Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Back Porch Makeover

Words cannot even express how excited I am to be sharing our latest project! Any type of home updating makes me giddy and one of my favorite things to do is go walk around Lowe's. One project I've been dying to tackle is our back porch. It's actually a nicely sized screened-in area, but we've sorely underutilized it. When I first moved in I painted the deck and added a set of chairs and side table out there, but otherwise it's been pretty untouched. My goal was to make it a space that we loved to be in and that could accommodate a nice group of friends! 

Here are the dreaded before pictures of the space. The porch is about 7 ft wide and a little bigger than 20 ft long. It's got a pitched ceiling, and I can't believe I'm showing you the ceiling fan out there! One of the blades literally fell off and it was covered in grime. 





I almost can't believe the transformation myself. Having the appropriate sized furniture actually makes this space look huge! First, we started by replacing the fan with one that was actually meant for outdoors. I spent a whole day painting the deck a new color and whitewashing the side walls after giving it all a good hose down. That alone made an enormous difference! 

Next we spent some money! Originally Blake and I had planned on DIYing a modular couch. These were the plans we were going to follow. A problem arose when we were in the lumber yard calculating how much wood we were actually going to need. Those are great plans, but we were essentially going to double the 'recipe' and it was adding up quick. In fact we realized it wasn't much of a savings after all and we might as well buy a set. Our time is definitely worth something too. 

A little online shopping later, we found the perfect set for our space and I am SO thrilled with it. Ok, so I'll get on with it! Here's how the porch turned out!









A photo posted by {k r i s t e n w o o l s e y} (@kristenwoolzayy) on

Seriously nothing in our house is ever standard or uniform, so the fact that this rug fit PERFECTLY in this space almost made me a cry. Even the couch fit just right. It's modular, so we can rearrange it several different ways when we grow tired of it in this position. I was one box short on the stringed lights, so I just need to pick up another one this week and it will be perfect. 

We've been sitting back there every night since we got the couch put together and I've had breakfast there once or twice. It's so shady and peaceful. I've really enjoyed setting out our bluetooth speaker and just hanging out. I know we have a few anxious friends who are ready to help us break in those cushions! 

Here are a few notes on the products we picked out:
- The couch is from Walmart! We've also seen it on Amazon. This was such a great price and the quality is excellent. We had to put it together, which was a pain, but less painful than DIYing.

- The red serving cart is from Sam's Club. I love this thing! It's so cute and really functional. The bucket and bottom tray are removable. Also, it's only $40!!

- Most everything else was from Target! (Duh! It's where I get everything!) The lantern and succulent on the table are also from Target, but they are at least a year old.

Ikat Rug - Lobster Door Mat - Lobster Throw Pillow - Sting Lights - Poufs - Chalkboard

Pro-tip! I picked up Rust-Oleum NeverWet spray and it's a total game changer! It's basically rain-x for your outdoor furniture.

Leave me a comment: So what do you think? Anybody else love perusing Lowe's? Is there a spot in your home that you have been dying to tackle? Do you have a back porch that you love? What else should I add back there to make it more enjoyable?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Simplified Planner Tour

It's that time of year again!! I've become really partial to academic style planners that start in August instead of January. It reminds me of getting new school supplies and starting fresh each school year. Everyone makes new resolutions to get organized in January, but I think August is a great time to start anew also! 

Last year I used the Lilly Agenda and the year before that I used a really cute leather planner I picked up from TJ Maxx. Although I used different books, my method had kind of stayed the same. I have always used fun pens and tried to color coordinate my days. I truly loved my Lilly agenda this year, but I was struggling with the size. I bought a smaller size so I could carry it with me, but the daily boxes couldn't contain all that I wanted them too, and the margins weren't generous for any overflow. The weekend boxes really annoyed me because our weekends have a lot going on too, and the half boxes weren't big enough to write it all out. I do love how colorful it is and really enjoyed the stickers. 

I wasn't opposed to another Lilly agenda this year, but I did want to look around for other options. Erin Condren is huge, but I think the sticker planning part is too time consuming/pricey for me. The Emily Ley Simplified Planner got rave reviews around the internet so I was intrigued! And I was sold as soon as I saw it! The Simplified Planner is everything I want in an agenda book. It's perfect. 

They went on sale earlier this month, and I was counting down the days until I could order mine! That ended up being a good thing because I thought and rethought my color choice. I was thissss close to picking the pineapple one

I thought I'd share a few pictures of my new planner so that you can decide if you want to get one too. I know I'm not the only planner nerd out there. 

First of all it comes in an awesome box. They suggest you use the box to save keepsakes throughout the year, which I think is a great idea! Since Blake and I have a memory jar, I don't think I will use it for that purpose, but this girl can always use a storage box. 


I went with the Happy Stripe pattern, and I love it! The colors are awesome. I love the gold spiral and the gold corner protectors. This is a sturdy cover, and I think it will hold up really well all year. 


First things first, I had to write my name in the front! The first few pages give suggestions on how to use the pages most effectively. I will show you a few of my favorite pages and features. 


The tabs along the edge are great quality and will allow for an easy page flip to the right spot. Again the colors are great!


I love this feature in the photo below! One of the first pages is a year bucket list complete with little tick boxes! This will be so fun to fill out. 


Each tab starts out with the month view. Pretty standard, but I like that the boxes are spacious enough for my handwriting. 


Ok, here below is what sold me on this planner. The daily box that I was used to in other planners is a full page in the Simplified Planner. The top corner includes an inspirational quote. The day is divided into 2 columns. The left half is your hourly schedule, and the right half is your to-do list. This layout is perfect for me! The bottom left is a box for your dinner plan and the bottom right is a spot for notes. I will probably use the note box for my Bible reading schedule and to note anniversaries or special occasions.  




I also bought the green page marker! It's magnetic and heavy duty, so I'm happy I got it. The Best Day Ever thing is so cute.


The weekend page is split in half, which is much bigger than what I had before and that was also a selling feature. My favorite part is that there is box for a happy memory from the week, which is so special and an awesome thing to reflect on. Then there is a box on Sunday to help you prep for the week ahead, which is a cool habit I'd like to start.


There is also a handy pocket in the front cover that will be a good spot to store coupons and invitations.



Eek! I can't wait to start using this planner and I really think it's ideal for my goals and style of organization. It doesn't start until August, but I am already filling out dates for the rest of the year, and next! My current favorite pens are the Stabilo point 88s and those fine tips look so nice in this planner. I hope my pictures help you decide if you want to get one too! 

Leave me a comment: Do you get as excited as I do about new office supplies? Have you used the Simplified Planner? Or are you more of Google Calendar person?


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Dealin' with Hypoglycemia

A few months ago I started noticing that my hunger really changed. It would come on instantly, and instead of a normal rumbly stomach, my face would flush with heat, I felt dizzy, nauseous and start shaking. Instinct would take over and I'd just start reaching for anything to eat. I'm not pregnant, this isn't just being hangry, and it's not just a metabolism change-this was something really different. 

After I talked to my mom about it (moms know everything) she mentioned that hypoglycemia and diabetes run in my family on both sides. I was actually kind of offended by that suggestion, because I eat well and I exercise a ton-no way could I have that kind of problem. That's when my education began! You can be the fittest person in the world, but your genetics can still play a huge part in your health.

The internet is a crazy place full of conflicting information, so I did what research I could and met with a nutritionist. After a few weeks of experimenting I wanted to share what I've learned about my body and how my relationship with food has changed. 


one// Plan Ahead
To begin with, I have had to change how I think about food. My meals used to be an afterthought. I'd eat when I got a chance. I never ate horribly, but now I'm thinking about what my meals consist of and I'm watching the clock to make sure I don't even have a chance to get hungry. My biggest drops usually happen in the morning-so now instead of eating breakfast last, it's now my first to-do in the morning. 

two// Each Day is Different
Many suggest having 6 small meals a day, instead of 3. This just doesn't work for my lifestyle! Instead I'm having 3 well thought out meals and carrying a small snack in case I get hungry. Each day will be different because our bodies are always fluctuating and our activity levels change. 

three// Carbs/Fiber/Protein
The main tip my nutritionist gave me is when I eat carbs (whether simple or complex) eat them along with protein and fiber. Simple carbs especially will lead to a drop in sugar, so we need to eat them along with something substantial that will keep you full longer. 

four// Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
Both alcohol and caffeine can cause drops in sugar, so if you do consume them do so with something else. I don't drink a lot of alcohol, but I do love a cup of hot tea everyday-so now I make sure to have my cup along with breakfast instead of by itself.

five// Track and Monitor
Each person is different, so we all have to experiment with what works for us. The best way to do that is to track what your eating and notice how it affects you. https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/ is an awesome tool for tracking. 

I've been experimenting a ton in the last few weeks, and I wanted to share one of my meal plans on a day that I never felt a single symptom:

Breakfast: Avocado Toast topped with 2 over-medium eggs with a side of watermelon. (so yummy and this kept me full all morning!)
Lunch: Mediterranean Hummus Wrap that included hummus, mashed avocado, red pepper, cucumber, shredded carrots, feta topped with oregano, basil, salt/pepper and oil/vinegar.(this is a vegetarian option, but you could easily add chicken for more protein)   
Snack before Workout: 2 sliced bananas and a tablespoon of natural peanut butter (peanut butter is my lifesaver!)
Dinner: Rice Bowls that included brown rice, black beans, grilled chicken, lettuce, pico de gallo and shredded cheese. (this is a favorite dinner anyway, but now I love that it has a lot of protein and I can add lots of veggies. Rice is a carb, but you're eating it along with something else)

I've had such a learning curve. One day I had such a good breakfast and took a detour into a store before lunch and got so sick in the store-I should have just gone right into the restaurant to pick up my lunch. I am working on not giving myself a chance to get hungry, but also not over eating. It takes a lot of balance and thinking ahead! 

Leave me a comment: Have you ever had to deal with hypoglycemia? What works for you? Have you ever been frustrated when your body rebels against you? 


**Obligatory Disclaimer! I'm not a doctor! Everyone needs to make their own health decisions and meet with professionals for diagnosis and treatment**

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Stitch Fix #2

My 2nd Stitch Fix arrived! The anticipation has been killing me. I only first tried Stitch Fix a month ago but was really anxious to see how round 2 would go. After giving each piece from my first box a thorough review I figured the next box would only get better. This time my stylist was Ashley. I so appreciate the amount of snooping these stylists do. They really want to get to know you and figure out what you'd like. 


Let's break down my 2nd box and I will tell you how I feel about each piece. Tearing open this box is so exciting! 

Reyes Halter Blouse 
My first impression of this top was not all that enthusiastic. It seemed pretty sheer and I knew I'd have to wear a strapless bra, which is not my fav. In hindsight I should have tried these on with different pants, but hopefully you can get the picture. It's a navy top with a lavender halter. I like it much better on, and it's definitely not as sheer as I thought it would be. Verdict on this is still undecided! 


Zula Dress
This dress just gets a no from me. I really don't like the material! It's really thick, and not ideal for our weather. The pattern itself is not that great either. It kind of confuses the camera! Even when I scroll up and down it gets all optical illusiony.


Annie Flare Skirt
I'm also undecided on this skirt! I threw on my own shirt to take the photos. I love the colors-navy and coral are always a win. The cut is great; I feel comfortable and modest. The material is just kind of almost flimsy? It's really thin, so it doesn't seem high quality, but it's not a cheap skirt either. 


Paciano Cross Back Blouse
I have to say this was the thing I was most excited about trying on! Pink is always a favorite and the criss cross back is so cute. I had a hard time picking out a bra for this, and that makes me a little less excited about it. I really do like-like this top, and the only reason I'm not head over heels is because of the bra issue. Still deciding, but I will most likely buy this one. 



Julianne Crystal Pendant Necklace
The only reason I didn't immediately buy this necklace is because I just bought one almost identical a few weeks ago! I love it so much! This one is a little simpler than the one I already own and I so I'm actually considering buying it anyway! It's so classic and goes with anything.


Okay guys, this is where you come in! What do you think of my 2nd Stitch Fix?? Do you think it's improved since my first try? What would you keep and what would you send back? 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Spritz

Because I feel like I've been in a sort of hosting rut, I really wanted to jazz things up a bit. We seem to always have the same people over and end up making an easy dinner and watching a movie. I still love doing that, but it does make me feel a bit lazy.

So, recently we had a few friends over and we made a real dinner that came from a cookbook! To make it even more fun I wanted to make a cocktail for our guests from SpritzSpritz is a really cute book that has many, many recipes for bubbly and well, 'spritzy' drinks. I love the cover and it goes so nicely on the old dresser we repainted. (I've since turned the dresser into a sort of bar cart and I love it even more!)

I'm always nervous to try new cocktails because sometimes you go through all the trouble of picking one out and then you can't find the ingredients. Plus it wasn't that long ago that we were in a dry county, so the selection is always on the small side. We couldn't find one of our ingredients in our liquor store, so next time I'm in a bigger city I will pick some up and see if it makes a difference. 

I love that this book has some really helpful background history on Spritzers and even descriptions of the alcohols included in the ingredients. There are a few Italian Appetizer recipes in the back that I hadn't noticed before and I really want to make those at the next dinner party. A lot of these recipes are for more bitter drinks, but if you like sparkling drinks I think you'd be a big fan of the recipes. 






Here's the recipe we tried!

Aperol Betty
2 Oz Aperol
1 Oz Fresh Orange Juice
1/2 Oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
3 Oz Prosecco

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake. Strain over ice into your glass. Top with prosecco and garnish with orange wheel. (We used a lemon to garnish) The Aperol Betty is like a bittersweet mimosa!

I was so happy to do something different and make our guests feel special. Instead of a movie we ended up playing a few hilarious games of Yahtzee, and I won the last round-and that's all that matters!

Leave me a comment: Do you ever feel like you're in a rut? It's so easy to invite the same people over, isn't it? How do you make your guests feel special?


This book was sent to me for free through Blogging for Books and this post contains affiliate links.