Thursday, June 27, 2013

18 Weeks and I no longer fit in my pants!

It's been 5 weeks since I last posted about the pregnancy, and lots has changed since then!  I need to do a better job keeping up...  

Physical Changes:
I've read about all kinds of miserable symptoms and how much your body changes during pregnancy.  Now, granted I'm not quite halfway there yet, but so far I've been (kinda) lucky.  The main thing that's changed with me is the small basketball I now carry under my shirt (hence the kinda thrown in there, because I'm really big niece swears there's 5 babies in there).  I've already gained 12 pounds and can expect to gain another pound a week until I'm done.  At this point I can't imagine supporting 22 more pounds.  A person who begins with a healthy weight/BMI should put on 25-35 pounds during a healthy pregnancy.  I think I'll be at the top of that range, but I do weigh myself each week to make sure I'm not putting on too much weight.  I've noticed that this extra weight (and giant increase in my blood content) really puts pressure on my back and feet if I stand too long, so I try to keep a close eye on that.  My other big obstacle with this pregnancy had been battling breakouts.  My skin was super clear and healthy before I got pregnant (thank you clean eating and pure beauty products!), but now I feel like I'm 15 again.  My dermatologist told me this is very common during pregnancy, but it's so frustrating because you can't use most products that help!  I think I'll do a post on the products I have been using during pregnancy soon, because I have been able to get my skin under good control.  Besides the basketball and the blemishes, the only other symptom pestering me has been exhaustion...I felt like I had mono for about 2 months.  I feel blessed I've only been subbing part-time, because I don't know how I would have done it if I was still putting in 10 hour days teaching, plus weekends like I did last year!  The mere thought of it makes me want a nap.  The first month wasn't too bad, and this last month has been better since I'm in the 2nd Trimester now.  Months 2 and 3 on the other hand...I made pretty good friends with the couch.

Emotional Outbursts?
Um...a few.  Once I just started crying for no reason other than how much I love my dog.  Yea, think that was pregnancy related??  I haven't felt too moody (although you might want to check with Mark to confirm that...) but of course there are the fears that come with bringing a life into this world.  My main fear is losing my baby.  I've known too many sweet babies that left us way too soon.  Losing our nephew was, and continues to be, the worst thing I've ever known.  But terrible things can happen, and do every day.  That's just a fact.  You can't let that stop you from taking chances, living your life, and enjoying the good things out there.  Which is exactly what we intend to do.

Staying Healthy:
Month 1 I did great.  Once I got over my double ear infection I was eating healthy, cooking daily, and doing my pregnancy DVD's I ordered on Amazon (2 yoga, 1 Pilate's, 1 cardio/strength).  Then the exhaustion set in for months 2 and 3.  I was too tired to get off the couch, let alone exercise, cook, or clean.  It was depressing.  I am always very active, Mark and I don't even have cable TV.  We rarely have lazy days.  I made it through the entire series of Sex & the City, plus both movies (and a fair share of terrible TV picked up by our antenna) during those two months.  I felt bad because I wasn't working and couldn't even keep our house in order.  It made me wonder if Mark was thinking how worthless I was (he wasn't though, it was just hard because I knew he didn't, and couldn't, understand how I felt).  Plus, even though I was never nauseous or sick, I still couldn't eat healthy.  All I wanted was grilled cheese, Spaghetti-O's, mac & cheese, and rice.  Month 4 brought some much anticipated relief from my carbs & couch binge.  I am back to eating healthy (I'll post more on that later) and exercising most days of the week.  Oh, and I actually broke it off with the couch too!  Figured it was time to start getting ready for baby...

Preparing for Baby:
Right now our main focus is getting our house finished.  We've lived here for 8 months now and still have boxes laying around that haven't been unpacked!  The nursery became the junk room, so right now I'm working on clearing that out so we can paint it and get new carpet in the bedrooms.  After that we can start picking out some baby items, which I'm really excited for because I haven't bought one thing yet for the baby!  Other major projects we have include:  picking up the basement (gives me a headache just thinking about it.  that's where 2/3 of our stuff ended up since we lost over 1,000 sq. ft. with the move), building an outdoor kennel for the dog,  installing smoke detectors, and putting up our inflatable pool (OK, that's a fun one).  We have lots of little odds & ends to do too, so these next 5 months will be really busy!

Belly Pics:
So you don't think I was lying about the basketball...

We go next week for our ultrasound and doctor appointment.  I'll make sure to do a post after that because we'll know the sex by then!!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Linen Closet Makeover

My husband and I did something that I don't recommend to ANYONE when we bought our little house...we only looked at it once before we bought it.  I know.  We should be pros by now.  Maybe it was desperation, maybe we were just tired of looking at houses?  Later I'll share some of the cons of this mistake, but today there is actually a PRO to our foolish ways.  This little gem...a linen closet!  An hour before we signed for the house we did a walk through to make sure everything was intact (more on that horrible experience later) and we were both thrilled to find a little linen closet in the hallway!!  Neither of us remembered it was there! (I didn't take pictures at the showing? Seriously, what the hell were we doing??)  Anyways, I was so excited to dig into this project.  After doing some browsing on Pinterest I found a closet I fell in love with and that served as my inspiration for my linen closet.

 The closet was filthy, so I began by washing it out (using hot water and my micro-fiber cleaning cloth.  I LOVE my micro-fiber cloths for cleaning.  They do an amazing job and can be used in every room of the house.  Tip:  Don't buy them in the cleaning section.  They will run you about $3-$4 each.  I got a pack of 12 in the car cleaning section of Wal Mart for about $9.  Steal!)  I then painted the closet a rich wine/chocolate color (Vintage Wine by Benjamin Moore, the same color as our pantry).  The walls just drank up the paint so Mark was kind enough to do the second coat for me.  Then I discovered just how nasty the white shelves were.

So they all got a fresh coat of white paint. MUCH better!!  After putting them back in, I laid out everything in the hallway that I wanted to go in there.  Of course, it all didn't come close to fitting.  So I had to get creative.  Medicine went in a drawer in the kitchen, extra bathroom goodies went on a shelf under the basement stairs (more on that later), kitchen towels and dishcloths went in a kitchen cupboard, and then I arranged everything else like a puzzle until it all fit.

Other than the paint, I didn't buy anything for this project.  Since I decided to be a stay-at-home mom, I'm trying to spend as little money as possible right now.  You'd think moving to a house half the size of your old one wouldn't require you to buy anything, but in reality stuff just hasn't been compatible.  Anywho, be creative with projects!  I've seen some awesome baskets made on Pinterest using old cardboard boxes and cloth, ribbon, or burlap if you don't have any laying around.  [Sidenote:  I took the liners out of all my baskets and washed them when we moved.  They get pretty disgusting after a while.  Then I put all my baskets in one place so I could select the best sizes and matches for each project.]

Top shelf:  Basket with cleaning cloths and towels.  Second Shelf:  Basket with washcloths, hand towels behind it.  Sheets to the side are folded into their pillowcases to look neater.

Repeat of second shelf (oops)  Third Shelf:  Display towels only set out for special occasions and company so they stay nice (and allow us to use cheaper, but still soft, towels for everyday use).  Basket with bathroom "spa" goodies for me.

Bottom Shelf:  Baskets with nail polishes and hair products.  I think it's obvious what's on the floor ;-)
This was a simple project that was finished in a weekend.  Not bad for a little closet that we forgot even existed!

Creating a Pantry out of an Empty Closet

I have the best husband ever, hands-down.  When we moved into our new home and he suggested we convert the large closet off the kitchen into a pantry, my mind started racing with possibilities!!  I just couldn't wait to get going on that project!  Here's what we started with:

A basic, boring, dirty, but large closet.  First things first- I scrubbed the entire closet down and got busy painting.  I went with a deep chocolate/wine shade.  Normally I like sticking to basic neutrals with paint, but the closets are a fun and risk-free place to experiment with color!  After looking at different shelving options, we selected basic board shelves from Menards.  Mark installed them for me and it was love at first sight...

After the basics were finished, things got really busy around the house so I didn't have time to organize everything right away.  I just shoved it all in there...

Recently I had enough time to organize!  The first step was to empty EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING from the pantry.  Here's what my kitchen looked like afterwords...

FYI:  this was before I re-did the kitchen decor.
Then I cleaned off the shelves and grouped my food into categories.  When organizing my pantry, I wanted it to look clean, simple, and organized; yet be functional as well.  This took some trial and error.  I had placed all my bins and baskets in the guest room closet when we moved in, so I first went through those and selected which ones I wanted to use.  I wanted them to match so I chose the bins I previously used in my bedroom closet (if you're trying to save money, re-purposing items in different rooms of the house can be a life saver!  I've also seen people use cardboard boxes and cover them in fabric or scrapbook paper to make them look decorative.  I did purchase a few items from Hobby Lobby to complete my pantry [all 50% off of course] but I also made use of mason jars and old spaghetti sauce jars).  After selecting my containers, I drew a diagram on notebook paper and began playing around with different ways to place everything.  When I came up with a plan I got to work putting everything away.  It didn't end up being exactly like my diagram, but it worked out just fine!

There is a high shelf (not pictured) where I store duplicate items.  We also have shelving under our basement stairs that we put extra food on (Mark is all about being prepared...and I love him for it!).  The wire shelf was something I already had (from Wal-Mart).  Yes, my spices are in alphabetical order.  I'm sure some people think that's ridiculous, but I'm here to tell you it saves SO MUCH time when need to sort through all your spices to find the one you need!  I got the chalkboard labels on Amazon as well as a chalk marker, and later found some matching ones in the $1 section at Wal-Mart-score! 

The canisters came from Wal-Mart in a set, which was much cheaper than buying them individually.  I also put my cookbooks in the pantry rather than my office for easier access and cooking inspiration.  Speaking of inspiration...I included a framed motivational picture I printed from Google (because we all need that reminder when opening our pantry door!)

There's nothing like bins full of washed fruit and veggies from the Farmer's Market (except from your own garden, which is hopefully coming soon for us).  I got these bins for 50% off at Jo Ann Fabric.
Mark found these wire shelves at Menards.  I use these for stocking healthy snacks...

and these for holding my cooking/baking supplies.  They're perfect because I don't have to reach behind items to find what I need!

Finally, I made use of the pantry door for my meal planning organization.  I bought cork boards at Hobby Lobby and decorated them with burlap ribbon (I just stapled it on...brought back memories of all those bulletin boards when I used to teach!).  Then I printed some menu planning calendars and a grocery list (on a clipboard so we can jot down items as we run out of them) that I found on Google.  You can find them both on this site.  I plan 2 weeks at a time, that's why there are 2 weekly boards.

And that's it!  I'm very happy with the outcome, it makes it much easier to see what we have so food doesn't go to waste and it also helps us stay on track with healthy eating!  Being so organized takes time up front, but it's so beneficial...just keep up with it by putting items back where you found them and take the extra 10 minutes to put groceries away in their right spots. This will save you plenty of time in the more wondering what's for dinner or where to find the ingredients!  Happy organizing!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Homemade Name Sign from our Honeymoon

Since our 2-year anniversary is coming up in 2 weeks, I thought I'd post about the sign we made from our honeymoon pictures.  We stayed at the Iberostar Grand Bavaro Hotel in Punta Cana and it was amazing!  A beautiful resort with extremely friendly staff and room service included!!  I would highly recommend to all honeymooners! 

We were so impressed with the resort's interior design that we spent our first evening exploring and taking pictures.  Mark came up with the idea to look around the resort for the letters of our last name so we could create our own name sign back home.  I loved the idea!  I'd always wanted one of those signs (who doesn't want to show off their new last name?) but thought they were so expensive!  This way we could make our own for less that also held personal meaning.  We spent the rest of the honeymoon looking for our letters, it was really fun!  Here's what we found:
Coffee table in lobby
Steering wheel on ship

Towels on tub
Part of decorative wall
Stones on exterior wall

Palm trees
Palm trees  

Sadly it took us almost 2 years to create the sign, but it was worth the wait!  After trying to place the letters in a pre-made sign from Hobby Lobby (and failing) I found an awesome homemade sign on Pinterest.  I can't take credit for the design steps, so if you want to know how to make the sign you can follow the tutorial here

A few notes from our construction experience:  We used a 1x8 board since we have 7 letters in our last name.  We used the width of a pencil to evenly space the photo frames (from Dollar Tree).  We used a strong Elmer's glue to secure the frames to the board, but some seeped out and even though it dried clear you can still see it up close.  Mark would recommend a non-foaming wood glue instead.  I printed all the pictures from my computer at home in Sepia tone.  We only used one coat of stain on the wood.  And I think that's all the misc. information on making the sign itself.  The finished product:


This picture doesn't really do it justice, it looks great hanging above our TV in the living room.  Soon I plan to post a house tour on here so you can see it in context with the room!