I took a minute to read over my resolutions from last year… then I laughed for like a minute, ha! Last year my resolutions were ambitious and challenging for where I was in my life. Prime example: I resolved to put my clothes away on the daily, while pregnant no less! How did I fare? I probably lasted two months, tops, aaaaaaand I’m back to my old habits again. Ugh. What can I do? My husband and I share a tiny closet! I’m super short and can’t reach the top shelf to put my sweatshirts away. Is it normal not to put your clothes away every day? Should I not worry about this? I kind of feel like a failure.
What about the other resolutions? Well, we did get another Frenchie, just two weeks before I had baby Zano (puppy and baby?! Apparently I was very ambitious in my 9-month pregnant state). We bought a house, which wasn’t originally in the plan, and deciding to start work on the house aided in the decision to go back to work, so yes I am a mom but no I am not ‘stay-at-home’ as I thought I would be. But that’s OK, the baby gets to hang out all day with the sweetest daycare lady and 2 other kiddos his age. He’s getting socialized and I’m bringing in the bacon. #yay
Back to my goals and resolutions for the new year – my first resolution? SKILLS! Here’s where I tell you a negative that’s actually probably a positive but spin it so it looks like I have something I need to work on. In all seriousness, I’d like to be less of an A.D.D. cat and harness my weird and broad range of skills and try to focus on perfecting a handful of them. I’m a victim of the DIY plague, where I think I can do everything myself, sometimes it works out for me but most times it just makes me feel scatterbrained as I jump from one thing to the next on any given day. I’m resolving to focus on strengthening a few of my favorite skills, like photography, sewing, crafting and the like. I want to reallocate the time I spend on things that I’m not so skilled at and instead invest that time on perfecting those I like to do the most. What does this mean? It means I probably won’t DIY everything.
Some house goals for the year include: get new flooring (!!), turn our sun room into an entertaining space rather than a catch-all eyesore, and it might be wishful thinking but I’d like to upgrade our fireplace situation. It’s visually unobtrusive, but it’s meh.
And finally! The big kahuna goal of mine this year is: get uncomfortable! One thing’s for sure, this year is MY year. I’ve been blogging for almost 4 years, and for the most part I’ve always been in some sort of transitional period in my life: moving (3 times), engagement, wedding, pregnancy, saving money, etc. This transitional feeling has prevented me from taking any risks with this blog biz. I knew my foundation was always changing, and I became too comfortable moving at a slow pace. I’m finally in a good groove at home, my mom duties, work, and house duties are balancing nicely, and I’m ready to jump head first into the deep end! I’d love to share specifics with you now, but for the sake of THE JINX I’m going to keep things simple and somewhat overarching-ly vague. For those of you who are struggling, or feel like you’re not quite where you want to be, just know this: hard work pays off! Keep at it! Don’t compare your timeline to others, keep doing your thing and everything will fall into place as it should.
Now tell me, are you doing anything risky this year? What goals have you set for 2015 that will be challenging to reach? What do you do if you catch yourself getting too comfortable?
I’ll leave you with a very cute picture of my son, Zano, who clearly should have been the next Gerber baby
Hello! Happy Thursday! We’re almost to the weekend, woohoo!
First, I wanted to let you know you can find me and 4 other bloggers over at Porch today! We’re each sharing what we feel to be the best DIY project to tackle first this year.
What’s Porch, you ask? Well, imagine you bred the inspiration you get from Pinterest with the network of thousands of home improvement professionals, this would certainly birth a beautiful creature, kinda like Rooney Mara, interesting looking with the Dragon Tattoo bangs, yet still so beautiful. Porch is literally a home improvement network on steroids. Porch is where homeowners sync up, meet professionals, get inspired by others, and overall just have a blast managing their homes.
Porch is “with it”, folks. They know this home decor blog niche is where it’s at! They’re keeping their finger on the pulse by reaching out to a few bloggers and asking what it is we feel we need to accomplish this year. They’re aware of our super powers, it’s validating Of course there are countless projects we could start on for the new year, and I’m sure we each have a different idea as to what the best project is for each of us. For me? It’s about time I find myself a home office space.
I’m sure you feel it. I know I feel it. Without fail, the beginning of the year always marks the time to start fresh. Brand new. Clean slate. Clean sheets. Clean toilet bowl. Dust free surfaces. You know what I’m talking about. It’s time to start something new.
I am always the most inspired at the beginning of the year, with new ideas swirling around my head, I realized recently I really, really, needed a dedicated space to jot down new ideas; a space to stay organized and stay inspired. I’ve learned over the years if I don’t designate a space to unload my creativity, I soon get overwhelmed and lose inspiration due to disorganization and not knowing what project to start when, etc. This year I’m getting started on the right foot and prioritizing a little home office space of my own.
We have a small two bedroom house (our perfect starter home!) so there’s not much extra space available for a designated office. At the moment, my husband is utilizing a small nook in our living room as his home office (it’s not pretty at all, I’ll spare you photos.. for now). I wasn’t left with much option besides a once empty corner in our bedroom (see the before here). It actually worked out perfectly if I think about it. I was already hoarding a beautiful West Elm mirrored Parson’s desk (which I scored on CraigsList for $100, brand new!). I shimmied the desk beside our bed, it fit perfectly! I now have a designated spot to retreat to after a long day at work, and naturally it doubles as my bedside table. Our bed is a little on the tall side (do you like tall beds? I love tall beds!) so it’s super nice having something at pillow level, rather than a normal height nightstand which you’d have to lean down to reach anything.
So, this is the part in the post where I encourage conversation. But I’m actually really curious! What is your first DIY to tackle (or already tackled) for the new year? Is it something big? A bathroom reno perhaps? How will this project set you up for the rest of 2015?
Check out the post on Porch today, see what others are saying about their first DIY of the new year.
Hello! I’m going to touch on a subject today that I’ve never talked about before – my camera equipment. Shocking! I know! I feel like camera talk and photo tips has become some big secret in blog land, like 3 or so years ago we were all talking about it, all teaching each other new tips and tricks. It was great! But now it’s either old hat – someone already talked about this already – or we’re all so focused on our own photography skills we don’t stop to think about other folks who might just be getting started. Just an observation of mine.
Spoiler alert: I don’t have any crazy secret photography tips, it’s been a LOT of trial and error over the years. I am absolutely no pro with my camera so take all this with a grain of salt that what works for me might not be what works for you. OK? Let’s go!
I haven’t yet shared my goals for 2015 (more on that soon!) but one of them is to take better photos. I think I take OK photos, but what I mean by ‘better’ is take more well thought out, well planned photos. Since I have a day job (preparing financial statements, woohoo!) I find that I’m always chasing sunlight on the weekends. I get extremely caught up in the amount of light in a day, sometimes it causes arguments with the mister, sometimes it makes us late to dinner dates… I’m making a huge effort (starting now!) to better time manage, plan & set up my photos in advance, and overall just stress about it less. If I can’t get the picture taken for some reason, I have to let it go. It’s a juggling act of planning and time management; the more I plan ahead the happier we all will be.
Alrighty! Back to the equipment discussion. The other part of my “taking better photos” goal is to up the ante on my equipment. I actually have to thank Santa (aka my dad!) for this one. I asked Santa for a wide angle lens, and the little elves in the workshop delivered! What’s funny, I’ve only purchased one lens for myself (this one) the other two (which I’ll get to momentarily) my dad bought me! He’s so awesome! Thank you dad! If it weren’t for him I would be taking pictures with my crappy iPhone.
My first camera was a Nikon D3000. I have no preference between Canon or Nikon, I think we were in Costco one day and we just grabbed it. Let me tell you up front, soon after I purchased the camera I regretted not doing more research on what camera I actually needed. You may think all you need is an entry level DSLR to get your photo game rolling, but what you didn’t know is the lesser expensive camera bodies typically do not have auto focus motors, which means if you want specialty lenses, you have to seek out lenses with auto-focus motors built in (which are more expensive). A lot of legit lenses are manual focus (which most of the time means the lens will use the auto-focus motor in your body to function). Avoid the big old headache of spending more money on lenses for a lesser quality body and just get the better camera body. Oh, and I recommend not buying a camera kit (the camera body + kit lens all-in-one package). Kit lenses are junk. Buy the ‘body only’ on Amazon and the lenses you want separately. Trust me, once you get a specialty lens you’ll never use the kit lens again.
I had the D3000 for a year and upgraded to the D7000 (I think the D7100 is the most current body, same thing as mine just released a year or so later). I love my camera! Is it the best camera out on the market? Heck no, but it’s fancy and does incredible (enough) things.
My go-to lens
Every blogger will tell you to start out with a 50mm. Now, I don’t disagree, but I will say if you’re going to listen to my advice and buy the body only, I say start out with the 35mm. This is the lens you will use all the time! Like the 50mm, the 35mm is a fixed focal distance lens (Macro lens), meaning it doesn’t zoom in or out, but the focal distance is actually much closer to reality than the 50mm. This lens offers practically the same minimum aperture to get those beauty shots with the ability to fit more in each photo. All of my kitchen photos were taken with a 35mm f1.8.
My Beauty Lens
I like to say the 50mm lens is every blogger’s secret weapon. The 50mm f/1.8 is only like $100. I would absolutely recommend, if you can, to throw in a few extra bucks to get that f1.4. The wider the aperture, the better! But the f/1.8 will do the trick just fine. Natural light photos turn out absolutely beautiful with this lens. The bokeh (the blur in the background) is so soft. It’s surprising what this inexpensive lens can do. I will say, however, I only like to pull this lens out for specific shots: ‘beauty’ shots, tight shots, up close and personal shots with gorgeous blurring in the background.
My Wide Angle
This is my new toy! I am so crazy excited about this lens. It’s an off-brand Nikon lens, Tokina 11-16mm f2.8. You should know, there is a newer model of this lens, an AF-S lens (has an autofocus motor built in) but after digesting all the comments the autofocus motor in the new one falls just short of the object in focus, the ‘old’ model works with the motor in the camera body (which is more reliable anyway). So, better lens for a little less money!
Our house is a bit on the small side (thank you pricey California!) and I was having such a hard time really getting the full view of each room. Now that we’ve taken walls down in our living and dining room, I really needed a lens that would do the space justice. I’ve played around with this lens for about 2 weeks now and I absolutely love it. I can take pictures of my entire bathroom! My full bedroom! The baby’s room! All with minimal distortion. I hate seeing photos taken with wide angle lenses get all wonky in the corners. Here’s a picture of our kitchen with the wide angle:
There you have it! Like I said, I honestly don’t have any secret game-changing tips on taking photos. There are a ton of photo advice blog posts out there. I would be happy to share with you the ones I found useful and what my process is if you’re interested, just let me know! I just don’t want to bore you if you already know what you’re doing
I know I know, I’m one of those moms who hashtag their kid. Don’t judge me too hard.
It’s been a couple months since I posted a motherhood update. Let me be very clear, I LOVE being a mom. I love seeing this little nugget’s face in the morning, all smiles and cheeks, so innocently joyful for no reason whatsoever. My heart melts every day for this little kiddo. I can’t believe we created this little being, his little heart, his little lungs, his toothless grin, we created him and it blows. my. freakin. mind.
The first thing I tell couples who have no kids is this: there is absolutely nothing like the love you have for your child. There is nothing you can feel prior to having a kid that will compare. Nothing.
The other thing I tell couples is, as special and as extraordinary this love feels, it is SO common. Every mother and every father feel the love of this magnitude for their children. It baffles me that something that is so personal and so individualistic and so significant to us is commonplace.
Some other random tidbits I want to share now that I’m a mom:
- I can’t stop buying baby clothes. Baby jeans, baby sweats, baby Christmas sweaters, baby bear claw slippers, baby hats. All this baby-wear is the new hoarding, and I might have a problem.
- Every move he makes, every giggle, every fart, every roll, every wiggle, brings me blissful joy.
- This book saved me
- We’re officially sleep training as of last Friday. Now, he’s always been a decent sleeper, and because of the book mentioned above, he’s literally like a clock for naps and feeding, but the last 4 weeks or so he developed a bad habit of waking up every 2 hours at night (I blame Thanksgiving), and of course I couldn’t help but run to the rescue when he woke up. But no more! I can happily say that during the last two nights he’s slept at least 8 hours straight. SO! There is hope I will sleep again!
- I haven’t gone for a run in like 2 months. I feel so gross.
- Being a working mom sucks. Some moms love it, I know, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do, besides childbirth.
- I will look at pictures and videos of him while I’m at work, with a big fat grin on my face. I will also show strangers and random coworkers pictures of Zano at any moment of awkward silence. His cheeks are the best ice breaker.
- I haven’t joined a mom group yet. I had it in my mind that I would hang out more with friends that have babies of similar age, but they either live too far away, or are as equally consumed by juggling work and parenthood that we just can’t seem to find the time to hang. Sometimes it makes me feel sad.
- We’ve only been to the theaters once since the baby was born, and that was to see Interstellar
- I am so fearful of having a second kid. I worry that there’s no possible way I could love two kids the way I love one. I know it’s an invalid thought, but it really worries me.
- What is the best time to have kid #2?
This is pretty much the most random post ever. I’d love to hear your thoughts! How did you feel when your first baby was 6 months old? How did you get the courage to have baby #2? What did you do to sleep train? What crazy things should I look out for in the next 6 months?
Perhaps the most invaluable perk about being a blogger is that we get the opportunity to meet likeminded folk from across the country and around the world that we otherwise wouldn’t ever get to meet. Earlier this week, Jen, the blogger behind House of Wood (where she builds amazing pieces of furniture.. from scratch!) tagged me in a tour of the blogosphere post. Jen said such nice things about brittanyMakes, sometimes I wallow in doubt over the projects or direction I’m headed, but when someone says such nice things it’s really heartwarming and validating and makes me feel like I do have an audience!
The way this tour works is, I answer 4 questions then list a couple blogs I follow and reasons why so that you fall in love with them as much as I have. Got it? Good.
1. What are you working on?
2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?
3. Why do you write/create what you do?
4. How does your writing/creative process work?
Gwen is one of my favorite Pinterest pinners to follow, she’s just SO GOOD. If you don’t follow her, you must! Right now Gwen and her family are building a house from scratch and I’m just so excited for them and that we get to see the whole process as it unfolds.
NEXT UP: Chris & Julia, the dynamic duo behind the blog Chris Loves Julia
I first started reading Chris & Julia’s blog after being a fellow participant in one of the The Home Depot Challenges. I was immediately drawn to them, they’re honest, heartwarming, relatable, beautiful and have two adorable girls that I can’t get enough of from their Instagram feed. Chris & Julia are renovating a home in Rexburg, Idaho, coincidentally the exact little town where my sister lives! (My sister is a student at BYUI). I love their design aesthetic and following along their journey as they turn their house into a gorgeous home! Not to mention, Chris is a killer cook, I drool over my laptop almost weekly with his recipes.
Well, there you have it! Two super cool blogs you should definitely follow.
I have a scary story to share. I meant to share it 2 weeks ago (sorry!) but so much has happened since and I felt I should share all of the information I’ve gathered in case (heaven forbid) the same thing ever happens to you.
OK. Let me just rip the band-aid and tell you – my identity was stolen.
It really sounds SO silly saying it out loud. It’s something I never thought would ever happen to me, I mean come on! I’m a type-A businesswoman for crying out loud! I watch my credit like a hawk! I’m super careful when shopping online and I only share my personal information when it’s absolutely necessary. How could this ever happen to me?
Like many, I was one of those who shopped at Target during their breech period late last year (I mean, who didn’t shop at Target during that period??). You might think this situation was because of Target, but in reality I only used my debit card and my bank swiftly sent me a replacement since they’re on top of that kind of stuff. Also, I knew it wasn’t Target’s fault because it was my social security number that was stolen. My SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER! How? Why? HOW?!
Anyway, I bring up Target because if it weren’t for them I might be oblivious at this moment that my identity was stolen. Target signed me up for free credit monitoring as part of their diligent apology for the breech. I couldn’t be more grateful for this!
You’re probably wondering, how did I find out? Well, it was a normal Wednesday morning when I received the first alert via email from Target’s credit monitoring service “Surveillance Alert!”. Hmmm, that’s weird. So I logged in to check it out… and my mouth dropped. There were 5 (FIVE!) new inquiries on my credit for 5 retail credit cards that were opened within the last 4 business days. This is bad.
If you’re at all familiar with the credit bureau setup, there are three agencies: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Your credit reports from these three agencies can vary, for example information will hit one report faster than another, inquiries will post to one agency and not to another, your credit score will be different across these three reports for this exact reason. Most credit monitoring services are linked to only one of the agencies, so as soon as I saw that I had these 5 inquiries on one report, I knew there was a huge possibility of more posting to my other reports. Down the rabbit hole I went…
I ran my other two credit reports & scores, paid the fees to do so (the fees are super dumb but in this case I would pay anything to stop someone from stealing my identity!). Between the 3 credit reports, I found a total of 11 (!!!) retail accounts attempted to be opened in my name. I was flabbergasted. Someone has my social security number, someone is opening retail credit cards in my name and maxing them out. Someone is ruining my credit as we speak. I felt utterly powerless!
Of course I wanted to cry and throw things, but really the only thing I could do was contact each retailer and put a stop to these accounts. I spent the next 8 hours calling retailers, filing a police report, filing a complaint with the FTC, and opening fraud investigations with each retailer. The amount of work I’ve had to do to clean this up was ridiculous, not to mention I’m still working on these accounts, 2+ weeks later! I do have to look on the bright side and be thankful that each retailer has a fraud department, and that each retailer provided as much guidance and help possible to fix this situation. I can’t imagine having this happen 10 or so years ago when this crime was really started taking place. The crappy part about all of this is this person will most likely not get caught, and will continue to live their lives by ruining others. I’m lucky to be as diligent as I am in monitoring my credit, and being as responsible to react so quickly.
After telling friends and coworkers about this situation I began hearing their stories like “oh someone took out a mortgage in my name” or “someone tried to cross the boarder with my identity”. What if I was less diligent? What if I never checked my credit reports? What if I wanted to buy a house and got turned down because I didn’t know someone had ruined my credit by stealing my identity? What if one day I got calls from collection agencies saying I owed over $15K in credit card debt that I never even knew about?! $15K is about as much as this person who stole my identity was granted in credit from using my identity. I can’t even imagine.
Moral of the story: check your credit regularly. By law everyone is entitled to 3 free credit reports each year (www.annualcreditreport.com). Put reminders on your calendar, run these reports every 4 months and make sure no one is living their lives at your expense. This can happen to anyone. If it happened to me, it can happen to you.
*Update* I’ve been asked if this affects my credit score. Absolutely it does, which is the WORST part of this mess! Until these fraud investigations close and the credit bureau blocks additional information from hitting my credit, each one of these hard inquiries and balances will negatively affect my credit score. Every inquiry that is reported to your score (like a credit application or credit check), regardless if an account is actually opened, drops your score. I’ve been told it will take on average 90 days for each account to be resolved. Let’s hope it happens sooner!
I wish I could say I’m one of those people who loves to read. I mean, I like to read, I used to be a big book worm in grade school, and I definitely love a good series and will usually pick up a well recommended book, but I don’t love to read. It’s probably an excuse but I feel like I just don’t have enough time to read. Does anyone else feel this way? I read a lot of blogs, does that count as reading?
A couple months ago I stumbled on Joanna’s Motherhood Mondays series – if you haven’t read this series, you MUST, it’s a virtual page turner! Specifically her articles on parenting around the world, places like Norway, Japan, Dubai and more – I’m not kidding, these interviews will blow your mind! Anyway, as I stumbled on her series I read her post about a book she read called French Kids Eat Everything, by Karen Le Billon. I’m about half way through, and no joke, this book has completely changed my life.
OK, that sounds a little dramatic, but seriously, I’ve found Le Billon’s reflections on American food culture and how she compares it to French food culture straight up riveting. She is so spot on in the way she distinguishes between the two cultures, all the while sharing her story as an American woman living in a French coastal city (in Brittany actually!) with her French husband, and how she learned to cure her kids of their picky American eating habits.
What’s most interesting so far is learning through Le Billon about what French food culture actually MEANS. It’s not like, ‘oh the French love to eat weird stinky foods but they walk a lot so they’re always skinny,’ or ‘the Italians love to eat pasta and have big obscene dinners with every family member every single night’, or whatever misconceptions we carry about other food cultures. What’s eye-opening for me in reading this book is learning how French food culture is literally engrained in all things in France. It’s in their education system, it’s in their daily routine, it’s in peer pressure and social influence. It’s unspoken, yet everywhere.
Le Billon does a great job summarizing the unspoken “rules” of French food culture, 10 rules to be exact. She explains how these rules can be applied so that we as parents/parents-to-be can overcome our current food-related habits, which happen to be the root cause of so many food related issues that Americans face.
You’re probably asking yourself, is this book a food Bible? No. Will you fail as a human if you don’t memorize every single word and change everything about what you know about food? No. But it is crazy eye-opening, and really gets you thinking about how your “normal” food habits might be influencing your children.
In short, I recommend reading this book. You’ll love it, I promise.
IN UNDER AN HOUR?!?!?! Yeah, It caught my attention too!
Although truthfully you probably have to be pretty focused. My inner ADD child always pours out when I have to write about serious stuff. Anyway, I honestly thought this article was worth sharing, as creating a business plan can seem daunting and beyond scary, but the professional peeps over at Etsy have the best ways to make it easy. I promise!
Read the entire article here.
I don’t know about other bloggers, but let me tell you, I read a lot of blogs, and I love it! Reading blogs of all shapes and sizes was actually the primary reason I started this blog – I realized ‘Hey, I have a voice and creative ideas, too! Let’s do this!’
I used to be able to manage my list of daily reads pretty well, but I’m now at the point where all the space on my bookmarks toolbars in Mozilla, Internet Explorer, AND Chrome, are completely maxed out! I never cared or understood how to use Google Reader, and I didn’t think to research other reader alternatives, I was pretty satisfied with my morning routine clicking straight to the blogs I wanted to read in the same order, every single day. Talk about a creature of habit!
I don’t even know how I stumbled on it, it must have been a re-marketing campaign while perusing the internet, but I landed myself on NetVibes reading about their awarded personalized dashboard and thought ‘what the heck, let’s give this whole reader thing a try’. About two weeks ago I signed up for a free account I can’t tell you how much my life has changed. Having a real time feed of all the blogs I read in a day makes me feel like I have the entire internet all in one place. It’s more than amazing!
NetVibes has been around for a while, but it’s completely brand new to me. I’m still learning how to use it, but so far I’ve used 3 different views to read my daily blogs – the classic widget view (below), which is laid out in a tile board similar to Pinterest, and each tile lists the most recent 7 or so posts from each site.
I also like the current activity view, you can see all the posts that were published today
My new favorite view is the image tile view for all posts most currently published. I’m totally into this visual method of reading a feed!
OK, OK, so I’m fully aware that utilizing a reader is a no-brainer for most of you folks, which makes me wonder, how does everyone else read their favorite blogs? What readers do you use? Or do you prefer to click directly to sites? Do you keep a list of your favorite blogs? I’m so interested!
PS: if you’re curious about what blogs I read on a daily basis, I created this page dedicated to them for easy access. You can find the link to this page is on my right sidebar.
My man and I have spent the last month 100% focused on moving (and might I mention, into our OWN place), and the last two weeks physically moving into our new place. I think it's safe to say we are officially done and moved in! Last night was the first night in our new apartment. We still have a lot of adjusting to do, new routines for the pups, getting used to new noises, and dealing with all the light from our windows. Curtains are in store, ASAP.
As I look back on our move, the plans we made and the obstacles we faced, I thought it would be a great idea to put together a list of 10 tips to make your move as successful and painless as possible. Here we go:
Plan & Prioritize
My BF and I are both accountants, which means we're both A-type business-oriented budgeters and planners. We can easily take a situation and translate it into concise bullet points or a cost benefit analysis. When we first discussed moving out into our own place, back in January, our first step was to make a plan. Then, we discussed our plans with our roommates to make sure they were on board. We also set a goal for a move out date, drafted a budget and started saving.
I am well aware not everyone operates like we do. I've helped out plenty of family and friends who lack a move-out plan, and end up scrambling at the absolutely last second.