August 30, 2016

Budget Friendly Tips to Create a Cozy Home

I've been an official, out-of-college, adult for over 8 years. I'd like to share something new I've discovered. Hold onto your hats, this is a good one.

It's worth it to decorate and accessorize your home. It's worth the money. It's worth the time. It's worth screwing up and doing something you end up hating to learn from your mistakes and find what really works.

I always wanted our home to be beautiful and inviting and warm and cozy and all the things people want for their homes. For some reason I never could bring myself to spend the money and time and energy to make it happen.

When we were first married, funds were very limited so extras like a pretty accessory were not happening. Even if it was only a couple dollars, I would say "no" to it because it wasn't necessary to our daily life. Y'all, we didn't even buy paper towels during this time so how could I justify a pretty new frame or decorative anything?

Eventually, our income grew, as tends to happen over the years, but my frugal-to-a-fault mindset didn't budge. I still struggle with this today. But something did happen after the flood. I started blogging and reading blogs and I naturally gravitated toward blogs about budget home decor. I started sharing things I liked and ideas I had with hubby and he told me how he wanted our house to be well decorated and cozy. It was such an exciting conversation! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I also wanted free reign over our home's interior - this is still a work in progress. He really has great ideas and vision for our home too so I *usually* like to have his input. Honestly, sometimes it would be much easier if he were one of those husbands you hear about who lets his wife make all the decorating decisions without providing any input. But easy isn't always best and I like knowing that he both notices and appreciates my efforts in making our house a home.

I'm starting slowly with this new mindset and as much as I want to see our whole home done, where is the fun in that?! I'm going to embrace this journey from house to home. I'm starting to see the homey-ness already.

After dropping AG off for her first day of Kindergarten *sob*, I went to brunch and HobLob with some of my best gal pals who also happen AG's besties' moms. Coincidence? I think not, The Lord works in mysterious ways and I'm so thankful he brought us together! We shall call them "The Moms". Anyway, The Moms and I had so much fun shopping together. I got some cute things for our home and maybe a couple scarves and a gift or 2 for AG to celebrate her first day of big kid school.

Shout-out to whoever gave her this gift bag at her birthday party last Saturday! I've already reused it 3 times.

One of my new items was this woven tray. I knew right away it was exactly what I wanted for our remotes. On a previous trip to HobLob, I picked up the metal orb (which I adore! This one is similar) and the white vase with green plant. I wouldn't have even thought to put them on the table except that our bookshelf had been cleared off when they relocated it to remove our baseboards and these, along with other bookshelf contents, were lounging in their new residence on our bar.

I read somewhere (probably Pinterest) that to decorate most any surface you need 3 elements: a lamp - check, a green plant - check, and a stack of 2-3 books with an object on top of them - double check! This is so true and I didn't actually remember having read it until just now, sitting here, looking at the table in all it's cuteness. I think an important element to a cozy home that is often overlooked is adding textures. There's something about having interesting patterns and textures in a neutral color palette that is so inviting.

I'm still wanting to paint this table but can't decide on the color. Perhaps I should take my own advice and stop being scared to fail and just do it because really, if I don't like it I can repaint it.

The other item I scored was this tray that is perfect for our coffee area!

I have wanted a tray to corral our coffee, sugar, and filters for a while now but, as per usual, I was too scared to spend any money on something so frivolous and totally unnecessary. And this fear is totally in my own crazy head. I want to make sure you know, this is absolutely my own deal and hubby was happy I got things for our home. If anything, he's helping me get over this silliness by praising my decorating style and encouraging me to decorate our home. :)

You won't believe this part and I shouldn't tell you but I'm going to anyway... I found this cute little tray tucked under some things in the clearance section. It was part of their Spring collection and when I took it to the register, it rang up less than $2! You can imagine my delight! Moral of that story: pay attention to the tags and how they relate to the current seasonal merchandise at Hobby Lobby because they don't always mark every single item down. They are human and miss things here and there and you might score a great deal if you pay close attention to details.

As you can see, I still struggle with loosening up the purse strings when it comes to "extras" for our home but I am slowly getting better. I don't think I'll ever be one of those people who can walk into Pottery Barn and pay full price for something just because I like it. Though I certainly like to pretend I am when I visit their website. Theirs and Restoration Hardware - swoon! The fact of the matter is, I have a deep seeded need to save money and live frugally. I also love a good challenge and, for me, part of the fun of decorating our home on a budget is the thrill of finding something great for a fantastic deal. This seems to be trendy these days and for that I am grateful.

One last thing friends, I'm serious about painting that table. By all means, please leave me some ideas of what color would look best in the comments! Bear in mind that the living room rug will be changing soon. I'm trying to convince hubby that a natural jute rug would be best in here but he isn't feeling it. So far, we've been able to agree on a medium gray with a slight pattern. I'm feeling like that might be too much gray with his gray chair (coming next weekend!) Time will tell.

August 22, 2016

Water Water Everywhere

Hi friends! As I sit here writing this post from my new love seat I can't help but feel thankful, and tired. I wanted to share with you all the exciting things that have been going on in our home over this last week. Let's start with the beginning.

Monday, 8/15 - Flood, round 2. This time it was not so bad. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you know what I'm talking about. It did not make for pretty pictures.

I came home after being away for about an hour Monday night to water in the garage from the wall that is shared with our kitchen. Knowing I left nothing on, I told AG she would need to wait in the car while I went in to figure out what was happening. I expected to find a leak under the sink but instead stepped over the threshold into over an inch of water. I could hear water coming out of the fridge so I sloshed over to it and opened the french doors to find out what was leaking. At first, water poured out of the doors, the next thing I knew, water was spraying at me from the filter. I initially tried to pull the fridge out of it's place to turn off the water valve located behind it. This was a no-go as the freezer and fridge drawer were both filled with water so it was super heavy. I immediately called hubby freaking out. He was also on his was home and bless him, he had just paid at WhatABurger and drove off before they could get him his food. (Don't worry, once we were settled, he went back and got us both food).

While we were on the phone he talked me through how to turn off the water to the house. Which is a handy skill that I needed to have anyway. Though I would've much preferred to learn it in boots and jeans and not pajama shorts and flip flops.

Thanks to our prior flood experience, we were well prepared to handle this and not forced to wait around on the emergency flood mitigation team to arrive. We used our big push brooms and shop vac and ALL the towels in the house. By the time DKI (our water clean up company) arrived, we had dried all of the obvious water and, thanks to my wonderful brother-in-law, our fridge had been dried out as well.

DKI came in about 10pm and pulled the baseboards and cabinet toe kicks. They had to drill holes in the cabinet base behind the pretty toe kicks and now it looks like my cabinets are sitting on a mouse village. They left us with a huge dehumidifier and 7 air mover fans. We basically lived in a wind tunnel for a week. Tonight is the first night we've had of quiet in a week and it is spectacular.

Tuesday of last week, 6 days ago, DKI returned and removed all of the flooring that had water under it. You could actually hear the water moving in a couple places when you walked on the floor. They ended up having to take apart and move the wood stove, all our new furniture was moved to a side of the living room space, and as I believe I've mentioned, there are holes in my cabinet toe kicks. I'm very thankful that the damage doesn't involve drywall this time. We've definitely had worse and at least we can live here during this. I'm trying to focus on that and not the fact that we will have to relocate all of our living and dining room furniture and replace all of our floors that aren't even 2 years old.

Right now we are in a holding period. DKI is done, the house is dry, and their equipment is out. The insurance adjuster has come and gone. He needs the report from DKI and then he will complete his report quickly and submit it to our insurance company who should then issue us our checks pretty quickly. Once we receive our dwelling check, our mortgage lender will be involved in releasing the funds to us as needed for repairs. The contents check is easier and comes made out to only us so we will be able to replace the items that were lost due to the water damage.

Hard to believe a simple little filter could cause so much damage.

August 15, 2016

New Furniture, Painted Frames, and Power Washing - Oh My!

Happy Monday friends! This was an exciting weekend in the CBC household. 

I left work early on Friday to meet the furniture delivery guys at our house because we FINALLY got a new sofa and love seat! Can I get a hallelujah?! 

We actually don't love this rug in here. It is going to find a new home in our bedroom and we'll be investing in a new one that works better with the space. We are looking at getting something closer to a 9x13. This one is 7.5x10.5.

The table you see used to be our coffee table. We've decided that for the stage of life we are in, we prefer to have the space in front of the seating open for playing, lounging, and impromptu dance parties. I'm considering painting the table and keeping it for the space shown. I'll definitely be adding a large basket on the shelf underneath. I'd love your suggestions for paint color for the table. Do you think white would look good? Let me know in the comments!

This is my favorite photo. I am in love with these trellis throw pillows. They are feather filled and the perfect balance of softness and support. The furniture and all pillows shown are from Ashley Furniture. We had a great experience with them and will be going back to buy an accent chair just as soon as we sell the Lazy Man Chair. Hubby likes the look of the pillows shown on the sofa and love seat as-is. I'm not super impressed. I have fabric to go with the agreed upon color scheme of navy, teal, gray, beige, and a pop of coral and I intend to use it to make new pillow covers. You know, in all my spare time. Bahahaha! But regardless, it's in the craft closet with my sewing machine and good intentions.

Because we've had a sectional since we moved back home post-flood, we haven't had a lamp in the living room. I posted this to Instagram and Facebook but I have to share here too. The amount of joy this lamp (which we plan to replace) brings us both is ridiculous. Pay no attention to that crap under the table, it'll live in a pretty basket soon enough.

There isn't much that I love more than relaxing on the love seat at the end of the day with a good book. I've been reading the Ashley Furniture catalog, seriously, and my current favorite - The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith, aka The Nester. You can check out her blog at - it's one of my favorites. I feel like she is talking directly to me in her book and I'm only on the first chapter. I can tell it'll be one that I read over and over. 

After they finished unloading them I hopped in my car and raced back to the front of the neighborhood to catch the tail end of half price day at an estate sale. I spent an hour browsing the house and loved getting to chat with the family and learn new things about our neighborhood. I scored some great items including frames in various sizes, a cloche (I've always wanted one!!), a wine holder that'll be used for towels in AG's mermaid bathroom - currently in the planning phase, a pillow that I only wanted for the feather insert, a fluffy pink pillow/chair thing for AG, and a pretty bracelet. When I got back home I still had an hour or so before I needed to pick up AG so I decided to get right to work on the new frames for the gallery wall that's going in our living room. You know what takes longer than actually sanding and staining or painting frames? Finding where hubby hides stores the sand paper. I did eventually find some but all we had was 120 grit and I needed something closer to 80 to get the smaller frames to a point where I can stain them like I have in my head. 

I did manage to get the largest frame and the cloche painted and I love how they turned out. 

I used Valspar paint tinted to Sherwin Williams Alabaster color. This is the paint we used for our ceiling and we will be using for our trim and interior doors. I can't even tell you how much I long for the day when I can say we "used" that paint for our trim and interior doors. But that's a story for another blog post. Likely one about how much I hate caulking and how awesome I am at procrastinating or perhaps even about how much it costs to hire someone to caulk and paint 2,200 square feet of trim and multiple interior doors, some being pocket doors. 

I do love painting and my Purdy brushes are the best there is so I grabbed one of them and the sample size paint I'd picked up from Lowes about 2 years ago, shook the paint like a wild woman and did a little happy dance when I opened it to reveal perfect, like new paint inside. 

The only down side to a 2 year old sample of paint is that there was a thick layer around the top where the lid needs to sit in order to close properly. Peeling that off was not an entirely clean process and in hindsight I should've worn gloves. Oh hindsight, you are funny. 

I cleaned my brush and hung it up to dry - always hang them! Then it was off to pick up AG from school to start our weekend. 
This was a special weekend because Saturday we got to have her local cousins over for a slumber party. AG was giddy with all the excitement of having a her first sleep over. She loves her big cousins so much and they are so great with her. 
The kids performed their own rendition of the Wizard of Oz for us and it was nothing short of spectacular. We let them have ice cream and all stay up way too late. We got them all settled in AG's room by 10pm and the cousins were planning to sneak out and come back down to watch Star Wars with us after AG went to sleep. Y'all. Watching on the monitor as 2 kids try to sneak out on a very suspicious toddler/little kid is hilarious. 
Hubby and I were rolling. Eventually AG fell asleep and they made it down stairs, it was almost 11pm by this point. We made it about 45 minutes into the movie before they were both stuffed with popcorn and passed out. In all honesty, I was dozing on and off too and just kept thinking of how the movie seems so loud until there's dialog and then you can barely hear what they are saying and I just wanted to go to bed but my room is on the other side of the TV so I figured it was a lost cause. I've never been so happy to see the kids fall asleep. 

Sunday we had a fun morning of muffins and playing outside because it was finally sunny again. We didn't want the cousins to go home and can't wait for the next sleep over. 

Next Saturday is AG's 4th birthday party and we are having a pool party at my in-laws house because that's what she wanted and they are awesome and said yes. Hubby crossed one party prep item off the list this weekend by power washing their outdoor space around the pool. It made a huge difference. I hadn't even noticed that it needed it until he sent me the before and after photos. Never underestimate the power of a pressure washer.

It's so shiny and as new looking as a 35+ year old pool deck can be. What this really looks like is my happy place where I love to kick back and watch the kids swim. Perfect for a mermaid unicorn party! 

I'm off of work all next week to celebrate AG's 4th birthday, her first ballet/tap class, and her first day of K4. No promises if I'll find time to blog in the midst of all the crazy happening but I will be taking plenty of photos through my sobbing eyes to share everything with you. We've got quite the party planned and it should be loads of fun! 

August 9, 2016

Tomato Bacon Pie Recipe

We just returned from a wonderful long weekend at the lake.

As a result, I'm out of absolutely everything in the kitchen and there were no openings to pick up groceries from Walmart until Tuesday so this led to a wonderful (tasting, not super healthy) dinner; tomato bacon pie! And lucky you, I took photos during the process to share with you today. Let's get on with it.

I started by cooking 5 strips of bacon, because that's how much fits nicely in my pan.

Sadly, my tomato plants have seen better days, namely the days before it was consistently 90-something degrees and 134% humidity. So I improvised and tried this for the first time with canned tomatoes and it turned out surprisingly fantastic. If you don't have fresh ones, don't let that stop you from trying this!

I poured two of those big cans into a colander and rinsed them, then squished and flipped, and squished some more until most of the moisture was out. Then I sprinkled salt and a little pepper on them and left them to drain.

When the bacon was finished I wiped most of the grease out of the skillet using paper towels then threw in some diced onion - maybe 2-3 handfuls. I did have to add in a little butter because I removed too much bacon grease but that isn't part of the "recipe". 

I may not have fresh tomatoes, but one thing I always have is fresh basil. Caprese salad is one of my favorite things to throw together and now that my family has discovered this tomato pie, I think basil is a requirement for them too. I used a good bit, but some of the leaves pictured didn't make it into the pie. I just picked them because the plants were getting too big and I can't have them going to seed. I did end up with a couple handfuls of basil which I chopped pretty small. Do you see that knife? It is my favorite! I've had it for a few years and my loving hubby recently sharpened it for me. It is fantastic!

Not pictured is the step before adding the basil to the tomatoes when I took about 5 paper towels and squeezed as much liquid as possible out of the tomatoes. Then I mixed the chopped basil into the well drained tomatoes. It starts getting pretty here!

Chop the bacon. Mmmmmm bacon!!

Also not pictured, I used a store bought rolled pie crust which I placed into a 9.5" pie plate and poked holes with a fork then baked according to package directions. 

I then layered in the cooked onions, followed by the tomato and basil mixture, and I sprinkled on feta cheese (totally optional, this is the first time I've added it and it was a great addition but not required.)

In another bowl, I mixed together shredded cheese and mayo, about 1.5 cups of cheese to 3/4 cup mayo, plus the bacon and some green onions simply because I had them on hand and was feeling fancy. I like the Mexican blend but if I were buying cheese for this recipe I would go with half sharp cheddar/ half mozzarella. 

That mixture has to be spread on top and it's not easy. I found it best to put in on in small spoonfuls then use my fingers to spread it evenly. 

I always cover the crust edges with foil. The first time, I didn't think to do this and they got super burnt so learn from my mistake and cover your edges. 

Bake for about 20 or so minutes until the cheese topping is nicely browned and bubbly then let cool until you don't see any liquid on top (like how pizza does). Slice and enjoy!
I couldn't even wait to take a photo before AG and I had to dig in. 

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I hope you give this recipe a try and if you do, I'd love to hear what you think!