Wednesday, August 28, 2013

{house to home} William Morris Project (Vol.3): Toy Closet Organization

The saying, "everything has a place", is one lesson that I am trying to adapt in our home.  For whatever reason, I seem to really struggle in this area!  But with four kids and gobs of toys, it's a necessary step in our house to home process.

So one day during naptime, I grabbed all of the toys strewn in multiple places throughout the first floor and started organizing.    

All of the broken toys went straight to the trash.  I then went through and took out the toys that I thought were never played with.  A tip that worked for me: Take these toys and put them in a box in the garage for a week.  Wait and see if your kids mention any of the toys.  If you get a "Hey Mom, have you seen my black Spiderman figure?", discreetly pluck it from the box.  If they don't say anything, they're none the wiser and send 'em all to Goodwill!

All of the keepers were put in two big baskets that perfectly fit in my coat closet.  One basket holds all of the dress-up stuff: costumes, lightsabers, and Nerf guns.  The other holds miscellaneous toys like Little People toy sets and footballs.  

Feels good to have a hold on the toy situation for now!  How do you deal with your kids' toys?  Please share your tips and tricks!  

Monday, August 26, 2013

{chit chat} If You Came Over for Coffee...

It's been awhile since we talked, like really talked.  So pretend you're sitting at my dining room table with a big cup of coffee and let's catch up.

Well first, I'll run you up to my closet to show you the new clothes I got from a new website I found.  The site is called Twice and they sell gently used, like new name-brand clothes for cheap!  I bought a few things for fall and am so pleased with everything.  I definitely recommend.

My boys will inevitably find us and claim that they are soooo hungry (aren't they always?!), so we'll head downstairs to feed the crew.  I just bought another Paleo cookbook called Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great and I can't wait to try a few new recipes.  Although if I'm being honest, all of the new flours and ingredients are quite intimidating to me!  

With the kids busy, we can finally sit.  And enough with the silly things.  Let's talk about important heart matters.  Without saying too much, I've had a hard few months in my marriage.  I've always been told that marriage ebbs and flows, that there are periods of highs and periods of lows.  And here at almost eight years, we hit our first low.  Thankfully, I do believe we are finally on the upswing of things.  I share this with you to not only ask for your prayers, but also to say that marriage is worth it.  It is the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the most worthwhile.  I really recommend this blog post from Jami Nato on forgiveness: "The Most Expensive Gift I Ever Gave."  Our stories are not the same, but I found great comfort in reading her words.  

One of the parts I've been praying on: "...and so when we forgive, we mirror Christ's forgiveness. We pay the tab. We stop making our spouse pick up the check. We say, no more. You can't pay enough for this. This is the Gospel lived out in a tangible way. You recognize the darkness of your own heart and see the need for Jesus to save you. And that gift that God gave you, you give to others because you are just as terrible. And I'm not going to lie, it is difficult and hard and grievous to walk these steps in front of you. But you can because Jesus did."  Forgiveness is a lesson we can apply to all of our lives, no?

Thanks for listening.  How are YOU?  What's new in your world? 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

{house to home} William Morris Project (Vol.2): Children's Artwork Wall

My kids are always creating.  Most of the time they are on their own, drawing in the gobs of composition books scattered around the house.  But sometimes, when I'm feeling brave, I break out the real supplies: construction paper and paint, glue and markers.  While I hate the mess, these projects always become my favorite. So in an effort to personalize our home, I wanted a place to display the kids' creations.  I knew there had to be a more stylish way than just taping them up to the walls and kitchen cabinets!       

We have a big wall in our kitchen that was the perfect space.  I picked up eight RIBBA frames from IKEA; I love the clean look and you can't beat the price!  I used the newspaper method for the placement.

And after a morning of work, here is the final result:

I love it.  It adds so much color to the otherwise neutral area.  I love that the boys are so proud to see their pieces on display.  I also like that it will be simple to change out the pieces as they grow.  

What have you done this week to make your house feel more like home?

Monday, August 19, 2013

{health} My Journey to Health: An Update

As hokey and overused as the word "journey" is, there really isn't a better word to describe the past eight months.  Back in January, I was at least thirty pounds overweight and miserable.  I felt terrible about myself and the example I was setting for my daughter.  I knew I needed to make a change.  

I truly believe that is the first step to health: you need to want it.  BAD.  You need to commit to the entire process: the good, the bad and the ugly.  And so I began with baby steps.  I knew I'd never stick with it if I made radical changes all at once, so I started small and went from there.  One week, my only goal was "Drink more water".  Really!  Another week I tried to eat something green everyday.  Small, attainable changes that weren't intimidating.

As the weeks went on, I grew more courageous in both my exercise and my eating.  I started Insanity in March and completed seven weeks before I quit due to the stress in my knees.  I trained for a 5K and completed my very first race in May.  I soon grew to love fitness and wanted to try a little bit of everything!  Weight training, pilates and lots of running filled most of my summer.  I frequently varied my exercise to avoid boredom and burnout and there is so much you can do!

A few of the websites and apps I've used:

Tone it Up!
Nike Training Club app
Runkeeper app
Fitness Blender

In June, I spontaneously decided to complete a Whole30 before going on vacation.  While my original intention was just to lose a few extra pounds, the benefits of Paleo eating were amazing.  I have since adopted an 80%/20% mentality and it has really changed my world.  Look for a separate post about that soon!

Fast forward to today.  I am 30 pounds lighter and have learned to love this amazing body of mine.  For the first time in a long time, I am proud of myself and what I've accomplished.  And that feels good.

P.S. If you are on your way to health and need some encouragement, I would love to hear from you.  The support I received from family, friends and even Instagram "strangers" was so helpful and appreciated and I would love to pay it forward.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

{life list} Support 100 Small Business Mammas: Number One (and a Giveaway!)

I have so much respect for all moms, especially moms who add small business to their plate.  The reasons are numerous: some hope to make a little extra income to help their families, others are just driven by a desire to create.  Either way, adding another responsibility to their already full plates is admirable and courageous.  It's been a goal of mine to support those mammas, which you may have seen on my life list.

After brainstorming a few ways to share this goal on the blog, I decided that you needed to get in on the fun!  For every item I purchase from another Mamma, I'm going to get one for one of you too!

My first purchase came from Kim at Daisy Faye Designs. She is the Mamma to an adorable son and the wife to a Marine.  You should see the fun items that she offers in her shop!  This clutch is so beautiful as well as this infinity scarf.  Her line of military inspired onesies are so cute too!

I purchased two pouches in a blue and green ikat print.  One for me and one for one of you!  The pouch measures about 5"x8" and is the perfect size for so many things: holding make-up on the go, jewelry when you travel, small toiletries...the possibilities are endless!  I plan on corralling some of the small items in my mess of a diaper bag.

The giveaway will be open until Friday, August 23 at 12AM EST.  Enter through Rafflecopter below!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

{house to home} William Morris Project (Vol. 1): An Introduction and a List

We have been in our current house for almost 11 months now.  A little recap for any new readers: Last summer, my husband got a wonderful new job in Northern Virginia.  For the next few months, we lived apart during the week: he stayed in a townhouse with a bunch of commuters and I was home with the kids.  We'd see him Friday night through Sunday afternoon, and then he'd make the two hour trip back.  Did I mention I was pregnant too?  It was a long summer.  

After crunching our finances, we decided to rent out our current house and buy up north. We were dying to live in the same house again full-time!  The buying experience was a whirlwind, which anyone who has purchased in NoVa knows.  That day consisted of a full day of house hunting and making an offer just hours later.  Crazy!  We moved in two weeks before Sophia was born.

The first few months were an absolute blur with a colicky baby and adjusting to my husband's more demanding work schedule.  Home improvement took a back seat to say the least!  As the months went by, I took on small projects but never really took the time to make the house a home.

Until now.  

I want to be in love with where I've been planted.  I want my house to be a reflection of the six of us who live here.  I want it to be a welcoming destination for both friends and family, a gathering place for conversation and memory-making.  I want to make it feel like home.  

So, inspired by Jules at Pancakes & French Fries, I'm starting a new series here on the blog: the William Morris Project.  My hope is to share with you something I did to create an intentional home every week.  This could range from purchasing a new couch ($$$$) to organizing the kids' closets (free!), but every week, I aim to do something to reach my goal.  And you can come along!

Another thing to note: My decorating mentality is a mix of both DIY projects on the cheap and saving our pennies to get the more expensive item.  So you'll see both as the weeks go by.

Want a peek at my gigantic to-do list?  A few of the items to look forward to:
+ Paint the boys' bedroom
+ Organize the kitchen cabinets and drawers
+ Tile the laundry room floor
+ Art for the dining room...maybe try a blueprint copy?
+ Create a mudroom
+ Gallery wall in nursery
+ New chairs for the kitchen table
+ Artwork for above the master bed
+ Simplify and organize my office
+ Add layers to the living room: pillows, throw, etc.
+ Dining room light fixture
...and so much more! 

See you next week with the first project: a gallery wall of my kids' artwork!

Monday, August 12, 2013

{friendship} Penpal Circles are Ready to Go!

`Wow.  At final count, we have 80 participants from 34 states and three countries!  

I spent all week (and weekend!) working on your welcome packets and they should all be in the mail first thing this week.  I am so excited for you to receive them and start your first letters!  Stay in touch if you have any questions or just want to say hello.  I'd love to hear about your experience.

One last thing: sign-ups are closed for now, but I will probably open them again every few months if there is any interest.  So if you missed this round, check back in October!  

Monday, August 5, 2013

{chit chat} Monday Almanac (vol.3)

From the Kitchen
Our diet has changed pretty dramatically around here!  My husband eats almost 100% Paleo now and I would say I eat about 80/20.  The changes have been amazing: steady weight loss, better sleep, and more energy.  This week, I plan on experimenting with a few recipes in Practical Paleo, including Blueberry Muffins using coconut flour.  

I am doing a mix of running and the Pop Pilates for Beginners Calendar.  I am also participating in the #55milesinaugust challenge over on Instagram.  I work best when I have a goal in sight!  Also coming up: a 4 miler in September and a 10K if I can find one nearby.

My two current reads: The School of Essential Ingredients and Runner's World Complete Book of Women's Running.

Penpal Circles
Sixty (Update: over 70!) amazing women from 35 states and three countries are participating in the Penpal Circles and I couldn't be more excited!  Welcome packets are being created and I hope to get them out to you by week's end.  In the meantime, pick out your favorite stationary and get ready to write some snail mail :)

On the Blog
After months and months of writer's block (blogger's block?), I'm back and have lots to share.  An update on my journey to health is long overdue as well as a post on Whole30 and what works for us.  (I've gotten lots of questions on Instagram that I need to answer!)  I have a new series in the works about making our house feel more like home.  And of course, lots of everyday ramblings about living with intention.  Good things to come :)

How are you, friends?  What's new with you?
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