Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wednesday Wishlist: Back Yard Edition

We already know that home decor is my jam so it should come add no surprise that as the season (slowly) changes I'm feeling the itch to change some things around here. I've got a bunch of projects in.varying stages and have found tons of inspiration thanks to Pinterest ,HGTV, DIY network (I'm looking at you Yard Crashers) as well as Lara Spencer's new book. And since I'm on a whole capsule wardrobe don't really buy anything unless your'e going to wear it forever kick I've got home decor on the brain like whoah.
My poor husband gets about 10 emails/texts from me a day with images of rugs, pillows and coffee tables I'm considering. Never once do I think about the cost of these things. No I just imagine what it will all look like when it finally 'comes together' the way it is in my mind.
Right now I'm focusing on the backyard. It's honestly the most neglected space in this home and not because we don't use it. We do, we just don't hang out back there because it's not cute.

current sad state of affairs
There is no grass and the rose bushes are thorny and daunting. The patio furniture needs new cushions and could absolutely stand a coat of paint. But despite the current ugly, the yard size was one of the draws of this house. I could imagine cookouts with friends, possible movie nights and afternoons spent in the blowup pool. I have dreams y'all! But alas, my dreams were put on hold and then pushed even further back last year as we had other things we needed to focus on. But now that I'm working on shifting my focus from fashion wants to home goods it's high time I figured out what to do back there.

gimme ALL the things

There is no shortage of  ideas looming in my head and a recent trip to World Market brought to life pretty much exactly what I want to do in the back yard. And now that I have a the visual aid I need it's time to see about getting those ideas out of my head and making them a reality. But those are two totally different things. See, I'm totally not a gardening girl. Matter of fact, because of my allergies and asthma I tend to stay away from playing in the dirt but with Baby Ninja's growing fascination with all things mud and wanting to have bonding activities with Sweet Pea, I figured it was high time I learned. I have a couple of projects in mind and have delusions of making major headway before the month is up.  So I figured as to not get totally overhwelmed with all my many ideas I'd break things down into a few separate projects to work on over the next few weeks/ months.


Project #1 : Go green
 Because we're on spring break I have a little more leeway in my schedule so I hope to get to Home Depot this week and get some help with how much work it might be for us to try and put down sod ourselves while also having the neighbor's landscaper come by and give us a quote about seeding and sod.
- the roses can they be moved and replanted up front? I love the flowers but it's not the safest thing to have with kids running around.
- remove random pavers along left wall and replace with wood chips or soil for raised herb/ vegetable garden. I love the idea of using a wood pallet!
- remove random bricks and arrange to close up 'patio' area

Project #2 - Furniture / seating
Our current set has seen better days and while normally I originally planned to just recover them, the cushions have since been waterlogged/ bird damaged and seen better days.The furniture can be salvaged and would be good as new with a fresh coat of spray paint. I waited too long last summer to look for cushions but I've already decided to go with a clean look of white washable ones via IKEA and then add color with accent pillows, lanterns and the like
- spray paint furniture
- new cushions
- bright toss pillows
- colorful rug ; I saw a fabulous one at World Market the other day that caught my eye and it was on sale. I'm holding out to see what else I find.
Project #3 : empty wall space

I came across some CUTE ways to keep the kids entertained  with a hanging outdoor chalkboard which I thought would be perfect for the blank wall at the far end of the yard. That will keep the kids entertained and then I came across a stand to keep them organized as well and y’all know that was right up my alley. We’ll see if I’ll actually be able to pull it off.
- hanging chalkboard
- add rocks to fill in area between patio and wall


project # 4 : Lighting
We have string lights under the balcony as well as fixtures on the house itself but I'd like a little more for the Pinteresty twinkle affect. But then I think about having some type of hanging lanterns as well so
- string lights + posts to connect them
- hanging lanterns
- outdoor candles

Project #5: "patio"
In my dreams this is wear we dine al fresco under twinkling lights or enjoy lunch under the shade of the umbrella. I'm also thinking I'd like to add a fire pit of some kind for those transitional nights as we make our way from "spring" to "summer"
- outdoor dining table + chairs 
- umbrella or gazebo
- fire pit

Clearly I have delusions of grandeur but I'm committed to getting my ideas off the ground and getting maximum use of our outdoor space. Of course I don't expect all of this to happen in a weekend or even in the next month, although, that would be AWESOME.  But ideally I'd like to get started on the first two projects this month and then slowly make my way through the list as summer continues. The end goal is to truly create an outdoor living space that we are able to enjoy year round.

What's on your home improvement list this season?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Skinnytaste: A cookbook review

At the beginning of the year I was looking to spend some of my Christmas cash and was cruising through Target with the fam when I first spotted a cookbook that sparked my interest just off the name alone. That and the cover photo. They had me at shrimp & grits.
I flipped through it quickly and noted a few of the recipes sounded yummy but ultimately put it back on the shelf as I was in no mood to impulse buy and cookbooks (well all books really ) are a weakness of mine. Later, after we got home, I looked up skinnytaste and was stoked to discover I've actually pinned and tried one of her recipes previously and we liked it so I figured what the heck. Went back to Target and scored because it was marked down 20% and I had a gift card so it was basically free!

Because I love my family and want to feed them healthier food options I was really excited about this cookbook. But not really anyone else was. However, after a doctor's visit D realized he needed to get excited about low-fat, healthier eating. So I asked him to go through the book and put tabs on the recipes he'd like me to try and I'd do my best to honor his choices. If you don't already know, here's the part where I tell you that I'm still somewhat of a picky eater so I totally understand Sweet Pea's food issues. I don't know WHAT Baby Ninja is going through right now but hopefully it's just a phase.  But I want Sweet Pea to want try new things even though I know it took me YEARS to get to this point. I just hope if we keep exposing her and getting her involved with the food making process that she'll get more excited about different things. Fingers crossed.
So I got the book in January and we're slowly but surely making our way through it and I'm thrilled to say that we've enjoyed everything so far. That's saying a lot. My husband comes from a family of women (and men) who THROW. DOWN. in the kitchen so for him to say he likes some recipe of a stranger that I replicated (and maybe tweaked a bit) makes me feel great.

The fact that a lot of the recipes are low cal and can be modified to be vegetarian and gluten free makes me equally happy. Both of my parents are on semi-modified diets (Dad is diabetic and Mom is recovering from chemo) as well as a bunch of other family members so I'm loving trying out these recipes and seeing what I may be able to make for them.  And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just looking for some inspiration in the kitchen as well. The last few months of the year were full of festivities and weird schedules so my cooking mojo was all out of wack and then when it was time to get back into the swing of "regular schedules" I found I simply had lost my desire to get creative.

We've mostly made our way through the dinners; think lean meats, fish and poultry( I see you buttermilk oven "fried" chicken) and are working on fully incorporating Meatless Monday into our weekly meal plan and routine. It's a little tricky for me to manage each week but I'm working on it. The soups have been spot on with the Slow- Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili Verde being a favorite and Chicken Pot Pie Soup next up on the list , D is a HUGE fan of chicken pot pie as is my father so if I can get this right I will be their favorite for sure.
One of the things I really like about the book is how the introduction isn't all ; here's what to eat so you can lose weight or 'diet' it's basically, here are some tips on how to create a lifestyle of healthier eating and cooking and breaks down the items to keep on hand in your pantry, fridge and freezer while reminding you why REAL food is always good food.

As soon as I started posting dinners on IG I realized it seems the whole world knew about Gina and her delicious recipes. And I just kept thinking: HOW COME NO ONE TOLD ME???? Thanks guys!

I've been working over the past year or so to rid my family of the super processed junk (cheez-its will be our downfall) so this book was a great way to reinforce what we've learned about food and our bodies and take steps to do better. I also like how it's set up. I'm visual so I need to SEE what my food is going to look like and the images in this book are downright mouthwatering.
But mostly, I love making quality food that fills up my man, and doesn't make my kid frown too much because vegetables.

The breakfast chapter sounds promising and I have delusions of overnight oats, western omelet "muffins" and get this....crepes. I want my people to start the day off right so I am going to make it my mission to get them on the quality breakfast train so that they are held over until lunch time and also so when they want 'grab something quick' they do it from our freezer (hello breakfast burritos & homemade frozen waffles) or even a fruit parfait, so I guess I need to get this show on the road and get to cooking!

I broke the trunk of my car in with it's first Costco trip last week so I'm very excited about meal planning over the next two weeks. Yeah, my pantry is well stocked right now and I'm also working on getting that more organized. Getting rid of all boxes and purchasing stackable storage bins to save space as well as glass jars to replace bulky spice containers but that's a whole project in and of itself. I got started the other day with a few things I found at the Daiso Japan and quickly realized I could spend hours in my kitchen letting my OCD fly while bumping some tunes and get that place in order like nobodies business.
It's amazing what excites me these days.

I don't generally blog the recipes I make from other people's cookbooks, unless I do some major tweaking but so far I've only swapped out a spice or two based on our taste preference so don't look for a ton of recipe posts here BUT you can always follow my cooking adventures on Instagram and see photos of how my versions turn out.

What's your favorite cookbook right now?


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