The Adventure Starts Here

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Our Valentine's Day

Being that Valentine's Day was on a weekday this year, it felt a little different.  Not that we necessarily go all out when it's on a weekend, but I have to admit that Chris and I really do like to shower Noah with love and treats.  So while Chris and I had our "Valentine" date over the weekend, we still tried to make the day special for Noah, even if Chris had to work.  Our Valentine's Day was filled with festive food, a craft, and a few gifts.   

On Valentine's Eve, we went over to our friends' house for a play date and made some heart shaped mini pizzas with the kids.  Some sauce spilled over and more cheese went in their mouths than put on the pizzas. But the kids had fun, and the pizzas still resembled hearts when they came out of the oven, so I call it a huge success!

Noah had so much fun doing the "Buddy the Elf" scavenger hunt, that I knew I wanted to do another one for him for Valentine's Day.  After he fell asleep, I hid some heart shaped clues all over the house while Chris blew up a bunch of balloons to hide in the basement as the "treasure" at the end of the hunt.  The clues were things like "your favorite drink", which led him to the chocolate milk in the fridge and ended with "where you and Daddy play on the weekends", which led him to the basement to find the balloons!  He got every clue really fast, and was only confused by the last one, guessing that he and Daddy usually play in living room, not the basement.  He loved the scavenger hunt and I definitely think this will have to be a new tradition for us!  

And even though Chris had to work on Valentine's Day, he still managed to surprised Noah and me when we came downstairs in the morning.  Balloons, roses, and lots of sweet treats greeted us when we walked in to the kitchen.  While I had originally planned to make Noah some red pancakes for breakfast, as soon as we saw the donuts, those plans changed! 

We then quickly got ready and headed out the door to meet up with some friends.  I was a little bummed he wouldn't wear his Valentine's shirt, but he did promise me he'd wear it to school the next day for their Valentine party.  We went to our local environmental center where the kids learned about birds, and then made a Valentine craft AND a bird feeder.  It was so sweet when Noah decided that his craft was going to be for Daddy when he got home that night!  We then went to lunch with his friends before heading home to just hang out.  It really was a great way to spend Valentine's Day! 

Once we were home, it was all about the gifts.  Chris and I kept it simple by giving Noah a new construction Lego set and some alphabet stamps.  He loved them both and was ready to start building, that is until Grandma arrived with even more gifts!  This boy is definitely loved (and spoiled!).  

Grandma and Papa gave him Guess Who, a Batman Lego set, a few books, and even more candy.  I think it's safe to say that Noah was basically surviving on an all sugar diet at this point!  After reading Wacky Wednesday, playing multiple rounds of Guess Who, and building his Batman Lego, it was time for dinner.  Noah wanted to eat at home, so my mom went out and picked up Chipotle for us, getting an extra bowl for Chris for when he finally got home from work.  I was so relieved to see the sugar didn't affect Noah's appetite and he inhaled his quesadilla, rice, and cantaloupe!  

Grandma went home, and we were lucky enough to have Chris home on time (which still isn't until 6:45).  Noah helped us exchange cards and open our gifts.  We were cracking up to find out that we both used the same photo in our personalized cards!  Chris took my hints and got me a few things I mentioned in this post.  I was a happy girl :).  As for Chris, I got him some beer a little 6 pack cooler we can use when we go to BYO restaurants.  I had put the beer in our basement fridge a few days ago, knowing there was a good chance of him seeing it.  He kept quiet but admitted that he had already seen it.  I got him Sam Adams Cherry Wheat and he was convinced that I bought it after asking his friend what his favorite beer was.  We don't really drink much at home and I really know nothing about beer. When we are out, I usually see him order a Miller Lite, or prefers to try something new that they have on tap.  But since this was a gift, I wanted to get something a little nicer than Miller Lite.  So I went to our local liquor store and just started looking at all the different beers.  I ended up with the Cherry Wheat because I remembered he liked the seasonal Sam Adams and he's always down for trying the fruity flavors.  Chris was shocked that I just happened to pick out his favorite beer without any help.  We couldn't get over how random and fortuitous my beer selection was!  

So that was our Valentine's Day.  An otherwise typical Tuesday, that was made special and full of extra love!  

How did you celebrate Valentine's Day?

*affiliate links may be used... see my disclosure for more information

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Year of Dates 2017 | February - Once

For Christmas, I gave Chris "A Year of Dates". That means that each month, I have planned out a date for the two of us to go on. Each month, he will open that month's envelope to find out what the date is. We did this back in 2014 and really enjoyed going on a date each month. Since then we have found it easy to push date nights to the side when we don't have them planned out. That's why I knew it was time to do "A Year of Dates" once again. This past weekend we went on our February date, and unlike last month's movie at home, this one required a babysitter, aka my mom.  

Three years ago when we first did "A Year of Dates", one of Chris' favorite dates was in March when we went to see Rock of Ages at the local theater in town.  We didn't live in a huge town, but this theater got some pretty decent shows, everything from comedy shows, to kid productions, to shows that used to be on Broadway.  So when planning the dates this year, I was pleased to find that the Broadway show "Once" was coming to that same theater.  We never saw the show on Broadway or even knew that much about the story, but I had heard such great things about the music.  Since this was not only our "February date" but also our Valentine's Day date, we decided to make an event of it all and grabbed lunch before our 2 pm show.  

Before I get to the details of our date, let's talk about my outfit.  It was a cold and dreary Sunday.  If we didn't have plans, it would have been the perfect day to just stay inside all day.  While I had originally thought of wearing a dress, I really just wanted to be comfortable and warm!  This sweater with the floral back detailing was perfect.  It kept me warm but had an extra feminine touch to make it a little more special for our Valentine date.  A sparkly necklace and a bright pink lip completed the outfit.  Not only was it cold, but there was freezing rain on top of that.  Thankfully the roads were fine for driving, but the sidewalks were a different story.  Some of the restaurants and stores had done a good job salting them, but there were quite a few patches of super slick sidewalk, causing me to have to hold on to Chris to keep me up.  While these boots are super comfortable despite the heel, I learned this weekend that they don't have much traction.  I felt like I was ice skating!  No worries though, I still love these boots!

sweater (now 40% off), similar (more sizes) | necklace (similar) | jeans
brown boots - I ordered up half a size and in wide width based on reviews. 
lipstick (Smitten) and gloss (Kissyfit)

Since the show was starting at 2pm, we opted to grab lunch before.  Since living in Morristown, a few new restaurants have opened.  One of which is a second location to a restaurant Chris' family has been going to for years.  We knew we liked the food, so we were eager to check this location out.  The funny thing is, it replaced a restaurant that we had gone to for our 2nd anniversary.  We really loved that place and it's vibe (it's still around, just in a new town), so we were excited to see if the inside decor would be changed.  They made some slight changes from the last restaurant there, but it definitely resembles the old restaurant more than it does their other location, which is a good thing. 

Since we went on a Sunday, they were serving brunch rather than their normal lunch menu.  We laughed when the waitress asked us the time when we ordered a glass of wine and a beer, since they can't serve alcohol until after 12.  Not sure if that is a New Jersey thing, but we are used to this rule and already knew it was past noon before ordering ;)  I think we both wanted warming up, I ordered the french onion soup and Chris ordered the chili... both were delicious.  We then each ordered a grilled cheese, mine had short ribs in it and Chris' had avocado.  And since we had some time to kill before the show started, and had no desire to waste time outside in the elements, we opted to splurge and get some dessert as well.  A small sacrifice indeed ;) 

I was a little nervous about the slippery sidewalks for our walk back to the theater, but thankfully the rain had stopped and the sidewalks were a little better.  Still some icy patches, but at least I didn't feel like I was ice skating the whole way ;)  While I usually prefer Orchestra seats, for this performance I was able to get some really good seats in the Balcony.  My general rule is that if I can't be in the first few rows of the Balcony, that I'd rather be in Orchestra, even if it's the last row.  We had 3rd row seats and on the aisle (which Chris loves).  And we just so lucked out that there was an empty seat next to me, giving us a little more room to spread out.  

The show takes place in Dublin and a lot of it is set in a pub.  As we were waiting for the show to start, the stage acted as an extra bar where the audience could actually go and get a drink!  It was pretty cool that you could go and really see the whole set up close.  Since we were already in our balcony seats when we learned this, we opted against going up, but we still thought it was cool.  And before the lights dimmed and the actual show started, the ensemble cast played some really fun Irish music as a pre-show.  Chris and I kept asking if this was the real show and were so confused why the lights were still up.  If you get a chance to see Once, I would definitely recommend it!  The show, and especially all the music, was really amazing and makes me want to go to Ireland.  You think I could get away with planning a trip to Ireland as one of our "dates" ;)

Stay tuned for next month's date.  March is my birthday month, so I'm sure Chris can guess what our date will be ;)

Does your town have any good local theater?  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Little Letters | February 2017

I was recently introduced to a new linkup that really sparked my interest.  Taz and Belly hosts Little Letters, where you basically just write a series of letters to anyone or anything you’d like.  I love reading random tidbits about other people's lives and I think this is a great way for me to do the same thing.  Here are my Little Letters for February...

Dear Noah's Art Enrichment, I am amazed at the things you do with a bunch of 3/4 year olds!  Noah stays after school once a week for an art class.  While we do lots of art projects at home, I'm constantly impressed with the things Noah brings home from this weekly class.  They teach the kids such cool techniques and do things I would never even think of!  

Dear laid back weekends, I love you!  The majority of the year, we fill our weekends to the brim.  While most of our plans are super fun, we don't set aside much time to just sit back and hang out.  But in the winter, there naturally aren't as many plans, meaning we have more weekends spent at home in our pjs/sweats, just playing and hanging out.  And I have to say that I'm really loving it.  I may need to build more downtime into our weekends going forward!

Dear Dad, please get better soon!  My dad has been sick (with a cold, nothing crazy serious) for over a month.  And while I want him to get better just to be better, I also have a rather selfish reason as well.  He's the one who hangs all my frames and shelves.  I've been accumulating a very long list of things for him to hang since before Christmas.  Back then, we decided to hold off until January when things weren't as busy.  And now it's February and I'm still waiting.  I guess I could learn to hang things on my own too ;)

Dear Costco, you sure do know what you're doing the day before Super Bowl.  The samples you put out are delicious and perfect for the big game!  The store may be super crowded, but it's totally worth it.  We learned this last year by accident and this year Chris purposefully scheduled our trip for the Saturday before the Super Bowl just so we could try all the yummy food!

Dear photography class, thanks for helping me shoot better in low light!  I loved learning about composition and all that other good stuff, but the whole low lighting thing really helped me this time of year.  I feel more confident taking photos of Noah inside our house during the winter now!

Dear Lunch Bunch, I think I'm gonna like you.  Just a few weeks ago, Noah started staying after school a couple days a week for lunch.  Not only does Noah staying for lunch give me a little extra time to get stuff done, but Noah loves it!  He loves packing a lunch, finding the notes Chris and I leave him, and eating with his friends!

Dear Noah, thank you for trying some new foods lately!  For a while now, Noah's been a pretty picky eater.  While he likes lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, he can be pretty picky and not willing to try new things.  He also has a thing against most meat.  But just recently he tried English Muffin pizzas and rotisserie chicken and liked both!  He also tried my Chicken Francese (and didn't like it), but the important part is that he tried it!

Dear tree that fell down in my backyard after a windy storm, you made me a little worried.  When I saw a huge tree down in my backyard, I immediately saw dollar signs.  Having a tree removed is not cheap!  Thankfully, since we live in an association, and the tree was on the back part of our property, the association is responsible for removing it.  I'm also really relieved that the tree didn't hit our house or our deck... that would have been horrible!

Any " little letters" you need to write at the moment?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What I Wore | Mommy Style

It's been a while since I've shared my every day outfits.  I have to admit that I started wearing sweats more and more during the week.  The cold weather combined with not many plans made me a little lazy with my fashion.  And even though it's still winter here, we have been having some nicer days thrown in here and there.  And slowly, I'm getting back into the routine of actually getting dressed and actually taking photos.  I've been trying to limit my spending, so most of outfits include old pieces that are no longer available.  I did however link up similar pieces when I could. 

 wool coat (currently on sale!) |  sunglasses  

similar peplum top | jeans (Stitch Fix) | boots (similar)

similar sweater | jeans | necklace 

Plum shirt (similar) | sweatpants | slippers 

top (similar Lou & Grey) | jeans (Stitch Fix)

sweater (old Loft) | leggings | boots (similar

top (similar) | jeans | similar necklace

top | jeans (Stitch Fix) | booties

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Kids Behind The Blog | February 2017

I can't believe we are already into our second month of "The Kids Behind The Blog" in 2017!!!  This is technically our one year anniversary for this linkup, and it's still one of my favorites!  I really love recording our interviews on video and documenting his personality, growth, and speech development.

As much as I love asking Noah the questions each month, I also have so much fun reading what your and my co-hosts' (CrystalBethJessicaStephanie) kids have to say each month! And in case you are new to the linkup, here's a little background information. We came up with this idea because we are such huge fans of Betsy's "The Guys Behind the Blog" (which I've heard rumors will be brought back very soon by some of my favorite blogging friends!) and wanted to create something similar to do with the "kids that made us mamas".  Each month, we have a set of questions to ask our kid(s) and we will share their answers on our blogs. We sure hope that you will do the same and link up with us each month! We can't wait to read what your kids have to say!

This month's questions were:

1) What does the word love mean to you?
2) Kids choice! How do you want to spend Valentine's Day?
3) Do you have a Valentine? If so, who?
4) How many days are in the month of February?
5) How do you show someone you love them?

1. Not really sure what I thought he'd say.  But I do think it's adorable that he asked "you allowed to tell me?".
2. While I have a few more fun things planned for Valentine's Day, I really love his ideas!
3. I have to admit that I would have loved if he said I was his Valentine, but I guess if I'm not, I'm glad his daddy is!
4. Noah still has no concept of time ;)
5. And Noah really does give the best hugs!
And once again he wanted an extra question.  This time he came up with it before hand and told me to ask it.

I'd love for you to share what your kids had to say this month. Just grab our button and link up at the bottom of the post! Also make sure to stop by CrystalBethJessica, and Stephanie's blogs to see how their cute kids answered!

And as for next month, the link up will go live on March 8th

March Questions:
1) What's at the end of a rainbow?
2) What do you like to do when it rains? Jump in puddles or play inside?
3) If you found a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow what would you do?
4) Tell me three ways you know it is spring time.
5) Do you wear green on St. Patrick's Day? What happens if you don't wear green?

We really hope you will follow along and link up going forward!  As always, it will be on the second Wednesday of each month, on the following dates:

March 8 | April 12 | May 10 | June 14 | July 12
August 9 | September 13 | October 11 | November 8 | December 13

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Teacher Gifts for Valentine's Day

Only one week left until Valentine's Day.  While I do think it's a Hallmark holiday, I love that it's an excuse to show some extra love and treat the special people in your life.  Valentine's Day lands on a Tuesday this year, and that just so happens to be our "free day" where Noah and I don't have any set plans.  I have some fun things planned for the day, including lots of heart shaped and red foods as well as a few fun activities to do with Noah.  While we will be home on the actual holiday, Noah will be bringing some paper valentine cards into school for his classmates the day before.  I thought it would be nice for him to give a little something to his teachers as well.  We have some amazing teachers that really deserve some extra recognition. When giving gifts, I try not to go overboard and prefer something practical with a little extra treat.     

I knew Target was the place to go, as their holiday selection is always on point, and found these really cute mugs from the dollar section.  I knew I wanted to fill them with a gift card and some chocolates. My favorite chocolates are Dove, and I chose the traditional milk chocolate as well as the caramel filled ones.  These are definitely my favorite, so I hope they like them too!  While at Target, I also grabbed some cute metallic gift bags and tissue paper to tie in with the mugs.  As for the gift card, I continued on with the mug theme and got some Dunkin Donuts gift cards.  Even if they don't like coffee, they have to like donuts right???

When it came time to assembling the gift, I added some tissue paper in the bottom of the mug.  That way I didn't need as much chocolate to fill it to the top and the gift card is visible as soon as they open it.  I really hope they enjoy this simple Valentine gift and know how much we appreciate them!  

Do you give Valentine gifts for your kids' teachers?

Beth at Our Pretty Little Girls | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Crystal at Hall Around Texas | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Purging and Organizing the Kitchen

At the beginning of the year, I shared that my word for the year is going to be focus.  While the word focus applies to so many areas of my life, one of the biggest reasons I chose the word was that I wanted to be more conscious about what we buy and keep in our house.  While we are trying to be better at impulsive purchases, I'm also spending each week focusing on a different room or area and doing a major purge.  Last week I shared how I organize our toys.  This week I'm sharing all about the kitchen.  

On the surface, our kitchen wasn't in that bad of shape.  Sure, we had some things on the counter, but our cabinets were neat and we never had a problem finding things.  But upon closer examination, we had some duplicates and a few things that we just don't use.  So I went through each cabinet and was honest with myself with what we actually need.  I still think we have too many wine glasses, but for some reason I just can't seem to give them away.  After my purge, it was time to organize.  I found that there were better ways to organize the cabinets and moved a bunch of things around.  While it confused Chris for the first few days when he went to look for something or empty the dishwasher, I think we are both used to the changes by now.   

I figured the best way to share what I did was to take photos of all the different parts of our kitchen, label what's in the cabinets and drawers, and then show you inside of them.  And while I could have cleaned my kitchen to make this more Pinterest-worthy, I wanted to show you what our counters look like on a daily basis... complete with drying racks and random papers.  

I wish they had the white drying rack when we got ours back in 2012! 

Before my purging and organization session, Noah's plates and bowls were scattered throughout a few cabinets and we had 2 sets of outdoor plates.  Once we got rid of the older melamine plates and bowls, the set we did keep was able to fit into the smaller cabinet.  I then moved all of Noah's plates and bowls into the larger cabinet.  I love having them right above the dishwasher as it's super easy to unload the dishwasher this way... it's amazing how many plates and bowls we go through each day!

To the right of our sink is a cabinet filled with Noah's cups and our plastic cups.  And below, we have this awesome pull out cabinet that is deep and narrow, perfect for our dish soap and detergent.  

We have some rather large corner cabinets that can easily become a black hole for things to get lost in.  While a professional organizer would probably utilize some lazy susans, I found it's easier to just limit the amount of things kept in each to make sure I don't forget about things in there.  The upper and lower cabinets house a variety of things.  I keep things that we don't use as often towards the back and try to keep things we use on a daily basis towards the front.  When we first moved in, we had every lower cabinet locked.  But now that Noah's older and not interested in playing in cabinets, we have started to unlock them.   This lower corner cabinet is the only one I still keep locked.  I probably don't need to, but I keep our electric can opener, apple slicer, and lighter in here and just feel safer knowing it's locked.

Funny story about these EAT letters.  I just bought them off a FB selling page for my town.  I plan to hang them on a wall, but until then I have them leaning against my backsplash.  While Noah can't read yet, at his angle he saw this and said "what does F-A-T spell?".  I couldn't help but crack up.  Not sure anyone wants the word FAT displayed in their kitchen lol! 

I was beyond thrilled that this kitchen has some pretty large drawers right under the stove.  It's the perfect place for not only my cooking utensils, but also for my pots and pans.  It's such a better way to store them than in a traditional cabinet like we had in our last apartment! 

To the right of the stove, I keep some random things in this bottom cabinet.  I used to have my disinfecting wipes out on the counter, but found it looks better hidden, and really isn't as inconvenient as I thought it might be.  I also like to put our salt and pepper shakers away when not using and have trivets on hand whenever we need to set the table. 

We have a few upper cabinets with glass doors and I love storing my dishes and glasses in them.  They are by far our prettiest pieces.  

I love having this very large drawer for all my small baking accessories.  I used to have more sprinkles in here, but I found that a bunch were expired and we weren't using that many of them anyway.  But having my spices and measuring cups and spoons nearby has really come in handy.  But the spices are still far enough away from my stove that they aren't affected by the heat.  Below this drawer is where I keep serving platters, cake stands, and the rubbermaid that I store all of my baked goods in to stay fresh.  I purged quite a few things in this cabinet that definitely made everything feel a little less crammed.  

These narrow drawers are the perfect size for pot holders, dishtowels, and cleaning rags.  I got rid of some old and ratty ones and ended up with an empty drawer! 

This next drawer is the one that changed the most.  It used to hold our corn on the cob holders and other things that we really never used.  Before, I used a narrower drawer as our "junk drawer" and decided it would be better to move everything into this drawer instead.  I bought some acrylic drawer organizers and tried to get a little more organized.  It's definitely a work in progress but it's been so much easier to find what I'm looking for now.  I find that it's best to go through a junk drawer every six months anyway.  It's really easy to just keep collecting things if not.  

Below is some more baking accessories, like mixing bowls, my hand mixer, and casserole dishes.  Buried in the back are all my cookie cutters as well, that I grouped by holiday in some simple gallon ziploc bags.  While we don't bake sugar cookies a ton, I'm happy to have them for when we do.

And finally, our tupperware drawer.  Chris is known to keep every take out container we ever receive.  But I find they don't hold up well in the dishwasher.  So I went through our containers, got rid of the old ones, and we have started to upgrade to better quality containers, including a set of glass dishes.  

We have one more set of narrow drawers.  Just recently I decided to dedicate them all to Noah's art supplies.  More on that in a future post.  

Next up is this butcher block island.  It's not a permanent cabinet, but I love the extra storage it offers and prep area.  This is where Noah and I do most of our baking.  It has two small drawers in the front, where we keep all of our vitamins and random coupons.  

I used to keep our baking tins in a nearby closet.  But I found that they were taking up a good amount of shelf space while these baskets in our center island were being extremely underutilized.  I instead, moved my cupcake and bread tins to one of the baskets, using a divider for some extra support.  The other basket holds random things like the charger for my vacuum battery, Noah's lunch box, and some reusable grocery bags.  

Above my oven is where I keep vases and wine accessories.  I still plan to go through this cabinet one more time and get rid of the vases we never use.  I also want to add a small wine bottle rack to store the few bottles we keep on hand.  Underneath the double ovens, we have a shallow drawer (that I forgot to photograph), that holds my baking sheets and cooling racks.  It's the perfect size and location for my baking sheets.  

One of my favorite features of this kitchen is all the storage.  We have a pantry located in the actual kitchen and a large walk in closet right around the corner.  The pantry is where we keep all of our food.  I try to keep Noah's snacks on the lower shelves so that he can grab what he wants without asking me non stop.  The closet is used for multiple things.  I keep all my baking supplies (sugar, flour, chocolate chips, etc) as well as my cooking oils.  In addition to that I keep our vacuums, swiffer, ironing board, and even our off season candles.  I also keep Noah's extra paints and playdoh in this closet.  More on how I store Noah's art supplies in a future post.  

So that's our kitchen.  This was probably the first room that I ended up throwing things out more than donating.  I'm always amazed at how easy it is to forget about expired food in the pantry!  We did have a box or two to donate, but nothing crazy.  I'm happy knowing that what we have in our kitchen are things we actually use now.  And if we don't use them in the next year, I know it's time to finally get rid of it!  

While I tried to provide links for our new organizational pieces. If there's anything that I missed, or products that I have in my shelves that you are interested about, just let me know in the comments.  

Was one of your goals this year to purge and organize your home? If so, how are you doing with it now that we are a month in???

*affiliate links may be used... see my disclosure for more information
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