Monthly Archives: November 2014

Day Trip to Lake Geneva

Probably the last Saturday that was nice fall weather (it was in the upper 40’s) we took a day trip to Lake Geneva.  The nice thing about Lake Geneva is that it’s only an 1.5 hour away and a nice drive through the country side.  I found a place that you could take pony rides and since Nola has been asking to ride a horse for awhile now I figured it was time we grant her her request.  Or really it was an excuse to get out and enjoy the day together as a family.

Since we have a toddler with a small attention span and we planned on eating out and shopping around afterwards going to this place for a pony ride worked out.  But if you drive 1.5 hrs just for a pony ride I would not recommend it, it was a VERY short ride!  But it gave Nola a taste of riding a “real” pony and so we didn’t mind.  It was adorable she kept on asking us the entire time, “what is this?!”  what is this?!”  She wasn’t really scared just unsure of what was going on.

Afterwards we ate close to downtown Lake Geneva at Simple Cafe.  I loved this place!!  I had the Korean BBQ Breakfast Bowl and, goodness, I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.  They also had a kid’s rice bowl that was brown rice, sweet potato, broccoli and chicken and for once you felt good about what your kid was eating while eating out.  I can’t wait to go back to this place!

If you haven’t been to Lake Geneva they have a cute downtown with little shops and so we decided to browse around.  What was crazy that every store seemed to have stuffed animals in the display windows, even when most stores weren’t selling stuffed animals!  They were displayed in shoe stores, jewelry stores, clothing stores, etc.  Regardless Nola loved looking at the stuffed animals for the majority of the time.  It was another parenting moment where we had to just be laid back and take our time letting her look around, even though the entire time we are thinking, “why!!  why are there so many freak’n stuffed animals displayed everywhere?!!”  I guess they really know how to keep the little kiddos entertained while walking around, I give them that 🙂

Overall it was a great family day and we look forward to going back!!

Here’s some photos of the day if you care to see:

DSC_0001 DSC_0010 DSC_0018 DSC_0029 DSC_0027 this photo Nola told daddy she wants to ride one of those horses next time.

Painting Laminate Furniture

DSC_0035 copy

I mentioned last week I finally was able to finish up a few projects I wanted to do around the house.  I think it’s hard when you move because you want things to look nice and homey right away, but for me it always takes awhile.  I like to live in the space to see how I want the rooms to function and take my time to visualize how I want to decorate.  It also really is a balancing act deciding how much time and money you want to put into a temporary rental.  But for me, I want us to feel like no matter where we are living it feels like home.  A place that feels warm, comfortable and tells a little bit of our story.

I was fortunate enough to snag this dresser from my Grandpa and sadly I don’t have a before photo, but it was an old laminate dresser.  It wasn’t looking so great, not the biggest fan of laminate of course and there was a water stain on the top.  But the lines and the construction were great and so I saw the potential!

Before doing any DIY I do a lot of research before I dive in.  What do I need to get, best practices, etc.  But since I did all that work I want to make it easy for all of you and tell you what I think is the best strategy on painting over laminate.  Back in the day when I wanted to paint furniture I would embarrassingly admit I would go to home depot and pick the cheapest paint and go at it.  But please, if you have a piece that you want to last a long time and frankly if you are putting the time and effort into a project it’s worth your while to do the steps correctly and getting the right materials, even if they cost more.

To make it simple here are the steps you should take:

1.  Make sure the piece of furniture is cleaned thoroughly

2.  Take the time to tape.  Of course if you are doing the entire piece this step is unnecessary, but I was only doing a portion of the dresser so it needed to be done.

3.  Paint a layer of primer onto the laminate.  I really only advise using the shellac base primer Zinsser (this primer is specifically for laminate and does not require you to sand beforehand, which most primers are not equipped to do).

4.  After the paint is dried completely sand it with a very light sandpaper, I used 250 grit.

5.  Once again wipe down the piece of furniture and then you can move on towards painting the piece to your desired color.

6.  Again after much research I strongly suggest using Sherwin Williams ProClassic with a Mohair Roller.  As the paint relaxes it spreads smoothly giving you a great finish and the durability is fantastic.  

7.  This is a very important word of advice, make sure to do lighter coats with multiple coats vs. fewer thicker coats.  Always make sure you have adequate time in between coats.

So that’s my advice on giving your piece of furniture a long lasting uplift that will not only looking great, but last!!

Having a background in architecture I have a ton of friends who are top-notch designers so showing you our living room makes me a little weary.  Once I have my own home I plan on doing things little more professional and permanent, but for now I like how things are coming together!  The color of the living room is not great in my books and would love if it was a bright white, but I have no ambition to change it right now.  And for the record most of the time there’s books and toys scattered throughout, it’s never that put together :).

If you have an itch to do some DIY’s in your home I recommend the following blogs for inspiration:  The Little Green Notebook, Vintage Revivals and Emily Henderson.  Of course there are 100’s of design blogs out there, but these are the ones I always check out regularly.  These people have gained my respect and I think they know what they are doing.  Some are self taught, others have trained backgrounds.

Here’s photo’s of the piece of furniture and our Living Room: DSC_0037 DSC_0036 copy DSC_0031 DSC_0038 nola wanted to get into one of the photos too 🙂

dreaming – BIG

Hey guys!  Hope you all had a great weekend!  My parents and Nola’s cousins (her favorite people in the entire world) babysat one night this weekend and CJ and I were able to go out on a date night!  It was a good night.  For one, we know Nola was having a blast and we got some quality time to enjoy each other.

Recently someone I follow on Instagram posted about what their family dreams are for the next 5 years.  They have 2 little boys in grade school and the list was pretty insane/awesome.  On the top of their list consisted of 1.doing an around the world trip  2.move to Hawaii for a year from London to Capetown  4.sail around Europe for a summer a small country house with a pool around the US in an Airstream art in Florence  8.move to NYC for a year.  Is this list not amazing and inspiring?  This family already moved to Paris for a year and luckily they both have jobs they can work remotely so I’m excited to see what they decide to do!  Granted this wouldn’t be our list (driving from London to Capetown, no we don’t want to die) but some listed would be on it for sure!  

So yesterday we dreamed.  We dreamed BIG, made a list and don’t be surprised if we do something crazy in the next couple of years.  If you know us well you know that we don’t have a ton of things.  We have one vehicle and don’t own a home (we would if we could in San Francisco but that’s life) but on the positive side we have so much more flexibility!  We often talk about the whole school situation if we did a year adventure, but decided we aren’t going to hold back.  The experiences our kids will learn from these adventures in our mind will be priceless.  Who knows if we can financially make it work or if CJ’s job will allow us to do something like this, but we are going to still keep on dreaming and planning.

I should note that the idea of buying a home someday and getting settled where we stay put for 15 years sure sounds nice and we hope we figure that out.  But I encourage everyone to dream, and if you can’t do something crazy now, plan on it when you retire or for a week vacation.  Life’s too short not to am I right?  I feel pretty fortunate to have found my adventure partner who likes to dream as much as I do.  Right now we are hanging low because of the upcoming holidays and because we are preparing for our second best adventure yet – baby #2, but we can’t wait to start traveling again!  So here’s to a good Monday and thinking about amazing things that we could someday do or see!

DSC_0175 photo from our trip to Hawaii, we dream about that place a lot!

Second Pregnancy

Happy Friday Guys!  It’s gotten so cold and all we want to do is huddle in our little house and try to stay warm this weekend.  I also have gotten a ton of house projects done this week and plan on sharing soon!  It’s so nice that our place is finally feeling like a home.

I haven’t written much about this pregnancy so here is just a lot of rambling on how this pregnancy is going and thoughts on it in general.  This pregnancy has been a lot different than my first.  In the beginning things were a lot harder but as time goes along things are going a lot smoother and better than the last!  Regardless we can’t be more thrilled to be going through this once again and can’t wait to meet this sweet little baby!  I’m dying to hold this little babe in my arms!

The first trimester was pretty brutal.  If someone tells you they have morning sickness and you never experienced it, it’s a whole new world, truly.  I never fully sympathized to my fellow girlfriends before and now when they tell me they have morning sickness I’d be very inclined to buy them a treat, of course they probably won’t want to eat it, ha!  For me I not only had bad morning sickness but maybe because of that plus hormones I was really down in the dumps.  I could hardly eat and lost a good 10 lbs.  Thankfully for us there was light at the end of the tunnel because by the end of the fourth month I started feeling more like myself.  Thank goodness too because if I hadn’t gotten better the big move across country could not have happened.  Being out of service for that long can be a strain on the entire family and our wallets.  No lie, we ate out pretty much every day for that long b/c food just grossed me out and the last thing I wanted to do was make something.

On the positive side other BIG changes this pregnancy than the first was I haven’t broken out like I had before.  Last pregnancy I was so insecure because I had acne really bad and it’s such a treat not to have to deal with that!  The biggest change that I still can’t even believe is real is that I don’t have gestational diabetes!!!  I was 100% sure I was going to get diagnosed again after failing the one hour test.  In fact I already changed my diet.  We always try to eat pretty healthy around here, but if you ever have to go on a diabetic diet it’s intense.  So when I got the phone call that I didn’t have it I actually didn’t know if I heard them right!  From not having to be on that rigid diet, testing my blood after every meal and all those additional doctor’s appointments it is a huge blessing!!

We have been trying to prep Nola with having a new sibling by reading her books on the subject.  She also loves kissing my belly, but we don’t know if she really gets it.  I personally think she is going to love having a baby in the house and as excited as I am to meet this baby I’m just as excited to see her be a big sister.

Since this is our second thankfully we don’t have to get a ton of new things which is awesome.  This time around I’m more inclined to spend money on getting my nails and hair done and getting a massage!  I normally don’t like spending money on myself and I focus between getting new things for Nola or our place.  But since it is my birthday month I’m going to allow myself these treats.  When you get bigger and bigger and this month older 🙁 any way to make yourself feel a little better and pretty can go a long way!!

One thing I have changed my thinking on this pregnancy is the idea of not telling people until after the first trimester about being pregnant.  I totally get why you don’t tell people and the concerns of miss carrying.  But all the more reason to tell your close family members and friends so they can keep you in their prayers and give you the additional encouragement you need.  When I say this I don’t mean announcing it on Facebook or social media, I mean personally telling your close knit people in your life so they can be on the journey with you regardless on the outcome.

I always love seeing photos of my friend’s baby bumps, but I am going to be honest, I am not fan of having photos of my stomach taken.  I think it’s because until a lot farther along all you would be seeing is my gut, guys that gut is something I have even when I’m not pregnant.  Maybe if we have one more kid I’ll actually have professional photos taken, but since I don’t have a good baby bump photo, here’s one of Nola the day she was born.  Will this new baby look like her?  I can’t wait to see!!


Halloween at the Zoo – Henry Vilas

Happy Friday everyone!!  The weather is getting colder here and I’ve been pretty strong and optimistic about braving this weather, but for the record I miss San Francisco weather so much!  Living there has probably ruined me forever.

Here’s a couple of things I’ve been loving or up to these days:

– The upside to this cold weather is plaids and flannel.  In fact the whole family is sporting flannel these days and we love it!

– I finally joined a Mom’s Group in our area and excited to start weekly playdates again!  We also enrolled Nola into a dance class.  She loves being around kids so much and want to give her as much fun as we can before baby #2 gets here and the cold winter.

– I don’t sleep well at night these days and so in the wee hours I have written down our list of Christmas presents we need to get.  I’d love to be finished by the end of this month.  Have you started yet or done with yours already?

– Busy painting a cabinet for our living room, need a love seat reupholstered, have to hang more stuff on the walls, curtains in the playroom and going to attempt to make a headboard for Nola’s big bead is on the list of what I want to accomplish before this baby comes.  Hope I can get it all done!!

–  Speaking of Nola’s bed, she now crawls out of her crib regularly now.  I didn’t want to transition her into a bed until after the baby came but I don’t want her hurting herself one of these days when she’s crawling out.  Have I mentioned she’s quite the acrobat and has amazing upper arm strength!!  We bribed her with fruit snacks to show us how she climbs out, it’s quite the balancing/hanging like a monkey act.

And not to bombard you with more Halloween photos but I wanted to post a couple more from our trip to the zoo awhile back.  Madison had a lot of Halloween events going on and the weekend before Halloween we took Nola to the Henry Vilas Zoo’s halloween event.  Honestly it’s nice to have a couple of events to go to because then you feel you are actually getting use out of your costume!

You kind of envision how these events are going to go and how this day went down is not what I had thought at all.  Don’t get me wrong, Nola had an awesome time, but it didn’t involve really seeing the animals this time, or being dressed up, or the candy (which I’m so glad) but rather it involved finding, following and if possible touching every Elsa character from Frozen.  At first I was kind of annoyed by this, but then realized let’s just go with it.  In fact we made it a game for ourselves on finding them as well so we could use them to direct her to where we wanted to go.  “Oh look Nola there’s an Elsa on the carousel, or look Nola there’s an Elsa at the petting zoo.”  We can play this game too!

She loved the Elsa’s so much I kind of felt bad we just didn’t have that be that for her costume for this year.  But she still had fun being a care bear on Halloween so it all worked out.  I also may have caved and gotten her an Elsa costume anyways for dress-up…

Just a side note, but why does all the little girls love Elsa so much?  We saw a couple of Anna’s but nothing in comparison to the Elsa’s.  Personally I love Anna’s character so much better, she’s funny, loving and sacrificing, I’m just saying.  Sorry I just had felt I had to put that out there.  

Here are some photos of the day if you care to see:

DSC_0197 DSC_0202  Pretty much our day, following an Elsa! DSC_0199 DSC_0214 DSC_0218 and if you live in WI you know these are the sausage mascots for the Milwaukee Brewers.  Nola kept on asking what are those?!?…honestly it was hard explaining to a toddler.  But yes Nola WI people like their beer and sausages.

Hope you all have a great weekend and doing something fun!!