Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I just say...I love you...

Come on, you know you want to sing it...

So I have a confession to make - we are heading to the beach tomorrow.  I KNOW!  I'm not sure who is more excited, Elizabeth and Rachel or Scott and me FOR Elizabeth and Rachel.  This being said, I am no where near packed, haven't cleaned the house, or finished the laundry or taken the little snooze I've promised myself since my alarm went off at 6:30 a.m.  I haven't made the list for our little neighbor who is going to be keeping an eye on the dogs and I'm not really sure where the sunscreen is in our house. 

Oh, and we have doctor's appointments today for the girls.

And I have two lessons...

I know, I'm a crazy person.

And speaking of crazy people, why do my children kick their stubbornness and tantrums up a notch when they see me trying to get stuff done?  It's like they have a 6th little sense...

So I am putting you on the back burner, my friends, but I promise that I have lots to tell you about this trip and beach trips of the past and many other things I've already written up in my head.  It will just have to wait...but until then, I leave you with my youngest, who said, "I love you" for the first time on Sunday, which was just the perfect little music to mommy's ears.

You know, because we all need to hear, "I love you," and maybe you, too, are in need at right this very moment.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Batch Cooking 101 by Professor Susie

The good news is that I found an expert regarding this batch cooking my own family, people. I know - color me embarrassed.  But this is truly one of the cases that knowledge is only important to you when you need it.

My mother-in-law is the queen of the kitchen.  She is just a natural and is the kind that I can call when I find myself faced with no dinner plans, an hour until Scott gets home, and the weirdest ingredients ever... ("Ok Susie,  I have a bag of pepperoni, a can of pineapple, some breadcrumbs...")

Most weekends, she lays me out a laundry list of her cooking plans and accomplishments...she has been known to cook up pounds and pounds of meatballs, casseroles, chicken, etc.  She works full time and before dawn hours, so the last thing she feels like doing when she gets home is cooking.  So often times, she makes for the week and then some.

When she comes to visit, she blesses me by doing the one thing I have been unable to do so far - stocking my freezer.  When she came to see us for a week after Elizabeth was born, she went to work bagging up spaghetti sauce and chili and macaroni and cheese and chicken and noodles and sloppy joes and other odds and ends - what blessings and easy meals these were for me in the rough times.  I remember going to the freezer and playing Press Your Luck in my head, trying to find a quick meal for Elizabeth...

You me big money, big money, mac and cheese, no whammies, no whammies...

Just the other night, she saved me with a quart bag of taco meat she made on her last visit...I was stone cold out of dinner ideas and had all the fixings for tacos, minus the meat.  Then the magic little Ziploc bag appeared in the back of the freezer.  She had purchased a pork tenderloin on special and just stuck it in the slow cooker until it fell apart.  She shredded all of it and made half it into barbecue and the other half into taco meat.  Done...four meals.  Me?  I would have just thrown the whole puppy in the freezer to deal with later.  But then, what do I know?

There it you hear the angels singing??!!

I am going to feature her very soon because I am so proud of her recent weight loss journey (she is almost to the 30 lbs gone mark!), but first, I have to fill you in on her advice on my cooking woahs.

I heard a lot of response that you were interested too and, my dear friends, simply put, we have to plan and take a little more time on the front end with our food...and use our freezers.

Susie said that the key is to plan to work with your protein sources as soon as you get in from the store.  Meaning that I need to do something with this 4 lbs of ground turkey and 2 lbs of ground chicken I got on sale today pronto.

Apparently chunking the entire packages in the freezer is not the way to go.  Again, who knew? ;)

"Plan to prepare them - make up your spaghetti sauce, chili, taco meat, meat loaf, casseroles or slice up your chicken into strips for stir fry.  But you need to get this done when you get home...that's how you'll get ahead," she said.

She also said that she normally doesn't cook her casseroles, meat loavess or meatballs before she freezes them.  For the loaves or meatballs, she just sticks them on a cookie sheet and, once they're chilled, bags them in a freezer bag.

"If you want to cook them, you can...just make sure you label if it is cooked or not.  If I am going to cook up a casserole and freeze half, I just write cooked and the date on the bag and so that I know that I can just throw it in the microwave."

Her only advice for meat loaves was to make sure that the loaf will fit in your freezer bag...a testament to experience...and that you can freeze it in more of a "can" shape to throw in your crockpot for a fast and easy meal.

"Just make sure that you fry up a little bit of the meat to test your seasoning (regarding meatballs or meat loaf).  There is nothing worse than going through all that work to cook it up and find out that it is awful or that you forgot an ingredient."

Now, this may be all common knowledge to you, but not for me.  My mom cooked almost every meal we ate, but I also remembering her preparing it fully that evening...after working an entire day...and she is my hero for it.  So I am so thankful for Susie for educating me...and maybe you?

Truly trying to turn over a new leaf, I put this plan into action, making about a million meatballs and chicken nuggets the past few days with my aforementioned sale meat.

Some of these, I cooked up and threw in one of our favorite soups - the rest are chillin in the freezer.

I went to work on these chicken nuggets after the gym the next day (cue the Myoplex).  They actually taste fantastic and have spinach and apple in them...which my children can plainly see...therefore they refuse to touch them.  Next time, I need to throw the whole shooting match in the food processor.
I find that right before lunch time is a good time for me to get rolling on a project and I have enough time and patience to conquer about one thing a day, if I wish.  Today, I made these breakfast sandwiches I've seen popping up everywhere online (which must mean they are tasty).  I didn't think they turned out too bad.

Can I butcher an english muffin or what?
I wrapped them in tin foil and then grouped them in freezer bags.  I figure, if they resemble McDonalds, maybe my kids will give them a fighting chance??

I've posted a couple other articles I found on these issues on Facebook...I am seriously studying it so I can get better here.  And I love the support I have found in some of you!  My friend Amy is trying out a meal subscription service that sends her recipes, grocery lists and everything for a small I may have her try it for a while and then con her into reviewing it for us!    

Keep the advice coming and let us know your progress.  Maybe we'll all get there together!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dog Sprints

With the weather warming up, I've started doing dog runs in the evenings again, after getting the kiddos down to bed.  I wrote this in August, 2011 and surprisingly, little has changed about our treks!

Looking back over the summer, we've had a pretty stressful couple months as a family.  The move was a big one.  Scott's job change was another.  We had to put our little SC house up for sale when our renter moved out on short notice and walk the tight-rope of paying two mortgages.  So I would have had just a couple excuses to see a higher number on the scales...
But, I am proud to say that I do not.  And I owe it all to my training partners...

No, not Scott.  Butch and Tina.

About every other night, I try to take them out after we get the girls to bed.  And because our dogs weren't able to leave the fence for the the two years that we lived in our rental house, they act as if they've won a million milk bones when they see the leashes appear.  

The old neighborhood had quite a few stray dogs and it was just too much for me to take them out, especially with the girls.  So we laxed on the walks...and so did my dogs' walking manners. 

No longer do they sit and quietly get their leashes attached.  I swear, I work up a sweat just trying to get Butch to let me get his harness on.  Ceasar, I am not, people.

So, as we go out the door and into the evening, we walk like civilized beings down to the end of the driveway.  Like any normal woman walking her two dogs, smelling the night air, surveying the neighborhood...

And then all hell breaks loose.

They take off at a break-neck speed, leading me into an all out sprint down the first hill, during which time I just pray that my shoe doesn't come untied and that my neighbors don't look out their windows.  I told Scott that if we ever don't make it back, to come out looking for them dragging my unconscious body along our route, because I'm fairly certain that if I tripped and fell, they wouldn't stop. 

They ease up about the end of the first hill and we stay in a pretty good jog around the first loop of our trek.  After that, we take intermittent walk breaks, mostly for Tina and myself...well, and to irritate Butch who could run the whole thing several times if we let him.  All in all, it might be a mile and a half...or a little over (I haven't measured it).  But it has a couple nice hills thrown in and we normally get done in about 20 minutes.

A little background here.  Our dogs were both pound puppies.  The year before we got married, we had an injured puppy wander into our garage and I cried so hard taking him to the pound that Scott promised that we could get a dog.  We had no business getting a puppy, as both of us were traveling all the time as coaches and we were so poor we could barely afford to feed ourselves.  But acquire Tina, we did.  She was cute and little and wanted absolutely nothing to do with us when we pulled her out of the cage.  She was much more interested in chasing after a little red ball and we were merely a means to get it and throw it for her.  The pound listed her as a German Shepherd / Rottweiler mix so we thought we were getting a strong, good sized dog in her.

Tina, about a year old,  I think.
The older she got, the more it was apparent that she was not anywhere near a large dog, but more along the lines of an annoying, self-righteous terrier.  However, she was our first and we love her.

Butch, on the other hand, did nothing but care for us from the start.  Loppy and much-obliged to follow Tina's every whim, he is the biggest wanna-be lap dog and once you start petting him, he won't let you stop.  He is now about 90 lbs and has a scary bark, but wouldn't hurt a fly. 

Butch as a puppy.

Well, I take that back...he would.  He CAN catch flies and that's one of the things I love about him.  But I digress.

So you can picture it now, me out sprinting in the dark with my big 90 lb scary looking dog and my little, fat 35 lb terrier.  We wait to go at night mainly because it has been so hot and muggy during the day that you can practically chew the air and also because they are social idiots.  They snarl at any bunny, squirrel, ant, small child or UPS truck like it is an axe murderer.  Therefore, we go after dark because they can see less.  Also because less people can witness me being hauled around the neighborhood...especially at the end, when Tina refuses to go any further and I have one dog pulling my front arm straight ahead and the other yanking my other arm straight behind me.

Oh, it is attractive.  Don't you wish I was your neighbor?

In fact, one day we were walking out of the garage and around the corner came two high school girls, out for an evening stroll.  Suddenly, I panicked.  Would it be better (and less humiliating) to take off and sprint ahead of them or let them cross the driveway and then pass them with my two panting buffoons?  I decided to go ahead of them so I could avoid hearing any comments.  I'm sure they were complementing my stunning sprint form.

Now, there are benefits.  The dogs are so tired after our runs that they are far less annoying and basically lay claim to the middle of the living room floor, after sloshing water all over the kitchen.  Tina has lost about 5 lbs since moving in June and no longer has a neck roll over her collar.  As for me?  I determined long ago that it is impossible for me to get skinny legs without running sprints so the breakneck pace down the hill has actually done wonders for my quads - as well as provided a nice little second cardio when I probably wouldn't have ordinarily done any.  

Well, and it gives daddy a little alone time in the house as well.  And don't we all need that?
Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Workout with My Mama

Thank you so much for all your sweet well wishes on my mom's visit.  I love having her addition to the extra help around the house with the housework and the girls. 

Sometimes it's just the little things - like last night, I came downstairs after getting the girls down and sat on the couch and visited with Mom and Scott.  The kitchen was cleaned up, the food put away...what a difference an extra set of hands make!

Anyway, yesterday was crazy with our schedule but with this back injury, I was able to do a little bit of cardio.  I walked with a high incline (3.5 speed with 8.0 incline) for 25 minutes and then did the elliptical for 15 minutes and felt pretty good this morning.  So mom and I checked the girls in the nursery and she gave me evil looks as we went through the following workout.  If your mom is visiting as well, maybe you would be interested in having such together time.  ;)

Workout with My Mama - biceps and triceps addition

20 minutes warm up on elliptical
Alternate 3 times through:
     2 minutes VersaClimber (the last time through, I did 30 sec sprint intervals...thanks for the idea, Amy!)
     1 minute planks
     1 minute kettlebell swings
**Cue evil look after the second rotation when I assured Mom that we had just one more to go!
Superset alternating bicep curls (3x12) with bench dips (3x12)
Superset cable bicep bar curl (3x12) with tricep rope pushdowns (3x12)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Recovering from the Weekend...

This past weekend was one of those that flew by so fast, I think I missed some of it.  I had another pitching clinic with some lessons scattered in and the girls went swimming with their daddy.  Yesterday, we had a wonderful church service, Scott's 37th birthday, a pulled back muscle and now we are anticipating the arrival of my mom on a jet plane this morning...


Is is funny or coincidence that the older I get, the more I don't / can't obsess about my house being clean when my mother comes?  I didn't make it half way through the floors last night when some sort of disaster struck - which happened a lot yesterday with Rachel (AKA Princess Moody Pants).  Anyway, I was going upstairs to bed when I noticed the trail of dirty finger prints going up the wall.  I remember before kids when I would go on a total cleaning spree...preparing for the white glove test when my mom got settled and began thoroughly inspecting my home.  

Which I guess she can't do anymore either with two rug rats latched onto her legs.  So maybe it all comes out in the wash.

I'm excited about seeing her and a little less excited about this back injury.  I've pulled something muscular under my left rib cage and it just bugs me to no end.  Actually, it's been bugging to a sort of end for a while and I've kept pushing it and yesterday it told me ENOUGH!  I forsee a couple days of long cardio for me in hopes to burn calories and not irritate it further...

Because people, I consumed some calories this weekend.

Scott turned 37 - or as Elizabeth said, "turned 37 on his 3rd birthday."  The girls got him a Curious George floor puzzle and a Minnie Mouse and Little Mermaid balloon and he was thrilled with all efforts on their part to think of him.  I attempted, for the first time, to make an ice cream cake.  While the thing wasn't the prettiest cake I've ever seen, it was sinfully good.  I believe my husband may have taken a picture to send to my professional pastry chef of a sister after I begged him not to - otherwise, there is no evidence other than the overwhelming sense of not wanting anything sweet for the next 100 years.  

You know you've eaten too much birthday cake when you can't even bring yourself to lick your fingers as prepare to store leftover cake in the freezer...

And that is a tragedy:  to wash perfectly good icing off your fingers.

Speaking of birthdays,  today is my grandparent's 90th.  My sister sent me this picture from their birthday party yesterday that we couldn't make it up to and I just love it.

My grandparents are very unique that they were born on the same day of the same year.  How cool is that?  My favorite part of this picture is the fact that they are holding hands - that just makes me tear up and be so thankful for the example they have set forward for Scott and myself.  To be 90 years old and having the privilege of being able to spend almost 70 married years of that together...what a blessing.  (And to still be holding hands after 70 years is an even bigger miracle!!)  They raised three beautiful girls and have six grandchildren and two great grandchildren and enjoy playing games, reading books and doing jigsaw puzzles.  I hate that we don't live closer to see them more often, but today my heart is with my grandparents.

Well, at least a little bit of it.  Another part is on its way in a jet plane.

Gotta get to cleaning.  Have a great day!

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Have Determined...

That I need to pack snacks to send with my children for the whole hour they're in the Y nursery...this is after yesterday when I witnessed my 18-month-old scavenging under the high chair to eat the other children's leftovers.  *joy*

That we need a bigger bed.  Not because we are crowded sleeping-wise, but I don't think this laundry sorting business is going to get any easier...

That Rachel requires breakfast on the table as soon as her little feet hit the floor.  No exceptions.  So funny how this kid's entire life has revolved around food (please reference determination number one).

So you're telling me that it's not ready yet??

Please, please, please make me some eggs and toast!!
That my children are on a low carb diet.  Seriously...who eats a sandwich and leaves the bread??  My children, that's who...

That Butch will never fit through the kitty door...and he will probably never stop trying.

That a single cookie will immediately find it's way to my rear end - I don't even think it gets digested before it goes to fat stores.  Gotta love 30's metabolism...although I'm pretty sure it gets better from here...

That my husband and I have some strange pillow talk.  Last night, Scott wanted to have a serious discussion about why I wasn't incorporating the Versa Climber or kettle bells into my every day workout.  He really wasn't accepting the fact that I didn't like the things.  I think this probably came directly after I was complaining about the found cookie evidence on my thighs...

That my children are weird...

That Fridays are wonderful and I'm thankful for you!  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My New Maid(s)

Before you ask, yes, she IS available and NO, she's not cheap!

Why hello, Mother...I was just thinking that I would wash my hands in the sink instead of the bathroom to save you the trouble of having to mop up two floors.  You are welcome!

Hey!  What is this??!!

So fun to squeeze and then put back in the water and fill up again!

I wish I was a little bit taller...  Actually, I think I was trying to capture the collecting pool of water around the chair.

Uh oh...captain little sister to the rescue.

Don't worry, Elizabeth, I will just (grunt) bulldoze over this chair (grunt) and help you with whatever fun thing you are doing.

Um, Mama...when I squeeze this out over the floor, water gets everywhere. 

See like this??  The inspector couldn't resist checking it out for herself.
Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The dreaded No Nap zone

I'm possibly entering some very dangerous territory here...the no nap time zone.

Perhaps you've never known the sweet silence of a house in the middle of the day when two children under the age of three sleep for three hours.  Maybe you've never experienced the freedom of being able to get things done in daylight around your home without requests for sippies or going to the potty or snacks.  Or the simple ability to sit and write your thoughts to other coherent adults and receive feedback and camaraderie...

Ah, it is bliss.

And I think it is almost over.  

I know...pour a little out for me, if you please.

Daddy and his girls in their night time routine.  Rachel loves Hop on Pop!
But Elizabeth is continually up and about at night - up a good hour and a half to two hours past putting her in bed.  Bounding down the stairs, she comes full of energy.  Or sneakily, she tip-toes down and hides.  Nothing like finding your child laying behind the couch as you get up to go to bed.  

Last night, I sat outside her door for an hour and a half to keep the sneaky temptation down and she got up about every 10 minutes to check on me.  I only complained a little because I have two babies that I need to crochet blankets for and I have finished about a half of one.  So the time sitting in the hallway wasn't completely lost.

Day one of being in a big girl bed - I think this was last year at this time.
We have tried everything short of locking her in her room - and I refuse that.

We have rewarded her for staying in the room - that only works at nap time though.

We have taken away her beloved Juno and the light up ladybug and anything else in her room.

We have spanked, we have scolded.

She's lost TV, dessert, McDonalds after gymnastics...

We've left the light on so she can read for a little bit if she wants.

And she's still our escape artist.

I call this her Beiber hairstyle...she refuses to push her bangs back in her headband...and refuses to let me help her put it on.  See?  Stubbornness is in her blood.  I have no idea where she gets it.

I could keep up the reward/punishment system but Rachel misses Elmo and it has now been six evenings in a row that I haven't gotten to have any kind of intelligent conversation with my something's gotta give.

And that something may be my precious nap time.
So we're going to try to theory that maybe she's just not tired and see how that goes.  I will certainly keep you updated and please, if you have any tried and true methods at your home, pass them my way.  I love success stories.  

And admittedly, it was my attempt to try this yesterday, but I was so tired and just needed to lay down for 15 minutes and my big girl cuddled up beside me on the couch and was out as fast as I was.  So that wasn't the best test.  (She doesn't wake up any later just because she's in bed later - it's 9:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. for her so she is tired and ready for a nap by the afternoon...therefore, this evening might be a struggle if we don't get one today.)

Now excuse me as I go start the coffee pot...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Planning Meals through the Crazy times: A cry for help!

My hats are off to you working mamas...

I'm not sure I could pull it off anymore and I just was in a bit of your world Saturday.  I had a clinic in the morning for an hour and a half and then traveled across town to do another clinic for another hour and then got home and gave a lesson...

And then I promptly died on the couch.  Clay-rimmed ankles and everything.

(I can't say that I miss THAT from the softball field!)

I couldn't think of anything dinner or cleaning...I'm telling you, I was down for the count. 

So, I did what any exhausted person would do = asked my loving husband if we could go out to eat.

And do you think that we went to the cleanest, healthiest restaurant in town??  Oh, you know me better than that.

Mellow Mushroom is one of our favorites and it is right in the middle of downtown and when you go a little after 5, you can get right in and get a seat with your little children who hate to wait. 

And Saturday night, after working all day, it hit the spot.

An order of soft pretzel appetizers, a token salad and half of the best calzone I've ever eaten later, I was feeling somewhat human again.  And that somewhat borderline was crossed over by a quick trip to Ben and Jerry's afterwards.

Which was a fun trip because as we walked in, Elizabeth announced that she wanted vanilla.  I said, "Honey, they have all kinds of flavors here...why don't we just look and see what they have and then you can decide what you want?"  So I picked her up and let her smear her greasy little face along the glass and peer at each tub of yumminess.  Then she turned and pointed at the one she wanted.

It was vanilla.

So later, as I lay in my food induced, sunburned coma, I began counting the endless calories I had consumed in the time that I was exhausted. 

How easy it was to say, "Forget it...I'm just doesn't matter...I've worked hard all day."  Every statement making excuses for food I really shouldn't have been eating.  Perhaps you might be reading this, feeling sorry for me and thinking that maybe that I had earned it?  I hadn't...I didn't workout that day and I barely did more at the clinics or lesson then stand and walk around, probably only burning off the calories from the Coke I consumed in between clinics. 

Not that cheat days stress me out all that much.  There are a lot of programs that encourage you take a day to eat whatever you want - saying that it keeps your metabolism in check, as well as your mental sanity, as long as you eat clean for the rest of the week.  When Scott and I were staying pretty strict to the Body for Life once upon a time, we would wake up on Sunday mornings and celebrate with a dozen donuts and a package of bacon.  So please realize it isn't that I can't give myself a break.  But you see, we had just had a couple of McDonald's sandwiches for lunch...and Zaxby's for dinner the night before because it was Friday and I hate to cook on Friday...and Mexican two nights earlier because I had burned the soup to a crisp.  

Can you burn soup??  Oh yes...I can.

So I know that it is merely a product of me being tired and not organized.

And as my lessons pick up (such a blessing) and my time becomes busier, it will become more and more important for me to plan.  Currently, I plan my meals a week out, but think I might need to go further out - like a month.  I need to better utilize my freezer and Crockpot.

So my question to you:  how do you plan healthy meals for your family when your schedule is busy or you are working?  What are your best go-to resources for the rest of us?  (I will list mine below and please list yours in your comments.  And by all means, if you cover this on your blog, promote yourself!) 

I, I know...if I knew that I was coming home to something already prepared, then I'd be less likely to go through a drive thru / order take out / go to a restaurant.  So what do you do?  Do you give into temptation?  Do you plan ahead?  How far ahead?  Do you have a single day cooking bonanza?? 

Share!  I need to get back to meal planning...

My favorite meal planning resources:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

On to the Den!

I really did have every intention of posting this yesterday, but it was a busy lesson day for me (and an exciting one at that because one of my little pitchers, Bre, pitched to batters for the first time at her practice later in the day and did awesome!).  Knowing it was going to be busy, I actually planned ahead and spent nap time preparing dinner in the Crockpot.  I got this recipe for Pesto Spinach Lasagna from Stephanie O'Dea's, A Year of Slow Cooking and since I had a mile of basil growing in the backyard, I thought I'd give it a try.  (And it turned out great!  Although way too much green for the skeptical Elizabeth Rose.)

I even woke up early to take pictures before the girls could do their damage...ha!  I love our den and it was a big selling point for us on the house.  Our rental house only provided a living room and dining room as far as living space and we really thought that one more room would be perfect for the girls to trash play in.  It has turned out to be a God-send and most of the toys stay in this room, leaving mostly books in the living room.  It has a high, vaulted ceiling with a wood beam and a wood burning fireplace that I can't wait to try out this winter.  What a blessing to know that we can still have heat if the power goes out!!

I feel like an idiot when it comes to decorating mantles and I wasn't really sure what to put up there.  I'm still not 100% thrilled with this - so start chunking suggestions and I'll switch it around.  The basket is full of "dog towels," as the door to the back yard is to the left here.  There is a wood parkay floor inlay that curves around the fireplace and the doors and then the rest is carpeted.  I didn't show it to you because it's filthy and I must retain SOME dignity, people!

My grandparents gave us this shelving unit and I absolutely love it.  My husband didn't love the moving process from Pennsylvania (which involves wonderful stories like having to take a elevator ceiling apart and getting the truck stuck in the mud), but that is an entirely different post!  It is wonderful storage for pictures and knick-knacks and it looks so good on that wall, I think. 

I love that we finally have a spot for our ridiculous collection of books...and this was after we weeded out the ones that we didn't want!

And of course, the girls have designated drawers...currently occupied by puzzles.  

And there is room on the top to display some family antiques.  Now, I must back up for a moment and explain to you that my husband is a minimalist.  He would have been fine with moving into the house with the girls, me and a backpack and called it a home.  Me?  Not so much.  I have had boxes of memories, pictures and little odds and ends packed away and waiting for the perfect home.  So just please realize that when you look at these pictures, you are seeing purely my decorating taste, as my husband would have been perfectly happy with just looking at empty, clean shelves.

He lets me do what I want perhaps that's a secret to a happy marriage?? ha!

Another angle of the room.  The ottoman has toys in it and the room never looks like this.  In fact, you can rarely see the floor.  Well, except for the spot in front of the piano, which they keep clean so they can climb up on it and jump off.  The monkeys also love climbing on the outside of the staircase, so I tried to deter that by putting the baby bed and kitchen in front of them.  Three guesses on if that worked or not...and the first two don't count...

Our wonderful realtor, Susan, donated the toy bins to our cause and most of the kitchen food is located in the toybox on the other side of the sewing machine there.  Rachel loves the sewing machine, that was my Memaw's, and will open and SLAM the door shut, causing me to fly into a fit...which makes her laugh...


Ok, there's the den!  Onward to the living room tomorrow and then I'll do the bedrooms all in one post. tours are exhausting!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

On to the Dining Room!

It looks like a spaghetti bomb has gone off in my kitchen, so I need a short and sweet room today - and since the dining room needed disinfecting after my children got through with it at lunch anyway, I decided that today was the day for its feature.

We eat all our meals in here and I really love having a formal dining room - especially just off the kitchen.  It has a nice feeling to me - especially because we have it furnished with a dining room set my grandparents handed down to us.  It's the same table where my mom remembers eating, coloring and doing art projects as a little girl - and I just love that my girls are growing up around the same table.  

There is something so fundamental about family meals - something Scott and I never had as a couple-before-kids, because most of our dining was done in the living room in front of the news.  Or standing in the kitchen.  So much of our life was on the run then.

But after Elizabeth was born and was able to eat finger foods, we found ourselves gravitating around a table because it was easier with her in a high chair.  Scott began blessing our meals and it really became a way of life for us - so much so that now, the girls automatically link their hands together and both chorus a strong "Amen!" after his.  I swear, my heart overflows.

So you can see why this room is sentimental for me, even though we've been living here a couple months.

Susie (my MIL) and I found the new, awesome chandelier on sale at Lowes and I could have died when it was only $35.  It's a slight improvement on the old one, don't you think?  

I want to do all the curtain rods on the lower level in wrought iron to match it - plus I think that will go with the style of the house.  Well, and I just love Tiffany...even faux Tiffany...  The pictures on the wall are old ones of our families.  I have a handful more to frame, but I'm pretty anal about the frames matching - so they are waiting for my next trip to Michaels sans-little children.  (I have no idea why I don't want to take my offspring shopping for breakable things...silly, silly, silly...)

We're also looking for a matching buffet to go on this wall under the chair rail to hold the rest of the china we have still boxed in the garage (also from my grandparents).
I can hardly believe this china hutch is full - but again, we've been handed down so many antique crystal and sets...I was thankful to be able to pull some of these things out of boxes and give them a home. 

Of course, we won't need the wire rack once we find a buffet, but for now, I use these things so often, there's really no other place to store them.

Are we ready for a dinner party or what??  I love that everything is a mismatch between Scott's and my families.  Other things are wedding gifts that have been packed until now.  And then of course, you have the mug that my best friend Amanda and I painted (see far left top shelf) when we were visiting sometime after college and I love it because I still remember how much fun we had at that pottery shop and we just seemed so young then and ready for the next chapter of our lives.  It's filled with seashells from the beach trip when Scott proposed and his dried boutonniere from our wedding.  So what may look out of place, has a pretty high spot on my list.  

We have crown molding in almost all the downstairs rooms, which I didn't realize made such a difference until we had it.  It just puts such a nice touch on everything.  I don't like the carpeting in the dining room, but like I said yesterday...we're hoping to eventually hardwood the entire downstairs eventually, so it isn't a huge deal.
So there you have it folks...that's where we eat!  Still no curtains in there, as you can see.  I was thinking purple...suggestions? 

Monday, August 8, 2011

House tour - Day 2: The Kitchen

Just let me begin by saying that our house is sectioned into rooms.  I know that a lot of people are looking for an open concept right now - and we certainly weren't against one - but our budget came in first on our wish list and this house checked off in a lot of other areas.  So the kitchen isn't "open," but at the same time, it isn't small either.   Coming from the small, galley kitchen in our rental house, I was in no position to complain!

I actually don't mind this linoleum - it cleans up well and hides a lot of dirt.  Eventually, we'd like to put hardwoods through the entire downstairs, but that's very long term - as we're in the land of dogs and sippy cups now.  The wallpaper doesn't drive me up the walls (ha!), but we'll change it eventually.  It looks like they updated the light fixture too, but when we decide to make changes in here, we'll change that as well.

My dream would be to do white cabinets with black pulls and a copper colored counter top.  And then we'd like to find some sort of island that could also double as a bar to feed the girls when they get older.  That little chicken over the sink used to be in Chris's kitchen when I was growing up and it always makes me smile when I'm cooking.

This is about as clean as we get for a Monday afternoon...  I do love all the cabinet space and pretty much everything has it's place, which is wonderful.

Ugh...then there's this area.  I do like having a desk in the kitchen...HOWEVER, I am not the type of person that leaves her desk in a situation that appeals to company.  Those little nooks over the desk are nice but I still haven't found a good system for them and I'm so embarrassed by the cabinets above, I won't even open them for you to see.  We have our eye out to move this whole shootin' match upstairs to our bedroom.  The fridge is old but will go out in the garage when it kicks the bucket.  It is clean and has an ice maker, which is really nice. 

Pantry...small, but a lot handier than what we've known.  And yes, there is a knob missing in that top left hand desk drawer, because MY CHILDREN WILL NOT STOP TURNING KNOBS!!  They are driving me crazy with it, so I've just started a collection in a Ziploc bags of knobs they've removed with the screw...I dream of pulls...;)

And behind doors one and two??

The most awkward laundry layout ever...I've banged my noggin on that header so many times - but you can't move it because of the stairway.  So, we're hoping to plan for some sort of renovation here.

Laundry storage...

We have one half bath downstairs, which is really handy and it's off the kitchen.  It, too, is outdated and we'll eventually remove the wallpaper and update everything...but for right now, everything is functional and we're not really in the point of life that we can have nice things, so it really works out.  

What's next?  We'll see which room is the cleanest tomorrow to take pictures...thanks for caring, guys!!