Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Shutterfly my Holiday

                        
              The Holidays are always special and I enjoy shopping but sometimes trying to buy just the right gift for someone I love can be a challenge. My daughters are easy and at their age the wrapping is still the most exciting part so for them so its really no challenge. My teenage nieces want money so once again that gift choice may be boring but easy.  I struggle buying for my parents. The older they get the less they need and my mom is always telling me not to buy them anything.
   
   Lucky for me my mom and dad both love pictures and thankfully I love to take pictures. This year I was able to do a good portion of my shopping on Shutterfly. I have been a fan for a long time and make all of my daughter's scrapbooks from the site so when I was browsing for something for my mom I found a new product.

                                    


These table runners are new from Shutterfly and can be made to fit any taste. They have Holiday, every day and special occasion ones. I made the one on the left for my mom and it came in two sizes. The sizes I much appreciated because we purchased a new table for our new house and I haven't been able to find a table runner to fit the table. They have them for 7 and 8 foot tables so I am also ordering one for myself as my very own Christmas gift (from me to me). I couldn't resist an opportunity to put the beautiful faces of my daughters onto a table runner for myself.  This one below is for me and my new table.

                                                           

They had some great products this year so I was able to order for my mom, my sister-in-law and my Christmas cards all in one place.  I plan to go back after Christmas and do some shopping for the new house. Also, I am not at all humble when it comes to my daughters and feel their faces should be put on many items. I barely restrained myself when I saw that you could personalize wrapping paper. Christmas 2015 will have a new look under the tree for our family..and I can't wait.

                                                             
                                                            

Well shop on shoppers, you can find some really great and special gifts for someone you love. I can't wait to give my mom her table runner filled with pictures of our family. I have to say that this is not a sponsored post, I just really love the company and with all the new products its really easy to make something unique. I can't wait to shop in January when the craziness of the holidays has slowed down and I have time to design me some wall art!
                               




                                                          

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Two weeks in our Florence

      Two weeks has flown by in the new house and each night before we go to bed my husband and I feel like pinching ourselves. We were on a long road to get where we are now. It is so hard to imagine that we have moved in and have our first holiday under our belt. Yesterday we had our first official visitors and I really got to break in the kitchen. It was a lovely visit and we were excited to show off the house. We have definitely made some strides in organizing the house and getting things where we want them.

   Something I have been struggling with is wanting everything done right away and that is just not realistic. At night when I try to sleep the list of things that need done starts to run away in my mind. What should I paint, organize, change, move around? This weekend I was lucky enough to have an extra day off for the holiday and that gave me some of the time I needed to get a hold on things.

Unfinished side of the basement-  All though this wasn't on our priority it ended up being the part of the house was "finished" first. We purchased the standard five shelf metal storage shelves that you can find in any store. We found our shelves in both Home Depot and Menards. We were pleasantly surprised at how much they hold. Our basement is now organized and sorted. We had a large storage shed for months and it was packed to the proverbial gills so when we got everything in and we had more then enough space to spare, I was once again impressed with the house. I have a corner in the basement that is also set aside for a springtime garage sale. Once that is gone then my husband will turn that corner into a workout corner.

Finished side of the basement - We only had future intentions for this side of the basement. We would eventually like to purchase a nice pull out sofa that would be good for guests. With the bathroom down there it would be a perfect space for an overnight family or friend. It is currently set up to entertain our 2 girls and they love it. What we have learned is that our 1 1/2 year old can open any door in the house. With the long handles if she steps on her tip toes she is able to open the doors. We need a plan for this because the girls can get into the pantry and help themselves to snacks.

Here is a small idea of a possible sofa for the basement:








We have little other things done and the list is still long but we are making our way. I will post more as we go because I am slowly but surely designing the playroom for the girls and I can't wait to finish that and be able to share.

For all my building and blogging friends what are you doing with your lofts or extra rooms? We currently have our office there but design wise I am having trouble deciding. Any ideas? Please share your ideas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

French Onion Soup in the crock pot



     I started a tradition at work with a soup cook off and for our first year I actually won with my Sausage Corn Chowder . When it was time for the second annual cook off I knew I would have to bring something great if I was going to keep getting that first place trophy. Not to spoil the end of the story but I won second place this year instead of first. Don't get me wrong, my soup was Kick Ass but I was bested by a worthy opponent. I will share both recipes on this post.

     I did a little something different with the French Onion Soup this time, I wanted the onions to be a bit caramelized so I cooked them down first and let them get a bit brown to help with the taste of the soup.

    The amount I made will make about 10-12 servings and will be a full crock pot of soup. Most of this soup is made outside of the crock pot but for keeping it warm and serving a group its pretty perfect.

    I took three large white onions and sliced them, I separated out the rings of the onions so they would cook evenly.  I added them to a large pot on med/high heat with 1/2 stick of butter and let them cook about 40-50 minutes. You will start with a pot full of onion and then when they are cooked you will have drastically less and they will have a bit of brown on them. You will want to stir them so they caramelize evenly.

   To the crock pot I added five10 Oz cans of broth. I used 3 cans of beef broth and 2 cans of beef consume. You can use all five cans as beef broth but I like the consume because it makes the soup a bit thicker and it really adds to the taste of the soup. You can find consume in the same section with the soup.





  Prior to adding the onions to the soup, sprinkle the onions with a little bit of garlic powder and stir. Add the onions and stir these together, once the soup is heated through add half the bag of cheese to the soup and stir. You will want to use this cheese, if not you will need to get a mix of cheeses and
make sure one is a gruyere.




    Right before serving the soup add the bag of croutons and cover the top with cheese. Sprinkle with a bit of flat parsley and you are ready to go.





Enjoy, the soup is easy but really very delicious, I would love to hear comments if anyone makes the soup.  Please see below for the winner of our soup contest, my co-worker Michele won using a great soup recipe from Skinnytaste.




 Ingredients for the French Onion Soup:


3- 10 oz cans of beef broth
2 - 10 oz cans of beef consume
1 - Bag of flavored croutons (I chose garlic)
2 - Bags of Kraft Italian cheese
Flat leaf parsley for sprinkling on top
3 large white onions
1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic flavoring
1/2 stick of butter

_______________________________________________________________________________

  1st place Soup winner - Buffalo Chicken and Bean Chili 


You can find the entire post here on Skinnytaste and this is a must try. It had heat and flavor and the correct serving is definitely something to enjoy.
                          
Congratulations Michele and I look forward to next year!






Carnival birthday party - Part 2



   It has taken me a drastically long time to finish my birthday post because during the actual birthday we finally got an offer on our house. Needless to say the new owners asked for a 29 day escrow so once the party was over we were on the move..LITERALLY.

I am blogging about building which we have decided to do after a disastrous search for a house so follow along and share any advice you may have.  In case you missed my first post on the party please check out my adorable favors

Back to the Birthday party -

One of my favorite parts was something I decided to do for my girls-  I got some clothes wire (the wire  you would dry clothes on) and some baby clothes pins and tied it to some branches. I did a picture for each month for my daughter that turned 1 year old. I did my last ultrasound to  her very first birthday. And then one for my 3 year old for each month since she turned 2 year's old. 

I loved this part of the party and our family and friend's really enjoyed seeing the progression of the girls. I cried putting it up and I am choked up just writing about it. 


This banner is pretty simple, and an inexpensive semi-craft that you can do to add some personal touches. I printed out all of my pictures for this craft project on Shutterfly at a nearby Walgreens.






Since this was an actual Carnival Birthday Party we of course had Carnival games -

Ring Toss, Can toss and ball and basket toss. -

                                                                  Ring Toss

Items needed: 1 basket, 12 soda bottles, 3 rings

 I went to 5 Below and purchased standard diving rings, 1 wire basket from the Hobby Lobby and I purchased 12 vintage bottles of soda. Orange soda and Strawberry Soda.

Each person was able to toss 3 rings and if you got a ring around a bottle you won a prize!


        


           

                                                                  Can Toss
Items needed: 6 cans (or more if you would like) - 6 pieces of scrapbook paper -3 balls and some glue.
Step 1 - Save up some cans from your can food. Peel label and wash and dry the can. Once can is dry cut your scrapbook paper to fit and glue paper to can. I used standard Elmer's glue and it was perfect.

Each person was able to toss all 3 balls, if they knocked even 1 can down they received a prize!

My theme was pink/yellow vintage Carnival so I went with those colors in different hues. The balls were once again purchased from 5 below and I liked that even small hands could hold and toss the balls.


I loved the covered cans so much that I made extras and used them as silverware holders for the cake and food table. I will probably being doing more with cans and scrap book paper - Stay tuned for a possible craft post on this.

         

         
                                                    Basket Toss- 

Items needed - 5 baskets (I used apple baskets from Hobby Lobby), 3 Wiffle balls (5 below), labels for numbering the baskets 1-5.

You received 3 balls and whatever basket you landed in you received a prize - I had 5 prize bags numbered 1 - 5.



        


There is more to the party and since this is getting kind of lengthy I will be back for part 3!

It really was my favorite party and we had such a wonderful time, I know my girls won't remember but I will!



Sunday, November 23, 2014

1 Week in and some nagging issues..

         We have officially lived in our house for 1 week, we moved last Saturday and I have to say that even though it was only 36 degrees it did not rain or snow. It was a beautiful day and couldn't have been more thankful to our family and friends who helped us move. We have everything we need to "live" out and unpacked. What we are still unpacking is our boxes that sat in storage for four months. We already have two sections in the unfinished part of the basement. One for stuff we are keeping and one full of stuff for the garage sale we will be having in the spring.  So the basement is coming along and will be a continued work in progress.

       Our first floor is shaping up very nicely, I haven't hung up any pictures because I haven't decided where to hang anything. Also, I am reticent to put nails in our new walls. This will pass and I will be hanging pictures very soon.

I do have a complaint about the powder room, I will need to immediately find a shelf for that space. I love the pedestal sink has no place for toilet paper or even a small thing of Lysol wipes. I plan on purchasing something from either Wayfair or Hobby lobby. I think a small cabinet would be perfect in there and then I can store small items. I love the 9 foot ceilings in there and am impressed with the fixtures. Here is what I am thinking for the bathroom, it doesn't have to be a priority but running of toilet paper in there would be a small issue.



Peppercorn 17.38" x 28.75" Free Standing Cabinet

Our secondary bathroom or what we refer to as the girl's bathroom doesn't have an actual spot for drying towels. I am a bit annoyed by this because we left the apartment and we had the same issue. Where do you hang the wet towels. The towel rack is not far enough above the toilet for a wet towel and would touch the toilet. I am working on a solution to this problem but its more than that one issue. There is really no wall to put the towel bar on. One would cover the switch and the other option would be right behind the door. I have not decided on anything definitive but will update as soon as possible. I do love the actual baths. They have plenty of built in shelving (love) that helps with the bottles of shampoo and the bath toys.

I accidentally made this post about bathroom issues so I will end on this one positive note. If you are building and are debating about replacing the tub with a bigger shower then I will say this...DO IT. We took out the tub and we got a 5 foot shower and I love it. I LOVE IT. The water pressure is awesome and I love the Delta shower heads that were installed. The shower is roomy and perfect and has double sided shelves so husband and I do not have overcrowded issues for storage. The other positive about replacing the tub with the shower is you get a very large linen closet where the original shower would have been gone. I love the linen closet,  I love the shower, I love the double vanity and tall counters..I love our bathroom.

I guess, I will sign off for now and next time I will talk about something besides the bathroom...Here is a picture prior to moving in..Next thing on the list is the playroom.





         

Friday, November 14, 2014

We Own a house...

 

     We are the official owners of our Ryan home. We signed the forms last night and today we just completed are final walk through with Mike (PM). We had 2 tiny items that were already addressed and my husband is at our house waiting for our refrigerator and washer and dryer. 



I can't believe it, I am so happy and tomorrow we are moving in. When Mike told us that soon we will be calling the service number if we need something and not his actual number I did feel a little sad. We have had an amazing experience with the building process and now that it is over I will honestly miss a few people.

NVR was just amazing and I can't believe how lucky we were to have such great people to work with. Jessica and Katie are so knowledgeable and kind. I so enjoyed chatting with them and we know that the next family who works with them will be in good hands!

When it came to sales reps and project managers our cups runeth over. We couldn't have had a better team than Michelle (SR) and Mike (PM). They built our house and tomorrow we will make it a home. 

Please stay with us and keep checking back, I have tons of projects for the house and I will commit to keeping up on the building part of my blog. I will have moving pictures and much more. 

Tomorrow is a big day, I will rush home and finish packing up the apartment..

We are finally moving Home!

Friday, November 7, 2014

1 Week from today, we will have our keys.



   One week from today it will be the day we get our keys. The day we see all of our choices come together. I saw the house on Tuesday and will not see it again until the walk through. I want to leave a little mystery for myself and walk into the house with my husband before all the crazy moving happens and just have a few minutes to ourselves.

When we signed the contract in August we were surprised that building an entire house only took 4 months and imagined the time would fly. I have to say I thought the time flew and then dragged on in equal measure. Now that we are 7 days from closing and I am running out of time to pack up the apartment, schedule deliveries of appliances, big girl beds and dining room tables I am feeling like time flew.

So here we go into the final week in our small but cozy apartment. I will pack up one more time and move into the home that we have watched from a hole in the ground to the beautiful house that is there today.

I will try to tamper my need to paint and decorate every corner of our house and for the first couple of weeks I will just enjoy the house and my family.

I will enjoy the holidays and planning a house warming and I will cook something amazing in my new kitchen. I will make my daughters a beautiful playroom on the main floor so that I may hear them playing and laughing and be able to get dinner on the table.

My husband and I will have our own bedroom and be able to talk after our kids go to bed because now the girls will be on a different floor and have a new level of quiet to sleep.

I have been comfortable at our apartment but I will not miss the following things:

1. Having two use 2 keys to get into the building with my girls, my diaper bag, my purse and the groceries...IN THE RAIN.

2. I will not miss the neighbor across the hall who has poor control over their large dog and when we find ourselves in the hallway the same time I will not miss having to dodge a dog jump on me in the morning. Nothing against dogs, but I do appreciate leash control.

3. I will not miss trucking my laundry up two flights of stairs and sharing one washer and dryer with 12 other units.

4. I will not miss our upstairs neighbors who walk loudly and drop VERY heavy things at night..Or wake up and stomp around every morning around 4:30 or 5:08 AM.

5. I will not miss the fact the the apartment front door is in exact line with the bathroom door and that if you are in the bathroom for anything your neighbors have a direct view straight to the bathroom when someone opens the door.

6. I will not miss running out of quarters when my towels are "almost" dry and having to hang them around the apartment.

I just want a little bit of privacy and I know that I am 7 days away from those moments. So last but not least..here are some pictures from my recent visit...7 days and counting.


Morning room with the fan hung..




Kitchen view again..







Flooring on first floor plus our newly laid carpet...



Downstairs bathroom..towel bar hungs. I wonder if the seat up is just a coincidence?




So the last touches are being done, the winter driveway gravel laid down, the grading (not the final) will be done until spring. And the last thing we have to really worry about is the neighbor who is having some trouble understanding property stakes (and moving them).

Yesterday we got our final approval and we are in clear to close...Thank you again NVR!