A new dress does wonders

Three and a half is tough guys. Really Tough.

There are the moments when Autumn is a shining ball of happy of happiness and then the moments she yells at you because it took you an extra 2 seconds to get a new Shimmer and Shine or Paw Patrol on. The scowls will cut right through you too.

And God forbid she is hungry. She gets HANGRY mighty quickly.

While our brains are still in a fog we need to be prepped to get a cup of cheerios and a cup of water with ice right away once we have made it downstairs in the morning. I am constantly reminding her that we have to do one thing at the time and I can’t get the TV, get the cheerios, and water all at once. She is starting to get that since Doc McStuffins only helps 1 patient at a time. But she is not a morning person so waiting can be tough.

 

Now that Hunter is here, she is having to wait more for things and we have our hands full with him. Sometimes I think she really struggles with it, and  him around, other times she is on board with helping for him, singing to him, or giving him kisses. She tells him she loves him so much all the time. HEART BURST!!

Thankfully, the sourpuss moments are outweighed by the incredibly sweet heart tugging moments. The ones that make you stop in your tracks and put you at piece when she is doing something kind or funny or silly.

Like when we received a beautiful dress from Dot Dot Smile recently. We opened up the package and I explained to her that it was a new dress for her and she said ‘Ohhh it’s so beautiful! Thank You Thank You Thank You Mommy!!!”. She then squirreled it away in her dresser under some pajamas and it took me 3 days to find it, tearing the house apart in the process.

I think that the 2 of us getting out of the house for a fun outing in the afternoon and then this little photoshoot was just what we needed to wind down the weekend.

We headed to the park right next to our house to run around and play before bed. It’s a great way to burn off some extra energy.

There was lots of running, twirling, and jumping in her new dress. She loved how well it twirled around her. Like a princess!

Watching her twirl, roll around, and jump while singing and telling me stories was the  best. It was a great little break from the rush of getting the dishes done or getting more clothes folded. Those to do lists will always be there, but sometimes we just need to completely blow them off for 20 minutes in the park with the ones we love.

I am thankful for moments like this when we just get to take some time to reconnect and goof around together.

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Dot Dot Smile is an American made clothing company that creates adorable dresses. They are run similarly to LuLaRoe, with sales through consultants. You can join this FB group run by Samantha for print updates, flash sales to get fun twirly dresses like this for the littles in your life.

BEEHAPPY10 is a 10% off promo code valid through 9/24/2017. *These offers cannot be combined with any other promotion or sale.

Thanks Samantha for this fun dress. #ad

Autumn is wearing a size 2. She is 28 1/2 pounds, 38″ tall

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Also…

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Peach Mango Sangria

Well, last week’s car drama got even better.

Not only is it super annoying to get into an accident, it’s extra annoying when you find out that the person who hit you had just the minimum insurance required by the state of Florida, which is not enough to actually cover the entire 4 car wreck. (Seriously FL, get your act together and require people to carry more than 10K of insurance!!!!) That means I need to go through my insurance as well, and then the 2 insurance companies settle stuff up on their end.

I have spent so much time on the phone recently. I have provided information over and over again to different parties. And I have given recaps several times over.  I understand it’s all necessary, but is rather spend my time when Hunter is dozing on other things. Nap like things. Or shower like things.

 

And to make matters worse, it seems like the car can’t get into the shop for another 2-3 weeks and it will take a decent amount of time, like 3 weeks, to fix it. But the place I’m going to has fantastic ratings so, at least, Indy will be in good hands.

But all of that just makes me say “So, yeah… pass me some wine!”

This sangria is just what I needed.

The combination of mango and peach is light and tropical, while the tequila gives it a bit of a bite. Feel free to add some seltzer to it to make it even more refreshing with some fizzy bubbles.

Grab a glass, kick your feet up, and take a big sip!

 

Peach Mango Sangria

Makes 1 pitcher

Ingredients

  • 1 750 ml bottle Chardonnay
  • 2 large fresh peaches, cut into thing slices
  • 1 mango, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 Cup silver tequilla

Process

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large pitcher. Chill for at least 4 hours
Posted in Drinking, Food and Drink | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

House Tour- Organizing our Kitchen

 

Last week, as part of my house tour posts, I shared with you design and layout of our Kitchen and adjacent Breakfast Area.

Now, I am going to take it all a step further and explain how we keep our kitchen organized.

Sure, it has its moments when you can barely see the island when it’s covered in bags, Autumn’s artwork from school, coupons, dog leashes, and freshly washed dishes. Not gonna lie, the random sock sometimes finds it’s way on there too.

That’s real life! But the best way to combat the mess is approaching the kitchen from several different ways from when you design it to move in and live in it.

As well, finding products that best suit your needs. We have a bunch of staples for organizing, cooking, cleaning, baby products, and of course coffee/tea supplies.

When designing or remodeling a kitchen, I highly suggest starting out by planning out what you have to store away and what you feature to strategically plan where things go. Like we have a our coffee area where the coffee maker is located on the counter, by an outlet, and directly above is a cabinet that stores our mugs, coffees, teas, and to-go cups.

But by having specific places for things throughout the kitchen, things can get organized and cleaned up again rather quickly. There is a spot for everything so things can easily put right back in their spots. And it certainly makes finding things a lot easier.

Some of the ways that we have it well organized is the way that we actually designed the kitchen. We made changes to the style and size of cabinets and the arrangement of them. For example, on the ‘active’ wall of our kitchen, we have a 30″ wide microwave cabinet, a 18″ wide cabinet with a door and drawer above, our stove, another 18″ wide cabinet with a door and drawer above, and a 30″ wide cabinet with 3 drawers. The symmetry looks good and after awhile you get used to taking a certain number of steps to each cabinet that your body gets a nice rhythm to each location.

On either side of the stove we have tools that help us use the stove from oven mitts to spatulas. Being able to reach them from the stove is key. It helps functionally and with safety.

Below those drawers are things that we also use often. Our various cutting boards and baking sheets are stored on the left side of the stove. This makes grabbing a sheet for baking up french fries easy, as well as grabbing a cutting board for making a salad. This location worked well, but the items got mixed together and would fall over making the cabinet a mess. The 18″ High Tray Dividers has allowed us to store and organized our wooden and plastic cutting boards and our baking sheets and cooling racks separately.

On the right side of the stove, we installed a Tall Base Cabinet Pull Out that allows for the cabinet to be stocked full of bake wear, but still be well organized and easily accessible. Had we not used the cabinet pull out, it would have meant that things would have been haphazardly stacked up and jammed in there, which would just mean that over time things would get messy. This pull out makes baking a breeze.

Even our decorative floating shelves serve a purpose. They hold gifts, memorabilia from trips, and other things that are special to us. Plus, the lower shelves have various sized small bowls on them that we use for misé-en-place when preparing a meal.

The large cabinet that is directly next to the refrigerator is the work horse of our kitchen. It has 3 drawers that is the work horse of the kitchen. The top drawer is our drawer for all our tools ranging from can opener to pepper corer.  The “vertical” arrangement makes finding something easier so items aren’t lost in the back row.

 

As the top drawer holds so many tools of various sizes we upgraded the drawer organizer that I picked up from Ikea. I believe that since Ikea has their own line of cabinets, they size their organizers to fit their cabinets, which meant it didn’t fit in the cabinet well. It resulted in a lot of wasted space around it (picture on the left), so we swapped that out for the a better organizer.

 

The middle drawer holds all of Autumn’s plates, bowls, cups,  and straws. I would try to keep it nice and organized but it would just end up in a jumbled mess.

Besides it staying super neat, Autumn can now easily find stuff and even help put things away when we are unloading the dishwasher.

 

Everyone knows the Tubberware cabinet/drawer is throw together, no top matching, miscellaneous, “is this even ours?” place for all the plastic stuff to be tucked away and forgotten about.  With the easy peg system things stay put when the drawer is slammed opened and closed.   A little organization went a long way with that space but it is much needed and a big time saver for after dinner next day meal planning.

The island is equally efficient for us. Not only is the sheer size (9′ long!) helpful, but the cabinets and things located at the island is very helpful for the overall function of the space. The island has our plumbing fixtures, which makes doing dishes really easy. Rinse a dish at the sink and then put it in the adjacent dishwasher.

 

We even organized the sink cabinet by adding 2 organizers and a towel holder. The organizers mount to door providing a place for things like sponges, dish soap, and cleaning supplies. The door mounted dish towel rack will help us by providing a spot for our towels, preventing clutter on our counters.

As well, I do most of the kitchen prep on the island. I work directly to the right of the sink, which gives me plenty of room to work. Additionally, I can swiftly dispose of trash right into the pull out trash can that is located in the end cabinet. We installed the 30 Quart Bottom Mount Wire Waste Container in chrome.  The sleek design and finish is a nice feature in an otherwise forgotten space.  The hardware has a no-slam slow closer feature which is nice knowing we have little one about.

In the drawer located above the trash can, we have our cutlery organizer. Locating it there makes unloading the dishwasher easy.

On the other side of the sink is another cabinet that is the same size as the cabinet that holds our trash can.  We first installed our trash pull out located next to the dishwasher, which inspired us to install another pull out trash container for the dogs’ food. But we actually took it to the next level and got a 2 can pull out (typically used for trash and recycling).

This has allowed us to create a doggy station as we have their food in front and all the toys in the back. They are not the kind of dogs that can be trusted with toys just being out in the house as they, especially Kemper, get really focused on destroying and eating them. Let me tell you, a dog eating a rope toy is a mess and a safety issue too. But now everything they need is right where it needs to be. So perfect!

The remaining cabinets and countertop is a 6′ side section where we have the majority of our small appliances.

On the counter we have storage jars for baking supplies. It’s functional but also just pretty. Plus, getting to easily snag a marshmallow every now and then is a perk!

 

All of our small appliances are in the base cabinets. Yes, I have 5 waffle irons which might seem like a lot but I did make waffles every week for a year.  yum!!!

Price modified the ill-fitting utensil tray from Ikea but cutting off one of the short ends so that it would fit. Now we have enough organizational cubbies  for the small baking items; measuring spoons, measuring cups, pizza cutter, lemon/lime zester, melon baller, and teeny tiny rubber spatulas. The remaining space in the drawer is large enough for our larger baking tools like a kitchen scale and rolling pin.

And every house has a junk drawer, which is always a big mess of whatever.  We all cleaned and sort them at least once a year and then they get dirty and disorganized again in about 2 days.  We minimized out junk area with a drawer divider, allowing us to put all of our foils, wraps, and plastic bags in in the drawer too.

Before we put the baking supplies in the drawer were they currently reside, we had our spices in there. This was a disaster as they would roll around and get jumbled up. Some would even spill out the spices out of their twist tops making a mess in there.

We totally needed the vertical spice organizer on our pantry door.

Use empty space on the pantry door = Win.

Take everything out of a drawer so I now have extra space to store more stuff = Win.

Organizing all the spices alphabetically = WIN!

I am so happy with how well our kitchen is organized now. All of the various products that we used has helped us make cooking a real pleasure by keeping the kitchen clean, neat, organized, and useful.

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I was provided product from Rev-A-Shelf, but I was not compensated to write this post. All options are my own.

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Strawberry Cheesecake Monkey Bread

So Friday started off really well and then it went all down hill.

The plan was that Autumn would go to my mom’s house for the weekend giving Price and me a bit of a break. Autumn loves staying at my mom’s house. They have a blast together so it’s a win/win for everyone.

I was going to meet my mom about half way at a shopping center so we could have some or lunch and for her to get Autumn. Some Outback lunch and then shopping at Ulta for some shampoo and Old Navy to shop their clearance sale… a great Friday afternoon!!

Autumn had ‘water day’ at daycare so I picked her up right after that since she loves playing in the splash pad there. We headed up to meet my mom, sending her a fun selfie before pulling out of the parking lot. Clearly, I was amped.

Things are smooth sailing until traffic started to back up just 5 miles into the trip. I was thinking “It better clear up around this curve I don’t want to be late for lunch.” Clearly, I was hungry. Almost instantly, traffic checked up in my lane and several of us had to hit the breaks hard to come to a stop. I JUST MISSED the car in front of me. “Damn that was close!” And then BANG! I was hit from behind. And then I hit the car in front of me, who hit the car in front of her.

 

Long story short, we were all okay. Indy, our car, was not. And we were not making our lunch date with my mom. 2 fire trucks, 4 cop cars, and then the highway patrol came to check us all out and get all the info needed to process the accident and file claims.

My mom came down to get Autumn and they had a wonderful time together that weekend. I took it easy the rest of the weekend and I am now awaiting

So that’s that.

Now, let’s talk this Strawberry Cheesecake Monkey Bread! The biscuit pieces are filled with a mixture of fresh strawberries and cream cheese. It’s a great combination of sweet strawberries, slightly tangy cream cheese, and the deliciously sweet and sticky caramel sauce that is created while it bakes Your family won’t be able to resist pulling this monkey bread away and gobbling it up.

Enjoy and wish me luck in getting the car fixed quickly. Let’s hope I get a sweet rental, ha!!

Strawberry Cheesecake Monkey Bread

Makes 1 5″x 9″ loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 roll buttermilk biscuits (8 count)
  • 12 ounces strawberries, tops removed, diced
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter, melted

Process

  1. Preaheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray
  2. On a floured surface, roll out each biscuit until 1/8″ thick, cut in half.
  3. On each biscuit half, add 3-4 diced strawberry pieces and a pinched off piece of cream cheese. Pinch together the edges to make a filled dumpling.
  4. Combine the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and then roll each each filled biscuit in the mixture.
  5. Add half of the sugar coated biscuit pieces to the loaf pan, sprinkle the remaining cream cheese pieces on, then top with the rest of the sugar coated biscuit pieces.
  6. Evenly pour the melted butter over the filled loaf pan.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until bubbling along the sides and is golden brown. If the monkey bread is browning too quickly, cover with foil. Remove from oven and immediately flip onto serving dish. Let cool and enjoy.
Posted in Baking, Food and Drink | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

House Tour- Our Kitchen

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home and that is really true for us.

One of the reasons we fell in love with the house was the kitchen. We couldn’t get over how open it felt, even with the giant island. Oh, that island. I instantly fell in love with it when we saw a model home of this house design in January 2015.

It’s a 9′ long x 4′ deep island… that was more countertop than our previous kitchen, and that is just the island!

We were 99% sure on the house but still compared other house designs from other builders to the openness and layout of this design, prior to us signing the contract on a house. Ultimately, the Monroe model from Ashton Woods won out and we signed our contract in spring of 2016.

Then the real fun began… selecting options and finishes at the design studio.

I normally like white, white, white but when we saw the grey shaker cabinets of one of the kitchens in the design studio, we were hooked. It wasn’t a typical wood veneer finish and the grey was a great option on incorporating some color into the house, besides furniture and decor.

One thing I would not budge on was having white countertops. Our last kitchen has black ones it while the finishes of that kitchen worked together in that space, I hated the dark countertops. It was really tough to photograph process pictures for food recipes, and I just love the look of light countertops. I think they really help with making a space feel larger and brighter. (They look yellowish in the photos but it’s white- trust me, there is no way I would have picked anything else!)

 

The standard options for both the cabinet style and finish and countertops would need to be upgraded to achieve our desired look.

We picked a blend of upgraded cabinet styles for our kitchen. The grey shaker cabinets that are the majority of the cabinetry in the kitchen was a Level 6 (ouch… $$$), and the white shaker style was a Level 4 (not such an ouch!). Besides the color the biggest difference between them was the drawer style and construction of the door panels.

By blending the 2 cabinet styles we saved $513. The blend works as the white cabinets are only at the island and therefore are primarily visible in the kitchen work area, not particularly visible from the rest of the house, especially from the living room and backyard.

The standard countertop is granite, but the finish options they had were too dark and busy for our preferences. We had the option of upgrading to a composite material or marble. While marble is incredibly gorgeous, we opted for a composite as it was a fraction of the cost. I love how it is bright it is with a nice fleck pattern that is not distracting.

Our builder has a lot of options for cabinet styles to have a custom kitchen that you design to your design aesthetic and needs. Some builders do not have these options so this was one of the reasons we were drawn to them. I really appreciated the ability to customize the kitchen, even when the cost of some of these items we could customize was cost prohibitive.

 

One of the big things that I wanted to do in the kitchen was to remove the standard cabinet mounted microwave that was mounted above the stove for a microwave that was integrated into a base cabinet($130 add). This one thing great transformed our kitchen by having a hood installed over the stove. We were provided with a $1,458 for removing the 3 cabinets originally spec’d for the wall.

Then we further opened up the look of the wall by removing the cabinets on either side of the hood (receiving a credit for this) and installing floating shelves. The wood finished shelves we installed were from Threshold at Target. They are 4″ shallower than the grey shelves we could have installed at by the cabinet builder, but they only provided a flat price per shelf, so a 20″ long shelf would cost the same as a 8′ long one. We were not paying $468 per shelf that was less than 2′-0″ long! Hell no. So our $30 a shelves are working just fine for us.

 

In addition do those custom changes we added a tall filler panel next to the fridge and swapped out a base cabinet that came with doors for base cabinet that has drawers. We had wanted to do an integrated trash cabinet but the price exceeded our budget so we installed a pull out after we moved in.

The builder had plenty of options for backsplashes but the ones that we liked were very expensive (go figure!). We decided to leave the wall bare with just paint as we save up for a tile that we like. As well, we have the option of installing a pot filler above the stove as we have a pre plumbed for an utility sink in the garage, and it worked out that the location of that is almost directly behind the stove. So we don’t want to tile the wall yet, just to rip some of it out for the faucet.

The only architectural change we made in the kitchen was that we omitted the closet at the door that leads from the kitchen to the garage. We knew we wanted to put the pie safe there and the closet would not have allowed it. The pie safe works really well there as storage for our Pyrex and it’s a feature right at the entry that we use most often.

The walk in pantry is directly opposite the garage door so it makes dropping off groceries in there really easy.

One of the littlest things in our kitchen is one of my favorite things. We had an air switch installed for our disposal. This is a button that is intergrated into the counter that you press when you want to turn your disposal on and off. I like the look of this and I also like that I don’t need t open and close the cabinet below the sink to use a switch every time I want to use the disposal.

We had some issues with the install of the microwave cabinet  which still need to be adjusted by the millwork company, but the responsibility with scheduling them is in my court. Ya know, just been a bit busy lately with a newborn!

We sit at the metal stools and the table in the ‘Breakfast Area’ most often for meals, while our dining room gets used a bit less. As it is getting day to day use we wanted that to look homey and casual. We reused a table and a set of chairs that we had refinished that we had in Boston. I like how both our stools and these chairs are fun colors.

I found beautiful palm prints on Etsy from the WildBOOK store. We wanted something bold on the wall and these worked out perfectly. I had them printed at 24 x 36 and put them into simple white frames from IKEA.

The drapes we have on the slider are from IKEA and also add some fun color to the space. We layered 2 sheers using the VIDGA triple curtain rail system. The inner curtain is FLÖNG, a patterned sheer, and the outer one is AINA, a blue light weight linen. We use the same curtains and set up in our living room as well.

Also, like our dining room, we need a ceiling light junction box relocated. They centered the junction box for the light fixture centered in the space but we prefer the table to be centered on the wall with the palm prints instead. We removed the standard fixture and installed the really affordable pendant that I picked up on an Ikea run recently. The $30 JASSA pendant and the $10 wired SEKOND cord gives the area a more casual look which works well for the feel of the breakfast area that we are going for. When we have the junction box in the dining room moved, we will have this moved as well so that the light is centered over the table and then can hang lower above the table. But the $40 fix works for us now.

I also have high hopes of getting a fiddle leaf fig plant in the corner next to the sliding glass doors, but I am afraid it will feel too trendy and I’ll kill it. I’ll have to figure something out soon. Once I find a great pot for it I will be inspired to get a plant. I am looking for something modern looking. Totally open to suggestions!

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