Month : May 2012

planning for the Fourth…

One of our goals for the summer is to host a Fourth of July party prior to the local fireworks shows. I am trying to think beyond the traditional burgers and potato salad, and am collecting ideas for not only food but games and decor inspiration as well. I think a Fireworks Fiesta mood board is in order… πŸ™‚

Source: via Elizabeth on Pinterest

Psyching Up for June of Doom

Last year, Page declared the first month of summer “June of Doom” – a thirty-day, all-out effort to get eating habits in check and workouts accomplished. For him, it consisted of cutting out all alcohol for the month and getting to the gym at least once a day for weights and cardio.

I decided to join him this year – with the thought that I can do just about anything for a mere four weeks. I am hoping it will be just the push and commitment I need to keep with the new habits at the end of the month and continue a healthy weight loss trend.

For ME, the month has a different list of goals/rules:

No white bread/pasta/rice
Lemon water, fruits, veggies every day
Fish at least once a week
Fruit instead of dessert

workouts 5-6 times a week, building on running distances/times (combo of yoga, step, zumba, hip hop, and running)

Typically, I’m pretty good about getting my workouts in – it’s the food area where I fail time and again. I have NO willpower and love everything…particularly sugar and carbs. πŸ™‚ I’m hoping to recommit to my workouts and set/achieve some running endurance goals as a way to stay motivated.

As for diet, I have a small “menu” of daily breakfast and lunch options from which to choose. This gives me variety but also helps me shop for the right things to have on hand and I can mindlessly pick an option knowing it is “pre-approved”. Dinner is a bit more open-ended as sometimes we have more/less time to cook, and dinner out occasionally will be a sure thing. It won’t be so much about counting calories (which you just can’t do forever) but making healthier choices, and keeping an eye on portion control.

While I will not be sharing my numbers (!) I am going to take a bunch of measurements on Thursday, May 31. I’m hoping they all reduce a bit by this time next month with four weeks of good effort.And who doesn’t need a little motivation to get moving? We both happened to need new running shoes, so I brought home these bad boys. They’re my second pair of Mizunos, and just a step down in terms of weight/stability than my Asics Foundations. They feel lighter than what I’m used to, which I love, but with all of the cushion and stability my flat, over-pronating feet need. Page ended up with his first pair of Mizunos this time around as well. Here’s to a successful “June of Doom”! πŸ™‚

two clotheshorses + one closet

It might be hard to believe, but until we built our home this past year, Page and I had never shared a closet. That’s right – more than four years of marriage, and we still had a lot to learn about sharing a space.

So while our master closet is a decent size (certainly for one, anyway) it is not HUGE and it will take some extra thought and planning to make it work as efficiently as possible for both of us. We do keep off-season clothes in the guest room closet, and I keep my purse collection elsewhere, as does Page with his sports gear. Yet, even with all of those reductions, anyone who knows Page or me knows we like our clothes. πŸ™‚

So call this the “before” closet post – the above photo is from the week we moved in. Basic white wire shelving all around the closet. I instantly saw it installed and thought the setup was stupid – but it was one of those things I didn’t stop to focus on during the build when there were much bigger decisions being made than shelving. Once the clothes were hung, it closed in quickly, since clothes are hanging on three sides:

This “surrounded” effect made the closet seem so much smaller, and it was harder to back up a bit and see what you were trying to look at. We also need more shelving and drawers. We have plenty of hanging clothes, but our work and play dress codes are more casual than formal – and we had some hanging space to spare.

It’s nearly impossible to photograph a closet, but here are some extreme fisheye views to give you a better idea. I’ve moved everything hanging to one side of the closet to get a feel for how much wall space we have to work with for some shelving/drawers once I rip out the extra racks.

We’ve made a few steps in squeezing extra space out of this closet. We hung an Ikea “Lack” shelf on the smallest wall to hold perfumes/colognes, makeup, Page’s collection of watches, and other accessories. We also hung a series of racks behind the door for things that hang flat and still allow us to swing the door open completely: ties, belts, scarves, and baseball caps.

These small changes definitely helped create a home for a bunch of our stuff, but there are still much-needed updates to come in here. So, in short, our closet needs to change in these ways:

  • Shelf space to accomodate “overflow” from our not-so-storage-friendly bathroom: cologne and perfume bottles, makeup, as well as accessories like watches, belts, hats, ties, etc.
  • Drawers to corral the overflow of folded things from our dressers, primarily t-shirts, workout clothes, leggings, swimsuits, and loungewear
  • Flat surfaces to store folded, non hanger-friendly items like sweaters
  • Shoe storage for nicer shoes (mostly my heels/dressy boots) that don’t get worn often, therefore don’t reside in the shoe storage of our garage

I’ve already started my research – I browsed Ikea, Target, and a local closet-planning store to see what my options are, but haven’t found a whole lot I love. This weekend my mom and I will make it to The Container Store and see what solutions they might have to offer as well. Like all other projects in our house, we are sticking to a budget and not going crazy, and I’m not tied to any one idea. I could see us doing something freestanding like the series of drawers shown here…

…or even finding a tall/narrow dresser to fit the wall, although I like that with these, you can see what’s inside each compartment. I also like the idea of something mounted on the wall and doing a combo of open shelves and drawers….

Stay tuned – I have NO idea what the final solution will look like, but I’m excited that it’s bound to be better than what we’re working with now!

I leave you with some photos of dream closets on my Pinterest board…maybe in our NEXT house? πŸ™‚


Source: via Elizabeth on Pinterest

more landscaping!

I’m not sure who’s most surprised – my husband, my parents, or me – to find out I’m not all that terrible with landscaping. To date, I’ve killed every potted plant in our five years of marriage, and I was notorious for finding other chores to get me out of yardwork when I still lived at home…so I’m really not sure where this is coming from!

We’re still not finished out front (want to frame all of this in with a rock border so it looks “finished”) but I love that we now have some solar lights along the path to the front door and a spruce on the corner of the house to sort of anchor the whole area. I feel like the lights look a little tall and awkward , but once the big rocks go in, in front of them, I think it will all balance out (fingers crossed!). πŸ™‚ I ran the idea of a couple maple trees by Page, who handled getting the okay from our utility companies regarding where we want to plant, so the next thing will be one more tree in front and in back.

Anyone else working on landscaping projects? I’m on the hunt for inspiration for covering up the hideousness that is the utility box in the corner of our backyard!

Building Bookcases: Part 5

When we last left off, we had mounted the counter tops and soon after, Page drilled holes in the tops to run cords to the outlets hidden inside the cabinets (for lamps, etc).

Page still had not adhered the side pieces, wanting to save them as a final step. Next, I primed and painted giant backboard pieces, and a side piece to brace against the wall for each bookcase – giving Page something to drill into for support when he added the shelves.

I particularly loved this step because I could finally get a sense for just how dramatically the space would change with the height of these bookcases. In person, the room definitely feels bigger!

Next, Page cut all of the shelves for each case, and several trim pieces that would screw into the side/back panels for the shelves to rest on for support. I got my usual prime/paint routine on — two coats of primer, two of paint, all with a good dose of sanding in between each.

The pieces only needed an hour of dry time in between coats (just enough time to cover each piece and then start all over again on the next coat…four solid hours of painting – phew!) We let them dry overnight after the last coat and the next day was installation time.

These support strips went in first, for the shelves to sit on top of for sturdiness. Today marked the first time Page got to use his finishing nail gun…which apparently got him super excited to start working on the basement (one thing at a time! ha!).

Once the shelves went in, the outside end pieces drilled into the sides of the shelves.

A couple of trim pieces installed on the front got us *really* excited as they start to come together and we start to get a glimpse of that “finished” look! I am continually amazed that my husband, who has never built a bookcase in his life has just come up with this ad-hoc plan and made them look so awesome!

Aren’t they starting to look like the real deal?!

The final step will be to cut and paint our trim and then to trim, trim, and caulk the imperfections. We learned that even NEW construction walls can be slightly bowed, no piece of lumber is PERFECTLY straight, and the most perfect-looking cabinet may not be exactly level. Pair these inconsistencies with my hubby’s extreme attention to detail when cutting, and it was frustrating to say the least! But by the time we’re done, you will never have known any different. I’m beyond excited to see these coming together!

[Note: You can read ALL of the “Building Bookcases” post seriesΒ here!]

Summer To-Do List

I love the change of seasons from spring to summer. Even though the years of three-month breaks from responsibility are a distant memory, there is still a sense of fun that comes with summer and switching up normal routines.

I’ve been making all kinds of lists for summer. Lists of things I want to try, projects to start (and finish!), places to visit, and books to read.

Below is my (initial!) list of things…

Fueled by my love of the Olympics and specifically gymnastics, I’m adding this book to my reading list, by our very own hometown girl, Shawn Johnson, and this book by one of my favorite gymnasts, Dominique Moceanu…it sounds scandalous! I don’t expect either book to be a very long read – perfect for poolside entertainment. πŸ™‚






We never had a housewarming party last December, so a half-year later, we are planning a 4th of July shindig prior to heading out to seeing fireworks. Because so many friends now have children, it will be the first kid-friendly fiesta we’ve thrown, so I’m having fun pinning party ideas that work for kids and adults alike.


With our landscaping and bookcase projects nearly behind us, we are turning our attention to the basement. Funny enough, it hasn’t evolved MUCH past these “in progress” shots from last fall when the house was being built. You will notice a guy in pro golfer costume Page demonstrating the general direction of a tv room, and we would like to add a half bath (for easy access off a hot tub on the patio) and a small bar area where the stairs meet the lower level.

We have a lot of sketching to do to plan out what we want (and before we can obtain a permit), but then it will be game on this summer and we hope to do several of the steps (framing, tiling, painting) ourselves. We’re hoping to have it COMPLETE by the one year anniversary of our move-in date (Dec 1) but as we all know, the best laid plans… πŸ™‚

To visit…
I don’t have a particular town in mind, but I’d love to explore an Iowa town I’ve never been to – maybe Dyersville to see the Field of Dreams? The past couple of summers I introduced Page to Decorah for a friend’s wedding, and we checked out Pella for the tulip festival. I’d love to do another “local” road trip around here some summer Sunday…I also wouldn’t mind a trip to my beloved Iowa City – not for a game, or for a wedding, but to just lounge around town in favorite spots and discover some new ones as well.

To eat…
We are somewhat creatures of habits when it comes to our dining experiences. There are a couple new (to us) places I would like to get to for a summer cocktail, or a morning cup of coffee (depending on the time of day!) and a delicious meal. Hoping to check out Christopher’s in Beaverdale, Mars Cafe downtown, and Luna Bistro in the East Village, to name a few!

I’m sure this list will grow quite a bit in the coming weeks…anyone have any fun to-dos on their list for the upcoming season??

from around the globe…

Liz in Des Moines, IA

James in Toyko, Japan

Adam in Cedar Rapids, IA

Happy Mothers Day, Mom, from your three. πŸ™‚

And a happy mothers day to my mother-in-law, my grandmothers, my friends who are mamas and mamas-to-be…wishing you all a very special day!

sweet sugar scrub

Now that our mamas have received theirs, there is no surprise to spoil. πŸ™‚

I attempted one of my many Pinterest “to try” projects and made a sugar scrub for both of our moms with lavender and lemon essential oils. I followed this recipe and found the jars at Hobby Lobby and designed my own “Mothers Day” version of the labels in Illustrator.

Love a good body scrub!