my dream home

If asked to describe my dream home a year ago, I probably wouldn’t have said it was a 1,500 square-foot rancher built in the 70s.

We found it when we were not even thinking about looking (although, isn’t that what happens when you’re married to a Realtor?). Grace was 2 and a half months old. We had just made the decision that I would leave my career to be a stay-at-home mom and I quit my job 5 days before we went to see this house. Corey showed me the MLS listing and I immediately started begging him to see it. I was convinced that if we saw it in person, I would find something wrong with it and then I could let it go of how much I liked it without thinking of it again.

Obviously, things didn’t happen that way. We went to see it that afternoon. We walked in, and Corey and I looked at each other, both of us clearly pleasantly surprised. As we toured it, we found ourselves discussing how we would decorate each room to make it ours. This would be Grace’s nursery. We would put our bed here. Corey would have his wished-for man cave basement. That storage room would become my crafting room. We didn’t want to leave! It felt right. It felt like our home.

Needless to say, we prayed and we made not one – but two – offers and we were elated to find out that we got the house over competing offers. Family and friends were totally shocked to learn we were unexpectedly moving! The next 2 months were absolute madness. In between nursing and holding a newborn, I packed boxes. We rented a storage unit to start moving stuff out of the house in advance and Corey ran boxes over in between appointments. We stayed in the guest room at my mom and stepdad’s house for almost a month while we were quite literally between homes. There were tears and sweat and stress and I don’t think either of us anticipated how hard it would be to pack, sell, move, and unpack with a newborn. Corey was under it from being a new dad and managing files, clients, closings, and showings. I don’t know how he managed all of it. But I wish I would have showed him more respect and appreciation at the time for everything he did for us. I was under it from being a new mom, nursing on-demand, and unpacking. We were both short-tempered, and it felt like we were in that phase of life for much longer than a couple of months.

But now, we both agree that it was so worth it.

When I was young, I envisioned my dream home as brand new; at least a 4 bedroom, 2-story home. Maybe the bathroom would have a jacuzzi tub. An eat-in kitchen but also a formal dining room, for, you know, entertaining. A big walk-in closet complete with a vanity. An outdoor brick oven built right into the patio.

But now? I’d say that I want a quaint home with a cozy living room and an eat-in kitchen. A house where my little one could crawl from the living room to the kitchen to the dining room and down the hall to her bedroom without touching stairs. A house big enough for us to breathe when we needed to, but small enough to be close. I’d say that’s all we’d need. And everything we’d need. A home where Corey and I would grow old together. With a backyard with enough space for Grace to run and play. Maybe a third bedroom for another baby years from now. A place where family and friends could gather around bonfires. I’d say my dream home is a 1,500 square foot rancher built in the 70s.

gracie’s party animal birthday

8Q5A7547 (1).jpg“She wont remember it.”
“But we will!”

Corey and I had this conversation a dozen times in the weeks leading up to Grace’s first birthday party! Admittedly, I probably thought about her party way too much, but I truly wanted her feel the joy that she gives to us every day. And OK, I love to throw parties… and this was definitely the most fun and colorful one I’ve ever hosted!

We had the party at 11am to try to work around typical nap times, so we had brunch style foods. The menu consisted of ham and cheese sliders, chicken and waffle sliders, parfaits, pasta salad, deviled- and red-beet eggs. Desserts are pictured below! Sadly, when Grace woke from her morning nap that day, we noticed she wasn’t quite herself. As the party progressed, we realized she had caught a cold! We felt so sorry for her, but she was such a good sport.

Aubree Shannon graciously spent time out of her weekend to come take photos, and I am so thankful she did! Here are the photos she took of the decor, the cake smash, and a few quiet family moments!

*I purposefully left out photos of our family and friends at the party – we are planning to share those photos privately 🙂

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The wreath we had hanging on our front door the day of the party! I made this with 2 large packs of balloons. sewing pins, and a styrofoam wreath mold. We already had the “G” in Grace’s room, so overall the cost to make this was around $20 (these sell for $60-75 on Etsy). What I love about a DIY like this one is that it can totally be imperfect and you honestly can’t do it wrong!

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I fell in love with this print – I purchased the PDF on Etsy, had it printed at OfficeMax, and framed it in a Target snap frame. Instant downloads from Etsy are my favorite! Pom honeycomb garland is from Target also.

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I made the birthday hat from scrapbooking paper, and made the tutu for around the high chair. The tutu was SO easy to make. I was shocked at the cost to purchase one– $30-50! I bought 1-inch white ribbon and 25 yards of white tulle on a spool. I wanted the tutu to be 12 inches from the top of the high chair, so I cut 24-inch pieces of tulle and looped them evenly around the ribbon using this method. It was SO easy and it was $12 for the materials.

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Allow me to introduce you to JoJo, our beloved stuffed giraffe who has quickly become Gracie’s BFF. She is so limited with her words, but she will point and say “JoJo” and loves to “pet” and say good morning to her. With the party animal theme, we thought JoJo would be good emotional support for cake smash time 🙂

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Balloon garland: Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Had I known what a huge pain it would be, I would have put one balloon on Grace’s high chair! It took over 4 hours… and there were 6 popped confetti balloons. CONFETTI balloons. The tutorials I looked at were not helpful and glue dots popped the balloons. I ended up super glueing in the extras last minute!

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I spray-painted these Paper Mache letters white, and the 1-12 month garland was a $5 Target find! Grace’s monthly milestone pictures were taken each month with her Chloe cuddle + kind bunny that her aunt and uncle got for her for her first Christmas! If you haven’t heard of this company, check them out. 1 doll purchase provides 10 meals to kiddos in need.

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These ostrich and giraffe canvas prints are not typical staples in our living room, nor did we buy them for the party! They usually have places in Grace’s play area in our basement and were purchased from Home Goods.

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Found this idea on Pinterest, but wrote the poem myself. 🙂 All of the animal printables above and below were *FREE* on Caravan Shoppe!

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Grace’s naked cake and cookies were made by The Paisley Pair. We were so in love with them! The animal toppers on her cake were Schleich brand. I made the party hats using this tutorial.

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I saw these milk bottles on Pinterest. I thought they were so adorable. So I purchased a dozen and then last minute purchased a dozen more. Do you know how many of these were used at the party? 3! I don’t know what I was thinking. No one wants to drink room temperature milk. Please learn from me. Save your money. Save the milk. Throw the mini donuts on a plate and call it a day.

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The main foods were ham and cheese sliders (which were also easy to put together the day before, then coat with the sauce and throw in the oven the morning of) and these chicken and waffle sandwiches pictured. We ordered a small catered tray of Chick-Fil-A nuggets, and I popped the waffles in the oven to put these together the morning of the party. So easy!

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Since we had a ‘brunch’ hour party, we had Dunkin’ cold brew and Starbucks hot coffee. It was SO easy. I purchased these packs and made the cold brew the day before. Buying the hot Starbucks traveler boxes was worth it – no need to make pots of coffee during the party and no line for the Keurig. Plus, the boxes of coffee come with cups, lids, stirrers, cream, and sugar — and keep the coffee hot for 3 hours!

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For party favors, I purchased these mini jars in the under $5 section at Target. I spray painted the lids white and superglued these animals to the top! I added some twine around the jars, and filled with frosted animal cookies.

Now for my absolute favorites…

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Trying to share the cake with JoJo!

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When it was time to get Grace changed and cleaned up, Aubree came back into our bedroom and asked if she could snap photos. With the rush and constant go-go-go of the party, I was so thankful she did! These pictures ended up being my absolute favorites.

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I definitely feel like us mamas put an impossible amount of pressure on ourselves to make our kiddos’ birthday parties special. In the world of Pinterest, the ideas are so endless. There are definitely things I would have done differently in hindsight:

  • I wish I would have skipped the arch. It was honestly the only part of the party prep I didn’t enjoy!
  • I started planning Grace’s party so early. Like – 3 months before – early. It resulted in me buying various items and changing my mind so many times. The whole party truly came together in the 2 weeks before. It would have saved me so much time and saved us money if I had just waited and then committed.
  • I would have had less sweets. We had SO many leftover cookies, chocolated-dipped oreos, white chocolate-covered pretzels, mini brownies… I think the cookies and donut holes would have been plenty for the time of day!
  • I would have skipped the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches. They just weren’t super good. I loved them in theory, but they were not practical. I would have also skipped the milk bottles.
  • I regret not trying on Grace’s birthday outfit before the party. Her actual outfit lasted 5 minutes before the cute little suspenders on her denim skirt were falling off her shoulders! I was kicking myself for not picking something more practical. It’s an outfit. Not a big deal. But Corey said her shirt reminded him of this… If you know Corey, you’ll appreciate this. Ha!

The one thing that I am 100% so happy we invested in was hiring Aubree to take photos. She captured Grace’s personality so well, along with other moments of the day with family and friends. Best of all, I felt like I was truly present all day and honestly didn’t pick up my phone once. If you are on the fence about hiring a photographer for your little one’s first birthday, DO IT! And if you’re local, contact Aubree!

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the items pictured for a party, please reach out!

Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far! It was such a blessed day and it was so fun to be able to share it with you.

gracie’s nursery

gracie’s nursery

When found out we were having a girl, I was so excited to decorate the nursery! I knew I wanted it to be pink and grey, with white furniture. The interesting thing about Gracie’s nursery now is that most of the large items (furniture, lighting, chair) were purchased for her bedroom in our first house – which was much smaller and had a sloped ceiling.

We moved when Grace was 3 months old (wouldn’t recommend it), and our entire home was painted the same griege color. Depending on the lighting, sometimes it throws grey, sometimes it throws beige. I was way too tired after the move to think about painting it grey like her first nursery, so we’ve made it work!

So many of these items were found over the course of pregnancy and after she was here! I love the feeling of finding just the right accent… and I will be patient and refrain from buying until I get that feeling. I finally feel like I have ‘completed’ her new nursery (except for a mirror above her dresser when she is no longer being changed on top of it) and am so excited to share it, it was planned with so much love!


This elephant… I found at the PB Outlet! It was the first ‘gift’ I bought for Grace when we found out we were having a little girl.
Guests of our baby shower brought books instead of cards, so I wanted to make sure we had shelving for Grace’s little library. I loved the idea of these shelves and imagined her being old enough to pick a book for me to read to her.

This is real life… 🙂

Thanks for taking a look at our sweet girl’s room!

perfectly flawed

perfectly flawed

We were sitting on a deck during the summer of 2014, sipping mojitos and enjoying the evening breeze… reminiscing about the three years prior. We talked about how, like most, we had gone through our share of challenges, but we’ve gotten down to the art of working things out civilly.

My husband described us that night as perfectly flawed. Perfectly flawed beings in the eyes of God, perfectly flawed in our relationship.

We’ve seen our fair share of challenges since then, as most couples do. But the same definition holds true. As time has passed, it has become clear to me how many other areas of my life can be described the same way: my spiritual walk, my marriage, growth in my career when I worked outside of our home, my stretch-marked body, motherhood, productivity and shortcomings of being a homemaker. I get stuck on the details instead of seeing the big picture. I was a perpetual procrastinator before having a baby, and now, it’s only gotten worse. I’ve washed the current load of laundry twice now because I forgot to move it over to the dryer. I’m a bear in the morning. I blow far too many dollars at Starbucks these days. I’m ashamed of my postpartum body even though I would be pregnant in a heartbeat all over again to have Gracie.  I can’t wear white without somehow spilling on myself. I do not love people the way Jesus does. And yet, He loves me, so perfectly flawed! And that brings me peace that nothing and no one else can.

My mother gave me some advice when I told her I wanted to share my heart and thoughts through writing. She said, “Keep it real” – and that is what I plan to do.