Wednesday, June 29, 2016

8 months

How Far Along: 8 months
Weight Gained:  21 lbs 
Nausea: None
How Am I Feeling: Tired
Maternity Clothes: Dresses and skirts are still my jam.
Sleep: Sleeping well, with lots of pillows. 
Cravings: Fruit, ice cream, strawberry preserves. 
Food Aversions:Leftovers are sickening to me.
Movement: Hiccups, kicks, punches, rolling & flipping.
Belly Button In or Out: Out! 
Gender: Girl
Names: We have it down to a few! Kensi is still set on Lucy.
What I'm Looking Forward To: I can’t wait to hold this sweet little girl
What's Different With This Pregnancy: I’m starting to swell in my legs. I blame the ridiculous heat and humidity.
What I'm Missing: Regular clothes. I’m at the point where I’m limited on my wardrobe, but I don’t want to buy any more maternity related pieces.
How Are We Preparing: We still need to purchase a few items this week and pack our hospital bag. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

weekend getaway to Maryland

We spent the weekend driving up to Maryland and visiting friends, one of our to do’s on our summer bucket list. We spent most the trip at their new home and letting the kids play, but we were able to hit a couple of our favorite spots from when Mike and I lived there for a few years. One of our must-go-to spots is Beef ’n Buns n’ Paradise in Frederick. It’s one of the quirkiest little places we’ve stumbled upon since being married and it’s one of our favorites. We always make a trip because we just can’t go to Maryland without grabbing some of their grub and homemade malts. We’ve never had a bad meal and some of our favorites are their Maryland crap soup, brisket sandwich and the grouper. When we lived up there the owner always knew we would order a homemade malt and she is one of the sweetest people we’ve come across int he area. At a certain point she didn’t even have to ask us, she knew we would always ask for extra malted milk. 
Our friends also took us to a few model homes in the area. This is also another favorite thing we like to do. We love walking through for design inspiration. I was particularly fond of this entryway. I love light, white and bright, but I was totally digging these dark navy walls, pop of white trim and the gray floors. Unfortunately, this combination would not work in our current house because our light comes in  from the wrong side. 
This house we walked through was huge and Mike and I loved all the board and batten detail throughout each room and much of it was done with 1x4 inch boards. There was so much character and we took dozens of pictures to use for more character building in our home.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

insanity creates sanity

We've been a little distracted around here with projects and more importantly me being ridiculously tired and not being able function like a normal human being since being pregnant and chasing after my circus animals. We had no idea how well we could juggle, but apparently we're not too bad.
 I feel like our house is in complete disarray each day with toys, dirty dishes and don't even get me started on the laundry situation. 
We have so many projects that are have done which we're trying to finish just so we can cross them off the list. The list just keeps growing as I get bored and start a new project each week. It's stupid. I don't even like living in chaos, but yet here I am creating it! 

We finally finished painting Kensi's room, but now we want to add crown. We finished the outdoor table, secretary desk and board & batten, but I'm ready for another project. While Mike is being Mr. Awesome and reconfiguring the kids' closets, Im getting ready to start the process of painting our kitchen cabinets. Yes, I am insane. I'm fully aware. I'm insane and driving Mike insane. It's just how it works in our house. Who else makes big events even bigger by using them as a deadline for projects? It seems to be a habit for us. 
Before we do create more chaos in our house we're crossing an item or two off our summer bucket list and heading to Maryland for a little weekend trip. Some cooler weather and good times with great friends is exactly what we need. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

summer bucket list + summer favorites

Happy Summer!!! We are so excited summer is officially here (although it’s felt like summer for a little while now) and we’re sharing a few items from our list of summer to do’s for this year. This time was more fun than before since Kensi is older and can give some great suggestions for our bucket list. I know this summer is going to fly by and I want to spend as much time soaking up the fun with my crazy little kiddos before Baby Girl gets here in late summer. 

1. Movies in the park
2. Visit the aquarium 
3. Make homemade popsicles & ice cream
4. Make an outdoor game
5. Pack a picnic and spend the day at the beach while making sandcastles
6. Take a trip to visit friends
7. See fireworks at the beach
8. Blueberry picking
9. Visit a new city
10. Make a summer pie

We took the kids to their first movie in the theatre over the weekend, which was one of our items on the summer bucket list. I was all sorts of happy to see their two little faces light up when the theatre was dark and the movie began. They stuffed their mouths with popcorn and were thrilled to get special treats just for the occasion. It was so adorable to see both of them needed to share one seat because it kept flipping up on them. I loved everything about the whole experience. I look forward to more movie dates with our two little loves.
Plus on another note, there are a few summer must haves to make this a great summer for our little fam. Fun, everyday items are always better when they’re festive and fitting for the season like beach towels. Kensi has had so much fun finding the best items to use the next few months.

My summer bucket list is more of a nesting-diy-house project list before this sweet new baby arrives. I’m sure we won’t get much of it done and it will continue into the fall, but it’s okay because it’s still something to look forward to.

1. Paint baby’s room
2. Finish nursery
3. Paint kitchen cabinets & add hardware
4. Replant shrubs in front of house
5. Add built-ins next to the fireplace
6. Buy an ottoman for the living room
7. Reorganize the playroom
8. Prep freezer meals
9. Paint the remaining main floor
10. Organize the garage

So much to do in so little time, we have less than two months until we meet our sweet baby girl!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

a wild birthday

Kensi asked for a wild animal themed birthday this year and I was expecting her to want a mermaid theme instead, but her party couldn't have been more fun to plan! We went with a jungle theme and used shades of pink and green mixed with patterns of black and white. Lately, Kensi has taken a huge interest in animals. She loves the movie Zootopia and asked for an animal encyclopedia for her birthday. I love watching her grow and seeing what sparks her interest year after year.

We had the party at home and with it being the middle of June means summer heat. I like planning something for our little guests to do and with our wild theme each girl made their own wild animal pendant necklace with colored wooden beads. My inspiration came from a combination of Coral & Cloud’s gorgeous necklaces and J.Crew's neon animal necklaces. I love the simplicity and vibrant pop of colors. The girls had fun building their own and it worked out to be a great momento for them to take home from the party.

We served brunch items for the girls which were a huge hit.  I made cinnamon rolls in cupcake style which were the first to be gobbled up. The girls nibbled on bagel sandwiches with turkey & cucumber, fruit skewers and mini muffins. They also sipped on juice and I loved watching all the girls with their adorable pineapple cups. 

Instead of cupcakes like I mentioned above, I made cinnamon rolls and baked them up in cupcake liners. This worked great with our theme and was a nice twist on the traditional cupcake. I cut the recipe in half, but still had two pie pans of rolls. We set them up for the adults and we have some left over for breakfast tomorrow or maybe they'll just be a midnight snack! 
I attempted to make Kensi's birthday cake, but instead of making it from scratch like I usually do, I figured I would give myself a break and use a cake mix and pre-made frosting...this turned into an epic fail and Mike ran to Whole Foods in the morning to purchase a cake to save my butt.
To keep the decor simple and on point with our wild animal theme we gave plastic animal figurines a coating of white paint. Kensi loves lions and pink, so for her cake topper that’s exactly what we did. We spray painted a plastic lion a soft pink to contrast her bright pink candles. She was in love with how everything turned out!

//Source List//
Extra Large Balloons | Undercover Hostess Paper Goods
Balloons | PartyHaus
B&W Paper Backdrop | Hobby Lobby
Tall Cake Candles| Sweet Lulu
Polka Dot Straws | Sweet Lulu
B&W Striped Bags | Sweet Lulu
Pineapple Cups | Oriental Trading
Cupcake Liners | Sweet Lulu
Palm Tree Cupcake Toppers | Sweet Lulu

Saturday, June 18, 2016

outdoor table revamp

Our third diy for the week is here. We were doing some last minute fixes tonight. We built our original outdoor dining table last year. We stained the legs a cedar color and painted the top white. I was going for a copy-cat look from a table I saw in Pottery Barn, but after a couple months we found the top constantly showing tons of dirt and it stained the white paint. The table looked terrible. On top of that we rushed trying to get it done in time to have brunch outside for Kensi’s birthday and put it together on our unleveled patio in the dark. It was bad, really bad. So it was time to fix our silly mistakes.

We took the table top apart since that was the wonky part and planned on just fixing what needed fixing. But that's really never the case, right? 
We ended buying new lumber, took it to our local wood mill and had it planed. We changed our design and kept it very simple. We modified Remodel-Aholic's plans by not adding the drink coolers or the pop out tops. Instead we just used 2x8 boards across the entire table and shortened the middle two in order to keep the aprons on the ends.
We went to work staining the entire table a dark, rich stain. It looks so much better and even though we know there's dirt, it doesn't show as much and it doesn't stain the table top. A quick wipe down before we use it and we're good to go! We also kept our galvanized chairs we bought in sets from Target; they are intended for indoor use so we sprayed them with an all weather spray to use them outdoors. They’ve held up great and I love the mix of wood and metal because it completes our Modern Farmhouse look we wanted without breaking the bank.

Source List
 Table Plans  | Remodel-Aholic
Stain | Olympic Elite in Wenge Color
Carlisle Metal Dining Chairs | Target 

Friday, June 17, 2016

seven months

How Far Along: 7 months
Weight Gained:  17 lbs {I lost a pound!}
Nausea: None
How Am I Feeling: I’m starting to feel big!
Maternity Clothes: Dresses and skirts are my favorites.
Sleep: Still sleeping well, with lots of pillows. I've had a couple bad headaches this past week so I drank a coffee with my Tylenol and found baby girl and I up, ready to party from 2:30 am to almost 5 more than once. I really hope she's not sleep training me. 
Cravings: Berries, berries, berries. I swear half our grocery cart was full of fruit this last trip. 
Food Aversions: I’m kinda feeling a little overkill of red meat.
Movement: Hiccups and kicks.
Belly Button In or Out: Out! 
Gender: Girl
Names: We have a few we like, but nothing concrete. Kensi on the other hand has several names picked out. This week's favorite is Lucy. 
What I'm Looking Forward To: Movement is becoming a little difficult, I love being pregnant, but I’m also looking forward to getting back into my workouts.
What's Different With This Pregnancy: Not much difference.
What I'm Missing: I’ve been missing my workouts just from being tired and allowing myself to get away with it. I’m adding in more barre exercise which I love! If you haven’t tried it yet, get to it! I started barre when I was pregnant with Finn and I danced for several years so the workouts were very enjoyable of me. 
How Are We Preparing: I’m trying to finish designing the nursery so we can put it together.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

black + gold

A full week of DIY projects are flooding the blog this week. I’m not sure if this is our form of nesting, but we’re trying to get as many home projects done as possible. The month of June is always a busy month as well with several birthdays and our anniversary all within days of each other. It’s a good thing we tend to celebrate all month long.
I am so excited to finally share how this secretary desk came out. In early December we spent an afternoon hitting our local consignment shops to see if we could find a new piece for the house. Mike loves old secretary desks, but I really don't care for a roll up top. It's too decorative for my taste, but while we were in one shop, Mike found this simple secretary desk which has a pull down hinge top. 

When we brought it home we found the perfect spot in our entryway hall to use as a drop zone for our keys, sunglasses and mail, but more importantly it was time to design. 
After trying a couple different stains we had on hand, I decided to go with a rich, black stain and brass hardware. Once everything was sanded down we decided to take out the bottom two drawers because they weren't in the best shape and this made us finish the inside and trim everything out where the drawers use to be in order for it to look finished. We took off the decorative trim on the bottom due to the wood being old and splitting, and added feet to raise it up so the desk didn't look clunky and heavy. Having movement through the bottom allows flow and makes it seem more light and airy to the eye. 
Together, we chose the gorgeous Prismatic Gem Knob from Anthropology for the pull down top. We had a difficult time finding the rest of the hardware. We ordered and returned two different times because the size was slightly off and drill holes were wrong. I really thought brass hardware was going to be the end of me because the third time we ordered the dang color didn’t match. We said screw it because there was no way I was searching for yet another knob to match our drawer pulls. All in all it worked out just fine!
The desk inside has a great organizer that we spray painted black, but it still needed some sort of pattern or color to really pop. We added gold paint splatter blog daubs on pink peel and stick wallpaper designed by Jenlats from Spoonflower; it's unexpected and fun which helps liven up the whole desk. Once everything was done, this sweet piece went from drab to fab and we are loving it to pieces! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

board + batten diy reveal

The past two weeks we’ve been a little MIA as we’ve been working on house projects. We spent the last several weekends pulling paint chips and buying paint samples to really overhaul the paint in the house. Our Sherwin Williams Functional Gray is too dark so we wanted to lighten everything up with a lighter shade of gray. Picking a color can be the biggest headache. Back in October I began painting our entryway hall a lighter shade to help lighten up our original color, I never finished it and ended up living with half painted walls for the last seven months. It paid off because after looking at it day in and day out I began to see more green tones during certain times and although it was lighter than our original color, it still didn't bring in enough light. So I went back to the drawing board, hit up Pinterest for the best grays and read endless blogposts about what has worked and what hasn't. I decided to try Benjamin Moore's Classic Gray. When I first put it up on the walls it looked nearly white and it scared me. After painting a few different spots and seeing it in different lighting throughout the day, it began to pop even more and we decided to run with it.

This photo was taken when we first moved into the house. Natural light is limited and the dark paint made the hallway gloomy. 

We started by painting the top two-thirds of the entryway hall, all the while adding a little character with board and batten. We've been discussing adding this for over a year now and I can't even say what made us finally make a decision to move forward with it, but I'm glad we did because not only did it add more light in this dark hallway, it changed the entire design. We don't have a full tutorial we followed, but we can share what we did and the steps we took along the way to make it our own. 
Although I love the contrast of the dark rich tones of paint against our white trim, everything seemed really dark because our house faces south and the majority of our windows face north, leaving us feeling like we lived in a dungeon.

Supplies & Tools Needed
Table saw, miter saw, nail gun, wood filler, hand sander, caulk, sponge & choice of paint. 
1X4 pine boards (base board, top rail and vertical rails)
1X3 pine boards (vertical rails in corners)
1X2 pine boards (top ledge)

We started by measuring how high we wanted our top rail. We based our decision on the light switch since we wanted it to blend in with the trim rather than above and stick out against the gray paint. Mike began cutting our 1x4 inch boards and used a nail gun to secure them to the wall at each stud. When a board would meet another board he cut each board at a 45 degree angle in order to fit them together smoothly. He also cut each corner down to a 45 degree angle to remove the sharp corner point and to give the board and batten a more finished and professional design. Then he did similar cuts for installing the 1x2 inch board on top of our 1x4 board, again securing it with a nail gun. Once all the top rails were in place we filled each nail hole, knot and blemish, allowed it to dry and sanded it down.
Next, we removed all the baseboards and installed our new 1x4 boards on the bottom and decided where we wanted to place each vertical board. This is entirely a personal choice. We went for a more simple and chunky design and spaced our 1x4 vertical boards on every other stud (32 inches apart). When we came to smaller sections of the wall and corners we changed it up and put in 1x3 inch boards in order for our design to look consistent to the eye. After all our boards were attached and in place, filled and sanded, we began caulking each seam to hide any and all imperfections. This also helped fill in small spaces between a board and a wall that weren't quite flush against each other. Caulking can be a little tricky and takes a few times to get the right angle. We did purchase a smoothing tool, but it just made the whole process more difficult and we ended up just using my finger to smooth the caulk in each seam and wiped the excess away with a wet sponge. 
**When buying your caulk, be sure to purchase the one that is colored white and can be painted**
Once everything was dried and set we began painting our primer. It took a good two coats of primer with sanding in-between and cleaning up all the dust before painting. This was a mess especially with two kids running around wanting to ‘help’. Kensi and Finn ended up watching a lot of movies while Mike and I worked on this project. 
We painted the entire board and batten with Benjamin Moore Super White in a semi-gloss finish. This took three coats of paint with plenty of dry time in-between. We do recommend applying the semi-gloss paint with a spray gun, but if you’re like us with kids and don’t want to bother taping and lining everything you’re not painting with plastic drop cloths you can use a brush and roller. The combination of the semi-gloss and the brush will show your imperfections. We’re not professionals by any means and we took our time painting each coat being very careful with runs and drips. There are a few imperfections that show, but we just call it added character (wink-wink).

Here’s the final product! We love the brightness the Classic Gray brings to our home and it definitely has removed the dark gloomy vibe we've been dealing with for over two years and makes this halfway feel larger. There’s so much more character in this space and we are so happy with the results. Plus a little bonus info for our readers...our family and friends know we are major budget-ers and love doing projects ourselves even if it requires some hard labor. This whole hallway cost us $200 with materials and paint. Not bad for completely changing the design of our home.

Before I finish this post let me just end with talking about Benjamin Moore's paint. This was our first experience using this particular brand as we've always gone with different brands found at the home improvement stores. We are so impressed with the high quality of BM's paint compared to everything we've used previously. It's smooth and we can feel the quality difference just by touch. Mike and I highly recommend trying Benjamin Moore for your next painting adventure. 
Now it's time to work on painting the rest of rooms on our main level which will probably take place wall by wall and finding some fun decor to add to our newly designed space.

Friday, June 3, 2016

playing it cool: watermelon lemonade slushies

We're almost ready to share our summer bucket list with our readers and one of the items that's become high priority this year is homemade ice cream. With so many fun frozen treats to make I'll be sharing our favorites throughout the summer here on the blog so be sure to swing back by to get all the recipes and follow us on Instagram @rachbraden for more updates about our festive summer adventures.
Kensi and Finn love helping out in the kitchen especially when it comes to sweet treats. I asked Kensi to choose two flavors of ice cream to make this summer and she came up with chocolate-chocolate and sprinkles. These two little monsters love their ice cream, it doesn't matter if it's in a cone or in a bowl, smashed between cookies or layers of cake, my babes don't care they eat it all ways. 
To make our ice cream I use the Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker.  I've had it for several years now and love the machine so much. It's easy to use and makes the perfect portion of ice cream. I also have an extra bowl to make more than one flavor at a time, but this sweet treat making machine isn’t just for ice cream. Another fun favorite to make are slushies! They’re pretty simple to make in the Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker and you can pretty much make them using any one of your favorite drinks {except diet sodas} and let it run just until it becomes icey. Some favorites include lemonade, fruit juice and iced tea. Mike and I are huge Arnold Palmer fans so we love mixing the tangy lemonade with unsweetened tea. We could sip on this any time of the year and the slushie version is all the more perfect on our hot summer days. 
We’re kicking off our summer by making Watermelon Lemonade Slushies. The sweetness of the watermelon perfectly balances the tart lemonade and we kept going back for more. I used pre-made lemonade from Chick-Fil-A because it's one of my favorites and I didn't have to fuss with making it from scratch. They sell it by the gallon along with their tea if you wanted to make an easy Arnold Palmer version. 

Watermelon Lemonade Slushies
3 parts Pureed Watermelon
1 part Lemonade
(adjust quantities based on your preference of tartness)

Mix ingredients in a pitcher and pour into prepared (frozen) ice cream bowl. Place bowl in machine and top with lid. Turn machine on and let it mix for about 15 minutes or until it reaches your desired slushy consistency. Serve it in your favorite summer glass and garnish with sliced lemon and watermelon wedge. 

Kensi and Finn really enjoyed their slushies and loved eating the watermelon. Kids eating watermelon is probably one of the best combinations of all times, it has summer written all over it! I hope you try this delicious summer treat and enjoy it as much as my little crew does! Kensi said it was one of the best ‘sloshes’ she’s had! Happy Summer and remember to follow us to see what we have in store this summer season. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

memorial weekend

Happy June! Our Memorial weekend was busy and filled to the rim with activities along with so much rain from the tropical depression. We started our weekend off with Kensi’s last dance class and her first dance recital. All the sweet girls in her class put on an incredible performance for it being their first time on the big stage in the bright lights. The girls remembered most of their steps and kept beautiful smiles on their faces. As soon as they came off the stage from their finale I swear a switch was flipped and the tired-crankiness came bouldering through. Kensi in particular was so exhausted especially after coming off our vacation earlier in the week and she wanted nothing to do with pictures. She was so ready for a nap, but luckily we were able to snap a few good ones to capture her big day.
It rained all weekend and it’s still raining today. On Sunday we let Kensi and Finn play in the rain for the afternoon. Finn found the mulch and dirt and we just let him have at it. They filled their buckets and cups up with water and splashed in their baby pool. It wasn’t the ideal weather to kick off summer, but we made due with what we had and they still found a way to have fun. 
To finish our busy weekend, Finn decided to take a beautiful red colored crayon and draw a mural across our new white sofa. (Yes we bought white, yes everyone thought/thinks we’re crazy, yes we still went for it and yes we love it). He drew on the outside of one arm, around and across the entire back and around to the other arm. When Mike first noticed it I thought he was kidding. After lots of tears, Mike trying to calm everyone down and me spending an hour and a half with my Norwex cloth, toothbrush and mixture of warm water and a few drops of White Ivory Soap it all came out! I told the hubby we needed to buy stock in Ivory and Norwex. I’m so thankful for these products as they’ve made mammin so much easier with all the messes and accidents that tend to happen with kids. I’m also thankful Pottery Barn makes an awesome products that’s durable with kiddos, even when it’s white and it meets a red crayon. 
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