Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Bucket List

This summer is a big transition time for us and we pretty much feel like we are just waiting for the summer to be over with so we can move out of our parents' houses and into our new house. Sometimes that makes me feel like we're just wasting away the summer instead of enjoying the time we have. I've made bucket lists before, but wasn't very good at holding to them, so I tried to keep this summer bucket list simple enough so I can actually accomplish it!

Visit MIM
Mike has been wanting to visit the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale for a while now. I think summer would be the perfect time to go!
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Take a Day Trip Up North
Last summer my parents went up to Flagstaff and rode the skyride at Snowbowl and it looked so beautiful from the pictures! I guess there are hiking trails once you're up there and if they look anything like in the above picture, I want to go. They said the temps were way cooler there, it would be such a nice little getaway since we're not going on any trips this summer.
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Make a Date Night Jar
I saw this idea on Pinterest and just love it! Each stick has a date night idea on it and they range in cost from light to dark (white ones are things to do at home, red ones are trips that take money and planning). Such a great idea!
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Rework Items Already in my Closet
I'm in love with maxi skirts this summer (I get sick of wearing shorts all the time), but I haven't actually bought one this summer yet. I have a few maxi dresses from years ago that I don't wear as dresses anymore, so I want to try turning them into maxi skirts. Of course they won't be as beautiful and flowy and gorgeous as this yellow one, but they will be comfy!
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Get Better at Beauty Things
My brother and sister-in-law got me a gift card for this Naked2 makeup palette that I've been wanting and I've had so much fun playing around with it and learning how to get more creative with my makeup. I've also been trying hair tutorials and am searching for how to create the perfect wavy/natural/beach curls in my somewhat short hair.

Start Inspiration Boards
Yes, I have Pinterest and I use it like crazy, but Mike and I would really like to have tangible inspiration boards for each room in the house. We're hoping to come up with color schemes, styles and ideas for each room so when we are out shopping, thrifting or browsing online and on Craigslist, we can know what will go in the house. I've had issues with buying random mismatched pots for plants and then never using them because they didn't coordinate with the rest of the house. Oops! It's not that we want everything to be matchy matchy, we actually want to stay far away from that and have things coordinate and feel cohesive.

Move Into Our House
Duh. This should be happening at the end of the summer!

I'd love to hear what's on your bucket list for the summer! Anything fun planned?

Monday, June 25, 2012

House Progress: June 23

On my birthday (between our Tour de Joe's trip), we stopped by our house to see the progress on the framing. Our super let us know on Friday that the framing will be done on Monday (today!) and then they will be installing AC, plumbing and windows. It was so incredible to see the frame of the house go up in about two weeks! We also got to see a few additions that weren't in the model, so it was a first for us to see the space. You can see the patio in the front in the center and to the right. We purposely chose this elevation so we could have that giant front porch. Also, isn't my mom cute? :)

One addition that we did and we've been dying to see is the extension to our great room. It pops the wall out by four feet, which doesn't sound like much, but it already feels like such a huge difference. Our living room/kitchen/breakfast nook room is pretty large, but was one big rectangle. We're excited that the extension gives the room some more dimension that will break things up a bit more. Mike's already talking about crown molding and ceiling beams for this room. :)

The other two spaces we hadn't seen in the model are the loft and dining room (they are on top of each other). We had seen the dining room on our last trip, but this was the first time we could go up the stairs and see the space of the loft. We are thrilled with how big it is and how it changes the railing on the stairs. Its going to be perfect for a tv/movie room, eventually a play room for kids and even further down the road as a place for our kids to hang out with their friends. We also plan on using the dining room as something other than a dining room since the breakfast nook area is so large and we rarely have a need for a formal dining room (yet). We have ideas of using it as a lounge type area since the bar is right next to it. We want to eventually put a piano in it (Mike wants a baby grand) and have all the musical instruments in there with eclectic seating and fun decor. I'd love to give it kind of a vintage feel, so I need to start going out and collecting items for it. Those two rooms were the best upgrades we did to the house, hands down.

I loved seeing the entryway from the top of the stairs. Before we even knew we were going to buy a new house, we always had our minds set on only living in one-story houses. When we walked into this model with the beautiful two-story entryway though, I was sold. It reminds me of entryways in movies with the grand staircase, big chandelier light hanging down and room for a fun entryway console. You can't see it in the picture, but this area has five windows on the second level part that lets in a ton of natural light to the entryway. Mike and I often talk about how this house really had the perfect spaces for us. We're excited to have all the bedrooms upstairs and away from the main living spaces. We think that will be really beneficial when we have small kids napping and we need to get laundry or dishes done in the kitchen. We also love how my office is so separated from the rest of the house, doesn't have a second story above it and has six windows (this was also a huge benefit to our chosen elevation). Can't wait to work there!

Mike is following the rules...hard hats are required. ;)

Birthday Celebrations

On Saturday I turned 27 (yikes!). I'm feeling a little weird about officially being in my late 20's, but I had such a fun weekend celebrating with friends and family. We literally celebrated all weekend and have one more birthday get together this coming week with Mike's family. I love birthday season! :)

Just a few highlights:
- Outlet shopping in Anthem, got some great finds!
- We did a "Tour de Joe's" as my dad calls it. Went to all three of Joe's restaurants in Gilbert for my free birthday meal
- Beckett's Table for our date night birthday dinner - so delicious!
- Mike got me a house charm for my Pandora bracelet, so sweet!
- My mom made a Schaum torte for my birthday "cake" and it was the best thing ever. Its a giant meringue puff with lemon filling and whipped cream on top. We'll definitely be having this again!
- My family gave me gift cards and fun money cash for guilt-free shopping. :) Nate and Brooke gave me a card to Ulta so I could get the Naked2 makeup palette. We ran right over there, picked it up (stopped at Gap of course and had some great finds, hehe) and went home and tried it out. Love it!
- Skinnygirl margs & pina coladas
- Got one of those plastic drink cups that I've been wanting for quite a while along with a tortilla warmer. Simple things, but I'm so excited about them. :) Thanks mom and dad!

Now that I'm closer to 30 than 20, I'm feeling a bit of that "clock ticking." People keep telling me I'm so young still, etc, etc, but we're really feeling a huge transition this summer into more responsibility and developing our own thing for ourselves. We're so ready for this next part of our lives to start!

Please excuse my grossness during our "tour de Joe's" trip. We had gone to see our house before and were sweating out in the 110 degree heat for a while!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

House Progress: June 20

Yesterday we visited our house and seeing the second story up and framed made us the happiest and most excited we've been in this entire process. I feel like I've been saying that with every big step, but this time we mean it. We can now see the size and shape of the dining room, loft, front porch and extended great room which we upgraded from the model, so this is the first time seeing all these areas. If everything is on schedule, they will be done framing next week and will then start on electrical and we will have our first walk-through!

And here's the back of the house with the extended great room that we are beginning to see for the first time.

We think about our house and backyard every single day. Last night I went to bed thinking about it and woke up thinking even more about it. It's quite an obsession we have, but how could we not be excited?This is a HUGE upgrade for us from our old house. Sometimes we can hardly believe that we're so blessed to be able to buy something like this. The other day we were talking about how we can't figure out when we got so grown up and responsible. When did it become possible that we can afford something like this and why did it suddenly change in us that we would be ready to have kids anytime? I still remember when we'd be going out to bars every weekend and when we were so scared to talk about marriage, let alone kids! I guess time really does fly by, I turn 27 on Saturday...I remember when 27 sounded SO old!

P.S. I don't know what's up with the fonts on our blog, they keep changing on me back to Times New Roman and it's driving me crazy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Health Update

The other day I realized I haven't posted an update in a very long time about my search for a healthier me as it relates to food. About a year ago, after our honeymoon, I tried clean eating in hopes that it would help my unpleasant symptoms and make me feel better. I think I did that for about a month. I would occasionally feel better, but it really didn't work for me (and it was incredibly difficult to follow). Last November I did an elimination diet and the results were life changing. I went two weeks without any dairy or gluten, then in the third week I added dairy back in and the fourth week I added gluten back in. It was incredible how easy it was to tell what the culprit of my sickness was - gluten.

Anyone who has eaten a meal with me in the past seven months knows I am now completely gluten free. (By the way, I can't believe its been seven months already!) As I was going back and reading those old posts about clean eating and the elimination diet and reading all the symptoms I was having, I can hardly believe that I was even functioning like that. I remember how terrible I would feel every single day. I still have some not so great days (in addition to a gluten intolerance I also think I'm sensitive to dairy and highly processed foods), but for the most part my headaches, stomach aches and irritability are gone.

When I tell people I'm gluten free they either look at me with pity that I'm deprived of their favorite treats or they think I'm doing some fad diet that will pass. Neither is true, I don't miss the sweets too much because I never was really into desserts to begin with and you can make virtually everything gluten free. This is also not a fad diet because, first of all, its not a diet in the traditional sense. It is a lifestyle change.

The benefits far outweigh the negatives about this change though and that is what keeps me going. I never want to go back to how I was feeling last summer (I've lost 16+ lbs and have never felt healthier or stronger). The biggest struggle isn't actually resisting temptation to eat foods with gluten, its the stress that comes with eating a meal with other people. I never want to come off as high maintenance, but I also don't want to be sick for three days. Its definitely a huge thing I struggle with and most of the time I get anxiety about going out to restaurants with people other than my husband or eating at someone's house other than a select few that totally get my situation (thanks mom!).

We're in a bit of transition now, so completely changing our eating habits is difficult right now, but once we're in our new house I'd really like to get into cutting out as much processed food as possible. Gluten was a huge step for me in getting my health in order, but there are still plenty of processed foods and "bad" things I can still eat...and I do.

If you're interested in finding out more about becoming gluten free, here are some great tips to follow when first starting out. I'm such an advocate for trying the elimination diet, its difficult at first, but definitely worth finding out what is making your body react the way it is.

Image Source: A delicious gluten free chocolate cake I've been meaning to try :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

House Progress: June 15

Today was such an exciting day for us in this process of building our house. For the first time we saw the framing and it actually is starting to feel like a real house instead of just dirt and a cement slab. It's pretty exciting to see the rooms take shape and the additions we added from the model since we haven't seen what those rooms even feel like yet.

I loved this shot from the kitchen, into the living room. Mike says the tv will be mounted on that back wall between the two windows. :) This is our absolute favorite room of the entire house. We extended the great room even more so it is quite a large space. We're pretty excited to host parties and gatherings in this area!

We're looking pretty awesome in our hard hats, aren't we? This visit to the house was definitely the motivation we need after being "homeless" for nearly two months now, finding out our house will probably be pushed back another month and getting frustrated with the budget. This definitely makes it all worth it!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mix & Match

This summer we are staying on a somewhat tight budget in preparation for our new house. Every time we think about spending money, we consider a) if it fits in the budget, b) if we really need it or c) is it more important than the house? (The answer to c is always no!) Makes life easy when we use that system, but my wardrobe has been lacking a bit. Fortunately, I lost about 15 lbs (and counting!) since last summer, so I'm fitting in all my old clothes, but there's something about refreshing a wardrobe each season that makes me happy. This summer, I've been trying to find things in my closet to wear and mixing them with inexpensive new pieces or accessorizing them up in a fun, new way.

Last week I went on a shopping trip (those are rare these days!) with my mom, niece and sister-in-law. I knew I was looking for basics and fun accessories and that is just what I found. I ended up getting a simple flowy white top from Loft, a loose black shirt from Nordstrom Rack and this belt but in orange (and also half the price), this necklace and also this necklace in black and tan. The tops were the most expensive pieces, but nothing was over $15! I've had a lot of fun so far mixing them up with other items already in my closet, it really makes a difference having those options.

I've also been considering taking up thrift shopping again and seeing what little gems I can find as far as accessories, blousy tops, jewelry and skirts go. I'm amazed at some of the things I see bloggers find at thrift stores, but I've never had such luck. Maybe I'll give it another whirl this summer? I also have a few old maxi dresses that I was going to get rid of, but will be trying to make skirts out of.

Pictured above are a few of my favorite fashion bloggers who have inspired me to look inside my closet and have a little more fun mixing what I already have:

Top left: The Daybook - I recently started following her, but I just love this tea length skirt she is wearing. I recently scored a similar one from Old Navy for $12, she inspired me to buy it and try mixing it with a tshirt and skinny belt.

Top right: Kendi Everyday - Kendi is by far my favorite fashion blogger! I love all of her outfits and how she pairs simple pieces together to make ourtfits I could actually see myself wearing. She always has the best accessories too.

Bottom left: Running on Happiness - I mostly like this one because she lives in Scottsdale, so she definitely dresses appropriate for the Arizona heat. I'm loving the outfit above, I've been very into mixing black and brown lately.

Bottom right: Real Simple - Not a fashion blog, but they has some great outfit ideas every once in a while. Loving the blousy top with the flowy skirt. Perfect summer outfit!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Formal Room

With our house we're building, we opted to not have two side patios (one upstairs and one downstairs) like in the model home, but instead we added in a dining room downstairs and a loft upstairs. The backyard is plenty big enough for all our outdoor needs, so we were pretty excited that those options were available. Actually, we weren't sure if we'd like the house since it only had one main living space (we really wanted some more division of rooms in the new house, but still wanted the kitchen and tv room connected), so when we went to look at it and we found out those patios could be converted, we were sold.

So we have this room that they have labeled the dining room that is off of the main entry foyer, next to the great room and kitchen. Across from it is a butler's pantry/bar area. In our minds, that room would be used as more of a formal seating area than a dining room since we don't have the need for two separate dining areas within feet of each other. Its also been brought up that this room could be a future play room, but we are thinking that is what the loft will be for so the toy "mess" can be mostly kept upstairs. :)

I'm not stoked about the style of the above room, I think its a bit too shabby chic for us, but I love the layout. We have one big window on the back wall and the two side walls are both open. We would really love to have a piano in this room and also have Mike's guitars in here. We've also talked about taking out the carpet that will put in there and installing a worn looking wood tile. We love the idea of having a music room with seating in it that can be a place for friends to grab a drink at the bar and relax in or play music. We also want to be sure that when we do have kids, they have easy access to musical instruments from a young age. I'm really hoping they get Mike's musical abilities instead of mine. ;)

I'll have to keep searching for ideas for this room, I think it could be a very fun room to decorate and collect unique pieces for!

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Great Room Colors

We've been spending a lot of time searching for ideas and coming up with looks for colors and styles for our great room for when our house is done. We'd really like to stay away from the mahogany furniture and beige paint look we had in our last house and go for more of a transitional look with a wide mix of neutral colors that coordinate together. I love the idea of having the main items being neutral and timeless and having pops of colors in small pieces of furniture, side tables, lamps, pillows, etc. Some of those things could also be changed out per season (Fall, Christmas, Summer). Our style isn't necessarily modern, but it also isn't the ornate style you think of with traditional. We love clean lines with a hint of traditional thrown in there. I guess that is what they call transitional. :)

Here are the descriptions for what each item is in the above image:
1) This is very similar to our kitchen faucet. It is a brushed bronze and so are all of our door handles and hinges.
2) These are the colors for the table we are considering. The base would be the antique white and the top would be the driftwood looking stain. Our coffee table is also similar to the driftwood color, although we think it may end up being too small for the space. We also have a wood tile sample that we would like to use for the dining/formal/piano room that is very similar to that driftwood sample.
3) This is our exact kitchen cabinet. We originally wanted white, but we weren't happy with the white options they had available (they looked very Tuscan). We're happy we chose this now though because it goes so well with our granite and tile choices which are extremely light colors.
4) I am in love with this server from Ballard! I included this more for the gray shade though. We have a nook for some kind of hutch like this and we also will need a new media stand (we are now thinking of mounting the tv and having a stand underneath it). I just love the look of gray furniture like this, would also consider this color for our bedroom.
5) This is our granite, bianco romano. It can vary quite a bit depending on the slab, but we will be picking ours out, so we want to aim for a piece that is mostly white with hints of the gray and taupe.
6) Our sofa will fit nicely in the great room and the color fits this scheme quite well. We like that it is a neutral green so it adds a different shade to the mix.

The great room has a very large living room, a breakfast nook area and a kitchen that is almost the size of the living room. It has five windows and a sliding glass door (french doors eventually?) to the backyard. We're thinking about doing the roller shades that are nearly invisible when they are rolled up. We love having our window shades open during the day, but need the privacy at night. We'd also like to have curtains, but not sure what color yet. They may have to be neutral though because there will be a ton of them. We want them to add height to the room without being too busy.

What do you think? Do these colors coordinate well together?

Image Sources:
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Niece or Nephew?

This evening Mike's brother, Steve and his wife hosted a gender reveal party as a fun way to tell us if their baby is a boy or girl. It was so fun to see what color balloons came out of the box. I was the "photographer", but I was so surprised at the color that came out, I had a hard time catching them actually leaving the box. Agh! I just love how they had the box decorated...such a fun surprise waiting inside!

....and its a boy! We're so excited to have another little nephew. Boys are so much fun and he will have a little buddy to play with – Isaiah!

Can you tell that the guys are spelling out b-o-y? They're so excited, they were already talking about teaching him how to play basketball.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

For Future Reference: French Parenting

Yesterday I came across this pin and I just loved it! It also links to some interesting blog posts here and here about French parenting and things we can possibly learn from them. We don't have kids yet (we aren't pregnant either for all you curious minds!), but we talk often about how we want to raise our kids and things that are important for us to instill in them from a young age. A few things that are very important to us are that our children eat healthy and are well-behaved. We get that its not as easy as it sounds and we won't know what its really like until we are actually parents, but it doesn't hurt to have some basic groundwork to start from and goals in mind so we are prepared for when we need to figure out what to do. I understand that kids will have a mind of their own and by nature they are given a certain personality, but I also do believe part of it is nurture.

A big thing for me is that our kids grow up eating healthy so that as adults, they know how to cook for themselves and can teach their kids. This list of "food rules" seemed to make complete sense. I'm sure my friends with kids that are reading this are probably thinking I'm being extremely naive and that this won't work, but why not give it a try?

I think first we'll have to put these rules into place for ourselves, yikes! I have to say I have a hard time with the emotional eating and snacking. So hard to change that!

There's even a book about all of this and about a month ago I had also run into the book, Bringing Up Bebe. Both look like interesting reads and, when the time comes, they will definitely be on my reading list.

Here are a few major points from the books:
- You can have a grown-up life, even if you have kids.
- You can teach your child the act of learning to wait.
- Kids can spend time playing by themselves, and that's a good thing.
- Believe it when you tell your child "No."

P.S. We really feel that both of our parents instilled some of these "rules" that these books bring up in certain ways. We both talk about how we're so blessed to be raised by such wonderful parents and that we hope to be as good as they were! :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

House Progress: June 1

We're a little behind on this post, but last Friday we went to the house site because our "super" had called us and let us know they had just poured it that day. It was so exciting seeing where our front porch will be and knowing that framing is coming up so soon! It's crazy seeing all the houses around us go up so fast, we're hoping ours moves with the same progress and speed. Something was up with my settings on the camera or maybe it was just the time of day, but the color in some of these pics is very off.

My parents came with us this time. It was so fun showing them where our future home will be. It was also nice that someone was there to get our picture in front of the house. Of course I didn't do my hair and makeup that time. Agh!

These descriptions are short, sorry. I'm on deadline this week so have been at the computer ALL day. Time to check out and get ready for Bachelorette and movie night with my niece (I'll be watching Bachelorette, not her!). She's staying with us at my parents for a few days while she goes to a volleyball camp right down the road. So crazy that I went to that camp when I was about her age and now she is there! Difference is, she's a MUCH better player than I was at that age. I'm so proud of her!