Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What I Learned // September 2015

It's time for another "What We Learned" post! Summer is officially over, and I am excited about moving into October and enjoying fall weather. But first! here are a few things I learned in September.

This trail mix is perfect for fall. I love candy corn but hesitate to buy a whole bag since that means I will then consume the whole bag. This stuff gives me my candy corn fix, plus a delicious handful of other stuff. Once again, thank you Target for having everything I ever wanted and needed #dramaticmuch

Marriage truly does get better and better. We celebrated our five-year anniversary earlier this month, and I love Caleb so much more now than the day I married him! Our love is deeper and stronger, and I can't wait to do the next 65 years with him.

I like modern art. I did a round-up of art from Minted Art, and I was surprised at how most of my favorites were a little more modern, especially since I tend to lean towards traditional or classic pieces in my decorating. Still trying to decide which pieces I'm going to purchase...

A little braid can go a long way. I love reading Kate's blog, and she recently posted a fresh in fifteen video where she did a messy bun with a little side braid. I've been doing the same thing for casual days at home/running errands, when I don't feel like spending more than 2 minutes on my hair (ok let's be honest...that's most days). I love that it gets my hair out of my face and looks like I at least tried.

Family is a treasure. Last month Madeleine and I spent a week at my parents' house, and we also went to visit my grandparents. I loved spending extended time with family, and it was really special to introduce Madeleine Ruth to her great-Grandmom Ruth. I've always hoped I would be able to spend time with my daughter, my mother, and my grandmother at the same time. Four generations of ladies - a treasure, for sure!

What did you learn in September?

Monday, September 28, 2015

DIY Painted File Cabinet

Last summer my big home project was redoing the craft room + office, which I wanted to be full of bright and fun colors. We still needed it to be a functioning office, which meant we still needed a file cabinet. I had in my mind that I wanted a yellow file cabinet, and I had my eye on this particular one (which I still love!). However, I couldn't justify spending $300 on a file cabinet, and Caleb definitely was not on board with that. Instead we decided to try to paint the black file cabinet we already had. It looked very similar to this one: 

To start, we removed the drawer pulls. Then I scuffed the entire file cabinet with Scotch Brite scouring pads, to roughen up the surface and help the spray paint to stick. This took quite a while, as there was a lot of surface area to cover. Once we felt like the cabinet had been roughened up enough, we wiped down all of the black dust the scouring had created. We made sure the file cabinet was super clean and dry before starting to paint. Caleb is the spray painter in our house (I always have so many drips!), so he then primed the file cabinet with spray paint primer. After a coat or two of that, he took to spray painting it with the yellow spray paint. It took several coats to cover up the black, but it was worth it! I'm so happy with the way it turned out, and for about $20 we now have a yellow file cabinet.

If you're looking for a colorful file cabinet, I would suggest trying to spray paint an old one first! It really was an easy DIY project, and you can find cheap file cabinets on Craigslist if you don't already have one. Let me know if you try it out!

(black file cabinet photo via)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Reading, Currently

Right now I'm working my way through this devotional. When this book came out in the spring, I kept it in the back of my mind to purchase once Madeleine was born. When I saw that it was available to review through Blogging for Books, I jumped at the chance to snatch it up! I previously read one of Melissa Kruger's books and really enjoyed it, so I had high hopes for this one. I have not been disappointed at all! It's an 11-week devotional, and I really like that the Scripture for each day is included in the book. The questions in the study are excellent and really thought-provoking; I've learned a lot, and they've sparked a number of good conversations between Caleb and me as we start this journey of parenting. I'm working through this study on my own, but there are also questions in the back should you want to do the book study as a group. I highly recommend this book to any mother, no matter how old your children are! I can imagine that in several years, when I'm at a very different place in motherhood, I would want to go through the book again, as I'm sure there would be new insights and lessons. If you end up reading this or have already read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Disclosure: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. The review and opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

It's the first day of fall: cue all things pumpkin! Truth be told, I don't even like the pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks (horrors!), but I do love pumpkin baked goods. These bars were a new recipe find, and I really liked how they turned out. They're incredibly moist and super chocolate-y, just how I like my baked treats.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips + 2 Tbsp for sprinkling

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray, and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large microwaveable bowl. Let cool, then add the egg, pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk until smooth. Add the flour and stir until just combined; do not over-mix. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top gently with a spatula. Evenly sprinkle the 2 Tbsp of chocolate chips across the top.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until done. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean, or with a few moist crumbs. Allow bars to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Store in an airtight container. Makes 16 bars.

source: recipe slightly adapted from a dash of lovely, originally from averie cooks

Monday, September 21, 2015

Find Color Collections // Yellow

For the second installment of Find Color Collections, I rounded up yellow items from around the house to brighten what started off as a very dreary Monday. Finding color throughout my home and in unexpected items is a fun exercise for me. If you'd like to join in, be sure to tag your photos #findcolorcollections on instagram! Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Links for your weekend

Love this scarf and this + maroon - perfect for Hokie football season!

Had a date-night-in last night and watched this. Based on a true story movies are our favorite.

Baked this yesterday afternoon...we've already eaten more than half of it.

This instagram feed makes me want to hop on a plane to Italy.

I never participate in photo prompt series/challenges on instagram, but I'm actually doing this one! Find all the details here - join in & tag your photos #lifewithtruth

Love this simple DIY.

I've heard great things about this book - starting it today.

Greenville / Upstate people - get over to Indie Craft Parade and/or Farm Fresh Fair! I've only been to Indie so far, but they have excellent vendors this year! I wanted to buy so. many. things.

Have a wonderful weekend!

(image via)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Art from Minted

Decorating a house and making it a home is a never-ending process, wouldn't you agree? We've been in our house for 3 1/2 years now, but there are always more projects to complete and spaces to decorate! One of my favorite ways to personalize a home is with framed art + pictures. Family photos automatically personalize the space, but the type of art you choose to decorate with also says a lot about who you are. Minted is a go-to site for cards and stationery, but they now offer an incredible selection of art as well at Minted Art! Art can be difficult to shop for, especially if you don't have something specific in mind, so it is really helpful to be able to browse a wide selection of great art online. With so many options to choose from at Minted Art, I found a ton that I love! Below are some of my favorites, for either a gallery wall of black + white or a colorful one. 

Have you shopped at Minted Art? What are some of your favorite pieces?

Disclosure: This post is written in partnership with MintedMinted is a brand that I love, and all opinions and reviews are 100% my own.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My favorite 2016 agendas

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

As one who thrives on fresh starts and new beginnings, I love  September almost as much as I love January. As I mentioned before, September ushers in the start of school, and I take it as a start to a "new year" for me as well. I wanted to go ahead and get a planner for 2016, but wanted one that included the last several months of 2015 as well. These five were the ones I liked the most.

I love the classic look and the simplicity of the Kate Spade one, but my last planner was Kate Spade and I wanted something different and brighter.

I was (obviously) really into the floral covers this year. The Lilly Pulitzer cover is actually my favorite, but I didn't like the inside pages at all. The Rifle Paper Co. agenda is beautiful, but I wanted something a little brighter. I ended up purchasing the one, and I love it! There's plenty of space on both the monthly and weekly calendar pages, and I love all of the fun colors.

Do you use an agenda to stay organized?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Peanut Butter Cake Bars

Peanut butter + chocolate is one of the best combinations, amiright? I'm not picky when it comes to the duo, I'll take it in any form: peanut butter cups, milkshakes, m&m's, you name it. I particularly like these bars. Although they're called cake bars, the texture is really more like that of a blondie. They're a cinch to throw together, and it's hard to eat just one!

Peanut Butter Cake Bars
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 package (11.5 oz) milk chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt ;gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread into greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Cut into bars. Yield: 2 dozen.

source: recipe from taste of home

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Shop Spotlight // Rhymes with Smile

Today is the start of a new series on the blog! From time to time I'm going to be sharing items that I love from different shops. I spend a lot of time browsing and shopping online, so this will be a fun way for me to spotlight some of my favorite finds. 

First up is Rhymes with Smile. I met Katherine, the owner of the shop, almost five years ago when we were both living in Virginia. She is an excellent cook and is also very crafty, so it's no wonder she now makes these beautiful baskets. And! Rhymes with Smile is a 2015 Design Finalist for the Martha Stewart American Made Awards! Below are some of my favorite pieces:

I can't even begin to count how many baskets and decorative storage bins we have around our house. I am constantly needing more to stuff scarves, skeins of yarn, or Madeleine's growing collection of toys. I love that this basket has clean lines but also a special touch with the braid. 

I can always find a reason to get a new bag, but this tote would be perfect for carrying to the beach or the farmers' market, or for storing magazines in. 

I love this small coiled rope basket for corralling odds and ends around the house. I'm thinking Madeleine's hair bows, spare change, ear buds, and rolls of stamps.

You can shop Rhymes with Smile here and follow along on Facebook here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What I Learned // August 2015

It's time for another "What We Learned" post! August went by in a blur, and here are I few of the things that I learned (and remembered that I learned).

1. Adult coloring books are all the rage. As a kid I loved coloring, and even through high school and college I always had (and still do have) coloring books on hand. I've always found coloring so relaxing, but not until last month did I purchase my first adult coloring book. I have this one and this one and love them. Apparently there are several adult coloring books at the top of the list of bestselling books on Amazon!

2. The process of a project is still painful and unenjoyable to me. We emptied out our bonus room and have started renovating it to be a playroom for Madeleine. Caleb has been ripping down the walls and ceiling and working on re-insulating, and even though all I've done is look at paint colors, I'm tired of it. I don't like making decisions (which paint color, what type of insulation, how much should we DIY vs. contract out, etc.), and I don't like that our guest room is currently full of boxes that we need to figure out where to put. It's always been challenging for me to enjoy the process (of pretty much anything!), so this project is again stretching me to learn that. I also learned that there are different types of insulation and they have different ratings (ex: R-30). 

3. Dressing little girls is just the best. In all honesty I learned this immediately after we brought Madeleine home from the hospital, but it just keeps getting more and more fun! Madeleine is such a good sport to let me take pictures of her in all of my her favorite outfits. And now she's transitioning into the next size of clothes, so it's an entire new wardrobe! Being a baby is awesome.

4. Things are not always as they seem. I stepped back and captured this picture while I was shooting for Monday's post, and it reminded me of this truth. The bright, colorful shot of the muffin looked great, but in reality it was taken on the floor of my dining room, with dirty dishes and towels right out of the frame. It was a good reminder to me to give grace to others, because I can't see or know the full picture of their lives, and a reminder to also not envy others whose lives seem picture-perfect. There's always more to the story than we can see.

What did you learn in August? There's still time to join in Emily's link up