Thursday, November 19, 2015

Kitchen Reveal: A love story three years in the making

The moment has finally arrived. Our kitchen project, almost three years in the making is finally, finally complete! Are there still a few finishing touches? Sure. I'm not sure we'll ever really be finished with any project in our house because we like to change things up. Before we had kids, the hubby and I would rearrange our apartment every six months just for fun. We still want to update a few light fixtures, and there might be a few pieces of blue tape marking spots that need a paint touch up, but the major work is done. 

And if you saw the before pictures of our kitchen, you know that a few pieces of blue tape are negligible compared to the monstrosity we began with. So without further ado, I present our kitchen.

We started by painting the cabinets white. Simply White, actually which happens to be the Benjamin Moore 2016 Color of the Year. Of course, we didn't know that three years ago, but I feel like it's a bit serendipitous. 

My husband built those fabulous countertops out of red oak planks and stained them with a combination of dark walnut and mahogany. I absolutely love how they turned out. I love the contrast of the white beadboard backsplash and dark counters. It's warm and bright all at the same time.

These LED under cabinet lights really brighten the main kitchen workspace. I also like to leave them on in the evenings if we are away since they are so energy friendly. 

This cutting board was unusable when we bought the house, but Mr. Sir sanded it down and brought it back to life. He even painted it to match the cabinets (though he wanted to stain it to match the countertops. The man loves me.)

I have wanted a nook for this space since we bought the house. Since the kitchen has been under contruction for most of the time we've owned it, I haven't seriously looked at purchasing one. But a few months ago, Mr. Sir stumbled upon this beauty at 5am while out walking the dog. It had a free sign on it and he could tell it would be snatched up as soon as day broke, so he rushed home and attempted to wake me. The minute I saw the picture I knew it was worth getting up for, even though the baby had kept us up for half of the night, so I threw on some flip-flops and headed down the street  in my pajamas leaving all the kids (finally) asleep in their beds. We carried the table home then took the minivan back for the benches. It's certainly not in perfect condition, but you can cram eight kids at that table and it's a place where memories are made and dreams of bacon come true. 

The nook is where dreams of coffee come true too.
The mini gallery that hangs in the nook couldn't have come out better. The two photos were taken in Napa's wine country and the other two were free prints. You can find the lemon watercolor printable here and Rise and Shine It's Coffee Time here.


This pendant light that hangs over our sink was an outdoor light that hung in front of our house. My husband only thought I was half crazy when I asked him to install it here, but I think we were both happy in the end. You can use boiled linseed oil (available at your local hardware store) to spruce up old fixtures like this one.

I already posted a sneak peek of these DIY Pendant Lights but here's the full view with the cabinets and our art-plastered refrigerator on the side. It was waaaaaaay too much effort to pull all those magnets off and I'm all about being honest anyway. For the record, when I was taking these pictures my oldest said, "It looks really different in here!" I clarified and by "different" he meant "clean." This is further proof that our house has more of a lived in look most of the time. 

The final touch on the kitchen is this slate flooring. Can you tell it's laminate? It looks so gorgeous, but won't crack when our 60 year old house settles. I just hope it holds up to the wear and tear of three kids and a dog. 

And that my friends, is the story of the kitchen I love. What do you think? Was it worth the wait? Tell me in the comments!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Secrets to Braving Cold Season

Cold season is upon us and with two kids in school and a new baby, we are in the thick of it. Someone has been fighting a cold in our household since Halloween and I have a feeling it will continue through the new year. After five years, I've accepted that illness is part of this stage of life and I've found a few secrets to braving cold season.

A teaspoon of honey helps with a dry cough. You know that annoying tickle in your throat that keeps you up coughing all night? A little bit of honey really helps soothe and coat your throat. The best part? You don't have to wait four hours to take another dose. Since it's all natural you can take more whenever you need it. This also works well for kids since most cough medications are not recommended for children under 4 years old. (However, remember that raw honey is not recommended for children under 1 year due to infant botulism.)

Get in plenty of fluids and bring down fevers with juice popsicles. I don't usually give my kids a lot of juice, but it is so important to get fluids in them when they are sick. Popsicles are a fun way to do that and making your own with orange juice gives them a nice vitamin C boost too.

Warm apple cider with lemon. There is no way you will get my kids to drink tea. They will barely drink hot chocolate and that stuff is practically, well liquid chocolate! But some warm apple cider is usually a hit and helps soothe sore throats. Plus it's another great way to get fluids in and a lemon slice adds just a little extra vitamin C.

Skip TV time and listen to music instead. Let me clear that we watch our fair share of TV around here and I have no problem plopping my kids down for a few extra episodes of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood when they are sick. But I've found that just because they are sick, doesn't mean they don't have some energy to burn. Usually after 3-4 episodes, they start bouncing on the couch because they just can't keep their bodies still anymore. However, listening to music and doing a quiet activity like legos, coloring or playdoh seems to be just the right amount of stimulation while still letting their bodies rest.

Go to bed early, Mama. I know there's dinner to put on the table, homework to be done, dishes in the sink and floors to be mopped. But odds are, no matter how much you wash your hands and sanitize, you're going to catch that cold thanks to constant exposure. You are also going to be up at night caring for fevers and coughs and you are going to need your rest. So, know when to hold them and when to fold them. Both the hubby and I were in bed by 8:00pm with the kids the other night because we were so exhausted. Thankfully, I got a decent night's sleep and was able to tackle the pile of dishes in the kitchen with a renewed spirit the next day, even though I wasn't feeling 100% better.

Do you have any awesome Mama Hacks for surviving cold season? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Brilliant Books Worth Reading 100 Times

Though I hate to admit it after declaring that November is the the month of being grateful and Christmas shall not show up uninvited to Thanksgiving dinner in my household, I have started my Christmas shopping. The reality is that in a big family, you have to start early if you don't want to run around like a chicken with your head cut off for the entire month of December. I've been on the hunt for new books for our ever expanding library which reminded me that I've been wanting to share a few of our favorites with you. My kids love to read the same books over and over again so I try to be choosy; I've read these a bajillion times and they still get my stamp of approval.

Top 10 kid books (in no particular order) that kids will love and you won't hate reading 100 times.

1. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Seriously. It has no pictures. But it is hilarious and every kid will love it. However, please note that if you don't want your kid running around telling people that their best friend "is a hippo named Boo Boo Butt," then this book is not for you.
2. The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems
The latest installment in the Pigeon book series will have you cracking up. I am particularly fond of these as my children behave quite like the Pigeon and it's nice to laugh at the ridiculousness that is my life.
3. Everything Goes: By Sea by Brian Biggs
The Book with No Pictures
Or by Air. Or by Land! These remind me a bit of the Where's Waldo books because there is so much to look at. They can be a little tedious for bedtime reading, but a great book for your kid to look at solo during a long car ride or on a rainy day. Both of my boys are so interested in how things work and these books really get the gears turning.
4. Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker
This is a great bedtime book. It's interesting and engaging and yet calming. It is a great book for winding down after a long day, especially when you have a couple of movers and shakers like I do.
5.  Those Darn Squirrels! by Adam Rubin
The amazon description says it all on this one. "The story of what happens when a grumpy old man and some mischievous squirrels match wits—with hilarious results." We don't actually own this one but it's on my short list for Christmas. The paperback version is only $4 on Amazon!
6. Press Here by Herve Tullet
An excellent interactive book that will definitely grab your kid's attention. It is VERY silly, so don't read it right before bed.
7. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
A clever mouse tells a tale about having lunch with the very scary Gruffalo to ward off a fox and a few other forest animals who'd like to eat him for lunch. This book is funny, engaging and well written -- even parents will enjoy it!
8. Cookiebot! A Harry and Horsie Adventure by Katie Von Camp and Lincoln Agnew
 There are two books in the Harry and Horsie series and both are fantastic. Colorful illustrations and a great story.
9. Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
I'm a fan of all the Alexander books, but I find this one really tickles me. In the openings pages, Alexander confesses that he and his brothers like money (even though his mom says he shouldn't say that.) The illustrations are hilarious and the writing is fantastic, PLUS you get a little lesson on saving money. What more could you ask for?
10. ABC Alphabet Book Lift and Flap by Annie Simpson
ABC Alphabet Lift and Flap
I bought this book at one of the book fairs at my son's school last year (which is a great place to pick up Christmas gifts, by the way. Support your school to buy something you were going to anyway, done!) The layout of this book is very creative. There are holes on one page that line up with things on the next page, and the flaps make it very engaging. This is another great book that will keep them entertained on a plane or in a car without needing you by their side.

What are your favorite books? I could always use a few new ones!

Monday, November 9, 2015

You have feet in your shoes. You just have the wrong feet in those shoes.

My three year old, Knox cannot put his shoes on the right feet if his life depended on it. In fact, I'd say that 80% of the time he puts them on the wrong feet. You'd think that at least half the time he'd get it right but I swear it's like he taught himself to  put them on backwards.

Now considering I have three kids ages 5 and under, a kid that can put his shoes on the wrong feet is better than a kid who's shoes I have to put on for him. Right? But eventually I started to worry that he might go to college with his shoes on the wrong feet and it would be ALL MY FAULT. Oh, the drama. The years of therapy he'd need to overcome this. It was time.

With Dash, I cut stickers in half and put a piece in each shoe. It created a sort of puzzle he could put together. If the picture was whole, he had his shoes on the right feet. The only problem was the picture wore off the sticker in a matter of weeks and you were just left with a sticky residue. Yuck.

So I've been pondering an alternative method for a few weeks now and then suddenly, I had a brief moment of genius. I whipped out a Sharpie and wrote half the letters of his name in one shoe and half in the other. Now at three years old, he can't read, but he can recognize his name and at the very least he knows what letter his name starts with.

Let me tell you, this has been a game changer. In just a few weeks, he's started putting his shoes on the right feet 95% of the time. He really likes looking at his name in his shoes and can immediately identify if it's wrong. Additionally, instead of my constant reminding that he needs to switch his shoes, I can just asked him if he checked his name before he put them on.

Will the magic last? Only time will tell. For now, I'm really enjoying having two kids who can put their shoes on the right feet all by themselves.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Season of Gratitude

Fall is by far my favorite season. I love the crisp air, the changing leaves, sweaters, scarves, boots and mugs of hot apple cider. I love that a hot cup of coffee tastes better on cold mornings. I love staying in bed and snuggling too long because it's the perfect temperature under the covers.

My love for fall is one of the many reasons it irks me to walk into Target on November 1st and see that Christmas just threw up in there. I'm no Grinch; I love December. It does not need to encroach, because honestly, one month of cookies and candy canes and Fa la la la la la is about all I can take. I do understand that a holiday that is about being thankful for what you already have kind of kills the spirit of consumerism and so I let my beloved Target off the hook for allowing Christmas to take over November. However, that doesn't mean Thanksgiving has to be overlooked in m my home. Last time I checked, I'm the boss around here.

Since I want to teach my children they have so much to be grateful for, around this time last year we put together a small jar of things we are thankful for. I've seen these all over Pinterest but if you haven't I thought I'd share my version (complete with free printables!)

But first, I thought I'd share a few things I'm grateful for today.

Busy season and late nights at my husband's job. First, he has a job and it's a great one! Second, it's really only busy like this for two months of the year. I know a lot of husbands who work late ALL year long and I'm so grateful that my husband does not have to.
Being a stay-at-home-mom. It's a tough job and I complain about it more than I should. However, I'm always thankful for it when cold season hits. Knox is feverish this week and I'm so glad I'm not trying to find childcare for a sick kid because I have to go to work.
My crazy fixer upper house. It's crazy, but it's also, warm, cozy and filled with a beautiful life we have been building in it.
Two bathrooms since one is out of commission right now...
Healthy, happy kids who behave themselves at school and playdates even if they are less than angelic at home. They save the best and worst for me.
Great teachers and schools. I feel so fortunate to have landed amazing, dedicated passionate teachers at both my son's schools.

What are you grateful for this November? Take a minute to jot it down and put it in your jar!

Click on the links to get the Give Thanks Jar printable and the I'm thankful for tickets!