Wood paneling makin’ a come back!

Last weekend I had a long overdue opportunity to browse through one of my favorite home decor shops, West Elm, and stumbled upon something very cool, and now very much on my wish list.

Have you seen their Stickwood Adhesive Wood Paneling?

They come in a variety of woods and finishes, but the weathered wood option is by far my favorite.

via

So. Freakin. Cool.

Tony suggested we use it to cover the two panels on either side of the living room TV, and I love the idea so much, I”m kinda pissed I didn’t think of it first.

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Now if I can only justify spending $500 to put a wall on a wall ūüôā

Here’s a quick tutorial in case you’re as smitten as I am!

http://youtu.be/lXj7dPN4KO0

Hey West Elm, need a demonstration volunteer??? ūüėČ

What’s your Tree Style?

You know you’re a newbie to Christmas when your most standout ornament is a Home Depot gift card holder.

xmas tree

Can you spot it? ūüėČ Yeah, we have some work to do.

Since I didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas and this is only the second year I’ve had a tree in my home, I’m a bit lacking when it comes to ornaments. ¬†Not to worry, ¬†I’m totally taking advantage of some after Christmas ornament sales to be better prepared for next year. ¬†Next year Christmas better watch it!

But while we’re on the subject, what’s your tree style? ¬† We’ve had this debate with many of our friends over the past few weeks and there seems to be some strong opinions over the tree decorating, so I’m curious as to what you think!

White lights or colored bulbs?  Or no lights at all?

Real tree or fake tree?  Or has anyone ever bought a white tree?

Do you decorate with a color theme, or anything goes?

Do you decorate with berries, ribbons, or popcorn?

And where do most of your ornaments come from?

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season and new year, and I’ll catch you in 2014!

Charlie lights

We did it again…

I need to come clean. ¬†I kiiinda bought another living room rug. ¬†Ok, not kinda. ¬†I really did. ¬†I think I might have a problem [See previous post here on our musical rug situation]. ¬†But this one is totally justifiable… hear me out, okay?

I was practically forced to buy a new rug, for two reasons… ¬†

First – My husband said the current rug made him dizzy. ¬†No joke. ¬†And this has been backed up by numerous house guests (Did he pay them off? Possibly.) But I kind of saw his point as the herringbone pattern looks like it’s moving when you’re up close.

Second – I spend a LOT of time sitting on the floor with Charlie now, and so the very thin kilin style rug we had just wasn’t cutting it. ¬†In other words, my ass hurt.

I ultimately decided on a beige shag style rug because it is super cozy and cushiony, doesn’t shed, and the price could not be beat! ¬†We’re talking $230 for an 8 x 10. ¬†This particular rug got amazing reviews, so click, ship, unroll – it’s now mine!

Source: Overstock

And I can’t even believe how much different the entire room feels with this new rug. ¬†The room is SO much more cozy and inviting, and so this is by far one of my best purchases yet.

Here is picture of the room with old rug… ¬†Careful, don’t get dizzy.

And now the new one!

Don’t you just want to come over and sip hot chocolate with bailey’s with me here?

And not to worry, we found a spot for the blue rug. ¬†It’s currently making Tony dizzy in our office. ūüôā

 

Quick meals… for reals.

Before having a baby, I almost always made dinner for me and Tony during the week. ¬†I’m far from being an amazing cook, and to be honest, I don’t loooove cooking as much as I wish I did, but I do like having a meal prepared for us to eat together, and so this became really challenging when C was born. ¬† ¬†In fact, this stressed me out more than I am comfortable to admit (oh wait, I kinda just did) and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I was going to get a cooked meal into my very jam packed 1.5 hours between the time I get home and put baby to bed.

I function best when I have a set routine, and so after a few weeks of trial and error, I finally came up with this dinner schedule that works really well for me and my sanity. I hope it might help some other time pressed readers out there too! ¬†As you can see, I’m a little Type A with this stuff (see previous post on my kitchen menu) so no judgement please! ūüėČ

Sunday:  Tony on grill.  

Whatever the man wants… (this usually means steak) I don’t care because he takes care of it, and there is very little clean up. ¬†And this isn’t limited to summer months. ¬†We own a shovel that can clear a nice path to the grill! ¬† I usually pair this with some sort of roasted veggie and side of baked potato or bread.

Monday:
Option A: Crock pot dish and salad.  
Option B: ¬†Big pan dish (something that can just be thrown in the oven) and salad. ¬† I’ve had success with baked chicken dishes, casseroles, chicken pot pie, mac and cheese, etc…

Everything but the salad can be prepared Sunday night while partner is grilling and make it BIG since it’s also going to be Wednesday leftover night! ¬†Simply heat or remove from crock pot, and we’re ready to go!

Tuesday:  
Option A: Fish, rice and salad (from Monday)
Option B: Pasta with veggies and salad (from Monday) 

For the fish I use Trader Joe’s pre-marinated frozen fish (they have a variety of kinds) and all you need to do defrost it and pop in the oven. ¬†For rice I use the brown rice that takes 90 seconds in the microwave or cous cous which is super quick. ¬†TJs has frozen (organic too!) brown nice, a non-frozen version, and very exciting news… I just saw Stop and Shop started carrying it too!

For the pasta, one of my favorites is pasta with marinara sauce, topped with chicken sausage and roasted peppers. ¬†I throw some chicken sausage in the frying pan for 5 minutes (since it’s already pre-cooked) along with TJ’s frozen variety peppers. ¬†If we’re out of salad from the night before, I throw some spinach in the pan too.

Wednesday:
Leftover night!  

We eat what’s left from Monday and/or Tuesday. ¬†I love this night.

Thursday:
ORDER IN!

We either do sushi, pizza, salad, calzones…. ¬†It’s usually pretty cheap and by the end of the week it’s a relief to have a night off from dishes. ¬†I also love this night.

Friday:
Meat stirfry (Chicken, ground turkey or steak) with veggies (fresh or frozen) and easy side (naan bread, baked potato, rice).

Saturday:
Always TBD…

Often we’re out, at a friends house, or make do with what’s still in the refrigerator.

Here’s a quick recap in case you want a print out reminder:

Menu

And BAM – we made it through the week!

So now it’s time to share your EASY recipes. ¬†I’m talking few ingredient and few pots/pans to clean. ¬†
So whatcha got?

Time to get your shopping on

Anyone else out there hate going to the mall to shop for holiday gifts? ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I love me some mall time, but I can’t stand the crowds – so online shopping is my savior!

And I’m super excited to tell you about a new photo gift website that Staples just launched called¬†create.staples.com. ¬†It’s similar to some of the other photo gift websites, but what I love about this site is that you can upload your pictures straight from your Facebook or Instagram account — because let’s get real, do you keep your pictures anywhere else?

staples image

They also have some pretty clever customizable home decor ideas, like ornaments, pillows and desk organizers.  Nothing like looking at your puppy while trying to meet a work deadline, right?

I’m totally gifting a few of these this year (can’t tell you what I’m doing in case those special someones are reading) but I’m pretty pumped about it. ¬†Aw I’m such a tease. ¬† But seriously, this is the the perfect opportunity to start that gallery wall you’ve been wanting to make, or finally print and hang that wedding photo canvas. ¬†Or be SUPER cool and create a custom phone case!

And to sweeten the deal, here’s a special coupon code to get 30% ANYTHING on the site right now!¬†¬†Code: 11043

Ain’t that nice ūüôā

Good luck holiday shopping everyone, and if you head to the mall, watch out for this crazy lady with a stroller trying to avoid all long checkout lines!

What’s in a Name?

As I mentioned in a previous post, my coworkers suggested I change my blog name to House Full of Not So Pretty. ¬†Hilarious, guys ūüėČ

Well I got to thinking of some other suitable names for the current state of this blog/my life… ¬†What do you think about:

House Full of Dog Hair

Shirt Full of Spit Up

House Full of Giant Must Have Baby Items that will Last One Month Before Baby is Too Big
Okay, that domain name might be too long.

Drawer Full of Burp Cloths

Basement Full of Empty Amazon Prime Boxes

Diaper Full of Poop

Laundry Basket Full of Dirty Clothes

Laundry Basket Full of Clean Clothes

Sink Full of Dishes

Refrigerator Full of Trader Joe’s Meals

Wallet Full of Nothing

Can you think of something better? ¬†Taking suggestions if you have one! ūüėČ

Hello World

Hello friends!!!  
I’m back!!! ¬†Well, sorta.

When I last posted, over 4 months ago now, I had every intention of returning to my normal blogging routine.  I figured once my maternity leave was over and the babes and I were in the groove, things would go back to kinda-normal.  Well boy was I naive!

Becoming a mother has been absolutely wonderful, but also all-consuming… leaving me with little time outside of caring for my family and returning to my full time job, to blog. ¬†And let’s face it, if I have a free minute, I’m more likely going to shower or take a nap than log on and write. ūüôā

So to answer the question that I have received frequently over the last few weeks regarding when I am going to start blogging regularly again, the answer is I don’t know. ¬†And it’s a response that comes with such mixed emotions. ¬†I have absolutely loved writing this blog over the past few years. ¬†It gives me so much pleasure, a creative outlet, and a network of amazing blogger friends and writers. ¬†But it also is incredibly time consuming, and so realistically, I can’t be the same kind of blogger I once was. ¬†At least for now.

The other area I am struggling with now is what is the future of HFoP?¬† Originally I did not intend on turning this into a lifestyle blog, where I would incorporate more topics aside from just home decor and DIY. ¬†But to be brutally honest, my universe now revolves around this little man that Tony and I created, and so it’s hard to imagine not writing about that, and about motherhood in general. ¬†As my coworkers have joked – my blog should be renamed to House Full of Not So Pretty, as decorating and DIY (and let’s get real, cleaning!!!) have taken a back seat.

So I hope you’ll stay with me, dear friends, as I jump back into this blog with only a vague direction. ¬†I hope you’ll indulge me as I share my humorous and honest experiences with new motherhood – something that I am excited to start sharing with you and hope you’ll share right back… sprinkled with pictures of my adorable baby, and of course, home related posts! ¬†I may not post as frequently as I used to, but please know I’m still here, and hope you will be too!

And let’s end on a baby pic, because I really can’t resist.
I must say, my house may not be real pretty right now, but it sure is filled with love for this little munchkin ūüôā

Charlie – 16 Weeks

Guest Post: Nursery Mood Boards

Welcome Jessica from Home with Baxter!
Jessica’s design shop, JLP Interiors provides some fantastic e-design services, so make sure you check her out at her blog,¬†Home with Baxter¬†or JLP Interiors design site!
***
Hello! ¬†I’m Jessica and I’m a blogger and interior decorator from Massachusetts and I’m honored to be guest posting today on House Full of Pretty! ¬†I’ve not met Jenny in person but we’ve exchanged emails and comments and I’m pretty certain she’s super sweet and awesome. ¬†I can just tell. ¬†I love catching up on her latest DIY project and seeing how she transforms her home ’cause I’m doing the same thing over at my place.

When I’m not writing about my latest home project on my blog, Home with Baxter, ¬†I love to share the the mood boards I’m constantly creating. ¬†In honor of Jenny’s….ummmm….”situation,” I thought it’d be fun to share a couple of my nursery designs.

It seems like more and more people are keeping the baby’s gender a surprise which is awesome if you like surprises, but can be hard if you’re like me and want to decorate the nursery like…now

Yes, you could go the “gender-neutral” route and there are some really neat gender-neutral nursery designs I’ve seen going around. ¬†But I have another idea. ¬†You could start on the baby’s nursery now, purchase the necessities (crib, changer, rocker, etc.), paint the walls, and then wait to put the finishing touches on the room when baby arrives. ¬†Don’t believe me?

Let’s paint the walls a deep blue, buy white furniture, a neutral glider, and add some gray and white bedding, window treatments, a rug, and a mobile.

Now I’ll admit the room is looking a little bit blah bloring (and maybe a little more boy than girl), but trust me.
It’s D-day. ¬†Surprise, it’s a girl!

Now look how nice and girly that is. ¬†I didn’t get rid of anything, but added fun curtains, fabric, art, lighting, pillows, and toys. ¬†And baby still had a functional nursery to sleep in until I got around to finish decorating (if I was the mom), ’cause let’s face it, that may take some time when you have a new little one demanding every last second of your time.

But wait, the doctor looked too fast, and it’s actually a boy. ¬†No sweat.

Just swap the pink for some blue and green and things are looking decidedly more “boy.”
I told you it would work! ¬†Now that we all have baby on the brain, we can sit anxiously waiting for Jenny to announce that her little one is here!. ūüôā
***
Thanks Jessica!!! ¬†As of this morning, still no baby. ¬†I think he is waaaaay too comfortable in there. ¬†I’ll keep you guys posted!

Reflection

Today is Monday, July 29th 2013 and I am officially “due” with my first baby! ¬† I’m writing this post early so at this very moment I am either:

a. In labor.  Can you hear me screaming from where you are???

b. Eating spicy foods and squatting because this baby is LATE! ¬†Taking after his dad ūüôā

c.  Already a mom to a beautiful baby boy!

As of 7am, no baby yet.  For some fun ways to help kick start labor, check out this hilarious blog post from the Pregnant Chicken here.

But for now I wait (oh so unpatiently) and so I wanted to share a few thoughts on this whole pregnancy journey. ¬†While I don’t typically like to steer too far away from the home decor theme on this blog, I also know many of my readers are women who may at some point embark on the pregnancy ¬†journey themselves (or already have!) or maybe you have friends or loved ones that you will want to support during that time. And since I have found such incredible value in learning from other’s experiences, I want to pay it forward!

I do want to preface this by saying that everyone’s experience is completely unique, and so these lessons may not apply to you, or you may not agree! ¬†But I hope to at least shed some light on a few areas that were somewhat unknown to me before this journey began!

Ready? ¬†Okay let’s go!

1. Getting pregnant can be HARD!!!

Contrary to what they told you in 8th grade health class (I look back now and swear this was intentionally a scare tactic), getting pregnant can be quite difficult. ¬†No, it can’t happen at “any time” and in fact, there are only a few days a month that you can actually conceive. ¬†I guess this strategy is intentional for promoting safe sex practices, but wow – this was news to me! ¬†And so on that note…

2. Be incredibly sensitive when asking other’s about their baby plans, or sharing your opinions on the matter.

Tony and I were very lucky and fortunate in our ability to conceive right away, but the more I talk to others, the more I realize that is not the norm.  So think twice before you innocently pester your girlfriends about when they are going to have kids.  For one thing, they might not want kids!  And for all you know they have been trying unsuccessfully for a while and might not want to share that with you.  This is an incredibly sensitive subject for all of us, and so my personal strategy is to just make sure my close friends know I am here to talk/listen when they are ready, and will not badger them in the meantime.  This tip especially goes to you, well meaning moms and grandmas who not so secretly want to see babies in the family!  (Note:  this was not the case for me, and so to my mom & mother-in-law, thank you for never pressuring us!!!)

3. Pregnancy can be absolutely wonderful!

Yes, you are going to have discomfort, pain, you are going to have times where you feel fat and slow, and sometimes you will cry for no reason… And every blog and pregnancy website is going to highlight the sh*t out all of the horrible side effects that come with being “with child” which drove me crazy! ¬† But guess what? ¬†We survive it, and while some people may have it much worse than others (and my heart truly goes out to my friends who have had especially tough pregnancies!!!!) it’s important to remember that what is happening is absolutely incredible, and an honor, and I’m going to go ahead and guess here – 100% worth it!!!! ¬† So when you take your head out of the toilet, try and remember how lucky you are to be able to do this, and that it is all going to be worth it in the end.

Or if that doesn’t work for you, think of it this way… when was the last time you could let your belly completely hang out with no judgement! ¬† No sucking in for 9 months? ¬†I’ll take it ūüôā

4. Pregnancy can also be really scary.

At about 18 weeks I had my first “whoa, hold up” moment during my pregnancy. ¬†We were off to our second ultrasound and I was so excited to see our baby again. ¬†The first one went well but to be honest, he looked more like a blob than a baby to me, but at ultrasound #2 we were hoping to find out the gender. ¬†WHOOHOO! ¬†Everyone told us it”s such a special moment and seeing your baby (looking more like a baby now) up on the monitor is one of the most incredible things you will experience. ¬†However no one told me it could also be scary as hell!! While you are gazing up at this kinda-sorta-looks-like-a-baby up on the monitor, the tech and doc are measuring everything imaginable, looking for possible problems or “red flags”.

Now… Let me first say that I feel incredibly grateful and fortunate for modern medicine (hello 3D ultrasounds!) and affordable and accessible prenatal care, ¬†however unfortunately with that also comes many “false alarms” and what I now consider “exercising extreme caution” when it comes to doctors suggesting extra tests and follow ups, both of which I experienced first hand. ¬† ¬† And it was only after I shared our experiences with friends did I learn that many went through similar scary moments, that fortunately in the end lead to perfectly healthy babies.

So I put this out there publicly now – no pregnancy is without some concerns (hopefully minor ones!), some may be valid, but some may lead to absolutely nothing of concern. ¬†And so it’s important to go into your appointments knowing that sometimes you may leave feeling scared, worried and with more questions than when you came in. ¬† But know that this is normal. ¬†Get support. ¬†Talk to friends. ¬†Oh, and stay away from Google!!!

5. The last two weeks are probably the worst… and the slowest!

I had no idea how hard these last two weeks would be, both physically and emotionally. ¬†I have gotten pretty used to carrying around the extra weight and so up until now it hasn’t been all that bad, but all of the sudden – BAM! – I am huge, and need a fork lift to roll over at night. ¬†No joke… I need to mentally gear up for something as simple as turning over in bed. ¬†It’s like you grow at warp speed at the end! ¬†And coupled with that is this complete lack of control as to when you are going to go into labor. ¬†Every day I go into work and at least 10 people say “you’re still here???”. ¬†I know they mean well, but it’s like everyone thinks you’re holding out on them or something. ¬†Yes, this is all one big joke folks, and I plan to be pregnant forever!!! ¬†Mwhahaha. ¬†Trust me I am more ready than you are!

And let’s end with a few funnies….

You will quickly learn (and rate) every public bathroom within a 5 mile radius of where you live. ¬†FYI: I was pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness of the McDonald’s bathroom in Natick, but somewhat disappointed by the Target in Watertown.

Strangers will smile at you creepily, stop their car to let you cross the street (even when you’re not at a cross walk) and hold the door for you from 20 feet away. ¬†I’m trying not to get too used to this though, so I don’t get annoyed when all of this niceness completely stops post pregnancy!

People will encourage you to skip them in line while waiting for food. ¬†Are they worried I might bite them in a hunger rage? ¬†But sure, I’ll take it.

Everyone will share their horror labor stories with you.  Thanks folks, greatly appreciated.

Your partner may not realize you are “really” pregnant until your big fat belly is staring him/her in the face. ¬†Love you, T!

After the third trimester, invest in a dog to avoid crying when you drop a piece of food on the floor.  Otherwise it means the impossible task of bending over to get it.

***

I’d love to hear from YOU!!! ¬†Got any tips or funny pregnancy stories to share??? Please leave them below!

Tips from the Man Cave: Keepin Cool

First things first. ¬†This Tips from the Man Cave post is coming to you on a very special day…

HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY TONY!!!  I LOVE YOU!!!!!

And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post….

via

This summer has been especially hot and humid in New England, and not being one of those lucky ones with central air (next house, for sure!!!) Tony and I have tried to be creative with ways to keep the house “cool”.

[I use cool in quotation marks intentionally, as I don’t think our second floor dipped below 90 degrees during the three heat waves!¬†Hmm… maybe we should capitalize on this one and start charging $5 for visits to our deluxe sauna!]

Well in preparation for a hot and sticky August, I wanted to share with you a few resources that the T-man found for keeping your house as cool as possible… without tripling your electric bill!

It might be as simple as opening strategic windows.

Here are six ways to cool the house that don’t include an AC unit!

Some of these low tech solutions may be worth a shot!

***

 Anyone else have any non-AC tips to share?

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