Thursday, November 14, 2013

{Happy 2nd birthday, Claire Elizabeth!}

{Claire: clear, bright, famous; Elizabeth: the fullness of God}

To my sweet daughter,

Today you are two years old! What an incredibly bright, charming and fiercely independent little girl you have become! Every day with you is an adventure, whether you're surprising us with new phrases or getting into typical toddler mischief. I'm sure I will say this many more times, but this stage might be my favorite yet! You are full of spunk, silliness and are a total chatterbox. If I could bottle up your personality and cherish it forever, I would!

I always knew that having a daughter would be amazing, but you have brought new joy and wonder to our lives that I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams. I adore your tender heart and the way you show compassion when somebody is hurt or crying and it warms my heart to watch you love and nurture your baby dolls (you are going to be an amazing big sister!) You somehow manage to strike the perfect balance of girly and feminine with a wild and adventurous spirit that is simply captivating. I love every single ounce of you!

You are so excitable and always game for an impromptu dance party (and girl, you can groove!) A few of your favorite pastimes include: coloring and painting, playing dress-up, taking walks, playing at the park, "cooking" with Mommy, throwing balls outside with Daddy, reading and your favorite shows to watch are Dora and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. You are also obsessed with Minnie Mouse and all Princesses. And possibly my favorite thing of all is how you long to be just like Mommy and Daddy, mocking everything we say and do. Seeing ourselves through your eyes is a hoot!

For most of your second year, you went through a phase of being really shy with strangers and even family you didn't see very often, but you've come out of your shell as you've gotten older and more comfortable with the idea of people coming and going. We are so blessed to live around so much family and it's amazing to watch how much you are loved by them, as well as our friends! Over the past year you have spent a lot of time with your cousin Anuhea and you two have developed such a sweet bond. You are always telling Daddy and me that Anu is one of your best friends :) You are such a lucky girl!

Claire Elizabeth, you have stretched me in more ways than I can count and I praise God daily for blessing us with you. Being your Mommy is the sweetest joy and my prayer is that you ALWAYS know how deeply you are loved!

Happy Birthday, Princess!

Love, Mommy

2 year stats 

Height: 37 in. (100th percentile)
Weight: 30 lbs. (90th percentile)

100% perfection

Thursday, October 17, 2013

{Courtesy of Nap Time}

Until about a year ago, a good, solid nap from my child was something that eluded me. We struggled through that transition stage from two naps to one and Claire just didn't want to work with her tired Mama. That is until she turned 14 months and something just clicked. She gave me one, glorious 3-hour nap. And again the next day. And the next. And so it went, like clockwork magic, day after day after day. And sometimes, when she's feeling really nice, she'll sneak in a 4 or 5 hour nap here and there. But on the regular, I get about three hours during the day to catch up on housework, regain my sanity and sometimes, sneak in a nap myself. It is honestly what keeps me energized on crazy days of tantrums and potty training. 

We recently went through about two and a half weeks of a nap revolt. Yes, I wanted to pull out my hair on a few of those days, but praise the Lord all is back to normal! Toddlers, they like to keep you on your toes alright!

All that to say that earlier this week, in an attempt to celebrate restored sanity in our house (and because I realize I have no idea how much longer I will have the luxury of these marathon naps) I decided to try a new, ridiculous looking recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Little did I know that I would discover the worlds best chocolate chip cookie! But please, don't take my word for it, make them yourself and you'll see.

I'm not sure exactly how these are sooo amazing, but it seems to me that the method is key, so trust me on this and be sure to follow the recipe to the letter. Got it?  Fantastic! But be warned, these cookies are no joke! The only adequate word to describe them would be ginormous [to quote Buddy the Elf.] So get baking, my dears and enjoy!

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies (copycat recipe)
found on Brown eyed Baker

3 cups (13½ ounces) bread flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
¾ cup + 4 teaspoons (6 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, cold, lightly beaten in a separate bowl
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups dark chocolate chips (I used 1 cup dark & 1/2 cup white)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (I substituted pecans)

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it comes together in one cohesive mass, about 1 minute. Add both sugars and continue to beat for another 1 to 2 minutes, until all of the sugar has been incorporated into the butter. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla and continue beating on medium speed until mixed, scraping the sides of bowl once (the batter will appear lumpy). Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the flour mixture until just a little bit of flour still remains. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts with a rubber spatula.
4. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces, just grabbing it by the handful and roughly shaping it into a ball (it should not be smooth). Place them (evenly spaced) on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 18 to 24 minutes, or until light golden brown on top. Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Friday, September 20, 2013

{On Frugality and Pulled Pork}

You could say that the past couple of years has really transformed the way we meal plan around here.
You see, not only are we now feeding an additional mouth, but our budget has changed quite a bit since I no longer work full-time. We've always kept a pretty modest budget, so we've simply tried to add a few helpful practices to make sure we get the most out of each dollar and aren't frivolous spending hard-earned cash we could be saving!

Three very helpful things I've implemented to help us create and stay within our monthly food budget, while still buying high-quality ingredients, have been to spend some time clipping coupons, consciously look for the best deals before going to the store and bringing cash only for groceries. These things alone, while new for us, have been a big help!

I hope to share more in the future about some other things we've done to cut back on expenses and our goal to live completely debt-free, but for now let me to touch briefly on these three ideas.

First of all, let me just say that I am no fanatic couponer (nor do I have any desire to be!) but I do spend five to ten minutes every Monday going through the mailers for good coupons on items I already need to purchase. I am very conscious to only save a coupon if it is something I am already going to purchase, otherwise I end up spending more than I need to anyway!

Secondly, I pay closer attention to store ads and deals. For instance, I have learned that Sprouts typically has some of the best deals on seasonal & organic produce and certain meats (this week I got fresh Ahi fillets for $5.99/lb.!) Just being more aware of sales and such has not only saved us money, but allowed me to buy more pricey items we wouldn't normally spend the money on.

And finally, a brand new practice we've implemented is paying cash for groceries. While not rocket science, it definitely makes me think twice before buying something we don't necessarily need and keeps the budget in check. Since I've got a competitive nature, this is kind of a fun thing for me to see how much I can come in "under budget".

So now you know a bit more about where my head is at lately, I want to share a great recipe I recently tried for Pulled Pork! I should probably tell you that this is not something I would normally cook, but while grocery shopping at Sprouts last week I noticed a really great sale on boneless pork loin, like a REALLY great deal! So I purchased one and started looking for a fresh, new recipe to add to our menu. I quickly came across a simple crock pot recipe on that looked promising. Of course, my husband was thrilled as pulled pork BBQ sandwiches are right up his ally. So you see, it was a win/win!

This was such a delicious meal (& made for excellent leftovers!) And sandwiches are just one of many possibilities. I'm thinking tacos or a salad would be equally tasty, and not to mention a great option for company or a party!

 Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (4-1/2- to 5-pound) boneless or bone-in pork shoulder (also known as pork butt), twine or netting removed
2 cups barbecue sauce (optional)

  1. Place the onions and garlic in an even layer in the slow cooker and pour in the stock or broth. Combine the sugar, chili powder, measured salt, cumin, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pat the pork dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork and place the meat on top of the onions and garlic. Cover and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 6 to 8 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low.
  2. Turn off the slow cooker and remove the pork to a cutting board. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the onion mixture from the slow cooker through the strainer and return the solids to the slow cooker. Set the strained liquid aside.
  3. If the pork has a bone, remove and discard it. Using 2 forks, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker, add the barbecue sauce, if using, and mix to combine. If you’re not using barbecue sauce, use a spoon to skim and discard the fat from the surface of the strained cooking liquid, and then add 1/4 cup of the liquid at a time to the slow cooker until the pork is just moistened. Taste and season with salt as needed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

{A Sweet Place to Start}

With Fall just around the corner and let's face it, any excuse to bust out my slow cooker, I decided it was time to test out a variation of "overnight oatmeal" I'd been seeing all over the web.

It seemed to me that because oatmeal takes less than ten minutes to cook on the stove top, it was a kind of a waste to go through the hassle of cleaning my crock pot for something that I don't mind cooking the old fashioned way.

That is until my mom pointed me to a recipe for overnight steelcut oats. Ah, now you're talking! I love me some steelcut oats, but am rarely willing to invest the 30+ minutes to cook (what can I say, my toddler is impatient when it comes to her food!). So earlier this week I looked through a few recipes and decided to create my own version based on what I had on hand.

Best part about making oats this way-making a large batch and having lots of leftovers. In fact, I might be enjoying a nice warm bowl as I type :)

It was a heavenly thing to behold Monday morning as I walked downstairs and was greeted with the sweet, warm fragrance of apples and cinnamon and my breakfast already prepared!

This is a perfect go-to breakfast as the weather turns cooler and a sure way to get a good, hearty breakfast, even if your morning is rushed (or as I said, your little one is a week bit impatient).

{Forgive the Instagram photo. I'll have to get back in a habit of using my real camera!}

Overnight Apple Pie Steelcut Oats

1 cup steelcut oats
1 cup almond milk
3 cups water
1  apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup raisins
2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp real maple syrup (you could also substitute brown sugar if you like)

Add all ingredients into your crockpot and cook on low for 7-8 hours

Now that I know how simple this is, I plan to try other variations with different fruit and add-ins (I'm thinking the last of the summer peaches I just bought!)

I hope you try this out, make it your own and share your own versions with me!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Claire Elizabeth {18 Months}

Is it really possibly that my sweet, baby girl is halfway through her second year?! Hands down, this has been the fastest year and a half of my life. Slow down, time...slow down! Though I continue to be amazed at what complete and utter joy Claire has brought to us these past eighteen months!

As far as we're concerned Claire is definitely the funniest toddler ever! She's got personality oozing from every ounce of her and is generally a very happy, loving, independent, goofy and curious little girl. She loves kids and loves getting dirty! One particular change we have seen lately is how bashful she gets around strangers or people she doesn't see very often. She will eventually warm up, but initially, she burrows in to mommy or daddy and plays really coy with people (her Mama was the same way ;). She's got the best smile and flashes her big, cheesy grin when I say, "cheese!"- it's to die for!!

A few of Claire's favorite things right now include: Her Baby Signing Time videos (she is seriously obsessed!), orange juice, her "babies", balls of any kind, bath time, being outside, bubbles, water, swimming, water (you get the idea!), her blankie, all berries, Abby, gardening, being tickled and dance parties with Daddy (girl has got some moves!)

We have been really amazed at how much her vocabulary has exploded these past several weeks! Some of her most common words right now include: Mommy, Daddy, please, thank you, cracker, pool, Abby, baby, cheese, cookie (we're blaming Grandma for that one), juice, no, go, up, down, night night, bath, shoes, though she mimics everything and creates her own versions of words like "blanket", which she calls "kiki" and "water" as "wawa". It's been so fun for us that she can communicate what she wants and needs with us beyond signing (though signing is still a large part of her communication). But it's true what they say, just when you start wondering when kids will start talking - Bam! - they never stop!

At sixteen months we transitioned Claire to a toddler bed, after she scared us half to death with her crib-climbing skills. I was a little nervous it might be too early, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions we've made! The transition was incredibly smooth and for the first time in her life, Claire willingly goes down for naps and bedtime on her own. See, she's always been a great sleeper (once she's down), but it was the getting her to sleep that was so difficult for us. Apparently the freedom that the big girl bed gives her was just what she needed. We have also started potty training after she began expressing a lot of interest in going to the bathroom on the toilet. So we bought her a big girl potty and set it in the bathroom, just to let her become familiar with it. Though she's already had several successful attempts! And she now tells us "poo poo" when she has to go or after she's gone in her diaper, so we're hopeful that means she might be ready for more intentional potty training soon! Hooray!!

Of course, with a toddler comes the unavoidable and occasional tantrums...yeah, those are not so fun. One second she's happy as can be, but tell her "no" and in two seconds flat you might see that sweet little girl face-down on the floor, crying. We have got ourselves an opinionated little girl and it has certainly tested and grown my patience!

We still have an excellent eater and a great sleeper (8 to 6:30-7)! We are officially down to one nap (10 to 12:30-1), wearing 24 month clothes, size 6 shoes, and are still nursing a few times a day, (though they are very short sessions).

Claire Elizabeth, being your mama is the most fun, exhausting, amazing, challenging and yet the most rewarding thing I have ever done! I cannot imagine my life without you and will continue to savor each and every precious drop of each stage you are in, as I'm learning that it all passes too quickly. Happy half-birthday, darling girl! Mommy and Daddy love you so much!!

Official stats

Height: 35 inches (100th percentile)
Weight: 27.4 lbs (90th percentile)
Head circumference: 19.02 inches (91st percentile)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

{Dinner Last Night: Thai Chicken Pizza}

Last night was pizza night at the Hansens. But not just your average slice of pie, I tried my hand at a Thai-inspired recipe I found in an old issue of Eating Well! Take that, Pinterest. It was quite a stretch from our typical pizza combos, but delicious nonetheless and certainly one we'll make again. A nice change up and definitely a hit with our little one, who licked the crust clean of its savory peanut sauce!

Thai Chicken Pizza
Recipe from Eating Well Magazine circa 2007

20 ounces prepared whole-wheat pizza dough, (or you could prepare from scratch)
1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon canola oil
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

  1. Place oven rack in the lowest position; preheat to 450°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Roll out or stretch dough on a lightly floured surface into a rough 16-inch oval. Transfer to the baking sheet. Bake on the bottom rack until puffed and lightly crisped on the bottom, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk peanut butter, water, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and garlic in a small bowl until well combined.
  4. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring, until cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add bell pepper, scallions and 1 tablespoon of the peanut sauce to the chicken; toss to combine.
  5. Remove the crust from the oven; spread evenly with the remaining peanut sauce. Top with the chicken mixture, then sprinkle with cheese. Return the pizza to the oven and bake on the bottom rack until the crust is crispy and golden and the cheese is melted, 11 to 13 minutes.
  6. I also added a touch of crushed red pepper and fresh cilantro just before serving. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

{Dessert Hummus, You're Welcome}

I saw this recipe on Sprouts Facebook page last week and was determined to give it a try. A lover of hummus and a self-proclaimed sweet tooth, it sounded like a combo made in heaven. Friends, my instincts served me right and I am obliged to pass on the delicious treat with you.

My husband says it reminds him of soft cookie dough. Can't go wrong there, but {shhh} don't tell anyone that it's a much healthier alternative! With plenty of digestive-friendly fiber and healthy fat, this sweet snack has a lot to offer and will leave you satisfied for hours. Definitely a snack the whole family will love!

Oh and Happy March, by the way!

Dessert Hummus
roughly 8-10 servings

1 cup garbonzo beans
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Blend the first five ingredients in your Vita-Mix or food processor until smooth. Stir in dark chocolate chips and serve with graham crackers, apple slices or better yet, cinnamon-sugar pita chips!

Happy snacking!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

{DIY: The $100 Platform Bed, Box Spring Replacement + Refinished Nightstands}

Kate and I have planned to upgrade to a Cal King bed for a while now. We sold our queen bed and purchased an adjustable bed frame for our mattress and box spring in the interim. The plan was to buy a Cal King mattress, box spring and make a custom wood headboard.

After completing the headboard, we were left with a list for or master refresh that looked like this:
  • Replace ceiling fan
  • Purchase and/or possibly refinish nightstands
  • Upgrade to a Cal King bed set.
  • Get a full size mirror (like this one)
  • Eventually put up crown molding
  • Build a headboard
  • Build/purchase closet organizer
A box spring isn’t really a “spring” at all—it’s just a wooden box riser. We realized how silly it was to spend several hundred dollars for what amounts to a couple pieces of wood, some cardboard and matching fabric cover that 99 percent of people are going to cover with a plain sheet. That said—no one wants to put the mattress on the floor.

You don't need to spend the money on a box spring or expensive platform bed to get the benefits.
I went searching for DIY platform bed plans and everything was overly complicated. My method is a simple  two-step process that includes building a basic platform followed by wrapping the raw wood with more attractive boards. It's the same basic principle as putting painted and textured drywall over a wall frame when you are building a house.

The best thing about a platform bed is that space isn’t wasted like it would be if you bought a box spring. That means storage! You can never have enough storage space and with this platform bed there is a ton of storage underneath. We haven't even decided what to do with all that space. This is the biggest selling point on a platform bed for most people. Most of the platform beds at a furniture store come with drawers underneath, but for the $900+ I’ll save my back and store things under the bed I don’t use often. You *could* get fancy bins for clothes, etc.

The complete tutorial after the break!

Friday, February 22, 2013

{Master Bedroom: The Reveal}

Early last week I shared our fabulous new headboard with you here! And might I say, Thank you so much for your sweet comments and excitement about how it turned out! That project must have really got our juices flowing because that following weekend we managed to find and refinish new nightstands we found on craigslist, upgrade from our old queen mattress to a new cal-king AND build a new platform bed! Our Master bedroom is finally done (well, for now..) and we are absolutely LOVING it!

My husband would really love to share a tutorial for the platform bed he built, as he really couldn't find anything similar to how he built ours. So I'm going to give him the spotlight on Monday to give you a nice, detailed tutorial. But for the rest of you who are just here to see pictures, stay in your seats because that's exactly what I've got for you today!

 So without further ado, our Master makeover...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Claire Elizabeth {15 Months}


These past few months have been such an incredible joy and have undeniably flown by far too quickly! Claire has undoubtedly grown and developed in leaps and bounds since her first birthday a mere three months ago. Just after her birthday those casual steps became full-on walking and she is now on the go all. the. time! To Claire, the world is one giant jungle gym, meant solely for her to explore. Walking has opened up all new possibilities for our little one from where she gets to play at the park (hello, slides!) to discovering every single nook and cranny of our home. We've certainly got ourselves an adventurous and determined little cutie who is vastly aware of her surroundings!

We are still enjoying our weekly gymnastics class and incredibly proud of how she engages with the teacher and other kids in her class and recently, I've really noticed her bringing the things she's learning home with her. Mainly the signs they practice in class. Around 13 months, I noticed Claire suddenly began responding to several signs we'd been practicing, most notably: more, again, help, all done, eat, please and a few specific food signs. Signing is so helpful for her to be able to communicate with us, especially since, as much as she babbles all day long, she really doesn't say many words yet.

Our girl has definitely become my little "helper" in the kitchen and is always leaving me little surprises in the most obscure places. But what mom doesn't love finding a teddy bear in the bath tub or a puppy on her nightstand?! They serve as such sweet reminders of her innocence! Watching our girl learn new things each day is nothing short of a privilege. I am amazed by the fact that she knows each of her stuffed animals by name and will seek each of them out when asked and will lift up her shirt and point when we ask where her bellybutton is located and gets a kick out of pointing ours out as well. She is a wonderful sharer (highly encouraging for our next child) and such a love bug!! My absolute favorite moments are when she leans in to plant a wet kiss right on my lips and when she wraps her arms around my neck and squeezes me tight. Nothing melts my heart quite like those moments and absolutely nothing makes me ever so grateful to be a mommy!

And of course, she is our child so she loves to laugh and make others laugh, too! When she's tired and trying to fight sleep, she will start fake laughing just to hear us laugh, which of course, turns into an all-out giggle fest (nicely played, Claire;). Her obsession with phones is at an all-time high and recently she makes a game out of putting my phone (or anything remotely resembling a phone) up to her ear and saying "hi" over and over and over. Ha, silly, silly girl! And I simply cannot forget Claire's obsession with dancing! Most days include a mini-dance party where little Missy gets her groove on (cutest thing ever!!)

She is still an awesome eater and currently chomping with eleven teeth, including those that have just popped through! Her current favorite foods include: yogurt, waffles, veggie straws, pasta, cheese sticks, edamame, blueberries and pretty much any fruit and vegetable we put in front of her. And she has gotten quite efficient at using a fork and spoon to feed herself. We are still nursing 2-3 times a day and it's not looking like she's ready to give those sessions up any time soon, which is okay with me :) And we're pretty certain that she's going to be a lefty, given the way she primarily eats and favors her left hand for all tasks.

All in all, these past few months have been a blast, especially since they included her first holidays where she was aware of what was going on around her and fully able to take part in the festivities! A few weeks ago both of our families joined us for a day in the snow to celebrate her Daddy's birthday, where Claire got to partake in her first snow sledding experience!

Time is passing far too quickly, but we are savoring each and every day loving on our sweet, amazing girl!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

{Custom Headboard: A Labor of Love}

The last time we chatted about our Master bedroom, it looked a little something like this:

And our list of to-dos still looked like this:
  • Replace ceiling fan
  • Purchase and possibly refinish nightstands
  • Upgrade to a Cal King bed
  • Get a full size mirror (like this one)
  • Eventually put up crown molding
  • Build a headboard
 I'm so excited to share that a good chunk of that list has been checked off! This weekend my awesome hubby completed our headboard, which means that our to-do list now looks like this:
  • Replace ceiling fan
  • Purchase and possibly refinish nightstands (Found what we want and ready to purchase)
  • Upgrade to a Cal King bed (Currently in the market)
  • Get a full size mirror (like this one)
  • Eventually put up crown molding
  • Build a headboard
  • Build/purchase closet organizer
Obviously we have made other small changes here and there over the course of a year, but this project has definitely been the most drastic improvement to our room so far! We're quite smitten with the turn out and amazed at what a big difference it makes in the overall feel of our bedroom.  But before I go on with the details and a brief tutorial, here she is in all her glory:

You might be wondering why we made it so wide and the answer is that we made it to fit a Cal-King bed that we are currently in the market to purchase - Yay!!! With that upgrade, there will be about a foot of headboard on each side. Of course that is our personal preference, but you could certainly cut it down to your desired width.

We really wanted the headboard to be a dominant element in our bedroom as we've chosen to keep our room simple with minimal furniture. I really love the rich tones and masculine/rustic balance this addition gives our space!

All-in-all, this was a fairly simple and inexpensive project. More than anything it required time, which these days is quite precious around here, so I consider this a labor of love from my husband!

I have put together a short step-by-step for this project below if you are interested (I apologize that I don't have any pictures of the process so please feel free to ask if anything is unclear or you have questions!)

Eight 8 ft. Pine boards cut to the size you desire $4/each
Three 6 ft support boards  $3/each
Sand Paper: 80 & 150 grit Already had
Steel wool: 000 (an alternative would be 220 grit sand paper) $2
Stain: Minwax Wood Finish in Red Oak 215 $7.50 for 1 Qt.
Polyurethane:Satin finish (You could also use a Polycrylic) $15
Pack of disposable sponge brushes $4
3/4 in. brad nails and 2 1/2 in. finish nails Already had

Tools Used:
Palm sander
Nail gun

Step 1: Distressing For multiple reasons, we opted to start with new pine boards and distress them ourselves. Starting with eight 8 ft. boards, my husband went to town using various methods to stress the boards. Some of which included: pounding the boards with a double-thick bag of nails and screws, creating marks with drill bits, burn marks, making grooves with a chisel and screw driver etc. This process requires a lot of experimentation so don't be afraid of a little trial & error. Our goal was for each board to be unique so there was no right or wrong method. Once you have distressed the boards to your liking, you want to sand down all of the corners and any rough edges, first with the 80 grit and then the 150 grit sand paper.

Step 2: Staining Once you have sanded the boards, you will need to wipe them down with a damp cloth to remove any dust and particles. Also make sure that your work space is cleaned up well. You probably want to test a small area that has been sanded down first to make sure you like the stain. After you are sure about the stain color and you have mixed it well, apply one coat to the boards. Because we wanted some variation to our boards, we wiped the stain after applying for a lighter effect on a few boards, while leaving the stain on the other for a darker look. This is really up to you and how dark you want your finish. Allow the stain at least 24 hours to dry.

Step 3: Durability Once the stain is completely dry you are going to apply the polyurethane coats, allowing at least 24 hours in between for each coat to dry. You will want to apply a minimum of 2 coats for durability. Once each coat is dry and before reapplying, sand down the boards with your steel wool or 220 grit sand paper.

Step 4: Assembly After you have decided the order you want to boards to be assembled, you are ready to attach them to your three support boards. You will want to place two of the support boards so they are a few inches smaller than the width of your bed and place the third board in the center of them. When your stained boards are laid out evenly cross-ways on the support boards, begin nailing each board in place using the shorter brad nails. Once they are all attached, position your headboard in place and attach to the wall with the longer finish nails in the bottom of each support board. We also placed a few at the top of the headboard for additional support, using a small spacer board in the gap to account for the baseboard.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back soon for the finishing touches on our Master bedroom makeover!

Monday, February 4, 2013

{Before & After} A Functional Landing

Last week concluded a home project which has been in the works for quite some time. Not only was it a necessary fix due to our ever-growing family and therefore, changing needs, but it was somewhat of a safety concern for us with a little one running around.

One of the most appealing qualities of our home is its open and spacious feel, which really lends to extra spaces that can be transformed as our needs for our home change.  In this particular case, what we needed was more storage space for things like my craft/sewing supplies due to my husband now needing a dedicated home office and a little more space for Claire's toys.

Our upstairs landing previously looked like this:

From the upstairs

And from downstairs:

We didn't all-together hate how it looked (with the exception of that awful rolled carpet above!), but it certainly lent itself to a lack of privacy due to the high windows in our family room that come up to the second story. But it also made it near impossible to hide anything (aka:the vacuum you see in the picture above). As for safety, the slats were much too wide for curious little ones.

So we talked through what we could do with Chris' Dad, as he is the family guru for projects such as this. As a Christmas present, he offered his labor and the materials to build what we wanted! Sweet!! For the past two weeks he has been here transforming the above into this!:

We are completely and totally in love with the transformation! And while it certainly added the desired function of more storage, we love how open, yet intimate it made the space feel! We now have the privacy we wanted, a ton of storage space and a bonus, an added space for Claire to play! I didn't capture it very well here, but the far left set of shelves that house my sewing and craft supplies are actually the longest of the three, giving me plenty of needed space:

We moved my desk back into the office and made space for another play area. I especially love this because we now have a designated space for the play kitchen we plan on building for Claire later this year :) And in the future, when our kids are school-aged, we would love to add a built-in desk in the corner.

My father-in-law does superior work (much like my awesome husband!) and really gave us a beautiful gift!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

{30 by 30} Updated!

Five months later and I decided to go back over my bucket list. While I was only able to cross off two things as complete, I realized that more than a handful of others are currently in progress, which is encouraging! 

How about you? Have you made a bucket list of sorts? How's it coming - I'd love to hear!
1. Add two more kiddos to our family
2. Visit my sister and her sweet family in Florida (October 2012)
3. Read through the entire bible (In progress)
4. Finish our backyard
5. Completely remodel our master bathroom (Started January 2013!!)
6. At least have tentative plans and savings started to visit Europe with my husband
7. Complete a triathlon
8. Go on a cruise (Possible plans in the works for late this year)
9. Take our kids to Disneyland
10. Finally convince my husband to watch The Sound of Music with me
11. Master the art of cocktail making
12. Attend a TSO concert
13. Get a 2nd tattoo with my hubby
14. Take a weekend trip to Santa Barbara
15. Try a new sport (maybe skiing!)
16. Buy a chess board (We had one given to us!)
17. Visit at least one major flea market in the country
18. Get my Etsy shop up and running again
19. Put on a tea party for Claire
20. Host a Halloween party
21. Volunteer more!
22. Go through another Beth Moore study
23. Upgrade to a cal king bed
24. Wake my family up early and watch the sunrise somewhere special
25. Take a weekend to be completely technology free!
26. Read every one of Charlotte Bronte's books (Currently reading Villette)
27. Take a specialty cooking class
28. Go back to the spot we became husband and wife
29. Seriously look into becoming a Bradley birthing instructor
30. Learn to use power tools (inside joke there)

Friday, January 25, 2013

{Adventures of a One-Year Old}

Our sweet girl is growing right before our eyes! What a fun, happy, adventurous little sweetie she has become. Some current favorites of hers include: playing at the park, dancing, getting into Mommy's jewelry and tight hugs around the neck! Here's a little snapshot of the last two months :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

{Instaproof: I DO Still Cook!}

Well, hello! How have you been, friends. Bet you'd about given up on me. Though if you're reading this, you obviously haven't removed me from your blog feed, or you saw this link on Facebook and probably did a double-take.  I certainly have much to share (hint: house renovations!), but let's start slow shall we ;)

Today, the girl and I are going on day five of a gnarly cold. And so, I am lying in bed with her, snuggling in and trying to stay as warm and comfortable as possible until we're feeling ourselves one again.

To pass some time, since I can only sleep so much, I began purging my phone of some old pictures and came across more than a few food pictures that I've posted to Instagram. Hello, I'm Kate and I'm an Instagram junkie. But I digress. As I kept scrolling through these pics, two things occured to me:

1) I snap A LOT of food pics! and 2) I really need to start blogging again because otherwise, these great new recipes go forgotten (ahem, Mommy brain...) and I completely lose track of things I've tried, where I found them, etc.

So I suppose this is as good a reason as any to actually fire up these old blogging skills. And to that I say, welcome back Self!

I told you, Instagram junkie...!

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