Linen Closet Reveal

The guest suite renovation is so close to being finished! We have an installation date for our vanity top and a few other odds and ends to put in place but it should all be wrapped up by the end of next week – I can’t believe the countdown is in single digits!

While the entire project isn’t quite done, I couldn’t resist revealing one aspect that is finished: the transformation of our built-in linen closet!


I never thought I would be so excited about a place to store blankets, but here we are.

Let’s take a quick walk down memory lane and look where this all started.


This was originally meant to be a TV cabinet; however, the house is 20 years old now and this built-in was made with big and boxy TVs in mind. Remember these?

Image result for sony tv from 2000

What a flashback! Truthfully, even if we could have fit a modern TV, I doubt we would have. Since the room is our guest room, I wanted to make the built-in more functional and aesthetically pleasing. A closed linen closet was the perfect solution!

Since there is also a closet door on this wall and not much space for artwork, making the cabinet a focal point by painting it a different color was a no-brainer. After testing out multiple colors, I settled on Sherwin Williams Oyster Bay. I also knew I wanted to incorporate black accents into the guest room since I’m using a lot of matte black fixtures in the adjoining bathroom. I found these bin pulls and offset handles during Rejuvenation’s sale and fell in love.


We had to replace several of the drawer slides and LJ enjoyed throwing toys in the openings before all the drawers were put back in. 😉

I knew we’d be storing extra blankets, pillows, towels, etc in the top cabinet and the large opening wasn’t very practical for storing all that so Justin made a simple shelf to match the one already in there.


Our contractor built two doors to cover up the opening and installed them when they were primed but not painted. (Hi Vi!)


We hit a slight hiccup here. When I first tested out colors for the built-in, I got those little sample sizes you see in the above picture. Unfortunately, what I had bought covered everything except the doors, so I had to go back and get another little jar to finish the doors and it wasn’t the same shade! I went to the same place and asked for the exact same color and product, but the shade was ever so slightly off. It probably wouldn’t have been super noticeable to a casual observer, but I could tell the doors were different than the rest of it and it was going to bother me to no end. I ended up going back to the store and getting the shade a THIRD time, hoping that the third one would match the first and I’d only have to repaint the doors, but the third shade matched the second. I ended up having to repaint the entire front of the built-in and the drawer fronts. Super annoying, but I was happier knowing everything matched perfectly.

Lastly, Justin drilled holes and attached the door handles and the cabinet was finished!


The closet is stocked with extra pillows, blankets, towels, washcloths, and a variety of toiletry items that our guests may need. I keep things like travel-sized shampoo & conditioner, lotion, bar soap, toothpaste, dry shampoo, contact solution, q-tips, extra toothbrushes, extra razors, feminine products, cotton balls, extra toothbrushes . . . anything I can think of that a guest may have forgotten that they can use without having to ask. The drawers are empty and available for guests to use if they want.

I’m so happy with how this piece turned out – I can hardly believe it is the same TV cabinet from just a couple months ago! It’s so gratifying to see a vision come to life and this one turned out just like I had hoped.


Now on to the next project!

Marriage in the Little People Years

On Sunday, I drove to Ohio to celebrate my grandparent’s 62nd wedding anniversary.


62 years!

When I think of all that Justin and I have gone through together in our 6 years of marriage, I can’t even imagine what we’ll feel when we’ve been married 10 times that long!

In 56 years, I hope I’m like my grandparents and celebrating our 62nd anniversary surrounded by our kids, grandkids, and even great-grandkids. We have so much life left to live and I’m excited for all of it. Right now, Justin and I are in the thick of the “Little People Years.” We’re not just Justin and Sarah anymore, we are also Dad and Mom. These Little People Years are such a fleeting time in the grand scheme of our lives, but they can be challenging years. They can seem long and hard. Our kids are so young and need us for so much. And in these years, it can be so so easy to focus on the kids instead of one another. But these little people are here today because Justin and I fell in love first. They are here because we decided to commit to one another and spend our lives together. I cherish my marriage, and I’m thankful for all the growth we have had as a couple in the last 6.5 years, but I want to keep growing, connecting, and strengthening our relationship.


As I previously wrote in this post, our marriage is the foundation for our children’s lives. It’s important that we keep our marriage and one another a priority. That can be hard to do in these Little People Years, but it’s so very important. Today I thought I’d share some of the little ways that we stay connected in these demanding years. They’re just some of the ways that work for us personally – I encourage you to find what works for you, even if it’s not the same things that work for us!


A Year of Us book

There are days when Justin and I just naturally talk and connect in the evenings, and then there are days when we’re both just so exhausted from our individual days and kids that once the kids are asleep we both just basically become zombies on the couch and barely say two words to each other. I bought this book on Amazon because I thought it looked like a fun way to be intentional about still connecting on days where we’re too tired to come up with anything and don’t want to just scroll our phones or mindlessly watch TV the entire evening. The prompts are all over the place, and sometimes we don’t even know how to answer them but they always have led to good conversation. Sometimes we only talk for 5-10 minutes, other times it’s sparked a 30+ minute discussion. Sometimes it’s a lighthearted and silly discussion, other times it’s deep and meaningful. We don’t do one every day, but I do feel like it’s been a great way to be more intentional about connecting in the evenings!

Little words = Big difference

Don’t underestimate the power of a few sincere words. It is so meaningful to me when Justin just writes a quick note saying how much he appreciates and loves me and leaves it somewhere for me to find. Several years ago we purchased some window crayons to decorate a friend’s getaway car at their wedding, and we still have the crayons. Every once in a while I’ll use them to write a little note on Justin’s bathroom mirror as a fun, silly way to tell him I love him. It doesn’t have to be a big, grand gesture – even a sincere text of appreciation for something they did or just to say ‘I love you’ can be a huge boost to the other person. Over time, all these small efforts have made a big difference in developing and strengthening our relationship.

And while we’re on the subject – it’s always nice to say thank you but I think it’s imperative to say it during the Little People Years. You are both stretched thinner and doing more. Little ones are very needy and demanding on your time and energy.  It’s easy for all the focus to go to the little ones and leave very little room to focus on each other. Noticing and appreciating your partner’s efforts is such a nice way to communicate that you see him or her too.

Can’t leave the house? Date in a ‘different’ spot

Life with kids is very routine based. Our evenings especially have a pretty straightforward pattern: Justin comes home from work, we have some family time, eat dinner, have a little playtime, and then he takes LJ for bath/books/song/bedtime and I take Vi for feeding/swaddling/bedtime. We get into a daily rhythm and it works really well for my kids. But what is a wonderful routine for my children can feel like a rut in my adult life. Anytime I’m feeling like we’re in a little bit of a rut, just a small switch-up in routine feels like a big change. In the summer, this might mean eating dinner on the patio (bonus if we can hold off on our own dinner until the kids are asleep and then eat together out there) or taking a glass of wine out on the porch swing after the kids are asleep.  Or instead of hanging out on the couch in our living room, we sometimes have a “basement date” where we watch a movie in our basement. It’s literally the exact same activity – sitting on the couch watching TV – but because we’re in a different place from our usual, it feels like a special little date.

Get creative with babysitters

It can be hard to actually go and have a date sans kids. It not only requires finding an evening that works for you both, but then finding someone to watch the kids and it can get expensive when you add up the cost of dinner/movie tickets/admission to a concert/whatever activity you’re doing plus the cost of a babysitter. My parents are willing to help, but they live out of town so it’s not always possible for them to drive in and watch the kids for us. In this blog post, I talked about some of the ways we have found to lessen the cost of babysitters, whether through swapping watching each others’ kids with another couple (or multiple couples) or sharing a babysitter and splitting the cost.


Personally, I’m pretty excited to see where Justin and I are in 56 more years. But I don’t want to wish this time away in the meantime – I plan to fully enjoy the journey. 🙂

What little things help you feel connected to your partner?

Unashamed Love for my Diaper Clutch

When I think about simple little things that make my life easier, my diaper clutch tops the list. I shared about it in this post from early on in my “2 under 2” days, but I have come to love it so much that I decided it needs its own post. Is that weird? Maybe, but I’m rolling with it!


The first time I ventured out to my weekly bible study with both kids in tow, I went to drop LJ off in childcare and realized I couldn’t leave the diaper bag with him like I normally did because I still needed it for Vi, who was staying with me. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that I’d need something separate for LJ. Having no other options, I clipped his diaper name tag to one single diaper and handed it to his teacher like “oops! Sorry and good luck.” Such a rookie mistake.

I didn’t want to over-complicate things by trying to carry two full diaper bags, but I knew I needed something else for LJ while he’s still this little. I purchased a simple clutch (mine is sold out but this one is very similar) and it’s the perfect size for a small pack of wipes and a few diapers. I can also keep a snack and even his water bottle in it if I need to. (Bonus that it was bought from a store whose mission is to support survivors of sex trafficking!)


I keep it stocked at all times with wipes and 1-2 diapers and store it next to my diaper bag; any time I’m going somewhere where LJ and Vi will be in separate places, I just throw it in with my main diaper bag and then have something to leave with LJ.

Two weeks ago, Justin didn’t realize he had the diaper bag in his car and ended up driving to work with it. I needed to leave the house with both kids and had no diaper bag, so I used this. I just added 2 diapers for Vi and we were good to go. It’s definitely not the ideal bag for everyday use, but it was perfect in a pinch.

Now that LJ is getting a little older, we are starting to also introduce wearing a backpack so he can learn to carry a few of his things. This pouch perfectly fits in the backpack!

And just look at how cute LJ is wearing his backpack! My heart can hardly take this. I feel like I’m practically sending him off to college right now. When did he get so big?!


I love that this little diaper clutch solved a problem and made situations in my daily life much easier without causing a lot of extra work for me. It’s a simple solution that was easy to implement and even if it’s a weird thing to say, I sure do love it!

PS – You may have noticed that it’s Monday. 😉 I’m trying something a little different with the blog and switching to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posts. There are multiple reasons for this switch, and I think this is going to be a better schedule for me right now!

Final Destination: Decluttering Edition

Something about the new year always makes me want to de-clutter. After all the Christmas decorations come down, I’m ready for clean spaces and fresh rooms!

Last year, I did the “Declutter like a Mother” challenge (see my posts here, here, here, and here) and did a huge overhaul of the house. The thing I’ve found is, you’re never really done decluttering. Clutter has a way of continuing to creep into our homes, but I’ve found that staying consistent and going through rooms periodically keeps things at a good, manageable level for me. This year, I’m just doing a sweep of each room and getting rid of items we don’t need, don’t use, or that are just taking up space unnecessarily.

If you’re like me, sometimes it can be hard to get rid of perfectly good items. My #1 tip for decluttering is: know the ‘final destinations’ for your items. In other words, where are you taking them once they leave your home? Sounds simple, but just deciding this helps tremendously! It’s so much easier for me to get rid of something if I know exactly where I’m going to take it. It’s like once I have a purpose for the item beyond the walls of my house, it becomes a much simpler task to accept that it doesn’t belong here anymore and I can move on.

It takes some initial research, but I think it’s really beneficial to find local places to take specific things. Rather than just throw everything in one big bag and drop it off at the Salvation Army or Goodwill (which, I’ll admit, I have done in the past too), these large stores are often overwhelmed with donations this time of year. According to many articles I’ve read, like this one from HuffPost and  this one from ABC News: “In most cases, a small amount of the items, the best quality castoffs — less than 10 percent of donations — are kept by the charitable institutions and sold in their thrift shops to other Americans looking for a bargain.” (source) I used to volunteer in a thrift store in high school and can personally attest that it’s overwhelming to just receive heaps of stuff, particularly when it’s obvious that the person donating just threw whatever they didn’t want in a box. Sometimes it’s quality items, but sometimes it’s just junk. So the first order of business is: recognize when something truly does need to be trashed (like something broken beyond repair). The second item is: figure out where your items will be best used or most needed and then take them there!

For things that still have value, I have five tried and true destinations to take things.  When I do a major de-cluttering sweep, I’ll designate boxes for each destination and add things to the boxes as I go through my rooms. Keeps things simple and organized and when I’m done, I just have to load them in my car and drop them off at the right place!


My five favorite places to take things to are:

1 – ReStores

ReStore (a Habitat for Humanity store) is a great place to take donations to be used for home improvement. They will accept everything from used furniture to home decor items to the kitchen cabinets, countertops, sinks, baseboards, etc that are taken out of houses during a renovation. I just keep a box in my garage so every time we have a home improvement item we don’t want or need anymore, I put it in the box and when it gets full, I drop it off at the local ReStore. I would show you a picture of the box, but I just dropped off our donations (of curtain rods, door handles, and light fixtures from our guest suite renovation) last week.

2- Local thrift stores with a mission

We have one thrift store in my area that is part of a broader ministry of raising funds, creating training opportunities, and providing clothing and goods to help local people overcome homelessness. I take clothing, toys, books, etc. there, (and it’s also a thrift store that I’ll frequently shop and support!) My mom’s church also runs a program where gently used formal wear is collected for teens to come and purchase items for prom. Everything is sold by pay-what-you-can donations (and can be taken for free as well) and the proceeds go to local ministries. I love taking cocktail dresses, heels, and Justin’s suit coats or ties to donate there knowing my items will not only get new life, but it contributes to the greater good. Every area is going to offer different options, but I encourage you to find local organizations with missions you support to donate your quality items to!

3 + 4 – Consignment Stores

Every time I declutter, some items stand out as ones that I could sell and make a decent profit off of. When we lived in a subdivision, it was easy to corral items and sell them during our association garage sales. We don’t live in a subdivision anymore so a garage sale feels like a lot of work for very little profit, which leaves two options: sell the items online or take them to a consignment shop. I typically only sell something online if its value is over $50. It’s just not worth it to post pictures, write a description, field questions, designate a meeting spot with the buyer, and then travel to that spot to exchange the item, only to make $5. I’m trying to simplify here, not make a ton of extra work for a couple bucks.

Consignment stores are the best option for me right now and I have two that I take items to: one for my clothing/purses/shoes/home decor and then another one for kids’ items. I keep a box of my stuff and a box of kids stuff (making sure all the clothes are washed and in good wearable condition) and once I’m done de-cluttering, I drop them off and make a little money. What doesn’t get sold will get donated to my local thrift store.

5 – Recycling

I love donating to textile recycling programs rather than just throwing away old socks, a shirt with holes, or a frayed and worn towel. I use the H&M program because they will accept any textile in any condition and for every bag you donate, they’ll give you a coupon to use in their store. What can’t be re-worn or re-used in its original condition gets broken down into textile fibers, or is used to manufacture products such as damping and insulating materials for the auto industry.  I keep a bag in my laundry room to collect things and once it gets full, I take it in to my local H&M store.

Like I said earlier, it takes a little work on the front end to research local options and decide where to take everything, but once you do that one time, you don’t have to do it again. Now that I know where to take things, it’s super easy to just designate a box, fill it up, and drop it off!

Do you declutter this time of year too? Where do you like to take your items to?

It’s time to pivot.

I’ll be honest. I’m a little nervous about this blog post.

I have considered putting it off for another day, until I’m 100% prepared. But the truth is, I’ve been ready to verbalize this shift for a while now and my phrase for the year is “don’t wait” – so I’m pushing forward now. Apologies in advance for the length (and the possible word vomit) but I have lots of thoughts to share!

When I first started this blog back in 2013, it was a pretty random hodge-podge of my life at the time. I was teaching special education, so I shared a ton of budget-friendly teacher outfits and various education-related activities. I was also a newlywed, so I had a ton of posts related to engagements and weddings. There were also things like DIY projects, sharing our travels, etc. Then I took a couple years off from the blog and by the time I returned, my life looked completely different. I was no longer teaching and was staying at home with my baby and my blog’s focus shifted to life now.

I love writing and creating, and I love using this space as a place to do both. Honestly, I’m not in this to have a ton of followers or monetize my blog or anything like that. I just truly enjoy using this space as a creative outlet and it doesn’t matter to me if 10 people or 10,000 people read my words. I just know it makes me happy to do this, and I’m going to keep doing it.

That being said, I just kind of post whatever I’m feeling like on any given day and it naturally tends to focus motherhood. If you follow my associated Instagram account, you may have noticed that it’s almost exclusively been focused on motherhood lately. Don’t get me wrong, I love that! Motherhood is a huge aspect of my life right now.

But it’s not the only aspect of my life. It’s not my only passion.

When I think about what I want this space to be in 2020 and beyond, I want it to really be a reflection of me. A reflection of my life – all of it! Over the past few months I’ve tried to be more intentional about blogging more aspects of my life and I’ve been loving it. I realize I could just keep things going as they are now, but I know myself and know I need to verbalize this out loud if I really want to push myself to grow in this space.

I feel so passionate about multiple areas of my life. Motherhood. Turning our house into a HOME. Living with less and being content/minimal-ish. And of course, reading!

I want to show our real life, the joys and struggles, to encourage and lift up other mamas who see the “perfect” pictures on social media and feel less than, like they’re falling short of some magical motherhood standard that doesn’t exist. I want to document the process of updating and renovating our house into our home: the ups, the downs, the victories, the “oops!” moments, and of course, the finished products! I want to share ways that I’ve found to simplify my life (without subscribing to strict rules like “only have 10 items in your closet”) so I manage it less and enjoy it more. And I want to keep on sharing what I’m reading simply because I love it.

It’s scary to make this intentional pivot away from just posting (especially on Instagram) about motherhood, because I feel like right now the world of blogging/social media is kind of a “stay in one lane” kind of place. You have mommy blogs. You have home design blogs. You have bookstagrams. You have blogs and social media accounts that you can follow that typically focus hard on one area, with maybe a sprinkling of some other things occasionally.

And I think I could choose a lane and be pretty happy. I could find joy in a platform that solely focuses on motherhood. Or one that solely focuses on reading. Or living with less. Or updating our home. I think it could be good, maybe even great. And honestly, in the world of hashtags and algorithms, it probably would be “smarter” to choose one focus. To stay in one lane. To bow down to the algorithm and try to play the game and gain a following.

But I also think it would feel incomplete. Each one of those areas is important to me, but they’re all only one area. And truthfully, I don’t have one big passion. I have several.

So I’m shifting my perspective a bit. I’m allowing for a pivot. I’m creating a broader definition for what I’m doing here.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. I believe you can live beautifully with kids. I believe you can have a full life without feeling overwhelmed by stuff. I believe your home can have style and a good design but also be functional and manageable for your lifestyle. And I believe you can make time for reading (or whatever you are passionate about!)

Maybe no one is interested in reading this. Maybe everyone who has followed me will decide this specific mixture of content isn’t for them (or almost everyone – I’m hoping at least my family remains loyal readers 😉 )

I don’t have a specific “word” to describe my path forward here, but I have these thoughts about what I’m trying to convey:

Enjoy motherhood without constant overwhelm. 

Have a beautiful home that we can live in.

Live abundantly without constantly managing stuff.

Create space within my life to actually thrive and have time for my passions.


I’m nervous but excited to say all this out loud. I’m feeling good about what I want to do going forward. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride!


A Day in the Life {01.14.20}

This stage of life is unlike anything else I’ve every experienced. Life with two small children is busy and sweet and beautiful and exhausting. I love looking back on these  day in the life posts because our little routines do change over time, so I decided to document a day in our lives right now.  I just picked a Tuesday at random, and this one ended up being pretty “standard” in what our Tuesdays look like these days. It was a perfectly ordinary day, but I know these are the most special days of all. ❤

A disclaimer that many of these pictures are low quality or blurry. Our lighting wasn’t always the best and I didn’t want to disrupt the flow of our day by trying to “retake” moments to document them better. I just snapped some pics and we kept it moving. This is what our days really look like right now – perfectly imperfect.

January 14, 2020

Even though I would have loved to keep snoozin away next to Justin, mornings are my time to get things done! Vi is thankfully in a stretch where she’s actually sleeping through the night so I set an alarm (hit snooze a few times 😉 ) and finally rolled out of bed around 6:40.

20200116_075121I got into workout clothes and did my Expecting and Empowered workout (it was arm day!) first thing. I love just turning on one lamp and working out in the soft glow while listening to a podcast. It’s such an energizing way to wake up!

20200114_064226I’m doing their latest 10-week accountability challenge so I marked my finished workout.20200114_070841LJ woke up almost as soon as I was finished so I went upstairs to get him. He’s in a stage where he always wants to be carried down the stairs after waking up and he insists on bringing his little lovey bears and his paci-less wubbanub Edgar all clutched to his body. It’s so sweet!

20200114_071210Time for breakfast! He loves to eat cereal right now and drink “milllK” from a cup but it’s often messy so he likes to have that little reusable washcloth to wipe up spills.

20200114_072052See? Messy!

20200114_072103While he ate breakfast, I quickly ate mine and completed my daily work for my Bible Study Fellowship lesson. Right now we’re in Hebrews (we spent the first part of the year in Acts) and I love this deep look into the Word.



Little miss woke up around 7:40. I changed her diaper and LJ played nearby (putting stickers on our furniture ha!) while I fed her and read a little bit of my current book.

Once Vi was finished, I got LJ changed and ready for the day and we colored while waiting on his speech therapist to come to the house.


LJ has been receiving in-home speech therapy since June and we have seen lots of progress in his language skills. His receptive language has always been fantastic, but it’s taken a while for his expressive language to catch up. He’s doing great now! He loves his speech therapist who makes their work feel like play.

Macie loves her too – can you see where she is? 😉

While they work on speech, I was nearby with Vi finishing up and publishing my blog post for the day.


Once that was done, I caught up on emails for my work-from-home job, renewed our library books online, and got ready for the day while I listened to a podcast.


After our speech therapist left, I fed Vi one more time and then I got everyone packed up and headed to the library for story time. We go every week to toddler story time and it’s a great chance for LJ to socialize with his peers as well as listen to a few stories and sing some songs. They do a lot of active singing and dancing and he loves getting that energy out!


Afterwards we usually play for a few minutes in the library’s play area. It’s a good opportunity for all the toddlers to work on sharing 😉


We stopped in to say hi to daddy at work before heading home. Tuesdays are Justin’s long day at the office and sometimes he doesn’t get home until after bedtime so it’s nice for him to see the kids for a few minutes during the day. LJ also loves that daddy’s office often has treats ha!


Back home it was time for lunch. I reheated some homemade chicken noodle soup with some oyster crackers for myself. LJ has pretty eclectic lunch tastes and we try to give him a variety of flavors, textures, and nutrients. Today he ate a mandarin orange, a pickle (weird, but he loves them!), applesauce, and an aussie bite.

We watched a little Paw Patrol to wind down and then he went down for his nap at 1:20. I fed Vi while getting a few more pages of my book read.


Once Vi went down, I worked on my job for about 40 minutes. If you’re curious about what I do, I wrote a blog post about it here.


I finished up around 2:00 and both kids were still sleeping so I was able to get quite a few housekeeping tasks done. I finished painting the doors on the built in linen closet in our guest suite, went online to order the sink (vanity top is also ordered!!), tidied up the house a bit, restocked the diaper bag, answered a few personal emails, caught up on social media, and read a bit more.


LJ woke up just after 4:00 and we got some sweet one-on-one time together in the playroom.


I love how snuggly he is after just waking up!


I don’t have many pictures of the next two hours because it was busy busy busy! Once Vi woke up she needed changed, and I needed to get going on supper. I made some pasta (edamame pasta for LJ, tortellini for me). I didn’t start out intending to make two kinds, but I honestly hated the way the edamame one tasted. LJ actually liked it though so he ate it with his veggies while I quick made a different kind for myself.


Please enjoy this extra quality photo of us playing in the playroom after dinner. Haha! LJ is constantly moving so a non-blurry picture of him just wasn’t going to happen. Those three little toys in the loader were given to LJ from his speech therapist earlier in the day and he wanted to carry them around with him everywhere.


I got them changed and ready for bed (truthfully, Vi stayed in her jammies all day) so they were both ready when Justin came home.


When Justin comes home, it’s like a rock star’s entrance. Everyone is so happy to see him and he gets swarmed. He’s so great about jumping right into dad mode and giving everyone his love and attention.


He took LJ to bed around 8:00 and I turned on The Greatest of All Time Jeopardy. I don’t know if you’ve been watching this tournament, but it has been so entertaining for us! This was the night Ken Jennings won the whole thing.


Vi went down during Jeopardy so the rest of the night was just Justin and I on the couch. I’m laughing here because he was sorting through his mail and contemplating the Arbor Day Foundation survey. One nerdy thing about Justin is he almost always completes the surveys that come to our house. He’ll answer questions about trees or those consumer surveys or whatever. It’s pretty funny and adorable. 😉

And that’s a wrap on my perfectly ordinary Tuesday!





First Home Project in 2020!

Our first home improvement project of 2020 is underway! (Even though we’re still working on it, I’m not talking about our guest suite since that actually started in 2019).

Our first project of 2020 is . . .


this wall at the top of our garage stairs. Bet you didn’t see that one coming, huh?

I’ve always wanted to have a designated place in our home to measure the heights of our growing family. I love the idea of watching our children grow over time and documenting it in a permanent place that we’ll frequently see. Once we moved in May and decided this is the house we want to raise our family in, it was high on my list of things to do. The only problem was figuring out where to do it.

I’ve frequently seen it done in homes on a door frame or on the back of a door. This wouldn’t really work for us because we plan to eventually paint the doors and replace all the trim; I don’t want our marks to get removed or painted over! We had the same problem with interior walls – our laundry room wall would have been an ideal place, but we eventually plan to gut that space and change around the layout, and this would include painting. Plus, paint trends change over time and I would be nervous to commit to a wall color knowing I could never change it in the next 40+ years or it would cover the marks. Justin suggested marking our heights in an interior space like a closet or the pantry, but it just doesn’t have the same effect when it’s hidden and hardly ever seen.

This wall in our garage provided the perfect solution. Our home has a unique layout where the garage is actually on the level of our basement, so you need to walk up stairs to get to the main floor. The landing space right outside the entrance into the main floor was the perfect place for documenting our heights: it’s a discreet space (not in the middle of our living room) that we see every day, and since it’s more of a utilitarian space not subject to trends, I don’t have to worry about changing styles or decor. Hooray!

Now, I don’t love the color that was already on the walls, but we weren’t really up for painting the entire garage at this time. So we decided to just patch and paint the landing area for now. Since the garage is a bit of a workhorse space, there was a lot of patching to do! (Also, if you’re curious, that little extra stairway to the little door is our attic storage space).


The wall is now dry so we need to sand down all those patches, wash the walls, prime, and paint. It’s a simple project, but I’m so excited about it!


Guest Suite: The final touches!

The guest room is getting so close to being finished!


Truthfully, I had expected that we would be totally done with the project by now. We started the project in the last week of October and the estimated project length was roughly 4-5 weeks.

When the old shower was ripped out during the demolition stage, we realized there was plenty of unusable space behind the wall and decided to expand the shower and add a bench. This addition made our project timeline more like 6 weeks. So we hoped to be finished right around mid-December.

By December 20, almost everything was completed. But then the remaining projects unfortunately stalled. Right now we have three remaining projects that need to be finished:

1 – Add a shelf board to the top of the half walls in each room.


Since these are basement rooms, we have a half wall of concrete foundation that juts into them. I’ve made this into a kind of accent piece by adding board and batten to the front of each wall, but we still need to finish it off with a stained board on top. It’ll create a nice shelf for guests to use when finished! We planned to use the same boards that were originally there to save some money, but we realized that the board and batten made the wall wider than the original shelf. Justin just picked up new boards this week, so our weekend goal is to get them cut, sanded, stained, and ready to install!

2 – Close off the former TV nook built-in with doors to make it a linen closet.


The previous homeowners had a TV in their built-in cabinet, but since the space is boxy and doesn’t fit modern TV screen sizes well, we are closing it off with new doors and turning it into storage for extra blankets, pillows, towels, etc. for guest use. Our contractor is finishing up our doors this week (the only reason this got delayed was because of the holidays) and will be installing them Saturday!

3 – Order and Install a new vanity counter top


This vanity has been a source of frustration for a while. We originally hoped to replace the entire thing. I really wanted a floating vanity, but in order to do that we would’ve had to totally rework the plumbing and dig out a bunch of concrete. It would’ve added a lot of cost to the project and we decided we would rather put the money towards making the shower bigger and more functional than just getting a different style vanity with essentially the same function. Now that the shower is finished, I think that decision was definitely the right one! Here’s a sneak peek:


Unfortunately, the nook for the vanity space is a little awkward. It’s 39″ wide in the front and 38 1/2″ wide in the back. Standard vanities either leave too much of a gap on the sides for things to fall down or are too big for the space. A fully custom vanity wasn’t in the budget, so we decided to add a piece of wood on the sides of the old vanity to make it flush with the wall, paint it and add new hardware, and order a custom counter top. I contacted a company with great reviews to help us out. They came out and did measurements and were going to get back to me within 2 weeks. After hearing nothing for 3 weeks, I reached out and the woman explained that she had a death in the family and wasn’t expecting to have so much time out of the office around Thanksgiving but should have the estimates soon. Totally understandable. So I waited. And waited. And reached out 2 weeks later . . . and have heard nothing since. It’s been seven weeks since they came out to measure but they’ve essentially ghosted me. I’ve had to start over at square one which is extremely frustrating. I just went to another company’s showroom yesterday, and have another one to reach out to today. Hopefully we’ll be able to make some decisions and get a pretty quick turnaround because that’s really the last thing needed to make the bathroom fully functional!


Other than that, I’m just figuring out final details like hanging artwork and installing towel hooks. Our window treatments get installed next Wednesday and we have guests coming Thursday (they’ll have to use the sink in the basement kitchen outside the guest room since that won’t be finished yet). I cannot wait to share the finished space soon!

Let’s Look: My bedside table

I had so much fun linking up with Erika and Shay for their “Let’s Look” blog series last year that I’ve decided to join in again this year. On the first Wednesday of each month, they host a topic that takes a look into a different aspect of your life. Last year we looked at everything from our pantries to what we pack in a suitcase to our favorite binge-worthy TV shows. It’s kind of all over the place and fun and gives a peek into random things that I normally would never write a blog post about.

, Hello, 2020!

The first topic of the year is one of those that I’d never think to write about on my own: bedside tables.

Here’s the thing. I love styling a bedside table. Now that our guest suite renovation is almost complete, I’m having so much fun setting up the room and arranging the nightstands. Here’s a little sneak peek of my progress so far:


However. As much as I love a nicely styled bedside table, I am a toddler mama, and my toddler is in. to. everything. Since my room is one of the places he has access to, he often roots around in my nightstand. I used to keep things like a picture frame, a plant, and a candle on top but now I need to keep the surface clear of breakable objects. I also used to keep lots of little things in the drawers, such as cards from Justin, a lotion bar, c-section scar cream, notes, etc. but too often I had a scene like below where LJ would pull everything out of the drawer and throw it on my bed or on the floor.


All that to say, my bedside table is now nothing special and actually is pretty boring. The main thing it now houses is . . .


. . . books! I snapped this picture yesterday but this is what my nightstand really looks like on any given day of the year. I have my stack of library books on top, a stack of books I own that I want to read on the bottom, and the book I’m currently reading is next to the bed. The only other things I keep out are my phone charger and baby monitor.

Inside the drawer I keep a few journals, pen and pencil, my Kindle charger, my nightguard (I am a notorious grinder), and some lavender essential oil (I occasionally sprinkle a few drops on my pillow). That’s it!


Like I said, it’s nothing special! One day I hope to have a pretty, more styled nightstand but for now, this toddler mama will have to be content with just her stacks of books. 😉


What’s on your bedside table?

A Simplified Calendar

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, yesterday actually felt like January 1.

Image result for time between christmas and new year

Right?! So true! And because New Years day was a Wednesday, it felt like the holiday even got extended a few days into the weekend. It’s been nice to relax and enjoy low power mode, but when yesterday rolled around, I was super motivated to get us back into a routine.

I love the freshness and clean slate that New Year’s brings. I love the way the house feels bright and fresh without all the Christmas decor and I really love the crisp, clean look of a blank calendar! There is something about some open white space on a calendar that feels so rejuvenating to me after the busyness of the holiday season.

As I look at our calendar for January and February, I love that it doesn’t feel heavy. It feels light, manageable, and we have plenty of white space to just enjoy life without filling it up with tons of obligations. Today I thought I’d just share a few ways that I keep our calendar simple and manageable these days. These tips might not work for every family, but these are what works for our family!

Guard weeknight evenings


We try not to plan a ton of things in the evenings, but we do have a few standing obligations from week to week. Tuesdays are Justin’s late day at work, Wednesdays I attend a cycling class (and often take some time afterwards to run errands or just sit in a coffee shop to recharge), and every other Sunday evening we have small group at church. Other than that, we try not to schedule much in the evenings, especially during the week. This keeps a built in time to recharge and allow us to have family time without stretching ourselves too thin. Sometimes, there are things like a work dinner Justin needs to attend or a girls night for me, but for the most part, we try to keep evenings free. When we do have a night of hosting friends for dinner (about once a month) or going out for a date night during the week, it’s fun and feels like a treat! Eventually I know our evenings will get busier but for now we’re enjoying that time at home with our little ones.

Keep day-to-day structure the same

In general, our days have the same rough outline. Wake-up/breakfasts, change and get ready, then we leave the house for an hour or two. We come back home for lunch, naps, playtime, dinner, baths/bed. Now, of course there are days that don’t fit this mold but in general, that is our routine. It helps tremendously in simplifying our calendar because I only need to really change up one thing each day: what are we going to do in the morning?

So, what do we do in the mornings? I have a few ways of simplifying that too!

Keep a few recurring activities


Tuesdays, LJ has in-home speech therapy and then we pack up and go to the library for story time. Wednesdays, we go to my bible study (childcare is provided!). Every other Thursday, I meet with a group of friends for a book study/small group while our kiddos play in the host’s basement. These are activities that we do every week on the same day at the same time, so I don’t even have to use any brain power to figure out what to do or when to leave the house. It makes things easy and then I only have to figure out a plan for Mondays, Fridays, and every other Thursday.

Have morning “go-to’s”


For Mondays, Fridays, and every other Thursday, I have some go-to options that I keep in mind and alternate through so I’m not always spending a lot of brain power to come up with an activity from scratch. Some of my go-to’s are:

-go to the zoo (we have a membership, so it’s easy to go for just an hour or two and it doesn’t feel like a waste of money if we’re not there long)

-play at the library (many of our local libraries have great little play areas for kids!)

-trampoline jump park (they have toddler time on Fridays!)

-play date with a friend either at our home or theirs

In the summer we also have options like splash pads, playgrounds, and parks. And some mornings, our “activity” is really more of an errand like a doctor’s appointment or grocery shopping, although I try to do these errands when I have a babysitter or Justin is home so I don’t have to take both kids to the store. It happens though!

Say “no”

I have a whole blog post about saying no, but the bottom line is, I have learned over time that sometimes saying no is the best thing I can do for myself and my family. When I’m stretched too thin, when we’re running from activity to activity, when naps get skipped or we get out of sync, it makes a noticeable difference in my family. We get cranky, our days seem less enjoyable, and we just feel “off.” So I say no to things that I know will mess up our routine. We say no to activities in the afternoon, because that is when LJ naps and I know from experience that no activity is worth messing up naptime right now. I say no to things before 9 am, because it’s took hard for us to get up and out the door without feeling rushed. We say no to back-to-back evening activities that involve our whole family. We keep our normal routine and structure 99% of the time, so when something comes along that is really worth disrupting our routine, we can say yes and know it won’t throw us off too much because the rest of days are still normal.

By sticking to a general routine, having go-to activities in mind for getting out of the house, and saying no when saying yes would stretch us too thin or throw our routine out of whack, we keep a simple calendar with plenty of white space for when things come up. Just the way I like it. 🙂

What do you do to keep your calendar simplified and manageable?