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Save Time with Dinner

27 Dec

Wow, where did Christmas go?  I hope you and your family were able to relax and spend time together.  It seems like we spend the whole month shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping, visiting, and with the blink of an eye it’s over.  As we do every year, Nathan and I went to NJ to spend time with my family and it was wonderful to see everyone.  I have to admit I am like a child at the holidays and was excited that Santa was, as he is every year,  so good to us.

Now that Christmas is over, it’s back to the grind and back to the routine.  It occurred to me this morning, as I was getting ready for the first day back to work that I need to think of something to make for dinner.  Ugghh-I feel like that is a never ending saga: what are we going to eat?  I know, I know- #1stWorldProblems.  Seriously though, our work schedules and traffic filled commutes are so crazy that a lot of times we get home from an 11 or 12 hour work day and the last thing I want to think about is what am I going to make.  Of course with making the dinner comes the clean up, doing any other chores that have been neglected, get work bag re-packed, and of course try to spend some quality time together.  Before I know it, the evening news is long over and its 9:45pm.

Since this blog is about newlywed life and all that comes with it, I thought I would share some ways you can save time with dinner.

1. Make enough food for two meals.  This will allow you at least one night of leftovers, which means at least one night of not cooking!

2.  Take food out for dinner in the morning.   This morning I  took frozen Italian Sausage out for dinner, so when I walk in the door tonight and Nathan asks, “What’s for Dinner?” he knows and with any luck he has already started cooking the pasta to go with it. 

3. Cook Together.  Use this time to start talking about your day.

4. Clean as you cook.   If you clean the mess as you cook, you will have nothing to do after eating, except put your plates in the dishwasher and enjoy the rest of your night.

Cheers, Tara

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Sometimes It’s The Little Things…

17 Dec

 

Joe and I have owned our house for going on two years. Since it was a to-be built home we were lucky enough to get to pick and choose everything from the hardwood floors, carpet color, cabinets and granite to the color of the light fixtures that we liked. All the walls are still the same cream builder grade color they were when we first moved in back in March 2011.

We have yet to hang much on the walls. Mainly since I am scared to do it myself and also because I have no idea where to even start in most places. I have pinned plenty of ideas of gallery walls, art work, etc. on Pinterest and haven’t actually made any decisions about where it would go.

Sometimes starting with a blank slate can be overwhelming when it comes to decorating a room or a house. I have made an attempt to do a few small things here and there to make our house feel like a home and to prevent me from feeling overwhelmed in the process. Although sometimes becoming overwhelmed is inevitable…picking paint colors is overwhelming and then the thought of actually painting makes me want to run for the hills. I’m not very good at it, but lucky for me the hubby knows a thing or two.

I think the hardest part for me at first was how to start decorating since we have an open floor plan on our main level. At first I wasn’t sure if the kitchen and family room curtains should be the same fabric or different. I took the pictures below on the day we settled and got our keys.

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Standing in the eat-in kitchen looking into the family room

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Standing in the family room looking into the kitchen area and walk out to the deck

It took about a year of living here before I even decided on fabric for our family room curtains. And the actual process of picking out the fabric consisted of my sister and I in JoAnn Fabric for about two and a half hours…literally on the floor going back and forth between fabric choices. #Indecisivemuch Once I FINALLY decided on the fabric my sister came over and worked her sewing machine magic.

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I really love how the curtains turned out. I hung them using clip rings. To this day that part of our family room for the most part looks the same. Minus the step stool in the corner (it lives in a hidden spot in our kitchen). I still need to hang art work and make throw pillows for our couches. The ones that came with the sofas are hideous and I hate them. I always make sure the ugly patterned side faces the sofa. 🙂 

About two months ago while I was at Lowe’s crossing some things off my “to-do” list (buying a new battery for my garage remote and a replacement water filter for the fridge) and as I was waiting for the sales man to come back with the right battery I took a walk through the curtain aisle. I had been looking for curtains for our kitchen window, but hadn’t had much luck. I wanted to find something that would be colorful, but would still go well and wouldn’t compete with the dark tones we already have in the kitchen.

Sometimes it can be something little and unexpected that gives you the inspiration to decorate a room. This time a pattern caught my attention and the colors in the pattern kept my attention! They were so pretty and bright! The pattern wasn’t over the top or too matronly looking and it was colorful. I checked the price and at $14.97 per panel I couldn’t resist! I bought two panels drove right home and started hanging them. This time a pattern caught my attention and the colors in the pattern kept my attention. These curtains were that little unexpected thing to give our kitchen a happier look and a jumping off point for me to put the rest of the room together.

I didn’t take a before picture and I couldn’t find a good before picture, so you will just have to imagine how terribly plain the window was before and how the curtains made the biggest and best addition to our little kitchen!

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For anyone interested in purchasing these panels they are Style Selections 84′ L Multicolor Bernard Curtain Panel.

About a month ago I decided to move a dresser that was residing in our master bedroom from our bedroom down to the kitchen and use it as a “buffet” of sorts. Not only did that free up wall space in our bedroom for me to re-arrange our room (it looks so much better now), but it also gave me some much needed extra storage space in the kitchen.

ImageAbove is the dresser once it was moved down into the kitchen. Pardon the light, it was dark outside when I got around to taking pictures.

On a recent shopping trip to Hobby Lobby I came across their decorative knobs. I found some really pretty blue knobs that I thought would be an easy and fabulous way to change up the once dresser and make it fit in better in it’s new home.

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ImageImageImageImageImageI am completely in L.O.V.E with how the curtains and the new blue knobs bring together the room. I am also happy to report that thanks to the curtains and knobs I have finally decided on a paint color! Wahoo! My goal is to tackle the painting very soon #wishmeluck! Once the painting is complete I will take care of all that empty wall space.#babysteps
Eventually down the road I would like to do something fun with the currently ORB (oil rubbed bronze) chandelier…maybe a little spray paint action to tie it in with the curtains and break up all the dark wood tones?!

Do you ever feel overwhelmed when decorating your house, apartment or condo? I feel like the more I do the more comfortable I get with it, but still feel overwhelmed at times. Remember to take it one step at a time and try to have fun with it. 

Have you completed any fun home projects recently?

Buying a Home

1 Oct

Many of our friends have recently bought or are in the stages of buying a home.  We found this handy checklist that might help if you are shopping around.

Find an agent

Interview three if you can and remember there are real estate companies that work for just sellers, some that work for sellers or buyers, some that try to work for both at the same time, and others that just work for buyers. The latter companies are called Exclusive Buyer Agent Companies (EBA), and it is worth making sure one of your interviews is with an EBA. Visit NAEBA.org for more info.

Obtain a preapproval

If you will be getting a mortgage, a preapproval will help make you more comfortable with what a mortgage payment would be like. A good agent will typically have recommendations for credible lenders. Choose a lender based on their proven ability to get the job done correctly first, then consider the costs. Be careful if the lender is associated with the real estate company; it sometimes creates a conflict of interest.

Start looking at homes

You can usually visit eight or ten homes in a well-planned day with a well-prepared real estate agent. Open houses typically are not the best use of time because they are only a small indication of the inventory of available homes.

Narrow down your choices

Start cutting down your list to a target group of two or three homes. Then make a second visit to do a “detailed” viewing. This way, you will always be aware of your best alternative if your top pick doesn’t work out.

Research purchase contracts

Don’t wait till the day you need to sign a contract to look at one. Your agent should be reviewing the documents, the processes, and the local customs for negotiations and contingencies with you while you are still searching for a home. You’ll be much more confident when the time comes to “sign on the bottom line.”

Find an attorney

If one is needed in your area (the process varies by state and local custom), make sure you find an attorney who specializes in residential real estate.

Start negotiating

Once you decide on a specific home, make an offer immediately. Your negotiating position gets dramatically worse if another buyer starts negotiating on the same home before you have a contract signed.

Check comps

If you haven’t already seen comparable sales data by now, this is the time you need to be reviewing it to know how much you should be paying for the home. If the market values are stagnant or dropping, you also need to consider market inventory and absorption rate.

If you and the seller can find common ground, then you can sign a contract and move forward. If you can’t come to an agreement that makes sense for both of you, start looking at other homes and hope for better luck with the next negotiation.

Shop for a mortgage

Now that you have a contract, you can shop for the best mortgage deal. Remember, focus first on the lenders that you know will get the job done, then make cost comparisons to find the best deal. Use our Mortgage Calculator to help figure out your monthly payments.

Get the home inspected

Make sure to have your place checked out for lead, termites, radon, and/or other concerns. See our Home Inspection Checklistfor more details.

Apply for homeowner’s insurance

You will need: Address, county, year built, and type of construction. Type of roof. Type of heat (and any form of alternate heat, such as a woodstove). Distance from house to fire department. Distance from house to fire hydrant. Type of locks. Type of electrical service. Square footage of home. Learn more about Homeowner’s Insurance Basics.

Interview for board approval

If the home is part of a co-op, you will need to set up an interview with the board for final approval. Have this info ready: Three years’ worth of tax returns. Full financial disclosure (pay stubs and bank statements; and 401(k), mutual fund, and stock statements). Three letters of recommendation. Verification of current employment and employment history.

Set a closing date

Pick a day when you, your lawyer, your Realtor, and the seller’s crew can be there. This may already be determined by the purchase contract terms. For closing, make sure you: Review closing papers 24 hours before you have to sign them. Do a final walk-through of the home. Go to the closing with home insurance information, house inspection documents, your down payment funds, and your driver’s license.

Many thanks to TheNest Editors for providing. 6-2-09

http://ideas.thenest.com/real-estate/buying-a-home/Articles/checklist-buying-a-home.aspx

Goodwill Hunting

4 Sep

As promised, I am back to tell you all about the goodies I found a couple of Friday’s ago while shopping.

I decided to check out the Goodwill store near my house early that afternoon. Mainly just browsing, looking for any and everything that could be a possible Pinterest project or something useful for the house.

I have been on the hunt for is a tall dresser for our bedroom. Specifically, a dresser that would need a bit of a makeover. We bought new bedroom furniture when we moved into our house, but the dresser we have is a little too big for our room and because of that our room is arranged in a way that drives me a little crazy. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much in the furniture category on this trip.

Any who, back to the story at hand. While browsing I came across a bunch of picture frames. I ended up buying one of the frames for $3.25. All this little guy needs is a new coat of paint since he is looking a little frumpy and an upgrade from the current artwork and he’ll be as good as new. I’m not sure whether I will use this guy for a Pinterest project I want to do or for the gallery wall I have been planning. I actually wish I would have grabbed this guys twin, but since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with him, I left him.

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I found a ton of baskets and old wood shelves. The shelves weren’t really my cup of tea since the majority of them had hearts carved in them. I was however, able to find a decent sized basket that I thought would be perfect to wrangle the mess of shoes, cleats, flip flops,etc. that are scattered in front of our garage door; just waiting for us to trip over. So, I snatched it up for a measly $5, as Honey Boo Boo says “A dolla makes me holla”, in my case “5 dolla makes me holla”!

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The basket was immediately put to use in the hallway leading to our garage and is home to our discarded shoes. I am happy to say that the hubby caught on pretty quickly and has been putting his shoes in the basket rather than leaving them in front of the garage door, waiting for me to trip over. 🙂 Success!

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Down the line I plan on sprucing this area up a bit. We have been in our house over a year and a half and still have so much to do/decorate!

Later on that afternoon, Jaime and I went to Hobby Lobby. We walked around the store for at least an hour. They have all of their fall decorations out and even Christmas decorations! It’s only September!

I have been on the look out for lamps for our master bedroom and was unsuccessful at finding a lamp that I liked that had a twin…boo! I did however, leave with a cute little tin sign that has a “G” on it. I think it was $12.99, but I had a coupon for 40% off one item. Score!

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I’m still trying to decide where I want to hang it.

I found this ceramic beauty in the fall decor section of Hobby Lobby and thought it was so cute and pretty that I had to have it! All of the fall decor was 40% off, so I didn’t pay much. For now this little guy is hanging out on our entertainment console in our living room.

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At Home Goods I came across a table runner that I immediately had to have for our kitchen table. I had seen similar fabric earlier this year at Michaels and Jo Ann Fabrics that I wanted to attempt to make curtains from, but I ended up finding a material I liked better for our living room curtains.
This little guy has already made his home on our kitchen table and I L.O.V.E it! I can’t wait to get my fall decor set up on it! The runner I believe was $12.99…not bad.

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Have you been on the hunt for something to organize a mess in your garage? Have you watched Honey Boo Boo on TLC? Does “a dolla make you holla”?

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