House Tour: Kitchen

We’re moving. Have I mentioned we’re moving? Probably not here since I never blog, but its all I talk about on Instagram and Facebook. Part of getting our house ready to sell was updating our kitchen. You wouldn’t think it needed much, considering that we built our house in 2008, but we wanted to make it more appealing to new buyers. And now it is bee-you-ti-ful. Still not my dream kitchen, but I’m not staying here so it doesn’t have to be ;)

First, a before. To see how far we’ve come!

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And the after!

Modern kitchen, dark cabinets, river white granite, white subway tile herringbone pattern, docksta tulip table, mid century modern kitchen.

New granite counters. I do not recommend the company we used (Discover Granite, based in Manassas). The company had serious communication issues and terrible customer service. The installation was fine, but I can’t get over terrible service, delays, and lack of communication. It was beyond stressful dealing with them.

But man, are they pretty.

Modern kitchen, dark cabinets, river white granite, white subway tile herringbone pattern, docksta tulip table, mid century modern kitchen.

We removed the window treatment and it is SO BRIGHT in here now! So much light!! Tyler also installed hard-wired under cabinet lighting with dimmers. Now that light bounces off the white counters and backsplash and its so beautiful in the evening.

Modern kitchen, dark cabinets, river white granite, white subway tile herringbone pattern, docksta tulip table, mid century modern kitchen.

Love the mix of white and warm wood.

Modern kitchen, dark cabinets, river white granite, white subway tile herringbone pattern, docksta tulip table, mid century modern kitchen.

Herringbone subway tile backsplash with light gray grout. My favorite part of this kitchen!

Modern kitchen, dark cabinets, river white granite, white subway tile herringbone pattern, docksta tulip table, mid century modern kitchen.

Sink is from Lowes, the Giagni Fresco pull-down kitchen faucet, and we LOVE it. Will definitely re-purchase for next home. Link here.

Modern kitchen, dark cabinets, river white granite, white subway tile herringbone pattern, docksta tulip table, mid century modern kitchen.

Modern kitchen, dark cabinets, river white granite, white subway tile herringbone pattern, docksta tulip table, mid century modern kitchen.

Stools are Threshold Industrial Barstools from Target. Link here.

Modern kitchen, dark cabinets, river white granite, white subway tile herringbone pattern, docksta tulip table, mid century modern kitchen.

In addition to the new lighting (Lowes), we redid the pantry. Originally a crappy bi-fold door, its now a solid french door with frosted glass panels, interior lighting, and a solid handle. The wobbly wire shelves were replaced with solid wood shelving.

Modern kitchen, dark cabinets, river white granite, white subway tile herringbone pattern, docksta tulip table, mid century modern kitchen. Modern kitchen, dark cabinets, river white granite, white subway tile herringbone pattern, docksta tulip table, mid century modern kitchen. Modern kitchen, dark cabinets, river white granite, white subway tile herringbone pattern, docksta tulip table, mid century modern kitchen. Modern kitchen, dark cabinets, river white granite, white subway tile herringbone pattern, docksta tulip table, mid century modern kitchen.

I’ll try to post more pictures of other rooms as we wrap them out. As of now, the professional photographer is coming out Friday to photograph the house. Anyone looking to buy in Bristow, VA?!

Guinevere the Expert: PlayDoh Egg Unboxing Videos

I’m a fairly strict mom. I demand respect, enforce good manners, and often have Guinevere repeat a request multiple times until she removes any trace of a “tone” or attitude. Tyler and I are her parents, we are afforded certain privileges as adults, and Guinevere has a role to play as a child – not interrupting us when we talk to other adults, listening, and learning social cues of what is acceptable behavior and when it is required.

I also think I’m a pretty fun mom. While she has become accustomed to solo play as an only child, Tyler and I also frequently like to join her in playing with PlayDoh, pulling out board games in the evening, indulging whims of breakfast for dinner or a rainy day trip to Chuck E. Cheese. We love doing science experiments together and can be found in jammies on Saturday mornings making volcanoes erupt and “potions” changing colors.

So when she asked to start her own YouTube channel, we laughed and said “sure”. She told us she wanted to call it “Guinevere the Expert” and she’d teach kids things like how to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Sounds great. 

She asked to have the background music play songs by Twisted Sister, her favorite band. You haven’t lived til you’ve pushed a three year old in a cart in Target while she’s singing “We’re not gonna take it. No! We ain’t gonna take it!”

Then, she discovered unboxing videos. I read an article about a YouTube channel that made $4.9 million dollars last year opening toys. It sounded real dumb, but I made the mistake of watching it with Guinevere nearby and she was hooked.

Her favorites are the Disney Cars Toy Club (DCTC) that happen to have giant eggs decorated in PlayDoh that are filled with blind bags, or bags of toys that you don’t know exactly what you’ll get. And then she came up with the genius idea that Tyler and I should just buy HER lots of toys, and film her opening them. We laughed, then ordered a ton of toys online and stayed up super late one night decorating a giant egg, and surprised her with it.

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Basically, her life is made and she is telling everyone that she is famous on YouTube. And has asked about 4681355847 times when she gets to do it again. Lucky for her, we have enough toys for a few more videos, so we plan to do another one this weekend. It was actually a lot of fun – we had a ton of interaction but edited ourselves out to keep the length shorter – and lets be honest, she’s the real star here. But it made for a super fun family bonding activity, and Tyler and I really enjoyed working on the egg together the night before after she went to bed.

So here it is, our debut episode of Guinevere the Expert. Subscribe to the channel (I am learning so much here!) to see future videos, that will include better audio and visuals because I’ve ordered an external mic and have been watching tutorials on shooting video with my Canon. Lord, the things this kid gets us into!

Blogging

I got a Facebook message this morning from a friend asking if/why I quit blogging. It looks like its now been two months since my last post.

In my mind, I haven’t really quit. I’m constantly thinking of posts in my head – when I tried a new recipe, or re-decorated my great room, or bought Guinevere a fur vest (!) – these are all things I’d normally want to document. I’m constantly thinking about pictures and funny intros and topics that may be something I’d want to write down for myself but others would find interesting. But in that same mind – I’m over it.

Blogging was pretty badass back in 2007-2009. Everyone that I “knew” back then became a true friend. I checked their blogs daily as I became immersed in their lives, and they in mine. We commented on every post. We tweeted thoughts and suggestions and words of support. It was a community. We lifted each other up. In my circles, it certainly wasn’t “elite” – only one person I really knew from back then went on to become a professional blogger – there were military wives and baseball players’ girlfriends and a whole lot of people that I had known from The Knot and The Nest forums back in the day. I’ve kept in touch with most of the originals – we’re Facebook friends and real-life friends and email pals. And we’ve all slowly stepped away from the keyboard.

You see, its changed. Blogging isn’t about sharing your life, and building relationships with like-minded women. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten from people in the last few years about wanting to start a blog because they want to make money to quit their job and stay at home. It doesn’t work like that (it can, but really, it doesn’t). And these days, everyone has a blog. Blogging today is about followers. Its about sponsors. And its about money. Sometimes friendships forge – but I see more catty drama than meet ups and get togethers. I meet one person at a conference that is roomies and buddies with XYZ person, and later run into XYZ person who dishes and spills on the first. Um, what? Guys, I’m in my 30s. I have a kid. I have super awesome friends in real life. Ain’t nobody got time for internet drama.

I made the mistake of installing an app called Followers +. It tells me everyone that unfollows me on Instagram. I can also see all of the people that I follow that don’t follow me back. And I noticed that a big group dinner that I went to with like 20 bloggers at the LuckyFABB conference, where we took a picture and tagged everyone and all followed each other …all but one had then unfollowed me. I see constantly where people follow me, and then I guess if I don’t follow them back, then unfollow. Gotta have a higher  number of followers than those you follow! Or something. Doesn’t make much sense to me. I follow people any time they leave me a comment or interact with me. And I follow people I come across that are interesting. I unfollow accounts that are inactive, and thats about it. I’m pretty consistent on Instagram – pictures of the kid, pictures of shoes, the occasional selfie. If  you follow me, theoretically, its because you like those things. I don’t stray from that pattern – so how come in the last month 41 people have unfollowed? I can only assume because I didn’t return the follow back favor to bump their numbers, even though they never attempted to engage or interact. Only one was a person I actually knew or heard of.

I’m also REALLY tired of the sponsored posts. I loved my Google Reader because I could scan through and “catch up” with my friends. Now its promote this and advertise that. Kotex, Kleenex, Baby Butt Paste, cars, chapstick…you guys don’t really care. You all are applying for every promotion that Blogher or SITS girls or Clever Girls or whatever other ad network is offering, and just watching that PayPal balance shoot up. Or, you’re doing group giveaways. You could win this great prize, but you  must follow 25 people on Instagram, Twitter, Bloglovin, leave a comment, and retweet – all mandatory entries!!

I’m sure for many of you, these paid opportunities are a blessing. And the money adds up – October 2013 was the last month I accepted sponsors or did paid promotions, and I made $800 that month. Thats a serious boost to household  bills and debts for some. For me, I always tried to only apply to programs that I actually used/believed in. I did the Invisalign promotion after already having Invisalign. I did the Vidal Sassoon event because I purchased their products. But I was getting to the point where I was grasping at straws to justify my relation with a product – to still be genuine and authentic and still get a payout. Like the time I did a social media thing on Facebook and Twitter for milk. I drink milk! I should get paid to talk about milk! And I did. It was dumb. So I did some soul-searching last year and decided that I wasn’t going to do any more sponsored/paid posts or promotions. I might still do some affiliate links, but disclosed at the top of each post per my preference. But blogging is NOT a profit game for me anymore. And I don’t like seeing the blogs I’ve loved so desperate for income that the soul of their site is gone.

The blogging bubble burst, just like we all knew it would. Readers can’t trust bloggers – they’d rush out to purchase a lipgloss their favorite beauty blogger mentioned in 2008. Now, anything sponsored makes them a sell out. You see bloggers like Pink Peonies recommending one skincare product then another, so quickly that your head spins. Pretty soon, you don’t believe anything they push. The conferences are dying – Blissdom, Blogher wasn’t selling out, and quite a few other conferences are gone. Even huge blog powerhouses like Young House Love are closing up shop. I assume many more will follow suit soon.

As for me? I haven’t quite washed my hands over here. But its certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

I took a few steps back for several reasons -

1. I’m busy. I work for myself as an independent contractor and my career keeps me busy. I also may start commuting daily to DC for a new project – thats 4 hours a day commuting, plus an 8-9 hour work day that I’m away from my home. So I’ll probably never return to 5 posts a week because I’m terrible at multi-tasking, and even worse at time management, so my kid will come first, then my husband, and then the DVR and Netflix. And if I’m feeling a little crazy, you might see a blog post.

2. It became difficult to be honest. There were certain people that read here that I knew in real life. They’d read through archives from several years ago, and twist my words and intentions and make something innocent into something crazy. I felt violated and exposed – the one thing about blogging was that it always felt semi-anonymous. I hated having people that knew me try to tear apart my words, and I also felt resentful about sharing parts of myself with those types of people. I spend 98% of my life saying “screw anyone who doesn’t matter” – I put my family and friends before everything else. But sometimes I let insecurity and doubt creep in. I hate when it happens, but I’m human and I tend to be overly sensitive. I’m trying to get better about not taking it personally.

3. It doesn’t feel appreciated. I know, stroke my ego will ya? But when average and boring blog posts used to get 30+ comments a day back 6 years ago and now truly thought posts get 1-2, you wonder why you bother writing and publishing – it makes me want to go back to a personal diary or journal. I had a pretty rad LiveJournal back in the day. You just wonder why you bother with the sharing part. Of course, here’s the flipside – I’m terrible at reading blogs. That is an even lower priority these days for me than writing my own. So its real dumb for me to get annoyed by the current blog/comment landscape when I’m not reciprocating. But maybe that is even more of a reason for me to go private or just shut it down.

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What HAVE I been up to? Life has been pretty dang amazing this year. I hired a personal trainer and am lifting weights 5x a week. I LOVE lifting and am getting so strong. Lets just say I can’t pass by a mirror without flexing. I’m also trying to eat better to start leaning out a bit. I’m getting better about time with friends. I spent a week at the beach with my best friend in September, went to Vegas for four days, have done a lot more happy hours lately and have an upcoming triple date with two couples at this place called Escape Room in DC. Apparently a zombie tries to eat you as you use logic to try to escape the room.

We also just convinced some fun new friends to join us in punting on a traditional Thanksgiving – we’re leaving Wednesday for Great Wolf Lodge with the kids and not coming home til Friday night. I can’t wait. I feel like I’m at a place now where everything is in a really good balance – motherhood, marriage, neighbors, friends, personal quality time. I’m happy.

Feel free to follow along on Instagram. I’m pretty active there. I mostly post pictures of Guinevere and I in matching shoes. You should probably NOT follow me if thats too adorable for you.

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I only tweet when Guinevere says something funny, and I never read my feed because its overwhelming (too many years of entering contests that I never won but had to follow 67 people). And I do still post sometimes on my blog’s Facebook page. And if we’ve interacted before, I do add some blog friends on my personal Facebook page.  So come say hi…I’m still around. Just maybe not here right now.

 

Trendy Tot Tuesday: Summer

Sorry so late today guys – I cut my hand badly last night, and this morning Guinevere was diagnosed with an ear infection, so its chaos as usual around here…

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Its the last week of summer here in Northern Virginia, where the kids return to school the day after Labor Day. Guinevere starts preschool this year (and I’m DYING over how cute she is in her uniform) and I’m starting to have major guilt about not doing enough fun things this summer.

We did get to go to Smith Mountain Lake for two days, but that trip was cut shorter than anticipated. We had a few afternoon trips to a water park and local zoos, but in general, nothing like the summers I grew up having – camping, multiple trips to amusement parks and the beach, etc. So on Friday I kept Guinevere home from her nanny and we had a hooky day. We went to a playground and lunch, and saw the movie Planes at University Mall Theatre – she was great through the whole thing!

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But apparently I wore her out. After we left the theatre, she suggested we go to the mall. “Okay!” I replied enthusiastically – I needed a few things. We didn’t even make it onto Braddock Road before she looked like this in the backseat:

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That kid NEVER sleeps in cars, so this was pretty amusing to me – guess we had too much fun! I tried to drive straight to the Splash Pad by our house, thinking some water fun would perk her up, but she was beat – just wanted to go home and “welax”. So we did.

On Sunday, we went to Chuck E Cheese for the first time. We were shocked at how clean, cheap, and fun it was. I assumed it was gross and germy and overpriced, but we were among the first customers there and you could smell the disinfectant on the rides and machines. Additionally, we spent under $30 for a pizza, two drinks, and 30 tokens, aka 30 rides and games. Tyler got to play Guitar Hero, I got to play SkeeBall, and Guinevere used up all the rest. SO much fun!

And then yesterday, we played hooky again. This time, we headed up to Great Country Farms to pick apples. This place was kid heaven – tons of playground and imaginary play areas, animals, pedal carts, water mazes, and a cow train:

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But my FAVORITE part was this giant, inflated orange blob bouncy thing. No clue what they call it, but I was so disappointed that A) adults weren’t allowed on it and B) I only had my 50mm lens and couldn’t show off the size and awesomeness of this thing. I’m also disappointed that I”m so terrible at editing photos, because the shiny orange surface reflected back on Guinevere and so the color is really weird on her in these. But I love the shots of her suspended in air!

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What does all of this have to do with Trendy Tot Tuesday? My amusement at Guinevere’s new “uniform” – every day, she now insists on wearing a tank top and a tutu. In fact, after getting back from Great Country Farms where she got very dirty, she ran upstairs and changed into this:

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At which point we went to Target, because she was so darn proud of dressing herself – who was I to say anything?!

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Won’t you please join us?!

tttuesday Our guest host this week is Amy from Baby Mama Juice. Amy is a mama and stepmama to three sweet girls – Pilar, Marin and Ivey. I just LOVE their names! Her “About Me” is the cutest I’ve ever seen, with such a great visual of snippets about her life – don’t you want to be BFFs with her right now?!

Baby Mama Juice
  • Trendy Tot Tuesday is a chance to talk about kid’s style, and pretty much anything goes.  Pictures of your cutie, talking about their style (that you buy and dress them in, ahem!), a Polyvore board, linking to the new kid’s line at the Gap – anything!  All ages welcome, from you sweet pregnant mamas stocking up a closet to the teenagers that probably pick all their own stuff out now ;)
  • This is a hop-style link up – please follow your hosts (myself, Megan and Amy – we are in spots 1-3.  Also, jump around to meet other bloggers!  We hope everyone gains some new followers from this link-up and finds some fabulous new blogs!
  • Please link back to (at least!) one of us, and feel free to steal our badge if you’d like. If you’re a tweeter or instagram-er, use #trendytot
  • Interested in guest hosting? Please email Megan to get added to the list!


Trendy Tot Tuesday: Three

affiliate links
Its official – three is my most favorite age ever. She’s funny and smart and sweet and still a bit cuddly. She pushes her limits but is generally respectful and I wish I could bottle this age up right now.

Lately she seems to be very into things that used to be mine. We read all of my old Berenstain Bears books before bed, and I love seeing my mom’s handwriting scrawled on the inside cover “To Kelly, Christmas 1987, Love Mom”. She’s obsessed, and I had to pick up a few new ones when “Mama’s New Job” and “The Bad Habit” got old. She also loves my old toys, which have been moved into her room.

Every morning, we hear the click of her door and she comes into the hallway after waking up, and she chirps “Good morning! Guess what? Its a beautiful sunny day! The sun is awake now!” Granted, only on mornings we sleep in – typically I have to wake her up for school, in which case she will growl and hiss at me and burrow under the blankets. But this particular morning was a chipper morning, and she wandered in with my old Pound Puppy stuffed dog, Barkley. She thought he was “great!” and asked – ASKED! – if I could take pictures of them together.

While this girl loves to throw a “model pose” to any stranger that barely even glances in her direction, she often asks me to put my cell or camera away and to please not take pictures of her. So this was pretty huge. Of course, we were late for the nanny’s house, but I snapped some as quick as I could.

Yep, I love three :)

_MG_3738_MG_3740_MG_3745_MG_3751_MG_3754_MG_3758Dress | Purse (altered to fit a 3yo’s height!) | Boots: Kohls (sold out, similiar here) | Headband: H&M

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Won’t you please join us?!

tttuesday

Our guest host this week is Darby from Life with the Hawleys. Darby is a fellow June Bug mama (and he is PRECIOUS!) and has some beautiful and honest posts about the journey with infertility – a must-read for anyone that has struggled with similar issues.

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  • Trendy Tot Tuesday is a chance to talk about kid’s style, and pretty much anything goes.  Pictures of your cutie, talking about their style (that you buy and dress them in, ahem!), a Polyvore board, linking to the new kid’s line at the Gap – anything!  All ages welcome, from you sweet pregnant mamas stocking up a closet to the teenagers that probably pick all their own stuff out now ;)
  • This is a hop-style link up – please follow your hosts (myself, Megan and Darby – we are in spots 1-3.  Also, jump around to meet other bloggers!  We hope everyone gains some new followers from this link-up and finds some fabulous new blogs!
  • Please link back to (at least!) one of us, and feel free to steal our badge if you’d like. If you’re a tweeter or instagram-er, use #trendytot
  • Interested in guest hosting? Please email Megan to get added to the list!