Love where you Live

When Charles and I got married, we were living in a house that he purchased when he was 21 years old. It was a cozy, wonderful little house where we had fantastic memories, but everything other than a few decorations that I had brought from my old apartment belonged to Charles. We knew we wouldn’t live in that little house off Grand for more than a few more years, so one random day, just for fun, we started looking at some houses for sale in Fort Smith {just to get an idea of what we might want} – and we found the perfect house. Charles said it had “potential” which typically scares me {he loves a good project; he is his father’s son}. Was it everything we wanted in a house? No. Was it a great location and an even better price? Yes!

We decided to just go “look” at the house to see if we would like it. Even though it was years before we had planned to buy our first home together, we ended up deciding “we’ll just throw a really low offer out there that we doubt they’ll accept and see what happens.” We never in our wildest dreams thought that they would actually accept it. So there we were, buying a house, not having a set budget, just on a whim, years before we planned.

Looking back, that was a really rash decision, and probably not the most mature thing to do. But in the end, it all worked out. The only thing was, we didn’t have any leftover money to purchase new furniture or decor for the new house, it was all of the items leftover from the old house, so we ended up having a lot of “empty space” in the new house. We slowly started trying to fill up some of the empty space by buying some cheaper items that we could afford at the time to fill some of the void, but it was never anything we actually liked. There was no consistency, no theme, and it drove me insane!

We have lived in our first co-purchased home together now for almost 4 years. We have put in all new appliances, knocked out walls to open up our space, added a dining room, replaced fans and light fixtures, added a shop in the back, planted flower beds, etc. but we have just now started to give the house a much needed interior design makeover, primarily focusing on the living room area to start. Let me tell you a bit about what we have done:

Ø  Charles redid the hideous orange tiles around the fire place with rock, and added a granite hearth and a mantle {this was done a few years ago, but still, it was an update}

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Ø  We removed the two larger “conversation chairs” from the corner of the room by the window and moved them into guest bedrooms. They took up a lot of space, and we didn’t even realize it until we moved them!

Ø  We added the blanket ladder {can you insert squeals of joy into a blog post?}

Ø  We replaced the LARGE area rug {pause, we bought this area rug from a coworker right before we moved for $50 and it was a HUGE rug. Fit perfectly in the room, but it was never the color scheme or anything we wanted}. We replaced this rug with a real cowhide rug {insert praise hands here} from ecowhides.com and for an amazing price. It is a Brazilian cowhide and we looked and MANY rugs before deciding on this one.

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Ø  We replaced our $300 sectional that we bought right before moving. I got to choose the couch I wanted from Hank’s {the most beautiful saddleback leather couch with power recliners on the ends and a USB port…swoon} and Charles got to choose the chairs he wanted. He ended up choosing two red recliners from La-z-Boy. Growing up, Charles parents {as well as his Aunt Donna and Uncle Richard} had a set of recliners. One was his dad’s, one was his mom’s, and they always sat in “their” recliners. Charles decided he wanted “his” recliner. He sits in it every day {I spend most of my time on the couch, because it’s wonderful in every way..} And can we TALK about those STUDS? The studded detail on the edge of the couch just sealed the deal for me, and it’s what I’ve been getting most of the compliments on!

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Ø  We had Charles’ brother make us our dream farmhouse coffee table. Y’all, I have wanted this coffee table for longer than I can remember. When I envision what a coffee table should look like, this is EXACTLY what I picture in my head, to a t. I fought tooth and nail to get this coffee table built for me, I was very patient during the process impatient while waiting for my dream coffee table to be sitting in my living room. The thing was, without the coffee table, the giant cowhide rug looked incredibly out of place in our living room. It looked like we were trying to mix western with vintage industrial, and it was. not. working. I knew that once the rustic coffee table with a few industrial looking metal baskets was complete, that it would tie the room together, I just needed to see it. The coffee table is {almost} completely finished, and BOY OH BOY, it’s better than I could have envisioned. Even Charles, who was a bit of a skeptic about what I had in mind at first, cannot get over how amazing it looks. Now, all I need to complete the room is for a smaller scale and slightly taller version on this coffee table to be made for a “tv stand” to hide some cords around the TV. I added in a few baskets from Target to make the farmhouse table look a bit more “industrial modern” and I’m quite thrilled with how it tied it all together.

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We aren’t completely finished with our living room, but it’s coming along swimmingly, and I’m extremely happy with the progress we’ve made thus far. I’m anxious to get my hands on a few other rooms in the house at some point in the future, and I can’t wait to decorate our new living room for the holidays!

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Ignore those pesky cords, I just need to get the console table built and then we will be FINISHED with this room

Now if anyone has any tips on how to get your husband to keep his dirty socks off the living room floor, please comment below. I may just have to let this one slide and learn that the second I wake up, I should walk over to his recliner and pick the socks and shoes off the floor and put them where they belong..I don’t think this is a battle women will EVER win.

I can’t wait for the holidays, so I can show you how we will decorate our new space for the season!

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Spring Cleaning + a DIY!

I don’t really know how I feel about Sundays. I really like that I get to be at home..sipping coffee, working around the house, & watching Netflix, but then there’s that impending moment where you realize “I don’t get to sleep in tomorrow!” and “It’s going to be 5 more days before I get this bliss again.” I’m currently caught between the two emotions, but I’m more on the happy side. The sun is shining, it’s beautiful outside, my sweet sweet nephew is coming over this afternoon, and the handsome husband is coming home in a few hours from the lake. And a happy Sunday to you!

I stayed home this weekend while Charles went to the lake for a few different reasons. First, I had a hair appointment on Friday afternoon that I was NOT going to miss. Second, our house needed a good cleaning + we needed groceries, etc. The plan for me was get my hair done on Friday afternoon, meet some girlfriends for dinner, and then Saturday morning, wake up and start re-organizing the kitchen, scrubbing everything, cleaning windows, cleaning the clutter in the guest bedrooms, wash the sheets and all the laundry, etc. I had lofty goals and I was in the right mindset to accomplish them. It’s so much easier to get things accomplished when your husband is out of town. I know you feel the same way.

This plan was on track until I woke up at 3 am on Saturday with what I believe to be food poisoning. It. Was. Miserable. I didn’t sleep, I had a headache, I was sick to my stomach..you name it, i had it. PLUS it was dreary and cold outside which didn’t help matters. Luckily I managed to get out of bed for short periods at a time in the morning, and was able to get all of the laundry done / sheets washed. I even managed to go later in the morning and stop by the local farmers market for some nice flowers before picking up some soup for myself. And look at these vintage taper candle sticks that I found for .99 cents at a thrift store? I was SO pleased. Luckily, we live in a day and age with Walmart to go groceries, so I even ordered my groceries from bed and all I had to go was pick them up. DIdn’t even have to get out of my car, & I went in my pjs. Luxury!

I did manage to finish all of the dishes, most of the dusting, washed the insides of all of the windows, cleaned the bathrooms, etc. I even felt well enough last night to go sing at church and go to dinner with my parents. I woke up this morning feeling SO refreshed and ready to go {I know..why couldn’t i have just felt this well and motivated yesterday?}

I want to share a quick DIY with you for something that helps me when I’m cleaning, and I hope it will help you, too! It’s DIY Toilet Bombs! There are literally the easiest things you’ll ever make, and they work SO well. I use these when I’m cleaning the toilets and it greatly extends the amount of time I need to go before I have to scrub the toilet again. It’s a busy time of year, one where you’re having BBQ’s, cookouts, bonfires, friends over, etc, so what better DIY is there to help with the increased bathroom traffic? I actually use these as garbage disposal cleaners as well. They are all natural, reduce odor, and clean + prevent dirt. Here’s how to make your own!

Here’s the cast of characters:

  • 1 + 1/3 cup baking soda {reduces odors, keeps clean}
  • 1/2 cup citric acid  {all natural! This is found in the fruits that we eat and causes the “fizzy” sensation of the bath bombs. It can be a pain to find..I found it by the mason jars in Wal-mart, but it took me three stores to find some!}
  • Essential oils of your choice  {I used a mixture of grapefruit, lemongrass, and lavender!}
  • Spray bottle of water  
  • Some sort of ice tray / silicone mold   

First you start making the bombs by mixing together the baking soda and the citric acid in a bowl. Mix well!

Next, take your spray bottle of water and add in your essential oils. You don’t need to add three, I only did because I love the way these smell. You really only need one! Don’t be stingy with the drops! You need between 30-50 drops of oil total. Shake well in the spray bottle of water! {added bonus, you’ll end up with leftover water + essential oil mixture..I recommend using this as a pillow spray to help you relax at night! I use this mixture on my pillow and can instantly feel myself relax and fade away into a fast and peaceful sleep!}

Next, spritz the citric acid + baking soda mix with the water {I used a small bottle and spritzed about 10 times at once.} IMPORTANT: make sure you don’t spritz more than this at one time, or else the citric acid will all fizz up and won’t work with the toilet bomb. Mix up well, and then repeat the spritzing and mix again. You’ll end up doing this for about five minutes. You know you’re done when your mixture has the consistency of wet sand.

You should be able to take a handful of the mixture, squeeze it in your hand, and have it stick together like below. That’s how you’ll know you are ready to go.

Once it’s reached this consistency, you’ll begin placing the mixture in your ice cube trays or silicone baking molds. I searched HIGH AND LOW in Target for some cute silicone ice molds {pineapples, hearts, ANYTHING} but all I could find were these regular ice trays. But get creative!! This can be SO fun. Make sure to FIRMLY pat them down in the trays, and don’t fill the trays too full, because this mixture will rise. Let sit in the trays for about 6 hours or less if they are hardened, and then remove.

Toss a “cube” into your toilet and let the fizzing begin! I swear you will fall in love with this DIY, you’re cleaning routine will thank me!

It’s 5 o’ clock somewhere…

Holy 100 degrees, it is a scorcher out there! This is the kind of weather that makes you want to avoid going outside all together. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable, but I find that hot weather is just a little more bearable when I’m off work for the afternoon {thank you, unused vacation days, for needing to be used before the end of next week and giving me a few lazy days to spare!}

What a few weeks it has been! With my husband launching a new business, us both working full time jobs, and juggling family events, we’ve been pretty crunched for time, and the spare time we actually manage to get is spent on the following {just chime in if this sounds familiar…} 

  • Laundry
  • Cooking dinner
  • Cleaning the bedroom
  • Vacumming
  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Catching some ZzZzZ

Yeah, those are the categories that I have been dividing my “free time” into lately. But do you know what makes not only hot weather bearable, but also a hectic schedule seem less hectic?

You got it. BOOZE! Lately, a certain drink in particular has been acting as my ten minute break, my pick me up, and my cool down: The Mojito. And since we’re all friends here, I thought I would share the recipe I use on the reg for my “on the go with hardly any time to spare” mojito. As you’ll see below, my mojitos bring everyone to the yard {including the dog and excluding my dad..who thinks mojitos shouldn’t have mint in them…WHAT?}

I’m going to get right into the recipe, because I’ve got Grateful Dead on Pandora, my Grateful Dead sweatshirt on {thank you Carsyn}, and I feel a nap coming on.

Here’s the ingredients you’ll need… {Flowers optional, but always a nice addition..}

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First things first — Grab a lime, and cut it in half!

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Next up, Throw a few springs of mint into a bowl {or the cup..or whatever you have on hand..}. Take half of your lime and using your handy dandy juice press {or your hands, if you’re stronger than me}, juice half of the lime on top of the mint. {You can get ALL OF THAT MINT at the farmers market for $2. TWO. DOLLARS!

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The next step is optional, but I like to add a few pieces of fruit into the mix {usually I use peaches, but the farmers marker didn’t have them out quite yet – so I used some strawberry instead, but you can use blackberries, blueberries, raspberries..I haven’t met a mojito I didn’t like.} Juice the rest of the lime on top of the fruit of your choice.

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Momma, can I please have one? NO – I don’t share my mojitos.

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Now muddle baby, muddle. Muddle like you mean it. Muddle until you are CERTAIN that there won’t be huge bits of fruit getting stuck in your straw. That would be a buzz kill {did you see what I did there?}

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Place your muddled fruit / mint / lime juice mixture into a cute glass with a few ice cubes {these Mint Julep glasses were about $1.88 each at Walmart. Walmart, you are my jam.

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Here comes the fun. Measure one oz. {or one shot glass} full of rum. Any rum will do. Dark rum, white rum, choose the rum of your choice {I will say, I’m partial to white rum in mojitos..}

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Okay – I mentioned earlier that this is my QUICK mojito recipe – so I cheat. instead of making my own simple syrup, I opted for the easier route – I bought simple syrup from Target. Measure one oz or one shot glass or the simple syrup and pour into your glass {I must confess, I just spelled “simple” with a “y” THREE TIMES while trying to type simple syrup. I dare you to try. It’s a keyboard twister.

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Fill the rest of the glass with Club Soda! Benefit, club soda is SO CHEAP. You can also get a sodium free brand as well, I believe, so thumbs up to that.

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Some might say that a cute pinwheel straw isn’t a requirement for a good quality mojito. Those people are not to be trusted. Shoutout to the Target Dollar Section for keeping my straw game on point.

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Garnish it up.

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AND ENJOY!

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You’re a Shoe In

Forgive me if whatever I’m about to write seems a bit chaotic, but I’m in a chaotic environment right now. My husband and I are getting our kitchen cabinets repainted & distressed, which means all of our kitchen cabinets are off right now and our kitchen looks like a war zone…not to mention the fact that with all of the cabinets off, Charles and I {along with anyone who comes over..yikes} can see how completely unorganized all of our kitchen items are. Actually, I’m just going to move this to another room so I don’t have to look at the mess {if I don’t see it, it’s not really there, right?!}

But for now, I’m going to sit here with my Pomegranate Punch smoothie from Tropical Smoothie {Now Open in Fort Smith – have you tried it?} and I’m going to attempt to focus amid the unorganized chaos going on in the Alley household.

As much as I love clothes {and believe me, I love clothes}, I’ve found that even the most perfect shirt I own can look completely wrong without the right pair of shoes. Shoes say a lot about your style and your mood {and most people notice your shoes right off the bat…}.

For example, some days, I’m in the mood to throw on an LBD, swipe on some red lipstick, and wear the highest heels I have. Some days, don’t even THINK about getting me out of my chacos. Some days, I want to ripped jeans and my favorite booties.

Love wearing flirty dresses, but hate heels? Maybe you just want to feel more comfortable? Throw on a pair of Keds to suit your own personal style. Want to amp up your outfit while wearing boyfriend jeans? Throw on a pair of heels and a blazer. Make it work for YOUR STYLE and YOUR SCHEDULE! Just because you’re spending a day walking around town or running a lot of errands and need to wear comfortable shoes doesn’t mean you have to wear a sweatshirt and jeans {although hey, no shame if that’s what you’re comfortable with!} You have options. Throw on a flirty sundress and some flats, or even your favorite Keds! {Or what about those adorable Adidas you’ve been eying…}

Here’s a few shoe trends that I have been continuously reaching for {and drooling over..} this season:

Lace Ups :   Maybe it’s the fact that I just miss tying my shoes, or maybe it’s because lace up shoes add a unique touch to any outfit. I’ve worn the tie up pair shown below with boyfriend jeans, skinny jeans, dresses, and maxi skirts. Versatility is what I need in clothes, and shoes are no different. The pair below was purchased at Suite One!

Mules  :   Mules are essentially just backless shoes, and I love the spunky aspect that the two pairs below bring to the table. One pair gives you the vibe of a fall like bootie, but is easily transitioned into spring, mostly in part by the fact that they’re backless! The other pair of mules shown below are open toe and backless, a winning combination in my book. The color with this particular pair is so unique and works almost any color you pair them with. The enclosed front pair are from DV Dolce Vita for Target {check them out here!} and the open toe paid is from Old Navy.

Fringe :   Enough said. Because who can get enough? Both below pairs are from Suite One!

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