Landscaping Update {Friday Refresh}

We made it to Friday! I haven’t done a Friday Refresh in awhile. That’s not because there haven’t been any changes around here though. In the two years that we’ve lived in our house we have focused mainly on the interior renovations that needed to be done (and then redone in some cases). This past April we had some flooding that resulted in all of the flooring being redone (most of which was already brand new), a total gut job to the main bathroom, and asbestos removal. Things already look very different than they did even in this first-ever Friday Refresh.

Because the inside of the house has been priority number one, the landscaping has been all but neglected during this time. I finally decided that this was one thing we could have someone else come do for us. I am so glad that we did!

Flower bed with fall color

My main objective was cleaning things up so the pops of color were just a bonus. The trees that were planted in this bed before were just not suitable in their height or placement, plus they were badly in need of trimming. Here is a before photo:

Overgrown flower bed before clean up

Here are a few more before and after photos of some of the other beds around the yard. They look so much better cleaned up, but of course I’m already thinking about what to add for more color and pop.

Before & after of front yard landscaping clean up

Before & after flower bed clean up

This is not a sponsored post, but I have to give credit where credit is due. Thanks to Mike Burney’s GreenCo for their great work and exceptional service. Not only did they quote me five times less what other companies quoted, they are capable, experienced and conduct themselves in a very professional manner. Check them out on Facebook if you’re in Northwest Arkansas and need landscaping help.







Here we go! {Friday Refresh}

Well, today just did not go as planned. I had planned to have everything ready and spiffy with a nice introductory post to the new blog, but then Young Master Gray woke up at 10 p.m. throwing up. While I had him in the tub cleaning him up, I noticed some green goop in the corners of his eyes. Great. I washed it off with a wash cloth and prayed it would be better in the morning. Then, instead of situating myself on the couch with a laptop in my lap, I had a sleepy little boy to hold and watch Curious George with until he fell asleep. When we woke up the next morning and he cried and told me to keep the lights off, I knew we were really in trouble. Instead of driving him to school and spending the day working, I drove him to the doctor and spent the day being mama. It wasn’t a horrible day, just not the day I had planned. Those plans included a morning post linking to my new site I have been building up for the last few days. Oh well. We got to snuggle, make cookies (I only let him touch the ones he was eating!), and even play outside for awhile.



I hope you enjoy the new website. I promise to come back and give it a proper introduction next week. {Knock on wood} A big shout out to my friend, Rebekah Wright for designing my new logo and for getting me all set up on the new blog! After you finish checking out the new site, be sure to look her up at Wright Printing!

Kindness Elves with a Toddler {Friday Refresh}

Have you heard of the the Kindness Elves? They came about when Anna Ransom, the mom behind the blog The Imagination Tree, was looking for an alternative to the Elf on the Shelf. From what I understand, the Elf on the Shelf watches you and reports back to Santa on your behavior–a very creepy twist on the naughty and nice list aspect of the Santa myth. I have always enjoyed seeing the photos my friends take of their Elves getting into mischief throughout the month of December, and I give them so many props for doing that each night to create an allusion of magic for their kids. However, when thinking about what I wanted to teach Young Master Gray about Christmas, the Elf on the Shelf just didn’t fit. I found the idea of the Kindness Elves so refreshing. Instead of focusing on behavior or if Santa will reward your behavior with presents or not, the Kindness Elves encourage you to engage in acts of kindness during the holiday season, especially the last 12 days leading up to Christmas Day.

I heard about the Kindness Elves last year and attempted to include them in our traditions for the holiday, but it was simply too late and Young Master Gray would not have really comprehended the meaning anyway. I gave myself a pass and decided to plan ahead this year. Even this year I do not expect to go all out with our acts of kindness. I am looking at it as a trial run so that there is not too much pressure on Young Master Gray or myself. I mean, he is only two. While I do believe that he has some understanding of what we are trying to accomplish with our acts of kindness, I still don’t think he can fully appreciate it this year.

With that in mind, I kept our list of daily acts of kindness rather simple. I have a feeling that he will really enjoy it next year and even get in on the fun of planning what acts of kindness we should enact. The Kindness Elves arrive on December 12 and then the days that follow are the days we will perform our acts of kindness with Christmas Eve being the final day.

Day 1: Make a craft and send it to someone special.
Day 2: Collect toys you no longer use and donate them.
Day 3: Make a DIY Christmas card for somebody in the hospital.
Day 4: Make a bird feeder to feed the birds in the yard.
Day 5: Gather food and donate it to the food pantry.
Day 6: Give free hugs to friends and family today and brighten their day.
Day 7: Donate a toy to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital toy drive.
Day 8: Make a video for great grandma to tell her Merry Christmas.
Day 9: Make a DIY gift for your daycare teachers.
Day 10: Choose an animal from the Heifer International catalog to donate.
Day 11: Take treats to the fire station.
Day 12: Pick up your books and toys and put them where they belong.

I ordered our Kindness Elves from The Imagination Tree this year, but they sold out within a matter of hours. If you are interested in purchasing the official Kindness Elves next year, visit their Facebook page and sign up to be the first to know when they are available. If you would like to get started this year, you may be able to find some of these cute little elf ornaments I found at Target last year. In fact, since our elves are coming from the UK and have yet to arrive, these may be the ones we end up using this year.

If you already have an Elf on the Shelf and want to shift the focus to giving and kindness, you can give him a new purpose as kindness elf!

Get started with an introduction to the Kindness Elves and ideas for the 12 Magical Days of the Kindness Elves. Plus, 25 ideas for your Kindness Elves.

With or without the elves, I hope to encourage a spirit of kindness, generosity and service to others in Young Master Gray, during the holiday and all year round. Feel free to follow along on Instagram and see what kind acts our elves inspire us to carry out this season. I hope the next two weeks are full of goodness and light for you and yours. Merry Christmas!

{Friday Refresh} Fill Your Cup

When you are a mom (or a busy creative and/or professional or just a human being) it can be hard to find the time take care of yourself. Not only that, but sometimes it feels like an indulgence to do the things you need to do to make yourself feel more human. At least that’s true for me. I feel guilty taking the time away from my family, writing, household tasks, etc. to do something simple that fills my cup like get haircut or read a book. Then, when it’s something like going to get a massage, it can feel like an extravagance.  Taking care of ourselves is not a luxury though. It is essential.

Taking care of others, keeping a tidy home (or not so tidy), making sure there is healthy food to eat each day, working and giving back to the community–whether you do all of these things or just some of them–they take a toll. The things on the aforementioned list range from things that bring joy to things that are just dreaded tasks that must be done. Even the things that bring joy can be draining, and sometimes they take up more time and energy than anything else. I love being with my 2-year-old son and taking care of him is my greatest joy, however, I am learning that in order to do that to the best of my ability, I need to fill my cup as well.

Learning. That word is key. I think the last time I had a haircut was in March, and I’m pretty sure that all the books I’ve started to read this year are still sitting on the shelf waiting to be finished (that goes for some of the books I started to read last year, too). Since it’s been so long I decided to start with the “extravagant.” I took time out of my work day (one of the two days per week that Young Master Gray is cared for elsewhere) and had a massage this morning. And, oh, was it glorious! Apparently, it was much more necessary than I had imagined as this was the first time I’d ever had a massage therapist tell me that I should come back twice a month for regular massages. Clearly, she hasn’t heard about how long it’s been since I had a haircut! I am feeling pretty relaxed, albeit a little sore (if you want a true deep tissue massage, see Carole at Aleiptes Massage in Rogers). A nap just may be in the cards for this afternoon!

What do you do to fill your cup? How do you make sure that you take the time to do those things?

{Friday Refresh} A new beginning

I posted the first Friday ReFresh post almost one year ago with the intention of showing updates of our home remodel. Then our remodel kind of stalled, or at least it is going much slower than I had anticipated or hoped. It turns out that having a toddler in the house is not very conducive to things like redoing floors, painting, or completely gutting the only bathroom with a bathtub. Luckily we were able to get quite a bit of the work done before we moved, including replacing the ductwork, repairing the drywall, painting, etc. However, we still have so much more to do. My hope of a series dedicated to home reno projects seemed to have floated away like a kite without a string. Then I began thinking about all of the different ways to refresh. You can refresh yourself, your wardrobe, a piece of furniture, a routine, a perspective…the list goes on.

So the Friday ReFresh is officially reinstated, just no longer limited to home remodel projects. I love a good before and after and I look forward to coming up with weekly ways to refresh my mind, home, wardrobe, decor, and even my blog. I hope you will come back next week for a post that will be about refreshing my workspace.

What would you like to refresh? Is there anything in particular you would like me to address in this series? I really would appreciate your input on this endeavor. It can be anything! I will try my best to use your replies in a Friday ReFresh post.

(Sharing at Idea Box Thursday)

{Friday ReFresh} Our home remodel

Looking back at the before photos of our home, I was so shocked at how much of a
turnaround we have made to this place in just 6 months. I couldn’t help but want to
share. This will be the first in a series of posts chronicling our home remodel. Today I’m starting with a doozy–the living room.

The living room was a dark, wallpapered mess from the peeling wood laminate floors to the smoke-stained ceiling. After painting the ceiling, the first thing that had to be done in this room was to remove the wallpaper. Under the wallpaper was paneling that had been given a skim coat of drywall mud for a smoother texture. Once the wallpaper was removed, the skim coat had to be repaired in many areas of the wall before we could even think about painting. Once that dried, the walls were painted and primed in a medium gray. The trim, including a new windowsill, was refreshed with Clark & Kensington’s Silent White.

Instead of repairing the wall behind the bookcases that flank the fireplace, Jeremy replaced the drywall completely and it was painted to match the gray walls. The bookcases were then painted in the same white as the trim. The fireplace itself received a fresh coat of paint as well. Also, isn’t it amazing how just removing a dated piece of trim across the top of the fireplace made it look 10 times more modern!

Finally, the flooring was replaced with a light blond wood laminate to tie in with the modern feel of the room. With an exploring toddler in the house, we also added some safety features like tamper-resistant outlets and a new fire-safe door going into the garage.

Of course, this room is still not complete, but the transformation is incredible already! I hope you’ll check back next week for more renovation reveals!