Is it Resolution Time, Yet?

It's easy this time of year to get caught up in the excitement of the holiday season, twinkly lights and all, but few really think about the new year until after the Christmas hubbub settles down.  That's where those resolutions start sprouting, promising to be better at fill-in-the-blank.  For me, I find my thoughts most days drifting to the new year and how I can achieve my lifelong dreams, along with those day-to-day struggles we all seem to have.  Big and small, resolutions are a way to refocus our attention on things that really matter.  

I have heard a few interesting quotes lately, both coincidentally by Mark Twain, that seem particularly fitting to my mindset these days.  The first because I find myself worrying about the outcome of decisions that I am weighing.

Resting is Good for Daydreaming...

I know that y'all are expecting the before and after reveal that I promised you last week, but unfortunately, you are not going to get it quite yet.  There are several finishing touches that have to be done on the space still, and since I am laid up once again with knee and hip issues, those finishing touches will have to wait.  Even if it kills me (and it is!).

In the meantime, I am daydreaming of all the things I would rather be doing than resting...

Train Rides...
though this time, perhaps, of the Christmas variety.

The Best Banana Bread You Will Ever Eat

I know that is a loaded title, but it is truly the best I have ever had!  Mine usually turns out quite dense, and I am always trying to find ways to make recipes healthier, which doesn't always turn out as nice.  I cannot take credit for this recipe, as I stole it from a nutritionist whose blog I stalk follow (her potato leek soup with homemade parmesan thyme croutons is equally amazing).  It is a bit of an indulgence, but husband requested banana bread yesterday and as we had some bananas to use up, I was happy to oblige.

♡ Gratitude Journal ♡

Fresh off a visit to the city by the bay, I am holding on tight to the things that I am grateful for.  I always appreciate reflecting on these things even more during the holiday season.

Thoughtful Christmas surprises...
...that come just when you need a little sunshine in your week.

And So It Begins.

I know, I know, Thanksgiving isn't even over yet.  But we love Christmas around here, so this is what you get, I'm afraid.  Yesterday I was lacking a bit of enthusiasm, wondering what in the world to do with my Sunday.  So I decided that I didn't care if it was too early for Christmas festivities to begin. It's never too early for me! So we lugged our super heavy Christmas tree up from the basement and put it together in our front room.  We bought it after Christmas last year, in the sales (75% off!), so it was our first year putting it up and I am in love.  

Sustenance Sunday: A Very Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Chris and I have been vegetarian for a few years now, and to be honest I don't miss meat a single bit. Though we do eat fish on occasion, so technically, we are pescetarian.  Which just makes us sound like snobs.  So we stick with vegetarian.  However, as the holidays approach, the first thing I think of is turkey.  Not that I necessarily miss eating it myself, but turkey = Thanksgiving, right?  

Well, we are visiting friends for Thanksgiving, so we might have to save some of these recipes for Christmas (hope my family is open to trying some of them!), but here is a roundup of mouth-watering vegetarian recipes for my veggie-loving friends out there.

Are you vegetarian?  Do you like to experiment with Thanksgiving recipes or stick with the tried and true ones you grew up eating?  

Let me know if you try any of the recipes above, and I will try to remember to do the same!

What Month Is It?!

Between both the greeting card timescale and that of a part-time freelance writer, I find it especially difficult to keep track of what month we are actually living in!  Greeting cards need creating at least two seasons before they are due to hit the shelves (often even sooner!), and freelance writing can often require planning for a particular season.

While this certainly keeps things interesting, it can also be hard to stop, take a step back, and appreciate this moment.  Once upon a time, I was a planner through and through.  Now, I am much more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal.  The only conclusion I can think of is that the ways of my free-spirited husband have slowly rubbed off on me.  And if not, well, I'm blaming him anyway.  

I have, however, been trying to focus on living in the moment a bit more lately.  Moments where I am not thinking about what in the world I am doing with my life, the direction I want to take in my career, or whether I am saving enough for retirement.  So basically all of the boring adult responsibility type things.

This reflection may have been inspired by the life gurus we have seen speak over the past few months (including Sonia Choquette, Wayne Dyer, & Deepak Chopra), so I can't exactly take all the credit for this burst of inspiration.  

Here are some ways I am doing my best to live in the moment as of late.

The addition of this antique wooden crate/night stand, because it's just what my bright corner of the room needed!

DIY, because it soothes my soul... (big reveal coming soon - eek!)

A little picture frame makeover, because our bedroom walls are still bare... (this is the before)

These mirrors because craigslist finds make me happy!

This little reminder of Thailand, because I left a piece of my heart there, and because we finally put something (anything!) on our bedroom walls! (side stage right: another craigslist find from a few months ago, painted with my trusty chalk paint, of course!)

Cross country skiing, because we were excited about the arrival of snow! (though the same cannot be said for the freezing temperatures that followed!)

The beautiful Fall sunsets we get here in Colorado, because they really know how to brighten up a tough rush hour commute.

I love to sit and think about all of the little things I am appreciating at the moment.  It always brightens my mood.  Looking forward to holiday travels, seeing friends and loved ones (not mutually exclusive), and getting out of our daily routines at home.  Because you know we love to shake things up around here!

As I teased above, I should be posting a big DIY project (along with a mini one!) sometime after Thanksgiving.  So basically whenever I can physically finish everything!  I can't wait to show you!

And last but not least... who has decorated for Christmas already?  Am I crazy because I want to do it this weekend?!  Prepare for Christmas overload here on the blog in the weeks ahead.  The music has already begun!

Different Priorities

Yesterday afternoon, as Chris and I raked the leaves in our front yard with precision accuracy (not), we somehow got on the topic of my Dad.  He has always been a really hard worker, both at "work" and at home, and out of nowhere Chris asked, "Do you think your Dad knows how lazy I am?"  Ha!  I let out a very surprised laugh, followed by, "probably not."  And with the very next sentence, he unintentionally changed my perspective. "It's actually not that I am lazy, I just have different priorities."

{ photo from last Fall. }

At first, I thought, yeah that's what you say to yourself so you don't feel guilty about your laziness. But almost immediately following that thought, I realized he was right.  About both of us.  We value getting out and exploring, and making the most out of our lives, way more than we value a perfectly clean and organized house.  Who cares that we are three weeks late with raking up the mounds of leaves in our front yard (ahem, not to mention our overflowing laundry basket)?  In those three weeks, we have escaped to the tallest incorporated city in the states to see the changing of the leaves, we have had friends over for dinner, gone for long walks, traveled to a dear cousin's wedding out of state, explored Seattle, and snuggled up to watch movies together on the sofa.  And if I had it to do all over again?  I would leave those leaves sitting on our front lawn.  Because those three weeks sound perfect to me.

Different priorities.  I'm going to hang on to that one.

Anniversary, Round Two

For our two year anniversary, I decided to get Chris a little something special, in addition to a really cool surprise (more on that later).  Because we share a love of travel, I found this super cool map that allows you to scratch off the countries you have visited together. There aren't many yet, but I don't plan on ending our travels anytime soon, so hopefully we can continue to add to it over the years.  

In the meantime, it makes for lovely wall decor and serves as a little reminder whenever we need travel inspiration (that never happens, by the way.  we can always find inspiration, it's money that isn't always cooperative!).

{ a similar style to the one I got for Chris. }

Language Barrier Monday

Wow, it's been a hot minute but we are bringing back an oldie, but goodie with this post.  The Language Barrier Monday series.  It hasn't been on my mind much lately, as we haven't had to translate anything for each other in a while.  

However, it came as a little reminder when Chris returned from his trip to England last week.  Upon which, I informed him that the house had remained strangely tidy in his two week absence.  (hm... weird.)  Well, he didn't think so, because his response...?  "Bloody Cheek!"  Haha.  No translation necessary.  Pretty sure I get the gist of what he was saying there.  Just thought it a funny expression, so I wanted to share with all of you.

For all stateside readers, I challenge you to use this on someone this week.  What response did you get?! Haha.  

Pop of Color!

Every time Chris and I start a painting project, throwing around color ideas, he always asks 'what about yellow?'  And I have to admit, that I usually cringe a bit on the inside.  Not because it's a bad color, it's just not one that I think I can incorporate into a space and design around all that well (sort of a home decor "it's not you, it's me" if you will...).  But the final color choice is always up to Chris.  I go through this process of research, testing colors, and narrowing it down, and then he chooses the color we go with.  Seems fair, right?  Right.

Well, I have been wanting to find a way to incorporate yellow somehow, without it looking like spongebob exploded in our house (he's yellow, right?), and I am happy to report that I finally found a great solution!

While choosing the paint colors for the outside of our house, we really wanted a bright, fun color for the front door.  But none of them seemed to match very well with the red brick that we have covering majority of the front entrance.  In the end, we decided on black and absolutely love it, but the desire for a fresh, fun pop of color has not left us.  

So while Chris was in England last week, I decided to do a little surprise for him.  Check it out... I literally smile every time I walk towards the door.  There is something about yellow that just makes you happy, am I right?

It looks slightly brighter in the photo (I'll blame it on bad lighting.  No way is it my poor photography skills...)

And just for good measure, I threw a little on the back door, too!  Swoon...

I love it, and it is definitely growing on Chris!  My job here is done. #canwestoptalkingaboutyellownow? ;) #thankyouverymuch

Laundry Room Reveal - Pt. 1

I  mentioned last week that I would be spending a lot of my time making over the laundry room, and I did not lie.  I spent my Labor Day weekend doing some pretty serious DIY labor!  And look at the difference so far!  Alright, I recognize that a lot of the change was just organizing and cleaning up the room, but you have to admit it looks a million times better, right?  The paint color is brighter in person than it appears in the after photo, so in my final reveal I will take photos in daylight for a more accurate view of the color I chose.  

Who knew that a little color on the walls, brightening up the trim, adding a bench, rug and some storage could make such a difference?!  Oh, and although you can't even see the hooks in the before photos, those hooks were silver before.  Nothing a little spray paint couldn't handle!  I love the contrast of the black on white.

Oh, and that yellow basket hanging among all the black ones?  Target was out of black, so I plan to spray paint it to match the rest! In the meantime, I think it adds to the character!  I love that the room now has a bit of personality.  I don't know about you, but colorful walls makes me happy!

Once Chris gets home and is able to help me with some heavy lifting on the other side of the room, I will post the after photos of the other half.  The bright white cabinets are already making such a difference, I can't wait to see what how the rest turns out!

And in case I haven't mentioned it before, I much prefer projects I can finish in a day (or a weekend, at most!).  After that I just get bored and want to move onto another project!  Doing a small space like the laundry room was juuuuuust the right amount.

Stay tuned for the rest of the reveal next week!  What do you think so far?

Grateful For Good Neighbors, Take: 372 (okay, four!)

Okay, so I know I have said this many times before, but I really could not be more grateful for our neighbors.  We really lucked out in that department.  So what amazing thing did they do this time?!  Well, allow me to tell you the whole story.  

Chris has been in England for the past week, catching up with friends and family, and although it is strange to have the whole house to myself, I have managed to keep myself pretty busy.  Of course, his absence couldn't be punctuated more perfectly than with a sad, sob story (like that one time he was in Philadelphia...).  '

Monday morning, I dragged my sore, DIY-addicted body out of bed, got ready for the day and headed to Whole Foods in search of all things tropical for my fruit salsa I was bringing to a BBQ later that day.  When I returned home, I was getting the groceries out of the car when neighbor, Maureen, came out of her house. "Did you know that one of your sprinklers is broken in the back yard?"  she asked.  "Ummmm, no.  No, I did not."  She went on to explain that when she went to take the dog out at 5:30 that morning, she noticed a big 'fountain' coming from our back yard!  Goodness gracious.  Chris is gone, and yet again, I always pretend to fall asleep when he tries to explain how these things (ahem, sprinklers!) work.  

So, of course I picture something like this...

I am, however, very resourceful so I did what any sensible woman in my situation would do: I texted Chris in England.  Before I could even get a response from him, the doorbell rang.  Maureen!  She said that her and her husband were on their way to Lowes and would pick up whatever part I needed to fix the sprinkler and then they would fix it for me when they got back!  What?!  "Nevermind, hubby, I have help!"  After me insisting several times that I was happy to go get the parts myself, they really didn't need to do everything, I gave in. I think secretly they figured they would be better off getting the parts themselves, lest I come back with some unknown sprinkler parts that had nothing to do with the problem.

I decided to use my time wisely, I whipped up my pineapple, mango & papaya salsa at record speed, then decided I better tidy the rest of the kitchen and family room, should they accept my neighborly offer to come inside for some lemonade after they saved the day.  I didn't actually have any lemonade, but nevermind.  It sounded like a good idea in my head.  

After several rounds of trying the sprinklers (of which I had to FaceTime Chris for him to show me how to turn on that section of sprinklers!), we had successfully fixed the problem.  At least for the time being.  Chris will have a bit of work to do when he returns, but at least the fountain situation has been resolved in the meantime!  

One of many signs that I have allowed myself to be 'taken care of' since finding my hubby.  I would have taken charge and figured things out by myself in the past, but it's often easier to let someone else handle some things, or as I like to refer to it: divide and conquer!  Unfortunately the headlight and indicator bulbs on my car all burned out this week as well.  I hear you, Universe.  Figure. It. Out, Sarah.  Or just drive the other car until Chris returns. (Ha!)

I still think it's okay to loosen up the control strings a bit and not do everything yourself, but I will definitely be paying closer attention the next time Chris wants to explain some seemingly boring home-related system to me.  

Oh, and the best part?  I asked my neighbor how much I owed them for the parts.  "A glass of wine one evening!"  Done!

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I posted this on Facebook, but figured I would throw it up over here on the blog as well for those who are not on FB.  Catherine Harrington nominated me for the ALS ice bucket challenge, so I braved it last night.  I have to admit, after seeing so many videos I figured it would be no big deal, but it was seriously freezing! Definitely took my breath away!

I also made a donation to the cause.  Last I heard, this ice bucket challenge movement had raised over $50 million for ALS research!  That is pretty impressive!  And that doesn't count the donations that people have made to other causes!  The power of social media at work, my friends.  Great result!

Have you done the challenge, yet?

Exterior Makeover - Paint Reveal

Okay anyone else as annoyed at the most dragged out makeover reveal ever, as I am at myself for dragging it out?  Well, you should be. 

Luckily, I really did keep my promise and take photos of the outside of our house, post-paint makeover!  Yay, me!  (Okay, so I was too lazy to move the car out of the driveway, but at least you can sort of get the picture!)

Okay, so a little reminder of what the outside of our house looked like before...

And.... after...

And, a little side-by-side action...

I don't know about you, but we love it!  We held our breath as the paint went on, and feel really good about how it turned out.  Though, as I was photographing it tonight, I realized that the color is very similar to the inside of our main floor.  Ha!  I must love colors that have a bluish undertone!  (though don't tell my husband... I have a surprise for a pop of color inside! But more on that later!)

Laundry Room Project Time!

Remember when I said a laundry room makeover was brewing?  Well, I dove in over the weekend!  I don't have a lot to reveal just yet, but first here is a little sneak peek at the before.  Am I an organized genius or what?  (sarcasm noted.)  

{ side note: the clothing rack is new, I was just testing it out... }

You see, the problem (excuse?) is... when you buy your first place you gradually accrue more and more. More hand tools, more gardening tools (I have no idea why those are in the laundry room!), just more.  And as you do that, your orderly system gets thrown to bits.  So, I am making it my mission on this project to have a proper place for everything.  And that includes tossing things out into the garage that have no business taking up residence in our laundry room.  Hey, the garage will be another project, another post.  I'm allowed to toss.

I don't have much to reveal just yet, but here is my first step into painting the cabinets a beautiful bright white! (have I mentioned previously that I LOVE chalk paint?  It is seriously a breeze!)

These little guys will be getting a quick spray with some black paint (I know they look black, but sadly they are brown) once I finish painting all of the cabinet doors for a fresh update and a way to tie in the rest of the black hardware in the room.

We'll see what I can come up with for the rest of it, but fingers crossed it brightens and organizes this useful space so that we stop using it as a dumping ground when guests come over!  And to think, Chris suggested we could even leave the doors off the cabinets!  A girl can dream, but we are never going to be the perfectly put together, organized sort.  A little hiding is allowed.

If you are looking for me over the next week, this is likely where I'll be.  Oh, and taking after photos of the exterior makeover I promised ages ago.  I'll do it tonight.  I hope swear. 

Breaking the Routine - part one.

I don't know about you, but I find it far too easy to fall into familiar routines, especially during the week when I get home wiped out from work (oh, and that five a.m. alarm clock!).  I seem to notice this happening with us every few months, and always try to think of ways to combat the repetitive habits we have subconsciously fallen back into.  

So on Monday we decided to pack up our dinner (spinach and black bean enchiladas - yum!), and take our chairs over to the lake to enjoy the beautiful scenery and fresh air.  (the fact that our AC unit went out over the weekend, making our house a veritable oven, had nothing to do with wanting to escape to the lake for dinner...)

And we didn't stop there.  Earlier this week, in an effort to do something different and spontaneous, I decided to meet Chris downtown Denver after work.  Working in Boulder, myself, I don't make it into downtown Denver all that often, particularly midweek, but as Chris is working down there at the moment, it seemed like a great opportunity to be impulsive.  

After parking up in his building, and spending waayyyyyy too much time trying to find my way out of the parking garage, (seriously people, ever hear of a sign to the elevators?!) we decided to forgo our usual reach for the ever-helpful UrbanSpoon app and just find a restaurant that looked good and give it a try!

We stumbled onto a somewhat familiar street (though we hadn't been to any of the restaurants), and remembered a recommendation from some good friends for a great little French restaurant.  Done!

So off we went towards the tucked-away-little-restaurant with quiet patio dining options.

It wasn't anything crazy, just dinner out in a new place, but we both left feeling refreshed.  Breaking out of your routine can open your eyes a bit, making you notice things you might normally overlook, because you are in a new, exciting place.  I love that.  I have a few other fun things up my sleeve to help us mix things up (and enjoy!) the rest of the Summer.

Do you ever find yourself falling into the same old routines?  How do you break out of them?

Weekend Stress-Reliever

After a very stressful week at work, I retreated to the mountains for some stress-relieving hiking therapy, not one but two days straight!  And it was just what the doctor ordered.  

Saturday, I set off early to meet a friend up in a super cute mountain town called Evergreen, only to sit in traffic for an hour and a half longer than necessary due to an accident.  But I plugged on, and was so glad that I did.  We picked a random trail and ended up climbing to the top of a mountain.  For real.

Sunday, Chris and I headed up for an afternoon in the mountains, enjoying this beautiful mountain road, when we turned the corner to see a motorcycle wipe out in the gravel on the side of the road.  Chris hopped out, along with a few others that were driving past, and lifted the motorcycle off of the couple who were still trapped underneath it.  Luckily they were both okay, though the same cannot be said for the bike, but still scary to see.  

We eventually carried on towards our destination: Mount Evans.  Just as we reached the entrance to Mount Evans road, we realized we were super low on gas and would probably not make it up the mountain and have enough gas to get us back down to the nearest gas station (though we did seriously consider coasting!). So we parked up and went for a hike around Echo Lake, figuring we would catch Mount Evans views another time.  We spent some time around Echo Lake this past winter, cross country skiing, but it was our first time up there in the summer and it was equally as beautiful in the summer sun as it was covered in three feet of snow.

Here it is in the winter...

And this past weekend...

We discovered a really cool trail, with beautiful views all along the way.  And I have to say, there really is nothing like the camaraderie and friendliness found on hiking trails.  It puts a little spring in your step.

(side note: all photos taken on Sunday are courtesy of hubs. I forgot my phone.  :)

Oh, and Saturday night we enjoyed a sunset dinner at the lake.  Stunning.  So grateful that we live so close to this beauty.

What did you do this weekend?  What is your cure for stressful weeks?