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First Trimester Recap

First Trimester Recap

Hi everyone! Brad and I are super excited to welcome a precious little baby into the world in August! I recently moved into the second trimester (currently 14 weeks), so I thought I’d share a little bit about the first trimester – how we found out, how we told our family and friends, and the joys and challenges.


How We Found Out 

Brad and I were headed to New York City for a little getaway at the beginning of December, so I decided to take a pregnancy test (because to be honest I wanted to know if I could drink alcohol on this trip). We had not been trying very long, so we did not expect to get a positive test. And we didn’t. Not pregnant! Bring on the coffee and wine! So we went to NYC, came home, and expected to start my period within the week (sorry if that’s TMI but it’s how pregnancy works people!).

But the days came and went and I still had not started. The next weekend we bought a two-pack of pregnancy tests – we figured I could use one that day and have another for the next month, because at this point we still weren’t hopeful we were pregnant. (I think after watching many friends struggle to get pregnant over the last few years, I was hesitant to get my hopes up that it would happen quickly. I think I was subconsciously guarding my heart for what I feared.) So I took the test and guess what! It didn’t work! The control line didn’t show up. Completely blank. Good thing we bought a two-pack. A few hours later, as we were getting ready for my work Christmas party, I took the second test. I left it in the bathroom so I could put my hose on and Brad set a timer. When the timer when off Brad went and got the test from the bathroom. He came out holding it with a crazy look on his face and I thought he was pulling my leg.

But he wasn’t. It was positive! We didn’t cry, because I think we were mostly in shock. We smiled and hugged and walked out the door to my work Christmas party! All night we had to act like normal people even though we had just found out this life-altering news!! It was so hard not to just blurt it out at dinner!

Amazingly, I hadn’t thought much about what we would do after we found out we were pregnant. I think I was afraid to dream of that moment too much because of the heartbreak I’d watched so many others walk through. Luckily, Christmas was coming, which afforded so many great opportunities and fun ways to let those you love know your great news.


How We Told Our Families

We found out that we were pregnant on a Saturday, and we already had plans to see both of our families the following weekend (the weekend before Christmas), so we kept our news to us for the week. Brad’s sister moved home from college that Friday, so we planned to go out to eat with Brad’s dad, sister, and mom, but his mom ended up not being able to come. Brad tried to convince her to come, but it just didn’t work out. Also, we were supposed to have lunch with my parents on Sunday, but the weather was bad and they decided not to come. Our parents rarely cancel plans, so we were like, “Of all the weekends to cancel plans this us, you choose this one! Ahhhh!” We gave them a hard time about it later. Anyways, we decided to tell Brad’s dad and sister anyway because I just couldn’t hold it in any longer! Brad’s sister has been asking us to have a baby more than anyone else over the years, so I was very excited to tell her.

When we travel, we like to take videos and pictures throughout our trip and turn them into a little video when we get home. We had done this while in NYC, so Brad put our video together and added a clip at the end of us announcing that we’re pregnant (you can watch the video here). So we were those very annoying people that forced our family members to watch our vacation video. Before we left for dinner with Brad’s dad and sister we asked if we could show them our vacation video before we left. They obliged, and as soon as it cut to the clip of us in our kitchen talking to the camera, Heather started crying because she knew what was coming. We all cried and hugged and headed to dinner to spend the rest of the night talking about pregnancy and babies and the future. It was really special.

On the following Thursday, my brother, his girlfriend, my aunt Lori, and cousin Jaclyn had all gotten into town for Christmas. I asked my mom if we could all hang out at her and dad’s house that night. Again, we asked my family if we could show them our vacation video and they kindly said yes. We were bummed we couldn’t tell my parents the weekend before, but it ended up being super special to have Lori and Jaclyn there. My family’s reactions were exactly what you would expect if you know them – my mom was super emotional, my dad was stoic, and Dylan was all smiles.

We never had the chance to tell Brad’s mom individually, so at his extended family Christmas we wrapped up an extra gift for Lea. After all the presents had been opened, we told Lea that there was still one more gift for her. Very confused, she opened a “grandkids” picture frame in which we’d written “Baby Bartlett coming August 2017”. Her reaction was so priceless – happy tears and lots of hugs. It was also so fun to tell his extended family because this will be the first great-grandchild in the family. His grandma exclaimed, “I’m going to be a great!” I was super touched by how happy they all were for us.

Of course you probably saw our announcement on Facebook. I love that it’s simple and super fitting for us. (Although I’ve had to cut waaaaaay back on my coffee intake.)


The Joys and the Challenges

Sharing our news with our family the week of Christmas was so special, but my sickness set in at the exact same time. I didn’t get to enjoy the Christmas food and I was so exhausted, as if Christmas wasn’t busy and tiring enough! The following six weeks were fairly challenging – I struggled to eat, was completely zapped of energy, and felt general icky most of the time. I was also leading two major projects at work (aka high stress and working lots of hours), which I normally handle fairly well, but this season really pushed my limits physically and emotionally.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve regained my energy, eating is getting easier, and I’m feeling overall much better, although I’m still throwing up almost every morning, which, amazingly, I really don’t mind.

Just a note – I know it’s hard for those struggling to get pregnant or those who’ve had a miscarriage to hear pregnant women “complaining” about the pains of pregnancy. I totally get that this can be hurtful and insensitive. I never want to sound like I’m complaining! I am so grateful for the life growing inside of me and I wouldn’t trade the exhaustion and sickness for anything! But feeling bad is just a reality for this season and I can’t say that it’s not hard.  The almost ever-present nausea was also a constant reminder of those out there hurting and longing to feel what I’m feeling. Know that I’m praying for you and that you would trust what the Lord has in store for you and your family. 

Our first two appointments were so fun. We had a sonogram at the first one and got to see little baby B wiggling around like crazy. At the second appointment we got to hear the heartbeat (161!), which was a real relief to me. I hadn’t felt much anxiety about miscarrying, which is surprising since I had so many worries about getting pregnant, but I think God mercifully gave me a peace that the baby was growing healthy and strong in those first weeks.

But the day before our second appointment I got a text from a friend with the heartbreaking news that they were miscarrying. We had just shared the joy of telling them “we’re pregnant!” to which they exclaimed “us too!”. Then I was suddenly taken back to a year and a half ago when our dear friends found out they too were going to miscarry when the heartbeat could not be found. I prayed throughout the day and night that I would trust the Lord with what was to come the following day. It probably took the nurse less than 15 seconds to find the heartbeat, but it felt like forever. When we heard the sound, Brad and I looked at each other and smiled a sigh of relief. Little baby B was still growing strong.

We’ve taken a total of 1 picture of my baby bump so far (whoops!). I noticed a little pooch form right around the time I started to feel sick at 6 weeks, but it really just looked like I indulged too much at Christmas. For the following 7 weeks I felt like it barely grew any bigger, but I have noticed it gaining size in the last week or so. I’m so excited for my belly to start growing, but I’m trying to be thankful that I still fit into all of my clothes. I lost some weight in the first trimester, so the waist of my pants is starting to get tight, but the legs and butt are baggier than usual.

I think that our dog Libby knows that I am pregnant. She is needier than usual and always wants sleep on my lap or stomach, when she is normally content to lay beside me.

Poor Libby, her life is about to change so much! I really hope that Libby loves our baby and we can be those people that post pictures of their dog and baby cuddling.

 

I’m sorry this post is so long! It’s okay if you just skimmed it. My blog is a place that I share about my life with others, but I also like to think of it as a place that I can go to look back on the journey that God has taken us on. Thanks for following the journey with us.

2017 Goals

2017 Goals

I have just two goals this year.

Goal #1: I’m making everyone homemade gifts next Christmas.

Every November I think to myself, “I should make all of my gifts this year!” I love making gifts! I think they are so much more special than something I picked up at Target the week before Christmas. But then I come back to reality and remember that the Christmas season is busy and I do not have the time or capacity to make a bunch of gifts. I’ve told myself for years that someday I will do all homemade gifts for Christmas, but I always put it off to “someday”. So when the Christmas season came around in 2016 I decided that 2017 would be the year.

I have twelve people to buy for every year – Brad’s family (4), my family (4), and the gift exchange at each of our family gatherings (4). There are 12 months in a year, so my goal is to make one gift each month. Ideally I would make more than one in a couple of months so that I’m not rushing to make gifts during November or December.

Do you make gifts for your loved ones? What are some of your favorite homemade gifts? I need some ideas because I have 12 gifts to make!!

Goal #2: Read 12 books this year.

Twelve books may seem like a lot to some, and not very much to others. I used to read a lot, but I haven’t made it enough of a priority in the last few years. I only read 4 books in 2016, so it’s time to step it up!

I want to read a variety of non-fiction and fiction, so send some suggestions my way! On my list so far are Women in the Word by Jen Wilkin, Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham, Adopted for Life by Russell Moore, and Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. I obviously need some fiction, so help a sister out!

So keep me accountable this year! If you see me, ask me how my homemade gifts and reading are going! I can’t wait to share how I did in a year from now!

#BKinNYC2016

#BKinNYC2016

Brad and I took a short trip to New York City at the beginning of December. We LOVE New York! It was so fun to spend a few days exploring the city during such a magical time of year.

After telling my parents about our trip, my mom said, “So it sounds like you ate, drank coffee, and walked a lot.” So if you don’t want to read this whole post, that’s the short version 🙂

We woke up at 3:00am to catch our flight and made it to our hotel in NYC by noon. We stayed one block from Time Square at the Row NYC. Our first stop was to Shake Shack for some fuel, then we went to Mood, a fabric store that’s featured on Project Runway (my guilty pleasure reality show). It was awesome.

After that we grabbed coffee from FIKA, a Swedish coffee bar, and made our way north to Central Park (first we realized we were walking the wrong way when we hit the Hudson River, but quickly got back on track). We came across this fitting sign on our way.

We LOVE Central Park. It’s probably my favorite thing about NYC. It’s such a gem.

We enjoyed strolling around Central Park, then grabbed a bite to eat at Cafe Lalo. Have you ever seen the movie You’ve Got Mail? It’s my favorite movie ever and Cafe Lalo is where one of the scenes was filmed. It was so cute and still looked very similar to how it did in the movie.

The sign next to me has pictures from the movie.

Then we made our way to 5th Avenue. The buildings along 5th Avenue from Central Park to Rockefeller Center are always decorated during Christmas time.

My favorite buildings were Tiffany’s and Louis Vuitton. Also along 5th Avenue is St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was open to the public that night. Such a beautiful church.

We stopped at Bryant Park, which I actually enjoyed more than Rockefeller. Much less crowded and I loved the purple tree.

We finally made it to Rockefeller Center, which was beautiful, but very crowded, so we grabbed some coffee from Bouchon Coffee and did some people watching.

After Rockefeller we walked down to the Macy’s on 34th St. It was HUGE and decorated really pretty for Christmas.

By then we were starving and tired, so we ate a late dinner at the first place we stumbled upon, Parker and Quinn. Brad got the most amazing macaroni and cheese there. Then we finally made it back to our hotel and crashed.

The next morning we got coffee at Starbucks (which are EVERYWHERE) and took the subway down to the 9/11 memorial. It was surreal how quiet the memorial was in the middle of a crazy and loud city.

Then we checked out the church next to Ground Zero, which was really neat because it was so old and had so much history. It was one of the first churches in New York City. Then we walked through Chinatown and into Soho. I loved the streets and buildings there.

Then we got lunch at a cute place called Once Upon a Tart. I had the most amazing Turkey Pot Pie there.

While we were walking to Once Upon a Tart, we had passed a bakery that was packed, so we knew it must be good. We went back and got chocolate chip cookies, then stopped at the coffee shop next door, La Colombe.

Next we made our way to Washington Square Park to eat our cookies and drink our coffee.

Then we walked through Greenwich Village, where we got coffee at Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

With coffee in hand, we walked through the West Village. Greenwich and the West Village were probably my favorite areas. If I lived in NYC, I think that’s where I would want to live.

Next we found the Friends apartment. We weren’t sure if it was the right place at first, because it seemed like a regular neighborhood, but then we saw another couple taking pictures of the building, so we figured we were at the right place.

We found the High Line (a raised walkway near the Hudson River that goes through Chelsea) and walked along it for a bit. It was nice to get some neat views without stopped for traffic at every corner.

By then we were pretty tired, so we took the subway back to our hotel and rested for a bit. For dinner we went to Eataly, an Italian market and restaurant. It was really neat and definitely worth checking out if you are in NYC. We ate at the rooftop restaurant, Baita. It was very romantic and delicious, one of my favorite moments of the trip. The hot chocolate was my favorite thing I got the whole trip.

Next we found a cute dessert place, Veniero’s Pasticceria and Caffe, where we got cheesecake and coffee. It opened in the 1800’s and was so neat inside, with so many amazing desserts. The New York City cheesecake definitely lived up to it’s reputation.

We finally made it back to our hotel and crashed. A very successful day 2!

On Wednesday we only had the morning to explore before we had to leave to catch our flight. We walked to the Upper East Side to have breakfast at EJ’s Luneonette. The french toast I had was amazing. Next we walked through Central Park down to the Plaza Hotel, then to Rockefeller Center to see it during the day without so many crowds.

We got our last New York coffee and a slice of pizza, then called our Lyft to the airport.

New York City at Christmas time is one of those trips that’s always been on my bucket list. I’m so glad that we made it happen this year! I’m so blessed to have such a great travel partner! Thanks for making it all the way through this post!

Bartlett Christmas Card 2016

Bartlett Christmas Card 2016

Merry Christmas from the Bartletts! Welcome to our annual Christmas card blog post. You can read previous Christmas posts here: 2013, 2014, and 2015.

First let me start by saying that we did not send out physical cards this year, so if you didn’t get one don’t think that we forgot you. I feel bad because I LOVE getting Christmas cards in the mail, but this year a blog post will have to suffice.

We lovingly deemed 2016 the year-of-the-trips. We traveled a lot this year, both together and individually. The first big trip of the year was Brad’s trip to southeast Asia in February with a team from our church, Pleasant Valley. Here’s Brad to tell you more about it.

Merry Christmas everyone! This year I had the chance to visit a group of pastors and their families in Asia who are partnered with our church and help teach at a pastor’s conference. It was an incredible experience, and I was amazed to see how God is at work among His people around the world. Thanks to those of you who made this trip possible through prayer and financial giving. We are very blessed by generous friends and family. 

 

In April we took a trip that we’d been planning and looking forward to for a long time – we went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida. If you know us, you are aware of our love for all things Harry Potter. It was a super fun and memorable trip! You can read more about our trip here.

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We both took trips for our jobs this year – Brad traveled to St. Louis, MO, and Louisville, KY, (WAY closer than Asia) with his job at Midwestern Seminary and I went to New Orleans, LA, for a conference with my job. In the spring we took a quick trip up to Omaha for a concert and we visited Bolivar/Springfield for the wedding of some friends. I also went to Minnesota this fall with my mom and aunt for a wedding.

All that travel and we still managed to make some progress on our home renovation! (Slowly but surely…) We painted the trim in our bedroom white, our hall bathroom got a complete makeover, we installed new countertops in our kitchen, and we turned the pink hearts room into an office! We’re finally getting close to finishing all of the must-do projects. Slated for 2017 is to redo the blue flower room (last room with wallpaper!!), replace the carpet in the guest bedroom, and finish our master bedroom/bathroom update.

It seems that every Christmas blog post comes with a job change! This fall Brad left his position as Assistant Director of Admissions at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to join the staff at our church as their Digital Communications Coordinator. Here’s Brad to tell you more about it.

While I was definitely sad to say goodbye to my friends and family at Midwestern, I was super excited to take on a new challenge at Pleasant Valley this fall. As a full-time digital communications coordinator, my days are spent helping the church and the congregation get equipped to spread the gospel and love each other. It’s been great! I’m still taking classes at Midwestern, and am officially halfway through my Master of Divinity. 

I’m still loving my job at Viracor-Eurofins. This year was extremely challenging, but also super rewarding! I’m very blessed to go to a job that I love everyday!

This year wasn’t without sorrow. My dear cousin Justine went to be with the Lord in November after a tough battle with cancer. We miss her terribly and we grieve the fact that we don’t get to enjoy her presence here with us anymore, but we rejoice knowing that she is fully restored and with Jesus. We are so thankful for the ways that God was glorified throughout her journey and the impact that her life will continue to make. You can read a tribute that Brad wrote for her here.

God allowed our family to have a wonderful weekend together at the end of July. We got to spend quality time with Justine and each other. It felt like much better version of Christmas. I’ll always treasure the memories from that weekend.

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Our last trip of the year was one that we just returned from – New York City! It was fast and furious, but so much fun. I’ll blog about it soon!

Some other great highlights from 2016:

  • Our BFFs Brittni and Jarrod welcomed baby Barrett into the world! We love him so much already!
  • My sister-in-law got a corgi and it’s pretty much the cutest ever.
  • I got to relive my youth group days when I went to Summerfest (camp) with our church’s student ministry.
  • Our dog Libby is still cute in case you hadn’t noticed from our Instagrams.

 

We are so thankful for each of you who have loved on us this year! We are excited for what 2017 will hold, and can’t wait to share it with you all!

 

We’ll leave you Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne

Stitch Fix #3

Stitch Fix #3

Confession time: I did not blog about my first two Stitch Fixes. I had every intention about blogging about my Stitch Fix experience, but both times I was busy and didn’t get around to taking pictures and writing up a post about it. That’s my only excuse.

Let’s start over. Stitch Fix. In case you’re unfamiliar, Stitch Fix is an online personal shopping service. You fill out a style profile, pay $20 and a stylist sends you 5 pieces of clothing and/or accessories to your home. You try on each piece, decide what you want to keep, and send the rest back in a postage-paid bag within a few days. The $20 goes towards the cost of what you keep. Simple as that!

I heard about Stitch Fix a few years ago, but didn’t take the plunge to try it until about a year ago. I got my first Fix in September 2015 and my second in January 2016 for my birthday. My experience was pretty similar both times – there was one piece that I loved and kept, a couple of pieces that I liked but not enough to keep, and two pieces that I either didn’t care for, did not fit well, or was more money than I wanted to spend on that item. After each Fix you can review it, letting your stylist know what you liked or didn’t like about each piece. I had read several blogs about others’ Stitch Fix experience, and I had often seen that it takes three Fixes for your stylist to really hone into your style. That was certainly true for me!

I just received my third Fix and I loved every piece! As soon as I pulled each item out of the box I knew I loved it. Luckily, everything I tried on fit well! I ended up keeping all five pieces! If you keep every piece they send you, you get a 25% discount. I was a little on the fence about the dress (see below), but I decided to keep it because I basically got it for free with the 25% discount.

Here are the five pieces I received:

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I requested to receive a vest and my stylist sent me exactly what I’ve been looking for! It was the first thing I pulled out of the box and I immediately put it on over the outfit I had on. I love it and I’m sure I’ll wear it all the time!

The purple shirt is like a dressier sweatshirt. It is super soft and I love the color. The pants are perfect for work. The color is so versatile I feel like I can wear them with anything! (The pants look a little purple in these pictures – they are more like a grey/beige.)

stitch fix outfit #2

This is another great work outfit. I love the plaid pattern and colors of this shirt. It’s also light enough that I can wear it from fall through the spring.

stitch fix dress

I also requested a dress that I can wear during the winter. The majority of my dresses are sleeveless, so I’ve been wanting a dress to wear during chillier weather. I love the colors and feel of this dress.

Some thoughts on Stitch Fix:

  • It’s a little pricey. If you are a person that doesn’t like paying more than $20 for an article of clothing, then Stitch Fix is not for you. I have my profile set to receive the lowest price tier and the items I get range from approximately $40 to $100 a piece. It’s hard for me to spend that much on clothes, but since getting a “real grown-up job” I’ve tried to transition my perspective on clothes shopping to buying fewer, quality pieces that I will love and wear often, rather than whatever is cheap or on sale. The items I’ve received from Stitch Fix have been great quality and I know I will wear them for years to come.
  • It forces you to try on things that you would never pick up in the store. I received a pair of red/burgundy pants in my second Fix. I really liked them, but decided not to keep them because they were more money than I wanted to spend at the time. However, I’ve been on the lookout for a similar pair ever since. I never would have thought to try a pair of pants in that color, but I realized that they would go with a lot of my clothes. There are also items I’ve gotten and did not like the style at all, but now I definitely know that it doesn’t work for me!
  • Don’t be afraid to be very specific in your profile and request items you want. The stylists at Stitch Fix want you to receive items that you will love, so it’s important to tell them exactly what you want to receive. Always review each item after your fix so they know what you liked or didn’t like about each piece. You can also ask not to receive certain items. I have my profile set to not send me accessories (jewelry, scarves, handbags) or shoes. I use Stitch Fix for clothes only.
  • Some people worry that they won’t like anything in their box and they’ll waste $20. This has not been my experience, but I have read on some other blogs that if you really don’t like anything in your Fix, they will send you another Fix with 5 more items. As I said above, their goal is to help you find something you love (and to get you to actually buy something). They are only out the shipping cost, and they will make that back if you buy something in your next Fix.
  • One of my worries about Stitch Fix was that items would not fit me, but that hasn’t been a big issue for me. However, I am a fairly “normal” size – medium all around. There have only been one or two things that I didn’t like the way they fit more than them being ill-fitting. I’ve also read that you can request a different size if you really love the style of an item but it does not fit you.
  • It’s fun! It sounds silly, but I feel fancy having a personal stylist picking out clothes for me. Plus the excitement of receiving a Stitch Fix box is a special treat.

Have you tried Stitch Fix? What’s been your experience? If you have any other questions about Stitch Fix feel free to send them my way!

Hall Bedroom Before + Plans

Hall Bedroom Before + Plans

Hello out there! I’ve recently had a lot of people asking me what home reno projects we’re working on, so I thought I’d do a little update on what we’re up to!

We most recently finished our hall bathroom make over. You can read that post here. We decided to tackle the main floor of our house first, so now we’re on to one of the hall bedrooms. (Our house is a raised ranch with a lofted bedroom suite.)

We lovingly deemed this room the “pink hearts room”. It got it’s name for obvious reasons. It is the first bedroom on the right in our hallway. Our plan is to make this bedroom into an office with the ability to turn into a child’s bedroom someday. Here are some before photos!

hall bedroom

pink hearts

Yikes! This wallpaper is my least favorite of the 5 different kinds we had when we moved in.

Brad tore into this room about a month ago. The wallpaper is down and we tore out the chair rail. The wallpaper in this room actually came down easier than any other room so far! PTL!

I have struggled to come up with a clear vision for this room, but I have some ideas. We are going to have two more pot lights put in because the sole pot light is in an odd spot by the closet so the room is very dark. It will definitely help brighten the room. Then we’ll paint the ceiling and trim white. For the walls, we’d like to do built-ins along one wall and possibly shiplap on another. We’ll probably go with a darker blue/gray on the rest of the walls. I’m very excited to see where this room goes!

Here are some of the inspiration images I’m using to visualize the plan for this room.

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I love these built-ins by Sawdust Girl! Our window isn’t this large, but we plan to do a window seat. Won’t a window seat in a kid’s room be so cute?!

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This office by Driven by Decor is AMAZING. Plus this is a great gallery wall.

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I love the black, white, and wood floors in this office by Simplified Bee. Should we paint our built-ins dark and have white walls?? Now I don’t know!

After we finish this bedroom we will move on to the other bedroom on our main floor, which is the last room with wallpaper! Woot! Our goal is to be “done” with the main level by the end of 2016. Done meaning wallpaper down and room painted. Also I realized that I’ve never done a post about our dining room! It is one of my favorite rooms in our house, so I will definitely share soon! Looking forward to tackling these last two rooms in the coming months!

DIY Spray Painted Bathroom Sink

DIY Spray Painted Bathroom Sink

I posted about our hall bathroom makeover a few weeks ago and promised to share how we spray painted our vanity! The vanity was a cream color with gold/brown glitter. Though it was all the rage when the house was built in the 70’s, I was not a fan. I’d seen a lot of pins on Pinterest of people spray painting their vanities and countertops, so I decided to try it to save some money. Here was my experience.

I began by using sander deglosser to take the shine off, then lightly hand sanded. I tapped off the vanity with newspaper to keep spray paint off the surrounding surfaces.

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Then I started spray painting! I used this spray paint because it looks a bit like stone with the speckles in it.020066721589

Since the spray paint was grainy, it took quite a few coats. I ended up doing 7 coats of spray paint. Here’s a little progression between coats:

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Then I tried sealed it with poly.

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After a coat of poly, I realized I had a problem. As I said, the spray paint I chose was very grainy. The surface turned out bumpy, almost like sandpaper. I thought that the poly would help smooth it out, but it did not. At this point I had to stop and sand down the surface, which was difficult in the bowl of the sink and the corners. Once it was smooth, I sealed it with 3 coats of poly.

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Last I caulked around the edges for a smooth finish. I used this helpful trick from How to Nest For Less. Then we put in a new faucet.

 

If I did it again, I would use a different spray paint. I would have chosen a solid color that did not have texture to it. The spray paint I chose was more expensive and harder to work with than normal spray paint. But I am very happy with how my vanity turned out. This project cost about $70 for spray paint and poly – much cheaper than a whole new vanity! It’s definitely a great option for an inexpensive update to your ugly vanity.

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DIY Spray Paint Bathroom Vanity

How to spray paint a vanity

DIY Bathroom Towel Rack

DIY Bathroom Towel Rack

I browsed Pinterest for hall bathroom design ideas when I was preparing for our hall bathroom renovation (check out the Before and After). I found this from Start At Home Decor and knew it would be perfect for our bathroom.

Towel rack

Here it is in our bathroom!

towel rack

towel rack

DIY towel rack

This was SUCH a simple and cheap project! 

  1. First we measured the length of our wall. Ours was 86 inches.
  2. Then we bought a 1 x 4 x 10 piece of wood from Lowes and had them cut it for us.
  3. Brad sanded it down, while keeping some of the character of the wood.
  4. Next I stained the wood with some leftover stain from another project. I believe it was only $4 when I bought it originally.
  5. Since this will be holding wet towels, we wanted to make sure it was held securely to the wall. We found the studs in the wall and marked them with some painters tape.
  6. I held up the wood, made sure it was level, then Brad drilled it into the studs.
  7. Last we screwed in 3 hooks (bought from Lowes) between the studs.

It probably took 10 minutes to sand, 10 minutes to stain, and 10 minutes to hang up! About an hour long project if you count the trip to Lowes! Let’s look at the price breakdown:

  • Wood: $6
  • Stain: $4
  • Hooks: 3 x $2 = $6

We spent less than $20 on this new towel rack! My favorite projects are the ones that are cheap, quick, and easy!

DIY Towel Rack

Hall Bathroom Reno – After

Hall Bathroom Reno – After

Our hall bathroom makeover is finally complete! First, let’s take a trip down memory lane….

hall bathroom-1

Weird post from the 70’s, blue wallpaper with sea turtle border, and glittery shell sink = not cute. You can see more before pics in my before post.

We tore into our hall bathroom in February after Brad got back from India. There were a few stages to this makeover. We began by removing the post, taking out the toilet, then taking down the wallpaper.

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Did you know that sunglasses can double as safety goggles?

Unfortunately, the wallpaper didn’t come down easily, so the walls got pretty torn up. We sanded the walls, painted them with primer, then skim-coated the best we could. We took the light fixture out and put in a new one where it was supposed to be according to the wiring. We also put a new fan cover on the ceiling since the original one had gotten very dingy over the years.

Next we painted everything white – the ceiling, the walls, the trim, the cabinets, and the door. It was at this point that I stopped to resurface the vanity. We took the faucet out and I spray painted the sink a dark gray, then sealed with with poly. This was a long process and I’m not sure if I would do it again, but I am satisfied with how it turned out. I’ll do a whole post about this DIY some time soon.

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The picture above is from the middle of the process.

Next I painted the walls. I opted for Benjamin Moore Gray Owl in half strength. I wanted a very light gray since this room is small and has no windows. I wish the paint color was a bit darker, but I’m still pleased with it. I would rather it be a little too light than too dark. After paint, Brad put the toilet back in, which turned out to be an ordeal. Three trips to Lowes later, our toilet was back in and functional!

Next came the finishing touches! We put in a new door knob, spray painted the hardware, put up a towel rack, replaced the toilet paper holder, and put in a new faucet.

(Disclaimer: have you ever tried to photograph a small bathroom with no windows? Not easy. I guess you all just have to come over to see it in person!)

teal bathroom

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spray painted vanity

bathroom decor

Do you remember in my before post I said that I wanted a towel rack along the back wall? We actually did it! I LOVE how this turned out. I’ll do another post with details about how we did it.

towel rack

towel rack

And my favorite part – I painted the inside of the door for a pop of color! I love that you can’t see it until you shut the door to use the bathroom.

teal door

bathroom reno

teal bathroom

Progress + After:

Progress + After

Brad and I are ecstatic to have a functioning hall bathroom again! The next room to be reno-ed is what we’ve lovingly called the “pink hearts room”.

Sources:

  • Shower curtain: Target
  • Basket on toilet: Target
  • Hand towel rack: Lowes
  • Rug: TJ Maxx
  • Light fixture: Lowes
  • Mirror: from a friend
  • Fake plant: IKEA

Paint Colors:

  • Walls: BM Gray Owl (half strength)
  • Trim and Cabinets: Valspar Ultra White
  • Door: SW Geyser Mist
Tips for visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Tips for visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

My husband and I just got back from visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL. We are avid Harry Potter fans and the parks did not disappoint! I’m excited to share a few tips, tricks, and reflections on our trip!

First I should say that I am 26 and my husband is 27 and we have no kids. This was not a family trip, so the way we structured our trip was very different than a family with little kiddos would go about it!

  1. Since it can be confusing, I should explain how the parks work. There is Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. They are two separate parks, but are both a part of the Universal Orlando Resort. Hogsmeade is in Islands of Adventure, which opened first. Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios and was built next. Since Diagon Alley is newer, it was much busier! You will have to pay to get into each park to go to both Wizarding Worlds (see next tip!).
  2. Get the park-hopper pass! This allows you to go to both parks, and you get to ride the Hogwarts Express to go between the Wizarding Worlds! We found a buy-two-days-get-two-days-free from Best of Orlando. (That deal made each day cheaper than a day at Silver Dollar City!) We felt like 3 days would have been enough time to do everything in both parks, but having 4 days allowed us to take things a little slower and not feel so rushed! Wizarding World
  3. Be strategic with the time of year that you schedule your trip. I browsed many blogs about HP World, and I read over and over again about how crowded and hot/humid it can be! Luckily, we timed our trip perfectly! We were there the third week of April – spring break is over and schools have not yet gotten out for the summer, so most families do not want to pull their kids out of school in between those two breaks. I’ve also read that February and September are good times to go. Hosmeade and Diagon Alley (especially) were still fairly crowded in the middle of the day, but the rest of the parks were very low-key.
  4. We also timed our trip well with the weather. It was in the low 80’s each day, there was little humidity, and it never rained! But have no fear, there is a lot of shade in Diagon Alley. We had a lot of fun sitting in the shade, drinking butterbeer, and people watching. IMG_3389
  5. The first two days we were there, we got to the park when it opened and left by around 4. The second two days we slept in, ate brunch, and got to the park around noon, then stayed until it closed. We actually enjoyed the latter more! I had read that you should get to the park when it opens to avoid the lines, but we encountered less lines in the evenings before the parks closed. I think that most families get there in the morning, then their kids are tired and need a nap by the afternoon. Who am I kidding? We were tired by the afternoon and needed naps!
  6. There are two major rides – one in each park. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is in Hogsmeade and Escape from Gringotts is in Diagon Alley. The Forbidden Journey was my favorite, but they were both really great. Even waiting in line for these rides is fun! The line for the Forbidden Journey goes through Hogwarts (moving pictures and all!) and the line for Gringotts goes through Gringotts bank (goblins and all!).
  7. Butterbeer = amazing. I definitely liked the frozen better, though. I think we had one every day we were there! Pro-tip: they sell souvenir butterbeer cups in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. You can get refills in the cups for a little over $1. However, this does not apply to the HP specialty drinks (butterbeer, pumpkin juice, etc.)! It is still a good deal, though, because you can use the cup outside of the HP areas for pop, lemonade, or tea. Do not get a butterbeer refill in the souvenir cup, because you get less than if you order one in a disposable cup and it is the same priceIMG_0023
  8. The food at the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks is British. That may seem odd to point out, but I expected there to be other options. I love that it stays true to the Wizarding World, but I’m not a huge fan of British food. We ate at both and enjoyed the experience, but we opted for food in other parts of the park most of the time.
  9. Get a drink at the Hog’s Head (connected to the Three Broomsticks) and enjoy it on the patio with Hogwarts in the background! The Hog’s Head is actually a bar that serves beer and mixed drinks (all HP-themed of course). I had their version of a raspberry long island iced tea and it was great!
  10. Wands! Getting a wand was a must for us. You can buy two types of wands – interactive and normal. The interactive wands are $50 and the normal are $42. The wands are interactive because you can use them to do “spells” in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. There are medallions on the ground in front of the shop windows (or water fountains) that show you a wand movement and incantation. It sounded really fun in theory, but it was actually difficult to get it to work. There are wizards and witches on hand to help you get the hang of it, but in general it was a little bit of a let down. Also, there was usually a line of little kids waiting to try out their wands. So if you aren’t going to be at the park for very long or if you don’t care about casting spells, then you can save $8 (or $50 if you don’t buy one at all). IMG_0008
  11. Wands are sold in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Of course, Ollivander’s is actually in Diagon Alley in the books/movies, but both parks have one. Definitely check out both! The one is Diagon Alley is more elaborate and has a larger selection of wands. (The Ollivander’s in Hogsmeade has a small room in the back that is tucked away and isn’t obvious to see at first, so we found browsing wands was easiest there.) IMG_3406
  12. Each Ollivander’s puts on a small act in which someone from the crowd gets to have a wand “choose” them. This was one of the first things we did when we got there on our first day, and guess what – I got picked to have a wand choose me! It was very exciting. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip! The act is very similar to the first movie when a wand chooses Harry, which actually made it more fun. After the act, the crowd goes into Ollivander’s shop and you have the opportunity to buy a wand of your own.
  13. There are LOTS of wands! There’s a wand for so many of the characters! Even lesser-known characters like Dean Thomas and Professor Flitwick! Plus, there are other wands that are more unique, but they do not belong to any character. These are neat to look at, but we wanted a “real” wand from the books. After the wand “chose” me, they pressured me to buy the wand that had chosen me. It was tempting, but we were going to share a wand and wanted to get a character wand that we both wanted. (We got the Elder Wand if you were curious!) Elder Wand
  14. Robes – don’t buy them. They’re pretty expensive and they get very hot. The kids were so cute walking around in their robes, but I saw so many moms carrying their kids robes by the end of the day. Instead, go into Madame Maulkins (Diagon Alley) or Dervish and Bangs (Hogsmeade) and try them on, then take pics! We had a blast doing this. We recommend doing this in Dervish and Bangs because Madame Maulkins is the actual robe shop, so there is a greater expectation to buy them there. Nobody really noticed us when we were trying them on in Dervish and Bangs. Brad robes Katelyn Robes
  15. You can exchange your Muggle money for a Gringotts bank note. This was less fun than I thought it was going to be. They basically just give you a piece of paper in exchange for your money, not a galleon like I was hoping for. You can use the bank note in the wizarding world, but they will give you Muggle cash in change. Gringotts Money
  16. The employees in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are great. They stay in character and love to interact with the Muggles, so chat them up! They refer to debit/credit cards as Muggle plastic and ask you to sign for the Ministry. It really added to the ~magic~
  17. The people watching is awesome. After we’d been there a couple of days, we took to people watching. It was so much fun watching other people experience the wizarding world! Our favorite spot was the stoop of the Daily Prophet, because it is near the entrance so you can see people’s reactions right as they walk in and as the dragon breathes fire! IMG_0018
  18. Highlights of Hogsmeade:
    1. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was my favorite ride. Seriously. Awesome.
    2. Hogsmeade has the Hogwarts castle, which really made it feel like I was in the books.
    3. The Three Broomsticks / Hogs Head (we liked them better than the Leaky Cauldron)
    4. The Flight of the Hippogriff ride. You get to see Hagrid’s hut while you’re in line! IMG_0019
  19. Highlights of Diagon Alley: 
    1. The Quidditch Shop – we wanted to buy everything in here.
    2. Florian Fortescue’s Ice Cream Shop. We went here almost every day. The butterbeer ice cream is great! I also got the chocolate raspberry and it was just as delicious!
    3. Magical Menagerie. We loved looking at all of the stuffed animals in here!
    4. Hogswarts Express Shop (I don’t remember its real name). We also wanted to buy everything in here.
    5. Window looking. Diagon Alley is much larger and the shop displays are super elaborate!
  20. So which is better – Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley? Brad preferred Diagon Alley, while I preferred Hogsmeade. I enjoy rides and Hogsmeade has three, while Diagon Alley has just one. It also felt more like I was really in the wizarding world with Hogwarts in the skyline. Brad enjoyed Diagon Alley because there is actually more stuff there and he loved the dragon. We probably have 20 videos of the dragon breathing fire.

Hogwarts is home

I could say so much more, but I’ll leave you to experience it!

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