Archives for August 2016

How we get ready to head back to school and our daily routine!

Back to school routine and checklist

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The bus driving away on the middle one’s first day of Kindergarten a few years ago! So many tears!


It’s almost time for school to start!!! Two weeks from tomorrow is our first day, not that I’m counting down or anything. 😉 The big one is going into 6th grade, the middle one into 3rd grade and the little one will be in his first year of preschool. I would be lying if I said I was not ecstatic to finally have some alone time three mornings a week. Three boys can be exhausting!  Target here I come!!! All kidding aside I will miss them but I am excited they will meet new friends and enjoy a new year of school.

We start preparing for back to school in late July/early August. I made a to do list (type A people love their lists!) so I do not miss anything.

  • Try on clothing and shoes to see what still fits. Anything stained or in poor condition gets thrown away. Clothes that are too small get packed up for hand me downs. We generally start off the school year with brand new sneakers as my kids tend to trash theirs over the summer.   I also make a list (shocker I know) of what quantities and colors of new clothes we need to purchase. This is the perfect time for spring/summer clothing shopping as most stores have it on clearance. I normally wait until later to buy heavier clothing as it’s warm down here through October unless I see a great deal. Most stores have back to school sales. I also shop for winter clearance in the spring and buy a size or two up from their current size.
  • Print out the school calendar and mark down important dates. I am old school and still use a paper calendar in addition to my cellphone calendar. The boys like being able to see what we have coming up too so this works for us. I also inform my husband of what days I need him to be home from school early for things like teacher conferences, back to school night, etc.
  • Set up a drop zone for backpacks and school papers. If you are lucky enough to have a mudroom that’s the perfect spot or you can set up a space near your entryway. For organizing papers I have the Thirty One Hang Up Home organizer (that is no longer sold) hanging inside of our pantry door. You may be able to find one on Ebay or second hand. Each child has a pocket for their important papers and the fourth pocket is for family papers. Another idea is to create your own command center. I have several pinned on my Organize Your Space Pinterest board.
  • Go through the school supplies that got returned at the end of last year. See what can be salvaged and toss the rest. I realize some people do this at the end of the school year but I am so over school at that point and put it off. I also check backpacks and lunch boxes to make sure they are in good enough condition to use again the following year. If not, new ones go on the school shopping list.
  • Start checking the sales flyers for school supply deals. In VA we get an extensive list of supplies that need to be brought into meet the teacher day. Pencils, crayons, glue, notebooks, scissors, markers, etc. I tend to shop at Office Max for their spend $5 get xyz for 1 cent or 25 cent deals. We have one close by and I stop in there before my weekly Target trip in the summer to get my goodies. At the end of August whatever has not been found at a bargain price is purchased at Target. (5% Redcard discount!)
  • Schedule back to school hair cuts early! If you don’t you will be waiting in life forever at the salon with a walk in appointment. I made that mistake once. Never again!
  • If your kids are not on a sleep routine that resembles the school schedule start transitioning them back a few days/weeks early. I only increase bedtime by 30 minutes in the summer so this one is pretty easy for us. They only stay up late if we have friends over or we are out somewhere special. If my kids do not get enough sleep they are nasty and it’s not fun for anyone (especially me…)
  • If your child brings a bag lunch to school this is a great time to look for new recipes and lunch container ideas. My kids get bored eating the same thing every day. Pinterest is the perfect place for this! I have a kids and family board with plenty of ideas.  Unfortunately school bought lunch is not an option for us as we are a food allergy family. My kid’s allergies are not top 8 and can often be hidden in food. It’s safer and easier for everyone this way. Bento boxes are perfect for children who like a large variety at lunch time. My favorites are divided all in one containers as linked below and Rubbermaid Lunch Blox containers. Our schools also have the children bring a snack and a bottle of water. My kids tend to bring a main meal (sandwich, leftovers, salad, etc), a piece of fruit, a cheese stick or Babybel, yogurt tube, a cracker/carby type of snack and veggies with or without dip. We keep everything organized in bins in the “snack cabinet” or drawers in the fridge so we just need to grab something as we assemble lunches in the morning. To save time this can be done the night before. My kids swear their sandwiches don’t taste the same if I make them at night.

PicMonkey Collage8

  • Establish your morning and evening routine. Ours has changed many times over the years depending on grade and the schools they attended. We used to do homework immediately after school but changed that as the kids got older. They wanted some down time after school so we adjusted it. Currently this is a typical school day for us. Times change depending on weather and before/after school activities.

Before school:

6am or earlier-The big one wakes up, gets in the shower and gets dressed.

6:20am-I wake up and make sure the big one is awake and showering. Hit snooze. At 6:30 I force myself to get up and head downstairs to make lunches and breakfast. Big one has breakfast. Two younger ones wake up sometime between 6-7am, come in my bedroom, fall back to sleep or watch tv and stay out of big one’s way. He is like his mother and not a happy morning person.

6:45am-The older kids go out to feed the rabbits.

7:00am-The big one heads to the bus. The two younger ones and I sit down to eat breakfast.

7:20am-The two younger ones get dressed and brush teeth. The little one is not always compliant and likes to stay in pj’s if we are staying home.

7:30-8:30am-Electronics time for the middle one. The boys get 1 hour per day on school days and he chooses to use his in the morning. The little one uses the iPad so I can take a shower and get ready for the day.

8:30am-The middle one gets on the bus and I start the rest of my day.

After school:

3:30pm-The big one gets off of the bus and eats a snack.

3:45pm-The big one has his 1 hour of electronics time. He likes to do it at this time to decompress and have a break after a long day at school. I start cooking dinner/prepping food depending on what we are eating.

4:45pm-The middle one gets off of the bus. The older two go out to clean rabbit cages and take care of chickens. They play outside weather permitting.

5:30pm-Dinner time.

6pm-Homework time. Backpacks get emptied. Any papers to be signed and reviewed are given to me. Homework is to be completed. Lunch box gets emptied and put away for next day.

After homework is completed they can do whatever they want as long as it’s not electronics unless they have not used their time for the day.

7:15pm-Two younger boys shower and get ready for bed. Clothes are set out for the next day. (I do this myself to make sure they match and are weather appropriate. They come up with some “interesting” combos. No one believes me that navy and black do not go together). Then we watch a tv show.

8pm-Bedtime. The big one will read for an hour before he falls asleep. The two younger ones are usually exhausted and crash.



What is your school routine? Do you have any helpful hints that I may have left out?





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My summer family room tour

Family room styled for summer

The best part about having a neutral decor palette is the ability to easily change pillows and accessories with the seasons. I never have to worry about my seasonal items matching the furniture or wall color. The first floor of the house is updated for each holiday. For the summer I decided to keep out the Americana style pillows that I found at Target late July on clearance (70% off! yay!). The patriotic look just says summer to me and they tie in with the two pieces of flag wall art I have in the room. The red and white bandana print pillows are double sided (the other side being a plain linen) and are easy to coordinate with seasonal ones by simply flipping them over. I did take down the Fourth of July banner and sign I had on the mantel and left it very basic with minimal decor.




The armoire is actually a matching piece to my bedroom set. We downsized when we moved to this home and there was no way it would fit into our current bedroom. The movers were happy to hear that! This sucker is solid and HEAVY. I’m still searching for artwork to add to the wall on the right side. I am taking my time finding pieces that I love rather than buying “something” just to fill the space.



I found this sweet little side table at Hobby Lobby (for $10! 90% off) a few weeks ago. The small blue table that was previously in this space has been relocated to the master bedroom next to my chair.


Tucked in the corner is a small rocking chair that belonged to my great grandmother on my mother’s side. The pillow is from Target and reverses to a red striped pattern. The curtains are light blocking panels purchased from Target last year. They work well keeping it cool in here from the blazing hot Virginia sun. With so many windows and sliding doors this room heats up quickly!



This is the corner next to the kitchen. I am in love with this dresser. You can see my previous post about it here:


The empty space near the back door used to be The Little One’s second toy area. He wanted to be near me every minute of the day and luckily he has (mostly) gotten over that. I need my space! The toys have been moved into the playroom. This week I have been perusing Pinterest for DIY plans to build a sofa table. I have not made up my mind yet which one I am going to attempt to build. My husband is burnt out on projects right now so this one is all me. Hopefully The Big One will help…


I hope you enjoyed my “summer look”! Do you change your decor seasonally too?



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Farmhouse style master bedroom makeover

DIY Farmhouse Style Bedroom Makeover


When we first came to see this house I fell in love with our master bedroom. The bright sun shining through the arched window and tall vaulted ceilings drew me in. The vanity was the perfect spot for me to get ready in the morning. I could imagine myself snuggling in bed with the kids on weekends and late night Facebook browsing on my phone in bed when I really should be sleeping. (Don’t judge. You know you all do it too!) Then I caught a glimpse of the 90’s trendy textured ceiling and equally dated ceiling fan. They had to go! I am one of those weirdos who hates ceiling fans blowing on me when I am trying to sleep so I opted for an elegant chandelier instead of a new fan.

PicMonkey CollageMaster

My main job was the designing and decorating (the part that I really enjoy).  I wanted a soft romantic feel in this room. In order to save money I also did the painting (which I do not enjoy). For those that do not know me in person I am very clumsy. Like fell off of a ladder injuring my back for life and was out of work for 6 weeks kind of clumsy. My bedroom ceiling is 12 feet high in the middle. Standing on my tippy toes on the ladder caused me to struggle but I got it done without any major incidents. I was very proud of myself and the kids kept coming in to cheer me on aka make sure I was still alive.

I am in LOVE with this paint color, Benjamin Moore Glass Slipper. We also used it in the kitchen and family room in our last home. The little boy’s bedroom in this house is the same color as well. I would consider it a neutral shade and it matches so many different color schemes.

We also removed the carpeting on the entire second floor. The previous owners had a cat and a dog and we are extremely allergic to both. We had the carpet professionally cleaned before moving in but it was not enough to remove all of the dander. My middle son has asthma and breathing is kind of important. We were hoping to keep the carpets as they were in perfect condition but what can you do. The carpeting was replaced with Allen and Roth laminate flooring in Toasted Chestnut. We hired Lowes to install it since my husband would not have had the time. We have been very happy with it so far and the installation went perfectly.



The giant glowing object on my nightstand is a crystal pitcher. It belonged to my father’s grandmother and was given to me at my bridal shower. When the sun comes into the room and hits it light bounces everywhere. The picture is of my father and I on my wedding day. I used to be a blonde!


It was surprisingly easy to convince my husband to plank the ceiling. Originally I thought about whitewashing it but once it was up I preferred the natural wood tone with our painted bedroom suite. We had worked with these interlocking wood panels before in the kitchen in our last home when we updated our island. It is so simple to do but is tedious and time consuming work.

I plan to write up a tutorial for the ceiling if there is any interest with my husband’s help in the future. He did not use any instructions and just winged it. He amazes me with his on the fly math and measuring skills. I, on the other hand, have trouble hanging a picture without putting a million holes in the wall and like step by step instructions.  He also hung the chandelier and changed out the vanity light fixture by himself. Electricity scares me. We make a good pair.



This sweet little vanity is just for me! I live in a house full of boys so I need my own girly space. It will be receiving a little makeover shortly.


My cozy little reading chair aka where the throw pillows live at night.


I love the view from my bedroom window. It is really cool during thunderstorms to watch the lightening through the arched window.


The whole room took us almost a year to complete. Sometimes we have great intentions, purchase everything and then take a very long time completing the work (cough…kid’s playroom that still is not finished…cough). I stared at a pile of wood against the wall for about 6 months and the ladder became a new spot for my husband to hang his clothes. It ended up being well worth the wait! I am not a morning person at all but I love waking up in this room.

Source list: (Links have been provided below as several readers have requested more information. I do not receive any compensation from them)

Curtains, rods and bedding: Target

Flooring: Allen and Roth laminate in Toasted Chestnut from Lowes

Chandelier: Allen and Roth from Lowes

Vanity light: Home Depot

Paint: Wall-Benjamin Moore Glass Slipper in Satin  Trim-Valspar Signature Ultra White Semigloss

White chair: Ikea Jennylund

Vanity chair: Home Goods

Furniture: Lane Furniture


Would you like to see how we did the ceiling? Leave a comment and let me know!

Bedroom Makeover


Shared on:

February 7th: Recipe & DIY Linky

February 11th: Saturday Sharefest

BFF Link Party – Best Friday Features

Your Inspired Design Link Party #72






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Oh you’re from New Jersey?



Last week we took a trip up to New Jersey to visit family and friends. Both my husband and I were born and raised there. We moved to Richmond when we were 25 years old. Even though we have completely fallen in love with Virginia we still consider NJ home. During our visit my cousin (who currently resides in Florida) came to my parent’s house. Our conversation turned to the misconceptions people have about our home state. All of the television shows and movies depicting NJ as the armpit of the United States has not helped matters! I thought I would share some of the things I have been told over the past 13 years once it is revealed I am a NJ native. I do not take life too seriously so I am never offended and always laugh it off. Enjoy!

I’ve been to NJ before. It was crowded and dirty.

I have heard this one a few times. Most of these comments have been from people that either A.) only had the joy of experiencing the Newark Airport or B). went to Atlantic City. When they think of where I am from their mind immediately goes to oil refineries on the side of the highway and that lovely smell. If you have traveled the turnpike up north before you know exactly what I am talking about. The whole state is not filled with cities and casinos. Mountains, farmland, and beaches can all be found within this tiny state. There is a reason it is nicknamed The Garden State and is a popular vacation destination.

You don’t look like you’re from NJ (this one has been said to me several times!!!)

I was not aware that we all looked the same. When people envision Jersey folk their mind immediately goes to thoughts of guidos and gold chains. Spray tans, big hair, and long fake nails are not for everyone. Most of us do not look like we are part of the cast of The Jersey Shore. (Hey, I am not knocking them. I dvr’d and watched every episode! My husband and I made a game out of trying to guess exactly where they were). Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people that fit the look but not everyone! We can also be normal ordinary looking people too.

Oh you’re from NJ? What exit? (followed by lots of laughter)

Ha ha. Real funny. Exit 82…

I’ve seen a few episodes of The Real Housewives of NJ. The women are so loud and always looking for a fight. Are all the women up there like that?

NO. It is very loosely based on the typical Jersey Girl. We do not all act like Teresa Giudice.

The loud part? Well that one is true…. My husband likes to remind me how loud I am. I talk loud, I walk loud. Everything I do is at full volume. When I get together with my other NJ friends the volume goes up several decibels since we all talk over each other. It is something we just can’t help.

The always looking for a fight part? No. That is a select few hotheads. Most of us do not go around flipping tables or getting into fistfights. I do have a little secret though. We all have something inside of us that I affectionately call “My Inner Jersey”. It is a rage hidden deep down inside of you that only comes out if you or someone you love has been majorly wronged in some way. Even the quiet shy ones like my husband cannot escape it. Just ask anyone that works in the customer service department at Comcast and they will tell you! You do NOT mess with that man’s internet. Luckily I have not had to use mine in a few years. It is quietly and patiently lying in wait…

You don’t sound like you’re from NJ (I’ve heard this one so many times I have lost count!)

No, we do not say New Joisey nor do we all sound like we just walked off of the set of The Soprano’s (my favorite of all of the NJ shows I dvr’d!). It is fairly obvious I am not native to VA once I open my mouth. I definitely have an accent. I do not have a sweet Southern drawl like many of my friends do and the word y’all has never come out of my mouth. If our conversation does not contain the words dog, coffee, water or Florida I will keep you guessing.  We have so many Northern transplants here in the Richmond area. If I overhear a conversation out in public I can immediately pick up the NJ native or New Yorker out of a crowd. It makes me smile when I hear it and reminds me of home.

I hope this made you laugh a little bit too. What have people said to you about your home state?






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