Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Can I get a Little Inspect?

Just a little bit? Come on now..

I-N-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me! Or at least to our new home.

Last week we traveled down to Pennsylvania to meet with our realtor and the home inspector to do a walk through of the house we are in the process of buying. And WOAH is a home inspection a long process! Typically, an inspection takes about four hours to complete, but we ended up talking for a while and was there from 10 am till almost 4 pm. That's six hours! I have to say, though, that our inspector was great. He answered any questions we had, and he was very informative of not only the condition of our home, but some of the general maintenance things we should keep in mind. He knew that we were first-time home owners, and there would be a learning curve-- especially in an older home.

We also were able to take a ton of pictures of our home-to-be, and I am happy to give you a sneak peek of the inside as I know you have been anxious to see. Get ready for photo overload! :)

The first room the inspector started in was the kitchen. Typically an inspector will spend most of his time in three places: the basement, bathrooms, and the kitchen. These places are typically the place that has the most potential for issues since they hold some of the highest function of the house. Our kitchen is very outdated, but is in good, working condition. No major problems were found, and we were even able to get some remodel advice.

Holy outdated kitchen, Batman!

The kitchen's layout makes the space seem incredibly small. Combine that with the cabinetry, the dated tile and linoleum, and you get a big ball of ugly. I don't even think June Cleaver herself would be rocking this kitchen. We have plans for her, though, and we intend for this space to be the first major renovation that we do in the house. This momma loves to cook and spend time in the kitchen, so I can't wait to turn this into culinary haven. I'll go into more details in a future post, but know this: nothing in this kitchen is safe from my demolition desires!

View from the back porch door. 

Next, we moved into the dining room. Nothing special about this room except that the walls and trim match the floors. It's rather closed in feeling, much like the kitchen, and I am sure it will be part of our overhaul once we are able to save enough for our kitchen remodel budget. I love the little built-in china cabinet, and I am envisioning some board and batten treatment on the lower third of the wall.

Beautiful built-in china cabinet

We then moseyed into the living room. This space is large and airy feeling in comparison to the other half of the house despite being swallowed in wood paneling just like the dining room. The living room features a beautiful gas fireplace which it's stone facade matches that of the houses exterior. We found the first sign of trouble, however, in the floor of this room. Back in 2010, the home was treated for termites, and while the pests were fully exterminated and are no longer present on the property, they had been there for a long time and had caused a good amount of damage. You could see where several planks of flooring had been replaced at some time, and there were a couple left that still showed traces of where these nasty bugs had eaten their way through the floors. We hadn't noticed this problem when we first saw the house, but we had known there was some termite damage that was repaired as revealed in the seller's disclosure part of our contract.

Four windows in this room makes it bright and airy. 

Bonus: It looks like "Granny Clause" might come with the house. 

After we discovered the termite damage in the flooring of the living room, we decided to head down to the basement to take a look at the damage from below. We made a pit stop at the half-bath located in what used to be the former stairwell to the basement.

Not sure why they chose this space to remodel as a half-bath, as it is kind of awkward and small. I'll admit that it is nice to have a second bath in the home, though.

As we made our way down the steps, one big drawback of having that half-bath is that the placement of the steps had to be altered. It has created some clearance issues on one of the joists which support the landing of the stairwell to the second story. We'll have to be extra careful when coming to the basement at this point.

Once in the basement, we were able to get a look at the termite damages and repairs that were made to one of the joists that was badly eaten by the pests. Our home inspector was also a licensed pest inspector, and was able to give us some good insight as to the condition and outlook of the damages caused by the termites. The repairs that were made were sufficient to help support any weakness issues, and the termites were definitely long gone. We fully intend to transfer any current pest control contract with the seller so that we can prevent any chance of future infestations.

Our home inspector also gave the green light on the houses current furnace, Old Faithful. This furnace is HUGE, and it's also been retrofitted several times. Originally, this giant iron beast started it's life as a coal furnace. It was converted to operate on fuel oil at one time, and as of now currently functions on natural gas.

The other half of the basement consists of a one car garage and holds the electrical panel and main shut off to the house.

Next, we ventured upstairs to inspect the bedrooms, bathroom, and attic. As you come up the stairs, you find this charming little nook that features a cedar-lined window seat. The master bedroom and bathroom are to the left, and the first and second bedrooms are down the hallway to the right.

Master Bedroom
Bedroom #1 (spare room)
Bedroom #2 (Claire's Room)
The bedrooms are of good size, and each has a closet. The second bedroom also includes entry into the attic. It's such an awesome space, and maybe some day we can refinish it to be a nice little sitting area for Claire to hang out and read a book.

Yes, that is a window in the closet.
Potential to be an awesome playroom?

The full bathroom sits just in front of the master bedroom. It, too, is rather outdated, and is rather small. We'll likely renovate this room once the kitchen is complete, and possibly extend it some into the master bedroom walk-in closet that sits directly behind that tub wall. 

These fixtures have seen better days. Or have they?
Once we finished walking through the house, we ventured outside to inspect the exterior. The house only includes .41 of an acre, and is marked where you see that orange cone in the yard on the left corner of the picture below. The seller, however, does own the rest of the property, and has said he would consider selling to us at a special deal. We are definitely interested in expanding the property lines, so hopefully we'll find more information about that after we get settled in. 

View of the property from the attic window
Kennel located behind the garage. Some day this will be my chicken coop!
3 Car Garage
The detached garage looks a lot nicer in photograph than it is in person. I'll go more into detail about this in a future post, but it needs a lot of caulking and painting. Hopefully I can get more information from the seller on this building. It appears to be very old, and quite possibly may be one of the original stable/outbuildings to the house in the 1930's and was later converted into a garage.

We're envisioning some chunky porch posts, navy shutters, and a brightly painted front door for the front. 

Someone let the Rhododendron get out of control!

Rear view of the house

See the heart?

Overall, we are extremely happy with our new house, and are really motivated to get settled in and start making it our home. Our close date has been changed to April 5th, so in two weeks we'll be packing up the Uhaul, and heading down to sign our paperwork and move in! I'm so excited!!

Anyone else completely shocked by how long a home inspection takes!? At least we had the pleasure of working with a very knowledgeable man, and he was able to answer all of our questions and give us lots of good advice. I don't think we could have asked for a better experience! What do you think of our home? We'll go into more detail room by room once we get settled in, so don't worry. There is much more to see!

Monday, March 25, 2013

My Paleo Chronicles

On Friday, I did a book review on the Paleo Parents Eat Like A Dinosaur cook book. I hadn't intended for it to be so difficult for me to write, but it was. It was hard revealing personal and embarrassing details of my life-- including a photo of how much I had let myself go. I don't often get too personal here on my blog, but sometimes it's okay to be real with people. I also wanted to follow up that post with a reality check. I didn't want to pass off my diet and lifestyle changes as some easy "magic pill" because it's not. I am really proud of what I had accomplished in the ten months that my husband was deployed, but that feeling has since faded. Especially now that "real life" has set in. I imagine that this is how a lot of contestants on The Biggest Loser feel. Totally pumped and losing weight left and right, but when Jillian isn't at home to motivate you, you crumble to the pressure.

 I told you on Friday that my husband was not a Paleo believer, and he's not always 100% supportive of my eating habits. He and I think differently when it comes to health and fitness, and I think sometimes he gets offended when I don't always take his advice. It's just one of those things where I have to find my own way. When I told my family and friends that I was going to stop eating gluten, dairy, and sugar they thought I was crazy. "What else is there to eat?!" some of them wondered. Do vegetarians or vegans have as much trouble explaining their lifestyle and diet changes?

 I started my journey when it was just the munchkin and I, and it was easy for me to lose the weight. I didn't buy junk food or snacks that would compromise my diet, and so when my husband returned, the temptation did too. I cracked. When my husband said he wanted pizza for dinner, or would bring home fast food I ate it. I felt horrible with each bite, and yet I couldn't stop stuffing my face with food that was making me feel awful. It's been an ongoing inner struggle of willpower, and I feel like I have been fighting a losing battle. I haven't totally given up on myself, though. I'll have spurts where I will be very conscious about what I eat. I constantly pin healthy recipes to my Pinterest boards or read the articles against GMOs and processed foods. And yet I can't help but feel like a fraud in my moments of weakness.

I guess that part of my "coming out" to you all is hope that I will be inspired to stay accountable for my food decisions. Since we've been in New York, I've probably regained close to half of that 60 lbs I lost back in 2011. I haven't had the courage to actually step on the scale, but my waistband has been a good judge of the weight regained. I think the worst part is that I KNOW what these foods are doing to my body, and yet somehow I seem helpless to avoid them. Why am I so weak?

Anyhow, I just wanted to be real with whoever reads this (all one or two of you) so that they can have realistic expectations if they're inspired to give Paleo a try. Sure it's easy to see a success story and think, "Man! She lost 60 lbs in less than a year! I've got to try that!" And I truly hope that maybe someone out there somewhere will be inspired by the changes I made in my life. I can't deny the doubt I have been feeling in myself lately, though. With the stress that I have been facing over our move, it has been harder and harder to say no to bread or sugar, but I am trying to provide better substitutes for the ice cream and spaghetti so that I am not as tempted.

Anybody else struggle with their diet or lifestyle changes as much as I do? Anyone have words of encouragement to share for anyone else who may stumble on this post, or some advice for those who struggle with making diet changes that aren't fully supported by their friends or family? I know that I sometimes feel alone in my quest for better health, and I often feel like a letdown when I fail to resist temptation over and over again. If you are struggling, you're not alone. I'm right there with you, fighting to regain the health and happiness that we all deserve. :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Books in Review: Eat Like A Dinosaur by the Paleo Parents

I haven't done a review before, let alone a book review, so please forgive me for how amateur today's post may seem. I spent time earlier this week brainstorming some topics that would make good blog posts when I didn't have anything going on around the house that was deemed worthy of a blog post, I settled on doing a review or two. Believe me when I say that the growing stack of boxes that has accumulated in our sun porch is less than interesting, but never-the-less, that's about the only big change that has been made around these parts (aside from a very empty looking house). We're living in a state of moving-induced chaos, and it's been a teensy bit stressful. Imagine me ripping open several boxes to find something that I "need" only to find it somewhere else, unpacked.

Repacking and taping a box (or several) is rather infuriating. Especially when you have to move several just to get to the one that you THINK the item is in. Me and my first world problems. :)

One item that I haven't packed yet, though, is my ELaD cookbook by the Paleo Parents. I love it so much that I just couldn't part with it for a few weeks. In fact, aside from my recipe binder, all of my other cook books (I only have a handful, surprisingly) have made their way into a moving box. This cookbook, which came out almost a year and a half ago, is geared towards a gluten-free child, and has tons of great recipes that appeal to most kids (or kids at heart). My daughter loves leafing through the pages and planning out how she can help me in the kitchen. A lot of the recipes are kid friendly in that they enable your little one to work alongside you as you toil over prepare a meal. My daughter gets a real sense of pride in helping in the kitchen, and she's even become a little more adventurous in trying new things that she has helped make-- and that, my friends, is an awesome thing!

I made a change in my diet two years ago to cut out a lot of the things I felt were contributing to my health, weight, and overall happiness (or lack there of) issues. At the time, I weighed an astounding 267 lbs-- the most I had ever weighed in my life. Even more than when I was pregnant with our daughter. I can't even begin to tell you how depressed I felt, but I was determined to do something about it. When my husband deployed to Iraq that same year, I turned to YouTube in the evenings when I would normally be laying in bed and watching a movie with my husband. This is when I stumbled upon the awesomeness of Sean Croxton, and his Underground Wellness channel. Seans videos were extremely inspiring, and a lot of what he had to say went contrary to what mainstream health and medical experts had been saying for years. I was a "fat kid" for a long time. I've tried the exercise and yo-yo diets. I've beaten myself up for being a metabolic failure, and at one point I even resigned myself to being a fattie for the rest of my life. It sounds harsh, but I wasn't living the life that I wanted. I had a beautiful daughter, and the man of my dreams, and yet I couldn't help but feel as though I were letting them down. Especially my husband. With my husband being in the Army, he was physically fit, and in tip-top shape. I was the total opposite of that, and I truly wondered what he could ever have seen in me that made him love me so much. I still struggle with that even today. He is an amazing man, and I am thankful every day that we are together.

Here's me before I started my Paleo journey. Obviously I cropped out the lower half of my body because  I was disgusted with myself, and how I looked at that time. 

Anyway, I decided to make a change to better myself, not only with my eating habits, but also with my mindset, my sleeping habits, and with physical activity. I cut out processed food from my diet. I also cut out gluten and grains, dairy, and most sugars. I didn't develop an exercise routine or join a gym, but I went for walks. When it was too hot outside during the summer, I took the munchkin to the mall or shopping, and we walked endlessly around the stores. I did whatever I could to get out of the house. I even took up an interest in lawn care so that I could enjoy the outdoors more. It wasn't overwhelming-- just completely realistic changes that were easy to implement, especially when it was just the munchkin and I. It really helped keep my mind off the fact that my husband was in a war zone at the time.

Fast forward to 10 months later, my husband had finally come home from his deployment and I had dropped an amazing 60 lbs and 5 dress sizes! Not only did I look great, but I felt incredible! The headaches and indigestion/acid reflux that I had been experiencing prior to changing my diet and lifestyle were now gone. I no longer felt depressed or had a hard time sleeping at night. I had a seemingly endless supply of energy! I had never felt better, and it was something that I wanted to share with our whole family. When I changed my diet, I cut back on a lot of things that I fed my daughter. I didn't make pasta or mac and cheese anymore. She had the occasional cookie or treat (and honestly so did I), but I noticed a huge difference in her behavior as well. The terrible two's, and trying three's became a whole lot easier to handle-- some of that because I had a lot more energy and patience to deal with it, but also because she was less fussy. The tantrums were far and few between, and I had my happy little girl back.  It was then that I searched for recipes that I could implement for the whole family, and that's how I stumbled upon Matt and Stacy of the Paleo Parents, and their website. They had just begun writing their book at that time, but the information they provided on their website was invaluable, encouraging, and I looked forward to purchasing a copy of the book they were producing.

Image from

Almost a year and a half later, that book is still a favorite. Not only do I love the simplicity of its layout, and the colorful artwork and pictures within, but it contains some truly great recipes that are simple, easy to make, and taste delicious. Our personal family favorite is the Fools Gold Chicken Nuggets on page 81. This weekend we are looking forward to trying a couple of the ice cream recipes with our new ice cream maker that I bought on clearance. There is so much variety. From snacks to entrees-- and even dessert! There is something for everyone in this book.

This is also a cook book that will grow with our child. At the time I purchased it, Claire wasn't old enough to go to school yet, or face the challenges of eating differently than other kids. Now that she is in Pre-K, a whole new world has been opened to her. A world full of choice and curiosity.

If you are contemplating a diet and lifestyle change, and have been eyeballing Paleo, there are so many resources for you to take hold of. If you have a family-- especially school-age kids-- check this book out. Simple, non-processed meals are easy to make, and ELaD will inspire you and your kids to create in the kitchen, and  to eat and live simple-- without the processed junk.

Here I am just 7 months after starting my Paleo journey--  almost 60 lbs lighter!

I still have a long way to go when it comes to my health and weight goals. I also acknowledge that it took years of filling my stomach with junk to get me to my lowest point, and that it will take many years to reverse some of the metabolic damage that I have done to my body. Paleo is not for everyone, but it has definitely been great for me. I do struggle in my daily life because my husband isn't on the Paleo bandwagon with me, and sometimes I just want to break down and eat a huge bowl of pasta or bread. But each choice-- good or bad-- does not define who I am or ruin what I have accomplished. And even if I make a bad decision, I can easily hop back on track. It's amazing what I can do with the right mindset.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and look forward to posting more next week about the results of our home inspection!

Ps. To learn more about Matt and Stacy, and their book, check out their page You can also find out more information about Sean Croxton and the Underground Wellness at

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

House Update

Not much is going on here this week (that is blog-worthy, anyway), and to be honest I really struggled with writing a post today. It's also part of why I didn't post on Monday. I think all of the stress in packing and moving is coming to a head. I'm so ready for all of this to be done now! I've been up to my eyeballs in paperwork, and I've honestly felt so poorly about the grove of trees that now resemble our loan application. To counter balance this paper waste, I've made good use of our junk mail. I have been printing documents that require us to scan and send via email on the back side of fliers or paperwork that was destined for the recycle bin. In fact, this is a habit I picked up when printing coupons to save on waste. Obviously you don't want to do this for financial documents or anything you need to file. I keep my paper scraps organized in a tray by the printer so that I can easily feed them into my printer when printing coupons or papers that need to be scanned and emailed to our loan officer. Perhaps when we get moved and settled into our new home I will do a post on desk organization so you can see what systems work for us.

In other house news, the appraisal was completed on the home. Everything came back good concerning the value of the home, which was a sigh of relief,  but we did not have enough time to complete our other inspections before the contract deadline. We quickly submitted an extension on our contract, which is fine, but it will push back our close date. Womp, womp. We were excited about the prospect of closing on our home on the 29th, Good Friday, but some times these things happen. We still have enough time to move our things and get the rental cleaned up for turn over, but it would have been nice to have had extra time so as not to rush.

Our next big inspection is the home inspection which will take place on Thursday. We'll be driving down to Pa so that we can walk through the property with the home inspector, and hopefully he or she will be able to give us some keen insight on its condition. Our realtor has said that the inspection will take a good 3 to 4 hours, so we will have a ton of information to process. Maybe we'll even have a few pictures to post. :)

Image from

Despite a few minor setbacks, we're still very excited to soon be first time home owners. Mid-April can't come soon enough!

Does anyone have any suggestions or recommendations regarding the home inspection process? Is there anything that we need to do to prepare for the walk-through? I thought perhaps a pen and pad of paper to take notes would be helpful, but if any of you (all, like, 3 of you) reading this have been through the process, perhaps you might have some wisdom to share?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sew Happy It's Spring

Spring fever hasn't ended at our house. In fact, with the beautiful mid-40's temperatures we've been having here in The North Country, it's been bliss! I've been inspired to make some more dresses for Claire after feeding my fabric addition with a trip to Joann's.

Originally it was my intention to just go in for a few bundles of yarn to make my DIY wool dryer balls. However, anyone who knows me, knows that I can't go into that place and not look at the fabric. And I came home with this:

I knew exactly what I wanted to make with the turquoise and red polka dot fabric, but the little market stalls fabric was just too adorable to pass up. I am sure I will find a good use for it. Maybe with another pattern. :)

I spent that night making my wool dryer balls. Let me tell you, winding 6 balls of yarn can REALLY cramp your style. My hand was hurting after the second ball, but I kept plugging away. I've found it best that once I get into a project, it's a lot easier if I just stick with it rather than risk forgetting about it (or never picking it back up again *ahem*). 

After my hand recovered the next day, I found myself in my sweat shop sewing haven piecing together the bodice of a dress. Now this is the fourth time I'd used the Simplicity 2167 dress style E pattern, and I felt it was time to try something a little different. I didn't want all of Claire's dresses to look the same (see here and here for the other dresses that I've made using this pattern). I decided this time to go with dress style F on the pattern which included a "pillowcase apron". Granted, I didn't have a cute embroidered pillow case to use like the dresses on the envelope pictured, but I did have an adorable cherry cotton print I was dying to use. Here's what I ended up with after a few hours of fiddling with some different types of embellishments. The ruffles were just too cute to pass up.

I love how the cherries and polka-dots compliment each other. It has such a fun, vintage vibe which is exactly what I was going for.

The next challenge was to complete the skirt. It was rather easy, really. Sew a bunch of rectangles together, hem them, add some rick-rack, and attach it to the bodice. I was grateful that the pattern included an option for adding some ribbon trim around the waist. Since I used a bright red thread, my mistakes and uneven stitches were a little more obvious than usual. There were a few places where the lining did not match up when sewing the skirt to the bodice, and so I had to turn the garment inside out, and go over those spots again. Not a very pretty look. Thankfully you'd never know since all of those sins are neatly covered by some ribbon.

The shiny ric-rack I had on hand, amazingly enough. I think it gives the skirt some extra oomph! It's playful, yet dressy. I couldn't wait to snap a pic of the dress, as the above photo shows that the shoulder straps are simply pinned together still. I have yet to pick up some buttons that will do this dress some justice. I don't have much of a button stash (although I dream of jars and jars full of glorious, vintage buttons), and so no red buttons were to be found. Looks like I'll need to make another trip to Joann's this weekend! (Yeah, that can't be good...)

More pictures to follow once I get the buttons on the dress. Claire has been begging to wear this one (she loves the colors), so I am sure that I will have plenty to post of my little model wannabe. :)

Are you as ready as I am to break out the spring/summer wear? Bring on the mild weather!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

That's Pinteresting! Spring Cleaning Edition

In two weeks from this Friday we should be closing on our house! Can you believe it!? I am SO excited!!

Of course, as of late it has been a marathon of finding more moving boxes and packing each day. It's taking me a little more time to pack on my own, especially since I am sorting through our things before sending it off to our new house. Goodness knows that clutter has a way of creeping into our belongings, and I don't want to spend any extra energy hauling or putting away things that we don't need! 

Today's blog entry is about some essential Spring Cleaning tips that I've been stock piling on my pinterest boards. Not only do they come in handy for helping me clean house on our way out, but we have a new home that will be in need of spring cleaning, and I will be doing double duty! I want to be able to efficiently get great results in both places. Here's a list of 5 Spring cleaning tips that are quite popular on Pinterest!

1. Wool Dryer Balls. They're great for fluffing your laundry, decreasing static cling, and help reduce drying time.  Be sure to use an 100% wool yarn (no blends), or for an even more eco-friendly/cost effective option, unwind an old wool sweater and reuse the yarn.

There are a TON of DIY instructions for wool dryer balls, and I have been meaning to make my own for a while now. I FINALLY got around to making some, and let me tell you-- it's so easy! I seriously don't know why I waited so long. The above picture is a "before felting" view. I didn't bother taking more pictures to post my own tutorial because there are TONS on the Internet. They're basically all the same so if you search for DIY Wool Dryer Balls on pinterest or Google, you'll be sure to find some fail-safe instructions. I bought three bundles of yarn, and was able to wind two balls per bundle. WARNING to those of you who have CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)! Your hand will seriously cramp up if you try to wind six balls in a row! 

2. Eco-friendly cleaning products.

Baking soda is your friend. Seriously. It's cheap, non-toxic, and it is AWESOME at cleaning a crusty oven. I'm pretty good about giving our oven a good scrub-down at least once a month to keep buildup at bay, and I can pretty much tell you that is almost effortless with the help of baking soda and some white vinegar. I pretty much dust my oven door (or any other crusty areas) with baking soda, spray on some white vinegar, and walk away while it does it's bubbly-magic thing. Whatever doesn't wipe clean takes a minimal amount of scrubbing or I just wipe and repeat. 

Photo from

I keep a spray bottle of distilled white vinegar handy for various cleaning needs. It's great for cleaning windows, and I love using it to wipe down the inside of our fridge. Somehow the shelves on our fridge always manage to get grimy. Vinegar helps cut the greasy, sticky mess and leaves the shelves clean and disinfected. The vinegar smell vanishes rather quickly, but I honestly don't mind it as much as I dislike the fumes of harsh chemicals like bleach. 

3. Freshen up:

Baking soda is another great way to deodorize carpets and mattresses. Sprinkle a little on your smelly surface, and leave it sit for a while. Then, simply vacuum! If you want to add a little more freshness, simply mix a few drops of your favorite essential oil with the baking soda before sprinkling it onto your carpet or mattress. It's an inexpensive, non-toxic way to keep your allergies in check by keeping dust mites or pet dander at bay!

4. Bathrooms:

I keep a spray bottle of vinegar handy in the bathroom to spray down the shower, toilet, sink, and mirror. Instead of using paper towels I use microfiber towels that I purchased at the Dollar Tree. Not only does it clean better, but I feel better about not wasting half a roll of paper towels when cleaning up. I even cut and sewed some cloth diapers into pads that slip onto the base of my Swiffer-style mop instead of wasting money on expensive disposable mop pads. 

5. Clean your cleaning tools:

Don't waste your time by pushing dirt around with dirty cleaning tools. Regularly clean your mop/broom, vacuum, and scrub pads/brushes. We have two dogs, and so dirt and hair on the floor is abundant in our home. I sweep and mop regularly, but dog hair has a way of sticking to your cleaning instruments-- especially the broom. I make it a habit to spray off the broom to remove all traces of dust and hair. This can easily be done in the sink with your hand sprayer, but be sure to catch the hair so that it doesn't go down the drain. 

Photo from

For those of you who are fortunate to own a Dyson like we do, it's best to give it a good cleaning around every 6 months. Ask Anna has a great tutorial on cleaning a Dyson, but you can always refer to your manual to see what the manufacturer recommends. We have had our DC14 Animal for almost 8 or 9 years now, and it is still running as well as the day I bought it. Definitely worth the splurge!

I use Ocello microfiber scrubbing sponges in the kitchen. They've got a textured scrubbing side, and the other side is microfiber. They're washable, so after a few days of hard use, I just toss it in the wash and grab a fresh sponge from the drawer. I find myself using the dishwasher less and less these days, and I usually wind up just using it as an oversize drying rack. Not only do I save on utilities, but there's no need to buy expensive dish washing detergent. You can always make your own detergent (and I do), but sometimes nothing gets dishes (especially glass) sparkling quite like a good hand wash. I use Method dish washing soap in our kitchen. Target regularly puts out coupons for Method, and I stock up when a great deal is to be had. 

This Ginger Pear scent is a favorite. So is the Clementine.

So that's it! It's not a detailed nitty-gritty checklist (although there are a bunch available on Pinterest), but I'm not one to tell anyone how to clean their house. I just wanted to share some of the more popular cleaning tips that have been floating around the pin-o-sphere-- especially ones that we have adopted at our household. They make cleaning quick and easy, and are a whole lot better for our planet and health!

Have you started your spring cleaning yet? Have any other great tips or tricks that I may have left out? Please share them with me! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

That's Pinteresting! Half Bath Envy

It's time for another edition of That's Pinteresting, and this week we'll be focusing on everyones favorite seat in the house: the Bathroom!

Another sorely outdated area in our home-to-be is the bathroom, and our house has two. A full bath upstairs, and a small half-bath on the main level. The upstairs bathroom is rather outdated, but the downstairs bath was an addition to the home (installed into what used to be the hallway leading down to the basement) and needs a minimal amount of updating. I'm always down with a mini-makeover while budgeting for something major like the kitchen.

Here's a few half-bath's that have found their way onto my inspiration board:

I'm thinking that a little vintage-style tile, some paint, and some handy storage will give our little half-bath a big dose of style on a small budget. I can't wait to reveal the inside of our new home-to-be after we close. We only have a couple more weeks to go!

Monday, March 4, 2013

That's Pinteresting! Kitchen Wish List.

Hey! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend. It's the first week in March! Can you believe it?! The projected close date on our new house is the 29th of this month (Easter weekend). Hopefully everything stays on plan! I can't wait!

Needless to say, I have been incessantly thinking about all of the renovations our new home is in need of. I haven't posed any pictures of the inside (I'm waiting until we finally close on the home before counting my chickens), but trust me when I say that it is a wee bit outdated. The living room is quite large. It has a beautiful stone fireplace that matches the exterior stonework. There are lots of windows that give it plenty of natural light. It's also where wood paneling goes to die. Seriously. The room is covered head to toe in the same orangish-wood hue. No worries, though. It is an easy fix with a can of paint. 

The kitchen, however, is another story. Where do I even begin? The yellow and black tile? The burgundy 50's laminate counter top and matching back splash? The wall-o-wood cabinets? How about the lack of natural light and the bubbling linoleum floor? Or maybe the awkward layout? 

Needless to say, the kitchen leaves a lot to want. Thankfully, Pinterest provides plenty of inspiration to help us make a decision when it comes time to overhaul things. I'm pretty sure just about everyone has a "dream kitchen" (or two) tucked away on their pin boards.

Another great resource is, and they have a great article, 10 steps to a kitchen remodel that is extremely helpful in planning out your dream kitchen project. 

Here are some of the cozy kitchen inspirations that have found their way onto mine:

Ugh. I am in heaven with all of the beautiful open shelving, the cozy wood counter/island tops, and the sleek white subway tile and beadboard. Now that I've got a collection of kitchen aesthetics that I love, I can really hone in on the materials that I like best so I can start a plan and form a budget. 

Plans to gut our kitchen will definitely happen in the future. I don't think there is anything salvageable, but I won't know for sure until I spend some time living in the house and using the kitchen on a daily basis. There are lots of "wants", but I have to make sure that I make the things we will need a priority. 

Once we close on the house, I'll be able to reveal all of the gnarly photos so you can get a feel for the layout, so stay tuned! I'm giving you plenty of time to prepare yourself!

Have you completely gutted or overhauled your kitchen? Where did you begin? Please share your progress with me if you have it. I'm always looking for more inspiration to add to my board. :)