The Adventure Starts Here: January 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mama and Noah Currently | January 2017

Today is the last day of January, so I thought it would be fitting to end it by sharing some things that we were doing and loving the last 30 days!  

This is what we've been up to in January 2017...


Eating

PB&J English Muffins - Noah jokes that I have this every day for breakfast, and it's kind of true!

Lunch at school - Noah's preschool just offered "Lunch Bunch" where they can stay an extra 45 minutes and eat lunch at school.  I'm getting the hang of putting together a lunch and Noah loved the notes Chris and I left for him :)

Watching

The Good Place - Please someone tell me they watch this too... I'd love to talk about it!!!  They had a shorter first season that just ended this month.  It's a quirky comedy but I couldn't help but laugh each week and really looked forward to a new episode each week.  

The Lego Movie - in preparation of the Batman Lego Movie coming out next month, we watched the original Lego Movie at home last week.  While a lot of it went over his head, I love that both Noah and I can enjoy this movie.

Wearing

Sweatpants - when it's cold out and all we have on the schedule is dropping Noah off at school and then cleaning, purging, or organizing the house, I really can't find motivation to wear anything other than sweats!

Superhero shirts with capes - Noah loves wearing his Superman and Batman shirts complete with his velcro cape!  Here are the new short sleeve versions!

Listening to

Recently I've started putting the TV music channel on.  I find that Noah asks for a TV show less often when we do this.   So far I'm loving Ed Sheeran's new song, "Shape of You"

And Noah stops whatever he's doing whenever "I Can Make Your Hands Clap" and Ariana Grande's "Side to Side" comes on :)

Obsessed with

Purging!  Last week I shared how I organize Noah's toys.  In addition to organizing all the rooms, I've also been throwing out and donating a ton!  We had over 15 bags/boxes donated in January!

Playing knights!  Noah got this inflatable shield this summer and just recently he's become obsessed with it again (the sword unfortunately popped months ago).  Noah and Chris will put on knight demonstrations for me.  Noah will come in the room and say that the "blue knight" will be doing some kicks while the "red knight" blocks them with the shield.  These shows are always very entertaining ;)

For past "Currently" posts, click here

What did your January look like?  

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

Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Becky at BYBMG | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram


Monday, January 30, 2017

On My Radar


With Valentine's Day and my birthday coming up, I can't help but browse for pretty things I wouldn't mind having.  And based on my "wish list", it's clear that I'm officially old, and I shouldn't be surprised that I'm turning 33 this year!  Last month, I've spent a lot of time going through each space and purging things that we don't need or I don't love.  As I go, I've been making a list of things that I think would serve a purpose in our newly cleaned out space.

coasters - while we do own a set, I'm not in love with them and I don't find they really fit in with our current decor.  I think this wooden set would be timeless.  If I can find them cheaper at Home Goods, great, otherwise I would love to have this set from Crate and Barrel!

cake stand - I have a few cake stands, but I would love one with a well fitting lid.  We ordered a random lid on Amazon in hopes that it would fit on my existing cake stand, but it honestly doesn't fit well, which in turns doesn't serve it's purpose of keeping the air out and my bake goods fresh.

wine rack - when we got married, we registered for a very large wine rack.  First off, we don't have the space for this large stand.  And secondly, we rarely ever have enough wine on hand to fill all the slots.  We live down the street from a wine shop and I prefer to buy just a few at a time.  I think 5 slots is perfect for us and this should fit perfectly in the cabinet above our oven.

recipe tin - up until now I've just stored recipes in Pinterest and looked them up on my phone when I need them.  And while that method still works for me for a new recipe, there are a few recipes that I make over and over.  And while I make them often, I still forget exact measurements of baking times.  So I would love to have my favorite recipes written down and within arms reach.  And this recipe tin is just too cute to pass up... I would love to have this sitting out on my counter!

latte bowls - this is probably the one thing that I probably don't really "need".  But I have a soft spot for colorful bowls.  Something about eating fruit out of a pretty bowl that makes it more appealing!  I can't decide if I need the mini bowls or the full size bowls, and what colors I should get... any advice???

What's currently on your radar???

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Friday, January 27, 2017

So Many Toys!

Toys... if you have kids, you are bound to have toys.  And while you may have a minimalist philosophy, you are still bound to have enough that you will need to figure out a storage system.  While we definitely don't have a minimalist approach when it comes to toys, we did try to pare down this month after Noah got a lot of birthday and Christmas gifts.  Before I share how we store all our toys, I'll give you a little background.  We live in a pretty average size house.  Not large by any means, but I would never describe it as small either.  We have one eating area (not a dining room and eat in kitchen) and we only have one living area (no additional family or play room on our main level).  We are however lucky enough to have a full basement, most of which is finished.  Noah is an only child and chances are will remain that way.  I am a stay at home mom, and while Noah does go to preschool 3 mornings a week and has a few other activities throughout the week, we spend a lot of time at home (especially in the winter months).  And as most 4 year olds, he likes to play.  As much as I would love to only let him have wooden toys that are more appealing to the eye, I also want to make sure that Noah has toys that he actually likes.  And at the moment, that includes a lot of superheroes and trucks, all of which are plastic.  Noah is one of those kids who actually plays with his toys, so I don't mind having a lot of them.  There are times where certain toys don't get touched as often, but then one day he will randomly pull it out and play with it nonstop.  I contemplated rotating toys, but I've learned that Noah is somewhat spontaneous with what toys he wants to play with on a certain day and often likes to mix "characters".  I love seeing the superheroes help out the Octonauts and the rocket ship go on adventures with his pirate ship.  If I set up a toy rotation, I doubt this organic play time would happen.  Instead, I try be thoughtful in the toys I keep on our main level versus the ones we keep in the basement "play room".  In theory, I could make it that toys are only kept in our basement, but in all honesty, that would make my daily life harder.  During the week, I'm often doing laundry, cleaning, or preparing meals in the kitchen while Noah is playing.  I prefer that he plays nearby and on the same level as I am.  If all his toys were in the basement, I would feel very limited in what I could get done each day.  Instead, the basement is where he and his daddy often play on the weekends.  They create elaborate scenes with blocks, construction trucks, and the Paw Patrol.  And since it's downstairs, they are able to leave up their creations to continue playing with the next day.  While upstairs, I like to have a few of his more recent favorite toys as well as quiet activities like puzzles, Magnatiles, and Legos.  So in a way, we are rotating toys.  He plays with his upstair toys during the week and his basement toys on the weekend.  And this way, he is very excited to play with each of them after not seeing them for a little while.  So far our system is working out well.  

So now for the details... and lots of photos!  

First up, is our living room.  Our main form of storage is this large Hemnes entertainment center (base, shelves, bridge) from Ikea.  While I would have preferred it in white, I do have to take Chris' opinion into consideration, and he really preferred the brown/black.  I am constantly changing up how I store and display things as Noah's toys are updated.  The only thing that has stayed the same, is that Noah gets the bottom 3 shelves and drawers for toys and I get the top shelves to style and decorate how I choose.  While I would love to have the entire unit to make Pinterest pretty, that's just not the stage we are currently in.  We are a very kid oriented family and really like that our living room is for our entire family.  


Here's a close up of the left side of the entertainment unit.  I tried to label as much as I could, so the photos should be pretty self explanatory.  We have some photos and beach souvenirs on top.  I also like having my DSLR handy so that I can grab it easily, but still like that it's concealed.   As for Noah's things, we have books, some alphabet puzzles, quiet games, and a few larger toys in the bins.   


When we first moved in, we had a lot of larger trucks on display in the shelves.  For the most part now, he prefers the smaller vehicles and figurines that are easily stored in baskets.  I like filling these drawers with his Transformers and monster trucks.  It's an easy way to have Noah help clean up since he can just throw everything in to the appropriate drawer at the end of the day.  And he knows where to look when ever he's looking for a particular truck.  


I slid the Magnatiles boxes under the drawers.  I really like the separation the original Magnatiles boxes provide, so I decided to just leave them as is.  It might not be the prettiest, but it is super functional.  


The right bookcase is filled with photo albums, Willow Tree figurines, and all things Octonauts!


Noah's Octonauts Gups are the most difficult for me to organize.  While I don't love the look, I've found that the easiest way is to "display" them on the shelves.  It's easier for him to pick which Gup he wants and I find he plays with them a lot more than when they are just thrown in a large basket.  So while I would love it if they were more hidden, I'm learning to accept it.  

white baskets - old from Target 

While the Gups are out on display, I do use a large basket to corral some of Noah's larger and more random toys.  Like his Miles spaceships and his claw and shield that he uses on a daily basis.  


In the last year, we added this Trofast unit.  Originally it was just for Noah's Duplos, but since then we've used it to store some of Noah's small figurines as well.  Noah has graduated to building with Lego Juniors, but he still likes coming up with his own creations using the Duplos.  So while I've pared down his collection, he still has plenty to build with!  On top, I corralled all of his superhero and Ninja Turtle vehicles in a basket.  


And while most of Noah's books are stored in his bedroom, I just recently added a wire basket filled with a few of our current favorites.  It's perfect for some afternoon reading.


And finally, we have a few last toys stored in the sofa table... like his dinosaurs!


Moving onto our dining room area.  This is where we have Noah's toy kitchen.  I find that Noah loves to play in it when I'm cooking and he loves bringing Chris and me toy food when we are eating our real dinner.  This is also one of our most popular toys for when friends come over.  No matter the age or gender, everyone loves playing in the kitchen.  That's why I love having it out in our dining area since that's where we spend most of our time when entertaining. But my favorite part of Noah's kitchen is the "Only Pizza" sign he made a while back.  I just love it so much that I never plan to take it down!  


We have one more Kallax in our dining area that now holds all of his Lego Junior boxes.  We do most of our Lego building at the dining room table, so it's nice to have our unopened boxes nearby for when we want to build something new.  I also keep a basket full of activity books and kid magazines for us to grab when we are going out to dinner.  


And I know I've shared this before, but recently we moved our China out of our buffet cabinet and store all of our board games and floor puzzles in here instead.  I'm really loving how everything is behind closed doors but still easy to access.  



And I have to share how we store Noah's Matchbox cars.  We quickly grew a very large collection of cars.  I bought these plastic cases that are actually meant to store sewing thread.  The great thing is, they are the perfect size for his cars!  Each one stores 48 cars.  While I think 48 cars is plenty, Chris and Noah thought otherwise, so we have 2 cases ;)  Whenever it's time to race cars, Noah can find the exact car he wants and then easily put them back and out of the way when he's done.  



And while we have many systems in place, there's still a few works in progress.  Like all the Lego Junior creations we've put together.  Right now they are taking over half of our dining room table.  The plan is to hang some shelves in Noah's room so that they can all be stored and displayed in once place.  


And now for our finished basement.  I mentioned that this is where Noah and Chris mostly play.  This is where we keep Noah's building blocks, trucks, and his larger toys like his trampoline, train table, and basketball hoop.  When Chris is home on the weekends, he actively plays with Noah.  They come up with some pretty fun games down there with all his trucks and blocks!


The one thing I still need to do is finally finish this gallery wall!  It's been like this for almost a year!  The craziest part is the printed photos are all in the frames... I just have to hammer the nails in the wall!  


As you can see, we really love the Ikea Kallax and these striped canvas baskets from Land of Nod... we have them all over our house!   


Congratulations if you made it all the way to the end. I know it was a lot of information (and toys).  While we have a lot of toys and make lots of messes on a daily basis, I love that we have a system in place to clean it all up at the end of the day or when company is coming over.  

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Do you have a lot of toys or do you follow a more minimalist approach?  What are your favorite storage systems to manage it all?

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

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Guys Behind the Blog

Last year, I started interviewing Chris each month and linking up with Betsy from Heavens to Betsy and Laura from According to Laura Jean for their The Guys Behind the Blog series. I really looked forward to it each month and was pretty bummed when they decided July was their last month. That's why I was so happy to find out that Crystal from Hall Around Texas, Elizabeth from Chasin Mason, Evelina from Fortunate House, Jamie from Cocktails and Carseats, and Jessica from Secrets of a Stay at Home Mom are keeping the link-up alive... and even more thrilled that it will be continuing in 2017!


So here we go... the questions for January:

1 // Are you a New Year's resolution person? Why or why not?

Yes, I do make New Year's resolutions which usually revolve around going on a diet and more times than not, those resolutions fall flat by February. 

2 // Do you like colder months or do you prefer the warmer months? Why?

I like warmer months better. Love to wear shorts outside. 

3 // Have you been skiing or snowboarding? If so, did you enjoy it?

I used to snowboard and it was fun, but after a bad fall on an icy slope, I stopped snowboarding. 

4 // Where is your favourite winter vacation you've ever taken?

Favorite winter vacation was probably the first cruise Meghan and I took together back in 2009. We're still in contact with two couples we met there and have seen both sets in NJ since the cruise, which is impressive.


5 // If you were paid $100,000 to stay in a cabin in the mountains (in the winter) with no internet or TV for a month, could you do it? How would you spend your time?

As long as work was ok with it, I do think I could live in a cabin for $100k for a month. I'd do a lot of reading (books and magazines) and play lots of board games.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mommy Style | Braving the Cold!

While this weekend was actually rather mild for January, we have had our share of cold days over here in New Jersey!  Add in the wind and you will feel the cold all the way to your bones.  That's why it's so important to dress appropriately!  And thank goodness that there are some really cute options out there.  This time of the year, often the only things people will see are your coat, boots, and winter accessories.  So you might as well make the most of it and sport a super cute hat and mittens ;)  Beth at Our Pretty Little Girls, Whitney at Work It Mommy, and Becky at BYBMG are also sharing their favorite winter accessories today!

scarf | hat (similar) | mittens

I own a lot of scarves.  But in all honesty, I wear them more as an accessory than for actual warmth.  For the most part, unless I'm going to be out all day in the cold, I find wearing a thick coat is enough.  I actually prefer to wear a hat and gloves since those are the parts of my body that end up getting cold, even just driving in the car.  The last few years, I've stuck with a slouchy beanie, but this year I switched it up with a pom pom hat... and I'm loving it!  Since I have dark hair, I love how the white hat really pops!  And as for gloves/mittens, it all depends on what I'm doing.  For actual snow play, I have a pair of North Face gloves that I love.  But for everyday use, I prefer knit convertible mittens.   In the car, I prefer to leave them open so that I can still open things for Noah or check my phone.  


In the past, I've always ended up wearing my Uggs more than I preferred.  Once the cold weather hits, I don't wear my flats or ankle boots because of the whole no sock thing.  And when I'm running out the door for school drop off/pickup or to the grocery store, I want something that's easy to slip on.  I have some real snow boots that I wear when we are playing in the snow, but for every day use they aren't the most convenient.  That's why I'm so glad I got these Sperry's.  Since they are waterproof, they are perfect for when the snow is still melting and the ground is still wet.  And with the little side zipper, they are really easy to put on and off.  And I think they are way more stylish than my Uggs!  


But one of my favorite additions to my winter gear this year, are my thick camp socks from JCrew!  I've always been a huge fan of socks, and love adding stripes and polka dots to an otherwise boring outfit.  And while I rarely wear athletic ankle socks in the winter, my dress socks weren't cutting it in the cold.  But these camp socks, boy do they keep my feet warm!  


I'm very excited to see what Becky, Beth, and Whitney came up with.  Especially since we all live in fairly different climates.  It will be interesting to see how we each do "winter"! 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Valentine's Day Craft | Watercolor Hearts

Valentine's Day is just about 3 weeks away.  While it's safe to say that I decorate way more for other holidays, I still enjoy pulling a few of my favorite Valentine's Day pieces out each year.  I really love adding a few touches of red, pink, and hearts to my mantel and dining room sideboard.  And thanks to Noah and his artistic side, I am adding a new one of kind art piece to display each year.  Last year, I had Noah paint a canvas using the tape-resist technique.  Not only do I love that it says LOVE, but I also love that Noah's little handprints are all over it :).  This year, I decided to try something new.  Noah is becoming more and more precise with his coloring and painting skills, so I thought it may be time to try something a little more advanced than just mixing paint all over.

LOVE Canvas (from last year)

I found this watercolor hearts idea on Pinterest and knew that if Noah wasn't interested in doing it, that I would be doing it myself.  I really loved the look of it and couldn't wait to see how Noah made it his own.  

Materials:
White card stock (or other thick paper) 
Pencil and ruler (to draw the hearts)
Watercolor paints (in whatever colors you like)
Black Sharpie (optional)
Frame (optional)

Instructions:
If planning to frame, cut your card stock down to 8X10.  
Using a ruler, I plotted out 5 even spaces to draw my hearts.  This is where some basic math skills will be helpful. 
Using the ruler as a guide to stay straight, I drew 5 hearts across the paper.  This doesn't need to be perfect, so just do your best drawing hearts.  If your kids are older, you can even have them help with this step.  
Paint in the hearts with watercolor paints.  
Once dry, if the hearts need some more definition (due to not staying perfectly within the lines), you can use a black Sharpie to outline the hearts.  
Now you can frame (or not) and display!  


When planning this craft, I had envisioned using different shades or red, pink, and purple paints.  But Noah was kind of against it being a "Valentine craft" and wanted to paint it rainbow colors instead.  He's becoming more and more independent with his crafts and often has a very clear artistic vision that is different than mine.  I want to foster this creativity, so I'm letting him take the lead.  I did however warn him that I didn't make enough lines to have all the rainbow colors, but he seemed okay with having to leave purple out.  


While Noah was very careful, he is only 4, and ended up painting a little outside the lines a bit.  Some of his hearts looked a little more like a blob, so I suggested outlining them with a black marker, and he thought that was a great idea.  I love how it turned out and I love seeing it framed on my mantel.  And since he did decide to do rainbow colors, I think I could get away with displaying this all year round!  I think it would look great as part of our gallery wall in the playroom part of our basement!  


This craft was so simple and fun that I'm still tempted to do one myself.  I think painting a bunch of hearts could be rather cathartic!  

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Do you like creating holiday artwork with your children?  Either to give as gifts or to display in your own home?
 
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