It's A Date | DIY Painted Bowls

Aug 29, 2014

Last Friday I talked about how I've done a bad job at making time for myself since becoming a mom and how important it is to make time to have your cup refilled. Then I challenged myself to make a date with myself each week to do something creative or enjoyable. This could be a Pinterest project I've had pinned for months, an event I've been wanting to attend, or even a book I've been wanting to read.

Last week I came across these fun DIY Painted Bowls from Design Mom on and knew I'd have fun with making my own! Because I already have nice bowls, I decided to decorate some small ceramic bowls for Noah's snacks. You're probably thinking, "You give your kid his snack in ceramic bowls?". First, we try to avoid plastic, but secondly, we've been doing this for awhile and it works for us. Noah knows which little bowls are his, asks for a snack and brings us his bowl to be filled. Once he's got his snack he takes it to his play table where he munches and plays off and on.

First things first...nap time.
How can he be comfortable?!

Once this was accomplished, I knew I had about two hours to myself. I grabbed my supplies: two small square bowls and my porcelain/glass paint pens (Hobby Lobby for $3.99 each with a 40% off coupon!). I propped my feet up on the couch, put on some music, and held the bowl steady on my lap over a towel while I drew. I'm no artist and I'll admit I had to look up some sea creatures on Pinterest for ideas. You can see I really went all out with my whales here. ;)

After I let them dry for the recommended 8 hours, I baked them in the oven at 375 for 40 minutes to cure them. This makes them dishwasher-safe - a huge plus around here. Although this wasn't complicated at all and took me about thirty minutes, it still is probably the first creative thing I've done in a very long time. I spent the rest of nap time eating lunch without someone trying to crawl into my lap and then managed to doze off for about ten minutes before I head "mama" from upstairs. I'd say overall, it was nice couple hours.

The bowls seemed to be a hit with Noah, but I have a feeling it was what was inside that was most important. He's a snack-lover for sure!

I thought quite a bit about what I wanted to do this week. We've got a busy week coming up, but I think times like these are when I need to take "me time" the most- to recharge before, during, and after the going and coming and going again. I decided on similar to these awesome chalkboard trays!

We have quite a bit of scrap wood leftover from our remodeling and I'm excited to sort through it and come up with something good! Check back next week for my results! 

Also on the blog this past week..

> A fun review of Younique's 3D Fiber Lashes! 

> I showed Noah's finished room (empty) and shared a Mountain mood board I made as inspiration for decorating.

> I shared a few things I'm grateful for out of my ordinary day. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Natural Living | Younique 3D Fiber Lashes Review

Aug 27, 2014

Part of living a natural lifestyle has involved ridding our home of as many harmful and toxic chemicals as we can. So many of the chemicals that have been approved for everyday use in our country actually contain cancer-causing and endocrine-disrupting properties. This has been a work in progress for us, but I'd say we're closer now than we ever have been to having an all-natural home. This means things like dye and scent-free laundry detergent, a mix of water, vinegar, and essential oils for an all-purpose cleaner, and warming essential oils or chemical-free waxes instead of candles to keep our house smelling good.

Our toxic body products were some of the first to go. We replaced our deodorant with an all-natural brand (and are working on making our own!), replaced our body washes with Castile soap, replaced our lotions with healthy oils, and quit using standard facial cleaners. Changing your lifestyle can be hard, takes time, and the vast amount of chemicals you uncover in things around your house can leave you feeling defeated. I like to keep an 80/20 rule- if 80% of your products are natural, you're doing a great job! 

One of the hardest areas for me to find all natural products that actually work well? Makeup. I don't wear makeup everyday, but when I do I like to know that what is on my face for hours is as least toxic as possible. Because of this, I was so excited when my friend Kristin introduced me to Younique. All of their products are organic and paraben, fragrance, dye, gluten, and preservative free. On top of that, I love that they are so transparent with their ingredients. Any product you view on their site not only includes a full ingredients list, but Younique takes it one step further and explains the purpose for each and every ingredient, leaving you with the ability to make an informed decision about what goes onto your skin. 

Kristin then introduced me to Younique's 3D Fiber Lashes. I've always had thin, short lashes so when I saw everyone else's 3D Fiber Lashes before and after pictures, I was even more excited to try it for myself. The mascara comes in a really cute black case and includes two wands- one is transplanting gel and the other is black fibers (I've read that most other fiber lashes are white, which means you have to make sure they are fully covered or they will be obvious. Younique's fibers are black, meaning they blend in better with your eyelashes and aren't obvious if they don't all get covered).

The instructions are super easy: start with any mascara, apply it, and let it dry fully. Once they're dry, apply a coat of transplanting gel, immediately followed by a coat of the fibers, and finish with a final coat of transplanting gel. (I found this tutorial really helpful!) With each coat you'll notice your lashes getting longer and thicker. Before taking these pictures, I always thought that my regular black mascara did a pretty good job of accentuating my eyelashes. After comparing my own before and afters, I noticed they weren't nearly as pronounced as I thought, especially when I had eyeliner on. The 3D Fiber Lashes made it look like I actually had mascara on and my lashes were longer and able to be seen above the already dark eyeliner I had on. I should note I tried to put this on the way I would any makeup day, so I didn't apply the 3D fibers to my bottom lashes in the after pictures for a more causal look. 
I also tried Younique's eye pigment in Curious and love it! I'm wearing it in the pictures above and love the neutral shimmer. I've also noticed that it lasts all day where other eye shadows I have usually wear off after a few hours. So far I have been really impressed with the things I've tried. Next on my list to try? Some different pigment colors and Lucrative Lip Gloss!

Wanting to switch to more natural beauty products? Interested in trying something out for yourself? Visit Kristin's website to check out the many different products they have to offer. You can also 'like' her Facebook page to see some more amazing befores and afters of the 3D  fiber lashes, be updated on giveaways, ask questions about products, and place an order.

Have you heard of Younique? Have you ever tried Fiber lashes before?

Noah's Big Boy Room | Progress and A Mountain Mood Board

Aug 26, 2014

Last week I showed Noah's room BEFORE and just how much of an eye-sore we were dealing with. As with every remodel at some point in the process, our progress kind of came to a halt after some issues with the closet doors (and frankly, needing to take a break!). Since it's not the full reveal, I'll call this part one and share an empty reveal of Noah's room as well as the mood board I created as inspiration for decorating it!

We had hoped to have him sleeping in his new room by the weekend, but we decided to have some family fun instead. It's been a long process as this has been the first step in our remodel, meaning we've been working on the details and budgeting that will set the precedent for other rooms as well. Here's a little peek at the mostly finished room (excuse the dusty floor!)....
Some of my favorite features in this room are the craftsman style trim, the new window, the beautiful floors, the wide white (instead of thin dirty cream) baseboards, and the dark hardware. I'm so excited to get the rest of our house looking as good as this room! For now the progress list is as follows: finish hallway and the guest room before baby arrives! That's about it for now and we have T-minus 9.5 weeks!

When I designed Noah's nursery at our old house I chose mint green walls and brightly colored features. This time I wanted the room to feel a bit more boy as well as provide an easy transition to a more mature look as he gets older. Michael is an avid backpacker and loves all things outdoors. We have dreams of hiking as a family one day and I thought it would be fun to incorporate that into Noah's new room. I've also been really inspired by Joanna Gaines' style- industrial and rustic, but still warm and just a little bit country. I'm obsessed with her and her husband's show Fixer Upper. I gained quite a bit of inspiration from their show, her Pinterest boards, and some of the features she has in their home. The mood board below was born out of months of browsing Pinterest late at night and I can't wait to slowly get some of these fun, unique items.

Noah's Big Boy Room

Some of the things on this mood board we already have - I bought an awesome metal 'N' today at Hobby Lobby, my old full size wrought iron bed is at my parents' waiting to be brought down and set up, M's dad is planning on making the rustic basketball goal, and the Ikea dresser we already own and was in Noah's nursery.I'm hoping to make the mountain pillows myself, find some neutral striped bedding at Ikea, and save up for those awesome national parks posters. 

Once the room is put together, I'll give a fully detailed items list. We're excited to get Noah into his room and feeling settled in a new space before the baby comes. It will be a crazy transition time for all of us so the longer he has to get used to a new room to sleep in, the better!

the good in my ordinary

Aug 25, 2014

Today, I'm choosing to start off my week with a grateful perspective.  I tend to lose sight of the good in my circumstances, especially when they're disguised as ordinary, every day life. So today, I'm grateful for...

....relaxed evenings at home spent cooling off and getting messy.

.....finding new areas of town to enjoy. We hit up Wired Coffee Bar, newly opened less than ten minutes from our house, for breakfast before taking Noah to the Creative Discovery Museum in downtown Chattanooga.

....for a husband who is an amazing dad, the kind that loves seeing his son experience new things and is a great teacher to someone so small.

....and for messes, because they mean that we're blessed with little feet running around.

I'm linking up today with Emily at Ember Grey for Grateful Heart Monday. Head there to gain some good perspective for your Monday morning or join in and link up your own grateful list. Happy Monday, Friends.

Why I'm Making Me Time & A Personal Challenge

Aug 22, 2014

I think most people will agree with me that everyone needs "me time". We need time to invest in ourselves, to put our creativity to use, to get our hands dirty doing something we love, and to do something with our own enjoyment in mind. As a mom, I especially need a tiny bit of each day or week that I can devote to myself. Every part of my day is focused on my family and all of the many tasks and worries that includes. While I wouldn't have it any other way and feel grateful that I'm able, the last few months of deep personal struggle have made me realize just how important taking care of myself is, too. 

 I remember after Noah was born feeling like I didn't need the "me time". I wanted to hold my baby boy all day, cherished our many nursing sessions, and never wanted to leave him. As he grew older and I struggled with depression at different levels, I still never put much value on needing to have some time to myself. It's only now as I look back at the first year of Noah's life, and at the last few months of transition for our family, that I realize that some of my struggles have had to do with feeling burnt out. 

My cup has been empty at the end of every day and I haven't been taking the time to fill it back up. My emotional and physical energy is spent. I haven't been making time for prayer or the Word. I've been relying on my own strength and am failing. I haven't been blogging anymore. I haven't been stretching and growing. Most days I look like I just rolled out of bed at three in the afternoon. We have zero structure for our day. I'm never alone as every minute has been spent at home with Noah. When you're a stay-at-home-mom, that's many, many hours of pouring yourself into your child! 

I've been struggling with feeling depressed, alone, weak, unmotivated. I'm so thankful for people in my life who I can be vulnerable with, including family, close friends, and my husband. They've been encouraging me to take time for myself.  I also spoke to my midwife about how I was feeling and she encouraged the same thing- take time for myself, get out of the house alone, get some exercise, meet other moms. I have a degree in Psychology. I knew all of this, but sometimes when you're in a rut you don't have the motivation to act. I also struggled with guilt for needing time away from my child.

Last week something hit me. I think it was a combination of just a tiny bit of heart change I had been asking God for and getting a taste of what I was missing. My mom was here and she and I went to town while Noah and Michael stayed home. It was so refreshing! I not only was able to spend time with one of my best friends, but I had two hours where I was only needing to take care of myself. I had conversations during which I was able to hash out some of my dreams and be encouraged. I had space to realize how important space is!

So what's changed for me this week? I've made time for prayer and spiritual growth. I've made time to blog in the evenings. I've decided not to feel guilty for devoting time to that while Noah plays with Michael or entertains himself for awhile. I've utilized nap time to rest myself, whether that means sleeping or pampering myself. I've put away guilt for needing to rest my tired, pregnant body when need be. I've had more emotional energy to put towards planning our days and slowly adding some structured activity, something I didn't have motivation for previously. 

Yesterday I ran across a post on Design Mom's facebook page and thought, "That would be fun to do!". I then had the idea for this post! In the spirit of making time for myself and investing in my own creativity, I've decided that every Friday I will choose a creative project for the week and challenge myself to complete it, document it, and blog about it for the following Friday! The project could be something just for me or it could be something I've been wanting to make for Noah, Michael, our home, or as a gift for someone else. It could also be something I've been wanting to do or an event I've been wanting to attend.

My challenge to complete by next Friday? This fun set of DIY Painted Bowls!
photo [via]

Aren't these a great idea? I can't tell you how many pins I've got on my "handmade" board on Pinterest. I'd love to take this time to complete some of those! I love that the cost is under $10 and it's a pretty simple project for my first completed post next week! 

This obviously isn't the cure all and I still have much to do in the way of growth, healing, and change. But taking time to have your cup filled again is a vital part of being able to pour it out again.

Check back next Friday to see how I made time for the bowls, how I decided to design them, and some fun pictures of the completed project! 

Do you make time for yourself every week? How do you enjoy spending your "me time" the most? 

Bebe Two | 30 Weeks

Aug 21, 2014

How can it be almost September already? This pregnancy has flown by in so many ways. I thought it would be fun to do a Q&A style post today so I stay on topic and so all the typical pregnancy bases are covered!

How far along are you?
As of today I'm 30 weeks! My fundal height has consistently been a week and a half ahead and my midwife and I agreed I was probably just carrying baby boy differently than I did Noah. I don't think I look huge, but some days I feel more like 36 weeks instead of 30!

Have you been feeling baby move?
All the time! Noah was a squirmer and his brother is giving him a run for his money! He also has the hiccups worse than Noah ever did. Sometimes when I get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and lay back down my whole belly jolts with each hiccup.

Any aches or pains?
I have low back problems and they've been magnified as I've gained weight and not been as diligent about good posture (I'm such a sloucher!). I found a great chiropractor here in Chattanooga and I can tell a big difference in pain since seeing her. She is certified in Webster technique and gives the most thorough adjustments I've ever had, including some that will help my pelvis be aligned for a good delivery. If I'm on my feet very long they start to hurt, but they don't swell. If I am on the go all day and don't remember to take a break every so often, my legs and feet will hurt so bad I can't sleep. I try to put my feet up for about half an hour every few hours and it seems to help relieve some of that pain. The best is when I can convince Michael to give me a foot rub right before bed!

Food Cravings? 
It's always sweets. I've been craving anything with carbonation and BoBerry biscuits with extra icing from Bojangles. I try to only indulge once a week. I know, I know- it's embarrassing for this real foods enthusiast, but sometimes I give in even though I know how terribly awful it is for me. 80/20 rule, right?

Any drastic body changes?
Besides carrying a basketball in the front of my body? I'm finally starting to notice the linea nigra appear, my skin feels nice and soft most of the time, and my hair is thick and less greasy than normal. Oh and did I mention an extra 22 pounds hanging around?

What are you having? Do you have a name picked out yet?
It's a boy! We have two names picked out and one of us likes one and one likes the other, of course! We haven't felt the need to decide right away so I think we'll hash it out among ourselves first before sharing.

All about baby.
Right now baby boy is almost 16 inches long, weighs 3 pounds, and is about the size of a large cabbage. Noah was 8 pounds and 4 ounces so I'm curious how big baby will be and when he will come! He likes to butt up right against my ribs on whichever side he's turned towards and sometimes I have to push on him so he'll move.

How is mama feeling? 
I've felt good this week. I've made effort to reach out to people in the area, went to my first MOPS meeting yesterday, have made sure Noah and I are doing something productive during the day, and we've made progress in our remodel. I'm still exhausted at the end of every day and it's hard to wake up in the morning, but I've felt more motivated recently than I have in awhile. I met with our birth photographer this week and am so excited about having this birth documented. I have a long, long list of things to do, make, and prepare for this birth and only 10 weeks or less to get it all done! I'm hoping my Type A personality will motivate me to start checking things off of my list!

What is your favorite moment of this week?
As was well-known in the "moms of toddlers" crowd, Daniel Tiger (of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood on PBS) met his baby sister this week! The hour-long episode premiered on Monday morning and talked all about Daniel and his family preparing for baby's arrival. At one point Daniel kissed his mom's belly. I said to Noah, "Aw, he gave his baby sister a kiss!" and Noah turned around, lifted up my shirt, rubbed my belly, and planted a sweet little kiss on his baby brother. It was so sweet!

The Remodel | Noah's Big Boy Room Before

Aug 19, 2014

As soon as we walked into our house here in Chattanooga for the first time we knew we had a fixer-upper on our hands. In fact, it's what drew us to the house (that and the great deal!). When I say fixer-upper, I guess I mean remodel because the bones of this house are fine. The house was built 25 years ago and I'm not exaggerating when I say that almost everything is original to the late 80's. Yep, seashell shaped sinks, blue carpet (that we think was an entirely different color before two families, pets, and 25 years of wear and tear), popcorn ceiling, and those beautiful gold/brass fixtures everywhere

The previous owners ripped up the carpet downstairs and put laminate hardwood. It's not the shade or style of floors I would have chosen, but I'm just glad we don't have blue carpet down there, too. The owners also did some painting. In fact, they painted every. single. room - brown. It's more of a dark khaki, really. And it's just....depressing. The only room that wasn't brown was the room upstairs that we chose to be Noah's room. It was a baby blue with cream trim.
I should also mention the windows. They're so bad they deserve their own paragraph. Every window in this house is leaking between the panes, meaning we can barely see out of them. There are 20 windows exactly and although they vary in levels of visibility, every single one will need to be replaced eventually. They might actually be one of the most annoying things about this house. I love natural light but opening the windows makes the room look worse and makes me want to close the blinds.
Right off the bat we decided that we would not go into debt to fix up this house. We sat down together and budgeted a reasonable amount per month to put towards material. Creating the budget is not only allowing us to meet other financial goals while still being able to afford the remodel, but it's allowed us to pace our progress nicely, giving us just enough material to complete the job before the next paycheck.

We decided we wanted to get Noah settled in as soon as we could with a room of his own. We put him in one of the other rooms temporarily while we proceeded to gut the blue room. When I say gut, I mean we took everything down but the drywall. It was intense.

One of the first things Michael did was scrape the ceiling. We used this tutorial and it worked perfectly. One spray bottle of water, a putty knife, some patching of joints, and a coat of paint later and the ceiling looked wonderful. I was so impressed! After the ceiling was done, we ripped out the carpet, baseboards, and trim around the window, doors, and closet. The custom window we ordered arrived at the perfect time and it looks great. I love the pane pattern and am excited to eventually have all the windows this style. 

After patching some places on the walls, we primed and painted. I kind of have a girl-crush on Joanna Gaines from the show Fixer Upper and I loved one of the colors she used in an entry-way. It's Sherwin Williams Silver Strand and it's the perfect shade of blue/grey. I knew I wanted to go with a rustic mountain theme for Noah's room so I thought this color would go well with some of the features I wanted to add.
Here you can see the new paint, the new window, and the flat ceiling!
Once this was done, we replaced the light in the closet and exchanged all of the cream outlets and switches for white. Then we cut the trim, baseboards, and crown moulding and begun putting it up. I've always loved thick trim and craftsman-style detailing, so we chose thicker baseboards at 4.25 inches, 1x4s for the window trim, and a wide enough crown moulding that would stand out but not take away from the rest of the details.
Once the trim was up and painted it was time to put in the floors before adding the baseboards. We chose Handscraped Bourbon Hickory Engineered Hardwood from Lowe's. After a HUGE ordeal including two separate employees getting the item number wrong on the floor order and wasting a week and a half waiting on floors they actually DID have in stock, we finally were able to pick them up and start the installation. My mom came to visit this past weekend and the three of us worked on making cuts, measuring, and laying the floor. 
Aren't they gorgeous?
I'd say overall we've spent about two months on this room. A lot of the work was done in the evenings after Michael got home from work. Some of the time was spent just getting our bearings for the work being done- the first time scraping popcorn ceilings, making just the right cuts on the mouldings, installing the windows, cutting and measuring wood, etc. We both agree that the rest of the rooms should go a little bit faster now that we have one under our his belt. 

I'd say we're about a week away from moving Noah in. We have nail holes to patch on the baseboards and closet doors to prime, paint, and hang. I hate to leave you hanging here, but hopefully you'll come back for Part One of the reveal later this week! I'll be sharing the final results of all the hard work put into this room as well as a fun mood board I've created for decor inspiration! I'll also talk a little more about the smaller details of the room. Stay tuned! 

How Strangers Made This Mama Smile

Aug 18, 2014

You know, when you struggle with depression, it's hard to see the world as a good place sometimes. I don't want to stick my head in the sand and ignore the reality of the world we live in, but sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the terrible things going on. Pair that with this challenging stage of parenting a toddler, feeling lonely, and all the changes our family has had in the last couple months, and it's been hard to feel hopeful at times.

I've been realizing lately why having people in your life is so important. Cheerleaders, people who support you no matter what, friends who love you enough to listen to all your details no matter how long it takes for you to hash them out. And sometimes, God brings strangers into your life at just the right moment that give you a glimpse of hope that you really need. 

I've always heard the term "it takes a village" when it comes to raising children, and I think I'm starting to understand some of the value in that phrase. I've had two experiences lately that nearly brought me to tears and inspired me to be one of those same kind of strangers- the kind that come along side of you, look you in the eye, and say, "I got you, I understand". 

The first time was during a visit to Virginia. I was shopping with my mom when I realized Noah needed a new diaper (okay, okay, my pregnant self had to pee for the tenth time, too!). Noah and I headed to the bathroom and told my mom we'd meet her in another store. After I changed Noah, we went into the handicapped stall so he had room to stand while I went. Most of the time he's great and patient, but this day he was ripping the toilet paper off the roll, trying to crawl around on the nasty floor, and eventually made his way to the door and crawled under it. I heard  "Can I help you with him?" from outside of the stall. As I didn't have much of a choice at the time, I chuckled and gave a "Sure, thank you so much!" as I tried to hurry. I grabbed my bags and opened the door to a woman in her thirties, surrounded by five of her own children under the age of 12, holding Noah and washing his hands over the sink. She looked at me and said sweetly, "Trust me, I've been there" and she finished drying Noah's hands and handed him to me. I'll admit, I was a little nervous in those few seconds. But what I found was grace and a pure heart in the form of another good mama. 

Last week I had a chiropractor appointment. The office is nice and open, I can see Noah from the table, and they have a great playroom for the kids that is still visible from the main area. I enjoy my time laying on my stomach (the only time I get to do that!) waiting for the chiropractor, but it takes me awhile to get up and respond if Noah needs guidance or has a need. Today he was climbing on the kids' plastic picnic table when he fell off and landed on his back. I heard him cry, but another mom was in the playroom getting her girls and got to him before I could even get up from the table. I looked over and she had him in her arms comforting him and was able to soothe him back into playing comfortably. She didn't have to do that, as she had three of her own there to worry about and a very pregnant belly; but she did. And although she didn't say "I've got you, I've been there", she didn't have to. Again, I felt grateful at even this small gesture of grace and kindness. 

Sometimes you need even those little tiny events to warm your heart and remind you that there are hopeful moments and good people. There are those who make up the village that are a permanent part of your life- family, life-long friends; but then you meet the people who make up the other half of the village. You probably won't ever see them again, but they step in and offer some no-strings-attached love and support in a moment when you need it. I'm determined to offer that same support when I feel the situation calls for it. It may not always be welcomed, but I want to be part of that village for someone else; because I really do get it, and I really have been there.