A Fun Before and After

This fun little before and after comes courtesy of my parents.  My sweet mom has had the exact same linens, room color, and furniture for over 25 years. {Go Mom!}  This was not going to be a total gutting and redo - just changing some colors, soft furnishings, rearranging the furniture, and a few odds and ends.  The things we had to work around: furniture {bed, tv chest, nightstands - even though I think we will eventually change out my mom's nightstand with a skirted table or similar, and two dressers}, and bold flower artwork over the bed.

To be completely honest this room initially posed a challenge for me.  We were working with so many bold, dark, saturated colors and that is not usually my M.O.  I do not shy away from a challenge, however, so it was like working a puzzle figuring out how to make the different aspects work and result in a finished product my parents and I both loved.

What I ended up doing was looking at the artwork and focusing on the colors that stood out that I liked - which tended to be the more greenish blue colors.  Fabric and pattern always come first for me, and the rest of the room just gets built around it.  The last thing chosen was the paint color, Benjamin Moore Titanium.

Funny story but at the time I did this room I actually had three different jobs using the same color in a Master Bedroom, two Dining Rooms, and a nursery :).  Its a wonderful warm gray with a great saturation with a warm undertone - which I hands down prefer to a "blue" undertone.

99% of my clients originally want "blue" or gray walls and, while I love the color blue AND love blue rooms...for me, I just don't usually lean blue in the undertone.  Blue so easily turns purple and that just won't do.  I personally feel more drawn to, and more comfortable in, rooms with warmer undertones.  Most of the time, if these clients let me have my way on it - ha! - we end up with rooms that suggest the color they were seeking but yet still feel inviting and comfortable.

I really enjoy a good before and after and, what makes this one a favorite of mine, is that so much of the room was original... we just spruced it up a bit.  You CAN come back from all those fabulous 1990's decisions!  You aren't stuck there!!! ;)




This somewhat odd angle shows how we repurposed the chest that the TV used to sit on to my dad's nightstand and moved the long dresser to the wall opposite of the bed, which better fits the scale of the TV.  We plan on finding a good comfortable chair for that bare corner to the right of the dresser:


Book Reviews

Y'all know by now I love a good book.  I was gifted a Kindle last year by my inlaws and it has seriously aided in the quick and easy read of book, after book, after book {ask my husband ;)}.

Being an Amazon Prime member {obsessed}, I get one free book a month from the Kindle reader's lending library.  I definitely take advantage of that.  Here are some books I've read over the past few months:

1. Clan of the Cave Bear {and continuing series} by Jean M Auel - Very interesting.  About a young girl separated from her family during "caveman" times - she is a cro-magnun being raised by neanderthals.  Historical novel that is extremely, almost gratuitously, detailed.  Great story line and interesting character development. The second book in the series, The Valley of Horses was also really interesting and had a great story line.  The Mammoth Hunters was pretty good.  And then, the fourth book lost me.  I don't even know how many books are in the series but it just got too....just too too historical.  Not much action or plot. I am sure the rest of them are interesting but, for me, I just couldn't complete them! Ha! I would definitely recommend the first and second books though.  You could probably end there and get a really good story line from it...I did :)

2.  The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers - I LOVE Francine Rivers {author of Redeeming Love - one of the best books I have ever read}.  Another great book that asks a lot of questions and really dives head first into some seriously controversial topics such as rape and abortion.  As all of Francine Rivers books, this one looks at these topics from a Christian perspective and does an amazing job examining all views, all reasonings, all emotions, and comes back to the Word and how this Great Book applies realistically to our daily lives and these tough issues.

3.  Island of Saints by Andy Andrews - Very good story line by a talented local author that takes place in Orange Beach, AL and Ono Island, AL...two places very near and dear to my heart.  A historical plot and good characters!  Short book and quick read.

4.  I AM LIVIA by Phyllis T Smith - really enjoyed this book.  Also pretty historical but in a really great plot kind of way :).  Love a good book about a strong, educated heroine.  Livia is a young girl whose father is involved in the Julius Caesar murder and all the events that unfold afterwards.  It is a love story, a coming of age story, in an intriguing historical setting.  Definitely recommend.

5.  Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - another mess-with-your-brain book = love those. Good interesting characters, awesome story line, controversial topic, interesting kind of love story.  Very heartbreaking.  Not a feel-good book but still interesting.

6.  The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan - just finished this one.  Cool story about a convent and the secret they held that traveled hundreds of years through generations of incredibly strong and interesting women.  Switches between present day with a young girl who was adopted from an orphanage in Latin America and the story of two convents an ocean away and what connects them.  Scandal and love and detailed character development and amazing historical storyline {....I am sensing a trend on my most recent reads....}.

7.  Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker - GO.READ.NOW!  If you follow me on Instagram I reviewed it there.  I read it this summer while vacationing with family at the beach and read it in just a few days.  I couldn't put it down.  So amazingly tender and real and emotional and raw.  She so beautifully took so many of my feelings about Motherhood and put them into words.  {except for the fact that she didn't think she wanted to be a mother - I knew from my first cry I think}

8.  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - another must read.  I bawled like a baby.  About cancer patients - and yes this is the book behind the movie that was released a year or so ago.  I seriously wanted to stay up, drink hot tea, in a tartan blanket, in a library, by a fire, and discuss the meaning of life with whomever would listen when I was done with this book.  This was another beach read this summer.  Amazing.

and last but not least....

9.  Harry Potter Series - these really do not need an introduction or explanation other than you MUST read these books.  I never thought I was "into" that kind of book and it was a "kid" thing but there is a reason why these books were so dramatically successful.  Hands down some of the best books I have ever read.  Easy to read, SMART story lines, addictive really.  I couldn't put them down and cannot WAIT for Bennett to start reading them one day!  I joked with a friend that if I had been reading them when they were coming out I might or might not have been dressed up waiting in line for the newest release.  I knew she was a true friend because she informed me she WAS in line, dressed up in character, for one of the releases.  ;)

And if you wonder when I read - all the time!  After the kids go to bed every night or at least for thirty minutes before bed {and we go to bed pretty early}.  I really am not a big TV person...I have my shows I love but it's not my go-to form of relaxation by any stretch of the imagination.  I prefer the TV in the off position during the day. :) I also read during carpool or whenever I am waiting for something - another reason I love my Kindle.

Happy reading!  I would love to hear any good reads you have had recently.  Always adding to my must-read list.


RECIPE :: Butternut Squash Pasta with Savory Turkey Meatballs

It's been way too long since I just had fun in the kitchen.  When we were first married I cooked almost completely out of Cooking Light Magazine.  I soon tired of it and at that point started enjoying experimenting in the kitchen with my own creations.  Soon children made this leisurely cooking experience not as common, or pretty much extinct, and thankfully Pinterest came along to provide a plethora of recipes to try from all over the internet/magazines/blogs.  It has been my saving grace.

We were planning on hamburgers this past Friday night but Stephen didn't know exactly what time he would be home.  So as I was wondering around Fresh Market, listening to what my cravings were saying, I saw this in the marinara section:

Um, yum.

From there I just let my imagination run.  We had pasta at home, and I knew I wanted sage {for some random reason}.  I was also trying to make this kid friendly so I went with turkey meatballs, and mushrooms cut up small enough that they wouldn't question them. :)  I also generally add spinach or kale to most dishes like this for the added punch of vitamins and minerals and, while the kids do repeatedly ask "WHAT is this GREEN stuff??", they are pretty used to it being in our food so they start ignoring it after a couple bites.

Butternut Squash Pasta with Savory Turkey Meatballs

- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1/2 onion finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c parmesan cheese
- 1/2 t rubbed sage
- 1/2 t thyme
- s & p to taste

- 1 lb penne/rigatoni type pasta
- 1 bag baby spinach, chopped
- 8 oz portobello mushrooms, sliced/chopped
- 1 jar Dave's Gourmet Butternut Squash pasta sauce {or similar}

Boil pasta water and preheat oven to 375.  Boil pasta per package directions when water boils.  Drain noodles.
For meatballs, combine all ingredients in medium sized bowl.  Mix with hands to incorporate ingredients.  Form into approximately 18-20 meatballs.  Place meatballs on aluminum foil lined baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.  Place in oven and cook approximately 10-12 minutes.  Do not over cook. {honest truth: I stuck the meatballs in the oven as it was preheating and just kept checking to see when they were done...so this is a complete guess! I also sprinkled kosher salt on top of the meatballs as you can see below.}

For sauce, saute mushrooms in a deep skillet until dark.  Add spinach and stir until spinach starts to wilt.  Pour in full jar of pasta sauce.  Stir to combine and let spinach continue to wilt.  Keep warm.
When noodles are done, al dente, drain and pour into pan with pasta sauce.  Meatballs can be also gently tossed in sauce if desired, or if you want to simmer them a bit more.  I did not have time to stir the meatballs in with the sauce and instead served them directly on top of the pasta.  It worked out great!
Top with parmesan cheese, and s&p as desired.  I also sprinkled some cayenne pepper on mine just for kicks!

This was an easy, and savory, dinner the kids and adults both enjoyed.



Halloween 2014

Our Halloween was one for the books.  All three children chose their own costumes - Bennett was a vampire, Emory wanted to be Minnie Mouse for the third year in a row but I nixed that as well as "princess" only because she is a princess every day with dress up, so she chose butterfly and I ran with it, and Jacob was the first to decide with Aubie.

Bennett's school has a Halloween parade around the lower school that dates back to long before I even participated in it a quarter of a century ago.  I wasn't going to go "all in" for his parade but he insisted on the makeup and "blood" so I gave in.  He never broke character.

Our supper club also decided to go all out and for our gathering this month we dressed the part - we so cray cray #thirtysomethingsactingtwentysomething.
 Bob Ross and his painting/happy little tree ;)

This year we also joined some dear friends for trick or treating in their quaint old Mobile neighborhood {aka my dream neighborhood}.  Where we live, the lots are large and the houses are ranch style.  We are on a hill and the road is a cut through.  It serves us well on so many accounts but, for trick or treating, it is definitely not ideal.

We started the night early at our friends annual neighborhood Halloween party, then went out from there.  The neighborhood is a great mix of young and old families, so almost every house had at least one parent/adult home for the trick or treaters.  There were even some spooky "haunted" alleyways in the mix and we might or might not have almost lost our resident vampire in one of them...

It was such a fun magical night and the kids were so happy it made me almost like Halloween again.  Admittedly, it used to be one of my favorite holidays - as a child and then as a teenager/young adult.  Looking back I really think it was because of the time of year - its one of my favorite months, it's usually growing cooler, the days are still long before the time change, football - fires - leaves - not to mention the whole spooky aspect of it - I was always a sucker for scary movies and haunted houses.  These days it is definitely more stressful and busy, with so many events and parades and festivals and parties crammed into one week of school that it sucks all the fun out of it.  Now that the kids are a little bit older and are able to individually, and independently, enjoy Halloween... I find myself doing the same again :)


Falling Back

Such a busy time of year!

In my {and apparently nearly every one else in the world(s)!} opinion it is also the BEST time of year.  Definitely the most exciting and anticipation-filled with approaching holidays and festive decor.  I love all seasons and the changing of them, but crisp air, fires, boots and jeans, and angled early morning sunlight definitely strikes my fancy.

I understand much of my "rush" through this time of year recently has been greatly due to my own personal season of life: producing and procuring small humans at a rapid pace.  

Life definitely doesn't get less busy, but I am finding as we creep away from those tiny infant/toddler days life definitely gets a bit less CRAZY.  Momma-quiet time is a little easier to find, children put their own shoes on to go outside, two out of three use the restroom by themselves, and I only have to open and close the back door for them some of the time.  

Baby steps.  

I am glad they are steps though and not leaps.  The ever-knocking right brained part of me is always longing for time to rediscover all those fun hobbies I use to have and love...but right now there is a small but much wiser part of me whispering that this season will pass just like summer, and before I realize it a cool breeze will be blowing and the house will be still.  

Children will be at school all day, doors will open and close on their own, and there will be time.

Someone said at bible study last week that the average person should spend thirty minutes in prayer a day.  And that same person, when really busy, should spend an hour. 

Our hours in the day remain the same, regardless of what "time" the sun sets or rises.  
We have the same amount of "stuff" to fill those hours with - all by choice mind you - and none of that will change.

We can "breathe" more, "stop and smell the roses" more, but we still have a lot of stuff to do and no extra time to do it.  I have learned that I cannot change my hours but I can change how I use them.
It is a miraculous work the Holy Spirit does in your life when you pray for intentional ordering of your time. 
Pray more, stress less.  
It's an equation that works and, for me, is working.

When I am busy and feel like I have no extra time for extra anything, I am learning to dedicate MORE time to prayer.  And I am finding I am better equipped to handle all the other stuff I have to accomplish... all before that sun sets at an extremely disrespectful time of 5pm.

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