Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turning Thirty

Today I'm in the kitchen prepping and cooking up a storm for our big feast tomorrow! My parents and little brother are coming to Charlotte to celebrate Thanksgiving with us, and I have about 4 sides I want to get prepared today in between chasing my toddler all over the house. Turns out preparing Thanksgiving with a four week old newborn is a lot easier than doing it with a 13 month old!

Tomorrow we're not only eating turkey and all kinds of other goodies, but we'll also be putting some candles in our pumpkin pie for J's birthday. His birthday only falls on Thanksgiving every couple of years, and this just happens to be one of those years. And then after we celebrate his big day, we are celebrating my 30th (and my golden birthday!) on Saturday. Busy (and fun) week over here!

Up until recently, I thought turning 30 seemed like this big, scary milestone. In the back of my mind, I knew it was just another number, but it just felt like there was no way I was getting so close to this age. But now that's it here, I'm actually kind of excited. I think it's going to be the start of a wonderful new decade, and although my 20's were  extremely good to me, there was a lot of stress and confusion that came along with my 20's. I'm thankful for 30 healthy years, and for the all of the joy and love I've received in that time. It's funny when you're birthday coincides right with Thanksgiving weekend. It makes you do some extra reflecting on all of the good you have in your life. Instead of feeling sad that I've hit this big scary 30th birthday, I can only feel thankful that I've been given 30 great years on this Earth.

I hope you and your loved ones have a great day tomorrow as you celebrate all the good things going on in your lives. There's nothing greater than a holiday where we're surrounded by good food, good people, and quality time reflecting on what brings us joy and happiness....and maybe a parade full of fun balloons, singing and dancing, and Santa Claus! That's pretty great too!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Christmas with

Last year was M's first Christmas, and while it was magical and wonderful, she also slept a great deal of the day because she was just 8 weeks old on Christmas morning. This year is going to be a whole new story! We're prepared for her to knock over our tree a time or two (I don't really see another option with a 13 month old....any tips for a toddler plus a tree?), learn how to say "ho ho ho," get a crying picture with Santa, and indulge in a Christmas cookie or two (or possibly many more!).

We had our Christmas card photos taken a few weeks ago around her birthday, and I just cannot wait to get our cards picked out and in the mail. There's nothing I love more than checking my mailbox for cards through out December. As much seeing my friends and staying in touch with them through social media, nothing beats snail mail at Christmas time!

The creative artists and designers over at Minted have put together some great cards this's going to be tough to choose just one! I love how each of their cards can be customized in so many ways making it easy to find just the perfect card for your family. Here are a few favorites:

Minted has also started a new blog where they share all kinds of clever party, holiday, and gift ideas...Julep. Their blog is full of fun holiday tips, crafts, and party decor printables. And it has much more than just holiday fun, there are also great resources for weddings and brides and general home decor. 

This past week Julep featured a Scratch Off Advent Calendar that you can make at home. How fun is that? Didn't you love "scratch offs" as a kid? After printing the cards from the PDF they provide, all you need is some acrylic paint, dish soap, a paintbrush, and contact paper. How fun would this be for older children?

While M is still a little too young for this now, I am thinking of printing it off and putting it together to send as a small surprise to a friend who has older children so that they can enjoy it this December. And I'll definitely be downloading it and saving it to use with my own family as my child gets older! 

Some other fun Christmas tutorials you can find on the Julep blog...

And if you're looking for a last minute Thanksgiving craft...

The Julep blog is just chock full of great ideas and inspiration for this holiday season. 

What sort of fun holiday crafts and decorations are you looking forward to this year?

** has kindly offered to compensate me for sharing this with you, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dining Room Makeover

This post is way overdue! But that seems to be a theme on my blog lately!

Last January, I saw a blog post of someone's new farmhouse dining room table, and I sort of jokingly told J I wanted him to make me one for our five year anniversary (July) since the traditional five year gift is wood. The wheels got turning in his head, and come early July, he had purchased all of the wood for the table and he got to work. 

Here we are four months later and the dining room makeover is (more of less) finished....

Just for's what our old table and chairs looked like. This is what I posted on Craigslist to sell it, which is why it was so empty and the table was clear (this rarely happens).

And here's the room before with the new table in place, but old chairs and the hutch before it was refinished, and the table covered in...stuff! 

And here it is today...

The old table, chairs, and hutch were a hand me down from a family I used to babysit for that I received when I moved to my first apartment post college. It was a great set of furniture, but not what I wanted for the long term. 

When we started to think about how we wanted to change this room (and on a budget), I started looking into how I could refinish the hutch and chairs myself. In the end, we went with new chairs, mostly because refinishing 8 chairs seemed like a daunting task. I found our chairs for $50 each at Ikea, and with the money we made from the old set on Craigslist, it helped cut the cost in half. 

I did refinish the hutch with Annie Sloan chalk paint, and eventually I hope to get a post up about that! I LOVE how it turned out. And while the AS Chalk Paint was a little pricey, it was still much cheaper than buying a new piece of furniture. 

I still want to add some art work to the walls, and eventually down the road I want to replace the light fixture, but right now I am so so pleased with how it has turned out! It's all ready, just in time for Thanksgiving! 

Placemats and napkins from World Market
Paint color on walls is Shark Loop from Valspar

Monday, November 18, 2013

hodge podge of a picture dump

Please excuse me for the randomness of this post. These last few weeks have gone by in a blur. Between M's birthday, then Halloween, and events for my best friend's wedding (3 more weeks!), I've just fallen behind! We've been having fun, but boy it's been busy. I thought I'd do a bit of a picture dump and play catch up on here today....

1. We'll start with celebrating my fabulous friend Tyler and her upcoming nuptials! In the middle of October I headed to Richmond for a bridal shower for her. It was a rainy, gross day, but a beautiful shower for an even more beautiful bride to be (Tyler's in the black and white).

And then two weeks after her shower, was when I headed back up to the mountains in Virginia for her Bachelorette party (I mentioned that here). I love this picture of her with all of her best friends. We had such a great time!

2. While in Virginia for Tyler's shower, M was spoiled rotten by my parents. They got her this car for her birthday and she is a huge fan. If you follow me on instgram, I know you've probably seen a bunch of pictures of her on this thing, but that's only because she loves it!

Also, while we were in Richmond we got to meet up and walk with my good friend Jeanne who just had a baby girl in the middle of September. So fun meeting her little one. I can't believe we both have baby girls now. 

3. M started her second round of swim lessons, and it's amazing how much more she's capable of now compared to when we did them when she was 6-8 months. And like last time, I'm pretty sure there's nothing cuter than watching your little one swim with her daddy!

4. We celebrated Halloween! And like everyone else, I think my child was the most adorable thing in the world in her costume! It was a fun second Halloween for us. Last year she was just 6 days old, so we didn't do anything but snuggle all day. This year we carved pumpkins and she went to a few homes to trick or treat and had a ball hamming it up for everyone in her costume (pun definitely intended).

5. One of my biggest blessings in my first year of motherhood has been finding a group of other new moms. I met all of these wonderful gals and their babies through a giant Charlotte playgroup on meetup last December, and since then we've sort of evolved and begun our own little group, and I couldn't be more thankful for the camaraderie and support I have found in these mamas. And in addition to all of this, they all have super cute kiddos that M likes to play with! We decided to have a holiday party for our group with our husbands, but with December being the crazy month that it is, we had our get together this past weekend, and it was such a nice night out (and a fun excuse to dress up which doesn't happen often these days!) without the babies. 

6. And FINALLY, I posted a picture of our dinner on instagram last night and I had a lot of requests for the recipe, and since it's sort of a pain to link to recipes there, I thought I'd do it here instead. We had Southwest Chili Con Queso Pasta Bake (a pinterest find) and it was quite delicious! A fun twist on traditional pasta bakes. Here's the recipe (I only did one pound of ground beef and subbed green chiles for jalapeno)!

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cake Smash!

I'm going to warn you in advance...this post is just one big picture dump! I have so many cake pictures from her party, and it was way too hard to share just one or instead, you get them all! Because really, there aren't many things cuter than a baby eating cake for the first time!

Here we are with our personal bakers! 
So thankful for these two friends (and they're love of baking!).

My little ham...

After we took it away....she was messy, but not covered in cake! But you can still see she had a fun time!

And just for fun, and to honor the fact that I'll be 30 in two weeks, I found these pictures from my first birthday with my first cake! Like M, I know a good thing when I find it!