Monday, September 9, 2013

Weekend Projects: Closet Makeover

Happy Monday Folks!

It's been over a year since we moved into our home and I have yet to share any house updates with you. Truth is, we've made a lot of progress since we moved in, and I plan to share a whole lot more with you in the upcoming weeks and months.

I'm going to start today with a small project we took on this weekend: A makeover of our master closet.

When we moved in, I was excited to finally have a closet big enough to contain all of our stuff. The apartment we lived in immediately after our wedding had tiny closets, which meant our clothes were divided between the master bedroom, the guest bedroom and the downstairs linen closet. A walk-in was a definite upgrade.

We didn't do much to the closet when we moved in, outside of loading it with clothing, shoes and all of the miscellaneous things that didn't have a home anywhere else. But I have always dreamed of a cozy closet that really feels like an extension of the bedroom, and knew that eventually I'd want to make some changes.

What really prompted the design of the new closet was a cedar chest that was recently passed down to me. My dad made this chest for my mom before they got married, and it has been used to house pictures, documents and other memories ever since. When it came into my hands, I knew I wanted to display it beautifully and still let it stand out for the piece it is. I didn't want it buried among other furniture, taking away from the specialness of it. (yes, specialness is a word, at least for my purposes here)

I thought it would be a perfect piece in the closet with a couple of pillows to create a mock seating area along the back wall of the closet, and from there I let the inspiration flow.

Here's the closet before:

Don't judge how messy it is. I wasn't going to clean it up right before completely redoing the whole thing.

This wall unit held t-shirts, shorts and workout gear before the re-do.

To begin, we emptied out everything in that space, doing some spring fall cleaning as we went. We then pulled down that wire shoe rack along the back wall, pulled out any miscellaneous brackets that were still in the closet walls (and there were a few) and spackled in all of the holes that were left. Where the shelving unit was, I removed the doors to create an open space for shoes and accessories. Once dry, the spackle was sanded down and we began to paint. It's hard to tell in pictures, but the before color was an odd light yellow and the color we ended up with was a much warmer beige that just feels cozier in that space.

Once the walls were painted, I moved the cedar chest onto the back wall, hung a large mirror above it, and added some throw pillows for color and comfort. From there, it was just a matter of rehanging clothes, putting shoes on the new open shelving unit, and reorganizing the miscellaneous stuff that was once housed in that space. The only thing left to do is add a tension rod above where my boots currently live to house scarves, belts and other accessories.

Here's our after:

Overall, I am thrilled with the outcome, and even more thrilled with the cost. Because we had all the paint and decor we needed on hand, this project was totally free to us. Next project, the guest room. I can't wait.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What I'm Looking Forward to This Fall

I don't know if you've all caught on, but we are officially 17 days away from the official start of Fall, my absolute favorite season of the year. Sure, other seasons have their redeeming qualities. You can't beat Christmas in the winter, and beach time certainly belongs to Summer, but oh how Fall has my heart.

Let's be honest, Fall looks nothing like this where I live, but it's okay. A girl can dream.
Now, living in Florida, Fall is short lived. It's realy just an extension of Summer with slightly cooler breezes and less threat of a Hurricane stampeding down our door. But that fall smell coupled with the excuse to once again wear boots and chunky sweaters; yes please, sign me up.

This fall, I've got some exciting things coming up that I am just so excited for.

1) This girl's bachelorette cruise.

Throwback to my wedding last year

Even further throwback to college

November 1, I will be setting sail for the Bahamas from Miami for a lovely 2 night cruise to celebrate this gorgeous lady's upcoming nuptials in March. Our little group of girls is going to have so much fun, and I just cannot wait for November to roll around.

2) My birthday.

I'll be 24 on November 9 - old lady I swear :), and already have some things on my wishlist this time around. Luckily I have such a loving husband who will just do anything for me, right honey? (I can already hear the crickets now)

3)This sweet girl's bridal weekend.

She may kill me for this throwback :)

I am so blessed to be able to celebrate not only one, but two of my closest friends weddings early next year. I've known this girl since I was practically a toddler and am so glad to get to share in her wedding and festivities.

Of course, I'm looking forward to the obvious things as well. The holiday season getting underway, the deliciously rich foods that are really only appropriate post September 22, all of it. I'm so ready. Bring it on, Fall.

What are you looking forward to the most about this Fall?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tybee Island Vacation Recap

Back to life... Back to reality

We are back home after a long weekend in Tybee Island. We ate, we explored, we relaxed. It was the perfect vacation and came at just the perfect time. We drove up Friday afternoon after Anthony got off work and arrived on the island just in time to meet up with Anthony's family for a late dinner and a couple of drinks.

Saturday morning, we walked over to the beach and spent a couple of hours lounging around and playing in the water. The weather was beautiful, and the water was calm, much to Anthony's disappointment. He was hoping for at least some sort of swell so he could get some surfing  in while he was there. Oh well, he just had to hang out with me instead. My only disappointment was that the beaches were dog free, meaning Obi has still not experienced the ocean. Sheltered pup, that one.

Later that afternoon, we hit the pier for some easy fishing. We dropped our lines, and it seemed to be a slow day for everyone already there. Within 15 minutes I had a bite, and my line was running. Stupidly, I reached for my rod, grabbing it up by the line, and the running line sliced right through my fingers. Brilliant, I know. Either way, I had a big catch, the biggest of the day, and though it got away, I gave everyone on the pier a show.

For dinner Saturday evening, we hit up a little gem in Tybee Island called The Crab Shack. The food was delicious, all low country style boils and steamed seafood. But what made this place so great was really the atmosphere. There were alligators and exotic birds to see, indoor seating as well as water-side outdoor seating, and a variety fun things to look at. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend this place. 

I also recommend The Tybee Island Social Club, where we later stopped for dessert and coffee. We sampled their warm bacon fudge brownie and Irish coffee, while listening to the live band perform. This place was a more upscale cafe, with incredible looking drinks and a delicious looking dinner menu. It's on my agenda to hit this place up for dinner next time we're in the  area.

Sunday, we took a short trip into Savannah to hit up the city's highlights (The City Market, Forsyth Park, The River Walk, etc.) My favorite way to get around is always to hoof it all the way. I believe there's so much you can miss along the way, especially in old cities, when you take any other mode of transportation. You miss the little details in the architecture that really give a city character when you don't take the time to really walk the streets. So walk we did. A lot. In some really lovely heat. But it was so entirely worth it. 

To cool off on the way back, we stopped at a little place called The Beer Growler. The Beer Growler is a draft beer location that sells to-go bottles of the beers on tap, which can later be refilled at any growler location. Such a fun concept, but unfortunately the only locations are currently in Georgia. Whoever wants to franchise these in Florida, let me know. 

We finished Sunday evening with a Labor Day fireworks show on the beach. Ah, how I love fireworks. It was perfect.

We finished the vacation Monday with a trip to the Tybee Island lighthouse and Fort Screvens. The 178 steps to the top were a small price to pay for the gorgeous views. I was so glad to get to experience the history of Tybee Island in such a beautiful way.

All in all, this vacation was a total success. I always tell Anthony I'm  looking for two things in every vacation we plan. History and good food. And I certainly got to check both of those boxes this weekend. We're all worn out, so now it's just time to relax before heading back to the real world tomorrow.

How did you spend your Labor Day weekend? 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Labor Day

Happy Pseudo Friday Everyone!

Today is my last day of work before this lovely four day weekend ahead of us, and I can't wait to hit the road tomorrow on our way to Tybee Island, Ga. Four days to relax and unwind without deadline pressure looming. Yes. Please and Thank You!

Obi will be making the trip with us, so I'm hoping to get him on the beach as well. This poor dog has never been near the ocean, which is absolutely pathetic when you consider we live about 45 minutes from the beach ourselves. Poor pup, he's so unloved.

Yeah right.

I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures and share all about the trip when we get back. Cheers to a fun-filled labor day weekend!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Product Review: Michael Todd True Organics Knu Serum

I was recently contacted by Michael Todd True Organics to review their Knu (prounounced “new you”) Anti-Aging Serum. I’ll admit, at first I was a little skeptical. I’m 23. What business do I have reviewing an anti-aging serum? While my skin is far from perfect, it is also far from showing signs of aging. But, you know what they say. It’s never too early to start preventative care, and I know that I still want to look young as the years on the calendar continue to pass. And this product claims to have antioxidants to protect skin against future damage, so you know I took them up on their offer.

The Knu line of anti-aging products was designed to address the challenges of fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of premature skin aging using active ingredients known for their significant skin-healing, regenerating and repairing properties: Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), second generation tri-peptides, alpha hydroxy acids, DMAE and even South American beauty secret: snail serum, a complex secretion rich in protein, lipids, trace minerals, enzymes, copper peptides, amino acids and more. These actives are synergistically combined with 70% organic ingredients, including soothing organic aloe vera juice and antioxidant cranberry and green tea, to aid skin healing and protect against further damage. Knu has been featured on CBS' The Doctors and co-host Andrew Ordon, M.D. recommended Knu for its "immediate lift and firming combined with long term anti-aging benefits."

When the serum came in the mail, I tested it out on my own face, but the before and afters weren’t significant. Because I have yet to start experiencing any loss of elasticity, or other aging signs, it was difficult to determine if the claims could be proven. However, I could feel the serum firming and toning quickly after application, and because of that, believed that if I did have any more significant facial lines or wrinkles, I may see a difference. So, to really put this product to the test, I decided to take it a step further and called in my 72-year-old nana for her approval.

We applied the serum to what I would consider common problem areas for women: crow’s feet, laugh lines, etc. The result was actually pretty impressive. Below is a before and after (forgive the poor quality of the images.)

Within moments, the crow’s feet around her eyes had begun to fade, and other defined lines had begun to fill in. It was clear that this serum could back up the claims it makes. I was impressed.

You can purchase KNU Anti-Aging Serum here.

Note: The product does say it is recommended for all skin types, but under the ingredients it does list a sunburn alert that people with extremely fair skin like me I think need to take caution with.

Sunburn Alert: This product contains an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that may increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun and particularly the possibility of sunburn. Use a sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit sun exposure while using this product and for a week afterwards.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up and VMA Reactions

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as I did. And I really hope you caught the VMAs last night. Not necessarily the best show they've ever put on, but there were some definite highlights as well as some unfortunately memorable moments. But we'll get to that towards the end of this post. First, a wrap up if the rest of this weekend's fun.

Sami's Shenanigans

Friday night, Anthony and I went to our local second run theater to catch Iron Man 3. It was every bit of the movie I thought it would be and worth the popcorn hangover I had the next morning. The things sodium can do to you...

Saturday we headed to the Orlando Dave and Busters to celebrate with my little brother before he heads back up to Minnesota for his sophomore year of college. I still question why anyone would choose to live in such an icy tundra, but he seems to enjoy it up there and with the Mall of America nearby, I could be persuaded to brave the potential frostbite for a winter trip. The whole family took part in the fun and games, and we left with some fun arcade prizes to show for it.

Sunday was lovely and laidback, everything a Sunday should be. I made a pot of sauce around 11 so that it could simmer all day until dinner. The best sauces cook for at least a couple of hours, giving everything a chance to really meld together. I'll post my easy recipe later this week for anyone who is interested. After dinner, we sat down to watch this year's VMA's. I've listed my top ten reactions below.

Top Ten Reactions to the 2013 VMA's

1. Ariana Grande - Girl can sing. And she is just cute as a button, but I would never have guessed that she's twenty years old. I don't know much about her, so I thought she was the next disney girl, maybe all of 14. Her age shocked me, but with pipes like that, I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of her.

2. Austin Mahone - Poor kid, he really is a baby Justin Bieber. Let's just hope he doesn't make the same choices as his predecessor. We can begin by never wearing that pleather outfit again, k?

3. Lady Gaga - I was not a fan of her performance last night. She was, in typical fashion, very avant garde in style, but I just feel like she missed the mark a little bit. It felt very communtiy theater avant garde, and not to the level of what I would expect from her,

4. Miley Cyrus - Just no.

5.Robin Thicke - I was really disappointed. I love Blurred Lines, song of the summer in my opinion. So why in the world did Mr. Thicke agree to let little miss Cyrus ruin that song? Not okay.

6. T. Swift - I don't know why, but I really liked her last night. She didn't perform, but the reaction shots of her and BFF Selena Gomez reminded me of how me and my best friend would act were we invited to the VMA's(which we weren't, someone get on that please.) And if a crowd were cheering loudly for my ex-bf, I might mouth the same words she did too. All love from me.

7. Justin Timberlake - Holla atcha boy! JT rocked the house down in the bext performance of the evening. Actually, the best performance the VMA's have seen in a long time. I was so impressed, and I would love to see him perform live. Next time he's anywhere near Orlando, I'll be there.

8. The *NSYNC Reunion - Yes. Just Yes. I was like a twelve-year-old girl, and it was epic, if only for 30 seconds.

9. Katy Perry - Loved her performance, and loved what she said pre-show. Her album could've gone a much darker direction but she chose to let the light in, naming her album prism to shine the light right back out to her listeners. You go girl!

10. Overall, I thought the VMAs did a good job of making the show relevant again, though I was still disappointed overall with the quality of the performances (minus my man, JT.) Hopefully, the huge reactions on social media will direct MTV's future direction and allow the VMAs to come back as a powerhouse awards show.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Confidence and Conviction

I was looking for inspiration the other day and came across this piece of scripture.

"I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Psalm 16:8 NIV

It really got me thinking about the times when I allow my focus to stray from God. Those times when I allow other, more earthly priorities to take precedence over the strength I have in Him. And when my eyes move away from the purpose He has for me, and they hone in on other, more temporary things, my confidence is inevitably shaken.

You see, when I look for purpose in the fulfillment of material goals, or even just goals that I can achieve on my own, I find more often than not that I stumble in my convictions. It is easy to find my flaws, easy to point out what others can accomplish beyond my own personal means, and easy to allow myself to fail in my insecurities.

But, when I seek my convictions in the purpose God has on my life, and look for fulfillment in the goals that are only achieved through His will, it is easy to walk with confidence in the strength His hand provides. If He has led me to this place, He will not leave me to fail. If I remain focused on his presence, He will guide me in my decisions, allowing me to be confident in my journey.

I will inevitably falter here and there due to my own human weaknesses, but I know that if I remain faithful to the direction He calls me to, I can never stray too far.

Remember whenever doubt sets in, or when your insecurities make you feel wobbly in your convictions, refocus your eyes to the Lord, and trust in His plans for your life.