The 12 Doors of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a fun photo project in Waterford, Virginia.

One of the (only) highlights of having a long commute, is passing through the quaint Natural Historic Landmark town of Waterford, Virginia on my way home. After paying tolls and battling traffic, the last stretch of the commute is actually SO beautiful. As I am driving through, its hard not to admire the craftsmanship of the beautiful old homes from the 18th and 19th century that have been so carefully preserved over the years. It almost feels like you are venturing back in time while traveling through.

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It is obvious that the owners of these homes put so much love and care into them. As the holiday season approached, I started to notice all of the beautiful doors being decorated with stunning wreaths and it sparked an idea! One day after work, I decided to take a stroll through the town and capture as many of the festively decorated doors as possible. For a very pregnant me, this was only about 30 minutes of walking before I had to call it a quits, so I apologize to the houses further down the road that I didn’t capture! I hope you enjoy looking at these “12 Doors of Christmas” as much as I do!

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Door.love. ❤ Swooooon.

Of course, since I had to narrow it down to 12 for this post, I had to omit a few but I can’t bear to not include those ones too so please see the rest in this collage.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

 

Happy Halloween from the Ricardo’s

“He’s baba’d his last lu!”– Lucy Ricardo

Dressing up for halloween has ALWAYS been a highlight in our family. When my brother, sister, and I were young, our Dad made us our costumes by hand and he would take us out trick-or-treating till the last porch light in the neighborhood went off. Over the years, i’ve tried to think up fun and creative costumes for myself (i’ll admit there were definitely some dud years: last minute cowgirl anyone?). Ever since our frenchie, Rooney, joined our family, it has been customary that he and I have costumes that go together and this year was no exception:

Now this year someone else joined the family – and let me tell you, the thoughts and anxiety of: “WHAT WILL LUCY BE FOR HER FIRST HALLOWEEN???!” hit me as far back as mid-June. It turned out her costume came naturally to her…from her name, to her red hair, baby Lucy was the inspiration behind our family costume! This year I am proud to say that I will carry out my dad’s halloween spirit in my own family – check out the adorable mini Lucy and Rooney Ricardo!

Rooney’s adorable suit and tie was from Petoga Couture and his Ricky Ricardo style hat was found on amazon. I made his little bongo drum out of a cardboard flower pot and a canvas bag. Lucy’s sweet “I Love Lucy” dress and my matching apron (below) was purchased from LoverDoversClothing.

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Now on to some more fun! Since Bryan and I’s halloween celebrations consist of changing diapers, putting a baby to bed by 7:30, and diving into the bags of halloween candy that are supposed to be for trick-or-treaters, I was able to really admire what creative friends/family I have! I want to highlight my favorite halloween costumes that I saw over the weekend and today from some of my favorite people! Enjoy!

Groups/Couples

Sesame Street Martians: Aka the Yip-Yips

SO lets just start out strong. This is by far my FAV group costume ever. My friend Ashley (the blue yip-yip in case you couldnt tell ha!) goes all out with her costume on halloween, so much in fact that I look forward to her costume every single year. This year was definitely not a let down, I present the Martians…BONUS: watch them in action in the video below!

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Hey Arnold and Helga G. Pataki

Our friends Danielle & Dillon are the first of the awesome couple costumes I want to highlight. The cardboard head, locket, pigtails, and that unibrow of perfection makes this such an amazing costume!

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Marv & Harry from Home Alone: Aka The Wet Bandits

Next on the awesome duo costume, my friend Jess and her friend Chantal knock their Marv and Harry from home alone costume out of the park! The details are spot on, from the feathers to the awesome iron imprint on Harry’s face!

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Wayne and Garth: Waynes World

Another couple whose costume I always look forward to our are friends Tim & Chelsea. This year’s Wayne’s World get-up was totallyyy tubular! Party on, Garth! Party on, Wayne!

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Kids/Family

Baby Bee

Little Jasmine is making the cutie-pie meter go off through the roof in her sweet bumble bee costume. Jasmine is celebrating her very FIRST halloween and couldn’t be more beeeee-autiful in her costume!

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Paul Revere, Hollywood Starlet, and a member of the Rockford Peaches

Hello there adorable neices and nephew of mine! These three cutie’s always go all out with their costumes! From the adorable lantern and tri-cornered hat, the satin gloves and sparkly dress, and the amazing League of their Own uniform, these kids (and their super crafty/creative mom) always have the perfect accessories and costumes!

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The Cast of Little Red Riding Hood

Remember how I said my sister, brother, and I always went all out on Halloween when our dad took us out trick-or-treating? Well, my sister has been carrying on the tradition with her family for years now and this year her whole family looked as if they came straight out of a fairytale with their adorable Little Red Riding Hood costumes. Is that not the most fierce Big Bad Wolf you have ever seen and the sweetest Little Red Riding Hood? Melting.

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Raggedy Ann

Can you spot the real baby? Another first halloween for this sweet little rag-doll, Cora. Cora’s mommy and daddy are OBSESSED with halloween and always do-it-up with their own costumes and house decorations. Baby Cora is in for a lifetime full of great costumes, that is for sure!

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The WINNER of Halloween

Girl with the Pearl Earring

Remember my post about having some amazingly talented classmates in art school? Audrey has won halloween. When I was scrolling through my feed I almost skipped past this photo thinking it was an actual painting! Audrey, who is an incredible fine artist and graphic artist, was able to so perfectly transform herself into Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting of the Girl with the Pearl Earring. Prepare to be amazed…

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And with that, I bid you all a Happy Halloween! Tonight we plan on passing out candy to the neighborhood kids and/or eating all of the rest of the candy we bought for them. Hope you all have a spooktacular and safe halloween night!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

 

Recap: Months 0-3

Reflecting back on the first three months of Lucy’s life and also on how my life has changed since becoming a mommy!

Everyone always told me when I was pregnant that it goes by so fast, and I was always skeptical (especially during that first month of non-stop crying). I now realize everyone is absolutely right, it really does fly by. My once itty bitty newborn has almost doubled in weight and her non-stop crying has turned into non-stop irresistible smiles and happy squeals. I wanted to use this post to showcase Lucy’s first 3 months of life and also try to provide some insight as to what products were most useful during this time for any expecting mom-to-be’s out there!

0-1 Month: Small Victories

For me, the labor, delivery, and recovery process was extremely overwhelming in every aspect of the word (good and bad). Bryan coined the phrase “small victories” to help get us through. The idea behind the phrase was to be acknowledge the progress we made along the way and I can proudly say now that all of those small victories combined helped lead me to my greatest victory of all, motherhood.

Now that the labor and delivery process is behind us, I feel like I can share the condensed version of Lucy’s birth story. Lucy was super comfortable in the womb and didn’t want to come out on her own so 3 days past her due date, we scheduled to have her induced because she was measuring large and that increased the chance of complications. I spent 38.5 hours being induced with no sleep and only ice chips to eat. During those two days of induction there was a full moon and the labor and delivery wing was packed with women who had gone into labor! This was an exciting thing to hear, but because of the amount of people having babies none of the nurses were able to answer my calls for the most painful 5 hours I had ever endured before they could finally come in and give me an epidural. In order to pass the time, there happened to be an “I Love Lucy” marathon on television, so I tried to just focus on that instead of the pain. Unfortunately, the induction failed overall and it lead me to get a C-section. Even though I was physically exhausted, I was so happy to hear that I would soon get to see my baby girl and I was overcome with a new wave of energy and positivity. Bryan and I put on our surgery outfits and I was wheeled into the surgery room.

It all started out fine, I couldn’t feel a thing and Bryan and I were laughing and talking about golf as they started the process. All of a sudden I felt a painful pulling feeling and I could hear the doctor saying that she was stuck. Lucy was already so far down in my pelvis after being induced for so long that they couldn’t pull her out of the standard cut. It was then that I felt the most excruciating pain I had ever felt as they made a second cut upwards. I learned afterwards that the reason I felt so much pain was because the numbing stopped at my bellybutton so when they cut past that point there was no longer any sort of numbing medication. The last thing I remember hearing was that she was out and that it was 10:50 PM, and then it was a complete blur until a few hours later I woke up completely out of it and I remember thinking that I was dead. I then realized I was being handed my baby girl. What should have been an amazing moment of holding my baby for the first time, was full of anxiety as I couldn’t open my eyes and I felt terrified as I thought “why are they handing me her I don’t even know what is happening!” All I could do was ask Bryan if everything went okay and I heard his reassuring voice saying that she was perfect and in that moment that is all I focused on to get me through. Finally, after my blood pressure and temperature stabilized, we were taken to our hospital room where I was finally able to process what was going on and I saw my sweet baby Lucy finally and breathed a sigh of relief.

A few days later when we finally left the hospital it felt so great to be home and out of the hospital room without all of the nurses coming in every hour to check on mine and Lucy’s vitals. Unfortunately, the recovery process was no walk in the park. I was swollen from the waist down due to water retention from the surgery which made it difficult to walk. My cuts were healing and still caused me a lot of pain. I was limited to only taking stairs once per day and holding nothing heavier than Lucy. On top of that, I had a very hard time with breastfeeding. Those first few weeks I felt completely defeated. I felt like the worst mother ever because it was hard for me to care for Lucy since I could hardly even care for myself. Thankfully, Bryan handled most everything those first few weeks. All of Lucy’s diaper changes, all of the household chores, and he took care of Rooney. My mom also came the first week we were home during the day while Bryan was at work and she took care of Lucy and I and I couldn’t be more appreciative. We ended up camping out in the living room for 2.5 weeks while I recovered. Let me tell you, finally sleeping in our own bed again was one of our greatest small victories.

The remainder of that first month home continued to improve with each passing day. What once was a feeling of exhaustion, depression, and defeat was now turning into feelings of comfort, healing, and confidence.

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About Lucy this month:

Lucy LOVES eating, sticks her tongue out on cue, smiles at mommy and daddy, wears size 3-6 month clothing since 1 week, is very alert & attentive, lifts her head, has RED hair and blue eyes, loves bathtime, loves being held and rocked, sleeps 4-5 hours at a time at night!

2 Months: Hey this is E.A.S.Y.

Around the 2-month mark, Lucy and I began to figure it out. I never thought a baby was like a puzzle, but for me I had to literally try to figure out what to do piece by piece! Our days consisted of snuggling and lounging around the house with many feedings, diaper changes, and naps in between. After reading Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg, I realized the importance of schedule and routine and began following the E.A.S.Y. method. What this stands for is Eat – Activity – Sleep – You. I found a great description of the process here (credit Noob Mommy). Some common activities Lucy and I did were playing on play mats, practicing tummy time, playing peek-a-boo, taking Rooney to the basement to let him out to pee, and watching Calliou. You’d be surprised at just how entertaining these things could be for a 2 month old! Some common me time activities included watching movies on Netflix, doing the dishes, doing endless loads of laundry, and attempting to blog but then getting distracted by Amazon.com. It really is insane how little you can get done for yourself while you are caring for a newborn baby!

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About Lucy this month:

Lucy sleeps in her own bedroom, is SUPER chatty and happy when she wakes up in the morning, squeals when she is happy, can roll from her tummy to her back, likes kicking her feet when music is playing, is SUPER gassy, notices her brother Rooney and smiles at him, loves playing on her play mats and swatting at the toys, holds onto her hippo pacifier tight, likes to see herself in the mirror, sleeps 6-7 hour stretches at a time at night!

3 Months: Work/Life Balance

This past month, Lucy has really developed her own personality! She is constantly smiling and she “talks” to us non-stop. Staying at home with Lucy turned from something that was overwhelming at first into something I could see myself doing forever (if only I was able to). I returned back to work 2 weeks ago and the day we left Lucy with her daycare provider was one of the hardest days of my life. The second we dropped her off and walked out of the door I cried my eyes out. The rest of my commute was spent crying as well. Each day that passes gets a little bit easier, but I still spend a majority of my day thinking about how she is doing. Bryan and I are so lucky to have found such an amazing daycare provider for Lucy, so that has made this transition easier on us. Still, the absolute best part of the day is picking her up and being able to spend the evening with her. The second best part of the day is when I receive photo updates through texts from her provider (I’m a wee bit obsessed with my little one if you can’t tell)!

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About Lucy this month:

Lucy started going to daycare with Mrs. Lucy and loves all of her new friends (especially Gus), tries to stick both of her hands in her mouth at the same time, drools, is chatty, talkative, and sqeals all of the time, likes to yell for no reason and then smile, splashes in the bathtub, likes to lay on her back and put her feet as high in the air as possible, stares at her toes and wonders how to get them into her mouth, grabs at Rooney’s fur and tries to grab his face, smiles at herself in the mirror when she sees the “pretty baby”, grabs toys that are hanging down, can grab her pacifier and take it out of her mouth, likes watching soccer and golf with daddy and Calliou with mommy, sleeps 6-7 hour stretches at a time at night!

12 Items We Couldn’t Have Lived Without: Months 0-3

  1. Little Remedies – Gas Drops: These drops as well as the next two items were lifesavers for our VERY GASSY baby. From day one Lucy has had really bad gas pains and she would cry and cry until she was able to get the gas out! The gas drops contain the same active ingredient as Gas-X and give Lucy that extra push when trying to get that pain out of her tummy!
  2. Mother’s Bliss – Night Time Gripe Water: Life…Saver. We used this product for month 2-3 at bedtime and it helped Lucy get some much needed gas-free sleep.
  3. Dr. Brown’s Bottles: I originally registered for completely different bottles but once Lucy’s gas issues popped up I knew I needed to try to find a bottle that kept the air out while she drank. These bottles have a vent system that helps create a paced flow which in turn helps reduce any problems while feeding. Since we have switched to these bottles Lucy rarely spits up.IMG_9363.JPG
  4. Fisher-Price Rock and Play (auto-rocking): This is what Lucy has been sleeping in since we brought her home. We will be transitioning her to the crib within the next month or two, but for those first few months this was the ideal sleeping solution. The Rock and Play craddles baby more and the auto-rocking feature helps soothe her to sleep. We also have two other non-rocking versions of this, one of which we keep in the car to bring with us when we go out to family/friends homes, and the other stays down on the main level of the home for a safe place to place Lucy.
  5. Aden + Anais Muslin Swaddles: Any Muslin cotton swaddling blankets will do! Muslin cotton is a breathable and comfortable fabric. These blankets made it easy to use to swaddle baby safetly, plus the designs are all super adorable!
  6. Activity Mats (for different spots in the house): Around the 1 1/2 month mark Lucy started to enjoy activity mats. On these mats she practices tummy time and likes to swat at the different toys that hang down. Her two favorite mats here and here, have toys that hang down, lights, and music. All of those features really keep her stimulated and entertained.

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    Mesmerized by the lights and sound!
  7. Graco Pack n’ Play with changing station: We keep this on our main level and it proved to be one of the most useful items during my recovery process. Since I was unable to take stairs during the day I pretty much lived on the main level. Having a changing table on this floor made it easy to change all of those newborn diapers! Also, this particular version has really convenient shelves at the base which we store clothes and extra diapers in. I highly recommend setting up one of these BEFORE you go into labor so that it is all ready to go when you come home from the hospital!
  8. Diaper Champ: This bad boy sits right next to our changing table! It keeps the odors out of the house and unlike the Diaper Genie, this diaper holder uses any type of trash bag instead of special cartriges. It is a much more cost effective diaper pail and does just as good a job if not better at masking the odor.
  9. Soothie Pacifiers and Booginhead Pacigrip: When you are pregnant, one thing you seem to acquire a ton of are pacifiers. I must have had 10 different brands of pacifiers when Lucy was born but it turned out that the Soothie pacifier the hospital provided to us is the one that Lucy likes best. After we found that the pacifier was sometimes the only thing to stop Lucy from crying, we bought a ton of them just to make sure that we were never without this magic little mute button! Also, for some reason out of all of Lucy’s things, our dog Rooney is drawn to the pacifier the most and this has resulted in many a chewed up pacifier being found around the house. After about 2 months I found the Booginhead pacifier holders that can hold this brand of pacifier Since we bought one of these clips Lucy pretty much lives with a pacifier clipped on her outfit at all times.IMG_9371
  10. Lil’ Critters Soothing Starlight Hippo by Vtech: My sister gifted us this hippo for Lucy because she knows that hippo’s are my favorite animal and couldn’t resist. It turns out, that this is not only adorable sitting in the nursey, it is also extremely useful in our bedtime routine! During Lucy’s last bottle of the night we turn off the lights, sit on the glider, and turn on the hippo and it plays music and shines stars around the ceiling. Then once she is finished we can set her into her Rock and Play to go to sleep and she just stares up at the ceiling and watches the stares until she falls asleep. It has different time settings and also has a great setting that turns the hippo on automatically when baby starts crying in the night which helps to calm her down.
  11. Nose Frida: Who thought sucking boogies could be so much fun?! Around the one month mark, Lucy got her first runny nose. Of course as first time parents we were nervous and didn’t know how to help her so we called the pediatrician. They let us know that it was safe to suction out her nose to help clear her up so we finally were able to put the Nose Frida we received from our baby shower to use (thanks Jennie)! This thing makes getting the mucus out so easy and honestly, kinda fun! You take one end and place it in babies nose and the other end you put your mouth on and literally suck out the boogies. I was so grossed out by this at first because I thought they would get in my mouth – but this little tool uses a tube and filter to ensure that doesn’t happen. Best of all, Lucy LOVES it and always smiles after we use it!
  12. Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat: This seat has been incredibly useful during her third month! As Lucy grows, she wants to see more of the world around her and not always be laying on an activity mat. This seat is perfect for small babies to be able to sit up and observe. We used this seat in place of the Bumbo Floor Seat as we found Lucy hated sitting in the Bumbo.

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    Rooney loves her seat too because he can give her all the kisses he wants!

Again, let me re-state just how fast time is flying! I cannot believe Lucy is already three months old. It is crazy to think about all that is to come and what I will be able to talk about in just three more months when recap again!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

 

Fall Family Party Turned SURPRISE Gender Reveal Party

One unsuspecting day in October, we invited our parents, Bryan’s grandma, and my brother to come to a “Fall Party” at our home. It just so happened to coincide directly with when we would be finding out the gender of our little one! I couldn’t let the surprise factor go to waste so this post will highlight our “Fall Party” turned SURPRISE “Gender Reveal Party”.

One unsuspecting day in October, we invited our parents, Bryan’s grandma, and my brother to come to a “Fall Party” at our home. We had been wanting to have all of our parents over for quite some time to show them our gratitude and thanks for everything they do for us. It just so happened to coincide directly with when we would be finding out the gender of our little one! I couldn’t let the surprise factor go to waste so this post will highlight our “Fall Party” turned SURPRISE “Gender Reveal Party”.

To start, Bryan and I prepared a ton of home-cooked food for our family. I was able to bust out my fall decor and pretty dishes and light all my fall scented candles. Bryan was the master chef of the day, and prepared pretty much all of the food. We had an assortment of amazing appetizers which included antipasto kabobs, shrimp, buffalo chicken dip, veggies, and deviled pumpkin eggs. For the main course Bryan made an amazing apple cider pulled pork with apple coleslaw, homemade crab mac & cheese, and salad.

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Antipasto Kabobs
Bryan's famous deviled eggs, Halloween style!
Bryan’s famous deviled eggs, Halloween style!
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Homemade Crab Mac & Cheese
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Apple Cider Pulled Pork Station
Pumpkin Dip
Pumpkin Pie Dip

Between appetizers and the main course, we decided to use that time to surprise our parents. We had originally told them all that we were unable to get an appointment to find out the gender until the following week. This little white lie seemed to work. I then set up a “Guess the Gender” station where I instructed everyone to pour champagne into a pink or blue flute and whichever color they chose would represent their guess as to what baby’s gender would be. To aid in their decision, I also made an “Old Wives Tale: Gender Predictor” chart that showed some of the symptoms I was experiencing where the underlined word represented what the old wives tale said about the symptom.

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Once everyone casted their votes (about 20 minutes later…it was a tough choice!) we took group photos so that we would have “evidence” of who was right and wrong. Bryan and I casted our votes too. On the morning before the appointment we made sure to each cast our OFFICIAL guess so that we would be able to participate in the fun.

Team Boy vs. Team Girl
Team Boy vs. Team Girl
Wouldn't ya know it, Rooney even decided to place a guess!
Wouldn’t ya know it, Rooney even decided to place a guess!

After all of the guesses were made, we had another part of the plan in order to surprise the family. Bryan took Rooney downstairs to the basement to go outside to take care of his business…and when Rooney came upstairs he delivered the news with a balloon that was tied to his collar! Here is a video of exactly what happened!

The party was a great success and we enjoyed spending time with our family! After the party was over we made sure to call Bryan’s dad in Florida to let him in on our big news! To our family near and far: we love you all so much & are so grateful to have you in our lives! Here are a few more pictures from the party:

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its a girl

A few days later we announced the gender on social media to the rest of our family and friends. Since Rooney had already done so well announcing at the party, we let him do the honors on Facebook too!

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Beautiful flowers from Grandma!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

Artist Spotlight: Eric Bach “Fish and Chips”

One of the greatest aspects of college was being able to work alongside talented classmates and learn from each other through group projects and critiques.

I went to college with some REALLY talented designers.

Studying Visual Communication Design at Stevenson University provided a wonderful academic experience. I not only learned the techniques and fundamentals of graphic design, but also took a broad range of communication and multimedia classes (photography, videography, film, web design, and fine art) which expanded on the design program. One of the greatest aspects of college was being able to work alongside talented classmates and learn from each other through group projects and critiques. One classmate’s art in particular has stood out to me not only while in college, but since graduating.

Eric Bach and I have kept in contact through social media over the years. His cute wedding photos, adorable puppy, and music (he sings and plays guitar too!) have popped up in my feed along with several pieces of artwork that he has done since our Stevenson days. One fine art series in particular, has stood out to me most. The series consists of very intricate circular fish drawings that use negative space to create what I will call a puzzle of fish. Check out Eric’s behance portfolio which feautres his fish series and other projects by clicking here: Eric’s Portfolio.

If you don’t know the back story, Bryan and I have had nicknames for each other of “fish” & “feesh” since we met (I’m not 100% sure where it came from, but I’m guessing the movie Big Fish played a role). When I saw Eric’s fish art I was instantly drawn to it. I reached out to him on a whim to ask about buying a print of a piece that I had seen on his page. To my surprise, he was not only willing to sell the print, but he offered to do a custom piece especially for us. I was extremely excited about this and I told him that I would LOVE that! I didn’t give him much direction to go off of, but I did mention that Bryan and I are a wee bit obsessed with the British culture and that our wedding had an overall British theme so maybe there could be a fish with a crown or something thrown in there. Eric let me know he had finished the piece but it was going to be a surprise, so I eagerly awaited it to come in the mail and didn’t see it until the day it arrived to my front door.

And then it came…

"Fish and Chips" (Photo cred and Artwork by: Eric Bach)
“Fish and Chips” (Photo cred and Artwork by: Eric Bach)

The piece COMPLETELY EXCEEDED any thought/idea I had at what it might look like! I gave this piece to Bryan for our upcoming 2 year anniversary. It is truly something that we will cherish forever and display proudly in our home. Honestly, it’s the coolest piece of art I have ever owned. Last weekend, I hung it in our newly painted bathroom which was in desperate need of some artwork. The reds and the blues of the Union Jack design really complemented our new navy paint. I framed the print with a custom handmade frame that was made for me by Jim at Bardwood4U. Please check out these photos below and marvel at the hand drawn perfection and intricacy of Eric’s piece, “Fish and Chips”.

Side by Side Eric Bach

Gift

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love & lots of whit – jen xo

6 Things I Learned about First Time Home Owning

Back when we first bought our house I wrote a similar post called 6 Things I Learned about First Time House Buying. Now that we are coming up on our year and a half mark in our humble abode, I didn’t want you all to think the learning stopped at buying – oh no, quite the contrary, we have learned even more tough lessons throughout our first year and a half of being first time homeowners. Don’t get me wrong, owning a house is rewarding and having your own space is priceless…but the little things along the way make me wish that I could just phone up a landlord and have them fix things for me, for free (lucky for me, I do have my dad for that)!

Back when we first bought our house I wrote a similar post called 6 Things I Learned about First Time House Buying. Now that we are coming up on our year and a half mark in our humble abode, I didn’t want you all to think the learning stopped at buying – oh no, quite the contrary, we have learned even more tough lessons throughout our first year and a half of being first time homeowners. Don’t get me wrong, owning a house is rewarding and having your own space is priceless…but the little things along the way make me wish that I could just phone up a landlord and have them fix things for me, for free (lucky for me, I do have my dad for that – thanks dad)!

1. There are certain seasonal things you must do. Picture this, your first few months in your house, the Christmas tree is lit, the stockings are hung…and it is the coldest winter EVER. In the winter of 2014, temperatures dropped to record lows and the average temperature was in the single digits. Ah, nice for us we were warm in our heated house (side note: gas bills that winter were astronomical). One cold night it was time to go get the trash can from our finished basement walk out…and what is this I feel? Why am I sloshing through the carpet? After much panic (half of our basement had flooded), a plumber found a hairline crack in one of the PVC water pipes in our wall. How can one TINY sliver of a crack do so much damage you ask? Well, it shouldn’t have cracked in the first place. It turns out we hadn’t turned the water off that goes to the outside water spigots. The pipes froze and the pressure cracked the pipe. After telling everyone about what happened we learned that it was common knowledge to turn off the water to the outside of the house as soon as the temperatures started reaching freezing levels. So as one new home owner to another, if you are clueless like us, PLEASE make sure you turn your water off to the outside every winter. In the end, insurance came through and last spring/summer we were able to repair the basement (laid tile, installed new carpet, and painted). We still have a long way to go with decorating that space (Bryan’s FIFA man-cave), but when we do I will be sure to post our transformation! Oh another thing on this topic – make sure you change your air filters every 3 months (this also helped that gas bill problem I mentioned earlier). We may or may not have just learned this lesson as my dad practically choked to death on black dust while discovering that we hadn’t changed ours since we moved in.

2. Lawn maintenance is no joke. Bryan and I have the opposite of green thumbs. I am always envious of the people with beautiful gardens and perfectly manicured lawns. Bryan cuts the grass and uses the weed-wacker but that is the extent of our lawn maintenance. If you were to look at our yard in its current state you would probably faint. The backyard weeds are coming through the cracks in our brick patio and the “bushes” that used to be pretty when we moved in are all dead and overgrown. We still have a turtle shaped plastic sandbox sitting in our yard from the previous owners. We have also just received a notice from the gas company that they can’t get to the meter because the bushes surrounding it are overgrown (how embarrassing). This spring, we have decided to focus a lot of our energy on fixing up our yard. Hopefully it is a somewhat enjoyable process – progress updates to come.

3. You can never keep too many spare light bulbs in the house. Every time a light bulb goes out, it seems the moment you replace it another one goes out somewhere else in the house. It’s a conspiracy I tell you!

4. PAINting is a PAIN. How do those people on HGTV look so darn happy as they paint all of the rooms in their house? In our house it’s a lot of near quitting, achy backs, and yelling when we accidentally paint the ceiling. However; the positive side of PAINting yourself rather than hiring an expensive painter is that it is an affordable way to transform a room. Through all the sweat and tears of actually PAINting, the end result far surpasses how you felt while doing it. We have also learned that it doesn’t have to be perfect, in the end only you will notice those imperfections. Each time we paint a room we swear up and down that we will be hiring a professional for the next time we paint, but so far this hasn’t happened.

5. Things you never think would break, do break. It’s pretty much never-ending repairs when owning a home. It’s honestly more humorous than anything. From the kitchen island detaching from itself, the guest bathroom shower rod falling to the ground during a guests shower, the ceiling fans/lights breaking for no reason, and much more – we have been forced to learn how to be handy. Just last week we came home to a buzzing sound on the main level. After investigating the entire house and googling all sorts of worst case scenarios, it turns out that the UPS delivery person must have pushed the doorbell a little too hard and when I went to the door to look at the doorbell I found it completely smashed in with broken plastic all around it. The buzz was coming from the chime box that is on the wall and the fact that the doorbell was pressed in so long before we figured out the problem was enough to blow out the transformer. There was also that time that we couldn’t figure out how to get all the smoke detectors (which are all linked together) to turn off so Rooney hid in the basement while Bryan ran around the house yanking them off the ceiling, un-wiring them all, and ripping the battery back-up out of them (which have since been repaired/replaced). See, humorous right?

6. Through all the mishaps, the good outweighs it all. Bryan and I have learned to take all of the challenges that happen with home owning as lightly as possible. There is no point of getting angry at the situation or blaming each other for things that go wrong. Every homeowner has similar stories and from them they too have learned lessons along the way. We are so fortunate to have our family behind us and they are always there for us whenever we need advice or repair assistance. As I said in my intro, owning a house and having your own private space is rewarding. Over the past year and a half in our first home, the memories we have made are ones I will cherish forever. This home is the beginning of our story as a married couple. This home and fenced in yard enabled us to get our puppy and turned us into a little family. We have an investment now, responsibilities that help shape us and mature us, and we look forward to bringing our future children into this home someday.

Until the next time we learn a lesson…

love & lots of whit – jen xo

Good Morning, Sunshine!

Our first decorating project, designing our Morning Room.

After MONTHS and MONTHS of not posting, I am going to make an attempt to begin sharing some of our home updates since we moved into our house! When we moved into our townhouse, my first project was what I call our “Morning Room”. When you walk in our house you enter the living room, walk through the kitchen, and then there is another area that leads out to the deck that I had no idea what to do with! This room became mine for decorating and I decided it would be a great space for reading, drinking our morning tea, and a space to enjoy a glass of wine (here you can find my Pinterest board where I gathered all of my thoughts and pulled ideas from)! We had absolutely no furniture when we moved in that would fit the space so deciding on the furniture was the first priority. My parents and Bryan’s parents each generously bought a piece of furniture as our housewarming gift, an amazing matching coffee table and server from World Market (part of their Clayton collection which has been since retired). From there, we bought a custom sofa and two chairs for seating from Wolf Furniture. The next step after the furniture had arrived was to decorate and bring the room to life with accessories. Bryan and I are VERY keen on British accents and the focal point of the room is a custom Union Jack painting (pallet art) that we received as a wedding gift. We incorporated more British elements that we used as decor from our wedding on the coffee table (England books from a local secondhand book store, a French Bulldog statue to represent Rooney, and our gold royal wedding crown cake topper found here: Etsy)

Morning Room

Coffee Table

On the adjacent wall, where our server is located, we knew we needed something on the walls. After seeing so many amazing examples of gallery walls, I decided to do my own using the amazing frames I found at Pottery Barn. In order to get all of the frames bottoms straight I made my own template using Adobe Illustrator and printed it to scale via a large format plotter printer. We adhered that template to the wall and measured where the hooks on the back of the frame were to know where to drill the screw into the wall. See our process below:

The template in place.
The template in place.
Measuring the distance from the base of the frame to the hook.
Measuring the distance from the base of the frame to the hook.
Drilling directly into the paper template.
Drilling directly into the paper template.
The screws in place once removing the paper.
The screws in place once removing the paper.
Hanging each frame.
Hanging each frame.
The end result before we chose all of the pictures to fill the frames.
The end result before we chose all of the pictures to fill the frames.

Now it was on to the fun part, choosing which pictures/artwork to place in each frame. We chose pieces that best represented us as a couple. The pieces as seen below are from: our wedding day by our amazing photographer Rebekah J. Murray, a Maryland Wine print from the talented artist Matt Long, song lyrics by Mumford & Sons done in hand calligraphy by PoppyPressDesigns, a quote from Peter Pan in gold foil calligraphy by Maison Everett, gold foil scrapbook paper found at a craft store, a hand made number 11 to represent a number that is very significant to Bryan and I, and a fish cut out from my favorite yearly calendar at Paper Source which represents Bryan and I’s nickname of “fish”.   Here is a look at our final gallery wall:

Gallery Wall Final
Wrought iron wine rack made by my Grandfather.

Gallery Wall FinalGallery Wall

Maison Everett Calligraphy
Maison Everett Gold Foil Calligraphy https://www.etsy.com/shop/MaisonEverett?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Gallery Wall

Matt Long Maryland Wine Print, Rebekah J. Murray Photography
Matt Long Maryland Wine Print, Rebekah J. Murray Photography http://www.mlongdesign.com/ http://rebekahjmurray.com/
PoppyPressDesigns Calligraphy
PoppyPressDesigns Calligraphy https://www.etsy.com/shop/PoppyPressDesigns?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Next post – powder room refresh…stay tuned!

love & lots of whit – jen xo