Monday, January 25, 2016

Apartment Therapy Complete + Happy Home

I mentioned last week that there are several house projects we'd like to tackle this year. As we work on rearranging furniture and decorating new rooms, I often look to Pinterest, magazines, and home decorating books for inspiration. I recently picked up Apartment Therapy's Complete + Happy Home book to see what it had to offer. 

The first section of this book was full of tips and home decorating "rules" which I found really helpful (the 80/20 rule: neutrals in 80% of the room and highly saturated shades in the other 20%), and it also had a short section focused on setting up each area/room of your home. There was also a small section in the back of the book on tips to maintain your home. A really helpful calendar was included, detailing what you should clean, prep, and decorate in the house each month.

The majority of the book showcased photos and descriptions of others' living spaces, which were all beautiful but most were not really my style. Though a fun book to browse through, I didn't really find any inspiration for the way that I want to decorate my own home. 

I'd say this is definitely worth looking through. There are some great tips included and so many beautiful homes!

I'm looking forward to reading The Nesting Place next, which I won during a fun giveaway that my sister held! I've heard really good things about this book and am hopeful I will get some good ideas.

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

Friday, January 22, 2016

House projects for this year

There always seems to be another house project waiting to be finished, amiright? We've lived in our house almost 4 years, and we have done a ton of painting, decorating, replacing, etc., but it seems like the list is never-ending! I thought that if I documented several of the projects we want to tackle this year, it would help us to stay focused in accomplishing them.

Finish the bonus room // The bonus room has been quite the project. When we moved into this house we kind of dumped everything we didn't have a specific place for in the bonus room. A couple years ago we did a major purge, donating a bunch of stuff and transferring a lot of things to the attic. A little over a year ago, Caleb undertook a huge project to replace the supporting beam in the garage ceiling/bonus room floor. Now that structurally we're comfortable with the bonus room, we're ready to turn it into a playroom for Madeleine. This means replacing all of the insulation, tearing out the wood paneling, putting up drywall, replacing all of the trim, painting every single surface in the room, getting new carpet, and then decorating. Caleb has done a lot of this work, and we're hoping that the room will be finished in the next couple of months. It will be so nice to have another usable space in our home!

Refresh the master bedroom // We've been needing a new duvet cover for a while, but I just haven't seen anything that I've liked. I also have been getting tired of the colors in our room, so I would like to replace all of the bedding and curtains and do a total refresh in the room. The goal is to get a lighter, fresher feeling room without having to repaint. This is the project I'm probably the most excited about!

Find wall art for the living room // We need one more piece for this room - a large piece to go above the couch. Investing in a large piece is hard for me - it has to be just right if it's going to take up that much real estate on our walls. I have one idea, I just need to follow through with it. If that doesn't work we need to come up with something else. 

Figure out what's in the attic // Like I mentioned above, we've transferred most of our stored belongings to our attic. I also periodically ask Caleb to take random bins or boxes up there once I've sorted through some section of our house. Because of this, I don't really know what all is up there, and I have a feeling some of it could be consolidated or at least organized better. Part of the problem is I don't ever go up in the attic to look at everything myself, because I have a fear or going up pull-down attic steps. Specifically our attic steps, because they seem rather rickety to me. So I guess the second part of this goal is to fix our attic steps. 

Rearrange our family room // We're not happy with the way our main family room is set up, and we've been trying to come up with a solution that will maximize seating and also be practical for our lifestyle. This is going to take some time, so I'm hoping that as we think about it and try different things over the next months, we will come up with something that will work. Then we will need to purchase the additional furniture, etc. that we will need.

Tackle closets // Am I the only one that seems to do this every year? Right before Madeleine was born, I organized and purged through almost all of the closets in our house. Somehow these same closets look like they need to be tackled once again. I hate accumulating stuff, and the closets seem to be the first place said stuff lands. I guess what I need to do is a better job of maintaining the closets throughout the year instead of letting them get overrun and disorganized.

Do you have any projects or jobs you are wanting to work on in your house this year?

(image sources: 1 // 2 // 3)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2016 Reading List

Last week I mentioned that one of my goals for this year is to read 75 books. I thought today I would share some of the nonfiction books on my reading list for this year. The majority of what I read is fiction, and the books I choose come from a variety of places: what my book club is reading or what has been recommended by friends, bestseller lists, blogs, etc. Because of this, I don't ever know which fiction books I'm going to end up reading through the year. But I keep a running list of nonfiction books that I'd like to read, so here they are for this year, in no particular order.

Stepping Heavenward // I read this book my freshman year of college, but recently I've heard my mom and sisters all comment on how much they enjoyed reading this. I thought it was time to pick it up again. 

The Songs of Jesus // This is a yearly devotional that works through the Psalms. I typically read a Psalm each day as part of my devotions, so I'm enjoying this book with the short devotional and prayer that is with each portion of the Psalm. 

Simply Tuesday // My sister has mentioned more than several times how much she likes this book, and I've also recently enjoyed reading Emily's blog and following her on Instagram. I've not read any of her other books, but I've definitely heard the most about this one.

Evidence Not Seen // This is one of those books that I thought that I had read, but it turns out I haven't. It's been on our shelf for several years, and Caleb has told me things about it, but I'd like to read it for myself.

What the Dog Saw // I really enjoy reading Malcolm Gladwell's books, and somehow I've read all of them but this one. 

The Portrait of a Lady // My goal each year is to read a piece of classic literature. It usually takes me a while to get through them, but I always enjoy reading them. I randomly picked this one off of my shelf. I don't even have any idea what the story is about, but I hope I like it because it's 600+ pages.

Idols of the Heart // I have enjoyed all of the Elyse Fitzpatrick books that I have read, and I'm sure this one will be challenging and eye-opening. 

Thinking Fast and Slow // Nerd alert: I love reading books on the brain and how we think and process things. I've had this book for a little while now, but have just not gotten around to reading it. 

What Did You Expect // I have read a lot of books on babies and parenting over the past year, but I haven't read one on marriage in a while. All I know about this book is that it discuss the realities of marriage versus the expectations, which sounds like it will be a good read.

Grace and Power // A couple of years ago I read a biography on Queen Elizabeth by this same author, and I absolutely loved it. The Kennedys have always intrigued me, so I'm looking forward to learning more about them. I told Caleb that just like when I read the book on the Queen, all he will hear about for the chunk of time I'm reading this is random details and facts on the Kennedys. He's been warned. 

Brain Rules for Baby // Reading books on babies and parenting has been so enjoyable for me. There's so much to learn! And even if you decide you don't agree on the stance of the book, it's good to just be informed. Parenting a child is no small thing, so why not learn as much as you can?

What are you hoping to read this year?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Browned Butter Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm not one to swear off cookies and ice cream as part of a New Year's resolution. Cookies are always welcome in our house; we just try to eat them in moderation. I tried a new recipe over the weekend, and they did not disappoint. These are a hearty cookie with both oats and peanut butter, and they're perfectly soft and chewy. I really liked that this recipe only makes about 18 cookies, because moderation and such. I will definitely be making these again!

Browned Butter Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
10 Tbsp salted butter
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used a mixture of semi-sweet and dark chocolate) 

Brown butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and pour and scrape browned butter and bits into the bowl of an electric stand mixer and allow to rest 30-35 minutes until cool. (If you've never browned butter before, here's a helpful tutorial.) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in oats. Set mixture aside.

Add both sugars to the cooled butter in the bowl of the electric stand mixer, and, using a paddle attachment, whip mixture on medium speed 3-4 minutes, frequently scraping down sides of bowl. Blend in peanut butter. Add in egg and vanilla and mix until blended. Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Scoop dough out and shape into balls, about 3 Tbsp each. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Allow to cool several minutes on baking sheet before transferring to parchment paper-lined countertop to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 18 cookies.

source: cooking classy

Friday, January 15, 2016

2016 Goals

Have you made goals for 2016? Here are mine. Nothing too earth-shattering, just things I'd like to work on throughout this next year.

Memorize Colossians 3 // I've learned that memorizing Scripture is really the best way for me to meditate on it throughout the day. I've memorized large passages before and have really enjoyed it, so this year I'm going to work on Colossians 3.

Read 75 books // Last year on Goodreads I set a goal of 50 books, but I ended up reading 75. I decided to make that my goal again for this year. I absolutely love reading, and I typically spend some time reading every day. I think it will be attainable if I can stay on track.

Learn to sew // I've always told my mom that she could teach me to sew once I had a baby. Well, I have a baby so it's time to learn! I don't ever plan on sewing my own clothes or being an expert seamstress; I would simply like to know how sew basic things.

Send 50 notes // I'm a firm believer in snail mail. I'm only slightly obsessed with pretty notecards + stationery and love brightening someone's day with a piece of real mail. This number can include birthday cards but it cannot include thank you notes, as a written thank you note is a non-negotiable in my book. Last year I went over this number, so I'm hoping to be able to that again this year!

Find a flattering lipstick // Setting super serious goals over here, folks. I've never had a lipstick that I love, so I'm determined to hunt for one this year. I imagine that this will include lots of trial and error.

Run a race // Distance still undecided. My sister and I briefly talked about doing a race together. She's one month postpartum and I'm seven months postpartum, so we will see what we are up for. I just need something to keep me motivated!

Learn to curl my hair // I have never been very good at styling my hair, but this year I would like to master an everyday, loose waves look. Kate, I'm looking at you for tutorials and tips!

Cook more out of my cookbooks // Last fall I was cooking more of out of my cookbooks than I was magazines or Pinterest, and I loved it. I have some really quality cookbooks, and I don't like that they are sometimes forgotten on the shelf. Here's to discovering more delicious recipes from a source more reliable than Pinterest.

(image via here)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Back into the swing of things

Hi there, stranger! I'm back from the holiday and post-holiday busyness that is December and early January. I took an unexpected break from blogging because I wanted to soak up every single second of the Christmas season with family. (Also, Madeleine started crawling so I suddenly have much less time in my day as I spend every second that she is awake chasing her around!) December was full of all things Christmas here at home, and we also traveled to see family for a couple of weeks. It was so nice to get a break from the routine here and also to have extended time with our families. Madeleine and I stayed with my parents for an extra week, too, since Caleb had a work trip right at the beginning of the year. Madeleine and I just got home this past Friday, and I'm still trying to remember that it's actually 2016.

I mentioned on instagram that I have a hard time with transitions, however small they may be. On the one hand, I was so ready to get home and get back into some sort of routine after being away for over two weeks. But I also was feeling overwhelmed with getting back into the swing of housework, cooking, taking down Christmas, etc. Plus it's always nice to have grandparents around to help play with/take care of Madeleine :)

I've been spending this week thinking about meals, stocking up our fridge & pantry again, catching up on laundry, running errands, and putting away Christmas decorations (and gifts!). I've been surprised at how little I seem to be accomplishing each day; I'm task-oriented by nature, so if I don't cross everything off my to-do list I wonder what I did all day. But I've been reminded to give myself more grace. I have the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom, so taking care of Madeleine and the house is my full-time job. I don't have to balance that with a 9-5 job. A large chunk of my day each day is spent feeding, playing with, and caring for Madeleine--things that I absolutely love and cherish, but they aren't necessarily things I can "cross off" and have the satisfaction of "being done". The other tasks and jobs that I'd like to get done just need to fit around Madeleine, which means I might not be finishing them as quickly as I had hoped.

So that's where I am these days: working to get our house back in order, hoping to tackle a couple of big organizing + purging projects, and still thinking about some goals + plans for this year. I'm hoping to be back into a more regular blogging routine, too!

So tell me - how was your Christmas? How's the start to your new year been?