Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Outdoor Toys & Games for the Whole Family

Now that temps have warmed up, we've found ourselves outside a lot more. While being stuck at home for months on end wasn't what we had planned for this time of year, there have been a ton of fun positives to it. For one, all of our kids now know how to ride a bike. It's funny that we never really thought we had time for that before, but now they are all off on two wheels adventuring around the neighborhood.

As a reward for their newfound bike skills, the Easter bunny was nice enough to include some water bottle attachments in the kids Easter baskets. These might be one of our best quarantine purchases yet.

I mean, as much as I loved following behind them with a fifty pound backpack of water on each ride, my old lady back is super thankful. They were super quick and easy to attach too.

| Adjustable bike water bottle holder we used for smaller bikes |

We've also had so much fun playing games outside as a family. With out any professional or collegiate sports playing on T.V., a lack of weekend sideline cheering in our lives, and the absence of any park being open, we've had to resort to using our own driveway and yards to satisfy our competitive natures.

Some games and toys are old favorites, but we've found a few new ones that we have loved too. Yard Dice has seemed to be the crowd favorite. And easy enough even for the four year old to participate in.

And this Giant Jenga game that we made years ago has been resurrected and emerged as a favorite. You can buy your own game, but if you are looking for a quick and easy quarantine project to do (or one for your husband) we have the easy instructions to make your own HERE.

Another huge hit has been this obstacle course we created with some outdoor toys. It was super easy to come up with, and the kids have had a blast rotating the toys around to come up with different courses for each other to do.

Here are just a few other outdoor toys and games that our families have loved, or are on our list to get to entertain us the remaining amount of time. A few have been such  a huge hit, and we can't wait to play them during the nine million parties we are going to host once the corona chaos is done!

1. Archery Practice - Our kids our Southern kids at heart and love using bow and arrows. We have this bow for our older kids with a target box for them to shoot in, but for the younger kids we love this little set that comes with a target. You'd be surprised at how long this entertains them.

2. Rocket Copters - A toy that is so simple, and inexpensive, but our kids love. We found out that Dick's Sporting Goods had curb side pick up within an hour and we were so excited we picked up a few outdoor toys and games. It also came in handy when we realized our kids needed new sneakers. The kids love shooting these into the air, shooting each others down, and shooting them with friends (it's easy to social distance with these - everyone lines up down the street and just shoots). They even light up, so at night that has been a fun bonus game. 

3. Yard Dice - This was another game I picked up from Dicks (but there are tons of options available on Amazon too!) As I mentioned earlier the kids love this game. It's been a favorite of the whole family actually.  It is essentially a larger version of Yahtzee.

3. Oversized Connect Four - We've played this at friends' homes and our kids are obsessed. We have this one on order and it should be arriving any day now. It's a little more expensive, but liked that it came with the storage bag.

4. Spike Ball - Okay so we might not be at a beach, but this is the quarantine and all rules have gone out the window. We realized we can play this game in the yard or the driveway just as easily as we can at the beach, and all of us have a blast playing it!

5. Yard Dice - This was another game I picked up from Dicks (but there are tons of options available on Amazon too!) As I mentioned earlier the kids love this game. It's been a favorite of the whole family actually.  It is essentially a larger version of Yahtzee.

6. Ninja Warrior Course - Our kids love watching Ninja Kids, Ultimate Ninja Warrior, and now on Netflix Ultimate Beastmaster. We got a few of these as birthday gifts, and Carrie Beth's son has a whole course and zip line set up in their yard. They've had a blast creating their own Ninja obstacles with the jumping stones, zip lines, and other accessories.

7. Walkie Talkies - We remember thinking walkie talkies were fun as kids, so we figured ours would love it too. They've been playing hide and seek style games with these (and talking to guide the person to find them), or battle games with their Nerf guns. We like this set because it's rechargeable through USB - so no need for batteries!

8. Yard Pong - Think beer pong, but oversized. We don't have this one...yet, but it just looks fun and you can modify it to be family friendly.

9. Giant Dominos - In the spirit of all the oversized yard games, there is also giant dominos. It's such a fun game, and we hadn't pulled it out for awhile, but the kids have loved it.

10. Flarts - Aside from the name that makes everyone giggle, this is a fun kid-friendly yard darts game. It's easy enough for toddlers to play and it was super easy to set up.

We hope this helps in case you've hit an entertainment lull in the quarantine. Another fun suggestion we've had from a friend was doing a game exchange. One of our friends has the over sized Connect Four game, and we plan to do a swap with the Yard Dice one day for a change of pace. If you have a game you've loved - please share! It looks like home will be the main source of entertainment for awhile still.

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Friday, April 24, 2020

Friday Favorites: Cute and Affordable Summer Tops

Happy Friday!  Another week has come and gone.  Some weeks seem to fly by for me and others (like this one) just DRAG!!!  It's been a while since I've done a Friday Favorites post so decided it was time for one.  Today I'm sharing our favorite cute and affordable summer tops.  If you are anything like us you have been living in athletic wear, cozy clothes, and pajamas during all of this.  However, Georgia is slowly staring to open back up (although not without a lot of criticism) and while I don't see us heading out to eat our Friday night Mexican in the next few weeks, I am hopeful that things will get back to normal sooner than later. When we can finally leave our houses again you better believe I am going to take advantage of every chance I get to "dress up."  And by dress up I mean something other than leggings and a t-shirt.  As crazy as it sounds, I miss picking out cute outfits, fixing my hair and putting on make up! 

All of these tops are super cute and very affordable. The good news about having to do online shopping right now is that there are SO many deals. Almost every retailer is having sales so it's a good time to snag a few items.  

Our favorite cute and affordable summer tops from L-R starting at the top. 

1. Lilac Eyelet Blouse - The color of this one is SO pretty and I just love the eyelet detail and the flutter sleeve.  SO pretty and on sale for 30% off making it only $28! 

2. Orange Floral Tank - I bought this top back in the spring with hopes of wearing it on Spring Break and just love how bright and fun the color is.  The v-neck and cut of it is very flattering. It looks cute with denim shorts and is only $16.99!

3. Tie-Dye Tee - I've shared this tie-dye tee once before, but thought it deserved to be on this list, too!  It is SO soft and comfortable, totally on-trend with the tie-dye design and crazy affordable at only $8. This color is listed as blue, but it comes in a ton of other colors.

4. Embroidered Tank - This is a top I have been eyeing for a few years now and I don't know why I haven't just bit the bullet and ordered it. I love the bright colors and the embroidery on it is so beautiful!  I know people who have this and it looks great in person. It's sold out in some sizes/colors, but it is $22.99 right now so a great price! 

5. Green and White Gingham Tank - I absolutely adore this top. I ordered a few weeks ago and when it arrived I was very impressed. It looks very J Crew to me and the shoulder ties are adjustable, which I really liked and it is on sale right now for $22.95.

6. Black Scallop Tank - I love black and white together in the summer and the scallop detail on this one is so pretty!  This also comes in a lavender color and is on sale for $23.80. 

7. Pink Ruffle Blouse - Who doesn't love a pop of bright pink in the summer?! This is certain to brighten up any day and is on sale for $20.99. 

8. White Lace Top - You can't go wrong with a white top and this one has beautiful lace and swiss dot  detail making it look much more expensive than it is.  It is also lined, so not see-through!  It's currently on sale for only $12.59. 

9. Black Lace Top - This one isn't in the collage above, but I had to add it to the list.  It's a black lace top that is longer and I know a lot of people prefer that because it covers the booty!  The lace detail on it is very pretty and it is chiffon, but lined, so it flows really well and is $34.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Home Sweet New Home: Renovation Update

It's been awhile since I've given a little New Home update. These last few weeks have been crazy to say the least, and we were nervous in March that our entire renovation would have to come to a screeching halt. Luckily, things have continued smoothly for the most part and we are still on track to finish the majority of our renovation in early May. 

Not the best time to be selling a house, trying to move, and trying to coordinate a renovation - but, we've been rolling with it. 

Here's a quick little peek at some of the changes that have been in the works...

First order of business was a quick refresh for the outside. We pressure washed, replaced any rot or damage, and brightened her up a bit. Out with the yellow and in with some fresh white, new shutters, and re-designed front entrance. 

I kind of want to put something in the center peak, but haven't decided yet. Any thoughts or suggestions? 

We've got all sorts of big plans for that pile of brick. And not just for the outside either. We liked using brick as a backsplash/wall in our current house and wanted to bring that element and then some over to the new house. Stay tuned. 

But it will be used for the garage wrap as well. Which by the way is starting to look less like a garage and more like the living space we envision. 

The old garage will now be home to our mudroom, a guest bedroom and a full bathroom. We are building a new detached garage with an attached hallway this side of the house. More on the why and the details of this to come, but this by far was the largest part of our renovation. 

The powder room was one of the first rooms I knew I wanted to redo. Mostly because the orange faux textured paint that here before wasn't my style. It's a work in progress, but luckily you can order everything on the internet these days (including this sink!) and all the extra elements to this room will be done soon. 

Top to bottom, every room in the house was repainted. We overall lightened everything up and went more neutral. Except for one room...

My office I decided to go a little bold with color and chose Sherwin William's infamous Iron Ore to decorate my walls. I think it will all come together in the end with what I have in mind, but if least it can be changed. 

The dining room ceiling is probably one of my favorite parts of the entire house. This room has changed a ton from it's original look, and I couldn't be more pleased with how it's shaping up. 

The stairs going upstairs were painted brown instead of stained brown. The paint was starting to wear off - especially with the amount of traffic and tools being used on them during the renovation. So while it wasn't in our original plan we decided to fix them now to match the rest of the house while we weren't in the home. 

We also chose to update and change the banisters as well since they would need to be replaced anyway. 

 Sorry for the crooked picture. There weren't any banisters or rails on the stairs during the time of installation and I'm apparently faint and the thought of heights. So this is me crawling on the ground to stay low, standing up for a quick pic, and then crawling back safely down the stairs. Needless to say it was entertaining for all involved. 

But this is one of the kids rooms. We have this same trim and shelving in their rooms today and like it so much we just told the carpenter to replicate the kids current rooms. They've done so many projects for us over the years so I just let them have at it. 

The basement has probably been our other biggest project during this renovation. It was already finished, but didn't necessarily have the right set up we were looking for. Also, having a husband who works in construction helped us realize pretty quickly that some of the things they did to finish it out weren't really safe or up to code. So we gutted most of it, and started from scratch. 

This used to be their basement kitchen, pantry, and refrigerator area. It will now be a living room. 

And what used to be the living room will now be the bar of all man cave bars. This is us spending one of our pre-quarantine date nights mapping out where every bottle, wine fridge, cube of ice, and - most importantly - television will go. 

Listen, if we ever get out of quarantine - drinks for everyone. You're all invited. 

There still seems to be a lot to do, but our general contractor (a.k.a the husband) has told me we have about two more weeks before it's move in ready (minus the garage). 

Like any project it's had its ups and downs, but considering all the snags that we could have had along the way, especially these last few months, its gone way better than I expected. 

I'll share a more detailed update once every things finishes! But for now we're excited to use the outdoor space when we do visit and enjoying the fun process of making it our own. 

And keeping my husband off Zillow. 

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Monday, April 20, 2020

Kitchen Confessions: Easy Twice Baked Potatoes

Here is a confession from my kitchen. I feel like it has been used more in the past 5 weeks than it has in the past 5 years.

I'm not even exaggerating.  I'm not one that loves to cook and a big part of that is because I used to never have the time.  Between rushing the kids from school to sports and lessons and everywhere else we used to go, there just wasn't time.  We did a lot of drive-thru (I'm convinced we kept Chick-fil-a in business), take-out, and eating on the go. Sure I made a few dinners a week, but they were all quick and easy things and more out of necessity than enjoyment.

The first few weeks I was SICK of cooking.  I couldn't believe my family really expected me to feed them breakfast, lunch, and dinner EVERY single day.  Kinding...kind of.  Now that we have gotten into the groove of quarantine life and are literally home all day every day, I feel like I am enjoying cooking or at least planning our meals just a *little* bit more.  That is not to say I cannot wait for our busy life to return, but at least I'm making the most of being stuck at home.

Thankfully the weather has been really nice so we've been grilling a lot.  Over the weekend the Mr. grilled steaks and I made twice baked potatoes to go with them.  This is something I never would have made before because I didn't have time and I needed quick sides.  However, since we were home all day Saturday I baked the potatoes and got them ready earlier in the day so that when we were ready to eat it would just be a quick "twice-bake" to get them ready to serve. They were delicious and super easy to make.

Easy Twice Baked Potatoes

4 baking potatoes
8 slices of bacon or one package of bacon pieces
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Pierce potatoes with fork and place in baking dish. Bake for about 1 hour.
3. Cook bacon over medium heat and crumble, set aside.
4. When potatoes are done, allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Slice potatoes lengthwise and scoop out the inside of the potatoes into a large bowl, saving the skins.
5. In the bowl with potatoes add sour cream, milk, butter, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup of cheese. Mix with hand mixer or in a food processor until blended and creamy, set aside.
6. Spoon the potato mixture back into the skins. Top with remaining shredded cheese and bacon.
8. Bake an additional 15 minutes or until warm.

To make it easier I like to use these packs of bacon pieces in recipes that call for bacon.

Note: I baked the potatoes and prepped them to bake again earlier in the afternoon.  Then, when we were grilling I twice baked them at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

These were a hit with everyone and we had enough left over for some of us to have for lunch the next day.  I will definitely be making these again.

Have you been cooking more during your time at home?  What is something you have made that your family loved?

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Monday, April 13, 2020

Spring Amazon Home Favorites Under $25

Spring has arrived. Our attention has been focused on cleaning out and sprucing up our homes. More so because we are currently confined to our homes more than normal (thanks pandemic!). The other day we were joking with each other that our homes haven't been so organized since we moved in. We have organizers for organizers, and a rekindled love for our label maker

While we would love nothing more than blissfully shopping the aisles of our local Targets, and Home Goods for new Spring decor, we aren't hating the fact we can now browse virtual aisles of our favorite stores in the comfort of our own homes and cozy pjs. 

Our love for Amazon runs deep and wide. So it's no shock that we instantly fell in love with their selection of Spring home decor as well. We were shocked, however, at how many great items we found under $25! We were able to snag some great items and stay way under budget on our Spring sprucing up! 

Here's a little peek at what we ordered. Stay tuned for in-home photos as things arrive! 

  1. Pom Blanket - Love this super soft blanket and its fun poms. It's a dupe for one of our favorite Pottery Barn blankets, but at $24 it's a steal! It is available in three colors: white, grey, and beige.
  2. Spring Door Mats - We currently have a black and white buffalo check door mat ($12) in combo with our favorite "Home Sweet Home" mat ($20), but we love this grey version ($18) for a softer Spring welcome.
  3. Throw Pillows - Amazon has THE BEST Spring throw pillow selection. These grey buffalo check ones with poms ($13) coordinate perfectly with these blush pink pillows ($14). Here are some other Spring throw pillow favorites from Amazon - all under $25!

    | Floral  Peonies Pillow | Grey Tassel Pillow | Aqua Pom Pillow | Blush Pom Pillow | Spring Pillow | Buffalo Check Tassel Pillow | Set of 4 Navy Pillows | Dalmatian Dot Pillow | Floral Water Color Pillow

  4. Greenery - There's nothing that shouts Spring decor more than flowers and greenery. We have been so impressed with all of the greenery options we've ordered from Amazon. From these adorable preserved boxwood balls ($14) that adorn our kitchen shelves to tons of great floral arrangements - there are tons of great high quality options to bring a little Spring into the house.
  5. Cute Signage - We've always relied on Target or Homegoods for cute little wooden signs to sprinkle around our home, but we realized Amazon has some great options too. This wooden "welcome" sign comes in at $18, and this adorable "happiness" one matches so well with some of the pillows from above.
  6. Bright Dish Towels - If you're like us, there's always a dish towel on hand in the kitchen. We tend to switch them out for the seasons or holidays, and Amazon has been a great source for inexpensive options. We love this bright lemon set (4 for $13!) and we just added this "Happy Everything" towel ($12) to our cart.
  7. Candles - We always have a candle burning in our home. Our favorite is the Capri Blue candles that we stock up on at Findlay Rowe, but we stumbled upon these Lulu candles on Amazon as a more cost effective option. They have TONS of great reviews and smell fabulous! 

Do you have any home decor items you love from Amazon? Do share! 

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