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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Project 365: Week 1

Have you heard of a Project 365?  The idea is to take at least one photo every day for 365 days.  It can be with a DSLR, a point-and-shoot, or simply your camera phone.  The idea sounds slightly overwhelming to me, but I also think that it's a really good way to dig in and improve my photography skills this year.  Courtney over at Click it Up a Notch wrote a great post with tips for completing one, and it made me think that maybe, just maybe, I could pull this off.

Of course, January 1 would have been a great time to start, but I'm unconventional.  I started on March 22.  Why March 22?  Because on March 26 I realized that I had taken photos every day for 5 straight days.  And that was more consecutive days than I'd been using the camera in months.

To hold me more accountable, I'll be posting my photos from the week every weekend.  If nothing else, I hope this will be a great way to document this year for my sweet boys!

March 21 - Hands-On Museum

 March 22 - Grandpa's Birthday

March 23 - Jocelyn

March 24 - Silly Brennan

March 25 - Sweet Brennan

 March 26 - Bedtime Stories

March 27 - Love.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Round-up: 10 Beautiful Navy Bedrooms

I want to paint my bedroom navy.  OK, no, I NEED to paint my bedroom navy.  Seriously.  It needs to happen.

We get lots and lots of light in our house, so while I'm not afraid of dark walls, I've tended toward light walls for the most part.  But for our bedroom, I'm dying for navy walls.  They're rich, cozy, and just beautiful.

Navy is one of those colors that can be really good or really bad in a room though, so I'm going to do my research before I buy any gallons of paint!  I've been drooling all over Pinterest lately while doing that research, and thought I'd share some of my very favorite navy bedrooms!

This one from Our Fifth House proves that with enough white to balance the dark walls, navy paint doesn't have to swallow the room.  The white also keeps the room from feeling too heavy with such a large, stately bed.

Suzanne Kasler bedroom with blue wall color

I looooooooove the giant white baseboards in this room from How To Decorate.  The smoky blue is kinda moody, yet calm.  I love the classic look of the greek key bedding too!

I love the navy in this room from Primitive and Proper .  It's so rich and true.  The gold accents make it even richer, and that pop of turquoise on the dresser is

Navy Bedroom

Emily's Navy & Coral bedroom over at Decorchickis just too cute.  She painted just one accent wall in navy and left the rest white.  With all of the color in this room, I think the white walls bring balance.  And I think this navy is my favorite of them all; it's Naval by Sherwin-Williams.

HGTV featured this simple navy and white room.  The high white wainscoting brightens the room in a big way.  The addition of a little bit of off-white warms up the room too and doesn't compete with all of the bright, true white because it shows up in 3 places - the bench, the picture mats, and the carpet.

This navy is a bit more classic blue than some of the others.  I love the navy and white decorative trim below the windows and the soft green accents in this room from Decoist.

Benjamin Moore Hale Navy paint color
Kelly at View Along The Way is a flippin' genius, as evidenced by, well, her entire house.  She trialed 5 different navy options for her bedroom walls, and her choice of Benjamin Moore's Hale Navy was brilliant!

Here's another example of a single navy accent wall and a bunch of white over at SF Girl By the Bay.  How fun are those thrifted brass sconces??

Here is a slightly softer, gray-er navy blue from the end-all, be-all of DIY blogging, Young House Love.  It's a little more subtle than I want to go with, but it's still gorgeous.  Because everything that comes from YHL is gorgeous.  I seriously have dreams of waking up one day to a new post from Sherry & John.

This navy room from so simple -- just a few pillows, no curtains, just simple.  It's sweet and feminine and that navy just speaks volumes to me.

So there you have it.  10 beautiful specimens.  They've definitely inspired me to get my behind in gear and make our bedroom look a little more cozy!  What's your fave??

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Celebrate the little victories.

Another post from the Drafts folder.  This one is from July 13, 2013.

It's funny -- most of the Drafts are unfinished, some with a few words and some with a few paragraphs.  But after reading this one, it feels finished, which makes me wonder what was missing when I wrote it almost 2 years ago.  One thing is for sure, it all rings true!


"Three boys!  You must be busy.  Are they triplets?" asks the young Target cashier.

I smile.  I get this question almost weekly.  "No, big brother is 22 months older than the twins."

"Wow.  Really, you must be so busy!"

Sometimes statements like this bug me, but we aren't exactly a calm bunch in the Target checkout lane (or ever, really), so the comment doesn't bother me.

Then the lady behind me pipes in with an "I remember those days."

She's probably in her 80s.  Her smile is warm, but her statement was missing the wistful tone that usually accompanies statements like that from most women over 50.

I smiled and gave my usual reply.  "It's a very busy life, but I wouldn't have it any other way."

Her reply?  "I had 7 in 6 years."


I stumbled over my words and think I said something to the effect of "Oh wow.  You must have had some multiples then?"

"Three sets.  A set of twins, then triplets, then twins again.  Obviously they run in our family.  I have 19 grandkids and 20 great grandkids.  There are a few sets of twins and a set of triplets among them."

I still wasn't sure what to say other than "Wow.  I guess you know exactly what I'm going through then ... except way more.  You know, the risk of having another set of twins is why my husband isn't too keen on the idea of trying for one more."

She laughed and shook her head with wide eyes.  "Well, that's what we did.  Twice.  It was hectic.  My biggest piece of advice to my kids and grandkids who had multiples was to just get through it and enjoy it while you can.  But don't stress yourself out over enjoying every second.  Motherhood is hard and what we have is even harder.  Just enjoy the parts you feel like enjoying and get through everything else.  And focus on the small victories when you're having a hard time."

I smiled back as slid my Target card, tried to make sure that the Brothers stayed in the cart, and told Brennan for the 463 time to put the mini Nerf blaster back on the shelf.

I thanked her for the kind words and she wished me luck as I headed out the door with my crew.

The interaction left me thinking for a few days.  Do I celebrate the small victories enough?  Or do I dwell on the stressful parts?

I celebrate the big victories plenty.  Took the boys to Chick-Fil-A by myself (with no stroller) and had a relatively stress free meal.  Huge win.  HUGE.

I goal for the next few weeks is to focus more on the small stuff.  Have a smooth bedtime?  Sweet.  Successfully execute a fun learning activity?  Excellent.  Get everyone to not only survive, but enjoy a walk around the block?  Fan-freakin-tastic.  Celebrate it.  Because it's the little things that make motherhood what it really is.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sometimes {What a difference a year makes}.

I sat down recently to go through my draft folder and maybe finish up a post or 2.  I found quite a few half-written, yet emotion-filled posts that were so enlightening to read through.  My last few years have been a whirlwind of emotion - both joyful and deeply sad.  Revisiting these emotions are so therapeutic for me, which is probably why I have always been a journal writer - drawn to spilling my emotions into written words, learning and growing the whole way.  So I thought I'd resurrect a post or 2 for a nice trip down memory lane!  Here's one from exactly one year ago - March 21, 2014...

In life and in photography!  hehehehe


Sometimes your husband works eleventy billion hours per week and you're left doing everything yourself.

Sometimes you have 3 dogs and no fenced in backyard and you have to walk them around the yard 3 times a day while leaving your 3 kids in the house to avoid bringing them out into the freezing temps.

Sometimes your kids decide that their superheroes should go swimming in their milk-filled cereal bowls while you're out walking the dogs around the yard.

Sometimes 2 of those 3 dogs don't like to pee or poop while on a leash, so they use your brand new carpet instead.

Sometimes your car makes a really obnoxious high-pitched squealing sound, but your husband is in the middle of his eleventy billion hours at work and can't take the time to pick you up from the repair shop, so you just sit at home with a broken car.

Sometimes it takes you two hours to sit down and write an email to your grad school adviser to assure him that you will, in fact, finish your Masters courses this summer ... while you wonder how that will be humanly possible when it has taken eight times longer than it should have to simply write your email.

Sometimes you just need to take a shower, so you throw your 2 year olds in your (empty) bathtub with some bathtub crayons and you have to get out of the shower with soapy hair in order to break up a fight over who gets to use the blue crayon.

Sometimes your life feels like life will never slow down.  Like it will always be a constant circle of chaos.  Like the work will never slow down and life will be a constant stream of pseudo-single parenting.


And that's where it ended - inevitably interrupted by the very thing that I was lamenting about at the moment.  

I have to admit, I'm glad those days are over.  Brian is in a "slower" period at work, which means that he's only at the office 50ish hours per week, and working from home another 15 or so.  Yes.  I know.  That doesn't sound slow.  But it is, and for that, I am grateful.  

The boys are a year older, and oh, what a difference a year makes!  Don't get me wrong, threenagers are total a-holes.  BUT, it's more attitude than anything.  Two-year olds are mischievous.  Three year olds can be trusted to a certain degree.  Gone are the days of superheros swimming in cereal bowls (mostly).  Now, they'll ask me if they can do it and yell at me when I say no.  But at least they won't do it.  That, my friends, I can handle.  

And the dogs?  Now we have a fence and laminate floors and little to no peeing and pooping in the house.  

Life is still chaos, but it's better.  It's the kind of chaos that I can handle. 

And maybe even thrive on.  

Friday, March 20, 2015

Green Onion & Cherry Chicken Salad.

Do you have one dish that you make that everyone seems to ask you for the recipe?  I have a few of them, but one of the most popular is my chicken salad.  I must admit, it's pretty flippin' good.  

If you're one of those people that like nuts and apples and celery and grapes and all kinds of crunchy things in your chicken salad, this might not be for you.  I detest crunchy things in chicken salad, so this is crunch free, but it's still packed full of flavor!

OK, first things first, you need shredded chicken.  A bunch of it.  I usually throw a bunch of chicken breasts in the crock pot with some water and spices and let it cook on low for 8 hours or so.  When it's cooked, I shred it up with a few forks and stick it in the fridge til it's cold. 

When the chicken is cold, gather up the gang ... 2 bunches of green onions, a bag of dried cherries, mayo, ranch dressing, a ranch packet, garlic powder, salt (I use Lawry's), and pepper.  I didn't decide to document this whole process til after I chopped my onions, so that's where our photo journey begins!  

I usually use 2 bunches of onions, but if you want the flavor to be a little less punchy, you can you just one.  Then throw in a few handfuls of dried cherries.  I use the whole bag, but you can use less if you'd like.  One of my favorite things about this dish is just how pretty it is.  The green onions and the dark red cherries are so pretty!  

Then it's time for some seasonings.  OK friends, here's the deal -- I'm a really big "little of this, little of that" kinda cook.  I make all of my food "to taste".  So when people ask for recipes, I do my very very best to measure things.  I really do.  But I'm just going to stress to you that you have to taste it and add more spices as necessary!  

So here's what you want to dump into the chicken mix:  the whole ranch packet, 2 tsp garlic powder (yes, it's going to be garlicky, because that's how I like it!), 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Then mix it all up!

Now for the mushy part.  Plop in some mayo.  Depending on how much chicken you used (I used about 4 pounds for this batch), you'll want to use about 1-2 cups of mayo.  I used 1.5 cups for this one.  Start on the small side - you can always add more.  Mix it up!  

Next, add some ranch dressing - about 1/4 to 1/2 cup.  Then mix, mix, mix.  Add more mayo or ranch, depending on whether you like your chicken salad on the dry side or on the mushy side.  I'm in the middle of the road on this one.  

And then, ohhhhhhh!!  I forgot the parm!!!  I like to add some parmesan cheese.  Because I love cheese.  It adds nice flavor.  It can also rescue you a bit if you put too much mayo or ranch in and the texture is too goopy for you.  Honestly, just sprinkle dump some in.  

Mix it up, and then most importantly, TASTE IT!  This is when you'll add more seasonings, mayo, ranch, etc.  When you're happy with the flavor, stick it in the fridge for a couple of hours.  

When it's nice and chilly, it's time to eat!  This chicken salad is so darn versatile.  You can make a sandwich, make a lettuce wrap, put it on a cracker (Triscuits are my fave), or just eat it plain out of a bowl.  Seriously, so delish.  

This is one of my go-to party dishes.  It's super easy to mix up a batch and pair with some croissants.  But it's also a family fave.  I frequently make a batch for lunches during the week.  And when we lived in Florida, I liked to make this for my Mom when she visited because she LOVES it.  Seriously, give it a try folks.  You won't be disappointed!!

The 36th Avenue

By Stephanie Lynn


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring has sprung! {Mary & Martha Spring line!}

The Mary & Martha Spring Line is out and we have some really, really pretty stuff in the mix!  

First up, Melamine!!  Besides the obvious fact that they're beautiful, they're also practical.  Lightweight, yet sturdy, and perfect for those summer BBQs.  And dishwasher safe!  In this photo the plates are shown in the Gather Together Kitchen Caddy

This is the Table Salad Plate - Set of 2 - $28
This is the Table Dessert Plate - Set of 4 - $30
Gather Together Kitchen Caddy - $38

The melamine pairs well with the Grace & Gratitude dishes too!  

Grace & Gratitude Collection - Heirloom White Dinner Plate - $26
(Grace & Gratitude Collection - One Place Setting - Dinner Plate, Salad Plate, Bowl - $56)
This is the Table Salad Plate - Set of 2 - $28
This is the Table Dessert Plate - Set of 4 - $30

I love love love how the colors of the melamine look so pretty with the beautiful colors of summer food.  Picnics, BBQs, or just breakfast!

This is the Table Serving Platter - $34
This is the Table Nested Bowls - Set of 3 (smallest pictured) - $68
This is the Table Bowl - Set of 2 - $29
This is the Table Yellow Dinner Plate - Set of 2 - $36
This is the Table Dessert Plate - Set of 4 - $30
Honey Pot -  $34

The Watercolor Collection is my very favorite of the Spring Line.  The colors are so vibrant and the words are so meaningful.  These tea towels make a great addition to any kitchen, or frame them for a beautiful piece of art!

Roses Watercolor Tea Towel - 30"x20" - $24
Sunflower Watercolor Tea Towel - 30"x20" - $24

The Think on These Things plate collection would be absolutely beautiful hanging on the wall, or serving lunch to a small group of friends.  In the background, the large glass lantern creates a sweet, cozy atmosphere.  

Large Glass Lantern - $149
Think on These Things Plates - Set of 4 - $48
Think on These Things Lovely Mugs - Set of 2 - $26

Paper bakeware isn't just for baking!  It makes such a cute and easy way to serve lunch.  No washing dishes!  The Tiered Server is a great way to serve when you're short on counter space.  And that Pizza Tray is just nice eye candy.  I suppose it's a nice serving tray too!  ;)  

Grateful Hearts Square Cup - 12 count - Pick 3 for $22
Grateful Hearts Small Cup - 24 count - Pick 3 for $22
Adjustable Tiered Stand with Baskets and Wooden Plates - $154

Speaking of picnics ... isn't this the greatest idea??  The Grateful Hearts Food Trays are happening this summer at our house!

Grateful Hearts Food Trays - Set of 6 - Pick 2 for $20
Grateful Hearts Small Cup - 24 count - Pick 3 for $22
Give Us This Day Bread Board - $52

My boys go through a TON of fruit every week.  The Adjustable Tiered Stand with Baskets is perfect for storing produce and clearing a bit of counter space.  Do you see the Grace & Gratitude Salt & Pepper shakers tucked into the top basket there?  

Adjustable Tiered Stand with Baskets - $132
Gather Together Kitchen Caddy - $38
Honey Pot -  $34

The Glass Lanterns are beautiful -- as a candle-holder, a vase, or just as-is!

Small Glass Lantern - $54
Medium Glass Lantern - $97
Large Glass Lantern - $149

So there's a sneak peak at some of the goodies that Mary & Martha has to offer this spring.  If you want to stay up-to-date on specials, head over to my M&M facebook page and click "Like" and shoot me an email to kelli.gase at gmail dot com to subscribe to the monthly newsletter!  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Where the wild things play.

I realized the other day that while I've shared photos of several parts of our home, but not many of the basement, which is undoubtedly the most transformed space in the house!  

When we bought our home, transforming the basement into a playroom for the boys was at the top of the priority list.  It was very much an unfinished basement, and we wanted to make it into a bright, warm, and cozy place to play without messing with drywall or carpet.  

The first thing we decided to tackle was the "bright" part, which started at top and worked it's way down.  After weighing a bunch of options, we decided to paint the ceiling.  I like the "industrial" look of a painted ceiling, but most that I've seen are painted black.  That look was just too dark for my taste.  Instead, we settled on painting the ceiling with a very light gray primer; primer because we were hoping it would stick to all of the different surfaces in the ceiling, which it did beautifully!  We invested in a paint sprayer for the job - the Graco Truecoat Plus - which we love.  The light gray brightened up the room so well, and Brian added a few more lights down there to help even more.  

Next job was to get the insulation secured and the walls framed in.  At this point we still weren't sure what kind of walls we were going to put up, but we knew it was going to be something, so Brian busted this job out really quickly.  

Next, the floor.  I really didn't want to put any kind of actual flooring down, so I started to research painting the concrete.  It was cheap, easy, and durable, which is all I was after at the time!  The prep includes sanding.  Lots of sanding.  Then cleaning.  Then?  Painting.  If you've never painted a floor, you're missing out.  Seriously.  It's.SO.MUCH.FUN.  You literally just dump some paint on the floor and push it around with the roller on a pole.  Floor painting is the best kind of painting ever!!  We decided to use the same light gray primer as we did for the ceiling.  Don't do this.  Use porch and floor paint.  Ours is already chipping :(  It's only chipping in spots that had some standing water after the Raining in the Basement debacle of 2014, so maybe it would have chipped even if we had used porch and floor paint, but I've heard that that stuff is pretty durable.  Who knows!

So while the primer was drying, I was brainstorming designs.  I knew I wanted to paint the floor a light color, but I wanted it to be kinda fun.  So while browsing Pinterest I landed on this pin (which apparently leads to some weird link now and Pinterest is blocking it, but you can still see the photo).  Sold.  I knew the boys would love "driving" their cars on it and I chose to paint over the gray with white paint to further brighten the space.  The taping process took a reallllllllllllllllly long time.  But it's worth it cuz it's super freakin' cool.  When the paint was dry, I sealed it with this wet look concrete sealer from Sherwin-Williams.  

After the floor was done, we moved onto the walls.  We both loved the idea of a pallet wall, so Brian split some pallets and assembled this gorgeous wall.  Keeping with a rustic-industrial look, and avoid the pain-in-the-bum of drywall, we decided to try a faux-brick wall like the lovely Katie did over on Bower Power.  

Once the faux brick panels were up, I got to work white-washing them.  I did mine a bit differently than Katie did her wall, but the basics were the same.  Mix paint with some water (I did roughly a 1:1 ratio), paint it on the brick, let it set for a minute or 2, and then wipe it off.  Repeat as needed until you get the finish you're aiming for. 

Eventually, we caulked the seams in the brick, but they're fairly conspicuous.  And the white-wash finish furthers the "bright", the "warm", and the "cozy" that I was aiming for.  Since this was going to be the boys' play space, we also needed toy storage.  Industrial pipe shelving is very popular in blogland lately, my 2 favorites being the pantry shelves over at DIY Showoff and the boys' room shelves over at Beneath My Heart.  To keep costs down, we used pvc pipe that we spray painted withe some ORB spray paint.  For the shelves, Brian ripped a few sheets of plywood and stained it a pretty, dark brown.  

So for approximately 20 minutes we had a beautiful basement.  And then, the toys moved in.  We didn't organize the toys right away, instead focusing on the rest of the house. For a little less than a year, it has just been a pit of scattered toys, occasionally getting picked up, only to be trashed again.  Finally, a few weeks ago, I decided that I'd had enough and started the organization process.   

If you're waiting for beautiful photos of a perfectly organized space, don't hold your breath :)  My kids are insanely spoiled (not by their parents!) and have about a million toys.  The organization process is happening, but it's happening slowly.  My goal is to have it all finished by next week and have beautiful photos to show you!