12.23.2011

Christmastime is Here...

Whew. I haven't had much time to think the past few days. 

Wednesday we returned home in the afternoon from our anniversary getaway, only to take a power nap, change clothes, and go to a dinner with one of Kyle's favorite professors. After dinner we headed to a friends house for a Christmas party. 

Needless to say, we got home late that night. 

Yesterday I spent over 3 hours here. 


Yay! (not really yay) 
I also had to run around town for a few extremely last minute Christmas items. 
{I guess I'm not running around as last minute as my mom who is out shopping for groceries today... yikes!}

Now we are headed to my parents house to spend an extra night with them. We were planning on leaving tomorrow morning, but last night we very much on a whim changed our minds. I have approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes before I have to leave to pick Kyle up from work.  

Here is my "To Do" list before I can leave the house: 

eat lunch
put make-up on 
pack bags (mine and his)
finish making Mom's Christmas present
wrap about 6 or so presents
pack presents into tote 
load all bags and presents into the car
gather miscellaneous items for cooking that I am in charge of for the Christmas meal 
load them into the car
make the bed
get gas 
head to Little Rock to pick up Kyle by 4:30

Can I do it? I've got to say that I am not feeling like Superwoman today. 

But it will be worth it to spend some extra time with these wonderful people. 


If I don't get back on here to post an Anniversary photo story before Christmas, I promise it will get come later. 

My prayer for you this Christmas is that your belly is full, your feet are warm, and your heart is overflowing with love. 

I wish you and yours a very special Merry Christmas. 

12.19.2011

Anniversary Celebration

Today I am celebrating my 2nd Anniversary with this guy. 

This picture was taken last year at Sundance during Christmastime. 

Today we are packing our bags and taking care of last minute things because we are heading to The Big Cedar Lodge, near Branson, Missouri for a relaxing retreat for a few days. 

I am so excited. I will probably have a photo story to share when we get back. :) 

12.15.2011

:Big Place to Small Space: What Stays & What Goes


We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~ Walt Disney
Moving into an apartment that is just a little over half of the size of our house, made us realize that we had too much stuff.
Our guest bedroom is still stacked from the floor to the ceiling with boxes and totes full of “treasures” that we need to sort through. We have already worked on sorting through a living room full, a kitchen full, and our bedroom full of stuff.
We quickly have decided what stays and what goes. Today I am going to share with you what you need to know about downsizing from a house to an apartment, and what criteria you can use to help you decide what you need to hold on to and what you can gladly get rid of.
When downsizing from a house to an apartment, nobody tells you just how little space you are going to have. You think you will have a good idea of what can go where when you move it in the U-haul truck, but more than likely you won’t.
Something that really helped us when deciding which pieces of furniture were going to be able to make the move was the purchase of a tape measure. Before we moved any furniture to our new apartment, we measured every piece that we wanted to take with us. We went to our apartment and kind of laid things out where they were going to go. This also made moving day a breeze too. For the most part, when the guys that helped us move brought the furniture in, we were able to tell them exactly where it fit in the puzzle.
Please realize that not everything you own will be able to make the move if you are downsizing. I know that this seems obvious, but this is something I am still trying to wrap my brain around. There will simply not be room for all of it. Do yourself the favor now if you are planning a downsizing move and start going through all of your belongings. You think that I am kidding, but since our move I have donated anything from small kitchen appliances to shoes and books. Seriously, go through everything.
As we have been sifting through the boxes and boxes that moved into our apartment with us, we have often asked ourselves, “Where did this come from?” Some of the things we are unpacking we haven’t used ever. Some things we haven’t used in over a year

Here is a small list of criteria we are using to determine whether anything and everything stays or goes:
1. When was the last time we used this? If the answer is more than a year ago, and it is not a once a year type of item like snow gear, or Christmas decorations, it goes.
2. What do I use this for? If the answer is for something that we do often, it stays. If it is an item that we use every once in a while, and were holding onto in order to be thrifty, but it can easily be replaced with a purchase of a few dollars, it goes.
3. Where am I going to put this? If we don’t know where we are going to store it, it goes. We have been pretty creative putting things under the bed, on the top closet shelf, in a dresser drawer, but some things just can’t seem to find a home. These are the things that go.
4. Is this important to me? Some things are too special to throw away or send to the Goodwill. These things take precedence over shoes, extra jackets, my extreme Christmas decorating collection, and stacks of crafting materials. Some of these things have been sorted through and I have gotten rid of what I thought I could part with. Things that are not that important to you, things that you do not have room for, things that you do not need, should go

I can't wait to have our guest room cleaned out and all of the things in our apartment organized, but I realize that it is a process. I am trying to take my husband's advice to take it piece by piece. He has given me the best advise about sorting through our belongings, "Whitney, it doesn't have to all get done today. Some of this can wait." He couldn't be more right. Take on the challenge of organizing and deciding what stays and what goes bit by bit. Set goals, use the time you have available, and realize that it is not the end of the world when it is midnight and there is still much more to do. It can wait. 
Next week I will be sharing with you how to organize your furniture in a small space to maximize traffic flow, create more storage, and allow for your creativity to shine. 

12.13.2011

Trim the Tree: Handmade Ornaments and Garlands

Even though Christmas is only a few weeks away, I keep adding decorations to our tree. I sometimes think that’s silly, but I just can’t help myself. I see something on another blog or on Pinterest and think, “Oooooh, I really want to make that!”

Our tree is much different this year than it has ever been. I have two giant totes of red ornaments that I did not even unwrap and unbox this year. I wanted more of a vintage, handmade feel with a touch of contemporary. In years past, I have had a very department store styled tree with lots of glitter, large ornaments, and bold colors. My husband is so happy with our new simple tree.
Since I didn’t have many decorations in my collection that were vintage and handmade, I got crafty. I had stumbled upon some awesome handmade ornaments and garlands on Pinterest that looked super easy to make. And you know me, I’m all about super easy.
Here is my inspiration from my Holiday Pinterest board.



Here is what I came up with.





All three of these projects were so fun to do. Let me break them down for you super quick. They are after all, super easy.




To make the feather filled balls, just fill the Christmas ball with feathers! I got my clear glass balls at Hobby Lobby, but I think Walmart and other places like that would sell them, too. Also at Hobby Lobby, I bought a bag of pheasant feathers. They matched the vintage feel that I was going for. You can by feathers in any color at Hobby Lobby. Be creative! I just pulled off the top of the ornament and poked the feathers down in until the ball was about half way full. Then I used some wide burlap ribbon to tie as an accent on the top. Add some twine as a hanger, and ta-da!

This tulle garland seriously took me about 10 minutes to make. I had some tulle circles left over from our wedding. I used the same twine I used for the hangers on the feather filled balls, gathered the tulle circles in the middle, and tied them onto the twine about every 16 inches. Later I went back and trimmed them up a bit.


The circle garland was the most time consuming project I have had this Christmas. I think that I was expecting it to be much easier than it actually was even though it was still something that I conquered in a few nights. I purchased paper from Hobby Lobby that I thought matched the touch of contemporary style that I wanted on the tree this year. I really like the hounds tooth print. It was on sale and drove the scheme for the garland. I used a 1 ½ inch circle punch to cut out the circles. Using some jewelry string that I had on hand, I used a glue stick to glue the opposite sides together on top of the string. I chose to make a pattern but you could randomize things for a totally different look.
There you have it! Three easy ways to trim your tree this holiday season.

12.08.2011

Sweet Sweet Snow

On Tuesday night we were treated with the first snow of the season. 

It was beautiful. 
This is the view from our bedroom window. It might overlook a parking lot, but that didn't make the snowfall any less magical for me. 

I think of snow as God sprinkling sugar all over everything. 

Sweet, sweet, snow.

It's the simple things that make me happy. 

12.07.2011

:Big Place to Small Space: How to Deep Clean Your New Place

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~ Walt Disney

Since we just completed a move, I thought that it would be fun to have a moving series! Strap on you boots, find your rubber gloves, and dig out those cleaning supplies. This week we are going to break down how to deep clean your new place! 

Before Kyle and I moved, we had ample time to spend cleaning our new place. And let me tell ya, I am sure glad that we did. It was filthy, nasty, dirty. I was not excited about moving my clean things into such a grimy place. Here are our tips for how to go about tackling all of the deep cleaning. 

HOW TO DEEP CLEAN YOUR NEW PLACE

1. Gather your supplies. 
You aren't going to want to use what you have on hand for this project. Your regular supply of Scrubbing Bubbles and Windex isn't going to cut it. 
Here is what we rounded up before we rolled up our sleeves: 
bleach
a 5 gallon bucket
a big box of latex gloves
multiple toothbrushes
a large box of toothpicks
a steamer 
old used up yellow and green sponges (you know the kind with the scratchy side)
rolls and rolls of paper towels
several stacks of old rags that we thought we could part with
2 or 3 sets of really old gross clothes that could be turned into rags if they ended up with bleach splatters

I know what you are thinking. What's up with the toothpicks and toothbrushes? Let me tell you, when you have a stove that is covered in grease an inch thick in places, you can use a toothbrush to clean the lettering in the knobs and settings located on the front. A toothbrush will do such a good job that you realize that the letters weren't black, they were actually imprinted into the metal. True story. I can't make this stuff up. 

2. Break down the cleaning into tasks or areas that can be separated over several days. 
The nice thing about still living in our house before we actually moved is that we could go to our apartment every few days and clean. We didn't try to get it done all in one sweep. For one, things were just that gross, and two, we would have worn ourselves out trying to get it all done in one day. Whew! I know how tired I was after cleaning for a just a few hours. I can't imagine what my body would have felt like if I stuck it out to do it all in one day!

We suggest tackling one cleaning task at a time. 
For example, we bleach mopped all of the floors first, and then we moved on to cleaning other areas.

3. Use a steamer.
My parents let us borrow their steamer, and we are so thankful that we used the strong cleaning power of steam. 
Crayon on the walls? Not after the steamer hits it! 
Sticky goo on the floor? Not after the steamer hits it! 
Built up gunk under the kitchen cabinets? Not after the steamer hits it! 

4. Be willing to put in some time. 
Kyle and I spent close to 40 hours deep cleaning our new apartment. That's the same as an entire work week! If we had tried to get it all done in one Saturday, we couldn't have done as thorough of a job. We caught ourselves more than once doing things only half way, and looked at each other and said, "It's time to go home." 

5. Don't forget about the corners and crevices. 
Don't forget to clean the light fixtures, ceiling fans, wipe down the switch plates and electrical outlets. 
Don't forget to send a cloth over the base boards or crown moldings. 
Don't forget to wipe out all of the cabinets and the top closet shelf.
Get underneath stuff. Move things around. 
And don't forget to wipe down the doors! 
True story here, we didn't know that the doors were white until we wiped them down! Seriously! You might be surprised at how dirty the place really is! It may look clean, but looks can be deceiving! 

There you have it! I wish I had some pictures to post from during our cleaning process, but then again I don't. We went through a whole box of 50 pairs of rubber latex gloves while cleaning. 
I seriously doubt you want to see those pictures. 

Next Wednesday we will continue with part 2 of our Moving Series! 
What are your tips for deep cleaning?

12.06.2011

Oh, Christmas Tree-Oh, Christmas Tree

How lovely are your branches. 


Last night I put most of the finishing touches 
on our Christmas tree. 
I still have a few ornaments that I would like to make, 
but they will have to wait until the weekend. 

Are you finished decorating for Christmas? 

12.04.2011

Grace and Gratitude: Faith Enough


Yesterday, we moved what very well might have been the last car load of our things from our house into our tiny 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment. It was bitter sweet, but more sweet than bitter. 

Let me share with you why. 

Several months ago, well really almost a year ago, my husband Kyle mentioned to me that if he were to be accepted into the Honors College that we might could have free housing included in his scholarship. At first I thought, "Wow! That would be amazing!" But the more and more I thought about it, the less and less I cared for the idea. We lived in a beautiful house. I had bought it before we were married during the first few months of my teaching career. I felt like I had worked hard in college to someday live in a place that was as nice as it was with its granite counter tops, tall ceilings, white crown moldings, large windows topped with window crowns, ceramic tile, I could go on and on. 

At first, I was even upset that he might so much as suggest that we move into an apartment. How dare him! I had worked hard to secure this home for myself, and now it was ours! I was shocked that he wasn't more grateful for what, in my eyes, I had contributed to our relationship. 
Plus, it was all speculation in the beginning. He had not even filled out the Honors College paper work, or written his essay, or had his entrance interview yet. Why was he so quick to jump into something that was so unsure? 

We had been considering the possibility of me not returning to my teaching position in the fall. We really wanted to start a family, and neither of us wanted me to continue teaching after we had children. We prayed and prayed about what to do as at this point; Kyle did not have a job other than summer security alarm sales. I was the primary month to month breadwinner. 

As we prayed about what to do, there was a man in our church that approached Kyle about a paid business marketing internship. We were very excited about this opportunity. It was going to pay well, and he was going to be able to continue to work for the home security company selling alarms during the summer. We considered ourselves blessed then, and kind of stopped praying about how it would be possible for me to stay home, and changed it to praying about more whether or not it was the best thing to do. 

After what seemed like months of prayer, we still were not sure what the Lord's plan was for us. We knew that He had provided a way for me to stay at home with our children with Kyle's new paid internship position, but we had been trying for several months to get pregnant, and still did not have any good news to share. We did the math, and it seemed like I would need to return to teaching another year even with Kyle's new job. We just though the finances would be too tight. 

About that time, Kyle quite unexpectedly met the owner of a small company that manages a few non-profit organizations in the Little Rock area. He was willing to pay Kyle double what he was earning in his job as an intern, but it would require him to work more hours. Kyle was okay with that especially since the summer was coming and he would be making enough money that it would not be necessary for us to travel across the country for him to sell home security. He did work around 50 hours a week during the summer, but it was all worth it because we both wanted to stay at home this summer in our house close to our friends and family. 

Well summer flew by and fall came, and with it time for Kyle to start his first semester in the Honors College. It turns out they really like smart, non-traditional students with a 4.0. :)  He was pretty excited about it, but he was still going to have to work 30 hours a week to sustain our family in our current home. I was really nervous that he was taking too much upon himself. My fears became reality and we had to cut his hours back to 20 a week well before midterm. It turns out that you have to earn your keep in the Honors College. He had a reading and a small paper due for every class meeting, 3 days a week. We were not prepared for that kind of work load, but we had put a little bit of money in savings and thought that we could get by on it and still stay in the house. 

I guess that I had been so upset at Kyle the first time he mentioned moving into Family Housing that he waited  until we had to cut his work hours to mention it again. He really expressed to me that he thought this would be what was best for our family. He wanted me to be assured that we would live in a house again someday, but right now in our lives that it really didn't make much sense. We would be able to save so much money by living in Family Housing, and so many people would take a free roof over their head in a heartbeat. He had prayed about it, and knew that it was what was best for our family in our current stage in life. He knew that we could be happy there. It would mean that having children would be easier on us financially, and that we would have more time to enjoy them. His commute from home to school would be drastically decreased. We would have more time to spend together and to do the things that we love. 

I began to think that this wouldn't be a bad plan after all. 

We submitted our request for Family Housing during the middle of September. The Housing Director told us not to expect an opening until at least Christmas during the time when semesters change. "But do not be surprised if you do not get a call until the Spring semester is over," he said. "We usually only have a few that move out of Family Housing a year." 

I was secretly really disappointed. I myself had prayed about this decision and had received a beautiful answer that I needed to follow Kyle's lead. He was right. This was going to be what was best for our family. I was sure that we were pursuing the path that Heavenly Father wanted us to be on. I felt like we had failed Him, that we had waited too long, and now we were too late. I was nervous about how we were going to make things work since I did not have a teaching position this school year, and now we would have to make a house payment from our savings account. 

Then it happened. 

About two weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk in a small school where I was able to find work filling in as a long term substitute during a teacher's maternity leave. Kyle called and since I didn't have any kids in my room at the time, I answered. He said, "Your not going to believe this. The housing office just called me and told me that we have an apartment, Whitney. I can go pick up the key whenever I get a chance." 

I knew right then that God had been listening to my prayers. I knew that we had just witnessed and were a part of a miraculous series of events. At that moment, I could truly feel and see God's hand in our entire life together from the moment we were married until now. I was able to have great peace in knowing that He is always with us, and had our best interest in mind. 

Now we are almost all settled into a new apartment. It has been somewhat of a challenge, but when I think of everything that we have been given, I quite literally feel very humble and think about what a blessing it is that Kyle and I have such strong faith in Jesus Christ, and such a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. I know that He will lead and guide anyone who will have faith enough to take the first step. 

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me." 
Revelation 3:20

12.03.2011

Pin Peek {Holly Jolly Christmas Edition}


Pinterest is such a fabulous idea box when it comes to finding inspiration for all things Christmas. 

I have been pinning Christmas ideas since mid July waiting in anticipation for this time of year. 
I am so excited! 

This week's Pin Peek is dedicated to all things for your Christmas tree. I have been looking at these ideas for our tree this year. I am really trying to get away from the department store look, and would love to have a more vintage old fashioned tree. 













All images can be found here via my Pinterest.

What is your inspiration for your Christmas tree this year? 

12.02.2011

Snowflake Wreath Tutorial

A while back on Pinterest, I stumbled upon this beauty. 

{Inspiration for this project can be found here and here.}
So when we went to my parents for the Thanksgiving Holiday, I packed up my Popsicle sticks, white paint, glitter, and blingin' rhinestones. Yes, ma'am. That's all you need for this little project. I am for real. Those are really Popsicle sticks. 

My mom was so excited when I told her that we were going to be making these. They were so fun and easy to make, we made a couple a piece. 

First, we warmed up the hot glue gun, and I started out by laying out all of the Popsicle sticks to make that snowflake pattern. 

Then, I started gluing all of the "V" pieces together. I laid them on top of each other while the hot glue was still tacky so I could make sure all of them were the same size. 

Next, I started gluing the "V" pieces together to make diamonds. Here is my mom showing how to do it. 

The next step was what my mom called "the chicken feet". These are the long end pieces of the snowflake. I wanted to reinforce these ends. I was worried that they would be flimsy and snap if handled with the slightest bit of roughness. 

After all of the smaller pieces were made I glued them together to make the snowflake. 
Here is it all put together and painted white. 

My mom's turned out a little bit different. Her snowflake had seven points in the center instead of six. 


I tried to take pictures of the final steps, but they just didn't turn out. After the flat white paint dried, we used a frosty, pearly, silvery, white paint to adhere snow-like white glitter to the snowflakes. We also blinged things up a bit more by adding rhinestones. 

Want to know a secret tip for keeping the glitter from falling off? Give the whole thing a spritz of hairspray! 

Here is the finished product. It is so much more beautiful in person. The photo does not do it justice. 


I also made one that I chose not to paint, leaving it all-natural. I used tiny gold rhinestones on all of the points. It has a totally different look, but I think I like it just as well. 

There you have it! Christmas decorating doesn't get much more easier or inexpensive than that. Thanks for being here!