DIY Coat Closet Mudroom

Ok so at 23 weeks pregnant I've been in super 'nesting' mode for a few weeks now!  I have a couple other projects to share with you in the next few weeks but first, the coat closet refresh!  Let me show you what promoted this little re-do of our hall coat closet by showing you the before photos: 

To start I took everything out!  Like everything, vacuumed the carpet even.  Went to Menards and bought trim paint and wall color (Dutch Boy Silvered Fog).  I painted the trim first, bright white satin, I like to use Max Bond brand paint for trim, it's durable and bonds well.  Once the closet was painted, I took a well deserved trip to Target.  You can see I added a shelf at the bottom so before I left I measured both the width and depth of both shelves so I would know what size storage containers to get.   Below is a list of products with Links that I purchased.  Keep in mind, Target ALWAYS has sales on Threshold items and combine it with the Cartwheel deals and you'll save a ton!

Decorative Bin Thrshd Canvas Tan Square - $19.99

Threshold 16" EVA Basket 1-3C Printed Canvas with Piped Handles - $16.99

Smith & Hawken® Copper Boot Tray 31x15.2x2.3"- $24.99

GE Under Cabinet Light Fixture, 12"- $21.98 FROM WALMART

The coolest part of the closet refresh are the LED remote switch lights.  I bought these are target but they don't sell them online so I linked to the same thing at Walmart.  I LOVE THESE!  So easy to install, and adds such a nice touch to a closet.  Battery operated and NO CABLES to run : )

My next favorite part of this refresh has been the solution to shoes in the kitchen!  We don't have a landing area in either the front or back door of our home.  We only use the back door for entering the home, because it's closer to the garage and the back door is in the kitchen.  SHOES IN THE KITCHEN is so not cool!  Even if we wanted to walk around to the front door every time we came home, we'd have no landing there either and absolutely no place to put shoes that wouldn't be in the way of the door swing.  We live in a split foyer and the front landing is very small.  

With the new mudroom/coat closet design, we haven't had a single shoe (that would be weird anyway : ) in the kitchen!  We come in shoes on, walk to the edge of the laminate flooring and take our shoes off then place them in the shoe tray in the closet.  Handy cause we can then hang our coats and I can hang my handbag while I'm there.  If you have a lack of a mudroom and it's driving you as crazy as it was driving me, I highly recommend taking another look at your closet situation!  Here are a few more photos of the finished product, keep in mind, it's in the hallway so very hard to get a good angle! 

DIY Tween Photoshoot

I have had some beginners luck taking photos of my kids and I've wanted to put together a tween inspired photoshoot for my 11 year old step daughter for quite a while.  I finally decided to make it happen and I think the photos turned out great!  I wanted to share my process with you in hopes to inspire you to try your hand at a photoshoot! 

Step 1: Get Inspired!

The first step in this process for me was to get inspired.  Poses and settings don't naturally pop into my head, especially not poses, so it's always a good idea to get some inspiration for the shoot.  I created a pinterest board with a ton of inspiration photos.  The photo that my 11 year old and I agreed was a good inspiration is this photo by Audrey Woulard.

Step 2: Go Shopping

I'll take any excuse to go shopping, let's be real and I can same the same for my 11 year old : ).  First we took stock of her closet to see what she had that she liked for the shoot.  Make sure the clothes fit well and the model is comfortable in them.  They will act stiff and uncomfortable if they feel that way and it will show in the photos!  Once you know what you have, you'll know what you need.  In this shoot, we needed the sunglasses and a beanie (hat) and we wanted to add a scarf.  

We found the sunnies at Claire's and she's yet to take them off haha.  So much fun!  We struck out on finding the beanie so we scratched it and we couldn't find a scarf she loved so we raided MY closet and she was able to borrow one of mine that she loves.  

Options are good too, we had a backup top and shoes in case we weren't loving the way the outfit was working but never ended up using them.  Also, notice it's important to be flexible and gain inspiration from an image, don't recreate it.  That's no fun, plus you will get frustrated because it's impossible to get it exactly like the inspiration photo!

Step 3: Scout Locations

This is actually something I had been doing for weeks before the shoot.  Just in my travels around town I would look for locations that I thought would be engaging in a photo.  One of those spots is actually a bank up the road, they have these great rock retaining walls and a beautiful fountain.  The title image above was actually taken spur of the moment in the bank parking lot.  The flowers were on a parking divider and by the angle we took the photo you can't see the landscaping light to the right of the model or the concrete parking lot in front and in back of her!  

Step 4: Get Good Light

This is one of the biggest things for me.  I don't have a super fancy camera so it's not going to cooperate if the lighting is too strong or overhead.  On this day, it was over cast for the most part so we'd work with the light.  When it was too dark, we'd wait a minute and think about poses or other locations to shoot, then when the clouds shifted we'd shoot.  

My favorite time of day to shoot is about an hour before sunset.  They call it Golden Hour.  It's great warm light that is diffused so it doesn't case harsh shadows especially on the face.  With little ones though, it's sometimes hard to get them in a good mood exactly one hour before sunset so the idea of working with what you have and maybe taking advantage of a slightly over cast day is worth the effort.

Step 5: Process Images

This step isn't necessary but if you have some basic Photoshop skills it surely doesn't hurt.  My husband hates over processed images so I like having control of how much processing the images get.  If you're just starting out, I highly recommend checking out Little Lusker photoshop actions.  These are handle little shortcuts that are put together by professional photographers that give your images a polished and professional look. 

Here's the gallery from our shoot, we had a blast!  

Remember to have fun!  While we were downtown on Main Street we picked up some cup cakes and went into a vintage shop just for fun.  We had a great time and I love the way the images turned out!  Coming soon, a post on how to create a Gallery Wall.  I used a few of these images and it's turing out great, so excited to show you!

Master Bedroom Refresh on a Budget

I'm dying to do a 'refresh' of the decor in our master bedroom!  It's nice, very 'fall' themed, think oranges and browns.   I'd like to do a total overhaul of the decor in the room, it's been pieced together from leftovers from our move a year ago and a few new pieces thrown in.  I pulled the pieces below from Walmart.com and Target.com.  The design pieces below total only $896 including TWO night stands and TWO lamps!  This total does NOT include the 5% Target Red Card Discount or the coupon codes mentioned below! That's designing on a budget, yes?!?!

From the top going left to right:

Sydney 3-Piece Quilt Set, Green/Blue - $55.39 from Walmart

Threshold Settee Bench - $119.99 from Target

Better Homes and Gardens 525-Thread-Count Cotton Sateen Bedding Sheet Set - $19.97 from Walmart

Mid Century Modern Nightstand - $179.99 from Target (get an extra 10% off today use the code LINCOLN)

Safavieh Mariner Brass Table Lamp (Set of 2) - $179.99 from Target

Threshold Fretwork Rug 7X10 - $159.99 from Target (also 10% off today with code LINCOLN)  

The walls are darker than I'd like and I'm always enthusiastic about putting fresh paint on a wall!  Such a clean and awesome fresh start to a room!  These are the paint colors I'm considering, on the left is Benjamin Moore Summer Shower and on the right is Benjamin Moore Patriotic White.  Which do you prefer?!?

I think it's a few months out before I can make time/cash for this project but I'm SO excited to do it!  First things first, as soon as the weather warms up I absolutely have to finish my stairwell project.  Finish photos will be posted here!  Talk to you soon!

Ruth's 1920's themed 90th Birthday Party

Since we moved into our house, my MIL and I have been finding every excuse to celebrate and throw a party.  It's basically only family that's invited, but it doesn't mean we cut any corners.  Our first real party was her mother's 90th birthday party.  The theme was 1920's, and black, green, and gold, and included a three tiered cake, a "look-back" video, and a whole bunch of guests!  

Here is was our Pinspiration:

I am a notorious big spender/procrastinator, and the combination meant we didn't send out invites (and honestly, everyone knew about the party so there was no need).  Here was the invite I would have sent.

Party Invite

Party Invite

Here is our table set up pulled straight from our Pinterest inspiration board.  Angela's idea was to do the wax seals on the napkin ribbons.  It has the initial "R" on it for Ruth.

Table settings.

Table settings.

Close up of the place settings. (Photo Credit Amoreena Zauri-Urbek)

Close up of the place settings. (Photo Credit Amoreena Zauri-Urbek)

Here are the incredible favors that Brandy had made for us.  She used a beautiful photo of Ruth when she was younger and had it printed on magnets for all of the guests. Thanks Bran!

Refrigerator Magnets (Photo Credit Amoreena Zauri-Urbek)

Refrigerator Magnets (Photo Credit Amoreena Zauri-Urbek)

Here is the birthday girl herself, and her three tired cake! 

Are you going to eat all that yourself, Ruth? (photo credit Amoreena Zauri-Urbek)

Are you going to eat all that yourself, Ruth? (photo credit Amoreena Zauri-Urbek)

All in all it was a huge success. 

New Years Resolution #1: Fitness

I am so excited for 2015!  Never before have I entered a year with such enthusiasm and motivation, I don't know where it's coming from but I like it!  

I started the year with a list of resolutions, I'm proud to admit this!  I'm not sure when it became so 'uncool' to make resolutions but it did!  When I talk to people about the subject of New Year resolutions it's like they want to make them but don't want to admit it, what the heck is that!!  Hell yes you should make resolutions, not just resolutions but goals.  You should make them at the beginning of the year and all throughout the year.  There's something inherently perfect about making resolutions or setting goals at the onset of a New Year.  It's a 'NEW' year guys, fresh start, a perfect time to take stock of your life.  Take a step back, celebrate your wins and contemplate the difficult times of the year, reflect and learn.  Then, move on and set yourself up for an even better year!  

Rather than run a list of resolutions off now, I'm going to list them one at a time with a full blog post on what carrying each resolution out looks like for me.  An interesting approach I know but if nothing else, it will keep the energy alive and help extend my focus on each one.  

First up, FITNESS!  My goal for this is to work out 4 times per week!  I know that doesn't seem all that impressive to some of you but for me it's HUGE!  I'm also adding weight training into my workouts this year for the first time in my life (thanks to my husband moving a full size weight set into the basement : ).  We've already started and I love it!  I'm also walking, hoping to start running again soon, on the treadmill.  The treadmill workouts are 30 mins and so far, it's been amazing.  It's not so long that the evening falls apart (dinner, bath, laundry, relax with fam).  I need all that in my life (well except the laundry lol).  So 30 mins works great, doesn't set me back and is actually a real mood booster!

What does any girl do when she decides it's time to work fitness back into her life, she goes shopping!  I haven't done much because I have another resolution that we'll talk about another time involving budgets and finances.....soooo starting small.  Here are some of my workout essentials:

1. Aerie Skinny Yoga Pant (on sale now buy one get one 50% off)

2. Spotify (follow me @ myprettylilspotify, I'm friggen in love with my 90's Kid playlist)

3. Aerie Tunic Top (also on sale right now buy one get one 50% off)

4. Skechers Flex Appeal First Glance Women's Cross-Trainers (I don't buy much that isn't on sale, these are on sale for $49.99 at Kohl's regularly $69.99)

5. Contigo Shake & Go Tumbler 

6. All Pro Women‘s Low Cut Socks

What are your New Years Resolutions?  Would love for you to share what your 'must have' workout items are!!

Worlds Best Itch Relief

Ok, sorry to admit, I'm an expert in itch relief!  I've come to realize some people get eaten by bugs more than others in the same setting, I'm one of them!  I get eaten alive for no apparent reason and those around me are left unharmed, it's the truth...I'm guessing there's a scientific reason but I have no idea what it is!  Recently on a trip out to my sisters farm, some tiny little delicate fly like insects were biting me and I thought OUCH but it didn't cross my mind that they would leave itchy welts, come to find out, that's exactly what they did!  My poor little niece wound up covered in these terrible bug bites as well!  The other six people in the group, not a single mark!   Anyway aside from the tough luck, I have some great pointers for those that are super tasty in the bug world!

I'm going to share with you the WORLDS BEST ITCH RELIEF!  But seriously this stuff is amazing!  

Photo Credit: My Pretty Little Blog

Photo Credit: My Pretty Little Blog

Ok let's start with prevention shall we?  I use the OFF! brand Family Care Smooth & Dry bug spray.  This stuff is amazing!  Doesn't leave a sticky or wet feeling where you feel like you need to towel off later.  Doesn't smell as bad as other sprays.  It's an aerosol so you can spray every nook and cranny AND it works GREAT!  Seriously best bug spray I've tried and I've tried them all!  I keep the small bottle in the car and/or my purse.  You can get it in the travel size area at target (I love travel size everything btw) and the large 4oz bottle is on sale (in store only) at target right now.  Normally retailing for $5.49 you can grab it up as part of their summer clearance for $2.98 and that's only the first mark down!  If they go any cheaper I'm going to have to stock up on a few bottles for next year!  

Now we'll move onto the itch relief because let's face it even though I carry bug spray around like it's some kind of emergency inhaler, you don't always have it when you need it!  Last Saturday, I wasn't prepared and ended up with welts all up and down both arms, my ankles (cause I'm stylish and had rolled my pant legs just enough) and around my neck/hairline!  As soon as the itch started I went for my trusty Chiggerex!  This stuff is the WORLDS BEST ITCH RELIEF, seriously guys, I would not lead you astray!  I got some chigger bites on my toes a few years ago and that's the worst itch you'll ever experience!  A friend of my husbands recommended this stuff and I was on a mission to find it.  When I finally did it was worth the effort, instant relief!  Keep in mind, if you're like me, you'll have to apply every couple of hours but it will prevent the discomfort and resulting scaring that can occur when you itch the itch.

Chiggerex is hard to find, it's only at Walmart (as far as I've found) and it's in a weird place near the bandages.  You can find it online though!  Like me, my Dad get's bitten up pretty good and my parents keep a stock on hand and buy a few bottles online each season!

I know it's late in the year for a post about bug bites but it was on my mind since I just was eaten up : ) 

Visit to the Connally Farm

Huge congrats to my sister and brother in law on the purchase of a fantastic old farm house in Pella, Iowa.  First off the acreage is HUGE and AMAZING!  It's in an area of Iowa that actually has some terrain, rolling hills and lots of beauty.  The house is very old and will need lots of work, but they are up for it!  Already diving in on the much neglected yard and home.  It will take lots of time and lots of sweat but they will have a true home in the heart of Iowa to enjoy for years to come.  I couldn't be happier for them!  

On to the trip!  We enjoyed the scenery on the 2 hour drive out to visit them.

Here are a few gems found around the farm place...

The town of Pella is seriously great!  They are famous for a tulip festival in the spring time and for two worldwide manufacturers, Pella Windows and Doors and Vermeer (farm equipment).  We spent a couple hours having lunch and enjoying the downtown.  We stopped into a coffee shop and a bakery but I can see my sister and her family spending lots of saturday afternoons exploring/eating/walking through downtown Pella, there's a LOT to see!  Pella is also home to the largest windmill in the US that still is in use.  They actually still use it to grind wheat into flour and it's a beautiful thing to see.  Next time we're there we want to take the tour, they let you walk up to the top of the windmill and I can imagine the view up there is pretty great! 

We can't wait for the next trip out to the Connally Farm, it was a great visit!  Here's the happy family, congrats you guys!

Photo competition with Sidney!

Sidney loved the little photo competition that Mike and I did earlier in the week so while she was here for the long weekend we took a little photo walk.  Sidney had my iPhone and I used the digital SLR so we each had our own cameras.  I'm organizing each gallery below by photographer, not so much a competition but definitely fun to see each perspective : )  Enjoy! 

Gallery By Sidney:

Gallery by Mike:

Gallery by Brandy:

A Walk at Big Woods Lake

We went for a walk around Big Woods Lake tonight around sunset and what started out as a leisurely stroll turned into an intense photo competition and a race against the stealth speed of the dreaded mosquito!  Mosquito won in case you're wondering, here are the resulting photos, enjoy!

And the photo competition ensues...mine on the left and Mikes on the right throughout : )

So in the end we're tied with being dorky (see below) but i think I won the photo competition!  Don't ask Mike what he thinks though haha!

Dorky Photo Credit: Mike

Dorky Photo Credit: Mike

August nights are fun...

Photo Post...Again!

Still getting in the groove with the Mac and trying to get back into the rhythm of making regular blog posts so relying on photos to tell the story yet again!   Two things that you should be hip to, if you're not already:  Bloglovin (creates a blog feed of your favorite blogs) and PartyParty (new photo app).  I follow a blog called A Beautiful Mess and they just released this crazy cool app called PartyParty.  I hope they add some additional functionality but for now I absolutely LOVE the filters!  Here are a few photos from the week, some created with the PartyParty app, enjoy!

This is how my week started : )  Laine's learning to feed herself with a spoon.  It's awesome and crazy messy!  Look at my organized list for work, I love being organized!

This is how my week started : )  Laine's learning to feed herself with a spoon.  It's awesome and crazy messy!  Look at my organized list for work, I love being organized!

She's also learning to be a ham in front of the camera, it's hilarious!

She's also learning to be a ham in front of the camera, it's hilarious!

I've been eating a healthy breakfast lately of strawberries, vanilla greek yogurt and granola.  HyVee has new bulk bins and you can get granola for as low as $3.19 a pound, that's crazy cheap for granola!

I've been eating a healthy breakfast lately of strawberries, vanilla greek yogurt and granola.  HyVee has new bulk bins and you can get granola for as low as $3.19 a pound, that's crazy cheap for granola!

From the new PartyParty app:

Mike turned an old crib we bought second hand and never used into a toddler bed, I painted it yesterday and it turned out awesome! 

Mike turned an old crib we bought second hand and never used into a toddler bed, I painted it yesterday and it turned out awesome! 

Almost ready to bring it inside!  Can't wait to style it!

Almost ready to bring it inside!  Can't wait to style it!

We did Sid's bed to match, she chose the color and I absolutely love it! 

We did Sid's bed to match, she chose the color and I absolutely love it!