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Monday, June 30, 2014


Happy 28th Birthday to me! 


Today is my official birthday, but we decided to celebrate over the weekend since my actually birthday fell on a Monday this year. On Saturday I met my mom and dad at the outlet mall in Anthem and they bought me a Coach purse for my birthday present.

Afterwards we stopped for lunch at Chino Bandido. It’s a Mexican-Chinese restaurant, which may sound strange, but I promise you it’s delicious. It’s been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and was listed as #41 on Travel Channel’s 101 Tastiest Places to Chowdown. The jade red chicken and jerk fried rice are my favorites (my dad really liked the chile relleno and egg foo young that he ordered too).

Later that night my boyfriend and I went to Midwestern Meats for dinner. It’s kind of an old people restaurant, but their steaks are amazing. The 6 oz filet mignon was only $14.99 and that includes salad/soup, a choice of potato, a side of veggies, and a small dessert. Seriously, it’s the best deal.

As for today, I have to work, but my friends, boyfriend and I are going out for lunch to Firehouse Subs (free sandwich on your birthday) and  tonight my boyfriend and I will probably go to Liberty Market (free meal on your birthday). Maybe afterwards we’ll stop at Baskin-Robbins and I’ll get my free scoop of ice cream! I love birthday freebies!

It’s been a fun birthday, but I still can’t believe I’m already 28…30 is inching closer and closer…

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Our Outdoor Spaces

I’ll be the first to admit that our outdoor spaces are pretty dismal. Our front yard landscaping is minimal. It’s just rocks with a palm tree and a bougainvillea. We live in a neighborhood with an HOA, so I figure if we don’t have much to maintain, there’s not much they can send me notices about.  

My bougainvillea is growing out of control, but I’m not ready to trim it yet. It’s flowering like crazy and it looks so healthy that I don’t want to mess with it. Plus it’s the only plant in our front yard, so it might as well make a statement! 

Oh, I forgot to mention that we have a cactus in our front yard too! This little guy just started randomly growing a few months ago and I don’t have the heart to kill it. I’m guessing that our neighbors have a cactus on the other side of the wall and it’s just growing into our yard now. 

The backyard is even worse…I’m not even going to show you the whole thing because the amount of weeds in the yard is embarrassing! Let’s just stick to my pretty hanging flowers!  

I bought them at Home Depot during Memorial Weekend and I’m kind of surprised they are still alive (there's another one that's not pictured). It’s been well over 100 degrees every day since then and I wasn’t sure if they’d survive the heat. I have to water them at least every other day, but it’s worth it to finally have something pretty growing back here. Plus Ringo thinks the watering can is the coolest thing ever and tries to drink the water as I pour. He’s a weird dog.  

Of course, if we are going to talk about the backyard, I have to mention the swimming pool. My boyfriend and his brother replaced the sand in our filter a couple weeks ago and the pool has been sparkling ever since. Owning a pool is expensive and a lot of work, but they are so much fun during the summer. Plus Ringo loves swimming and it’s great way to burn some of his energy.  

We still have a lot of cleanup and projects left to-do in the backyard, but it’s coming around slowly. I’d really like to get it “presentable” this year, so you’ll probably be seeing more outdoor projects on the blog. Although I don’t know why I always wait until it’s 100+ degrees to start my outdoor projects…

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Home/Life Goals Mid-Year Review

We’re almost half way through the year, so I figured this would be a good time to check on the home/life goals I made at the beginning of the year (you can see them here). It’s also a good reminder for me to see what I’ve been slacking on.

My first goal was to finally finish a room (or two). I’m hoping to have the living room and/or office complete before the end of the year. Let’s just say that I’m glad the year isn’t over yet because I haven’t made much progress on either room in 2014. So far in the living room all I’ve done is buy a new coffee table and a fiddle leaf fig. Luckily I’ve been a little more productive in the office - I’ve bought an end table, throw pillows, and a lamp. I also created a travel pin map for one of the walls.  

I think this goal is still definitely achievable, so we’ll see where I end up in six months.

My next goal is to landscape the backyard. I can barely type that without laughing. That definitely has not happened yet. I’m not even going to show pictures because it’s so horrible looking. I did hang some flowers on the patio, so we’ll call that progress?  

I’m still hopeful that we’ll make some progress this year…

My third goal was to stop procrastinating and call a professional! I’m happy to report that after three years the drywall in the house is finally finished. During the One Room Challenge, I hired a local drywall company to repair the drywall in the laundry room and on the ceiling in the hallway. I’m so happy that it’s done…I should have called sooner… 

I’m not crossing this goal off the list yet because I probably still need to hire a landscaper.

OK, now let’s talk about personal goals. My first personal goal this year was to live healthier. I didn’t start the year off very well and I’m still not exercising like I should, but I’m happy to report I’ve lost all the weight that I gained last year! I cut flour, sugar, dairy and pretty much everything tasty from my diet since Memorial Day and the weight just melted off. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t keep this up forever – I like burritos too much - but this whole thing has been a huge lesson in self-control. Apparently, if your coworkers bring in donuts, you don’t HAVE to eat them...who knew?!

Anyway, my plan is to eat like this until mid-July (about a week before our trip to Alaska). After that I’m still going to stick to smaller, healthier meals (lots of lean protein, fruits, and veggies), but with an occasional cheat meal (watching portion size).

The other personal goal that I made at the beginning of the year was to “enjoy life more”. This one is really hard for me to judge. I’m not sure if I’ve been successful or not…especially since I haven’t had tacos or ice cream in over a month (kidding, kind of). I still have the occasional bad day and days where I feel like I just go through the motion, but for the most part, I think I’ve been better at enjoying the little things and taking advantage of my free time. Plus I’ve been WAY less stressed out at work after changing jobs in March (same company and still finance, but a different group/program). It was definitely a good change for me…plus they might send me to England within the next couple months for work!   

Anyway, let’s not score this one as being successful or not. We’ll just keep it as a reminder for the rest of the year.

So that’s where I’m at with my 2014 goals. I still have six months left, so we’ll see where I end up!

Did you make any goals this year?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Patriotic Polka Dot Bunting

I always have the best intentions of decorating when a holiday rolls around, but I always end up putting it off for so long that the holiday passes without a single decoration being put out (except for Christmas). This year, for 4th of July, I’m determined to at least get one decoration put out before the fireworks are over. Although, I guess patriotic decorations work for Memorial Day too, so I’m late on decorating again…

Anyway, I decided to make red, white, and blue bunting for the 4th of July. Bunting is one of the easiest and cheapest crafts to make, so there’s really no excuse not to make it for every occasion (says the person who never decorates for holidays/seasons). All you need is paper, ribbon, scissors (or a cutting machine), and a hole punch. I picked up two sheets each of red and blue polka dot paper plus some ribbon at Michael's (less than $5 for this project). I used my Silhouette to cut out the triangles (4 per sheet), but you could easily do this with scissors. 

Once you have all of your triangles cut, punch two holes in each one and string them together on some ribbon. I use the first hole-punched triangle as a guide for the others, so everything lines up perfectly.  

And done - I told you it was easy!  

It’s only June 18th and I already have something festive for the 4th of July up in my house! That has to be a new record!  

Do you decorate for the holidays or seasons? Have you done any 4th of July projects lately?  

Linking up at: The Handmade Hangout 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Healthy Orange Slushy

This recipe is so easy and simple that I almost feel stupid posting it, but I decided to share it anyway because it’s been my favorite treat so far this summer. It’s delicious, but it’s also healthy – less than 100 calories plus one whole serving of fruit!

All you need is a blender and 3 ingredients to make the perfect orange slushy! 

1 orange, peeled
About 7-8 ice cubes
1/2 packet of stevia (or 1 tsp sugar)

Now just blend all of the ingredients together! 

I like to use my Magic Bullet, so I usually blend the orange first and then add the ice and sweetener. My Magic Bullet seems to crush ice better if there’s a lot of liquid, but if you have a nice blender you can add everything at once.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Weekend Junk #16

Yep, today we're kicking it old school! It's been over two years since my last Weekend Junk post and I'm excited to bring the series back!

I haven't done any Weekend Junk posts recently because I'm really trying not to buy anything that I don't have a place/purpose for - I'm trying to stop my decor hoarding! One exception to that rule is ironstone. I'm currently in a BUY ALL THE IRONSTONE phase, so I buy pretty much every piece I find in the thrift stores.

Anyway, my mom came to visit this weekend and we spent most of our free time thrift shopping. 

Here are my finds:

Ann Taylor Loft Pink Shirt – Goodwill - $4.99
Banana Republic Plaid Shirt – Savers - $6.99 $5.24 (25%-off)
LL Bean Polka Dot Shirt – DI - $5.00

IRONSTONE! My mom found this set while we were at Savers. I was still in the fitting room, so she checked out the housewares section first and found this set of Johnson Bros ironstone dishes for me. Dinner plates were $1.99/each and the smaller plates and bowls were $0.99/each, but Savers is 25%-off on Fridays with a club card, so I ended up only paying about $12 for the whole set!  

It’s kind of interesting that there are five different hallmarks within the set of 12 dishes.  

So that’s what I found this weekend. If you were wondering, my mom bought a pair of khaki pants and a pile of books. We had a great time thrifting and I’m so happy she came down for the weekend to visit.

Anyone else have any luck at the thrift stores lately?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fiddle Leaf Fig

I’m officially a cliché – a home/DIY blogger with a fiddle leaf fig.

Honestly, there are not a lot of options for tall indoor plants plus the leaves are pretty amazing, so it’s no wonder they are so popular. I’ve been wanting one for awhile and was so excited when I found a selection of them at Home Depot. They had ones that were a little smaller for $10 and one that was about 6 feet tall for $30, but I ended up picking this one for $20. It looked like the healthiest one plus it came potted, you can’t beat that!

I had originally planned to put in next to the navy console table, but it’s not quite tall enough. For now it’s in the corner by the front door. It gets a lot of light there, so I’m hoping it’ll like that spot. And yes, I’m aware that they are poisonous to dogs. Ringo and Abby don’t really mess with my indoor plants, but I’m still keeping an eye out – any sign of nibbling and I’ll find the fig a new home.

What’s your favorite tall houseplant? I still want to find one for next to the console table, so I’m open to suggestions.