Archive for the ‘Pretty Things’ Category

No matter how much you probably love your current home, do you ever just find yourself daydreaming about living in the perfect house?

We bought our house in April of 2006, a month before we got married. It’s our first house and we expected to live here for only about five years. (Side note: why is it that young people can only think ahead about 5 years? Saying you’re going to live somewhere for 10 years or more is basically saying you’re going to be there forever. So five years is the max for everyone.) We didn’t buy for the area (mistake #1) or even pay attention to the school district (mistake #2). We just wanted the best house for our budget. Seven years later and I now have a love/hate relationship with our house. I love that we have 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms. I love that we have a basement. I love that we have a huge driveway that can fit about 7 cars, plus street parking. I love that we have a spacious side yard, plus a deck and a patio. I love that we have TWO parks within walking distance. I love how easy my commute is most days. I love that we have a basement, and plenty of storage space. And I love that we have mostly pergo/wood/tile floors rather than carpet.

But there are also a lot of things I don’t love. I don’t love not having a two-car garage (we have a carport). I don’t love not having a ranch, or a suitable pantry in the kitchen. I don’t love not having an on-suite master bathroom. I don’t love having a backyard that overlooks our neighbors’ backyard (even though they’re nice, quiet people). I don’t love having neighbors in general. No matter how nice they all are (well, most of them anyway). I don’t love having low ceilings. I don’t love not having a spacious bedroom or open floor plan. I don’t love not having an eat-in kitchen.

While we haven’t started the hunt for our second house quite yet, I’ve been stockpiling a list of qualities I want in my future home. For all of those house-hunting shows on HGTV that say first-time home buyers are the worst because of their high and unreasonable expectations, I almost think second and third time buyers are even worse because we have an even greater idea of what we want/don’t want in a home based on our previous experiences.

Anyway, enough talking. On with the inspiration photos.


Isn’t this pantry just perfect? The wicker baskets, the wire baskets, the drawers, the open shelves… I could store ALL THE THINGS in here!


I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to laundry rooms. While this one is by far one of the least extravagant, I love it for its simplicity. I can almost smell the fresh towels in the dryer. The only thing I might add would be a closet on the other side of those drawers (the not pictured area) for a dirty clothes hamper. With our washer and dryer in the basement, we are notorious for just dumping the dirty clothes on the floor and leaving them there until we wash them. It’s a bad habit but I know myself and I’d need a place to dispose of dirty clothes until I could get around to washing them.


I love having a backyard. I’d love it even more if I couldn’t see my neighbors. My parents have an awesome covered deck on the back of their house.  It’s by no means this luxurious, but doesn’t this look cozy? I also have a Pinterest board for backyards, most of which also have outdoor kitchens in them but when I thought about it, would I really use an outdoor kitchen that much? Probably not. They just look so cool! I mean, look at this!


Fancy, no?

In my mind, I’ve convinced myself that I would be in much better shape if I had enough space at home to work out. Having a kid plus working full time outside the home means the last thing I want to do is leave again to go to the gym. If I could do at-home workouts while he plays, I’d be so much better at working out. Maybe.



So how cute is this exercise room/playroom combo? I’d maybe change up the colors a bit but it’s just so darn functional. I even see a large flatscreen mounted on the wall, opposite the mirror. Just add a treadmill or elliptical and I’d be all set.




I really don’t know how this shower works without getting water all over the floor but I love the multiple shower heads.


On a slightly more practical scale, this is much more my jam when it comes to a bathroom.



Or maybe this one:



Ok so a fireplace in the bathroom really isn’t practical but my goodness it’s pretty. My only requirement for a future bathroom is dual sinks.

When it comes to kitchens, my style preference is all over the place. I would kill to have something like this:



Though the practical girl in me would even be over-the-moon for something like this:

benchCouldn’t you just envision lovely breakfasts here every morning before the kids go off to school? I just love it so much.

And since we’re dreaming here, I’d love to have a movie room. Maybe when I no longer have a need for a playroom, I could turn it into a movie room. Most movie rooms I’ve seen are super cheesy looking though. They’ve tried too hard to make them feel like the real movie theater, but I’d much rather have something stylish and comfortable with just a giant flatscreen instead of a projector screen.

This was about the least cheesy image I could find for the seating.



So tell me, what would you want in your dream home?

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I mentioned that a friend of mine recently had her second baby. Unlike with the first pregnancy, second pregnancies don’t get nearly enough attention. I kind of hate that about second pregnancies because it’s still a baby, a miracle of life, a tiny individual person, and deserves just as much fuss as the first baby.

But no one asked me, so it is what it is.

Since Jen was having her second boy, I knew she didn’t need much in the way of baby-related stuff. So instead of bringing a pack of onesies I’m sure would only be worn once, I decided to go a slightly different direction with my gift and focused on her – the mom. (And who wouldn’t love that?!)

photo (17)

Here’s what I gave her, and the rationale for each item:

1. A good book. When I was on maternity leave, I actually read quite a bit to pass the pumping time. Jen loves good chick lit and Nicholas Sparks is the epitome of that. At First Sight is his latest novel and while I ran the risk of her already having it, I just made sure to include a gift receipt. (Bonus: she didn’t have it already!)

2. Chocolate. It’s a must for any gift-giving occasion.

3. Starbucks Via Refreshers. For nursing moms trying to watch their caffeine intake, I knew coffee wouldn’t be a great idea, but I thought these little strawberry lemonade mixers looked yummy and would serve the purpose of helping her stay hydrated too.

4. Trailmix. When your hands are full, sometimes it’s all you can do to scarf down a handful of something. Trailmix is usually packed with good proteins to keep your energy levels high when you’re “on the go” (even if you’re just “on the go” in your own house).

5. Burt’s Bees baby shampoo and body wash. Ok, so this is actually something for the baby, but I LOVE the smell of this stuff and it seemed to be gentle on my son’s sensitive skin so I’m hoping she has a similar experience. Is there anything better than a delicious smelling baby?

6. Emery board and nail polish. The emery board serves dual purposes – for her nails AND for filing the baby’s nails because I wouldn’t get near my son’s tiny fingers with clippers those first few months. A quick file with the emery board every few days was all he needed for a long time. And the blue polish was just something fun. And what better color for a boy mom??

7. And last but not least, a candle that smells like the beach. When life gets stressful, smelling the sweet scents of coconut makes me feel like I’m on the beach, sipping a pina colada. And since we’ve been to Hawaii together, I’m hoping this little candle has the same effect for her.

8. The basket is a find from Target in their home decor section. I loved that it was cloth so she could reuse it in the baby’s nursery for toys or ointments or whatever. And it won’t splinter like a wicker or wood basket (even though I love how those look!)

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What are your go-to gifts for new* moms?

*the “new” here applies to any mom who has just given birth – whether it’s her first or fifth kid.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most creative, craftiest person around. But there’s just something about planning a baby’s first birthday party that got me really excited. Once I could decide on a theme, that is.

There are SO many cute party theme ideas floating around out there. (If you’d like to go down a rabbit hole of awesome themes, I suggest you check out Kara’s Party Ideas.) We narrowed it down to either a Little Man party or a Puppy Party. I went with the Puppy theme for two reasons. 1) D LOVES dogs. It’s pretty much the only word he says with any consistency. And his little face just lights up whenever we see a dog. 2) The Little Man party seems like a timeless classic that we could do later and really have some fun with (like with fake mustaches and such) but the puppy theme might only ever work this year since it’s very baby-ish and kids seem to get opinions as they grow up. (Which is why I dress him in the cutest, most humiliating outfits I can find sometimes. Bunny sleeper with a cotton tail on the butt? YEP!)

Once the theme was set, I spent way too much time picking out invitations. As you may recall from an earlier post, it ended up looking like this.

D Invite 4x6 2

I loved the blue, green and orange combo and decided I’d run with those colors for the rest of the party decor. But after a stop by Party City, it turns out orange is a really tough color to find in party supplies, so the colors morphed into just blue and green. I also agonized for far too long over the photographer, the cake/cupcakes, the smashcake, and probably everything in between. But enough talking. Time for showing! Ignore my red walls in the background. Looking back, I probably should’ve moved the table to the other side of the room so it wouldn’t clash so much.

puppydecorFor the cake, I ended up just going with a smashcake, cupcake-cake, and extra cupcakes from Walmart – in white and chocolate flavors. I added the dog bones which were just graham cracker Scooby Snacks. My mom made the pawprint cake using a pawprint cake pan she found at Michael’s. We used food dye for the icing, and funfetti cake mix. Here’s a close up of the pawprint cake.


Table cloth, dog napkins, pawprint balloons, birthday banner and dog pinata were from Birthday Express and the rest of the napkins, cups, utensils, balloons and the rest of the decor were from Party City.


My photographer was a friend I’ve gone to school with since about third or fourth grade. I still paid full price but she does great work.

Of all the decorations though, my favorite was this photo display I put in our downstairs hallway leading out to the patio. I took one photo each week of baby D in a different outfit, then printed the photos and made corresponding numbered tags and hung each one on a ribbon with mini clothespins.



These “doggie bags” were from Target and I made sure each of the kids/babies that attended left with one. Each bag included a little tennis ball (Target – pet section), a frisbee (Party city), Scooby Snacks (Walmart), and a plastic bone with bone shaped crayons inside (Birthday Express). Also not pictured was a box with “Free Puppies” so that each kid could “adopt a puppy” – aka little stuffed puppies I found at the dollar store.


And what would any puppy party be without D’s FAVORITE puppy?

We got really lucky with good weather, despite the forecast for rain, so before the party started we staged a little photo shoot in the back yard.


I’m surprised our photographer was able to capture these smiles because D was CRANKY. (Chair was $5 at Walmart in case you’re wondering.)

It should also be noted that the birthday boy fell asleep about 5 minutes after those photos were taken and slept through the first 45 minutes of his party. He was diagnosed with an ear infection two days before the party so little man was struggling to recover and was NOT happy about being woken up and forced in front of about 35 people.

But cake makes everything better so as soon as he got up, it was cake smash time.



Surprisingly, he dove right in and ended up eating almost half the cake!

Boy was a MESS after that so we gave him a quick dunk in the bathtub and then back out to mingle, though he pretty much clung to me the entire time. He managed to play with his baby girlfriends for a few minutes, but it didn’t last long. Then we opened presents while everyone chowed down on hamburgers and hotdogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, chips, fresh fruit, puppy chow (naturally!) and of course – cake. By 5:30, the party was over and we were exhausted! But we couldn’t end the day without letting the birthday boy play in his birthday present from mommy and daddy. A new splash table!





I think he liked it.

Happy first birthday, baby boy! Can’t wait to see what this next year brings!

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I swore to myself that I wouldn’t let the gender of this baby determine the nursery theme. I told anyone that asked that we would be doing “gender neutral” so we wouldn’t have to re-do it for a possible baby #2. Yet, I find myself gravitating toward very gender specific themes. I can’t help it. The majority of gender neutral stuff out there isn’t very exciting. And I can only imagine if we were having a girl, just how hog-wild I’d be going with a chandelier light fixture and ruffled blankets.

Anyone that follow me on Pinterest knows I’ve been stockpiling nursery ideas for weeks now. Just as decorators tell you to collect photos of rooms that appeal to you to see if you sense a common theme among them, I was doing the same through Pinterest — pinning every nursery that looked unique or soothing. I had hoped to look back at my nursery ideas board and immediately see a pattern to my madness. This was not the case. We decided awhile ago that the overall theme would be “travel” but I’m not so keen on the modes of transportation theme that typically goes along with a travel theme. Instead, I prefer maps and globes with animals and bright colors. But not too bright – because that’s overwhelming. Here’s a sample of what I’ve been pinning lately:

How cute is that wall decal? Also like the neutral walls/fabrics with pop of bright colors here and there.

I have a thing for accent walls. I don’t trust myself to get a pattern like this to look this good, but I like it.

For awhile, I was leaning toward grayish tones. And since my floor color looks similar to this, I wanted to keep a visual of what gray and white stripes might look like.

I hate birds, but somehow I find myself drawn to this birdcage-like light fixture. Also love the colors.

Did I mention I have a thing for accent walls? And green, apparently.

I mentioned wanting maps in the decor scheme, yes? This would be one way. But I’m also liking the idea of a decal, like this one:

So that’s about as far as I had gotten with choosing a theme, until last weekend when we went to register at Babies R Us. One thing I’ve always loved about my husband is our similar tastes in home decor. We almost always agree on what we like/don’t like. And the only bedding ensemble that either of us liked at Babies R Us was this one:

Is it my favorite bedding ever? No, probably not. But it fits our travel theme, and has a simple color palette that I think we can work with. I’m not sold on the wall art, the hamper, the valance on the window, or the wall color in this room, but I like the bedding and the lamp. That, and I haven’t found anything better. So now I’m basing much of our theme on these colors, which, as I stated above, is now suddenly very gender specific.

But what to do with the walls? Right now, they’re stark white. At first, I just assumed I needed to paint them. Because that’s what you do when you decorate a room. You paint! But now that one of the main colors in our “theme” actually isn’t a color at all, I’m wondering if we should maybe leave the walls white and just accent with curtains and wall hangings? Or maybe just do an accent wall? I have no idea.

Who wants to come over and decorate a nursery for me?

*All image sources (except the last one) can be found on my Pinterest board. Last photo from BabiesRUs.com 

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Currently Loving: This fab new Coach purse. I’ve never owned a purse that cost me more than $30, so when my cute little black weekend purse broke in Maui, conveniently in front of the Coach store, the hubs took it as a sign that he needed to buy me a nice purse. Not one to argue with such a sensible solution, we came back the next day when I had more time to peruse. The helpful Coach saleslady noticed me eyeing up the mid-sized crossbody bags and told me she had just received a new shipment of colors that weren’t supposed to go on sale for another few days. If I saw one I liked, she’d sell it to me. She came back a few minutes later with this beauty.

Having never owned a crossbody purse before, I wasn’t very intrigued by the long strap and had planned to just take that off and carry it using the shoulder strap. But, helpful Coach lady convinced me of the convenient ways of the crossbody strap and I took her advice because, well, she’s dating a fire dancer, so she has to know what she’s talking about, right? Maybe not, but now I don’t know how I ever lived without a crossbody purse. It’s seriously made my life so much easier because I’m not carrying a purse in the crook of my elbow and have both hands and arms free to carry groceries or suitcases or whatever. Carrying a purse on my shoulder has now become some sort of annoyance, “like, OMG it’s so HEAVY! This purse is so STUPID and ANNOYING! HEAVY SIGH!” Yeah, I’ve become THAT person. Also, I finally understand why women spend upwards of $300 on a purse now. Not that there aren’t plenty of other similar purses that provide the same style and convenience, but walking around Maui with a brand new Coach purse that NO ONE ELSE HAD YET, well, I felt pretty dang special. And spoiled. And I liked it.

Sadly, I didn’t get to carry it around much when I first bought it. Since we were doing adventurous things like beach hopping and hiking to waterfalls and such, the hubs didn’t think I should leave “my precious” in the hot car all day, (It might get too hot!) so I locked it up safely in the hotel room until the last two days, when I could keep it on my person all day and not worry about hurting it or losing it. And I have to say, traveling through the airport was a much more pleasant experience with the crossbody bag.

This may sound silly, but I actually feel prettier when I wear it. Although the hubs had to put his foot down when I insisted on wearing it to bed over my PJs. Guess that was a little too far.

Disclaimer: I was not discounted or compensated in any way for this post. Although, if the lovely people at Coach would ever like to consider it, I’d gladly take them up on an offer. :)

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(I’m still sorting through our vacay pics, but in the meantime, let’s look at all the happy.)

Happiness is…

A very realistic dream where I was hanging out with Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy. More importantly, James McAvoy. I almost never have dreams that involve handsome men. Especially not handsome, famous, SCOTTISH men. Le sigh. Stupid alarm clock.


New boots! I’m not much of a shopoholic, but the desire to buy at least five new pairs of boots is hitting me hard. I covet these immensely and plan to purchase something similar this weekend. These are Aerosoles. You see, I’m experiencing some slight foot pain and I think these would be both stylish AND comfortable. I’m all about the comfort, baby.

We just signed up for AT&T U-verse service. I’ve been wanting this for at least a year, and it’s finally available in my neighborhood. More HD channels! DVR! DVR on ALL three of our TVs! And for less than $20 more than I’m paying for basic service (with no DVR) with Charter. I’m so excited for the switch! And to finally have a DVR! Bye bye Charter!

Speaking of TV…

I can’t wait to veg out on the couch with my hubby and just relax and catch up on some movie rentals this weekend.

So what’s making you happy lately?

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Thank you for all the sweet, thoughtful comments in my last post. I don’t mean to be a negative nelly so I’m just going to keep hoping for the best and focus on the positives.

Like vacations.

Last year, the hubs and I went on our first trip to Europe where we took hundreds of photos, most of which still reside on my computer because I haven’t had the time to print them and create a full album. As much as I love digital pictures and digital picture frames, photo sharing sites, Facebook, and online photo albums, they still don’t replace good old fashioned photo albums and my goal is to fill several large photo albums with pictures from all of our trips and life experiences. Maybe I’ll have one dedicated to home improvements, or maybe we’ll do one dedicated to all of the baseball games we’ve been to, or perhaps we’ll have one full of pictures of our furbaby. I just love photo albums!  

But taking it a step further, I also love having photos displayed throughout the house, like on bookshelves, coffee tables and hanging on the walls. And then I realized that we don’t have any pictures from Europe displayed anywhere in our house. So on a random Wednesday evening  a couple of weeks ago, I decided to remedy the situation and with the help of my trusty husband, we headed to Kohl’s to pick out some frames. Then we went to Kinko’s to have some of our favorite photos blown up and printed. The great thing about Kinko’s is 1) they’re open 24 hours so even though we were there at 10 pm on a Wednesday night, they were still friendly and helpful and didn’t try to rush us out the door. 2) Photo printing is super cheap and for the cost of a couple of bucks, you too can have frame-worthy photos printed within minutes.

From our trip to Malta, we had this photo:


and this photo:


blown up and placed into 11 x 14 frames


These lovelies are now hanging in our bedroom.

Then, we took these three photos from Rome:




made sure that last one was in black & white (which I can’t seem to find right now), printed them, and framed them to go with the rest of our B&W wall art in our family room.


This picture makes the photos look more Sepia but I blame my iPhone and the lighting. It looks MUCH better in person. I also dated the bottom of the matted frame for a little additional personalization.

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1. Twlight collection in hardcover (I’ve been borrowing my boss’ books). The good news is, a little bird told me that my in-laws have purchased this for me.

 2. Snowboots. I had to shovel the driveway last year (while fighting a bad case of bronchitis). These would’ve been nice to have:

3. A personal trainer. I’m sure my workouts* would be 10 times more intense if I had someone with abs of steel barking orders at me.

*this would imply that I actually work out. And I did…for awhile… but yesterday was the first time in about 2 months I’ve set foot in a gym. It’s pathetic. If only tummy tucks and lipo weren’t so… invasive.

4. Anything argyle

5. New dishes. I currently have two sets of dishes – hubby’s white and blue set from Wal-Mart, and my first anniversary (of dating) set from Bloomingdale’s that hubby bought for me in Chicago. Oddly enough, my expensive set from Bloomingdale’s has chipped and cracked while the Wal-Mart stuff has held up like steel. I’m leaning toward a purely white set like this white pearl set from Crate & Barrel (NOT pictured below) though if left to purchase them myself, will likely come from Target instead.

And thus concludes my wishlist for Xmas 2008.

Wait…it feels like I’m forgetting something…

Oh, right.

No list is complete without the Stamos.

There.  That’s better.

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New Camera

Last week I told you I was in the market for a new camera and that I was considering a Canon. Everyone had wonderful things to say about Canon which only reconfirmed my decision to buy one. And buy one I did.

It all started with this PC World article rating the best point and shoot cameras. Rated #1 and also listed as the “best buy,” the Canon Powershot A590 IS had everything I was looking for in a camera. Image stabilization, 8 mega-pixels, 4x optical zoom, and apparently very easy to use. The best part? It was on sale at Best Buy for only $150. Also on sale? 4 G memory cards. Score!

The only downside is that it is a bit clunky in style and is not as sleek looking as some of the Kodak cameras I saw at Best Buy, and really not even as convenient to carry as my Nikon, but I’d rather have a great looking photo than a great looking camera.

I took my new toy out for a test drive last night after work. We grabbed the dog and headed to a lake near our house. My first subject? Ducks in the sunshine.

Next I found a quiet cove at the corner of the lake.

By the time I took this next shot, it was getting quite dark and the moon was shining brightly.

You can barely make out the outline of the two fisherman.

As we finally neared the car, I stopped, turned around, and captured these last few fleeting moments of sunlight on the lake. 

So far, I’m pretty happy with my purchase. I need to do a bit more reading and familiarizing myself with my new gadget before it becomes my new BFF on our trip to Europe, but I think it’s safe to say that old Mr. Nikon will be sitting this vacation out.

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