Vintage Faux Bamboo Shelves Makeover

January 18, 2017

Remember those thrift store shelves I blogged about forever ago?  Well, I'm finally took the "after" photos!  I paid $5 for them at a thrift store this past summer, and I'm pretty sure the reason I paid so little for them was because they were pretty awful looking.  You can see the previous post and all of the before photos here.  Here are two before photos for a quick comparison though:

As you can see, they were pretty ugly!  The first thing I did was clean them.  They were really dusty because that had been in the thrift shop for so long.  Next, I sanded them.  I used 100 grit sandpaper with my orbital sander (is it weird that I love my power tools?  I use this one by DEWALT and it's great), which really helped even out the texture.  The shelves are particle board and the top layer was really bumpy.  It almost looked like there were little bubbles under the finish.  The faux bamboo part is real wood and I used a sanding block to smooth those down by hand.

Next, I wiped the whole piece down with a wet microfiber cloth so that they were free of debris.
I just went the spray paint route because painting with a paintbrush scares me.  I love the Rustoleum spray paint I used on Jack's campaign dresser and our Chinese Chippendale dining chairs, so I decided to use it again on the shelves.  It has the primer built right in so two or three coats of white paint plus two coats of a shiny top coat did the job easily.

I say this on every furniture makeover post, but it's amazing what a little paint can do!

Sources: Hey Y'all Print | Calendar | Desk | Brass Pineapple with Paperclips | Bulletin Board (see DIY here and I recently painted it and changed out the fabric) | White and Gold Pineapple Jar (see DIY here)

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New Workout for the New Year

January 16, 2017

Sorry for the lapse in posts this past month.  I couldn't get in the right mindset while we were traveling and I have had a difficult time getting the motivation to write anything since we got home.  Thanks to those of you who have stuck with me!

The new year brings all sorts of resolutions and new intentions, but when it comes to fitness I find it really difficult to be motivated when it's so cold outside!  I'm not a fair weather runner and I truly enjoy a good run in the rain or a bundled up run when it's in the 30s or 40s, but these temperatures of "-1 feels like -13" here in Kansas have completely sidetracked all of my running progress.  It's too cold for me to run, and much too cold for me to run with Jack in the stroller, so I'm putting my distance running on hold for a while and switching things up.  What am I doing, exactly?  I joined my local Stroller Strong Moms workout group and it's amazing!  It meets 5 days a week at an indoor facility with an indoor track (they meet outside when it's warm)  and you bring your babies in strollers and do circuit workouts and run laps and we even did yoga one day.  It's a fantastic way to get a good workout in (although you do have to stop make sure your kid isn't screaming their head off sometimes), it's fun for Jack to socialize with other babies, and it's a great way to meet other moms who have similar priorities.  Jack is too young to mimic our moves, but it's fun seeing the 2 and 3 year olds copy their moms when we do lunges or downward dogs.  It's a great way to encourage fitness and health in our children from an early age, and even though I've only been going for a week and despite being more of a solo exerciser, I am thoroughly enjoying it and plan to continue participating until we move this summer.  

Stroller Strong Moms groups meet in a variety of locations all over the country (many locations tend to be near Army posts), and if you're looking for a way to meet other moms and challenge yourself then I highly recommend it.  It's a bit pricy (I had a hard time getting over the $50 a month price tag) but then I realized that if I take Jack to the hourly daycare on post it's $4 an hour and for me to get a decent workout in I'd have to pay for 2 hours each time I went to the gym...which would cost $176 a month if I went 5 days a week.  So I'd say it's a great deal!

What are you doing to stay fit in the new year?

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New Camera Review (My old one took a swim)

December 15, 2016

I've mentioned it a few times on Instagram and earlier on the blog, but my old camera went for a swim in my purse when a water bottle opened up and spilled everywhere.  I was sad at first because my camera was a decent one (not DSLR though) and I'm also cheap so I knew we were going to have to fork up a bunch of money due to my careless mistake.  Plus there's the fact that I hate taking pictures and I hate learning about taking pictures and I figured it was all hard and that no matter what camera I used my pictures were going to suck the thought of having to research cameras and then learn how to use a new one intimidated the heck out of me.  Well y'all, turns out I was wrong, and now that I have a new camera I actually enjoy taking photos, I enjoy learning how to take better photos, and my photos are ACTUALLY DECENT!  This is such a huge revelation I still can't get over it.

I ended up going with the Canon EOS Rebel T5 camera and bought the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens to go with it.  I knew it was time for me to buy a big-girl DSLR camera, but I am the opposite of tech-savy so I wanted an entry level DSLR camera.  After polling y'all on my Instastory, doing some research, and asking my friend Sarah of Sarah Bradshaw Photography (she took the photos for my Everygirl and Design*Sponge home tours and she's an amazing wedding photographer too), I settled on this camera and I'm so glad I did.  It was pricy but not crazy expensive like I had expected ($399 and then $125 for the additional lens), it is user friendly and it takes such crisp photos!  

I took the photos on this post yesterday in my parents' backyard and they are completely untouched so you can see what an amateur like me is capable of with this camera.  Some are a little blurry because I'm still learning, but they are way better than anything I ever took with my old camera.  Isn't Jack so stinking cute?  I still can't get over him sometimes.  I mean, he's a complete wildman and it's exhausting, but his cuteness helps make up for the trouble he causes.  I know I'm a little biased though :)

So here are a few thoughts on why I like it:

-The 18-55mm lens that comes with the camera is great for shooting interior photos, and I use this lens primarily when I photograph my home.  It lets you adjust the zoom so it's good for capturing the whole room.

-The 50mm lens is wonderful for detailed interior shots and that's also what I use when I photograph Jack (like in the photos above).  Absolutely worth the additional money.  

-The camera tells you what adjusting each setting will do.  For example, when I want to blur the background it tells me that if I decrease the aperture it says "subject stands out, blurred background," which is exactly what happens!  I truly thought that only fancy bloggers and photographers could get that blurred background effect.   
-When I was having trouble photographing the curtains in Jack's nursery (see post here) I knew I needed to adjust something but wasn't sure what to do.  I played around with my camera a little and saw that if you adjust the exposure that will make things darker or brighter, and there is a little sliding scale that shows you whether you're going to make your photos darker or brighter.  I love how straight forward it is!  With my old camera I was afraid to adjust anything because I had no clue what would happen.  This camera is basically a camera tutor and helps guide you as you learn what each setting does.  

I still have so much to learn and lots of improvements to make, but so far I am extremely happy with the camera.  If you want to make the leap into the DSLR world then I highly recommend the Canon EOS Rebel T5.  It gets great reviews on AmazonTarget and the Canon website, and it's a great entry-level camera especially if you have no clue what you're me :)

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Christmas in our Historic Home

December 12, 2016

We will be spending Christmas back on the east coast this year, but I couldn't resist decorating our historic home in Kansas for Christmas anyway.  Our 11 months in Kansas will be up in June, and I know I'll likely never live in something quite so historic and charming ever again, so I had to go all out with garland, Christmas trees and holiday decor.  I'm sure I'll have lots of pine and cedar needles to clean up when I get home after New Years, but it's totally worth it.  It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it?  


boxwood wreath: Target | all items I added to the wreath: Target | red Christmas truck: Target | "Merry Christmas Y'all!": Winnie Jean | skinny christmas tree: Hobby Lobby | ornaments: Target and Hobby Lobby | basket holding Christmas tree: Target (old) | star garland on doorframe: Target | colorful reindeer pillow: HomeGoods (old) | pompom garland: Hobby Lobby | colorful bottle brushes: Target (old) | Advent Calendar: Target (old) | white ceramic tree with lights: vintage | fur rimmed stocking: flea market (similar) | train stocking: 2015 LL Bean (similar) | white stocking: flea market (similar) | glass candlestick holders: CB2 | gold candlestick holders: CB2 | brass candlestick holders: vintage | marble Christmas trees: Target | marble dining table: Crate & Barrel (old, similar) | Chinese Chippendale Chairs: thrift store (DIY update here)

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The Military Girl's Search for a Simple Black Purse

December 8, 2016
I've worn an Army uniform since 2005 and can honestly say that it took 8 years and a job at the Pentagon for me to buckle down and find a simple black purse that I could carry in uniform.  Military regulations are very strict when it comes to carrying bags while in uniform, and I refrained from ever carrying anything other that a book bag until I finally had to.  Not that I don't love purses, it's just really hard to find one that complies with regulations that is actually cute!  After a bit of research I finally settled on a simple black Longchamps bag that was stylish enough for carrying when I wore "normal" clothes, but it was also suitable for carrying documents (and lip gloss) around the Pentagon and to meetings on Capitol Hill. (Although now that I'm referencing the regulation again I'm not entirely sure that this was authorized either!  Obviously, the regulation is confusing.)  Enter WILCO Life, an online boutique and pop-up shop that features minimalist styles that you can wear in uniform, that includes today's trends that you'll want to wear in civilian clothes too!

Me at the Medal of Honor Ceremony at the White House in 2014.  See blog post here.
This post isn't sponsored at all, I just think that this is an amazing resource for military women, military spouses, and anyone who likes a more minimalist look.  Amy, an Alaska National Guard officer and the founder of WILCO Life, saw the need, so she created a shop that did all the hard work so that female service members like myself could quickly and easily select military compliant (yet cute) bags to carry in uniform.  She approached me about sharing her company on my blog and I happily agreed to do it for free because I like to support small businesses, Veterans, and I also thought it was such a neat idea!  WILCO means "Will Comply" in military lingo, and she carries name brand bags of all shapes and sizes that comply with military regulations.  My favorite is this BAGGU Basic Tote and this MightyPurse clutch that charges your phone while you're on the go!  In addition to bags to carry in uniform, she also curated a beautiful collection of subtle "military pride" pieces (like jewelry and scarves) that are great for spouses (or military women not in uniform) to wear to promotion ceremonies, retirements, and formal events. 

WILCO Life is offering 20% off thru December 12th, so if you're in the military yourself, or if you simply like minimalist black bags, you've got to check it out!  Use code HOLIDAY2016 when you check out to get the discount :)  And be sure to follow WILCO Life on Instagram and Facebook too because Amy holds giveaways and promotions from time to time!

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Jackson's 13 Month Update

December 7, 2016

I completely missed a 12 month update here on the blog, but I'm back for a 13 month update!  Jack turned 13 months old this past Friday and his two bottom teeth finally popped through on Saturday!  It only took 13 months but my boy finally has some teeth.  He weighs 25 pounds 10 ounces (79th percentile), he is inches 30.3 inches tall (54th percentile), and he has a big ole noggin and he's in the 95th percentile for head circumference.  We just had his second 12 month appointment because he had a mild case of hand, foot and mouth disease when he was supposed to have his 12 month well baby appointment...and since he wasn't actually well for it they made us come back again.  I think this was the saddest appointment due to the 3 shots and the blood draw for lead and anemia testing.  He cried but made a quick recovery and then took a very good nap.  

I'm still nursing but it's down to just morning and night, and the nighttime feeding is rather hit or miss.  He's so busy that he doesn't really have the patience to sit still anymore.  I'm sad that this chapter is coming to an end, but it's been a wonderful experience and I'm glad we made it this far.  We may wean by the time the week is over :(

Jack likes to brush his hair, try to feed himself with a spoon, climb the stairs (if we forget to close the gate) and sit on them until you notice he's made a break for it, and he finally learned how to drink from a sippie cup (although he makes a massive mess).  He enjoys putting jingle bells in the lower branches of the Christmas tree, turning on the Roomba, and he has become fascinated with cars and trucks of any size.  He will sit and flip through the pages of a book, as long as he's by himself and you're not trying to read to him.  He is obsessed with electrical cords, so if anyone has any tips on how to make him stop messing with them PLEASE let me know.

He has become VERY picky with food.  I don't know what the deal is.  He'll eat oatmeal, pouches, yogurt, raisins, bread and snacky things like puffs, but he's skeptical of anything that comes out of a bowl and anything that requires much chewing.  Is this normal?  He won't even taste things.  It's really frustrating because he used to love pretty much everything.  I guess we'll just continue to try to feed him and hopefully one day he will snap out of it.  

He has been walking since he turned 11 months old, and at this point he has a quick little gallop.  He likes to chase and be chased around the living and dining rooms, he learned to give high fives a few days ago, and he babbles all the time but doesn't say any real words yet.  He does a little dance when he hears music or gets excited, and it is absolutely adorable.  

His sleep schedule is almost back to normal now, with bedtime at 7PM and wakeup around 7AM.  He's had a few hard nights recently due to a cold and teething, but overall we can't complain.  He's still taking 2 naps a day on most days, although he's starting to fight the morning one so that may end soon too.  

This Christmas break we will be traveling a lot (Atlanta, Fripp Island, Disney World and Tampa) and if anyone has any tips for going to Disney with a toddler I'm all ears :)  

We have a healthy, happy, lovable baby boy and I couldn't ask for more.

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Holiday Style and Tassel Earrings

December 5, 2016

It's #MommyMonday on the blog again and today I'm excited to share this fun holiday look and these amazing tassel earrings with you!  This season it's all about mixing patterns so I paired a festive plaid button-down (with the cutest ruffle details) with a white striped skirt.  The skirt is an old one from Ann Taylor but here is a great striped option that is currently available and I think this sequined skirt would be adorable too!  As always, I threw on my go-to black pumps from J.Crew (they're old but these and these are two cute current options that are very similar).  The finishing touch was this adorable pair of olive green tassel earrings from Hello Dobson.  Hello Dobson is an emerging online lifestyle brand that offers these earrings in a whole bunch of pretty colors (check my Instagram later today for a giveaway!) as well as fun home decor items and beautiful handmade clothing.  Everything is colorful and preppy and right up my alley.  These earrings would make the perfect Christmas present for your girlfriends because they're lightweight, on-trend, and only $30.  You've got to check Hello Dobson out! 

Also be sure to check out my favorite blogging mommas to see how they style their Hello Dobson tassel earrings on this #MommyMonday:

Mireille at City Peach
Nina at the HHS Feed
Ali at Inspired By 
Tiffany at Tiffany Style Blog

Shop the post:

Note: Thanks to Hello Dobson for providing me with these tassel earrings.  I only work with brands I love that I think that you will love too!  If you're interested in collaborating with me please email me at

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