Monthly Archives

May 2016

Home Design + Decor

Rain, rain go away

May 28, 2016

It’s been raining SO much in Houston lately, which puts a big damper on the home-building process.

Since we’re working with more of a boutique builder, things are probably a little slower than you’d expect. Couple that with the weather, and things seem to be moving along S L O W L Y. We did see some progress this week with the second floor trusses delivered and the second floor framing process started.

Behind-the-scenes, we’re trying to finalize kitchen appliances and this is going to ultimately impact the design and layout of the cabinets. I must admit,  Ben and I are not on the same page when it comes to certain aspects of the kitchen. We cook and eat at home a lot so I think the kitchen is probably the most important home in our house since it gets the most use. We’ll have a very open kitchen/living area concept. BUT, we have a budget and we know we’re going over it. We’re just trying not to go over it TOO much.

Next, we need to sit down and figure out the electrical and lighting plans. Thinking about where you want a light in every part of the home is overwhelming and in some cases, knowing where we want certain types of lights this early on seems ridiculous and even more overwhelming. Single sconce vs. overhead sconces? Canned lights? Chandelier? This needs to be decided because we need to let the builder know so the electrician can then update plans and go in and do all the wiring once the framing is complete. If you don’t like to be in the weeds or think about details like this then maybe a custom home from scratch isn’t for you. But, we’re DIY people and these decisions are ones we like being involved in.

1 Framing (145)

More on the home front soon (hopefully!),



Fashion + Style Fitness


May 26, 2016

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

I pretty much wear workout clothes all weekend long whether I’m working out or not. But, more often than not, I’m heading to spin at Define on Saturday morning. I’ve been a pretty big Rev fan since they started it a few years ago. I credit it for helping me lose all my baby weight within a couple of months after B was born. I try to be active throughout the weekend, going on pretty long neighborhood walks and often doubling up and doing yoga on Saturday and Sunday evenings since I’m not really working out as often as I used to on weekdays. A 7:45pm toddler bedtime will do that to ya. So, I’m changing in and out of workout wear all weekend long.

 I picked up a few things at the Nordstrom half yearly sale, which just kicked off this week and is running through June 5. It’s a great opportunity to stock up on some staple athleisure wear pieces at a fraction of the cost. I bought a new pair of Nike tennis shoes from the sale yesterday and a few other things online to add to my weekend wardrobe.

 Happy sweating! 😉


Home Design + Decor

Breakfast Nooks

May 18, 2016

Source: Becki Owens

I love a good eating nook. I love the casual simplicity of a bench paired with a table that doesn’t necessarily match. When we designed the new house, I knew I wanted a cozy, built-in banquette. Not only does it offer storage, it has a nice window area that lets in some natural light. I envision this as the epicenter of many family meals and conversations. I often wake up to the sound of a waffle maker in my house, and I can see our family enjoying many morning waffle feasts around this table. Here are a few breakfast nooks I’ve found for inspiration.

becki Owens B and A breakfast nook yellow

Source: Becki Owens

Caitlin Creer Interiors Breakfast Nook

Source: Caitlin Creer Interiors

house beautiful breakfast nook

Source: House Beautiful

decor pad nook

Source: Decor Pad

Family Food

Stuffed Shells

May 11, 2016

I’m a fan of Italian food, but it’s a little heavy to eat more than once or twice a week in my opinion. I tend to cook a little lighter. Sorry, Giada. I do get in the mood for the cheesy goodness that many pasta dishes offer and this recipe for Stuffed Shells never disappoints.  My 21-month-old loves it, and so does my 416-month-old, making this recipe a family-friendly winner. 🙂

I really have been just trying to survive lately, prepping more food on the weekends to avoid making choices I know I’ll regret on weeknights. Or,   I often make super simple non-recipe meals on weeknights  –  i.e. salmon, sweet potato + salad – since I get home after work and I want to spend as much time with the kiddo versus getting stuck in the kitchen. That’s why recipes like this that can carry over for more than one weeknight meal are perfect for me. I usually pair it with a salad or another veggie I already have in my fridge. And, this since they are individual shells, it’s built-in portion control.


Before going into the oven

B loves to hang out in the kitchen while I cook.

B loves to hang out in the kitchen while I cook.

I think pasta often gets a bad wrap for the carbs, but when you eat it in moderation and you serve with something green, it can be a healthy meal. My motto is to live a little or you’ll end up binge eating later. I eat pretty healthy 80% of the time, but sometimes I just need something a little more hearty like this!

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells

Serves 6 to 8 (This is a perfect meal to give to friends, a new mom or for a potluck. You can freeze it, too!)

1 (12 ounce) box jumbo pasta shells

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 pound ground turkey ( I used 93 % lean)

1 ( 8- to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes (I used a whole 12-ounce package I found at Kroger)

1 (15-ounce) whole milk ricotta cheese ( I used part-skim ricotta)

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (I used 1 tbsp dried)

2 jars marinara sauce ( I used approx. 1.5 jars of organic marinara I had in my pantry. I opted for this since I wanted to make it toddler-friendly. The original recipe calls for Arriabiata and although it’s delish, it can be a little spicy.)

1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 5 ounces; I just eyeball this and probably use less)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the garlic and cook until the onion is soft and starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the meat is lightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir to combine.

Cover the bottom of the a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish (I used 3 different baking dishes so I could give one to a friend) with 1 cup of marinara sauce. Hold a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full; you should have about 36 shells. Drizzle the remaining marinara sauce over the shells and top with the grated mozzarella. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.




TIPS: I have adapted this recipe to make it easier on me, using some store bought items like jarred marinara, which I always have handy. I’ve made notes in the ingredient list. Do NOT use canned artichokes. I personally don’t like the taste of them, and I once used and it did not taste right. Lots of places sell frozen artichokes such as Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Kroger. I think I have used hot Italian turkey sausage before. You can  swap out the protein for others like sirloin, ground chicken, etc. and I’m sure it’ll turn out just as well.

IF FREEZING: Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month. To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Original recipe by Giada De Laurentis can be found here.


Fashion + Style

Off the shoulder

May 9, 2016

Off-the-shoulder tops and dresses will be a warm-weather staple for many this spring and summer including me. I like that this dress is roomy and overall pretty simple.  I wore this dress on two separate occasions the past two weekends – for date night and a daytime party with friends. Depending on your shoes and accessories, you can dress it up or make it more casual. Most days I’m too lazy to change out my handbag, so I toting one of my usual Mary Poppins bags. Open shoulder tops are great, too,  and I’ve linked to a couple items I have that are casual and comfortable. I am a bit broad shouldered, so finding the right balance with tops that show a little skin is key. I try to balance an open shouldered top with skinny jeans or with some leg so I don’t look like one big blob of fabric!side back 4


B going for the earrings like a moth to a flame.


Dress | Earrings – J. Crew (old),  similar here | Shoes – BR (old), similar here | Purse

Open Shoulder and Off-the-Shoulder Picks 1 |2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Home Design + Decor

Piece by piece

May 5, 2016

We’ve seen some progress with the framing of the first floor in the past few days. It’s really helping me understand the scale of each room and  the layout a little more.

Mudroom frame 2

This is the mudroom. (Can’t you tell? Duh. 😉 ) I was really particular about this room in the house. We even designed a special place for Guy Harvey, our beloved cat we lost unexpectedly last Dec. We’ll still build that special spot for him, and one day perhaps another cat will join our family and occupy it.

downstairs framed

I have a post in the works that might be helpful to anyone considering building a home. I hope to have that up next week. The whole process is definitely not for the faint of heart. It’s a big commitment in many ways to build a home, and I kind of have a lot on my plate in general right now. I’m starting to realize maybe I’ve bit off more than I can chew in many areas of life, but I’ve realized that “good enough” is the best I can do on any given day and the only person who knows that I’m giving my version of “good enough” is probably just me.

This season of life is tough. I’ve been thinking about how much life has changed in the past 2 years since Braden joined our family. I’m exhausted, and all the decisions for the house make me even more tired. I know this season will pass and one day I’ll wish for more nights when Braden curls up on my chest to fall asleep.

Looking forward to the weekend. Are you?

More soon,