Upgrades

Upgrades

Once we finally closed on the house, we jumped right into doing the upgrades we wanted to do before moving in. Which was A LOT. There were some places on a few of the walls and ceilings that had to have drywall repair work done. The roof needed patched. There were interior doors that were damaged and needed replaced. We painted every last wall, ceiling, and piece of trim in the house because all the walls were a tan-ish/yellow color that was straight out of 2008 and well, the designer in me just was not having that. So we painted them a warm grey color, and gave each room an accent wall that was a shade darker. Here are some before and after photos of the paint, as you can see it really brightened up the space a lot!

 

We added a ceiling fan in the living room and upgraded the dining room light fixture.

 

The people who built the house picked out a lot of nice things. The carpet throughout the majority of the house is really nice and in great condition, the dining room and kitchen have beautiful hard wood floors, and the bathrooms have ceramic tile in them, so (thankfully) we didn’t have to redo any floors. But the major part of the work that we had done was in the kitchen. They chose very pretty cabinets that have almost a pine look to them. They’re light wood with dark variations throughout, so we decided to keep them since they are beautiful and in great shape. Which is good because redoing cabinets is a huge project and can get super pricey which we just did not have the time or budget for. On the other hand, the counter top that was in there was just bad. It was a laminate top that was not installed properly, it had water damage and was in bad shape overall. It was a dark color, which I liked against the light cabinetry, but then it had this orangey-red pattern in it that was just plain terrible. It had to go. This was the biggest upgrade that we did to the place, so I wanted to do it right the first time. We decided on quartz counter tops that are a dark warm grey color (almost black) with light grey, tan and white variations throughout. It was a lot of fun choosing our new counter top material and color, the sample I picked is the top left photo. I was able to go see the slab once it was delivered, and as you can see in the bottom left photo it was huge – about 6 foot tall by 8 foot long! I even got watch part of it being cut while I was there which is what was going on in the photo on the right. Very cool process!

Here are some before, during and after photos of the counter top removal and installation process. 123

As you can see, we also replaced the knobs and pulls on the cabinets. The previous owners had installed ‘custom’ deer antler knobs and pulls which we found to be quite tacky. We chose oil rubbed bronze to match the other fixtures throughout the house. We had a new kitchen sink and faucet installed as well. The sink is a dark brown granite undermount, and the faucet is oil rubbed bronze with the pull down sprayer which we love. Here are some before and after photos of the sink.

 

We also had a new backsplash put in, which really tied it all together. I wanted to go with something simple, clean, and neutral that wouldn’t go out of style. White subway tile was the perfect option for this and it really brightened up the space and made it pop! Here are the before and after photos of all the kitchen upgrades.

The kitchen is one of my favorite parts of our home, and I think the upgrades we did to it really added a lot to make it our own place. The last step was actually moving in and getting the house decorated. Stay tuned to see how everything came together!

Step One

Step One

So, my degree is in Interior Design. That’s not what I ended up doing for a living but it is still something I love and have always enjoyed. When we bought our first house last year I was so excited to make it our own. We did lots of work to make it perfect for us, and I absolutely love our home. In my next few posts I’m going to be talking about what we did to turn our house into a home.

Before we even closed on the house we bought some furniture pieces that were old and outdated and decided to make them our own. We refinished an entertainment center, repurposed an old coffee table, spruced up some old rocking chairs with paint and new cushions, and we built a hall tree. That might not sound like a lot but they were all fairly large projects and things like this take a lot of time.

The entertainment center had to be completely sanded down – which took forever- then we stained it dark and distressed it a little. If you’ve ever done this type of project you know that staining can be a lot of work and this took several coats to get it the way we wanted it. Then we had to coat it with polyurethane to seal it. It took 5 coats of this to finish it, and each coat takes quite a while to dry so it was a long process. Here are some before, during, and after photos to show the progress!

 

The coffee table was an old glass top table that was originally a “seafoam green” color which didn’t match our other décor. We took the glass out of the top, painted the frame white, created our own new wood top for it, and stained the top the same color as the entertainment center. Here are the before, during and after photos!

 

New paint and cushions on the rocking chairs may not sound like much, but just look at the difference it made!

 

Lastly, the hall tree was made out of some old bi-fold closet doors that we found at an auction and got for $2 for all 4 panels… what a steal! We painted the doors white, built a bench with storage underneath for shoes, painted the base white and stained the seat of the bench to match the other pieces we had done. Then we attached the 2 parts – the bench and the back- to create the hall tree, and attached some hooks to the top of the back for people to hang jackets and purses. This is in our entry area right next to our front door and I absolutely love how it turned out! Getting these pieces finished was step one of our moving process.

Memories

Memories

I was looking through some old photos last night and came across these pictures of my Mom. Just wanted to talk about some of the really good times we had together in the last few years.

These first two pictures really captured one of the things I miss most about her – her sense of humor. If you knew her you know that two of her favorite things to do were shop and eat. (I mean who doesn’t love shopping and eating, right?) But there we were, browsing the dollar store and we came across these funny dinosaur hats. I put one on to take a picture just being silly, little did I know she had grabbed one too and jumped right in on the selfie! We laughed and laughed about those hats. I think everyone in the store probably thought we were crazy! Another funny memory was when my Mom, my sister, and I went to the local pizza buffet for lunch. The buffet was closing for the day soon and she asked the restaurant if she could have the leftovers. Carrie and I were so embarrassed, but she didn’t care one bit. As you can see, she walked out shamelessly with 3 whole pizzas and a container full of garlic bread!

One of the things I am most thankful for being able to experience with my Mom was my wedding. She was there with me every time I went dress shopping, and once I had picked out my dress she was there for every fitting. Here we are trying on dresses at the store where I bought mine. I thought she looked so beautiful in this dress! This isn’t the one she ended up choosing, she found one she liked more because it was more comfortable. She was all about comfort when it came to clothes or shoes!

I definitely got my love for crafting from her. She enjoyed sewing, reading, puzzles, and music. On the left is a photo from when we were working on the decorations for my bridal shower. The picture on the right is a puzzle we worked on together in the last year of her life. I took a picture of it because it was while we were working on this that I got my first feeling that I was pregnant.

She loved her ‘granddoggies’ so much. As you can see, my dog Penny loved her a lot too, and she knew if she begged enough, Grammy would always give her a little piece of whatever she was eating. Lastly, I just love this picture of her with Carrie and I and the dogs. We had a lot of great memories with her and these are just a few. Memories are one of the best things we can keep in life, and this just goes to show how special they are once someone is gone. Love my Mama so much, and I miss her everyday, but I am so grateful to have these as well as many other pictures to remember the great times we shared. ❤

Autumn Anticipation

Autumn Anticipation

Is anyone else ready for fall?! I know it’s early, but it’s my favorite season and I just get so excited every year around this time. The weather has been cooler than normal here recently and it just put me in the mood to buy/make some fall decorations! I got these lighted grapevine pumpkins and this adorable chalkboard style sign online. Then I made this wreath, which is one of my favorite things to do.

I love crafting of all sorts, but making wreaths is really relaxing and fun for me and one of my favorite ways to get creative. My hubby had suggested that I make a fall style wreath last year, but between building/refinishing furniture for our new place, painting and doing other upgrades at the new house, then moving, getting the house put together, decorating the nursery and preparing for the new baby – not to mention doing all of this while 7 to 8 months pregnant, I just never got around to it. Finally I found some time to make one this year! I had seen a few Pinterest posts of wreaths with ‘hello’ on them and I really liked those so I decided to try that out. I created the cutout from a piece of chipboard I had and just painted it with white paint and a foam brush leaving some spots bare to make it more rustic looking. The bow was made of a piece of burlap I had left over from a previous project and the leaves/pinecones/pumpkin and other floral pieces were all on sale at Joann Fabrics for 40% off! Joann’s didn’t have any of the style of wreath I was looking for in stock so this one came from Walmart. Look closely and you can see there is an antler in there as well. This is a real deer antler shed that my husband found in the woods several years ago and I have used in several different décor projects over the years. I thought it went perfectly with this wreath! I plan to put these decorations up next month once it starts to cool off more and everyone is really getting in the fall spirit. Can’t wait for bonfires, pumpkins, sweaters, and colorful leaves!

Growing too Fast

Growing too Fast

Hard to believe, but my sweet baby is 8 months old now! It does NOT seem like it’s been that long since she was born. Apparently she’s just going to do everything all at once, because she’s been trying for over a month to crawl and was super close for so long and she finally got the hang of it, she also got her first tooth this week, and now she’s pulling up too! Everything is just happening so fast and my little girl is getting so big! She will be walking & talking before we know it. Elsa is such a happy and sweet girl. I love every moment I get to spend with her, and my heart is so full. I wish so badly that I could make time slow down some! If anyone has the secret for making that happen please share!

Good Deeds

Good Deeds

Every once in a while I like to do something random as an act of kindness. It could be something anonymous, like paying for the person behind me in the drive thru, or something small and seemingly insignificant, like giving a stranger who looks like they’re having a rough day a compliment. It could be something larger like paying for someone’s groceries at the supermarket, or donating clothes, toys, food or money during the holidays. No matter what it may be, I always feel amazing afterwards. Even the small things can make a huge difference in someone’s life, and are sure to put a smile on their face and on mine too. Something I had never done before was donate school supplies. A few weeks ago I heard on the radio about a local school supply drive and it got my wheels turning. Last week I decided to stop in the bookstore at the university I work for and noticed that they had some really nice backpacks, school supplies, and other things on sale for up to half off! My intention was to get one backpack and a few supplies to go with it. I was having so much fun picking this stuff out that I ended up with 4 packs and a number of supplies and other fun things to go in them! I know for this type of thing, people like to buy for the little kids mostly. I think the older kids that are middle school and high school age are probably forgotten or left out a lot of the time, so that’s who I bought for. I just know some older kids are going to be very happy and excited when they open their new backpacks. You don’t have to spend a lot or go way out of your way to do something nice for others. Just look around and you will find the opportunity to spread some love and kindness. That’s what life is all about, and we could all use a little dose of it now and then.

IMG_9366IMG_9367IMG_9369FullSizeRender

Minivan Fate

Minivan Fate

Back to the minivan (finally, right?) I had a 4 door car that I’d had since college and it drove just fine and got me where I needed to go. I planned on keeping it until it gave out on me, but when my Mom passed away, my Dad was looking to sell the van that she had driven for several years. It wasn’t in perfect shape but there wasn’t anything majorly wrong with it either, I had just never even considered or wanted a van so I never thought about buying it. One day my Dad brought up the idea that I could use it, so I started thinking about it. Like I said, I never thought I would be driving a van at 27 but in the end I realized it would be much easier to get a car seat in and out of a van, it would provide us more space and it would be safer for the baby, so I agreed to buy it from him. I sold my car to my future sister-in-law who was in the market for a new car as her old truck was starting to give out on her, and my Dad cut us a heck of a deal on the van. It was also nice to keep the van that my Mom loved driving, and that we had taken many family vacations in. The van holds a lot of memories with my Mom for me, and I know every time Elsa and I get in it to go somewhere that she is riding right along with us and watching over us. It may not be the most glamorous vehicle but I feel like that van is a part of our family, and it was fate for me to have it. Why is there such a stigma associated with minivans anyway? There are lots of people who would love to have a van or any vehicle for that matter. Besides, being a Mama isn’t meant to be glamorous! Shout out to all the minivan mamas (and all the other mamas) out there. You ladies rock!

Now that the story of becoming a Minivan Mama has been told, I plan to use this blog to talk about everyday stuff. I just want to connect with other Mamas and other people in general who are interested in the things that I’m interested in! From now on you may see more posts about parenting, or it could be something totally random like interior design/decorating, food, God, crafting, current events, fashion, and just life in general. Stay tuned! 🙂

Out of the Darkness

Out of the Darkness

Elsa is almost 8 months old now and getting bigger and stronger every day. It’s hard to imagine going through everything again but it was so worth it for the precious, sweet baby girl we have the privilege of loving and having in our lives. She’s such a good baby and we are so lucky that she is healthy and happy, because many parents have to go through so much more than we did. Even with a healthy and happy child it’s not easy, it’s very, very hard, but it’s a lot of fun and it is worth every minute. So many aspects of your life change after bringing a baby into the picture. I really struggled with (and still do struggle with) leaving her to go back to work. It’s so hard for me to spend so much time away from her, but I know that I’m doing the best I can for her future and for our family. I also know that we are incredibly blessed to have family who is willing to take care of her for us, which is something many people are not blessed with.

When Elsa was around 4 months old I struggled for a while with some postpartum problems. The excitement of having a new baby began to wear off, my maternity leave was over (and so was the majority of my time spent with Elsa every day), and on top of that the loss of my Mom really began to set in – all at the same time. Everyone deals with major life changing events differently, and in the midst of losing my Mom I found happiness in focusing on my new baby girl, kind of pushing off the grieving process for a bit. Postpartum depression and anxiety are very real, and you don’t have to go through what I went through to experience it. You can have a totally normal pregnancy, delivery and a healthy and happy baby, not have to go through the loss of a loved one, and you can still have PPD/PPA.  Thankfully, for me it didn’t last long and it was something I was able to come out of through lots of prayer and by talking with my husband, sister, Dad, and friends about it. Mamas, if this is something you’ve been through or are going through, just know that you’re not alone, and that there are lots of people who are there for you. Just remember that once you finally come out of the darkness, the light will be so incredibly bright. You just have to keep moving towards that light, and know that you will finally get there eventually. During one of my toughest days, this scripture popped up on my daily devotion app and it really helped me to get through the day.

FullSizeRender

Nothing Ever Goes as Planned

Nothing Ever Goes as Planned

I will never forget the moment I heard my daughter cry for the first time. I literally held my breath after I delivered her until I heard that beautiful sound. It was such a feeling of relief to hear that cry, and to hold her for the first time after the complications that had come on suddenly at the end of my pregnancy. I didn’t realize when I first held her just how tiny she was until they weighed her for the first time and told me she was five pounds and two ounces. It turned out she had inter-uterine growth restriction. By the time we took her home she weighed four and a half pounds. About half an hour after she was born, Elsa stopped breathing and turned blue. I was exhausted and half asleep when my husband pointed out that she had changed colors. At the same moment, two nurses came in to check on us, and when he pointed out her coloration to them they rushed her off to the NICU. That was the scariest moment of my life, but I think my Mom sent those nurses in at just the right time. Elsa’s guardian angel was already watching over her.

Thankfully, Elsa was okay and was just so little that she was having a hard time keeping her body temperature regulated. They were worried she may have had a respiratory infection so they kept her in the nursery for several days to give her antibiotics and make sure everything was alright. If I learned anything from my pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the first few days of Elsa’s life, it is that nothing ever goes as planned. You can have as many plans and expectations and hopes and wishes as you want but something still is not going to go as you thought it would. I never thought I would have had to spend a week in the hospital after having Elsa, but that’s exactly what we did. I never thought that I would have to go to the NICU in order to see my baby or to feed her every couple of hours. I never imagined having to hold her while she was attached to a million wires that were monitoring her vitals or that she would have an IV stuck in her head because it was the best vein they could find. But that’s how it was for the first week of her life.

15400996_10154837591611834_1750469491761755806_n

 

Timing is Everything

Timing is Everything

Two weeks after I lost my Mom, I became a Mom myself. Elsa came into the world exactly 2 weeks to the day, hour and minute after my Mom left the world. For some reason, I just knew it was going to happen that way. About a week before my induction, my husband’s family and some of my family took turns writing down the date and time that we guessed she was going to be born. Since I was being induced we all knew the approximate time frame in which it could happen, so we were all within a few days of each other because the induction process can sometimes take 2 to 3 days or longer.  We each put in a dollar and whoever got closest to the day and time without going past it would keep the money. I still have the paper we all wrote on, and my guess was spot on, within 2 minutes of when she was born. When I wrote down my guess, I kept the reasoning behind it to myself until I told my sister and my mother-in-law who were in the delivery room with me when we realized I was going to win the bet. I can’t explain how I knew that would happen other than the fact that my original due date was on my Mom’s birthday, and when I learned that I was going to be induced 3 weeks early I just had a feeling that Elsa’s birthday would still somehow signify my Mother’s life. I took this strange coincidence as a sign that she was there with us in spirit, and I felt her presence so strongly in that hospital room. I know she was with me during my labor and delivery.

img_9283.jpg