Life Lately

Can we go back in time a little bit?

Like, back to October and November?

I know Halloween and Thanksgiving are long gone and (trust me) I’m fully into the spirit of Christmas at this point in the year, but with my blogging hiatus I didn’t get to chat about all of the fun things we did at the start of fall, and there were a LOT of fun things that happened, so I want to go back a little and share. So, let’s make like the Doctor a do a bit of time traveling, shall we?

OCTOBER

October was a busy month for us! We kicked off the month with our annual family reunion (my side of the family) in Fayetteville, TX. Never heard of it? That may be because it has a population of, like, 258 (not an exaggeration). It’s an adorable little town and we absolutely adore going every year – Jackson had a blast this year!

The very next weekend we went to Waco for a board game conference. Yup, we’re officially that nerdy. It was a ton of fun, and while we were there we went to the Waco Zoo – Jack was totally into it, and we can’t wait to take him back! Two weekends in a row of traveling taught us that Jackson is surprisingly adaptable and generally awesome at traveling.

We also hit up a local pumpkin patch for some photos and took Jackson to the Fall Festival at our church – the petting zoo was the highlight of his Halloween!

NOVEMBER

November was a bit less crazy for us. It was a pretty rough month for us, but we managed to find some bright spots. Like Christmas shopping and putting up (one of) our tree(s) embarrassingly early.

We house-hopped for Thanksgiving this year – dinner at my sister’s house and dessert at ours, and it was fabulous. We had entirely too much food, spent a ton of time with our family, and just generally enjoyed ourselves. And Jackson was a huge fan of Thanksgiving dinner.

Oh, and we made enough dessert to feed roughly ten million people.

Once Thanksgiving was over we decorated for real – more photos of that to come soon!

Whew. That was a lot. Now, catch me up. Did you do anything fun at the start of fall? I’ve got to say, this season has never been as much fun as it is now that we have a baby!

I’m Back!

Oh, hey there.

Remember me?

It’s been a while.

I’m not usually one to offer apologies when I’ve been gone (I know that’s annoying), but I figure an unannounced two-and-a-half month break deserves some sort of an explanation.

Honestly? I just needed a break. I’ve been blogging on an off for about 10 years now and it’s always been so much fun – it’s a creative outlet, it’s a great way to relax, and it’s awesome to have a time capsule of what I was doing at that point in time. But after we had Jackson our priorities shifted and I had a bit of a blogging identify crisis. This blog had always been about home decor – and we weren’t doing anything to our house anymore. I never intended to be a mommy blogger! I didn’t know what to write about! Suddenly, blogging became a chore and I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I needed to step away.

But now? I miss it. Dearly. I miss the community, I miss the fun of sitting down to write a post, and I miss looking back on the things I’ve written. It’s time to come back. And this time I’m not putting any restrictions on myself – I can be a mommy-blogger. Or a lifestyle blogger. Or a home decor blogger. Or just a brain-dump-write-whatever-I-want blogger. And that’s okay. This is for me. I love it. I miss it. I’m not ready to give it up. I may not blog on a regular schedule. It may be twice a week, may be once a week, may be even less than that. But I’m not stopping.

So.

Now that that’s out of the way.

Let’s catch up, shall we?

Quite a bit has happened since the last time we chatted. Jackson is 10 months old now, and he gets a little cuter every day. Seriously. I don’t know how the kid does it.

Corey and I have been working like crazy – we’re in the same district this year which is amazing, but we’ve both got a lot on our plates. This has been my most challenging (and most rewarding) year of teaching yet. We work at home at least 2 or 3 evenings a week, which is unheard of to me (I’ve always been so good at keeping work and home separate!). We’re starting to finally find a balance, and things are settling down a bit, which I’m incredibly grateful for.

The Christmas season is in full swing around here – we decorated our house this weekend and are soaking up every second of our first Christmas as a family of three. I have a feeling it’ll be the best Christmas ever.

I’ve got a lot of little updates for you, so get ready! I’m going to update Jackson’s monthly posts (we’ve got a lot to catch up on!) and there are a few little things around the house to share (including our Christmas decor)!

What have you been up to? I’ve missed you!

Writing Process Blog Hop

I don’t always enjoy participating in these blog hop things, but when my friend Steph from Glitter & Goat Cheese tagged me a couple of weeks ago, I was intrigued. I’ve seen several posts on this floating around the internet and I’ve found them all pretty interesting so I figured I would join in. It was fun to actually put some thought into sharing what my writing process is like, and I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone else’s!

Here we go!

1. What am I working on?

Right now I’m just working on getting back into the swing of blogging! I have been blogging on and off for probably close to 10 years now, and I’ve always loved to write…I took both AP English courses in high school (and got 5’s on both exams!) and wrote short stories like it was going out of style when I was a kid. Writing has always been a huge stress reliever for me – when I’m particularly worried about something, the only way I can get myself calm about it is if I sit down and write out everything I’m thinking and feeling. There’s just something about writing it all down that makes me feel so much better.

So, all that to say, I miss writing regularly! I’m finally finished with my graduate school courses, which has opened up a lot of free time, but this school year is going to be quite a doozy for me, so I need to get myself settled in and get things under control before I really have my life back. So right now my big focus is just finding time to write, and then actually doing it.

As far as our house goes, we aren’t currently working on things but that’s just because of a lack of time. We’re both dying to start putting our master bathroom back together, our living room needs baseboards, and I have a mini front-of-the-house makeover planned that I would like to tackle soon. So, the ideas and desire are all floating around in there, we just have to find the time to execute everything!

2. How does my writing differ from others in my genre?

Honestly, I don’t know if I’d say I have a “genre” anymore for this little blog. It used to be pretty much solely about home decor and renovations around the house, but since we had Jackson that’s fallen much lower on our priority list – so now, I blog about anything and everything going on in our lives and the blog has turned into a bit of a catch-all. So, I suppose I’d say that’s how I differ from other home decor bloggers – I don’t just talk about home decor anymore!

I think the entire idea of having specific niches for blogs is pretty tough, though. Our lives are constantly changing and shifting and what you’re interested in talking about (or reading about) right now may be totally different in a year or two. So, I feel like the idea of picking one thing to blog about and sticking to it may be too specific or set you up to run out of ideas…I always prefer reading blogs where I get to read a little bit of everything, and I always enjoy the little peeks into other people’s lives!

3. Why do I write what I do?

The main reason that I’ve continued to blog for all of these years is that the blog turns into this wonderful little time capsule where I can go back and read about what I was doing or thinking at specific times in my life. I still go back and read some of my old blogs from high school every once in a while (and no, I won’t tell you how to find them!) and it’s just so much fun to look back on everything.

Now that we have a baby, it’s become even more important for me to capture these memories and record them here. Some of it may only be interesting to me, but that’s okay because I genuinely do go back and read old things sometimes and it just makes me happy.

Beyond that, writing has always been how I get my creative fix on, and it’s very relaxing to me. There’s nothing better than settling in on the couch on a Saturday and knocking out a few posts!

4. How does my writing process work?

I don’t have nearly as much of a “process” as I used to when I was writing regularly. I do almost all of my writing on the weekends and I usually do it in chunks – I’ll write out several posts all at once and get them scheduled and ready to go. I used to keep an editorial calendar, which was hugely helpful in keeping me on track and making sure I always had stuff to write about, but as my full time job has become more demanding lately, that’s fallen off the radar. So right now, I just write about whatever is on my mind when the mood strikes, and when I’m not writing I’m pretty much constantly thinking of different things I would like to write about!

And that’s it! I’m not going to tag anyone specific, but would love to see your responses if you blog, or see anyone who has done one of these link up in the comments – I always love getting some insight into how and why other people write!

New Favorite Games

A few months ago I started talking about some of the board games that Corey and I like to play. Our friends got us into tabletop gaming earlier this year and we are completely and totally hooked. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Corey sold everything in our house that he could get his hands on this summer (that we no longer needed, of course) to buy more games. He has been spending all of his personal money for the last few months on new games for us, and we’ve quickly amassed quite the collection…

Yeah. We have a problem. So, since we’ve got so many new ones and there are quite a few of you out there who are fellow gamers, I thought I’d share my new favorites.

 

Rampage

 

This game is completely silly, totally ridiculous, and a blast. It’s based on the old arcade game, and you’re playing monsters who are trying to destroy a city. You get to actually interact with the board by dropping your monster to destroy buildings, throwing cars at buildings, and eating the little people in the town. It’s so much fun to play and it’s unlike any other game I’ve ever played before!

Lords of Waterdeep

This is one that I shied away from at first because it looks so nerdy (and is part of the “Dungeons and Dragons” world, which upgrades the nerd factor by 7 million) but it’s such a fantastic game. It’s a worker placement game, meaning you have a few different “people” at your disposal and you can place them around the board to accomplish different things. It’s quick to learn and so much fun to play. We love that this one works well for just the two of us but is also really fun with a crowd – we’ve bought one of the expansions so we can play with 6 people, and it’s great playing with everyone!

Takenoko

This game is pretty adorable, and also a ton of fun. It’s great for two players but also works for up to four…and it’s a great game for when you have younger kids playing – we haven’t had the chance to play this one with my nieces yet, but they’re dying to try it! In this game, you and the other players are both controlling a panda and a gardener in a bamboo garden, and you score different points for completing goals (for example, the panda wants to eat certain colors of bamboo while the gardener wants to grow them). It’s pretty simple to learn and it’s a fun, light game…and I can’t get over how dang cute it is!

Mr. Jack Pocket

This game is a very quick two-player only game. It’s a puzzle game where you are trying to strategize more efficiently than the other person, and it can be HARD! Corey and I like this one for when we’re in the mood for something fast, and it is one that makes us think! We hear the full version of the game is a lot of fun too, so we may have to get that eventually as well!

The Resistance

This one is a party game, and is perfect for a big crowd of people – up to 10 can play! We played this recently with my entire family and we laughed so hard. The idea of this game is that the entire group is playing as a group of people forming an uprising and they’re going on missions to overthrow a corrupt government…but there are spies in the group who are trying to sabotage the efforts. It’s really fun to accuse each other of being spies (and to try and hide it if you are one!) and it’s another one that’s very easy to teach. It’s hard to find games that are good for a lot of people, so we love having ones like this as an option!

We’re still playing and buying new games regularly around here (we just recently tried Survive and loved that, and we’ve gotten into some heftier games like Twilight Struggle and Nations as well), and just about anytime anyone comes over to hang out we rope them into playing with us. Our plan is to convert all of our friends and family to being as obsessed as we are (or, you know, close)! With how many games we’ve been getting these days, I have a feeling we’ll need another bookshelf soon!

What games have you been playing lately? We’re particularly looking for some good family games that  can be played with a lot of people (when my family comes over, there are 8 of us!). I love getting your suggestions – we bought Dominion thanks to you guys last time I posted about this, and we LOVE it!

The Top 10

Every once in a while, I like to comb through some of my old posts…that’s one of the beautiful things about having a blog. It’s like a little diary of all the things we’ve done to our house, along with some little life updates along the way. It’s so fun to look back and see what we were doing a few years ago, and marvel over how much things have changed.

The other day when I was doing this, I realized that there are probably quite a few of you out there who haven’t been reading since the beginning of this blog (and if you have, a million points!) and I thought it might be fun to do a round up of some of the best posts of all time. A list of our greatest hits, if you will.

So, I grabbed the stats on the top ten posts since this blog started, and I figured I’d write ‘em all down and do a quick update on the projects. Sounds like a good time, yes?

Let’s dive right in.

10. Dining Room Inspiration

I imagine this post is in the top 10 because it’s the post that preceded our most popular project/post of all time, but we’ll get to that in a minute. It was fun to look back at the post and remember the horrible, horrible light that used to be in the dining room, as well as think about all the other options we went through before landing on our current fixture – it’s crazy to think our beloved dining room light was almost something different!

9. An Island Dream Comes True

I wrote this post right after we bought our kitchen island, and I have to say I’m not sure why it’s as popular as it is! We absolutely love our kitchen island, and it still lives in our kitchen and gets used on a daily basis, so I can definitely say this was a project that stood the test of time! We recently saw in Ikea that they’ve added some different versions of this island – they have one in black – and they’re gorgeous! We briefly wished that we had the black on instead, but ended up agreeing that white is probably till best for our kitchen. But man, that shiny black island sure is pretty!

8. More Form, Same Function

Oh my word, this is an old post. Corey actually wrote this post back when we tried to convince ourselves that he enjoyed writing enough to participate in writing blog posts! The pictures are awful and all taken in our old little duplex in College Station, but I stand by that project! That dresser is still in our house and we still use it under our television, though I have to say it looks much better in this house than it did in that one.

7. Enabling Our Dogs

Another old one! This little old bench has seen a lot of love in the years since we bought it…and it has definitely reached the end of its life. It is still in our bedroom for now, only because we haven’t bought anything to replace it and our dogs are still spoiled and need a bench at the foot of the bed. But, it’s looking very rough. It’s starting to fall apart, the fabric is horribly dirty and has holes in it, and it’s clashed with our bedroom decor for a while now. We’ll be saying goodbye to this bench just as soon as we buy a new one to replace it!

6. Summertime Staples: Sangria

Mmmm, I don’t blame you guys for loving this post. This is my favorite drink recipe in the history of ever. Seriously, it’s the best sangria I’ve ever had in my life. We’ve already made it several times this summer and I’m planning on grabbing the stuff for another batch the next time we’re at the store! All of my “summertime staples” recipes are pretty high on the list of popular posts, so I’m thinking I’ll have to write up another post or two about our favorites before the summer is up – we have a killer shrimp taco recipe that goes really well with this sangria…

5. DIY Black & Gold Globe

I love this project! It was something we got the idea for when we participated in Creating With the Stars, and we loved it so much that we decided to go for it after the contest was over. This guy is still in our living room, but to be honest I’m not sure how well it fits in. I’m not ready to get rid of it because I like it too much, and I’m on a “get rid of all the things” kick right now, particularly in that room, so I’m hoping I’ll get struck with a brilliant idea for what we can do with it. In the meantime, I still really love looking at it!

4. Creating With the Stars Week 4: Home Decor

Speaking of Creating With the Stars… It’s so fun to look back at this project and think about how different that room looks now – that’s Jackson’s nursery! We loved this project but, of course, a reading room wasn’t really practical for our house. We did this entire thing knowing that we would eventually be transitioning it into a nursery. Honestly we both thought we’d leave the wall color the same, but I’m glad we ended up changing it to the more neutral gray we have now. I’m pretty infatuated with how the room looks now, but we’d never have gotten here if it wasn’t for this project!

3. Home Sweet Home

I still love this project just as much as I did on the day I finished it. It still makes me smile every time I walk down our hallway, and it’s still one of the projects I’m the most proud of! I want to do a few other updates to our little hallway so this pretty guy isn’t all alone up there, but it’s still pretty low on the priority list. We’ll get there someday.

2. A Homemade Curtain Rod

The only project that is no longer in our house! We loved these curtain rods and they served us well for a few years! I do wish we had done a few things differently – I’ve seen tutorial where people made them sit out from the wall a bit so that you can actually close and open the curtains, and I wish we would have done that. I also wish we would have made the rod more easily removed – it was a pretty permanent structure so when we wanted to replace the curtains we had to take the whole shebang down…and that’s how we ended up replacing them. We wanted something that was a little nicer looking and easier to swap out, so we ended up buying new curtain rods for the living and dining room as we replaced the curtains…but I do love looking back at these guys!

And finally, our #1 viewed post of all time…

1. A Handmade Dining Room Light

The dining room light. The one that always makes people stop in their tracks when they visit our house and ask where we got it. The one that still makes me smile every single time I turn it on. The one I will be clinging to, screaming and crying on the day (many years in the future) when we move away from this house and have to leave it behind. I’m a big fan of this light. It is a huge statement piece in our dining room and makes the whole thing feel elegant and put together. I still get regular emails about this project and have had many people tell me they’ve attempted it themselves, which I love hearing! Definitely my favorite project we’ve ever done!

And with that, if you’re new around here you are officially caught up on the best of the best posts! It’s pretty clear you guys are big fans of project posts…and I’m a big fan of writing them. I sincerely miss having more project posts around these parts, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to get back to it soon. We haven’t been putting hardly any money into the house lately, but Corey and I have both agreed that we miss it dearly and are hoping that within the next few months we’ll be able to loosen up the purse strings a bit. Our house is feeling neglected!

What kind of posts would you like to see more of around here? Any requests? Anyone else love going back and looking at old blog posts, or diaries if you don’t have a blog? I love reading what was on my mind all those years ago!