Favorites Friday #1

For awhile now I’ve been wanting to do a post about just some of my favorite things, hence, “Favorites Friday” was born in my mind (so original, I know). It probably won’t happen every week (that’s a lot of favorite things to come up with!), but I hope it happens semi-regularly. So, without further ado, some of my favorite things right now:

The Pandora Relaxation station: Ok, I know that Pandora isn’t so popular anymore, but I’m still a big fan. And the Relaxation Station is what has put me to sleep for the past month or so. I used to have to fall asleep to the TV, but now every night I look forward to turning my relaxation music on, setting the sleep timer, and drifting off.

The Gobble Stopper: This is an item that you place in the dog’s food bowl so that they don’t gobble up their food so quickly. It’s quite a great invention! It has a suction cup to stick to the bowl, but we’ve never gotten it to stay stuck, but it still works! And though Oliver acts annoyed by it, I think he secretly enjoys lifting it up to see if there’s any food hiding beneath it!

“24”: This show has taken waaayyyy too many hours, days, of my life away. Last summer I binge watched it on Netflix by myself. So addicted. I would watch 5, 6, sometimes 7 episodes a day. And it’s not exactly a show you can multitask with. Earlier this year, I convinced my husband to watch it again with me. We had been searching for a show to watch together that would keep him awake (Y’all, this is a serious issue in our marriage, he cannot stay awake to watch tv/movies. If anyone has advice, help, please share). I thought this would be the perfect one! Plus, I wanted to watch again to freshen my memory for the new season! So we’ve been watching for several months now, we are only able to make it through an episode a day, sometimes two if we’re lucky (Note problem mentioned above. Help.), but I am SO addicted again. It is just THE BEST SHOW EVER. We are currently in the middle of season 8 so just about 12 more hours to go before we can start the new season!!

 Blue Bell ice cream Cups: You know, those little cups you always had at parties as a kid? They have been a lifesaver to this struggling Weight Watcher. A few weeks ago I was in the ice cream aisle of the store longingly staring, wondering how to buy some and not eat the entire cartonright away, when I saw these. And even though they’re kinda pricey, I bought them. And they have saved me. They are 4 Points each, and are the perfect treat to look forward to as we watch “24” in the evening. Usually, the thought of getting to eat my ice cream cup keeps me from giving in to temptation throughout the day. I LOVE THEM.

Well, I think that’s enough for now. Want to save some things to talk about next time! What’s one of your current favorite things or best new find?


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

40th Anniversaries

In December 2012 we celebrated my in-law’s 40th Wedding Anniversary, and this past May we celebrated my parents. Even before getting married, I felt that marriage was something to be celebrated. In these days, marriages have become so short-term, the commitment so fake and selfish, that staying together for 40 years needs to be celebrated!


For my in-laws, we planned a party. They aren’t really “party people”, but we didn’t give them much choice in the matter. Most of their family and friends all live in the same area as us, so it was easy to gather everyone. Every single person we invited came. Wow. That is amazing for a party! And it was so wonderful. Felt very much like a big family reunion with both sides of the family there and great family friends. So much love and celebration for this huge milestone.

I designed the invitation and then had them printed at Staples

I designed the invitation and then had them printed at Staples. Obviously I’ve redacted some address and phone number info!

The hardest aspect was that we are only children. Meaning, Michael and I had to plan and pay for everything by ourselves. Oh how I was wishing for siblings!! With that cost barrier, it wasn’t as “fancy” as it could have been, but we aren’t fancy people so it worked out. We rented a low-cost “hall”, made all the food, and bought basic decorations. The one thing we splurged on was the cake and I am SO GLAD we did. It was perfect.


Since the 40th Anniversary is traditionally the “Ruby” anniversary, we went with a red theme. It sure helped that it was around Christmas time!


For table decor, we used cheap plastic tablecloths with silver and red ornaments in vases. We used the same decor style at our wedding (except the colors were teal and blue). We also had heart shaped candy dishes on the tables with silver and red wrapped Hershey kisses and Andes mints. And some fake jewels strewn down the center (I think those were leftover from our wedding too).


At the entrance, I placed some 40th anniversary pictures we had taken, some candy, and pens and papers to write a note to Tommy and Judy. I wish I had a better picture of the note papers, but they were just 4×6 notecards that I stamped hearts onto. I later put them into a photo album with pictures from the party that we gave the in-laws for Christmas.

DSC01697I set up a table with pictures from their wedding and a board with facts about their wedding: date, time, wedding party, reception, honeymoon.


For food we had a ham & cheese sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, spinach artichoke dip, raspberry chipotle cream cheese with crackers, a cheese ball, and cinnamon sugar pecans.



They were so cute!

Overall it was an incredibly successful party and their anniversary was well celebrated. So thankful for all the family who came.

That brings us to celebrating my parents’ 40th a month ago. We talked with them about a party, but we live in a different city than them and family is spread across the state. Logistically it was just going to be tough. So, we opted to go visit them and take them out for a nice dinner at one of Houston’s best restaurants- Taste of Texas.

2014-05-03 (3) 40th anniversary dinner at taste of texas

For special occasions, they take your picture and present it to you at the end of dinner.

For special occasions, they take your picture and present it to you at the end of dinner.


And us, of course :)

And us, of course 🙂

Such sweet celebrations! We are so thankful for parents who have stuck together for so long, honoring the vows and commitment they made to God and each other. What great examples for us as we continue in our marriage.

Now time to start planning for the 50ths!


Leave a comment

Filed under Home, Hubby

Reading List- May 2014

I’m gonna change up my reading posts a bit. I’m a little bored with the way I’ve been doing them. And, even though I have a journalism degree and one of my favorite things to write in school were book and movie reviews, I get tired of writing about every book I read.

I’m going to rate the books on a scale of 1-5 (I know, so original). [1] means “don’t waste your time”, [5] means “must read. right now.” I’ll probably also still say a little something about the book, but not a full summary or anything.

[4] Growing Up Duggar by Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar (2014, Non-fiction): As I mentioned in my laundry soap post,  I LOVE THE DUGGARS. There are a few things they do that I don’t totally agree with (like skirt wearing), but overall I think they are just a genuine, loving family seeking to truly love God and love others live life to the fullest. Just looking at their older kids, it’s obvious they are doing something right. This book is obviously targeted at teen girls, but if you love the Duggars as much as me, or are just intrigued by their family, it’s a good, easy read. They share some insights into their family that I hadn’t heard before from the show or their previous books.

[5] Coming Clean by Kimberly Miller (2013, Non-fiction): This book was recommended to me by a friend who is also studying counseling. And for those of us who are interested in psychological disorders, it is a fascinating look into the lives, motives, and struggles of true hoarders. Miller grew up in a home where both parents were hoarders and she describes how that impacted her growing up and how her parents tried, and repeatedly failed, to get their lives and homes cleaned up. It is anecdotal, but also includes research about hoarding.

[2] Dune Road by Jane Green (2009, Fiction)

[4] Wild by Cheryl Strayed (2012, Nonfiction): If you read Wild just through the lens of wanting to read about Strayed’s solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, you will enjoy it. It’s when you really start to think about her as a person, and some of the improbabilities in the book that you maybe stop enjoying it a bit. Overall, it’s fascinating as Strayed hikes alone on the trail to try to “find herself” and start fresh as she has lost her family and husband and most friends. I found out there is a movie coming out, and that will be great. But as I finished, I wondered why did she deserve a book? Did she really go through everything she says she did on the trail, because I would think she would be dead.

[3] Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke (2000, Fiction): I went into this book (the first in a series of many), with pretty high expectations. It seemed to have the same “feel” as the Evanovich Stephanie Plum books and I was excited. But, Evanovich is a much more talented writer than Fluke. I almost quit reading this book, which is something I NEVER do. The dialogue is so poorly written and it was just boring and dry. But, as happens often, by the end the story had gripped me. I plan on reading at least one more in the series, maybe it gets better?

What have you been reading lately?



Filed under Books

Gallery Wall

Back on April 15th I posted about my DIY coffee table tray, and promised that next week would be a post about our newly revised gallery wall. Well, here we are about two months later and I’m finally making that post. I blame it on the lack of natural light in our home. I couldn’t figure out how to get a good picture. But I finally just took some pictures and hoped for the best. So, as usual, please forgive the bad pictures!

A few months after moving in to our house in 2012, we worked on painting and decorating the living room. We had an empty wall, one with no furniture or anything, so I wanted to do a gallery wall. Pinterest has sure set the bar high to make those perfect. After looking at many pins, I finally laid out the frames and had my husband hang them. I have a touch of OCD and things have to be symmetrical. Hence, our perfectly symmetrical and organized original gallery wall:

old for realSo that was all well and good. It was nice. But we kept running into those sconces and I got tired of the predictable look. I wanted something a little more “fun” with some elements other than pictures. So I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some new frames, found some other elements, and let go of my need for symmetry.

photo 4

photo 2

My favorite element is a printable created by my friend Jennifer, the owner of Prettiest Print Shop. At our wedding, we had a worship time with the song “How Great Thou Art”. I wanted that song displayed in our home and she created the perfect wall hanging with the lyrics. Though, now it gets stuck in my head every day!

photo 3

If only you couldn’t see my reflection….

I purchased a pattern from Etsy and cross stitched the “M” with gray chevron.

photo 2 (2)

I am so, so happy with how it all came together. I have to give credit to my hubby for hanging everything so perfectly! It really helped to brighten up our living room and add some life to it. Now I need to figure out how to have pictures that aren’t just of us!



Filed under Home

Reading List- April 2014

Into the Abyss (Shaben, 2012) – This book is about a plane crash that occurred in the Canadian wilderness in 1984. 10 people were on board, 4 survived. The author is the daughter of one of the survivors. Shaben explores the life of each survivor before, during, and following the crash, essentially telling their whole life story intertwined with the story about the crash. She leads up to the crash, the factors playing into that fateful night, and then follows the investigation after the crash. It’s a very moving and emotional story and makes the reader ponder things such as living life, purpose, your personal journey. It shows how the survivors were impacted and how the each endeavored to make life count after surviving.

A Summer Affair (Hilderbrand, 2008) – With each book of Hilderbrand’s I read, I fall more in love with her as an author. Her books are so real and she makes it easy to connect with the characters and get emotionally involved and invested in the events of the story. In A Summer Affair, Hilderbrand takes us on a journey with Claire as she loses herself, her morality, and almost her life, and then finds it again. It’s an investigation of morals and discovery of true family and love.

The Blue Bistro (Hilderbrand, 2005)- I’ve had a hard time finding words about this book. It’s the most emotional of Hilderbrand’s that I’ve read. Such a simple story of a popular restaurant in it’s last season, a young girl looking for work, love, friendship. It has a different tone and setting than Hilderbrand’s other books, which was a nice change of pace since I’ve been reading her books a lot lately.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books

Backyard Makeover

A year ago we were deep in the midst of a backyard makeover. Our yard needed a lot of updating and fixing and the results were amazing! It took a couple months of a lot of hard work, but we are so proud. At the time we finished it last year, I didn’t have a blog. Once I started the blog I wanted to post, but decided to wait until the spring to make it more seasonally applicable. Most of what we did has stayed the same throughout this year, but we did have some plants die in the Texas heat last summer and plan to replace those in the next few weeks.

Here is what our yard and patio looked like upon moving in.

2013-02-16 (8) before painting houseYuck. There wasn’t room for the table and grill and people. We tried eating out there a few times, but it didn’t work!

2013-02-16 (9) before painting house

2013-02-16 (10) before painting house

Something had to be done! Once we moved in, we systematically (because that’s the only way I do things…) went through each room and re-did it. It was a year before we finally finished inside and moved to the outside! We were so excited to get started and totally change things back here.

We started by painting the exterior of the house. It was in MAJOR need of a new coat of paint, and a new color. We spent all of February working on that and went from this gross, gray blue to a fresh beige. Look at the difference paint made on our front door area!! Love it. Can’t get over it.

front doors

But, I sure hope I never have to paint a house exterior again. That was HARD work.

So after the paint, we had our patio extended and had a cover built over it. These were the only things that we paid someone else to do. It was just quicker, easier, and better that way.

Patio being extended

Patio being extended

Michael was home the day they poured the concrete and wrote our initials and the date!

Michael was home the day they poured the concrete and wrote our initials and the date, and put Oliver’s paw print in it.

The new patio provided so much more space! I don’t have any pictures of them putting the cover on. But we chose to not have it extend all the way- we left an open area on the end for the grill and fire pit.

In mid-April we began tearing down our old fence on two sides, and replacing it. So much cheaper to do it ourselves (well, for my hubby and neighbor to do it…).  This was a pretty extensive project.

2013-04-19 (2) new patio, now to start on the fenceThat random sheet of metal is one of the main reasons I wanted a new fence. What the heck were the previous owners thinking??

Beginning to tear the old fence down

Beginning to tear the old fence down

Found a snake in the fence!

Found a snake in the fence!

New fence going up!

New fence going up!

With all that done, at the beginning of May we started the landscaping. That involved creating flower beds, picking flowers/plants, and planting!

2013-04-27 starting the landscaping

Michael working on planting shrubs

It took a couple of months to get all the elements I wanted. We had pondered paying a landscape company to come in (and part of me regrets that we didn’t), but we chose to do it ourselves and I think it turned out pretty good! Once everything was done, it is a HUGE change from what we had before. We LOVE it.

2013-07-05 (3) backyard makeover complete!

2013-07-05 (2) backyard makeover complete!

2013-07-05 (4) backyard makeover complete!

2013-07-05 (10) backyard makeover complete!

This was inspired by a pin on Pinterest. The hubs built it and I painted it. I love the fun splash of color it adds!

This was inspired by a pin on Pinterest. The hubs built it and I painted it. I love the fun splash of color it adds!

Coasters I made from Shiner bottle caps

Coasters I made from Shiner bottle caps

My friend Janie made this sign for me. Go check out her Etsy shop- More than Frills.

My friend Janie made this sign for me. Go check out her Etsy shop- More than Frills.

2013-07-05 (8) backyard makeover complete!

2013-07-05 (7) backyard makeover complete!Love our stepping stones 🙂  (Though, it’s been a year and the tiles/stones are coming out of them… sad day)

So, thanks for coming on this (a year late) tour of our backyard!! We LOVE it and it shows that it’s possible to do a really great backyard makeover on a little budget!


1 Comment

Filed under Home

DIY Tray

Recently I made two somewhat small changes in our living room, but that I think made a big difference in how the room feels. One was that I re-did our gallery wall. I’ll be blogging about that next week because it’s not quite done. Today I wanted to write about a tray I made for the coffee table and how I re-organized the table.

I was pretty neutral about our table and living room space, until I ran across this pin on Pinterest:

fccc3bd1af51261f4c556cc7fad6b790I LOVE everything about this living area. So cozy, comforting, and welcoming. I don’t think ours will ever look like this, simply because of color scheme differences and because I HATE  the un-functionality and cluttered look of throw pillows. But, I used it as a template for changing the look of my coffee table.

I decided to do a DIY tray. I went to Hobby Lobby without a firm idea and came out with supplies to stain some planks and make a hardwood floor looking tray bottom.

IMG_5600I bought an unfinished tray, several packages of small planks, stain, paint, and a varnish. I am in love with this paint color and this stain and have used them on some other projects.

IMG_5603Americana Sea Glass acrylic paint and Americana Walnut gel stain. A-mazing.

I sanded and painted the tray, then it was time to do the planks. I placed them in the tray to see how they would fit and I ended up having to cut some down to size. Then I stained them.

Some of the planks before staining

Some of the planks before staining

I did two coats of stain to make them darker.

After one coat, waiting to dry so the second coat can be applied.

Drying after one coat, waiting to dry so the second coat can be applied.

Once the planks were stained and dried I put a coat of varnish on them and then glued them onto the tray using wood glue. The next day I varnished the entire tray and called it done! I am so happy with how it turned out.

2014-03-31 (18) coffee table redo

2014-03-31 (7) coffee table redo

So, since I had a new tray, I needed to add other new things to my coffee table! This is how our coffee table has looked for two years:

2014-03-31 (1) coffee table redo

Definitely not bad, but not exciting. Years ago I bought that spinning remote holder and painted it. It has served us well, but it has a college-y feel. It’s time for it to go. It was also time for the tractor magazines to not be front and center.

I chose four things to put on the tray:

  • The teal candle shown above. I was given it a couple years ago and I love it so much! I’ve only burned it a few times because I can’t bear to see it go away.
  • Coasters
  • The remote control
  • I purchased a mason jar and a burlap flower to put it in

The table felt very empty with just the tray, so I searched on Etsy and found a fabulous runner that coordinates so well with my gallery wall (you’ll see it next week!). I purchased it from The Littlest Bean Boutique. She was wonderful and custom made a length for me.

2014-03-31 (15) coffee table redo

2014-03-31 (17) coffee table redoI love the feel it gives the room and it makes me smile so much. Just so different than what we had before. Much cleaner and not as clutter-y. (And no worries. all those tractor magazines are still there, just not on the top of the table anymore).




Filed under Home

Bathroom Closet Redo

In our master bathroom we have a large linen closet. I’m very grateful for it because it holds a lot, things that we wouldn’t have any other place for. (Though, sometimes I wish we had a shower stall instead of the closet, but I guess a closet is better…. I think). The only problem with this massive closet is that the original shelves were very deep. Things got lost in the back. There was a lot of shelf space, but because of the design it felt like there wasn’t.

(*Disclaimer* It’s VERY difficult to get good pics of this closet.  The lighting is always bad and there’s not a lot of room to get a good angle. So… excuse the bad pics!)



So much randomness lost in the deep shelves

So much randomness lost in the deep shelves

My husband was actually the one who first thought about taking out the existing shelves and building some new ones. It’s times like this that I’m very thankful that he knows how to do carpentry stuff and can get cheap lumber from his job at a lumber yard!

The first step was to take everything out of the closet and find other places for it! That was the hardest part (for me at least!). Then we measured and decided on the width and design of the new shelves. He built the shelves and painted them (I helped on that part!). He took out the existing shelves and braces, then painted the closet. Then finally it was time to install the new shelves! (I’m sure there was a lot more to the process, but I tried to stay out of it. Apparently nagging isn’t very helpful….)

Working hard!

Working hard!

I am SO happy with how they turned out. It’s really the same amount of shelf space, but the different design makes it so much easier to organize things better.

2014-03-06 (1) bathroom closet done

Then came the fun part- organizing everything! We already had some baskets so I continued to use those for medicines, then I used our Christmas card boxes for other storage (yes, we had saved them hoping they would come in handy for something like this!). I love how it came together. Everything is much more accessible. And we have extra space!DSC02370



Leave a comment

Filed under Home

Reading List- March 2014

Three books this month, all fiction! Though I have been working my way through a non-fiction book… just not finished with it yet. Stay tuned for that. 🙂

Finding It (Carmack, 2013)- This is Carmack’s third book in her first series. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous two. As I first started I pondered just quitting because it was a little too much for me. This book follows a young adult on her journey through Europe trying to find herself, create a life apart from her family, and possibly find love. I found it frustrating as I followed her adventure and her dealings with her past, but in the end it came together and ended well.

Summerland (Hilderbrand, 2012)- Elin Hilderbrand is becoming one of my favorite authors. I enjoy her stories of life on the island of Nantucket and the way she writes telling the same story/events through the points of views of different characters. Summerland is a story about loss, tragedy, and change. It tells the story of the island reeling over the tragic death of two teenagers. As the parents and friends search for answers they each take their own journey of recovery and finding a way to live without those they lost. Overall, it was very good and the ending was really emotional but the “big secret” the book was leading up to didn’t seem that shocking, so it was kind of a let down.

The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane (Harms, 2013)- This is Harms first novel, and you can tell. The writing isn’t always very clear. But that can be overlooked as the rich story unfolds and the reader gets to know the depth of the characters. Three very different women find themselves unexpectedly sharing a life together. It is a simple and sweet novel about friendship, family, love, and living.


What have you been reading lately? I always love new books suggestions!

Leave a comment

Filed under Books

Duggar Family Laundry Soap


I’ve never really been into DIY cleaners, etc. It just seemed a bit unnecessary to me. But now that we’re all more aware of the chemicals in our cleaners, and the cost!, I thought I would give DIY laundry soap a try. I LOVE the Duggars and so I wanted to go with their recipe. I found the recipe and did a lot of other research to make sure it worked well and such. Everything I found was really positive, so I decided to try it!

They make a liquid version that ends up being 10 GALLONS of soap. I was excited because that would last us for well over a year. There are only three ingredients and the process seemed easy enough. I had seen on some blogs people complaining about how hard it was to make, but it took me less than 30 minutes, and that included clean up. After combining everything in your 5 gallon bucket, you’re supposed to wait overnight and let it gel.

Stirring the liquid after combining all the ingredients. Feeling hopeful!

Stirring the liquid after combining all the ingredients. Feeling hopeful!

Mine never gelled. I checked it every day for almost two weeks and every time the soap was separated from the water. I looked online to see if anyone else had had this issue. They did and recommended adding more Borax. I did. I stirred it really well. Still wouldn’t set.

It's not gelling.

It’s not gelling.

I’m really baffled. I have no idea what went wrong. The process is so simple, there really isn’t anything to mess up. I thought about trying again but didn’t want to waste more ingredients, so I just decided to make the powdered version. This one doesn’t make as much (I’ve read about 40 loads), so it isn’t as cost effective. But it’s still cheaper than store-bought (I’m assuming. It takes way too much math to figure that out and I haven’t attempted to do it yet).

photo 1

Duggar Powdered Laundry Detergent (for top loading machines only)

  • 1 Fels-Naptha soap bar (You can also use Ivory which is a whole lot easier to find!)
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  1. The goal is to get the soap into powder form. The recipe suggests grating it or putting it in a food processor. I wasn’t successful at this so mine was kinda chunky. I think it’s working anyway.
  2. Once the soap is powder-y mix the three ingredients together.
  3. Use 1 Tbsp. for a light load and 2 Tbsp. for heavy load. Yields about 3 cups of soap (approx. 40 loads).

We’ve used this three times so far and it seems to be cleaning well. It doesn’t have the “fresh” scent that store-bought does and I kind of miss that. But I think it’s worth it.

My cost breakdown:

  • Borax: $3.38
  • Arm & Hammer: $3.24
  • Ivory soap (3 bars): $1.24

So $7.86 total and can make multiple batches before having to buy more ingredients. Definitely a money-saver!

Update- April 17: My first batch lasted for 25 loads (which was about five weeks for us). I think part of why it wasn’t 40 like the recipe said is because my husband’s work clothes tend to get pretty dirty so I use more. I made another batch today and am going to keep track again of how many loads it does. Want to make sure this is saving us money!

Leave a comment

Filed under Home