Pushing Myself

>> Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A friend of mine was recently asking for recommendations on Facebook because she wants to go skydiving. I passed along the name of a place I know up in the Finger Lakes and shuttered at the thought myself. Simply being in a plane is my idea of a waking nightmare. But it got me thinking about how I’ve become lazy with going out of my own comfort zone. And it’s something I’d like to work on for my own personal growth.

As silly as it sounds, I don’t like driving. I mentioned in my 10 Things You Didn't Know About Me video that it seems I don’t really enjoy any type of transportation. If I could choose, I’d live in an extremely walkable town/city that has lots of recreation. And I'd rarely leave. It’s not that I don’t like seeing new places, but I’m somewhat of a homebody. I’m happy staying in and around my home. We only have the means for one big vacation a year (in less than two weeks!), so it works out. I see many friends jetting all around the world alone, and I’m in awe of them.

Anyway, driving. I actually did something to jolt myself out of my comfort zone this week. I’ve been wanting to spend more time with my best friend from high school. It’s crazy, because we only live two hours apart, but making the trip with the whole family just doesn’t happen. Especially when we’re in coaching seasons. But there’s an area smack between our houses where we can shop, go out to eat, etc. So, we made a plan to meet up. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but when I got myself in the car alone . . . I got this rush of panic.

I’m actually pretty embarrassed to admit that the thought of driving an hour alone brought about fear. But, this is why I have decided I need to shake things up. The last time I made that drive, I was fresh off my D&C and had Ada in the back seat. I got about an hour away from home and then my tire basically exploded on the highway with nowhere to pull over. It was snowing. And it was Easter morning. I limped the car over to a Friendly’s parking lot (thank goodness it was open!) and called my dad to come to my rescue. (It’s a long story, but our other car was in the shop, so Stephen couldn’t come. And AAA wouldn’t help me because Stephen is the cardholder for our account.)

OK. Back to my recent trip. The most I drive is just around town these days. That could be a quick 5-minute errand or Aldi trip. Or that could be 25 minutes way across the area to the children’s museum. But there’s usually the chatter of a baby or Stephen to keep my company. The silence on my trek was definitely something that got to me. But eventually . . . I actually liked it. Sure, it felt weird being alone, but I had built the whole thing into much more than it was. I need to do more solo trips. It’s about more than just driving. I really don’t take enough time for just me -- independently. Everything I do is usually with or about someone else.

I’m currently coming up with a few things I’d like to do outside of my zone before the summer ends. I won’t share the whole list with you, but it’ll likely be much more of the same. Spoiler: No, skydiving won’t be on it. Maybe a longer solo car trip. (Don’t get the wrong idea -- there are plenty of times I’ve driven even into major cities alone. I’m just terribly out of practice, hence anxiety.) I’d like to work up to eventually flying someplace. Stephen’s brother lives in LA, and we’ve been meaning to get out that way . . . but I’d need to find peace with my fear first.

What have you done out of your comfort zone lately? Any ideas for my list?


Dining Room Evolution

>> Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Another post! We got a lot of nice birthday wishes for Eloise -- thank you! But I'd also say after posting this photo, I got a ton of requests to talk more about our updates in the dining room. It's definitely been a while since I've written about what we've changed in the house. And we've changed quite a bit. So, let's get to it.

Back up for just a minute. When we moved in, the dining room looked like this:

Then we changed it to this:

And then this:

Then I decided to go full-on Joanna Gaines.

And I think we're finally done with changes.


Major changes included added the corner cabinet that I found at an antique shop. I had stalked the piece for years, and it finally went on a super sale. It's just the right height for the room. It looks built in, which I love. The room isn't huge, so it's nice to have a place to stash our nicer pieces and tablecloths.

The next step was doing a faux shiplap on the walls using plywood planks. I am actually going to do a dedicated post on how I did this because I consulted a variety of sources, and it was quite a job! I did it all myself, too. We had a guy cut the plywood into six inch planks, but I did all the measuring, nailing, and shorter cuts at home.

After the planks were up, we painted everything using White Dove from Sherwin Williams. I think it's actually a Benjamin Moore color that I had matched at our local store. I hate painting, and if I'm being totally honest -- I think we need another coat in this room. Maybe Stephen will be generous enough to do that for me this summer.

You may also notice that our dining set changed in these photos. It's the same set, but I used chalk paint to refinish the table in white and the chairs in black. I still need to give the chairs another coat and do the polyurethane. But I am really pleased with how the table turned out. I did some distressing . . . and it is holding up well so far.

My kitchen is a disaster right now, but in my post on how I did the shiplap, I'll try to snap a shot of how this room flows into the kitchen. The two spaces are nicely tied into one another now. Again -- after all these changes in the three years since we've moved into this house -- I think I'm done. I really love this room. It's my favorite in our home right now.

PS: If you want to see what our house looked like back in 2015, be sure to check out the photo tour. It's in dire need of updating, so I hope to do that soon! I cannot believe how crazy the living room looks in these photos! I also stumbled upon the tours I did of our first house. Here and here and here.

PPS: That plank wood art piece came from Home Goods several years ago. We have a similar one in our dining room. They were on the more expensive side for what I spend on art, but I think they were well worth it.


Our Week's Meal Plan

>> Monday, June 19, 2017

Do you have a favorite cookbook? I do. Well, I actually have several. I'm a big fan of the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. It's where I learned how to make anything from bagels to ciabatta to English muffins. Lately, I'm digging the Fit-It and Forget-It Vegetarian Cookbook. The recipes are really easy to make, and you can easily search by ingredient to find the ones that will use up what you have in the fridge and pantry.

Anyway, I thought I'd share my meal plan for the week. We started getting our CSA recently, so there will be a great injection of fresh, local produce into our lives. Sometimes I don't know what to do with all of it! But that's part of the fun.

I go back and forth on the going-out-to-eat line in our budget. On one hand, it's an obvious thing to cut out to save money. On the other, going to restaurants is fun. You get to try new things. How I feel about it right now -- today -- is that I'd like to save it for special events. As a result, I've been spending a bit more on our weekly groceries so I can make satisfying meals Monday through Sunday.



Roasted asparagus with BBQ tofu (from the book) sandwiches

Beans + Greens (from the book) and yogurt biscuits.


Veggie burgers with kohlrabi slaw and baked sweet potato fries.


Summer Risotto (from the book) with eggs +  sauteed Swiss chard on the side.


Homemade grilled pizza topped with whatever veggies we're in the mood for.


Coconut yellow curry tofu + veggies with 5-minute naan.


Sloppy lentil Joes with side California Salad (from the book).

Frugal tip:

I have been buying supplemental veggies in the freezer section. I sometimes even get the fancy stuff, like bags of cauliflower rice or marinated mushrooms. (And, yes, I have to go to Wegmans for this a lot of the time. Aldi doesn't have the same cool stuff you'd find at Trader Joe's. You lucky people with Trader Joe's!) While the price point may not seem smart compared to fresh in some instances, I find we actually save money having ingredients on hand that cook up fast versus submitting to takeout.

More good stuff:

What's on your menu this week?

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