs BEFORE and AFTER
We had the old carpet ripped out and added stained stair treads to match the hardwoods.
I have some fun ideas of other visual interest to add to the stairs but that’s another naptime for another day.
My dad also built these awesome built ins with a bench and hooks. I’m always amazed at how we can take an idea of mine and turn it into a reality!

Den BEFORE

Den AFTER
My dad built these beautiful built ins around the existing fire place and I love the way they turned out. Now we have tons of storage underneath the built ins for DVD’s, games, Etc. 
Don’t mind the Bible verse sign I hadn’t hung yet when this picture was taken
OR the ironing board. Yeesh.

We went with this Jute rug from Target because not only do I love the look but it’s also super durable.

 That’s it for now! We still have lots of projects coming up that I can’t wait to share. That’s the beauty and curse of buying an old fixer upper. We have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this house, but it’s been well worth it to see it slowly transform into OUR home.

Thanks for stopping by!

Laura

Baby Shower 101

I love baby showers.

In my pre-baby life, I was a wedding planner but I used to joke with Matt that if I could just plan baby showers for a living, I would! Not sure there’s enough of a market for that so here I sit waiting for another friend/sister to announce they’re pregnant so I can give them a shower. 
I have given two baby showers in the last two weeks so while all the details are fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share a few tips and ideas of how to throw a thoughtful and beautiful baby shower. 
The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a baby shower is mom’s taste. I know that sounds weird, but really, that baby is still snug inside that belly and hasn’t a clue what color scheme you’ve chosen for her (or his!) shower. So choose things that you think momma would like. I think sometimes people feel pressured to have tons of baby-themed items everywhere for a shower but I say pass. Try to create a space with your decor that celebrates what makes this mom special. Is she eclectic? Whimsical? Funky? Sweet? Just go with what she loves and don’t worry if it’s not all baby booties and butterflies. Choose baby-ish stuff to use very selectively and it’ll pack even more punch than an explosion of babies r us.
As far as decor goes, I love incorporating cute paper straws, fresh flowers, sparkly banners (for a girl) or bunting (for a boy). Depending on the time of day and what kind of food you’re serving, I think it’s a cute idea to incorporate some of momma’s favorite pregnancy cravings. It’s fun to work your menu around her favorite snacks! And let’s be honest, when you’re with child, it’s all about that food.
I know some people love them some shower games but I am just not a fan. Most of the games I’ve seen in the past seem more like tools of humiliation than actual fun so I have no tips there. What I like to do in place of games is to have a beautiful keepsake book that all your guests write a blessing for baby in. One of my dear friends did this for me at my shower with Reese and we still love looking thru her book and reading what everyone said to her. Even if you don’t do a book signing, try to take some time to think about incorporating something memorable and tangible that momma can take away from her time there. 
My favorite way to end a shower is to have a time of prayer and advice for the new mom. There are so many things I wish someone would have told me before I had my first baby and this is a great opportunity to pass along some wisdom to this new mom who has no clue what she’s getting herself into. If you’re afraid not enough people will share, you can always ask her mom/mother in law/grandmothers ahead of time if they could be thinking about a little piece of advice they would share. It just makes things more personal when you allow your guests to share about their experience in motherhood.
Hope this helps some of you first time baby shower planners! I hope to have a post soon on some of my favorite themes for baby showers but we will start here.
Happy planning!

Dear Girls

If you’re new to my blog, let me introduce you to my two beautiful girls.

Reese will be three in August and Rowen will be one in July. They are every bit as spunky and sweet as little girls should be. I love them to the moon.

Having five sisters myself, I know some of the challenges that girls face so I decided I’d start documenting some of the things I want my girls to know.

This first one is all about bullies.

The only thing that scares me more than my girls being bullied is my girls being that ones the bully others. So you’d better believe we are going to be talking about what to watch for and how to handle bullies. Goodness knows they’re out there.

Dear Girls,

Words are really powerful. You can hurt people with your words or you can help people with your words. You may not be able to control how other people treat you but you can always control how you treat others.

Choose to be kind.

Even when people aren’t kind back, choose to do it anyway. People will begin to appreciate your kindness and be drawn to it. Sometimes we think it’ll make us feel better about ourselves if we point out the yucky things in other people, but that never works. It’s a good idea to only talk about someone in a way that you would if they were sitting right in front of you. If you wouldn’t say it with them sitting right there, don’t say it at all.

I hope you’ll have the courage to stick up for yourself if someone is unkind to you. I hope you’ll have the courage to stick up for other people, too. You need to recognize that the people who are mean to others are almost always that way because they don’t like something about themselves. Remember that a bully is someone who finds people they think are weak and choose to be cruel to them. Watch out for those people and be careful about spending time with them. But if you must spend time with them, remember that

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

But also remember that sometimes the biggest bully you might ever come across could be in your own head. It will tell you that you aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, and on and on and on. You must remember that in the same way you should talk kind to others, you have to talk kind to yourself. If you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, focus on what you see that you do like. If you’re going to make a habit out of looking for the best in others, it just makes sense that you’d do that for yourself, too!

So be kind. To others and to yourself.

I love you both so much!

Love,

Mommy

“Let no unkind words come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up.”

Ephesians 4:29