~65~ First Christmas in our Home

One of the many things I love about owning a home is decorating for Christmas.  While I was able to decorate in the apartment, the options were much more limited.  The best part about this year's Christmas decor was getting a live Christmas tree, something I haven't had in at least 6 years.  We picked ours up the weekend after Thanksgiving from Costco after a tip from a friend.  It is a beautiful 7' Fraiser Fir.  I'm still figuring out how to decorate/light a tree since the last 5 years we've had a pre lit one, so this year was somewhat of a learning year.  I'm thinking next year we're going to stick to all white lights and a general color scheme of red/white/silver.

In addition to the tree upstairs, we added some Christmas items to our console table and side coffee table. 

In addition to our tree, we also bought a gorgeous pre lit garland for our downstairs mantle. Our mantle is probably my favorite part look.  In my planter I change out the flowers seasonally and currently have red and white poinsettias.  I also have the sled that I painted last year, a silver reindeer from Kohls and a "Noel" sled that I picked up on the way home from a Vikings game. 

Perhaps the best part of being in our new house at Christmas is getting to host Christmas dinner.  Traditionally, we have spent Christmas Eve in Minneapolis with my side of the family and Christmas day with Jake's side of the family.  However, this year, due to work schedules, we celebrated with my family in Minneapolis the weekend before Christmas.  So, this year, on Christmas Eve it was going to be just Jake and I celebrating together-starting new traditions.  That is, until my Mother-In-Law called Christmas Eve morning to ask our invitation (that they had declined a couple days prior) to come eat dinner at our house was still open.  I of course said, "yes!".  Not only were they coming, but so were Jake's brother, his girlfriend, Jake's grandma, and uncle.  I had never made Christmas dinner before, let alone cooked a full meal for 8 people, but I was up for the challenge.  

I quickly jumped into action and began getting things ready.  It has always been tradition to eat Swedish meatballs, Swedish sausage, mashed potatoes/gravy, spinach soufflĂ©, and rice pudding on Christmas eve, and I so that was the menu.  Thanks to many, many phone calls to my mom asking how exactly everything is done, the food was ready, and turned out perfectly (if I do say so myself).   While I do hope to spend many Christmas Eve's in Minneapolis as tradition usually dictates, it was so much fun having Jake's family over and sharing more of how I grew up celebrating Christmas, and I'm looking forward to doing it again in future years. 

How do you celebrate Christmas? What's your favorite decoration?
Until next time, 


~64~ Early Christmas Present

I realize that it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but I'm so excited about this that I had to share!

My Christmas present from Jake arrived today and I absolutely love it!!!
A while back, I learned of a company called Shelter Pups that does custom made stuffed replicas of your dog. Not only do they make beautiful, realistic looking dogs, they also donate some of the proceeds from each dog to local rescue leagues of your choosing.  They have become so popular that there is a waiting list queue that you must sign up on in order to get one.  

Buckles is the first dog I've had since a puppy and is about to celebrate his 13th birthday!  I knew that I wanted to get one made of him since he is a senior dog and I wanted a forever keepsake that captures his coloring and demeanor.  

Not knowing how long it would take to have my name come up to the top of list, I joined the queue.  About 2 months later, I received an email from Shelter Pups letting my know that it was my turn.  It happened much faster than I expected. The dogs are rather pricey, so I felt unsure about spending so much for a stuffed dog.  After talking it over with Jake, we agreed that it could be my Christmas present from him.  I'm so lucky that he understands how badly I wanted one and how important it was to me.  So, I excitedly submitted my pictures of Buckles and impatiently awaited pictures of the mock-ups.  

3 weeks later, I received another email letting me know that Buckles' mini-me was ready for approval.  The side by side comparisons were amazing.  They did an amazing job of capturing his personality, right down to the head tilt, and I really felt like it was Buckles. 

 After approving the mock-up, I submitted my payment and waited one last time for mini Buckles to arrive. 2 days later, he was here!

I am so, so happy with the end product. The quality of the fur, eyes, and nose are extremely high and his coat, made of all-natural merino wool, is so soft.  The only disappointment that I had was in regards to donation of the funds.  We had hoped to make our donation to the same rescue league that we got Viktor from, but that was not one they had on the list.  We did give it to an equally deserving shelter, The Animal Rescue League of Iowa.  Also, the amount that Shelter Pups gives you to donate is considerably less than what I had expected.  My understanding was that a decent portion of the proceeds went to rescue leagues, which was how I justified the steep price tag.  Turns out, it was only $2.  However, I am overall very pleased with the product, and the process.  Shelter Pups was extremely prompt in their production of mini-Buckles. They kept me informed about the process from start to finish and gave me a high quality replica of my fur-baby that I will cherish forever!  
If you are interested in rescuing your own Shelter Pup, you can do so at their website

**Disclaimer: I was in no way paid or compensated for my review on ShelterPups.  All opinions and statements about my ShelterPup dog and experience with the company are my own. 


~63~ Vote for Buckles!

I entered Buckles in a cutest pet contest and voting began this week.  Please, if you have a minute or 2 to spare, we'd appreciate your vote.  All you have to do is register your email address and vote away everyday!

Thanks in advance!


~62~ Summer Update

I'm in my last week of summer break, and I want to know, where did summer go?!?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my break and find it hard to believe that it's only 6 more days until I'm back at work.  So, one might wonder what I've been up for the past 2 months.

Camp Invention
From June 24-28, I directed a new camp for the first time.  I was hired for the job in March and frantically spent the subsequent months getting things ready and spreading the word about camp.  It went magnificently and I am already excited for next year!

During the weeklong camp, kids honed their inventing skills creating a duck launcher from recycled materials, used problem solving skills to develop ways of surviving on far away Planet Zak, created an updated and eco-friendly community, and worked in teams to play games from around the world.

2nd Anniversary/New Family Member
It's hard to believe that Jake and I have already celebrated our 2nd anniversary.  Time certainly does fly!  While it was not as extravagant as last year, we had a great time.  We had dinner and drinks at Bravo! Cucina before going to World War Z, which we both enjoyed.  And what better way to finish the night than with some delicious cheesecake.

As for our newest family member, the weekend prior to our anniversary, I found a little cutie while getting supplies for camp at Petco.  Jake and I had talked about getting a brother for Buckles a while back, but decided to table it for the time being.  However, this just seemed like the perfect fit for us.  He is a beagle/basset mix that had a similar temperament to Buckles and was already house-trained (well kind of), "fixed", and up-to-date on shots.  We had a brief meeting prior to taking him in that went well and we knew it was fate.  We named him Viktor and love him so much! Buckles doesn't seem to mind him either ;)

4th of July
Now that we have a house, Jake and I love having people over.  On the 4th, we had a bunch of friends over for grilling, drinks, and a "bags" tournament.   All I have to say is thank goodness for Pinterest!  I made some red/white/blue center pieces and my biggest brag piece-flag cake.  When you cut into it, each piece looks like a US flag.  It was really good too!

We added in a flower bed surrounding our deck and a hosta garden underneath our walnut tree next to the shed that my parents helped to start when they came to visit at the end of July.  I would say that I have more of a yellow thumb than a green one, but I'm having fun seeing my garden grow!

Baby Showers
We learned this past spring that many of our friends are expecting little ones due this fall.  In addition to wedding celebrations, there were quite a few baby celebrations.  The first of which was at the beginning of August.  I made my very first diaper cake (who knew they were so easy??) after seeing some inspiration on (where else), Pinterest.  The dad-to-be is a big 49ers fan, so I themed it for that. 

Wedding Projects
Not for me, but for my dear cousin, Liz.  I was beyond flattered that she trusted me to make her wedding invitations.  She found a sample inspiration and we went from there.  The desired elements were purple and black with a damask print and royal purple ribbon tying it all together.  It was a labor of love (emphasis on labor), but they turned out better than I could have imagined.  I was even a little jealous that these weren't my own invitations.

I also bedazzled some purple flip flops with Swarovski crystals.  I initially had planned to do it with a hot glue gun.  Yeah, didn't work. At. All.  So, the plan B was to use super glue.  I went with a bottle of maximum bond Krazy Glue and it worked like a charm.

Finally, Liz also asked me to play the violin during the ceremony.  After some research, Liz and her fiancĂ©, Jeremy decided on the Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso (seriously, if you haven't seen this movie-put in your list, it's a beautiful movie).  It took some trial and error, but after purchasing 2 different pieces of sheet music and some musical editing, we have a gorgeous piece ready to go.

This summer definitely flew by quickly, but I have no complaints.  And now the countdown until next summer begins...


~61~ Year 2

Today is Jake and I's second anniversary.  It's amazing how much can change in just a year or two.  I think back to where we were when we got married and this time last year, compared to where we are today and it totally blows my mind. 

Since last year, we have:
*Bought a house AND made it our own


*Adopted an adorable new dog, that we named Viktor (Skol Vikings!)

While it's only 2 things, in my opinion, those are 2 pretty big things! It makes me wonder where we'll be this time next year.  

To celebrate, we're going to dinner at a restaurant neither of us have been to, but that Jake's parents gave a rave review this past weekend.  Afterwards we're going to see World War Z, then home for some dessert and champagne!  Sounds like a perfect celebratory date with my sweetheart!

How do you celebrate your anniversary?


~60~ Canvas Love

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope all of you are enjoying this long weekend and taking a minute or two out of your day to remember those who have and are currently serving our country and have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Today, I am remembering my Grandpa Roger who served in World War II as a medic, based in Labrador. During his service, he saved countless lives with his quick thinking and strong leadership skills.   He is my hero and was an extraordinary man by the way that he dedicated his life to his family, his faith, and his country.  

In addition to remembering Grandpa Roger, Jake and I spent our weekend decorating our house.  Now that we've finally got the big stuff completed, we were able to add some personal touches, making it feel even more like a home.  My projects for this weekend involved canvases.  Using some Pinspiration, I took some old T-Shirts that had some meaning to Jake and I, but have been sitting in boxes, and stapled them to 12"x12" canvases and hung them in our downstairs hallway leading to the guest bathroom and bedroom.  I am in love! They turned out even better than I had anticipated and really added a personal touch to the house that added some visual variety from pictures. 

Here's what I put on each canvas: 
1. Jake's championship tee-shirt from his inter mural flag football team
2. Jake earned this back during his online poker days when he took out a professional poker player
3.  My brother and sister-in-law brought this shirt back for me after their first trip to the Caribbean
4. The shirt we wore when we volunteered to work at Des Moine's annual Bacon Fest event
5. A shirt from my first Laker Invitational Swim Meet when I was swam competitively in High School
6. Jake's high school Football Championship T-shirt from his senior year in high school
7. The shirt we wore during the Diamond Dash we participated in, leading us to find my engagement ring. 

In addition to the T-Shirt canvases, I also made a necklace hanger to put in our bedroom.  Since we've moved, my necklaces have been stored in a zip lock case, getting tangled up, and not getting used.  I found some beautiful fabric from JoAnns that matched our bedroom color scheme of blues and grays.  I stapled that around a 7"x10" piece of wood that we had left over from our bathroom vanity remodel and attached cup hooks to the bottom and a bracket to the back so that I could mount it to the wall.  I then added my necklaces, and voila!  

What DIY projects have you used canvases for?


~59~ Winding down

Jake and I have now officially been homeowners a little over a month!
It's crazy how fast time has gone, it sometimes feels like it's only been a couple weeks.  Since moving in, we've been like little energizer bunnies, just going and going and going and going.  It's seriously been like having a second job.  We go to work all day and then come home and work all night long.  Jake has even been coming home and working over his lunch break!  I swear, if I never see another paint brush or roller, it will be too soon.  I've never minded painting before, but 6 rooms and 2 hallways later, I'm over it.  And truth be told, I'm  still not done.  We have an accent wall to paint in the guest bedroom and I still have some painting to do in my craft room (more on that later!).  

Thankfully, things have finally started winding down.  We got a chance to celebrate all of our hard work this past weekend and had a housewarming party for all of our friends and family.  I'd say it was a huge success.  We love being hosts and it was so nice to be able to have a group of people over and not have to have everyone sitting on top of each other like we did in our tiny apartment.   We were so humbled by everyone's presence, love, and support with the house and like at our wedding, almost 2 years ago, we felt so amazed and blessed by the people in our lives!

Of course a party isn't a party without food, so we fired up the grill that's been sitting on our apartment deck untouched for the past 2 years and had some burgers, brats and plenty of other yummy dishes.  All I have to say is thank goodness for Pinterest.  It seriously was my lifesaver.  Everything, with the exception of one dish was from that wonderful place and I got lots of compliments on it all day.  Of course, afterwards I realized what a terrible blogger I am because I didn't take any pictures the entire day.  I was just too busy enjoying the company of our guests :)

I will, however, show off some more pictures of our updated place.  Here's a list of what we've done since my last update:

*Added track lighting with a dimmer switch to our downstairs den.
*Jake built and installed a recessed shelf in the wall of our den (thank you to Jen at Iheartorganizing for this idea!)

*Bought patio furniture, scoring an amazing deal at Kohls-the entire set, including an umbrella was purchased for under $300)

*Painted the upstairs hallway

*Painted the border in the 3rd bedroom/office
*Got an L-shaped desk for the office
*Painted the 2nd bedroom/my craft room & began stenciling it (this I'm keeping under wraps until my big reveal!)

Jake and I finally feel like we've reached a point where we can slow down on the house.  All of the big things that we wanted to get done right away have been accomplished.  It's about time that we get to come home from work and just enjoy the house we've worked so hard for!  The only thing left on the list is my craft room.  I have a couple big plans for it, so expect a post in the very near future giving you a tour of my new space. I can't wait!

In other news, I am now officially half way done with my Master's degree having just finished my Action Research course.  I have a 2 week break before the next semester begins and I thoroughly plan to enjoy it.  I am also down to just 27 days of school left.  I had the day off today and with the warmer weather and our lovely house to enjoy, I am very anxious for the end of the school  year! Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my job and the kids I have the privilege of working with, but I am eagerly awaiting the time where I can sit out on my deck in the middle of the day enjoying the sunshine, or dig in the dirt setting up my garden.  

What are you looking forward to this summer?


~58~ Bathroom make over

When we moved in to our new house, there were 2 rooms that needed a major make over: our master bathroom and our second bedroom, AKA my craft room.
Our first priority was our bathroom since more than just myself would be using it.  There were just so many things that needed to be done.

Step 1: Painting the vanity
Neither of us was a fan of the burgundy red-especially paired with the mustard yellow and the blue tile.  I love the look of black bathroom vanities so that was done within week 1.  Instant upgrade!

Step 2: Adding new drawer pulls and cabinet nobs
The vanity didn't come with any, so I picked up some silver drawer pulls at Ikea when I was home over spring break.
The nobs are from Menards. It really made the black look so sleek and pretty!

Step 3: Painting the wall
The bathroom is two-toned.  There's mustard yellow that is on the little end cap of the vanity, as well as the wall opposite the shower.  The rest of it was painted beige/tan.  To compliment the blue tile (which we'll eventually update), we went with a grayish blue color called "Glass Slipper" by Benjamin Moore.  We had it made by Sherwin-Williams.  It doesn't have as much blue in it as I would have liked, but it's not bad.  Opposite the mirror, we painted the wall a medium blue from the same color family as the blue tile.

Step 4: Painting the shelf over the toilet
To match the newly painted vanity, I painted the little medicine cabinet black as well.  Looks so much better!

Step 5: Changing the drawers on the vanity
I have never in my life ever seen such a thing, but our vanity drawers are made out of, wait for it….


The front is made of wood, but screwed into them is a plastic tub.  They are disgustingly gross.  Plus they are cracking and covered in crusty, dried tooth paste.  They are so bad that I refused to put anything in them.  The plan to replace them was a lot more work than it sounds like.  The biggest problem was that the drawers are held into the vanity by a piece of plastic that runs through the middle of the top of the tub, with nothing underneath supporting it.
The first thing we did was frame out the inside of the vanity with a piece of plywood underneath to support a new drawer. We used liquid nails and screws to hold everything into place.
Then, using the front of the drawer, we built the sides and a new bottom out of wood to fit the space.

Voila! A beautiful, fresh-looking vanity.
Doesn't it look so much better?!



We have a few more things that I want to do before we're officially done.  This includes replacing the faucet and framing the mirror.  We already have the trim picked out, we just need to cut, paint, and liquid nail them into place.
I'll be back soon to add those updates.

Until then, 


~57~All Moved In!

Well, sort of.  We're all moved in in the sense that all of our stuff is in the house.
We've officially been in the house for 2 weeks now!  Since the big move, we've done A LOT of work.  Most of it done by my wonderful husband.  On Thursday-the day we moved-my mother-in-law and brother-in-law arrived to help load some boxes into her van.  Within 1 short hour, we had the main living room pretty much cleared of boxes and both her car and mine filled to the brim.
Two Men and a Truck promptly arrived just before our scheduled 9am time.  Bonus-we actually got 3 men and a truck (I think one was in training).  After signing a few papers, they quickly got to work moving boxes, wrapping furniture, and carrying it down.  I was very impressed with their efficiency and speed.  Not only were they hard workers, but personable too!
Within just under an hour and a half, the entire apartment was packed up and loaded into the truck.  We made our way over to the new house and began to unload.  Another 40 minutes later, the truck was empty and our house was full.  Total move time: 2.75 hours!!
While a tiny bit pricey, Two Men was the best investment we could have made in the transition process.


Once we were all in, the plan was to paint both living rooms and our bedroom to get ready for our furniture that was being delivered the next day.  Shortly after getting to the house, DirecTV showed up and got our cable all set up.  Perfect timing for Jake to be able to watch the NCAA basketball tournament start.  By the end of Thursday night, we had our bedroom and the upstairs living room completely painted.  The downstairs living was started, but not finished.

Friday morning the furniture arrived and we quickly realized just how deceiving those furniture show room floors are.  Our sectional couch downstairs was just massive.  We had planned to have it face the tv, but unfortunately the couch was as wide as our room.  With some quick thinking and remeasuring, we decided to turn the couch and put it on the garage-side wall.  It finally felt like home with some fresh paint and new, beautiful furniture.

Since that weekend, we've been slowly unpacking, cleaning up the house, fixing little things, and hanging pictures.  We've been go-go-go this whole time that I haven't had a chance to really relax and fully enjoy the house for what it is, but I know that once we get there, it will feel amazing!  In just 2 weeks, the transformation that our house has taken truly has amazed me.  The best part-it's ours.

I'll leave you with some before and after pictures of what we've done.  We still have some updates to do to the bathroom, office, and the craft room-but hopefully I'll have those ready sooner than later.
Before: Lots and lots of peach
After: new paint & furniture
New Console Table
Bedroom Before
Before: Gotta love the lime green
After: New bed, paint, and curtains
Guest Room Before
Guest Room After
Until next time, 

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