Getting through

As we all try to sort our way through these unprecedented waters, I can’t help but think about how something like this could happen or why. J keeps telling me to stop reading and watching the news as the germophobe side of me has me out of my mind. I may be taking this more serious than others, but I want to make sure I have enough knowledge and understanding in order to keep myself and my family safe.

As I’m trying to wrap my head around the virus and its potential impact, I am also trying to think of the positive side. For the next however long, I’m making a concentrated effort to take a step back, spend time with family, declutter, meditate, go on walks, cook meals, finish house projects (painting), be more present, and do whatever it is that is usually pushed to the back burner. My way of making lemons out of lemonade will look something like this:

1. Puppy time! Duh – this is a no brainer. I wholeheartedly believe that everything happens for a reason, and as I wrote about in this post, we were supposed to wait until June to adopt. After meeting our little guy on Presidents’ Day and bringing him home last weekend, the timing was just right. Who knows what will happen in June or during the summer, but I know I have all the time in the world to dedicate to Samson right now.

2. Workout – One of the best ways for me to remain anxiety free is to workout. I’ve earmarked an hour each day to exercise, whether it be on the treadmill, doing an online video, to walking outside, it’s going to happen. By the way, I believe the Tone It Up girls are still offering a free, one month membership to all new members as their way of keeping people moving during isolation. This app has tons of great workouts of all types and I’ve been doing one each day after 30 minutes on the treadmill.

3. Fresh air – It has been so nice the past few days and Samson and I have been outside soaking it up. Whether walking around the block or sitting on the deck, it feels so good to breathe in the air and feel the warmth of the sun.

4. Read – I’m definitely a seasonal reader. I tend to read a ton in the summer and over Christmas break, and then I stop for a bit. For the next few weeks I want to force myself to snuggle on the couch and read more, so please send any recs my way!

5. Getting my house ready to sell – My amazing house will be going on the market very soon and I want to make sure that everything is ready to go when it’s time to list. It’s a cute home in the heart of Bethlehem Township. If you or someone you know may be looking in the near future, here is the link with photos when I bought it almost five years ago.

6. Taking a class – I finally took the plunge and enrolled in an online Interior Design class given by the New York Institute of Art and Design. My hope is to have the course completed this summer. I want to learn as much as I can about the design field since it has become an immense passion of mine. Then I want to start a freelance/consulting business where I can help people with anything from choosing paint colors to designing/refreshing an entire room. To do that, I wanted some schooling background to add to my resume in addition to client references and a portfolio.

It is my hope that everyone stays safe, stays healthy and stays home. We will get through this together, but we need to come together as a country and listen to what they are telling us to do. xo

Pappy’s Birthday Dinner

Last night we had a little get together to celebrate J’s dad. His special day was last weekend, but with kid schedules, a small dinner party with just us and my parents fit the bill.

I wanted to keep things relatively simple. A black and white table with some spring flowers, and a tasty, but kid friendly menu for all to enjoy.

I’ve linked a few of the recipes below.

Hoagie Dip

Cracked Out Tater Tot Casserole

Salted Caramel Kentucky Butter Cake

There’s no specific marinade recipe for the beef. In a gallon sized bag, I just combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, Kosher salt, pepper, some type of steak seasoning (whatever I have on hand such as McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak seasoning), and chopped garlic. It’s best to let the meat marinate for at least 24 hours. The longer, the better!

The potatoes were a major hit with the kids! And the cake was super decadent and moist. Note – I used store bought caramel sauce heated slightly in the microwave and it worked out just fine. Enjoy! xo

What’s saving me this winter

Image via @relxased

Oh winter, will you ever end? Right around this time of year I am itching for warmer weather, bare legs, and summer vacation, but I know that there is still an ample amount of days left to trudge through until that can happen. With this winter being a snow-free one, there has been little breaks in the weekly action to get us through, so when I read one of my favorite blogger’s post on what’s saving her this winter, I decided to make my own list.

While some items are not very exciting and may seem trivial on the surface, their intentions and meanings have really helped me to build my energy to remain positive on these very dreary days. Take a look…

Design projects. I love my projects…..from beginning to end, they make me happy, they challenge me, and they make our space look amazing. Right now our house is a hot mess and we are knee deep in the home office / front foyer remodel, and it is looking great. I can’t wait to share with you how it looks!

Date nights. Even if we are just relaxing at home watching our favorite shows, getting cozy on the couch with J is one of my favorite things to do. Period.

Planning getaways. My friend and I will be doing an overnight in NYC in March and we both can’t wait. We planned to (hopefully) hit some flea markets and vintage (depending on weather), trying out Rose Mansion-a wine tasting experience, and having a nice dinner. All things that we both love! Plus, J and I are looking into what we want to do as a couple this summer.

Working out. As they say, summer bodies are made in the winter. While this is certainly true, I started a new plan right after the holidays consisting of weights, cardio and a whole lot of food tracking. I have never felt better! My body doesn’t hurt from the pounding on the roads (it definitely took a toll from running), and I have so much energy. Most importantly, working out isn’t a chore anymore!

Podcasts. The last year I’ve really upped my podcast game, especially when I am on the treadmill. My absolute favorite is Lori Harder‘s “Earn Your Happy” show. So many of her episodes have hit home and resonated into many aspects of my life. I also like The Chalene Show by Chalene Johnson. She’s another one that has some really “hit you in the gut” messages.

Family dinners. Every week our clan tries to get together for one dinner. It’s easier on those weekends that we have the kids and usually Sundays are reserved for the meals, but on the weekends we don’t we try and have a designated weeknight dinner together. With five kids total, the number of practices and games gets a little hairy, so scheduling them can be tricky. But for the most part, those moments when we can sit down together are so special.

Lists in my journal. If you can see my notebook/journal that is always on me, you would most likely question it’s purpose. There are lists after lists. Grocery lists, puppy supply lists, party lists, etc. Anything I think of, need to remember, etc are in my simple notebook. Plus, everything is written in black ink because I’m quirky like that. 😉

Last, but not least….

Our future puppy!! I wrote a post last month about how we are looking for the perfect puppy to add to our family and I think we found him. Last week we made a special visit and when we did, I died and went to heaven. I am over the moon about him, where he is coming from, and how he will be the best addition to our unique clan. More about him to come, but the only problem is trying to decide on a name with 7 different opinions!

So, what’s getting YOU though the winter?

Home Office: Floor Installed

Home Office: Floor Installed

I thought I would write a quick post to give you an update on the home office and foyer remodel. I have to say, I am in love. Here’s my drawing that I doodled in my sketchbook. I knew I wanted a traditional black and white floor, however I definitely wanted some movement and texture. I also wanted to soften it a bit so I wanted to add some tan accents to break up the coolness of the black and white.

Here are a few snapshots of the floor and new french door.

Entering the office from the front foyer.
Close up of the floor in the morning light.
View from the dining room.
The doors in the top right were made to fit the entrance into the room.

If you forgot what my inspiration board looked like, here is where we started.

All in all, everything is coming together as planned and we couldn’t be happier. Our contractors have been amazing, and the guy who shows up at our house each morning at 7:30am has got some major skills! As we make more progress, I will be sure fill you in! xoxo

Loving Lately

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, but I thought I would share a few things I have been loving lately.

1. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher is crazy good. I’m hosting a Galentine’s Party in the near future and some of us are reading this book to discuss the story over wine. I promise, even though some of my friends aren’t reading it, they will be very interested in the discussions.

2. Landyn Hutchinson’s movement on a woman named Janice. For more on this, go to the instagram page she created that is devoted towards other women’s Janices.

There is even a song written about this amazing woman.

And here is my Janice…my mom.

3. This really good dupe from Amazon that looks just like the Bottega Veneta pouch bag that is almost three grand. I bought one for myself before Christmas and received tons of compliments. It does come with a strap, but I have yet to use it, or even figure out how to tie it on! I ordered the large green.

4. I may have teared up a bit watching this beautiful video about Kobe Bryant.

5. This really cook trick to hide your router. I’m definitely making one once the new home office is built!

Advice to live by…

This. I truly believe that if I heard this quote a long time ago I would have saved myself a lot of heartache, stress and sadness. I know they say that obstacles and challenges make us grow as people, but I can’t help but wonder if having this tidbit of knowledge in the back of my head would have changed the way things worked out. Maybe? Maybe not. I do know that the gut feeling we all experience every now and then is not to be ignored.

These days I find my gut feelings to be nothing but positive. Big changes are coming for me this year, and change can be scary. But and I know in my heart that I am exactly where I need to be. xo

My thoughts on design

This morning I was on the treadmill listening to a podcast and they were talking about design trends for 2020. A trend is just that, something that moves in quickly, lasts for a little while, and then sails off into the sunset. I find that when I’m designing a room, I try stay away from too many trendy items in one space. I stick to neutral palates, pieces that I love, and build on basic details. Any of the trendy pieces I have are inexpensive items such as fun pillows or quirky elements from Home Goods or flea markets.

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So after listening to this podcast, I thought it would be fun to give my take on some of the questions asked to the person they interviewed. I am not a designer, however I know what I love and what I have learned along the way.

What are some things that a person can do to instantly update a room?

New lamps/lighting. I usually get my lamps from places like Target or Home Goods. They have great pieces for a fraction of the cost. New lighting instantly “lights up the space” (no pun intended) and adds a new dynamic to any space.

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Good, neutral carpet. Rugs are used so hard, so a good neutral sisal or jute rug is so durable and adds texture. Don’t forget, layering rugs over existing carpet is fun too! My favorite sources are rugsusa.com and Home Goods.

Great piece of art. This can range from low to high, but a great piece of abstract art or something quirky from a flea market can add visual interest and drama to a space. Etsy and Minted are other excellent sources for art. Don’t be afraid to try your own hand at an abstract painting. You may be surprised to see what you end up with!

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Large statement mirror. My love of mirrors, particularly vintage gold ones, runs deep. That’s probably my number one search on Facebook Marketplace. A large mirror can be leaned on a wall, hung behind a couch or along a dining room wall. Get one you love.

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Solid dining room table. I never had a dining room table that I loved until I bought my house five years ago. All of the other tables I had came with the people I was with, and I hated every one of them. I finally got the one I wanted…a rustic table with square chunky legs and an imperfect top and I still love it.

Neutral couch/chairs. I will always preach this to anyone asking. There are so many options out there, and patterned couches are definitely “in” right now, but I still swear by a neutral couch. White gets dirty, but a tan/camel colored sofa that wears well is a great investment.

What makes a room more interesting, in my opinion…

A vintage (wooden) piece of furniture. I love an old piece mixed in with modern details. For me, I get a warm feeling when I see old and new mixed together. It’s visual interest to the max!

Mixed metals. Anything from picture frames, lamps, coffee table decor, etc. Mixing it all together gives a room dimension.

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Unfussy curtains. Personally, I love all white/ivory curtains against a white/ivory wall with a black or gold rod. The curtains won’t take away from everything else in the room, but still adds to the walls of the space.

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Warm neutrals, rather than stark whites. I can’t tell exactly what it is, but I am always drawn to a warmer white, rather than something bright and blinding. We are in the process of planning a home office renovation with built-ins and I’ve found that Benjamin Moore’s Simply White will be so good on the shelves. It’s the perfect mix of a warm white without being too yellow or too grey.

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Trends moving out, in my opinion…

My thoughts on a few trends moving out…

Greys. Grey came in fast and furious, but I have been seeing more and more cream-based whites, rather than the cooler, grey-whites. I can’t say that I have ever been a true grey person, and I just prefer the warmer cousin (tans).

Moroccan trellis design. This pattern was allover the place. Rugs, art, curtains, etc. It was everywhere. Still is. But in my opinion, I think we will be moving away from the trellis to a more soothing design with texture.

Final thoughts….

Basically, it all comes down to what YOU love in YOUR house. Designers consistently try to bring in new ideas and new colors all of the time to change things up. If they didn’t, wouldn’t home decor be boring? Sage green was the rage in the early 2000’s and it is making a comeback now. Who would have thought? Bottom line, do what you love. Choose pieces that speak to you. Don’t just buy to buy. Shop around. Enjoy the hunt. Collect vintage pieces. Visit unexpected places. Collect items from vacations. The best rooms are put together piece by piece, rather than a “room to go” style.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful example of hunting down pieces by themselves, but coming together to create a stunning room.

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Puppies on my mind

Sometimes when I get something in my head that I really, really want, I can’t stop thinking about it. Whether it’s something that I want to accomplish, a goal that I want to reach, or something physical that I need to have in my possession, it resides in my mind and I can’t let it go until whatever it is has been accomplished or gotten. This trait can be both good and bad. On the positive side, I am extremely intrinsically motivated to accomplish goals. I am perfect in an athlete/coach situation and can put all else aside in order to focus to succeed. This part of me has especially fared well in my running career which has brought me much success in the past. But, the negative side is when something runs in my brain and I can’t stop thinking about it. Downtime at home is consumed with research and planning. Notebooks get filled and lists get checked off. Being a planner and detail oriented, everything is in order and in place.

I have been wanting a puppy for ages.

SO — the fact that J finally caved and is on board with us welcoming a new furry friend to our brood this summer is big. Huge, in fact. We have been talking about it for a few years now and he always said no dog. All five kids and I have relentlessly came up with reasons why we needed one in our home. And, Santa even brought it toys for Christmas this past year because every dog needs toys shaped like wine and champagne bottles, right?

Thinking back, he was right. It wasn’t a good time to get a dog for us. We weren’t on a consistent routine of all being together, and he didn’t want the sole responsibility of taking care of it when I was at my house. Another positive factor are my parents. They are more than willing to be babysitters whenever we go away. In fact, my mom has eluded to the fact that she wants to have puppy sleepovers so she can spend quality time with our new fur baby.

In fact there may have been a time when my mom and I felt so bad for a puppy at a pet store (I know!) that we were going to adopt him together! Be joint parents. J and my dad shot that idea down immediately. We still wonder where cute little Cooper is today and hope that he has a warm and loving home.

What kind?

After much research and knowing what I like, I want a small dog that’s tan in color. I want it to be a non-shedding dog and hypoallergenic. I know that no dog is entirely hypoallergenic, but we want to be as close as you get so that means something with a poodle mix.

My top three breeds are the Cavapoo (a cross between a King Charles Cavalier and a poodle), the Havanese (pure bred dog that originated in Cuba), or a Maltepoo (a cross between a Maltese and a poodle).

Cavapoo
Tan Havanese (cut short)
Maltepoo

As you can see, all three are very similar. The Havanese can be left with their long locks, or cut short for a more friendly grooming routine (which I prefer).

Where will he or she come from?

I am in the process of major research right now. I have my name in several Havanese rescues as well as breeders for all three. My ideal puppy would be one a little older (6-8 months), but I would get one at 8-10 weeks if it were the right one.

I have found that there aren’t really defined rescues for the poos’ since they are a cross-breed, but my mind is open.

What is the timing?

If all of the cards play out the way I want them to, my wish would be to have the puppy come to us in June, right in the beginning of summer. That way, I will be home for two months to spend with it before returning to school. J works from home, so he will be home most days to let it out when needed.

Honestly, I think that J and my friends think that I have officially lost my mind. Between the home office/foyer renovation and the dog, I can’t think of anything else. I tell them that I can’t wait to snuggle with it and carry it all around. It will go everywhere with me (maybe even in a purse — which got a big thumbs down from my family, but I don’t really care.)

My mom is also very busy looking for possible puppies and regularly sends me pictures of cuties during the day, so it’s a win-win all around.

All in all, when I said that 2020 was going to be my year, which is off to an amazing start by the way, this little guy or girl will be a huge part in what lies ahead and I can’t wait.

If you have any suggestions, comments or tips….please send them my way! xo

Project Update: Foyer and Office Remodel

It’s mid-January and we are moving along wth the plans for our upcoming office and front foyer remodel. As they say, all good things take time and permanent home projects are no different. So much goes into the planning and execution of a project and behind the scenes work can seem endless. Calls to the floor guy, meetings with the wood worker, paint colors, lighting, where will the outlets be, the list goes on and on. I am not going to lie, I am loving every part of the process. Not only am I learning a ton from the crew that I have brought together for this project (ie: floor guy, carpet guy, builder), but my mind is being challenged and creative juices are overflowing. It feels so good to exercise these parts of me that are not always used.

I recently wrote two posts talking about the projects and you can find them below. Both of these posts outline my thoughts for these spaces, but since publishing them, I made some changes.

Stair Makeover and Runner Install

First Project of 2020: Home Office

Home Office

Above is the new and improved vision board for the office. I still am going with white built-ins and gold knobs, but the countertop color is still up in the air. I’m not sure if it will be painted white, black or stained brown.

Some other definite features of the room:

~ Long white (probably velvet) drapes with modern gold rods

~ My vintage Mid-Century Modern Broyhill Brasilia dresser will make an appearance for extra storage and added warmth

~ I am loving Benjamin Moore’s Smoke for the walls – it’s a smoky blue-grey, but not too bright.

~ Black and white tiles that look like marble (we are using porcelain) with small tan squares set on a diagonal.

~ Custom french doors to separate the office and the front foyer for privacy. These need to be made because the door frame is tall and narrow and I love the ones in the picture below, so I’m using them as my inspiration).

~ New chandelier like the one in the image. We will need to put in the electric for this on the ceiling. This room doesn’t get a lot of natural light, so this is a necessity since J will be working in this room all day (and I’m actually kind of jealous about that).

Foyer and Steps

Since we need to close in the wall coming down the stairs in order to put in the french doors, we will tackle the foyer as well. I have been seriously playing around with the vision board, and this is what I came up with:

~ White walls and new white picture frame molding going up the steps.

~ Paint the steps all white with a black railing.

~ Add a new mirror (this one from Ballard) behind the existing cabinet (which I may paint a light blush) to blend with our gallery wall.

~ A glam chandelier to balance everything and add some shimmer and shine!

~ A neutral patterned carpet to endure the wear and tear of seven people.

What’s Next?

This weekend we are finalizing plans for the tile and approving the final design for the built-ins. My guys (Mark and Nate) have been amazing and I would be willing to share out their information to local folks!

~ Test out blush paint swatches.

~ Look for lighting for the office built-ins.

~ Secure our painter for a few months out.

~ Choose carpet for the steps.

Time Frame

This is definitely a winter project, so I know in advance that it will take a little while. It can sometimes be hard to line up all of the contractors perfectly since they have other jobs they are doing too. My hope is that the entire project will be finished by end of March, beginning of April….just in time for warmer weather and then, summer vacation!

I hope you will follow me on this journey. As I said, I am learning a lot, more and more as I go, and I would be willing to share any tips or answer any questions you may have! xo

Coordinated Health PSA Video for Dr. Schwartz

Last December I decided it was finally time to have the large “bump” that resided on the back of my heel taken care of, and the first person I turned to was my favorite podiatrist, Dr. Ed Schwartz.

Ed, as my family calls him, went in and removed the bump, which is medically known as Haglund’s Deformity. Initially I thought it was a running injury, but apparently it is also hereditary as he just operated on my mom two weeks ago for the same thing.

I have been going to Dr. Schwartz for a loooonnnnggg time. He diagnosed my first stress fracture when I was in high school and then many other running injuries that followed after. I’ll let the video speak for itself, but if you are in need of a podiatrist in the Lehigh Valley, he would be my first choice. I have known Dr. Schwartz for years, trust his knowledge and skills as a physician, and even babysat his kids when they were young. Take a look….