August 23, 2012

Life these days...

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This week has been a really crazy one.  I started back to work (school counselor) yesterday and while I feel ready for this year, I feel like I've been in a haze for the past 2 days.  I feel like I've worked and worked and really don't have a lot to show for it!  Granted, I've been in a loooOOoooot of meetings, and I've had to get my office ready ('s a mess right now) so it's ok that I havent done much else, but still, it's stressful.

This week, on Sunday actually, we decided to send Ashley to public school.  She's been going to her private school since K so it's a big change for all of us, but there were lots of reasons the decision was made, and we think it's best for us.  We'll see how it goes?  Her private school is SO expensive (if you don't know, you don't want to!) and with everything going on right now with our basement and the way we have to go about fixing it and possibly fighting for it, we just can't stomach paying for school when it's free, and we live in a great area so the school she will go to is such a good one.  Ash took the news really well, which makes it all the more bearable, it would be so much harder if she hated us for it, or was devastated, but she is actually excited, so that helps!  We've been busy getting her ready for that and we've all been stressed about it, so tonight she is at a sleepover and I am glad she is out having some fun in her last days of freedom and not being burdened by all the stress around here

Also this week, I got the devastating news that I am diabetic.  BAM.  One health issue after the other.  The doc told me a few weeks ago that the meds I was on for the allergic reaction could possibly "throw me" into a diabetic situation, and lo and behold, here I am:/  I'm trying not to freak out about it.  It's hard.  It's tough to find out that your body isn't working the way it should, and even more hard to find out that it could have been medicine that did it to me.  Dave, and my parents, seem to think my doc is off her rocker and that after a month or so my sugar levels will go back to normal.  I am really praying for that.  Dave (hubs) is type 1 and has been dealing with it for almost 7 years now, so he knows a thing or two about it.  I'm not on insulin yet...we are trying the pills first to see how that works.  I may get to go off them, or I may have to switch to insulin. The medicine that put me on has bad side effects, again, and I'm just over it.  I had taking medicine!  Grrrrr.....

I try to look on the bright side of all things, but we've been hit with a lot this week.  Heck, we've been hit with a lot these past 4 weeks, ever since we got back from Europe.  I guess it's a sign we should go back, lol;)  I'm doing ok with it all, I'm usually good with change, but I can tell my brain and body are simply fried.  I need to relax so I am taking the evening to do that!

I havent done much else to our house or with painting but as soon as I do I'll post!  I am debating on how to hang our pictures and shelves, etc, right now.  I need to add pops of color in here, so a (cheapo) trip to HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, Goodwill is forthcoming;)

What's been going on in your life??  Good things hopefully!!!

I'll leave you with a pleasant photo from 2 weeks ago when I went to the beach with Katie...ahhh peace;)

August 19, 2012

Come stencil with me!

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When I started playing around with idea of painting our entire first floor, minus the kitchen and bathroom, I was not crazy about the idea of giving up our red accent walls.

Be advised, all the pictures I am sharing with you today will show that our house is a mess!  Sorry bout that.  I've been painting since Wednesday and still have a few things to do (doors, stairwell) so I can't put anything away yet! 

I like how the red accent walls broke up all that tannish-brown color.  It worked for me, for a while.

Until I started hating the colors, loathing them.

Well, the red is kind of nice.  But so 5 years ago.

The thought of having the WHOLE house gray, while nice, sort of made me nervous.  Is it too much gray??  Then, when searching around Pinterest, I found this blog, which had the following picture.  From there, I found this blog, which is the original that has the stencil, if you are interested.

oh i love the stencil!!! 

Oh, that is pretty!  That is what I thought.  I had considered a cool stylish wallpaper, but let's face it, with our basement possibly going to cost $14,000 to fix (um, yeah...) we don't have the money to be throwing around on fancy wallpaper right now!  At least, not until school starts again and I get a paycheck.  This stencil, though, is cheap.  As in free.

I thought to myself, "I can do that!!! Plus, it is FREE!"  I already have the paint, so all I had to do is download and print the stencil and follow the directions.  No problem!!  I painted the accent walls gray yesterday, took 2 coats of our Olympic paint and primer in one, instead of 1 coat (like the rest of the walls, seriously love this paint!!)  When that dried, I traced the stencil on the walls and painted it.  It took me over 12 hours to do the tracing and painting, but it was worth it.  We have a beautiful wall now.  Let's let the pictures do the talking.  Again, don't mind the mess, or the two different lighting styles, some of the pics were taken at 2am this morning (darkness) and some were taken like...10 minutes again (morning).  That is how our gray looks in different light!  It's lovely!

My lines are thicker then that Pinterest picture above, I think it's the brush I used?  I had a really nice art brush and I used that because I wanted the lines to be really clean and professional looking...

I see so many flaws in the wall, it's hard to get the stencil perfect, human error comes in to play, but Dave says he doesn't notice any flaws.  He luuuurves it!

I love the way it looks with red!!  Yummy!

I'll probably change out some of the stuff on this shelf too.

Morning light.  This is truer to the real color.  Secret Passage.

Just look at that wall!  It's beautiful!

Our furniture is too matchy right now, but don't worry, I am going to paint and re-fab the chairs.

Here is the living room, don't mind the empty walls I have to re hang pics.

A shot from the front door that we never use.  BTW, that clock is getting a makeover;)

The gray paint is satin and the white is a semi-gloss, so it has just a little bit of shine.  I just used the same white that is on our trim/doors-to-be.

So that is our accent wall!  What do you think?  I'll type more about the process later, but if you are dying to know, just click on the links above to see how they did it.  


August 16, 2012

All in a day

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Yesterday morning, the main floor of our house looked like this...

By 7pm last night, it looked like this...

Ok, focus on the color, not the mess from painting...

I've been playing around with changing our main floor color for months.  It was that tan-ish brown when we moved it, with the 2 red accent walls...I wasn't crazy about the tan color.  It is really outdated.  I LOVE gray.  Love.  So this week, I decided to do something about it.  I didn't really commit to it until I started, and then I was like the energizer bunny.  It was a lot of work.  I (or we, Ash painted with me for a total of an hour, and Dave helped with some of the trim) took everything off the walls, moved furniture, spackled, sanded and cut in, and painted all of the tan walls, and repainted all of the trim at the base of the walls all yesterday.  I started around 7:30 am and painted all the walls with hardly any break, until 4pm.  Then Dave and I started back to it around 5:30 and painted/cleaned up the mess until 7:30.  Then we went to DuClaw because Dave had to remove me from the house to get me to eat (I scarfed down so much food last week when I was on the meds that I am scared to eat now!) and then when we got home we put most of the furniture back and I painted again until 11pm.  Good thing I like painting!

The 2 red accent walls are gonna go too - I have some fun things planned for one of them - can't wait to repaint it and show it to you!  Our gray color is called "Secret Passage" which is so fun because when I was a kid at our lake house (sniff) I used to hide in the secret passage under the stairs.  It's a beautiful color, I think it is honesty the perfect gray.  Really dreamy.  Oh and the red couch, Clifford, he looks great with the gray!  Our yellow kitchen is beautiful with it too.  I can't wait to add stuff to the walls again.  I'm excited about the color palette I've chosen, its for the whole downstairs and it is so fun!  With gray the main color, I'm going to use a combo of red (obviously), and a bright blue.  I love the combo of a cherry red with a bright oceany blue.  Then I'll add some yellow and green accents.  Our kitchen is yellow so that will tie well, and red is an accent color in there, green too, as well as some warm wood tones. 

I still have a lot to do.  There are some dings I need to go over again, I need to re paint our doors, and paint the red walls, and then do the stairwell which will be the some gray on the top and bead board on the bottom.  Then I have to paint/replace some of the furniture, its way too matchy matchy and I want layers of color.  Lots to do.  Only 5 days of summer vacay left.  More pics to come as it comes more together!

Why do I do this to myself?  Oh that's right, because I LOVE working on our house and making it pretty!


August 14, 2012

Charge me up!

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I'm obsessed with Pinterest.  If you know me, you know that.  Heck, you probably are obsessed too!  I pin dozens of things every day.  I'm so annoyed with myself that I never DO anything about it.  So here I am, DOING something!

When we went to Europe, I took my beside Iphone charger with us.  Dave got it for me for Christmas, it was just a little one, but it charged my phone and could keep it on my nightstand, it was perfect for my needs.  It had the ability to amplify my music, but I NEVER used it for that.  Not once!  Anyways, in the  course of traveling from France to Italy, I guess my suitcase got beaten and battered by those stupid airline people, and it was destroyed.  I opened my suitcase and the thing was in pieces, even though I wrapped it in a shirt and put it in the very middle of the case.  Seriously, nothing is safe! 

Since we've been home, I've been phone-charger-less.  I looked on Amazon, and at Target, for a iHome or something besides the little iPhone cord, to charge my phone.  I like one that stands it upright. 

Then, AHA!!  I remembered I PINNED something that was a phone charger!  It is a book, cut up and parading around as a docking station.  This is that pin...genius...

                                         Project 1

So I set off to create one.  Now, the one I made is temporary, because it's a paper back.  I do not have one single hard back book that I am OK with taking an exacto knife to.  So next time I'm at Goodwill or a Thrift store, I'll do it again and update the post!

This is such a great idea!!!  I was going to spend over $50 on a docking station, and this one I made is F-R-E-E!!!  Genius and thrifty!

Here are the materials I used.  Actually, I didn't use the drill, that would be for a hard back, but since I didn't have one...I picked this copy of "Return of the King" because it's one of my favorite books, and it is a duplicate copy.  So I didn't need this one and was going to give it to Goodwill anyways.  This is what I call my practice dock, it was good to get the feel for making one so that when I get a pretty hard book to use, I'll know what I am doing;)

I forgot to take pics of the process, I'll do that next time.  Here it is all done!

 It was a messy process!  Paper every where.  JRRT is probably rolling in his grave, lol.  Here is a shot of the well I cut to house the cord.  See?  This book is really old and messy!  Remember to make sure you put the front of the charger thingy facing the front, or...actually in this case, its the back or the spine, of your new charger.  You the iPhone faces the spine as it charges.  You don't want to see the pages and the hole you gut!

Here it is on my nightstand in all it's charging glory!  How exciting!  It charges it and holds it up and everything.  It's just a wee bit flimsy though, a problem that will be easily fixed with a hard back book.

Isn't it adorbs?  I was so excited, I kept plugging and unplugging Phoebe (my iPhone) just for fun!

 I'm so proud of myself for actually doing something about a pin too.  Yipee! 

Enjoy!  Maybe I'll be back this week with a new pic;)

August 13, 2012

The truth comes out...

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Our whole trip to Europe was just amazing.  One place stands out in my mind though, as the best part of our trip. Italy and the time we spent there, the places we went, memories we made, can only be described as....magical?  Incredible?  Life-changing?  Ok scratch that, I can't even describe it!  As a former "Paris is the city for me" type person, to say that Italy is way better than Paris is big.  Really big.  The two really can't be compared, they are so obviously different, but I gauge places on how they make me feel, and then I guess I rate their awesomeness from that point!

Don't get me wrong, Paris is glamorous, fun, and makes me feel like a rich girl when I am there, even though I am not!  LOL.  It's always fun to FEEL like that, right?  Even with $20 in my pocket, if I stroll down the Champs Elysee in a cute outfit, I can feel like a millionaire!  I've been to Paris 3 times now, I am a very lucky girl.  I've loved it more and more every time.  Paris is a beautiful life!  Does that even make sense?

Then, we went to Italy.  I was skeptic at first.  Nothing could beat out my love for the French!  Then, we went to Lucca...

It was unreal...other-worldly...


Then we went to the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera...

We couldn't believe our eyes...


A real world exists out of this place?

Then, we went wine tasting in Tuscany...

and thought, we could live like this...

Eat like this, drink like this, live like this...stroll this street...

Making wine...entertaining tourists...

Living in that house...


Italy had me at hello.  Not in those hot, touristy, no no, don't go to those places, go to these places - the unspoiled, not-quite-yet-discovered stars of Italy!  It made me want to live like they live...the Italians we met, they live so simply, and so purely.  There are no Targets (ok ok, sniff, I do love me some Target!) no Taco Bells, no Shoprites or Payless or any of that crap.  Nothing main stream.  They make their own clothes, make their own food, make their own wine, and get water from fountains in the street!  What a life!!  The towns we visited on the Riviera, some of those people have NEVER left that town.  Never.  Self-sufficiency at it's finest!

Ok, I think I'd die if I couldn't travel, I don't want to be that extreme.  I do want to adopt their way of life.  Heck, one day, I want a house in Tuscany and dag-nab-it we are going to get one!  It'll take 20 years to do it, but we'll get one.  It's made us realize how much we'd love a HOUSE.  What a YARD.  and SPACE.  Not a cookie cutter neighborhood or anything like that, we want something out a little further, but not too far of course.  This is all a dream though, we aren't moving for a while, but we have the itch.  It's there, ticking away!

So, I'm trying to slowly adopt some Italian ways.  I started by buying a few cookbooks.  I've already read through one.  I'll post about it tomorrow, but it has completely enchanted me.  Completely.  I've already made half a dozen recipes from it.  LOVE IT!

All this to say that, when asked "Where is your favorite place in the world?" you will get "Italy" as a response instead of "Paris" or "the lake" or any of those old answers.  I left my heart in Italy and one day, I'll have to go back and get it;)  By heart, I mean...everything...I just want to be in Italy forever!

You'll see the effects of it on the blog, I am sure.  Recipes and wine-making (ok ok, I don't know about that) and little Italian quirks here and there...I know I'm Irish and all but I think I am Italian in my soul.  I'm so smitten, it's funny!


August 12, 2012

Up and coming!

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My blog is getting a new look!  I'm working with someone on a CUSTOM design.  Doesn't that make me sound fancy?  For the first time, this old bliggity blog made me some (a very small amount) of money, so I am investing it back into this babe and getting a nice new look.  I can't wait to see what it looks like when it's done!

BTW, isn't it a lovely day out today?  I love the days that I can sit on my deck and drink coffee and hear summery sounds.  It makes my day THAT much better!

I'll be swimming all day with Ash, my parents, and Jonathan & Krystal.  Dave worked last night like a champ so he has to sleep all day - boo!  He has tonight off though, that is good!  Hope you are all enjoying your Sunday!

I know I will...

Has a cookbook ever changed your life?  Just a question?  ;)

August 9, 2012

Couponing revisited

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If there is one thing I know for sure about couponing, is that it takes up so much time.  I love doing it, I promise, but the time it takes me to shop or even organize to shop is agonizing sometimes!  I can't just run out to the store, I have to sit and clip and plan and get a list and have a way to organize the coupons while I am out.  To be honest, since April or so, I've kinda let it go by the wayside, only half hearted-ly doing the whole clip, shop, save thing. I loathe myself every time I check out at a store and don't have a coupon to save with, when I know there are SO many coupons out there to be had and saved with!

So, I am on a journey to re-create my process.  I need to make it easier, less complicated, so that I use coupons.  We need to save money, and there are so many savings to be had when it comes to groceries, household stuff, clothes, school supplies, shopping online...everything!  This will probably be a long process since I am just not sure what works and what doesn't.  It's been a process actually, and here is what I've learned so far:

1.  Information is overwhelming!  There are a lot of coupon websites out there.  I need to weed down the sites that I look at for savings.  Not to limit myself, but to make my process easier.  Here are a few sites that I know I want to stick with because I've tried them and like them and know how they work.  I'd ideally like to have maybe 10 sites that are my go to sites, so I need to research some more!

My Coupon Website Arsenal:

Krazy Coupon Lady - These ladies are always posting their trips and freebies and brag trips and it's inspiring as well as informative. 

Couponing to Disney - Since I am a huge Disney fan, I love the Disney twist on this.  She saves and puts her actual savings into a fund for their trip!  She posts all the normal coupon stuff, but also lots of Disney and kid-friendly savings as well.

Deal Seeking Mom - this is a super site, you can find every printable coupon from her database.  I love this one a lot around the holidays, TONS of postings on gifts!  This site has a lot to look through, it's very comprehensive.

Frugal Girls - Another one I love around the holidays, always posting great deals everyday though!

Coupon Chief - this is one of those cool sites where promo codes are posted.  This is for online shopping and savings, which is something I do a lot.  How many times do you shop on Old Navy or Amazon or Best Buy online and think, "I wonder if there is a random promo code for this store?"  I do it all the time.  I used to just search "promo code for..." in Google but after finding Coupon Chief, I decided I liked it better than the others (codes can be finicky or old on some of those other sites)  It's my go to promo code place.  Just search for the store you are looking for in their database, or browse their options, there are TONS!  It's awesome when I can save an unexpected 10% or get free shipping on an online order, this site is great for that kind of savings.  This is going to be great around Christmas too!

Living Rich with Coupons - I like this one a lot because her store list is extensive.  I usually shop at ShopRite and Wegmans and she always has the weekly deals up for both.  

2.  I need a system that works!  I've tried the binder, you can see all about that here, but that didn't seem to work for me after all.  Live and learn.  I know some swear by it, but I found that I was clipping so many coupons, sorting them, only to throw them all away after 6 weeks.  One thing I know for sure is that I can't clip everything anymore.  There are only certain things we buy, and just because I have a coupon doesn't mean I'll buy it.  Sometimes it might, but most of the time I won't.  I need to decide on what to clip and what to toss or give away, and stick with it.  I like to be frugal and stockpile, but I don't want to be wasteful either.

3.  Keeping things online makes things less messy.  With the invention of great sites like Cellfire, the aforementioned Coupon Chief, Shoprite coupons, and Safeway's new Just for U coupons, the process CAN be less paper-take-over-your-house mess.   I love how I can save without clipping a thing.  Cellfire and Safeway coupons you can just load right onto your loyalty card and when you buy the item, the savings comes off automatically at the register.  Genius!

So, my goal is to try a few new organizing, clipping, storing, using strategies over the next few weeks and I'll let you know what works for me.  It is definitely one of those whatever-works-best-for-you situations.  Maybe you love the binder?  Maybe you do everything online?  Maybe you don't care?  LOL.   Couponing is something I do not want to give up, I love saving money way too much, but I have to make it WORK for me.  I'll let you know how that goes;)