Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Travel mug

Shutterfly Commuter Mug
Turn your family into a holiday card this season.
View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

OFFICIALLY A WICHITA RESIDENT!

Though it has not happened the way we thought it would, we are have arrived!

We THOUGHT we would be a buying a home to settle down in for a little while...
NOPE!
We THOUGHT we would be here about 2 months ago...
NOPE!
We THOUGHT we would be flipping, painting, deciding and decorating...
NOPE!

But it's time to move past all that and look at the future. We are moving in today to a decently spacious aparement in a conenient location in Wichita, and we are very excited about it! In the past, Nick and I have thought that renting is equivalent to "throwing money down the toilet," but we are in fact ready to just settle, even if that means renting.

Once we calculated the money that Nick was spending in gas every month to commute an hour (by the way, these prices are simply horrendous!), we realized that was about even with the cost of rent. Isn't that ridiculous? This way Nick will be able to see his little boy more frequently :)

All to say, we are very excited/ready! My next post will be pictures of the whole moving affair-- before, during, and after.

Watch out, Wichita, the Browns are here!



Monday, September 17, 2012

The Hubby's Gift to Me: DIY Chalkboard!

Aw, he is so sweet! My dear husband saw this super cute and yet surprisingly expensive chalkboard ($80!)at World Market, one of my favorite home decour stores. He decided to recreate it, and it wasn't even a gift for any occasion, just a pleasant surprise :)
I think part of that comes from his desire to be engrossed in a project. He is a "project guy," if you will. You know you have a "project guy" if he:

a) becomes easily frustrated by boredom
b) usually does not allow himself to become bored
c) spends his down-time finding ways to make himself more busy
d)  becomes frustrated when a project is not brought to completion

Sound familiar? Maybe it's just a man thing, but I know my dad is this way too. It's like they have trouble relaxing because there are so many things in the world that they could create, alter, or even destroy and rebuild! They're right when they say that you marry a person similar to your family :)

ANYWAY, here is a photo of the model my husband was copying:

He knew I would love this basic chalkboard and decided he could easily make it himself, and with a few modifications, he succeeded! He also made one for his sister and mother (WHAT A HUNK!)

SO
He got some scrap plywood from the garage and measured it the size he thought appropriate, more square than the model. He then painted it, using one of my favorite colors that I plan on infusing into my kitchen (whenever we have a place to live). Click here to see Eucalyptus Leaf from Home Depot's Behr collection.

He bought some half round trim board that had a 1/4" radius and used it to outline where the actual chalkboard was going to be. He taped it off and used chalkboard paint to fill in the inside of the square. He actually used premade chalkboard paint, but I know it's all over Pinterest how to make your own (which I would recommend because the chalkboard paint is expensive to buy and cheap to make.)
 This is the product to date-- he plans on using some decorative hooks on the bottom (you can never have too many hooks!) And someday we'll find the perfect tray/ wire basket to hang directly beneath the chalk part.

I plan on hanging it above a table of treats and writing some cute and whitty catchphrase that means, "Help yourself," or "Eat your heart out," or something to that effect.

My husband is so sweet for knowing how much I love to decorate and even being willing to contribute to the vice :)


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"TOO MUCH CHOCOLATE" CAKE

This recipe is called "TOO MUCH CHOCOLATE CAKE," but I don't think there is ANY such thing as too much chocolate!
I actually have never made this cake, but my husband's Gram brought some over earlier this week for our Labor Day dinner. I had to ask for the recipe because it was so rich but it just melts in your mouth! It was phenomenal and she claimed it was really easy.

All you need:
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 box instant chocolate pudding
1 bag chocolate chunks
1 cup sour cream
1 cup oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup water

Simply:
Bake @ 350 for 50-55 minutes in a well-greased bundt pan. Allow 60-90 minutes for the cake to cool before trying to turn over and remove from pan.

Although this cake has absolutely no healthy ingredients (do eggs count??), the redemptive quality here is taste. What a hit!


Monday, September 3, 2012

I'll Take It!

Believe it or not, I had never been to an auction before! Talk about a deprived childhood. I mean, I frequent garage or estate sales and Craigslist Curb Alerts, scouring for the next best thing to upscale, but auctioning opened my eyes to a whole new world of bargaining.

Friday night, we attended the Pilsen Packrat Auction in Lincolnville, Kansas. Then Saturday morning and afternoon were spent at a local estate auction in Hillsboro.  I feel like we really hit the jackpot here! 

Between the two of us, my husband and I spent 17 dollars for the whole weekend of thrifty finds.
Here's what we returned with:

We intend to sell the Life game- pieces are still in packages!


To the average eye, this may look like a pile of junk, but to us it is a pile of tresures awaiting their transformation!

I think I saw on Pinterest these crates being used as adorable shelving!

A couple of these bottles are valuable; the rest will be put to use for my decorating :)
 At one point the auctioneer dropped his asking bid from ten dollars to just a dollar. Finally, when no one would bid for the old porch swing, I blurted, "I'll take it!" It sort of caugh the auctioneer off guard as he responded, "It's yours, Miss 'I'll take it!'" Of course, I didn't consider the inconvenience of hauling off a ginormous wooden porch swing.

My studly husband :) Putting his muscles to good use!

Some of these things (but not very many) I intend to resell via Ebay. But MOST of it, I plan on utilizing in our home, whenever we officially have one. I'll have to post about all the remodeling adventures I have with this bunch! At least it gives me something to put my heart into while I don't have a house to decorate. Or clean. Hahah

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Organic Baby Food-- Homemade is Cheaper!

I'm going to preface this post by saying that my sister-in-law Jillian has turned me on to so many things in life that I enjoy, and making homemade baby food is one of them. I do this in an effort to a) be stingy, b) provide organic baby food to my son. Unfortunately, I would say that a definitely comes before b in this case (I mean, how bad can baby food from the jars really be?)

But I have decided that if it is easier and cheaper then I will do it myself. For example, mashing a banana (or ten for the freezer) and mixing it with formula is not only an excellent source of nutrition for little Rylan, but it is also a tasty treat that can last three or four meals that only cost me $.20. That will be forever the cheapest that I ever feed him! And super easy :)
Look at that mischevious little face! I cannot resist it, even with avocados all over it!

Jillian and I got together a few weeks back and made baby food out of the following produce:

Bananas: Mush then puree. Easy as 1-2-3. Actually there are only two steps there so it would be easy as 1-2. just proving to you all that I can count. And I do it well. All the way to three. Anyways, Rylan loves them-- he sucks bananas RIGHT off the spoon. Hilarious!
Squash: Some of babies' first foods can be squash. It must be cooked first (in the microwave is fine), and it can then be put in the food processor, sans the seeds and skins. Squash doesn't go very far though, and it will be one of the more expensive ones you may try.
Sweet Potatoes: Bake. Deskin. Puree. Freeze. Vwala!
Avocado: Scoop out the insides and mash well.

All of these foods can be frozen except the avocados. Apparently you need to freeze avocado WITH other things in it to prevent it from going bad, like lemon juice, which I'm pretty sure the little ones should not have yet. But you can just scoop and mash the day of and keep the remainder in an airtight jar-- the top may go brown, but you can remove it with a spoon and still serve what's underneath.
*Never freeze formula. If you need to thin out your baby food, you can freeze it thick and ass formula later.

Then in Colorado about two weeks ago, my aunt had peaches FALLING off her trees-- and we all know how delectable Colorado peaches are! So I pitted and deskinned about ten of those and made at least 15 meals out of the pureed form, depending on how well the little man likes them, but they are in the freezer for now.



To thaw: Use the refrigerator or micowave, not the countertop. For some reason that's bad. I find that 2 oz of bananas defrosts in the microwave in less than ten seconds, but you are going to want to make sure your container is microwave safe (I bought some the other day that I discovered are not).

A source that we used was: Wholesome Baby
They provide awesome recipes, nutritional facts, scientific research, and even menus for your baby's age! This was perfect for me since I'm an amatuer mom!

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Waiting on What?

As we sit here, waiting, waiting
for the house
that doesn't seem to exist,

my attitude toward God's providence
hasn't
proved

that I trust Him.

I stumbled across this verse the other day during a daily devotion:

"In his kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, amd he will place you on a firm foundation. All glory to him forever!"

1 Peter 5:10-11

The fact that God would allow us to share in his persecution so that he is able to restore, support and strengthen us; but then he would be so awesome as to provide us with a firm foundation? Wow! I am truly amazed.

It is the beginning of a new month. A fresh start. Who knows where we will be a month from now? We can't tell. Hard to say, considering all we've been through. Hard to count on anything. All I know is that our real estate agent said it best when she responded to our disillusionment: "God is trying very hard to prevent you from getting any of these houses that you have looked at and put offers in on. And I think there is a reason for that. He doesn't just leave people out to dry."

How true! Here we are, feeling like we are so alone, so abandoned, and maybe even betrayed, when we should be feeling thankful that God is so clear about his will for us by preventing us from getting the houses that we aren't meant to have!

This realization has helped me morph my heart into gratitude.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Disappointment Prevails

This will be a short post, a redaction if you will. I want to shout it from the rooftops, to tell everyone what a corrupt system we are caught in the middle of.

Our house deal has fallen through. The listing agent countered, we accepted and followed their strict stipulations. A week later, the seller's agent representing the bank wrote our buyer's agent an email that said, in exact words, "I am sorry that we were under the impression that your offer was accepted. We have an all-cash offer that we intend to close this month. Sorry for the inconvenience."

Inconvenience?
INCONVENIENCE?

Does he know that there is a family desperately searching for a home to raise their kids in, a family who would make their payments, who doesn't treat a hosue as an investment but as a space for creativity and life?

My furstration is at its peak. If God is trying to break us, then he is succeeding.

But you know what happens when God breaks you. A rainbow.

Good things always come from the Lord. He is watching us and working very hard to prevent us from living in so many of these homes.

Where is our home? We don't have the slightest clue.

Where are our hearts?  That answer will always remain the same.



Sunday, August 19, 2012

Our New House, For Real This Time!

Three months.
One hundred house tours.
Hundreds of dollars in gas money.
SIX OFFERS, and multiple other disappointments.

Let's face it. We were depressed. Life is hard when you have no place to settle in, to really call your own. We are so appreciative of the Browns taking us in and feeding us, but we are ready to be autonomous. So we are pleased to announce that we have found a home close to civilization that we love AND that we can afford. I love it when the inevitable collides.

Primary exterior pictures are below, but be prepared from the HOME REMODELING SERIES II, coming in about three weeks (or whenever we can close), consisting of before and after pictures like last time.

Yay! We have a home :)

I've got my paint samples ready and my list of doom* is in the works...
MUAHAHA-- be prepared, 29th Street!

*a list of doom consist of the nitpicky issues, either functionally or cosmetically that I have contrived based on a) my need for perfection and b) my desire to cure old things, including but not limited to: homes, furniture, artwork, etc. Oh, what a great stage of life we are in!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Colorado Trip

It had been too long, I tell you, way too long.
Rylan was only two months old when we last saw my parents and they were DYING to see their only grandson, who my mother frequently calls "an angel." For now, yes. We will see in the future-- I was a naughty child and my husband is a pretty sneaky guy!
Anyways, we had postponed taking a Colorado trip to visit them until we had found a house and were stuck in the limbo time between offering and closing, but alas, we have seen over 90 houses and made 5 offers that have all been rejected (and we have even offered OVER asking price on a few!), so as summer drew to a close we new we just had to take a break from house searching and just make the trip.

We are glad we did! My poor family just needed a Rylan fix, and Nick and I appreciated a nice refreshing break from house searching and the sweltering 100+ degree weather typical of Kansas summers.



My sister bought a professional camera to keep up with her photo-a-day blog, which you can visit using this link:

A Pic A Day

Enjoy the great family photos from the trip!




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Mommmmmmmmm!

Phew! The secret is out! I had to wait until my Mom's birthday to make this post because the it contains a tutorial (kind of) of her gift! I made her living room pillows to match her living room rug!Here's the rug and room I attempted to match:


So, I copied this tutorial almost exactly: DIY DISH
Fabric Measurements for 16" pillow are as follows:
Front- 1 6x17" strip, 1 2x17" strip, and 1 9x17" strip.
Back- 17x17" square of coordinating fabric. 
This is a photo of the strips sewn together and the pillow sides turned inside out, ready to be sewn.

For the flowers, I utilized felt and simply followed the tutorial on the DIY DISH, using different colors, of course.





The result:
Unstuffed pillows!
 Hope she likes them!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Born Sunny Side Up!

Well, here is my son, the most pleasant baby I have ever met. Born sunny side up.
SOME CRAWL OTHERS FLY. His motto should be "I can't do either!"
 Now, I know that it's not my parenting that makes him so calm and carefree, because, well, let's face it-- I'm a mess. It must just be his demeanor.


He certainly didn't get it from me.
Photo Courtesy of Danielle Gershon, a budding little photographer!

I just had to brag a little bit, because I am pretty sure I feel entirely TOO blessed. Is that possible?
I think the answer is yes, because none of us deserve the blessings we have, and yet God continues to bestow.



Yes, truly blessed <3


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Anniversary Trip

Yes, our anniversary was in June. Yes, that's when we took our vacation.
But did I get around to blogging at that point? Of course not! It's like scrapbooking-- I love to do it, but I just delay it! Rylan's baby book extends only to two months. And I thought I was doing well!

Anyways, we took a trip to Branson, MO. I had heard many things about because my husband has family there so he had plenty of tales to tell along the way, but it was my fisrt time visiting! I was very impressed with the scenery and the attractions. It reminded me of a mini Las Vegas meets Rocky Mountains. Very cute! Nick's Gram and Grandad have a cabin in the mountains near the big lake there so we felt privileged to stay for free!
One Year Later-- we took a picture in a golf cart a year ago when we got married, without the fun little addition :)



We went to the Presley's, Branson's orignial show on the strip, and then we visited the famous Silver Dollar City. Nick's aunt and uncle went with us, so we had someone to hold the little one during rides. Phew!

All in all, it was a fun, fairly cheap vacation that got our summer off to a great start! I have now recapped it for you at the end of the summer. Whoops.