I don't love planning, prepping & cooking dinner every night, but I love the results it yields. Helpers in the kitchen, music on, delicious food around the table & the conversation that flows. When I get those results, the planning & prepping seems like a small price to pay.
I found this Alfredo recipe recently on Pinterest & it does not disappoint. Sometimes it gets a tad thick, so feel free to thin with milk as you please. I tend to do a pasta bar when I make this and let everyone add the toppings they like, some favorites to include: broccoli, chicken, basil, tomatoes, mushrooms & spinach. Serve with a simple spinach salad (spinach + fruit + candied nuts of your choice + your favorite dressing -- works every time!)
If there is any downfall to living in the valley of the Sun it is that there is not a ton of variety when it comes to the exterior of homes -- especially under the $500k range. Perhaps that is why I have such an obsession with dreamy exteriors? One thing I know for sure I'm loving? Dark inky exteriors. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't conjured up paint schemes for my house...I might have 3 different options mapped out. Just haven't figured out how to convince my husband it's necessary. :) Here are a few moody versions I'm loving right now. Click on photos for sources.
Because I love a challenge, I did manage to find a few on the market here in the valley -- for a full tour, click on the photo!
One of the funny things about what I do is that when I tell people I work from home it tends to conjure up visions of bedhead and yoga pants...and on rare days that is accurate, but most days, it's not. A new series coming to you today focusing on the work from home wardrobe. My days tend to go from meetings to school pick up to making dinner to soccer practice and maybe another meeting. I prefer to keep things simple, focusing on key pieces that can be worn over & over again, mixed and matched and that never go out of style...then I spice it up with my shoes. I've been living in slip ons this pregnancy -- they tend to work well with swollen, which as been a not-so-great side effect of a summer pregnancy!
Today I've got fall on the brain...even thought it is still 90 degrees here. Mostly I have post-baby-cooler-weather-non-maternity on the brain...about the same thing, right?
I have been living in slip on shoes this pregnancy...and those black leggings. Oh those black leggings! I walked into LuLuLemon about a month ago with my husband, who was looking at their pants & I was just the overly pregnant wife accompanying him. The sales girl had my number though when she handed me these pants to try on. She swore every pregnant momma loved them...they call them their naked pants and they're weren't joking. I legit walked out of the store in them, they felt so good. A few more slip-ons I'm loving, mostly because they transition well from walking homes to soccer games.
I posted a quick snap on my IG stories last week of my oldest son (10), he had his arms, elbow deep in soapy water, doing the dinner dishes. In the caption I mentioned that he'd done it without being asked...which is probably why I snapped it. It surprised me too. What doesn't surprise me anymore? Walking into my kitchen and seeing this...this was last year's costume, but this year's has already made a few appearances. :)
After that post, I received DM after DM in amazement, many asking in a couple of different ways, how I orchestrated that.
I didn't, for the most part, but I have spent years laying down the ground work for those things to happen on their own.
First I'll tell you up front that he's a good boy and very protective of me. He's noticed that I can't do dishes easily anymore. My stomach is right in the way, which leads to an awkward bend and an aching back. As such, my husband usually does all the dishes at the end of each day. So perhaps, I should give my husband a bit more credit in the laying of the groundwork.
On that particular night, Zack had just gotten home from soccer practice. By the time he gets home, the 2 younger are already in the throws of the bedtime routine. While my husband is upstairs with them, I'll stay down with Zack, getting him dinner & chatting about his day. That particular evening, he ate & then started in on the dishes...while I sat on a barstool and kept chatting with him.
So how did we get to this point? Him doing dishes & me chatting on a barstool?
I'll tell you, we've been on this road for years and years. I've always been a huge proponent of kids learning how to work within the home. Not that I needed any more encouragement, but a couple of years ago, I actually came across a study that showed that kids that did daily chores & work around the home were apt to more success and achievement outside the home in later years than anything else. More so than sports or other extracurricular activities. At that point, my oldest was old enough to read...and complain about his chores, I let him read it & since then have always reminded him in his moments of complaint that I'm just planning for his future success.
In all seriousness though, I could not do what I do, without my kids helping around the house. It's just not feasible and I'm okay letting my kids know that. I really started depending on them when I had my third baby. I had a horrible pregnancy on number 3. Sick for months on end, a husband working long hours & then going to school for his MBA on top of it, increased risks with the pregnancy and then growing a huge baby that did a serious number on my body.
My kids had always done minor chores around the house, picking up their rooms, tidying up the play room, but that was when I taught my oldest how to clean a toilet & my daughter how to wipe down bathroom counters. I was sick as could be & could not keep my stomach cleaning a toilet, but it still needed to be done so we made it work.
I haven't cleaned a toilet since.
To be honest, my kids loved cleaning that bathroom, that time I sat on the side of the tub, green-faced walking them through the mechanics of it. Which cleaners to use, where to put the dirty rags, making sure they washed their hands after cleaning said toilet...and you want to know what? When I stopped short of having them clean the shower, they stopped and begged me to let them clean it. So bathing suits they donned and the shower sparkled. Oddly enough, cleaning my shower is still a favorite job of each of them.
In that moment, I realized they could do it, wanted to do it & should do it. If I look at my role as mother in the form of a job description, my goal is to put myself out of a job. My role is to make them independent and capable, and if I don't allow them those opportunities, I'm not doing my job. So they have a lot of opportunities to work around here...every day and yes, they complain, also every day.
As of right now, when they come home from school, they are expected to do their home work right away and then 2 jobs before they can play. I don't care who knocks on the door or what plans they've made with their friends at school -- they have to do their jobs before they head out the door. I've had various systems and strategies over the years but that is what it averages out to. Now that we've established and ethic of work, there are some days we can throw in the towel & skip it all and get right back on track the next day, but initially, I held really consistent to them doing their jobs before heading out to play.
So what kind of jobs do they do? Here's a quick sampling of what they can do based on their ages:
Zack 10: mows the lawn, washes dishes, cleans bathrooms, makes dinner, vacuums rugs, trims plants
Olivia 8: Dusts, cleans bathrooms, vacuums wood floors, cleans windows, waters flowers, folds clothes, cooks simple meals
Max 5: Unloads dishwasher, picks up family room, wipes down appliances, takes out trash, cleans bathrooms, pulls weeds
Obviously anything Liv & Max can do, so can Zack -- so at this point, I've got just about everything covered except the laundry, but we're getting there. Next up, they are going to become experts at changing diapers & bathing babies! I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I'm excited for them. As they learn new things, their confidence begins to grow and their minds begin to expand because they begin to understand that they can do hard things. They also are beginning to learn that the actual doing of the hard things is fun. In the instance of Zack doing the dishes without being asked, his motive was two-fold: first, he is protective of me, as such, he'll take over anytime he sees me doing the dishes, second, it was past his bedtime, but he's learned if he's being helpful, I don't really care about bedtimes. He's a smart boy & while I'd like to take credit for that, I can't.
So many open houses this weekend! If you haven't used these links before, I break each list into different cities, then they are sorted by price, so you can find what you're looking for fairly quickly. Once you find a property you want to walk, click on the 'open house' tab at the top right to see the date & time of the open house. If you're looking in Mesa, head here.
Found this little gem sitting in prime schools & totally re-done. About 2200+ sq ft, 4 bed, 2 bath for $365ish -- you know me, I'd negotiate, but this is a good starting point. The best part might be that there is NOT a pool yet, but the perfect spot for one. It's one thing to buy an older house, its another to buy an older pool. I'd prefer to put in my own & get it just how I like it.
In Gilbert, this is a little cutie sitting at $365,000 -- white kitchen with great light fixtures!
In Scottsdale, I'm loving this modern townhouse -- comes fully furnished at $530,000
And we can't forget about Chandler! Found this AMAZING lot (1/2 acre!!) for $535,000 in Chandler. The interior is just under 3,000 sq ft and while it hasn't been re-done with the typical white cabinets, the original finishes are nice...and for this lot??? Sold.
We've been getting everyone moved around and while there will still be some movement for some of my kids down the road, my oldest is most-likely in his 'forever bedroom.' As such, I've spent a little more time and effort there getting him settled of sorts...considering all my other bedrooms are still a bit under construction, it was my only option. :)
One of the things I knew early on I wanted to include was an American flag. I'm a bit particular about what I hang on my walls, in my kids' room especially. I'd rather their walls stay empty until I find just the right thing, something meaningful or inspiring in some way. I looked into buying a vintage American flag, turns out those can get pretty pricey, pretty quick. Instead, I ordered a brand spankin' new one from Amazon for less than $20. This one measures 3'x5' -- which was what I was looking for. I knew when I ordered it, I wasn't going to love the crispness of it, but figured I'd drum up something to age it a tad.
It sat on my desk for a week or two before I remembered an old quilting trick of my mom's. My mom is an amazing quilter -- wait until you see the baby quilt she's working on. It will blow your mind. Anyway, I remember her antiquing fabric for various projects over the years & so I thought I'd put that same technique to work on this flag. Did you see it on my InstaStories?
The process is so so easy & I'm happy to report, despite the synthetic fabrics in the flag, it worked perfectly. All you'll need is some good ol' fashioned tea bags & some hot water. Use your kitchen or laundry room sink & fill it up piping hot (no need to actually boil water, although you could, I just used the hottest tap water). Once it's full, start putting in some tea bags to seep. I started with 4 tea bags, but kept upping it & ended with around 8 tea bags in the water. I let the initial bags seep for about 10 minutes then added the flag to the bath.
I left the flag in for close to 4 hours -- checking on it, stirring it around & adding more tea bags.
3-5 things currently on my mind this week...
We've had to move every bedroom around to make room for this baby & now that we have it sorted as to where everyone is landing, I'm ready to tie up the loose ends. This week I focused on my oldest son's room. He'll be in this bedroom for a while & while a part of me would love to snap my fingers & have it perfectly styled & decorated, I won't. The goal isn't for him to live in a catalogue bedroom...so instead I'll allow it to grow & build over time. This week we added a big flag to his bedroom wall & got some artwork hung. A full post on how to antique a flag coming soon, but I love how it turned out.
In the process of the upstairs addition & moving everyone around, I've taken just about every piece of artwork off my walls. Now I'm wondering what pieces I'll hang back up. When we first moved into this house, I took a very long time to hang anything. I'm oddly slow and deliberate in choosing what to hang on my walls. One piece I recently added that I really love came from a quick snap from my phone. I like my kids to have some religious art in each of their bedrooms, but I lean more towards an abstract or clever interpretation of it these days. When we took a recent trip to Tucson for the temple open house, I snapped a quick, quirky angle of the entrance, cropped nice and tight, with a strong black & white composition. When I saw it I knew it would work perfectly in my son's room. On a whim I sent it to Framebridge & had it in my hands in less than a week. Reporting today, that I love it. I don't typically spend that much on printing and framing, but I'm about ready to do it again with some photos I took in Durango. Let me know if you want that above photo for your own house & I'd be happy to send you the image for printing.
Working on my mindset quite a bit these days. It might be because I have a feeling I'm walking into a huge change, that I really want to enjoy, but know is frought with emotion. About a year ago, I really started focusing on it, when I read this book & this one. I can say there has been a huge mental shift for me that has really helped me grow in new & different ways. Notice, not always easy ways, but always beneficial. With a baby on the horizon, I'm trying to buckle down a bit more again with morning routines, gratitude journals & the like. School starting has really helped this AND I saw on Jenna's feed today she's starting a 30-day focus on it too. I probably won't follow it exactly, but she always has some good insights I tend to incorporate.
I'm having a baby in 8 weeks. Mind blown. It's so different this time around mostly because my older kids & work keep me so busy, I don't hardly have time to even worry or fret about how much our life is about to change. I did manage to pick up these this week & love them, but mostly, I'm excited for quiet, slow days this fall & winter. Don't get me wrong...I've got big goals mapped out for next year, but I'm giving myself until January to really dig into them. Until then, I've got to figure out a name. Honestly I'm totally undecided on it. So please weigh in with your favorite one-syllable boy names. Ready...go!
Guys. I'm to the point in this pregnancy where everyone has a comment about this belly. I understand it mostly has to do with the way I carry (straight out), but I'd be lying if I didn't tell you I day dream about buttoning pants. I keep reminding myself to 'enjoy' these last 8 weeks because I'll never do this again, but then I see jeans & think about how much I'll enjoy buttoning those up. Let's just pretend I'll have the baby & magically be able to button my jeans again, okay? These are the jeans at the top of my list...along with some sweaters, graphic tees & cardigans...
Some people like window shopping for shoes or furniture or even cars. Me? I prefer window shopping real estate across the country. I'm excited for this new little series where we'll head to a location & check out some amazing properties that offer amazing lifestyles.
Today? I headed to the Pacific Northwest...specifically waterfront properties, because you know my affinity for poolside living. I'm certain waterfront living would be just as enjoyable. Not to mention I'm tired of 'excessive heat warnings' & I'm ready to put on a sweater in the evenings, so this was the perfect virtual escape. Click on any photo to be taken to the full listing & let me know your favorite.
This first one not only had an amazing front exterior, but the kitchen had some serious chops as well.
Add in this outdoor living situation & you know I'm sold. You could tell me that a tiger lives in the basement & I'd probably overlook it.
This one is not as refined as the first, but its got all the lived in charm & quirk to make up for it.
Case and point: those doors, that stove, ship lap and the FLOORS!!! In this instance, you want them to creak here & there right? GIve me a sweater & some hot chocolate...I'll be right here.
I might paint this exterior a crisp white with black trim...
Then when I got tired, I would go relax right here...or here
But sometimes you just want something new & move in ready. Love the steep roof line & that rust door.
This screams weekend getaway filled with lazy breakfasts & simple living.
Where should we head to next???
If you're like me, you love walking homes, whether you're in the market to buy or not. I love getting ideas of how people use their spaces. This kitchen is on the market in Scottsdale for a cool $1.9 million.
I've rounded up all the Open Houses in Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler & Scottsdale happening this weekend. They are listed in order of price, so you can sort through to your range fairly quickly. Shoot me an email email@example.com if you're having any problems sorting out the date (today or tomorrow) and time...but you'll want to click on the Detail tab (top right) and under that you'll see a link 'Open House,' click there & it will give you the dates & times of the open house.
Let me know if you walk any...I know I put a few on my list today.
3-5 things currently on my mind this week...
A construction zone. In actuality it isn't so bad and is coming along nicely. This week everything got framed out and makes the visual of the space 1 million times easier. My mom also had a heart attack when she came to see it & I went traipsing out on it. 'Don't walk on it!' she exclaimed. I had to laugh, because this is the actual floor we'll all be walking on all the time. That being said, it felt really funny to walk on it the first time. To the left of me in this photo is my huge entry light fixture. They just tacked it up nice & high so it was out of the way. We'll have to re-do our electrical outlets to make the upstairs fan nice & centered, but in the meantime we have a disco ball situation that makes us all laugh. Check out my IG stories for a live walk through today. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna love this space major.
Around the Table:
Sometimes I make breakfast, but when I do, it's always for dinner. We're eating all things peaches & this was a good new recipe we tried. I have one child who struggles with food...mostly a texture thing, but it's hard for me to get protein in that one. I like all the eggs in this for that reason. I'm sure it will pop up again and again.
1 C flour
4 large eggs
1 C milk
1/2 t salt
4 TB melted butter
1 C sugar
1/2 C butter
1/2 C buttermilk
1/2 t baking soda
1 t vanilla
This dry texture spray. I've used it for a bit & every time I run out I'm panicked. It's a good body boost of those no wash days and a good shot of dirty on those wash days. I still can't find it at Walmart or Target or any other grocery store, so I make a special stop at Walgreens...now you know the depths of my affinity.
Rocking chairs...as in just one. Have I told you that we literally got rid of every single baby item? With the exception of the crib, which my daughter had been using as her bed, I got rid of everything when we moved. It made sense then & to some degree it still makes sense. I might have 3 boys, but they are all 5 years apart from each other, so sharing or passing down between them isn't actually all that practical. Fashion shifts and boys are HARD on their things...so we're at scratch. I'm loving this one but will probably end up with this one. Have you seen anything great?
Getting my closet organized! I tend to put projects like this off, but ultimately am always so glad when its done. My closet has been bursting at the seams a bit because it holds, well, everything. Until about 6 months ago my dresser was still being used as our TV stand, because #reallife. I was so excited to get my dresser back, that it's sat empty for the last 6 months. My husband is a patient soul. I really was delighted to have it back, but now I've got to re-think how I use my space. I've put some things in the drawers and then been annoyed that they aren't where they were before & promptly moved them back to my jammed closet. I'm determined to get it organized though, which really requires getting rid of 50% of the things it contains. The problem with that is that its hard to part with ANY normal clothes when you're pregnant. I'm so full of endearment for anything that offers a waist that disposing of such item, well, easier said than done. That being said, some hooks and some baskets & I think I can make it feel 1,000 times better. I'll let you know.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.