Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Heart February

I love Valentine’s Day (or, Saint Valentine’s Day, as it was originally named). I love the pinks, the reds, the purples, and I especially love them all mixed together. I love the hearts and decorations. I love my memories of picking out the perfect Valentines to give my classmates and how excited I was to receive them in return. I love being able to express my love to my husband, family and friends. To put it simply: I love the month of love.
My husband is a major History Buff and it’s just one of the million things I love about him. I have never been big into the topics of history, trivia and the like, but his interest in history is one of the things that have grown on me during our 7+ years together. I find myself researching topics, both little and big, just to find out the background.  So, for all of you history lovers out there, read The History Channel’s research on the The History of Valentine's Day. It’s rather embarrassing to admit that as someone who loves Valentine’s Day, I really don’t have that many decorations. I have a few hearts, a few red and pink things (heart shaped bowls, heart shaped platters, etc), and some pink lights. Yes, lights. In college, my wonderful Mom would send me various decorations for the holidays to spruce up my dorm room/bedroom in an apartment with 1 other girl/bedroom in a house with 4 other girls/studio apartment. Still to this day, the Christmas Valentine’s Day lights (and Halloween lights – a mini strand of lights that are orange and in the shapes of pumpkins) – a mini strand of lights that are hot pink – are still one of my favorite decorations that I use year after year. Those few decorations may have worked in our old apartment(s), but they won’t do justice in a house. All of the decorations we currently own could be used in one room. Unacceptable to this holiday-decoration-loving gal! So, I have been on the search for fun, and homemade, Valentine’s Day décor. I have a few projects in the works and can’t wait to make their debut at the beginning of February (along with instructions on how I made them in case you want to spruce up your living space as well).
The first project is going to use a little of this…

The second project is going to use a little of this…

And, last but not least, the third project gift is going to use a little of this…

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

He's Coming Home

… from Afghanistan!!!
My baby brother (and by baby, I mean 21 years old) has been serving our country in Afghanistan since April 1, 2010 and he is FINALLY coming HOME! Our family heard from him over the weekend and he requested that no more care packages be sent his way because they will be leaving mid/late February and (a) they won’t arrive before they leave or (b) he won’t have enough room to bring anything home in his one duffel bag (he is already beginning to ship things back to the States). I have just one word to describe how excited I am that they’re mission is complete and they will be coming back a month early (his orders were to deploy for “12 months or until mission complete”)…
Here is the handsome Soldier when he first enlisted almost 2 years ago.

PV2 John (Jack) Fagan
Jackson (as I’ve called him since he was a toddler) enlisted in the US Army in February of 2009. He had his choice of MOS (Military Occupation Specialty – basically, his “job”; this is what the Army calls your job when you enlist and there are nearly 200 to choose from) and chose the oldest and largest branch in the US Army, Field 11 – Infantry. Within each MOS, there are fields and branches and Jack chose branch 11B – Infantryman (Or rather, his superiors chose him for that position. You can’t enlist with a guarantee of MOS 11B; you go through training and are selected based on your performance.) The basic role of the Infantryman is to be the main land combat force.  So, just as it sounds, Jack is in combat on a daily basis.
After completing BCT (Basic Combat Training) and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) in May 2009, he was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division and stationed at Fort Drum in upstate New York. After more training at Ft Drum, Jack found out he was deploying to Kunduz, Afghanistan on April 1, 2010. He has been there ever since, serving his country as a Gunner in the 1st Brigade, 87th Infantry Division, Charlie Company, 2nd Platoon. He either sits on top of his Humvee in a turret or inside his Humvee with a remote control (I’m sure there’s a fancier name than that, but it basically is a remote control that he can use to stay inside the vehicle but still shoot his weapon. I think it’s the best invention EVER!) shooting his 50 caliber machine gun that looks something like this. 
Here he is after graduating from BCT & AIT at Fort Benning in Georgia and then with our proud parents.

Our family could not be more excited or relieved that he is getting out of that living hell. No more live combat (being shot at or having to shoot at). No more week or month long missions (leaving the base as a Platoon and living on their own as you travel around in the hottest and coldest days you can imagine - right now the temperatures are bitterly cold and his Platoon sleeps outside on the ground for 5-10 days at a time!!!). No more referring to “home” as the FOB (Foreign Operations Base). No more MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat - after about a month in Afghanistan Jack said he would rather not eat at all than eat another MRE. Yes, they’re that bad.). No more attempts to stay in contact with our family from half way around the world. No more urgency to send our family an email or text message to relay his safety after a media-worthy event (A few weeks ago there was a huge attacked on the Aghani Army Training Base. A few Taliban went into Kunduz – where Jack is stationed –, killed the Afghani police officers on guard, blew themselves up in an attempt to take out as many members of the Afghani Army as possible, and proceeded to fight the US troops/Afghani Police/Afghani Army. Jack’s Platoon was in combat for over  five hours and in this time his weapon jammed twice. Remember how I told you he could control it by remote? Well, luckily he was doing that on this particular day, but when his gun jams, he has to climb on top of the Humvee to un-jam it. My heart still races just thinking about  it. Anyway, after they were safely back on the FOB, Jack sent my mom a text saying something along the lines of: "when you see the fight in Kunduz on the news just know I’m alive." Talk about gut wrenching! My dad immediately got on the computer and was able to read all about the event; it was a front page story of the New York Times. Unfortunately, we received text messages like that more than you can imagine.) No more, no more, no more… until he goes back, which will probably happen at least one more time before this horrible war is over. But we can’t focus on that! He has survived his first tour of duty and we are overjoyed that he will be on US soil next month.
Here is the Soldier in full ACU's (Army Combat Uniform) with a few buddies at Fort Drum before deployment. Jack's the one in the middle.

He is truly my HERO and I will forever be thankful to him for risking his life every single day to keep us safe at home. I am so proud of him for his courage, selflessness and loyalty to the USA. Thank you to each and every one of you for your prayers – past, current and future – for his safety. Our family will forever be grateful and hold you close to our hearts!

Below is my daily prayer for Jackson:

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
*The Our Father (The Lord’s Prayer)*
Dear God, please keep Jack safe and healthy - physically, mentally and emotionally. Please watch over him in body, mind and spirit. Please keep him wrapped up in your arms tight enough to protect him from enemy and friendly fire, explosions, vehicles, and enemy hands. Please allow him to feel our prayers, love, pride and strength from half way around the world. Please continue to watch over Jack, our family, all of the military men and women overseas and their families, and each of the kind people that are praying for Jack’s safety. Thank you for keeping him safe and healthy up to this point.
*The Hail Mary*

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
I love you, Jackson. Hurry home!
“We are the land of the FREE because of the BRAVE!”

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas? Yes Please!

I don't know about your family, but we can't turn down Mexican food of any kind! It doesn't matter if we've had it seven days earlier, three days earlier, or one day earlier... we can eat it again. So, after a long week of work and travel, the husband proposed that we do an at-home date night on Friday evening, and I was loving the suggestion. His meal of choice? Chicken enchiladas and homemade salsa. Lucky for me (and him) my new recipe was a huge hit; "the best chicken enchiladas I've ever had", to quote him directly! And since I love all of you so much, I wanted to share the love... or food... or love of food! Either way, I hope you enjoy this wonderful meal with your honey!

Whenever I look for new recipes I love searching online to get ideas. In this case, I searched for sour cream enchiladas, took some ideas that I liked from a few different recipes, and put my own twist on it. Here is what I came up with, but please feel free to take the parts you like, leave the parts you don't like, and definitely be sure to share your final recipe with me!

Kat's Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

* Chicken, cooked. The majority of recipes I saw called for entire chickens to be baked or boiled. Since we are only cooking for two, that would have been way too much food, so I opted for chicken breasts. We always have a bag of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts on hand, so I defrosted/thawed 3 medium sized breasts and let them marinade for a few hours. For a marinade, I like to use Taco Bell's taco or fajita seasoning packets. I just mix the seasonings with a 3/4 cup of water and pour the mixture into a large zip-lock bag with the thawed chicken breasts. I bake the chicken at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, flipping half way through. After I remove it from the oven, I cut the chicken breasts into bite-size cubes (but you could shred it if you prefer) and place it in an air tight container to refrigerate overnight. ***I baked my chicken on Thursday night and refrigerated it until I came home from work on Friday afternoon. By doing this, I saved myself tons of time on Friday since I could start at the second step when I got home.***

* 16 oz sour cream, 2 cans cream of chicken soup (98% fat free), 1 green onion, diced. In a large mixing bowl, I combined 1.5 cans cream of chicken soup (although, I might try just one can next time), 10 ounces sour cream (although, I might just try an 8 ounce container and I'm going to try the fat free sour cream and hope it tastes the same), and diced green onion. Mix these well with a spoon and take about 4 spoonfuls out and put them in a small bowl to the side (this will be your pan coat and topping). Next, I put the cubed chicken in the large mixing bowl and stirred everything together, making sure to coat all of the chicken.

* Tortillas and shredded Mexican cheese. Now it's time to create the enchiladas! I took one spoonful out of the small mixing bowl and spread it over the bottom of my 9" x 13" baking dish. Then, I started putting together my enchiladas. I used 6 tortillas total (I really like to fill them to the max!), spread the chicken-sour cream-soup mixture down the middle, sprinkled Mexi cheese on top and (for Caton's only) placed a few diced jalapenos on top of the cheese. After doing this six times, I was able to fit all of my rolled up tortillas, seam down, into the baking pan and spread the remaining mixture from the small mixing bowl over the top of all of the enchiladas.

* Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes... and ENJOY!!!

Homemade Salsa

This is a recipe I got from my great friend, Cindy! I'm not sure where she picked it up, but I am thankful to that person, wherever they may be. This is the easiest recipe of all time!

* 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can Rotel (your desired flavor - I love the Mexi Cilantro & Lime), 1-2 green onions, diced, 1-2 tablespoons garlic, diced. We love using our mini food processor, but I'm sure you can use a blender or something similar if you like it extra smooth like we do. All of the ingredients get thrown in the processor together, blended (for an insane amount of time, if my husband is making it) and poured into a serving dish. That's it; literally less than 5 minutes and you're enjoying some of the best salsa we have ever tasted.

Wow, all of this food talk is making me hungry. I think I'm going to go enjoy some leftover enchiladas and salsa. When I made them Friday evening, we each had three (three with jalapenos and three without). We had one on Friday for dinner, one on Saturday for lunch and the last is going to be enjoyed as a Sunday afternoon football-watching snack. YUMMY!!!

So, do you have any great recipes to share? Did you try my version of sour cream chicken enchiladas? If so, do you have any suggestions to make it even tastier?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Winter Wonderland

“BRRR COLD!” When I step outside in KC this week, those are about the only two words I can manage to spit out before a chill goes through my entire body. We are definitely living in a Winter Wonderland in mid-January. Although, “Winter Wonderland” signifies something enjoyable (in my mind at least) and this weather is the furthest thing from pleasant.
I don’t know about all of you, but I feel like this is the coldest winter we’ve had in my 26 years of life. No, I haven’t gone through any records or statistics, but this is definitely the coldest winter in my memory. On Monday, January 10th, KC set a snowfall record for the date at 6+”. The prior record was 3” in 1918. WOW! The overnight and early morning temperatures have been negative (yes, NEGATIVE, as in below zero!) degrees and the wind chills have been upwards (or is it downwards?) of -20 degrees. Again, I only have two words: BRRR COLD!!! Oh, and may I vent for a second? I find it seriously NOT funny when the weathermen/women try to make their cute jokes about the temps increasing and say, “We can expect temperatures to rise to the mid-20’s today; it’s going to feel like spring!” Um, no it’s not!!! Please, for the love of the freezing viewers, don’t quit your day job and take up a career as a Comedian!
I wish I could say I have done something fun with all of this snow we have accumulated over the week, but I haven’t. The kids and teachers were all given snow days on Monday and Tuesday, and some on Wednesday, but the business world doesn’t believe in snow days. So lame, right?! On my drives to and from work I have seen kids and parents out enjoying the snow and sledding down some of the biggest hills in KC, but to be honest, that doesn’t even look fun to me with the temperatures as low as they have been. It may be different if I lived in a mountainous state and could go skiing every day, but snow-shoeing and ice-skating down our street and in our driveway are not my ideas of fun.
Speaking of our driveway, it still isn’t shoveled. I know; the shame! Our first accumulated snow in our house and we act as if we still live in an apartment complex that takes care of snow removal. The neighbors must think we’re just “lazy kids”, but we have a good reason. Promise! Caton had to fly out first thing Monday morning on business for the week, so I thought to myself, I’m a strong girl… I’m in good enough shape (even with the strike through, please take that lightly; I’m working on getting back in shape!)… I’m perfectly capable of snow removal as the woman of this household…
 Yeah... not so much!
When I got home on Monday evening (after work and dinner with my wonderful friend, Emily) it was already dark AND they were predicting more snow overnight, so I decided to wait until Tuesday. By the time I got home on Tuesday it was already dark, again, but I was determined to accomplish something. First, I felt awful that our poor mailwoman, who is so nice and friendly, had to sludge through the snow to get to our front door. I know, I know, I’m sure the majority of houses she delivers mail to don’t remove their snow either, but that doesn’t make it right so I wasn’t going to jump on that bandwagon of lame excuses! Secondly, I had to figure out how to get our humongous trash and recycling bins to the curb that night for pick-up bright and early Wednesday morning. Just to give you a clue of how bad our driveway was, I have had to put the Envoy in 4-wheel drive just to get up the curb and to the garage all week. If only our rolling trash bins had 4WD! Hehe  So, I layered up on clothing, turned on both outside lights, grabbed the shovel, and went to work.
Yeah… that lasted a whole 30 seconds!
Besides the fact that is was FAAAREEEZIIING (that’s a given) and my legs were sore-to-the-point-that-I-couldn’t-walk from doing a hardcore P90X workout the night before, there was also a thick layer of ice under the snow since I waited an extra day to break out the shovel. Just wonderful! It didn’t take me much longer after that to realize that I was definitely not going to be able to shovel the driveway by myself. But I was still in “pay it forward” mode, so I not-so-gracefully managed to shovel a path (please take that lightly as well; by path I mean there was still packed and iced over snow on the ground, but at least it was something you could walk on top of and not have the snow come half way up your calf!) across our driveway, along the sidewalk to our front door, and across the yard to the neighbors house for the mailwoman. And please don’t think I was so naïve as to think that there weren’t neighbors watching, with a bowl of popcorn in hand, out their front windows as I slip and catch myself here and trip over the front sidewalk there and get too cocky and jam the shovel too far into the snow, only to remember it is ice, as I’m practically falling to the ground. Oh, I’m sure it was quite a site to see and will make it oh-so-awkward to meet them for the first time when the weather is nice and we actually make it outside once in a while. I won't even get into the story of the trash bins. It took a ridiculous amount of time just to get the darn things out from the snow drifts on the side of the house, let alone all the way down the driveway. Oh, it was just as much fun to get them back up to the house on Wednesday evening! So, needless to say, our driveway is still a snowy mess and I will have to continue using the 4WD to get in and out… boy am I thankful for 4WD right now.
As if this hasn’t been enough “winter wonderland” to hold us over until… oh, next year! The KCTV5 weather blog is predicting 3-6 MORE inches by Monday evening. All I have to say is (in the words of one of my favorite TV shows, Grey’s Anatomy)…
Stay warm, be safe and take my advice: bribe someone else to shovel your driveway!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dear Family & Friends

Dear Family & Friends,
I just want you all to know how much you mean to me. I want you to know that I cherish our relationships and friendships and will always be here for you just like you have always been there for me. We have all been through good times and bad times and I am just thankful we were able to go through them together. The songs in this post are dedicated to you. If you are reading this and you think, even for a split second, these songs are meant for you and our friendship, I promise that they are. My husband, my parents, my siblings, my friends – both female and male, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my parents/siblings/cousins-in-law… all of you!  I feel like their lyrics are words that I can say directly to you and mean with all my heart.
Yes, you’ll realize that some of them are only directed towards Caton (you’ll know which songs based on the lyrics), or rather, some of the lyrics are directed towards Caton, but I wanted you to hear them in the event that you want to pass them on to your significant others as well. Caton and I have always dedicated songs to each other - songs that describe good or bad days, songs that make us think of each other, songs that reflect that very moment in our life together. Our latest tributes have been ‘Shine The Light’ and ‘Be There’ on certain days that one of us needed a reminder we would “shine the light” or “be there” for each other, always and forever.  
Listen to them once and never again… or listen to them on days that you need a lift and a reminder that I’m here for you… or listen to them every single day… but listen to them and know that I thought of you!
Shine The Light - Sugarland  
Lean On Me - Bill Withers 
You Got A Friend - James Taylor  
Stand By Me - Ben E King
You're My Best Friend - Don Williams
I Wanna Be There - Blessed Union of Souls  
My Best Friend – Tim McGraw
I'll Be There For You – The Rembrandts (It makes you think of FRIENDS, doesn’t it?!)  
Wind Beneath My Wings – Bette Midler (My sister and I used to sing this song to our brother when he was a baby. *The movie Beaches came out the year before he was born* It’s funny really, since he is a true Hero to us an Infantryman in the US Army.)  
Those I've Loved – Eric Church 
There isn’t a rhyme or reason for this post. Sometimes there are just days when we stop, look around and think about how lucky we are to have certain people in our life. Today is that day for me. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being my friends and support system. You are so special to me!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Let There Be Light

… in our entryway!
The entryway and living room of our house doesn’t have an overhead light, which quickly turned into a problem when the sun would set and the entire front of the house was pitch black. Having the Christmas tree up for a month definitely helped the lighting situation, but since we are not the type of people that keep Christmas décor and lights up year round (not that we have anything against people that do; to each their own!), we decided it was time to “let there be light”. We rounded up a few floor lamps from our old apartment (they’re black with the clear plastic bowl shades – yes they’re cheap and yes they’re from Wal-Mart or Target, I can’t remember, but they work for us) and placed them in the corners flanking the fireplace. It really helped to lighten up the room. Well, the far side of the room, anyway. Here they are with the Christmas tree up.

After a few days with the new lamps we realized it was still really dark on the other side of the room, near the front door and dining room. Even if we had the dining room chandelier on full-blast (it’s on a dimmer, which we love), the front door was like a big black hole in the room… not exactly the most welcoming way to enter (or exit) a home. Luckily, we have our new sofa table (although ours isn’t anywhere near a sofa, but maybe in a future casa) up against the big wall in our entryway, providing prime real estate for a nice lamp. Over the long NYE weekend Caton and I stopped by the Salvation Army down the street (it’s really becoming a once or twice a month event that I can see us carrying on for… well… ever; you just never know what treasures you will find!). The hubby headed straight for the vinyl records (no joke) and I made a B line for the lamps. I was ecstatic to find one of the ugliest lamps I had ever seen with a price tag of $4.00. And as if that wasn’t enough to make me yell across the store to Caton about my great find, it ended up being “white tag Friday” so I got the ugly duckling for a grand total of $2.00!

Once we got it home, I taped up the cord and top of the lamp base (as shown above) that didn’t need a nice new coat of paint. My first coat of spray paint was a primer that was sure to stick to wood and metal (and pretty much everything in between). I went with Krylon's Indoor/Outdoor Primer in white. After the recommended drying period, I went back at it with Krylon's Indoor/Outdoor Paint. (Are you sensing the theme yet? I’m a big fan of Krylon spray paint and craft products. They’re awesome and super reasonably priced at Wal-Mart.) The red was a bold choice for me and honestly one that Caton and I are still surprised I made, but so glad that I did. It’s a far stretch from my beloved (and slightly obsessed) blue theme throughout, oh, every other part of my life, but stepping outside of your comfort zone is good, right?! I love the finished results and couldn’t be happier to continue our red accent theme throughout the living room. 

I love love love that bright red! I found the lamp shade on sale at Target and think it complements the base perfectly. I debated with the square versus round shade, but decided to keep the theme cohesive with the round/circular base. (Come on, you knew I couldn’t stay outside the Type-A box too long, right?!) It wasn’t until after I got home with the shade that I learned a bit about lamps. See that big circle on the top of the lamp in the first picture. That is called a harp. You learn something new every day! Anyway, those are useful (and necessary) for certain types of lamp shades, but not the one I purchased. All we had to do to get that sucker off, was pull up the little covers where the harp connects to the lamp, push the harp together and pop it out of the sockets. It took a whole 2.5 seconds and voila! The harp was gone and my shade fit perfectly on the base.
I know, I know, everyone wants to know the important stuff… how much did this project cost? Well, the shade was on sale at Target for $9.99 from $14.99, and you already know that the lamp base cost a whopping $2.00. We already owned the painter's tape, spray primer and spray paint, so I’m super happy to announce our grand total to "let there be light" in the living room was $12.00!!! Not bad at all considering the mix and match shades/bases at Target are going for $14.99-49.99 (shades) and $29.99-69.99 (bases).
$12.00 is sounding like a pretty sweet deal to me… and our bank account!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside

We are having a cold winter here in Kansas City. Well, it’s freezing cold one day, it’s 50 degrees the next day, and then it’s snowing two days later. Only in Kansas… welcome to the Midwest! Our master bedroom is actually an addition that was made on the house about 20 years ago (as is the family room) and we quickly found out when we moved in that those rooms get COLD.
Since we weren’t interested in breaking the bank just to heat two rooms (the rest of the house stays comfortably warm with our cheap modest thermostat setting), my oh-so-intelligent husband threw out the idea of getting a space heater. Now, I will admit, I was downright clueless when it came to heaters of any kind. My parents never had a space heater in our house growing up, so all I knew about them was from the horror stories on the news every winter about houses burning to the ground, children getting hurt or things just all-around going very badly. About the time I’m envisioning all of our belongings going up in flames and thinking (1) this man is crazy and (2) there is no way in hell we are buying one of those (the hubby could tell by my eyeballs growing to the size of lemons and my jaw dropping to the couch) Caton quickly informed me that space heaters are nothing like they used to be, they have tons of built-in safety features and precautions and are actually pretty stylish.
Lucky for our cold buns, I believed him and we headed out to Target to do some space heater shopping. They had a huge selection (so much so that it was actually hard to decide which would be the best) but we narrowed down our options by size, color, and features and ended up coming home with this little stud. 

Isn’t he handsome?! We call him Spacey the Space Heater by Lasko and we got him for a great price from Target (I have this habit of putting –ey or –ie on everything. Just ask the hubbs; but he thinks it’s cute!) to go along with Koney the Kone Dirt Devil and Swiffey the Swiffer . And here it is in our bedroom. Please don't mind the clothes stacked in the corner. This was taken before we bought our shelf for the closet. :)

We love everything about this heater and would recommend it all of you in a heartbeat. In fact, the Fagan kids (and kids-in-law) got one of these bad boys for my parents for Christmas this year and it was a huge hit. Not only do the colors, size and style go well with our bedroom furniture and décor, but the features are better than we even realized in the store. It has a remote, which is always a plus, and also oscillates so the heat is evenly spread around the room. These were things we knew from reading the box at the store, but it wasn’t until after playing around with it that first night that we realized it has a built in thermostat. This small appliance is smart! Each night, depending on how cold it is outside, we set the heater’s thermostat and once our desired temperature in the room is hit, the heater shuts itself off. If at any point during the night the temperature of the room falls a degree below our set number, the heaters kicks itself back on and continues oscillating to get the heat flowing back through the room. It is such a lifesaver… or should I say cold booty saver! We have also found ourselves bringing it out to the family room on a chilly evening to keep us toasty on the couch while we watch some shows or movies.
So, if you’re finding your house extra cold this winter, head on over to Target and get your own Spacey!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

House Tour Part III

Welcome to the third and final installment of our House Tour. We toured the front of the house, entryway, living room and dining room in House Tour Part I and the kitchen, family room, first floor guest bedroom and hall bathroom in House Tour Part II. Last, but not least, we will check out the master bedroom and bathroom, the office/upstairs guest bedroom and basement.

The Master Bedroom - Before:

The Master Bedroom - After:

This is my own little version of a jewelry box, with much easier access. The necklace holder is actually a wooden tie rack that I found at Goodwill years ago for under $1.00. I gave it a quick coat of black satin spray paint and hung on the wall in the far corner of our room where the only time it's seen is when I get out of bed. It holds all of my necklaces perfectly and allows me to actually see what I have when picking something to go with my outfit. The earring holder is actually a picture frame I've had for years that was probably gifted or handed down at one point, so it was my favorite price - free. I also gave it a quick coat of black satin spray paint, after removing the glass and backing, picked up some decorative tin (you can get this from any local hardware store - but be sure to get thick tin, about $20 for a large sheet, and not the thin screen you put in a door or window as that would not be nearly strong enough to hold earrings). As I'm typing this I'm realizing it may be easier to just do a separate post about making the jewelry frame, so I think I will! Stay tuned... Anyway, I love my little "jewelry box... holder... wall", whatever you want to call it! I also have one of those jewelry trees that holds all of my bracelets, but it sits on my vanity on the other side of the room.

The Master Closet - Before:

The Master Closet - After:

 The Shoe Closet - Before:

The My Shoe Closet - After:

The Master Bath - Before:

The Master Bath - After:

The Office - Before:

The Office/Upstairs Guest Room - After:

For anyone that's wondering, yes, I was very nervous that our huge executive desk and credenza would not fit up that tiny stairway, but our fabulous movers were able to move it without breaking a sweat. Well, they probably broke a sweat (it is extremely heavy), but they still made it look easy! We love the fact that the space was big enough for our office furniture and pull-out coach, allowing us to create an extra guest bedroom when necessary. It has also proved to be very beneficial when my hubby and his Godfriends (aka, our brother-in-law and cousin-in-law) need a place to hold their "meetings" to discuss super-important topics like guns, sports, beer and video games. :)

The Basement - Before:

The Basement - After:

We aren't planning on the basement flooding (and are wishing, hoping, and praying that is never does) but just in case, Caton had the great idea to put all of our storage items on skids. We had the skids left over from moving some of our heavy furniture, but I'm sure these could be picked up behind a variety of stores that dispose of them on a daily or weekly basis. It brings me peace of mind just knowing that in the event the unthinkable flooding did happen, at least we have a few inches of saving grace to keep our out-of-season clothing, holiday decor and other not-used-all-that-often stuff safe and sound.

So there you have it, the digital tour of our house. We still have a few things we want to do here and there, (and we're sure there will be projects we take on over the next couple of years) but we're excited to be settled and call this place home. We can't wait for our family members and friends to visit and see it in person!