Friday, March 28, 2014

Daily Baby - Owen's First Year

We just got the photobook of Owen's first year in the mail.  I'm really proud of myself for weeding through the couple thousand photos, keeping it down to only 88 pages, and actually finishing it before he started Kinder.  I know I can't bring the book around to share with everybody, as much as I'd like to (although if you're ever at our house, you're more than welcome to peek), so I made a short video from the scrapbook pages that I created.  I really hope I captured the essence of the tiny little goofball I'm proud to call my son!

The scrapbook pages were created using My Memories digital scrapbooking software.  I ended up ordering the book through Winkflash, who were having a flat page book sale (up to 100 pages for a flat rate, which saved me $66 according to my checkout receipt).  I'd say they run that sale a few times a year, so worth looking out for if you have a big book in the works.  Winkflash seems to be a lesser known printing company, but they do good work and the only complaint I have about their photobooks is that they don't print the album title on the spine.  

Anyway, enjoy!  I'll be back soon with those kitchen before and after photos!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Daily Art - Foto Friday, Jellyfish edition

Today, I wanted something soothing and pretty to share, as a contrast to the mayhem that's happening in my house.  So, here's some pictures of jellyfish that I've taken in the last couple of years.  Happy Friday all!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Daily Ramblings - So that's what was under reno (Part 1)

Welcome to March. So far, the month has been taken up by dust and home improvement, so here's a quick breakdown of what's been going on! (Right now, I'll share everything via Instagram photos, but proper before and after shots to come later...)

Here is the original kitchen. That's a lot of little white tiles, right? In fact, our kitchen table (not pictured) also featured little white tiles on the top, a leftover gift from the previous owners that we never bothered to remove. The problem with little white tiles everywhere is that they are impossible to keep clean....and, without anything on the counters, it's quite apparent how bland this looks!  We've upgraded the appliances in the last couple of years, but notice the beautiful trash compactor in the lower left corner?  We don't even know where the key for that thing is, so it's mostly been taking up space.  We had it removed and I can't say I miss it.

Whomever laid the tile previously never bothered to do the laundry room, or under the dishwasher or stove.  The gap between where the tile stopped, and where the dishwasher was placed, was about a half inch collection point for things that had been swept over time.  Gross, I know, but I certainly wasn't about to go fishing around in there to get things out.  To be honest, when we first moved in, 5.5 years ago, we knew that the kitchen would eventually have to go.  I'm surprised it took us this long!

One advantage (if you want to call it that) of the bad tile job, was that it wasn't a complete shock when the tile was pulled up to reveal this beautiful linoleum underneath.  The building was built in 1981 I believe, which means that's probably the original.  Gorgeous isn't it?  I thought about keeping it, I'm kidding.  That stuff had to go asap.  Three guys spent an entire afternoon scraping it off the sub-floor.  I was at home that day, and not at all jealous of what they were doing.

The counter-tops were demolished on day two, after the floor was pulled up.  Needless to say there's a lot of eating out/ordering for pick-up going on right now, and I'm grateful for the paper plates and plastic cutlery left over from Owen's birthday.  Our fridge is also in the living room, which makes for easy access at least...and we'll just say that's a silver lining.

The cabinets are the one thing that we're keeping, although we will be adding hardware.  Our new floor tile is a slate color with brown tones that match the cabinets, which they are starting to lay down today.  The granite is going in this weekend along with a new sink and faucet.  We're finishing everything up with a pretty glass mosaic back-splash, which will be started next week and is likely to be the most complicated part as it is the most intricate.  It might also be the part that I'm most interested to see come together as the granite and flooring are quite dark, so the back-splash (and paint) is where we decided to bring back some lightness.  

I stood in the kitchen this morning to take a look at/admire the paint color in daylight. As I was contemplating how much I enjoyed our chosen color (BEHR "Sculptor's Clay, which is essentially a neutral somewhere between brown and grey), I laughed at teenage me who would have undoubtedly thought being excited about such things was lame.

Any kind of remodeling can be stressful, even more so with a toddler in the house.  We've had various adventures this week just trying to keep him out of the house as much as possible.  When we did our bathroom, there were at least other bathrooms available to use.  Not having access to the kitchen, as a household that cooks 5 nights a week, is definitely a unique situation that I'll be glad to be done with.  It's a small price to pay for getting to cook in my new, awesome kitchen soon!  I'll be back with an update next week...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Daily Craft - A paint swatch color book

We have a kitchen remodel coming up that is about to invade our house for the next couple of weeks.  This means we've been in and out of home improvement stores the last couple of weekends and, as a reward for his patience while we pick out backsplash and floor tiles, I decided to make Owen something using the paint swatches we'd given him to keep him entertained in the shopping cart (because it seemed safer than handing him power tools). 

Using this as inspiration, I set about making Owen his own color book.  I picked up a few sets of stickers at Dollar Tree (who carry a pretty decent selection of laser, 3D, and foam stickers) then went about matching the sticker colors to the swatches.  Once I'd decided on the color order, I used double-sided tape to stick the swatches to each other back to back.  Then I punched holes and bound them together using loose binder rings.  Finally, I personalized the front page for him.  I'm so happy with how it turned out!

I'm hoping that over time he can even add his own choice of stickers to the ones that I already included in the book.  That way it really is even more personal to him, as well as having the advantage of teaching him about his colors in a fun way!

There seem to be tons of paint swatch crafts out there, and I can kind of see why now that I've made this for Owen.  Very fun, not complicated.  Have you tried any yourself?  Please share if you have!

I'll be sharing photos of the kitchen remodel shortly as demolition starts on Monday - yikes!  In the meantime, I would also like to give Home Depot props for this sweet shopping cart, complete with steering wheel!  Owen loved "driving" like a big boy while I made our tile order.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Daily Dish - Let's talk spaghetti squash

Growing up in England, I can't say I ever really ate winter squash.  It wasn't until recently that I decided to try a spaghetti squash and it has quickly become a favorite in our house.  A lot of recipes for spaghetti squash use it as a substitute for noodles, which makes perfect sense given the name right?  Nutritionally (courtesy of, a cup of spaghetti squash has 31 calories (1g fat, 7g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g protein), whereas the comparable amount of regular pasta has 200 calories (1g fat, 42g carbs, 2g fiber, 7g protein).  It is certainly a low-calorie, low-carb substitute.  If you're looking for an identical texture, you'll be disappointed, but spaghetti squash has proven to be versatile, delicious, and filling. 

The trick is to bake the squash at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.  At that point, the shell is easy to pull away and you can either use a fork to pull out the inside as "spaghetti", or fill it with toppings. 

Last night's adventure was Pad Thai.  We used this recipe, which was enjoyed by everybody in the house, big and small!  The recipe was good, although I'd probably add a little more lime juice next time around.  The squash was also a little softer than I'd have liked to create the spaghetti strands.

Another really enjoyable recipe was this one, for a Southwest Spaghetti Squash. We added some lean ground turkey to the recipe, which also meant that we had a ton of leftovers.  The possibilities are really endless with what you can put inside.  Did I mention that there's broiled cheese?  Automatically makes it a winner in my book!

Having just bought another couple of squash at Costco, I think we'll be trying this spaghetti squash primavera next.  Seriously, so good.  Have you tried it?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Daily Art - Feeling the love!

It's Valentine's Day.  Here's my love, photo edition!

Love heart

Love is....Deuce "Bag", the smug, furry one


Love is....cousins

Love is....creation


Whether or not you celebrate Valentine's Day with a special somebody, or think it's the worst kind of Hallmark holiday, your love isn't just about a relationship, or just one day.  Go out and spread the love!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Daily Review - Groovebook (plus a free one for you!)

I suspect that Shark Tank is one of those shows that a lot of people watch but don't usually talk about.  I love it, personally.  There's always that moment of "that's brilliant, why didn't I think of that", or the eye-rolling at Mr. Wonderful's royalty based deals.  Recently, the owners of the Groovebook app were featured.  I'd actually heard of Groovebook before they showed on Shark Tank, but their appearance inspired me (and I'm sure many others based on how slow their servers were the weekend after the show aired) to give it a try. 

For those of you that haven't seen it, Groovebook is an app for printing pictures off your phone.  If you're anything like me, you have hundreds that may or may not get uploaded to Facebook/Instagram but then just sit in your phone memory.  For $2.99/month (incl. S+H), as a subscription service, you can upload 100 photos a month to Groovebook, and they send you a printed book with those photos.  The photos are 4x6 and perforated so that you can pull some out to give to friends and family, pull out to put in a scrapbook, or frame.  I just got my first book and I love it!  I just uploaded the photos for my second book (which was quick seeing as I think their servers recovered from the post-Shark Tank rush) and I'm already excited to receive it.  On the show, they did make a deal with Mark Cuban and Kevin O'Leary, so I'm curious to see what happens next, but I really hope they hold on to this original model.

The photo paper feels a little thinner than prints you might order from other services, but at $0.03 a print, they're a great value (compared to the $0.10 or $0.12 you might pay elsewhere).  I also love that each photo has the time and date stamped right above the perforation.  The app itself is pretty easy to use.  I like the advanced photo option where you can pick how many of each image you want in the book.  There's a little "ticker" at the top of the screen to let you know how many photos you have left.  Once you've selected them all, you simply upload to the service and a couple weeks later your book arrives.  I also like that you can order additional copies for others, which is great if you're being harassed by family members for new photos of the little ones!

I did notice that there was a coupon code (JACOBS87) for a free Groovebook in the back of mine, so I wanted to share it with you all.  Overall, this is definitely one I'd recommend to anybody looking for an easy, and inexpensive, way to get those photos off your phone and into your hands.  With a free coupon code, there's no excuse not to try it!

DISCLAIMER:  I received no compensation for this review.  I just think it's a neat product and wanted to share because I like you guys!