mini board and batten "mudroom" wall

With Olivia potty training last week, I knew I would need/want a little project to do in the evenings to keep my sanity (what's left of it). Some people like adult coloring books, some people read, me? Gimme a drill or some paint and lemme take it out on my house! ;-)

I looove the functionality of a mudroom space, it's on the "must have" list for our next house, but with our town house, there just isn't anywhere to put one. But we did have a small useless wall in between the half bath and back door that I knew would be perfect for board and batten, that we could also add hooks to for more functionality and some added interior appeal. In total this took 3 hours total and cost less than $20. BOOM. Wish I would have done it months ago. 

I used two different blogs as guides (here and here). It really is a super simple idea- measure your space, decide how far apart you want the vertical boards to be, measure and cut the horizontal boards, fix to the wall, paint, add hooks. Done. 

Deciding where and how high you want the boards to be really is a preference thing. Using masking or painters tape to get something up on the wall so you can easily play around with the layout and spacing is genius. A good rule of thumb is either halfway up the wall or two-thirds.


1/2" x 3" pine boards, cut to length
1/2" x 1.5" pine boards, cut to length
Wall screws
Stud finder
Drill (with 1/8" drill bit and countersink drill bit)
Gorilla glue
White paint (I used Benjamin Moore White Dove)
Painter's Tape
Wall spackle or nail filler 
White paintable caulk
These wall hooks (by far cheaper than what you will pick up at Home Depot)

Couple of things to note- if you don't own a saw of any kind, no worries. Just pre-measure the sizes you need, take your list to Lowe's or Home Depot and they will make the cuts for you there. 
Also, you can secure the boards faster with a brad nailer and air compressor, I just don't own one and didn't want to borrow or rent one. If this project was larger though, I would go that route to save a considerable amount of time.  
And lastly, the complete list above will cost you more than $20 if you have to buy everything on it. I had everything already except the pine board and hooks. If you do have to invest in it all, really nothing is lost because those are materials and supplies you will use time and time again!

Once I knew where I wanted everything to go, I used the stud find to mark where the studs are in the wall. You want your horizontal boards to go into those as much as possible, especially if you plan to add hooks to hang weight from. The vertical boards it doesn't matter- their purpose is purely decorative. 

Everywhere I was going to drill in a screw, I first used my 1/8" drill bit to drill a pilot hole to make it easier for the screws to go through the pine boards. After drilling the pilot holes, I used the countersink bit to widen the top of the hole. This allows the screw to sit below the surface so you can fill it with spackle and paint over it, and no one will ever know a screw sits there.

I screwed my horizontal boards into the wall first- don't use your baseboards as a guide as those aren't always level. Check EVERY board with a level before attaching it to the wall, or you may be sad. For the vertical boards that aren't secured into studs, I applied a thin line of gorilla glue down the middle, and attached them to the wall with one or two screws.

Once the Gorilla Glue was dry (didn't take long at all!), I caulked around every board to fill in the slight gap between the wall and board. Caulk is magical stuff that makes all of your imperfections just disappear. I also filled in all of the screw holes with spackle. This whole process from a clean wall to the boards attached with caulk took roughly an hour and a half. 

Once the caulk dries, you're ready for paint! I painted mine the following night and used 3 coats of Benjamin Moore White Dove, which took about an hour. By the time I finished one coat, I was ready to start at the bottom for the next coat, so that worked out well. 

Lastly, hang the hooks! I also drilled quick pilot holes into the pine boards before screwing these in. I didn't use to do this much- okay- never, but it makes it a million times easier to get the screw where you want it to go without sliding all over the place, so I think I'm converted! I didn't measure my hook placement- just eyeballed it. Seemed to work out.

And wah-lah! It is a very non-intimidating, cheap, and quick DIY project, making it worth every second of your time.

 And this friends, is officially my last real project in this house! It's bittersweet. Now it's time for lame stuff, like fixing some outlets, patching up random scuffs and paint, etc. to get her all ready to show!


2016 recap

Alas! The highlights from 2016 (in no particular order):

  1. James graduated from GW with his MBA! He finished in January and we flew out to DC for commencement in May. We are glad that chapter of our lives is over. :-D Every time I contemplate getting a Masters, I remember how much homework he had alll thheee tiiimmeee and how much Netflix I watched while he did it...and then I think about how okay I am with not having a Masters. ;-) But I'm so proud of how hard he worked to get it and in hindsight it was all worth it! 

2. My family reunion trip to Florida in July! Any trip back home is a good one, but this one was especially great because all of my cousins that I grew up with were there at the same time. The memories I have with them were the best parts of my childhood. The girls and I stayed out an extra week, which made it even more perfect because I was able to catch up with so many old friends! 

3. James landed a new job. This was probably one of those most stressful parts of the year...was that it took 9 months of hardcore looking and to find it and plenty of disappointment along the way, but what matters is he DID! We were so happy to be done with his previous job, and so far he's really enjoying what he's doing now! Which means he's happier, I'm happier, we're all much happier. :-D 

4. We went to Portland for our 8th anniversary! This one actually brings up mixed feelings for me, because I was super excited to go to a place I hadn't been before, but I also was only 7-8 weeks pregnant at the time and so beyond, incredibly sick. Most nights I crashed on the hotel bed by 7:30pm and tried to move as little as possible. But overall it was still a fun weekend away! 

5. Which leads right into the next thing- baby girl #3! Jillian is so beyond excited to be adding another baby to the family- she asks about her and talks about her all of the time. I think she's going to be a great help to me when she's born as well, so that's exciting!

6. Getting certified as a PiYo instructor! And really taking charge of my health overall, losing 30 lbs. I'd been going to PiYo classes for almost 2 years and completely fell in love with the format, so when an instructor training came to Utah (which doesn't happen often), I jumped at the chance! Little did I know I was actually a few weeks pregnant at the time and just didn't know it yet! I'm still going to classes regularly and teaching it at our church weekly, but won't look to work at any gyms regularly until after I bounce back from this baby! I'm currently 18 weeks and some moves are already getting tricky! But I am so, so, so excited about this new chapter to pursue in my life- never in a million and twelve years did I ever think I would be a fitness instructor. I think my 30s may just be the best decade yet!

7.  Jillian starting kindergarten! Knowing her, I knew the transition would be a little rough, but I'm so proud of how far she has come and how much she has been able to accomplish in the last few months. She's just in half-day kindergarten (3 hours), and I'm actually really glad about that! I think that's all both of us could have handled this year. When I think about how quickly time is going by sometimes, I want to turn into a big, blubbery mess. But each time she learns a new skill, finds a new hobby or gains a little more independence- it makes my Mama heart sore with pride. Raising kids certainly is bitter sweet. 

8. Olivia is just about potty trained! (anyone who has ever potty trained a toddler knows how big of an accomplishment this is). I think we can count this one still since we started a few days ago when it was still 2016! She caught on super fast (thank GOODNESS). I haven't been confident enough to go anywhere with her yet though (James and I have just been tag teaming being home..), but we'll be forced to in the next couple of days now that Christmas break is over... so that could be interesting, but I'm hoping it sticks! You never really knew just how excited you could be about poop in the potty until you've potty trained a little person (and realize just how many other places except the toilet it could end up!).

Looking back, 2016 was a really good one for our family and I'm so grateful! We are thrilled for 2017 as well- with baby sister arriving in May, as well as upgrading houses and moving a little closer to James' job in the next few months! I already spend way too much time dreaming about counter tops and paint colors (I have a problem you guys...). :-D


Christmas in a nutshell

Christmas with kids is so magical. I think it's the combination of everything- twinkly lights everywhere, unlimited hot chocolate, unwavering belief, family traditions- it makes my heart skip a beat. 

Some things I want to remember about December:

 One of the traditions we've carried on and sort of tweaked from my childhood is December 1st! Where we make cookies and get new Christmas jammies. It's both delicious and cozy. Last year I found a book called The Pajama Elves that we read and then their new jammies are "mysteriously" delivered! Jillian was especially impressed that her jammies were made with some gold thread- it was magic thread in her opinion.
The first real snow! Olivia's face says it all...those girls couldn't wait to get suited up that day and roll around in it all! I happily watched from indoors wrapped in a blanket with a mug of cocoa.

There is still work to be done in the snowman department...to their credit, it's not like I grew up building these, so I'm not entirely sure of the best method either! But it didn't matter- they were proud nevertheless.

Normally I try to pack in as much Christmas related hooplah as I can in December to make it last just a little longer, but this year I didn't have that kind of energy (thanks fetus). Though I almost didn't mind at all because we got to pick a few of our favorite things to go do and savor all of the little things about Christmas and really enjoy our outings. One such outing was seeing the lights on Temple Square! It was packed (always) and freezing (of course), but the display there is always beautiful. It also helped that we got some hot, delicious mini donuts afterward from the Art City Donuts food truck! 

 Decorating gingerbread houses at one of our family Christmas parties was Jillian's favorite! She is such a crafter and was so meticulous and detailed about every single piece of candy that went on her house. By the time she was done, every square inch of that board was covered! It was one of those things that we had to leave on the counter and admire for days and that I had to throw away after she went to bed then hope she didn't notice the next morning...you know those kinds of projects.
Olivia was just really happy to see at a table full of unwrapped candy!

 On Christmas Eve, the girls and I started the day by cleaning (my new favorite parenting trick ever is to say "Santa won't deliver new toys if..." pretty much the whole month of December- it made clean-ups a breeze). So we had to prep the house for Santa. ;-) Then we decorated sugar cookies and arranged them on a plate with carrots for Santa and his reindeer. That night we went to Grandma & Dave's house for dinner and presents! One of my favorite things was that Olivia got some animal figurines and one of them was a kangaroo, but she didn't know what it was called so she just referred to it as a "boing"! 

The whole ride home from Grandma's, Jillian was using an app on my phone that can call or text Santa, to make sure he had everything that was on her list. She was very worried that she never actually mailed her letter, so she needed something "express". 

And of course, Christmas morning! We put the stockings in our girls room before we go to bed (a tip I picked up from my parents), that way when they wake up it keeps them entertained and in their rooms for a little bit so we, the parents, get to sleep for a few more minutes! Plus it's really fun to gradually wake up and hear their "ooos and aaahs" coming from the next room.  

 This was the first year we didn't have our usual big Christmas brunch, the way I always did it growing up, because our church starts at 11! But we embraced Christmas dinner instead and I think it turned out just fine! I put together a little video of our day:

All in all it was a wonderful month- as always! Though to be completely selfish I AM glad it's over, because as the weeks went by I finally started feeling human again (thanks to finally getting to that second trimester)- plus we have some really fun things to look forward to in 2017! All good things...all good things.
Merry Christmas! 


tacos, fetus, & puking: an update

A few disclaimers before reading:
1. Don't read this if you are easily grossed out by bodily functions. Sorry. I grew up with endless stories from the ER and lots and lots of potty humor (blame Dr. Dad)- it runs deep in my veins. I am phased by nothing and farts are always funny.
2. Just because I complain a lot these days doesn't in anyway shape or form mean I am not super excited and extremely grateful to be bringing another life into the world! Because I am- both- very complainy and very grateful. Don't tell me I can't be both. ;-)
Okay. Moving on. 

 Baby number thrreeeeeee! I still can't wrap my head around that. I've heard the transition from 2 to 3 is the hardest- and then after that it's kinda like "Meh, what's one more?" Haha! I guess time will tell. Jillian is beyond excited to have another baby in the family. She's already decided it's a boy and that his name will be Arnold or Wes. (..Arnold?) I'm currently almost 14 weeks so we'll find out the gender in another couple of weeks! Then I guess we can debate that Arnold thing a little more if needed...
She also asks me at least once a day if it's time for the baby to come out yet. This is going to feel like one reaaallllyyy long car ride if she keeps that up. ("Are we there yet?!").

It's the getting there part that's the hardest though. I'm not one of those happy, glowing pregnant people. Well...unless you count the glow from the porcelain toilet reflecting off of my pale face as I heave into it. Then I gots it glowin' on. I would rather deliver 5 times than be pregnant for 9 months, truthfully. This time around has been especially rough- the worst one yet by far. For example: one time I threw up and peed my pants at the same time. Another time I threw up so much in one night my throat started bleeding. Some days I literally haven't gotten off the couch. One day I had Taco Bell for lunch AND dinner (God bless the inventors of the Dorito taco- I mean seriously). You can judge me- it's fine. I'm just a pretty gross person at the moment. But- I AM CREATING HUMAN LIFE FROM FREAKING SCRATCH so BAM.

Needless to say I'm REALLY hoping the second trimester comes with all the promised renewed energy and less sickness it's supposed to. Overall, I can tell I have been getting better week to week- just at a snail's pace. 

It's funny though with #3 how much faster everything happens- like the pee stick turned positive and my body was instantly like, "IT'S TIME TA' GROW!" I've been living in leggings the past couple of weeks out of comfort mostly, and today I thought maybe I could wear my biggest pair of jeans- wrong. I can't. 
I already had to loosen my bra hook by one rung. I mean SHEESH. 
(Doritooo taacccooooo. SHH. Shut up.)

Speaking of tacos...Some people have asked how the eating well/weight watchers/workouts have been going. I HAVE been trying to keep up with at least exercising regularly this pregnancy- something I definitely didn't do the first two times. Instead of an intense hour workout 6 days a week it's more like 45 minutes of low impact/4 times a week, but hey, it's SOME thing! I totally plan to be that pregnant lady at the gym in class where everyone is thinking, "For the love, please don't jump again- it might COME OUT."
I haven't been following Weight Watchers since the sickness started- we were in survival mode for a solid 8 weeks- which meant mostly dry, plain carbs and sometimes days without a fruit or vegetable. When I first found out I was pregnant, I psyched myself up so much mentally about the food aversions I knew would come- telling myself "it was just mental" and I could totally still eat the way I was- lots of fruits and veggies- which I genuinely love. But then week 6 hit and I was reminded just how NOT MENTAL it is. It's oh so real. Get that corn outta' my face. I couldn't even look at my other Weight Watchers specific instagram account without wanting to hurl! I silently cursed anyone who would share a recipe video on facebook that would trigger my gag reflex when I was just tryin' to scroll through. I'm slowly starting to get over a lot of those food aversions though, so I plan to make healthy choices when I feel like I can stomach it! Green smoothies have been my saving grace, but I'm not quite ready to sit down to a big plate of salad just yet. 

But overall I'm not stressing one bit about the inevitable weight gain. 'Tis part of the process, no way around it. I lost it before- I'll lose it again. Huzzah. In the meantime, we'll do the best we can, fetus and I. 

 Soooo to sum it up- it's been rough. But we're happy! And excited. And nauseous. 

And if you ever want to hit up Taco Bell with company, I'm your girl. ;-)



Jillian surprised me with her costume choice this year! She decided to be Tigress from Kung Fu Panda- a movie both the girls just love! I think we saw all 3 of them when they each came out in theaters...anyway- fat panda theme-let's do this.

James was Po (he was actually pretty excited about it!). To make his costume I bought two giant sweatshirts, eyeballed it and cut them each and sewed them together, then stuffed it with pillows! For the belt I just sewed yellow and red scraps of fabric together. Let's stop there for a moment- don't be impressed- I am NOT a sewer- I can sew basic straight lines but anything much more complicated than that and I'm out.

Olivia was Master Shifu! She's tiny...he's tiny...seemed fitting. She would only wear her mask for this picture though and then immediately wanted it off so most people thought she was that girl Star Wars character like half the world dressed up as..(what is her name? We aren't Star Wars people...)

And I was Mei Mei! A fat ribbon dancing panda? That's my spirit animal right there. ;-)

 For both mine and Olivia's felt masks, I used the templates here and just modified mine a bit to be more like a lady panda, including gluing on fake lashes.

Trick-or-treating was magical- as it is every year! Our tradition is to join our friends the Gunnells and have dinner at their parents' house, then head out to their neighborhood to score candy! It really is something out of a movie--fire pits lining drive ways, hot chocolate, butter beer, caramel apples and hay rides- it's like a real live Halloweentown.  

Olivia caught on REAL quick about how the whole trick-or-treating business worked. "Oh, I just go ask for candy and they give it to me? EVERY time? Done."

I was also really proud of Jillian who was brave enough to head up to the doors with just her friends this year! 

Long live Halloween. Oh, and we STILL have candy stashed at the top of the pantry. Mostly Snickers, because blegh. ;-)

a halloween dinner party

I know...the rest of the world has moved onto Christmas at this point (Olivia even commented on all of the Christmas decorations taking over the stores, "Look! Dare's Chri-mus ev-ee-where!"). But I'm currently running my life approximately 3 weeks behind schedule (including laundry), so here we are.

The weekend before Halloween I threw a Halloween dinner party for some of my favorite people! With the girls' birthdays this year being pretty simple, I start to go a little crazy if I go too long without coordinating napkins and centerpieces (you know what I mean?..If you don't, congratulations on being sane *insert upside down smiley face emoji--why don't computer keyboards have emojis yet?) 

I LOVE Halloween. Not so much the scary, bloody, haunted house parts...more like the candy apples, Hocus Pocus, and cheesy parts--that I can totally get behind. I wanted to go for a gothy-glam vibe, so I used lots of black lace, a neutral color scheme, and candles for mood lighting. And huge thanks to Aleksi and Nick for one- letting me crash their house and use their patio,  two- already having the perfect lighting strung from the trees, and three- helping me set up earlier that day!!! 

 ^Let's take a moment to appreciate that Clayton did his own makeup.

The candle holders were a cheap DIY made by painting a bunch of thrift store flower vases sloppily painted with brown and black craft paint. Once that dried I used the "toothbrush" technique to spatter on more black paint. The centerpieces had floral moss, skeleton bones, and some greenery.

Vampire napkin rings were another cheap DIY! I bought plastic vampire teeth from the party store and spray painted them with antique gold spray paint in like 5 seconds- my kinda project.
 ^Torn up cheesecloth is another quick and easy added layer of spook!

^Kristen and Kyle went for the hard-working, successful, and awesome parents look-- and they NAILED it! ;-p 

 ^Olivia slept with that skeleton chihuahua for probably a week after Halloween. Not weird at all. 

 ^A pirate, Wendy Darling, and the cutest little Tinkerbell I ever did see! 

 ^Cupcake goodness from Alisha's Cravings in Pleasant Grove- hands down the best in Utah!

 ^And this is why I love Jenn and Gordy.

 I decided I should buy dry ice more- it's just really cool. Also, I scored a punch recipe for my Mom that sounds so simple but is like- beyond amazingly delicious. I'm going to share it with you, because it feels wrong not to:

1 quart orange juice
1 quart pineapple juice
8 oz lemon juice
2 quarts water
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 quart gingerale 

Just to give you an idea, that is supposed to serve 80 people...maybe 80 midgets because the 12 of us went through almost an entire serving...yeah...

 ^US! A pig in a blanket and a ceiling fan! (Totally stole the non-costume costume from someone at our church party the night before, but it was very fitting for James and his anti-Halloween nature. ;-)

 ^I didn't know the candles would look even cooler when they started melting- so that was a fun surprise!

 ^Adorable babies disguised as pumpkins are always welcome at ANY party of mine. ;-)

All in all such a fun night with a fun atmosphere, delicious food, and the BEST company!


anniversary trip to portland

James and I celebrated our 8 year anniversary last month! (Yes, I'm THAT behind on blogging...oops...). We flew to Portland for a long weekend getaway (huge thanks to my Mom for flying out to be with the girls! Not like I have to twist her arm to make a trip out though!)

Originally we were going to stay almost the whole time on the coast, but a bad storm decided to make landfall the same weekend. Our hotel said they couldn't guarantee we wouldn't lose power, so we changed our plans at the last minute and spent most of our time (eating our way through) in Portland- which is such a fun city!

First we hit up Blue Star donuts and Powell's Books. I was impressed with both- the key lime curd filled donut was easily our favorite. Powell's in one of the biggest book stores I've ever been in- ever! James was happy to find a whole section about soccer and I of course ended up in the children's literature aisles. (It's a life goal of mine to write a children's book. It's already done in my head but in reality- not so much. ;-)

 After a little more city explorin' we made our way out to Multnomah Falls. Pictures don't even do it justice- it was beautiful! We did the 2 mile hike to the top of the falls (stupidly without bringing any water along), but the views along the way of the Columbia River Gorge were spectacular. 

 I was also pretty happy about having an excuse to wear my Hunter's every single day, thanks to the drizzly weather. ;-)

Another day we visited the Japanese Gardens, which were also beautiful! I also loved the neighborhood around the gardens- all of the houses looked like magazine cover homes. I made us walk around the block under an umbrella in the rain because houses like that deserve to be looked at and appreciated. ;-)

I pretty much planned our whole trip, except for the Portland Timbers soccer game we went to! Because sitting for 3 hours in the rain watching what feels like nothing happening isn't exactly my favorite thing, but it IS James- and that's true love people. ;-)

 ^Pine State Biscuits y'all...worth the wait AND the hype. 

Our last day there we finally made it over to the coast! We decided to go to Cannon Beach.
Growing up in Florida, I definitely was not used to needing boots and coats while on a BEACH, but the whole cliffs and rocks plus sand and water thing was pretty ah-mazing. We enjoyed some delicious clam chowdah' and the cute little beach shops.

^More beaches need swing sets, don't ya think?

Before heading to the airport we stopped by for some Salt and Straw ice cream- best decision EVER. They have some really funky flavors that I wasn't brave enough to try...but the flavors I had were exceptional! James even bought a t-shirt- so that's sayin' somethin'. 

Oregon you are GORGEOUS! We had a wonderful time recharging and celebrating our eight years of awesomeness. :-D