Playroom Bookshelves

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When we were looking for a house last year, I had a few things on my “Must-Have” list: a family friendly neighborhood, at least 4 bedrooms, an open kitchen and A PLAYROOM. I lived the first 18  months of Chickadee’s life with our living room also serving as our play space and if I was fortunate enough to be given the choice, I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted a space for the kids to just be, as well as a place that at the end of the day I could close the door or walk away and not be surrounded by Fisher Price & Melissa & Doug (although they are my best friends during waking hours!). So when we found our home I fell in love with the formal living room playroom. It is right off the kitchen which is awesome…has tons of natural light which makes me happy…and it’s great space for the kids to play!

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I hope to share the whole room with you soon. We painted, added curtains (using a KING sheet), designated an art space, and created a reading nook.

Over a year ago I found these awesome plate racks at Goodwill for $9 each. Similar shelves sell for 10x that price at places like Pottery Barn, so I was flying high after bringing these home. I never intended to use them as plate racks though, bookshelves were always the life I had planned for them. However, life set in, Sprout was born, and I never got around to painting them…until the other weekend.

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They got three coats of straight up white paint and some picture hooks attached to the back. We then hung them in a corner by the window and filled the shelves with some of our favorite books.

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Chickadee LOVED waking up from her nap to find her new shelves in her reading corner; it was like all of her books were opened for the first time again. In my opinion a child can never have too many books! Here are a few of our favorites.

The Giving Tree | The Very Hungry Caterpillar | Goodnight Moon | The Velveteen Rabbit

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name | The Polar Express | Press Here

 The Kissing Hand | Guess How Much I Love You |  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

You Art My Heart | I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love | ALL Curious George

8 Stay at Home Date Night Ideas

*Disclosure: The post is sponsored by XFINITY, but opinions as always are all my own! I am thankful to work with companies that provide my family with a little extra spending money and for readers like you who come and see what I have to say. 
 
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Yall, Valentine’s Day is ONLY 3 days away. It sneaks up on me every year! We have an annual Valentine’s tradition of going to Felini’s, a local pizza place here in Atlanta. It started before we were even married…we had a reservation at a fancy restaurant a few days after Valentines, but no plans for the actual day. We went to a restaurant around the corner from my apartment, but it was packed and without a reservation we weren’t getting in. So instead we went across the street to Felini’s and we’ve spent every Valentine’s Day there since. However, this year we have moved a little further out from the city so we probably won’t make the trek. And with two kiddos 2 and under I’m actually not sure we’ll even leave the house…instead I have a feeling we’ll put the little ones to bed and have a fun date night at home.

What about you? Do you have big plans or will you be kicking it low key with me? If you choose the later, here are a few ideas to help make the evening LOTS of fun and full of LOVE!

1. Play a Board Game – our favorite is Scrabble. III actually gave me the coolest Scrabble board ever for our anniversary one year. It spins! So pull out your favorite board game or a deck of cards and have a little friendly competition.

2. Cook a nice dinner together – If you have kids, feed them early. Then after they are asleep fire up the grill or start chopping some fresh veggies. Put a tablecloth on the table, like some candles, and maybe even pull out the china. Enjoy each other’s company.

3. Bake dessert – Choose something sweet and delicious, tie on the aprons and start baking.

4. Project Night – some might not see this as fun, but we both LOVE accomplishing things around the house. Plus we usually have great conversation when we are working!

5. The Great Outdoors – get the fire pit going, pour a glass of wine or if you are me, a coke! and enjoy a nice conversation under the stars.

6. Campout – Get a fire going, use coat hangers for the marshmallows and make some smores in the living room. I’m not sure it gets anymore fun than that!

7. The Dating Game – Do you remember when you first started dating and you could talk for hours, answer tons of questions to learn about each other and never repeated a story they already had heard? Try to take yourselves back to that time. You might think you’ll know all the answers to each others’ questions, but maybe those answers have probably changed.  1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married is a great question source. Your answers might just be surprising.

8. Movie/TV Night & Popcorn – This one is probably the most obvious, but you might be missing out if you think too simple here. For this date night don’t you want to be able to choose from the most options on TV? Let me introduce you and your date night to XFINITY On-Demand and their massive library of more than 150,000 choices. Think of all the date nights you could have working your way through that many movie and television series options.

Google Fiber is starting to make their way to our area and I must admit I am VERY intrigued. I’ve been doing a little research and recently found that their “on-demand” library only houses about 17,000 titles. That is  close to 130,000 less than XFINITY. I will definitely keep that in mind as I make a provider decision.

XFINITY also has an app in case you want to spend this movie night snuggled up under the covers. (and if you are ever away from home you can also download lots of titles and watch them as you travel)

My suggestions for your Movie/TV Night from the XFINITY On-Demand Library are

White_collar

III and I are OBSESSED with this show right now. Neal was/is a conman who was finally caught by FBI agent, Peter Burke. Now they work together solving white collar crimes. It’s amazing. This one is a TV series, so make sure you are willing to commit to a little binge watching before you start!

Valentine's Day

This one is a little cheesy, but PERFECT for date night. Valentine’s Day follows the intertwining storylines of a diverse group of folks as they navigate their way through romance and heartbreak over the course of one Valentine’s Day.

avengers

Your husband will thank you for this one! And I must admit I enjoyed it too :) As the US government creates a force known as Ultron, The Avengers are told they are no longer needed. But when Ultron turns against humanity, The Avengers must assemble again for their most dangerous challenge yet.

How awesome that you can watch all of these (an MORE) with XFINITY On-Demand.

So if you can’t get out this Valentine’s Day or your next date night, don’t despair! Choose one of these 8 great options, or come up with one of your own (I’d love to hear about I). Date nights are so important to reconnect and focus on one another. ENJOY!

XFINITY partnered with bloggers such as me for this program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any product mentioned in these posts. XFINITY believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. XFINITY’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

Financial Tips to Help You Stay at Home

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We always knew when kids became a part of our story that we wanted to make it possible for me to stay at home. A year or so before I became pregnant with Chickadee we decided we would go ahead and try living on only one income to see if our dreams could become reality. What a HUGE challenge this way. We were going to start thinking about money differently. But we were determined with with a little budget tightening and cost cutting we figured out how to make it work. Fast forward about a year and a half later and I was finishing out my last school year as a teacher and looking forward to an arriving bundle of joy that fall! Let the crunch time begin! 

My first step was brainstorming in the areas we could save money (even if it was just a little bit). Small savings in lots of places can really add up!

Look for where you can pay less Call all the folks you pay bills to. See if you can get a lower gas rate, a better deal on cable (or cut it all together), a cheaper cell phone plan (Costco has a counter where they will compare them all), or a deal for bundling your insurance. You can always save money in these areas. The retention folks are your best bet for how low these costs can really be!  

Grocery Shopping Now you can definitely cut coupons, but I currently don’t have time for all the work involved. I do try to do the digital ones for the stores where I grocery shop. I also try and make our meal plan from what is one sale at the grocery store. I make a list and stick to it. I often buy the store brand. At my store the Buy One Get One deals….you can just by one and get 50% off. Also there are lots of options out there to buy in bulk. Take advantage of Costco, Sams, Amazon Subscribe & Save, etc. for items like paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags, detergent, etc.

Create a Budget I married an accountant, so we’ve been using a budget since day one. We have a certain amount set aside for each category (food, clothes, utilities, entertainment, gifts, tithe, etc.) so we can see where our money is going. It helps us decide where we can continue to cut, but also lets us see our progress in saving in different areas. Seeing the fruits of your budgeting is very rewarding. 

Buy Consignment We buy  A LOT of things on consignment to help save money and ease the financial stress spending causes. I am a part of a Facebook group in my area where folks are all the time selling kids clothes and toys. They also sometimes sell furniture, art, books, etc. There are so many good deals out there….also check out yard sales and second hand stores! And remember, when you outgrow or no longer have a need for items you can sell them and make money as well.

Live Below Your Means Saving for a rainy day (or a sunny one!) is important. A surprisingly large amount of Americans are living pay check to pay check. Try and save with each pay check, $25 a month is an easy place to start. Then grow from there. I remember when we were looking at new cars a few years ago. I really wanted a Lexus SUV….my husband brought me down to reality “Ummm, we aren’t Lexus people.” Truth. Just because you have it doesn’t mean you should always spend it. And in the same breath, if you don’t have it…don’t spend it. DON’T get caught in credit card debt. We use credit cards and reap the point benefits. However, we pay it off every single month. Living below your means is essential to savings and alleviating financial stress. 

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I wanted to stay home and raise our kids. For me these are the moments in life that really matter. Can you identify with our story? So what would be your first step? SunTrust is also here to help. So take a step, then another – each action will increase your confidence and move you toward financial well-being. 

Here are the facts:

Over 70% of Americans are financially stressed
12% of Americans skip going to the doctor because of financial concerns
80% of people admitted that their personal finances keep them awake at night
21% of couples who rate their financial stress as at least “somewhat high” are arguing more
32% of adults say their finances keep them from living a healthy lifestyle

 Yall, this is not okay! 

During the Super Bowl (on SUNDAY!) SunTrust will share for the first time their #onUp movement. They want to encourage Americans to take control of their finances and life a life well spent. Will you take the pledge? SunTrust is hoping to get 5 million Americans on board! Want to join the movement? Sign up here.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.  

The onUp movement was created to guide millions of people one step at a time towards a more financially confident life without ever losing sight of the moments that matter along the way.

Join the growing number of people transforming their stress into positive motivation to move onUp.

Join the movement

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

New Kitchen | Before & After

Yall the days and weeks are flying by! I feel like I blinked and Sprout is 8 months old…which means we’ve been in the new house for 8 months and 13 days. (I still need to write his crazy birth story!) Our new house is the layout we wanted, in the neighborhood we loved, with the space we craved. However, it was not the style or color palette we dreamed of….but that is every blogger’s dream, right? Where to start…well, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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That my friends is a REALLY WHITE kitchen and a cute almost 17 month old Chickadee. Are you jealous of the floral tile inlay on the backsplash? And those oven knobs are screaming to tiny toddler hands to turn them on.

If you have ever remodeled a room you know it can be kind of stressful, add in being 33+ weeks pregnant, and maybe that is what sent me into labor. While making the decisions can be a little overwhelming, seeing it all come together was pure elation! Here is what our kitchen looked like this morning (when it was actually clean).

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We took it one step at a time. First, the appliances which were delivered and installed on move in day. 

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All of the appliances are Whirlpool, and we couldn’t be happier with them! I did a lot of research before we brought these beauties home. They had all the features we were looking for and were within our budget! I’ll share all the details at the end of the post. We also swapped out the knobs within the first week or two, to match the appliances.

Then the granite & new sink which came the same day Sprout came home from the hospital. The new sink is a single basin. Yall, this is life changing. You can place an entire casserole dish down there and go to work. Genius…if you are ever in the market for a new sink…a single basin is DEFINITELY the way to go!

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I had a specific idea for the granite I wanted. I do that a lot, imagine something in my head, and then try and see if it exsists. It took A LOT of looking and searching through many granite samples and yards, but I found it! And for me, it was perfection. I was hoping to find a light background, but didn’t want a white/gray/black kitchen. This granite is called Snowstorm and it is the perfect mix of white, gray, black, tan and brown. LOVE!

And finally, the the backsplash which we updated about 5 or 6 months after moving in…once life settled down a little! I pulled a glassy gray/brown color out of the granite and set out in search of a matching subway tile. I found the match online and after verifying with a sample, we ordered the tile and got to work!

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The kitchen is truly the heart of our home and we couldn’t have picked a better spot to start transforming. There are still a few items to check off our to do list for the kitchen. We want to put in new flooring, change out the lighting situation, and where the tile meets the granite still needs to be grouted. But it makes me smile to see how far we’ve come. Can I show you again?

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 So do you want to come over? I’d love to host you in my new space!

{Source List}

Whirlpool French Door Refridgerator || Home Depot

Whirlpool Gold Series Top Control Dishwasher || Home Depot

Whirlpool Over Range Microwave || Home Depot

Whirlpool Electric Range || Home Depot

Snowstorm Granite || MC Granite Coutertops, Kennasaw, Georgia

Urban Hues Backsplash – Desert || South Cypress

Cabinet Pulls || Amazon

Paint Color, Ashen Tan ||Behr at Home Depot

Christmas Home Tour

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How much fun it was to decorate a NEW house! I absolutely LOVE decorating for Christmas and honestly am thinking of starting a new trend where the house is decorated from November to February. Who is with me? This year I got to decorate the NEW house (I promise a home tour is coming soon, but for now consider this a sneak peak). And besides more space to decorate, what makes me most happy is our fabulous neutral wall color. The old house had the warm buttery walls that were great through spring and summer but just didn’t go with my fall and Christmas décor…so I was pumped to be decorating with a more neutral back drop! Now onto the tour…I’ll let the picture do most of the talking, and just share a few sources along the way!

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When you walk through the front door, you first see our dining room. I have a tutorial for this $35 DIY farmhouse table coming soon. The table is set with a vintage Coca-Cola crate topped with ornaments in a mercury glass bowl,  poinsettias, a burlap table runner and snowflake place settings.

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On the buffet sits my absolute favorite Christmas collection, the Willow Tree nativity set.

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 On top of the china cabinet is the DIY Christmas plate, along with another nativity from the Philippines, and a small rosemary tree that we plan to plant after the season.

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In the foyer there is also this small vignette using this homemade JOY banner and those cute embroidery hoop ornaments my sister made.

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We have a Christmas Tree in the playroom (which I almost didn’t show you because well, the playroom looks like this).

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The living room is my favorite space because there sits our live Christmas tree filled with all of my favorite ornaments, each with a special meaning.

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We ordered new burlap stockings this year and I added these two wooden polka dot stocking hangers (from Target!). The pallet came with our new kitchen backsplash and I love how it holds the Rudolph wreath my mother in law made. These nutcrackers belonged to III as a child, and Chickadee left her own mark on the BELIEVE letters.

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I made a few pillows from dish towels I found at TJMaxx to adorn our new living room chairs, and they really turned out great (and were super easy!). The throw is Max Studio, also found at TJMaxx.

Last on our tour is a view from outside at night. We invested in this fake Christmas tree on black Friday to sit on the landing upstairs and be viewed from the street as well as a life size Frosty the snow man. I made these tomato cage Christmas trees (only $12 each!) to sit on either side of the front door and hope to get a tutorial up soon.

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Thank you so much for stopping by! I’ll be back tomorrow with a yummy recipe.