Palm Desert Vacation

If you’re looking to get away on a relaxing vacation, lounge by the pool, maybe do a little shopping and be in the hot sun, I know just the place….Palm Desert, CA! (Or Palm Springs). My husband and I traveled to Palm Desert in the middle of May with four of our close friends. This was our first trip flying somewhere new since our honeymoon to Thailand back in January 2020, 16 months ago. (Wow that is wild to think about!)

Palm Desert is full of restaurants, colorful shops, swimming pools and many luxury cars! Oh and golf, lots and lots of golf. My husband said the courses here were some of the nicest golf courses he has ever played on.

The six of us stayed at Embarc Palm Desert which was right in the center of everything and close to the main strip, El Paseo Shopping District. The community was right next to a couple of golf courses and had multiple pools to lounge by. This was great for the guys to head to golf in the morning and the girls to go for a swim.

We went out to eat almost every night which was new for us since we hadn’t dined at a restaurant in so long with covid restrictions. My three favorite restaurants from the trip were:

  • Guillermo’s Restaurante – Delicious Mexican food! The chips, salsa, guac, margs…all amazing. I had the chicken fajitas and would recommend.
  • Ristorante Mamma Gina – Incredible homemade pasta and Italian food. They even gave us a complimentary slice of cheesecake for desert!
  • Wilma & Frieda’s Cafe – Everything you can imagine for amazing brunch food and drinks. Short rib eggs benny, churro waffles, home-made buttery flakey giant biscuits with raspberry jam. Yum!

One memorable night was when we out to eat at the The Nest in Palm Springs. We sat out on the patio in 70 degree weather (my favorite temperature) and watched live music while eating dinner. As we were getting ready to leave, one of our friends recognized a woman at the bar from the show: The Real Housewife of Orange Country, Elizabeth Lyn Vargas. My sister-in-law and I went up to her and got a photo. Even though neither of us watch the show, we pretended like we did and pretended like we knew who she was 😀 (She was very friendly and we can now say we had a celebrity spotting).

On our second to last day my husband and I took an early morning drive to Joshua Tree National Park which is about an hour away from Palm Springs. The park is full of beautiful scenery, places to camp, rock climbing and lots of trails to explore. In mid May it was 100+ degrees outside so we didn’t do much hiking but enjoyed driving through the park and taking in all the sites.

About a 20 minute drive from Joshua Tree is a place called Pioneertown which was such a unique town to visit. This historic landmark is an Old Western Town built as a 1940s movie set that has all the Westworld feels. Surround by frontier stables, saloons, a jail, and a church along a dirt road; it truly felt like a step back in time into the wild wild west.  

We were there for 6 nights and like any vacation the time always flies by! Most of our days were spent relaxing in the sunshine, eating out at a bunch of different restaurants and spending time with each other at the resort.

The best part about any vacation is who you spent it with and I had a great time vacationing with my favorite people!

Bachelorette Weekend in Poulsbo, WA

Have you ever heard of the place called Poulsbo in Washington State? Poulsbo is a charming little town in the northern part of Kitsap County. A beautiful ferry ride from Seattle and then a quick drive to town makes this spot a great place for a weekend trip. And what better time to take a weekend trip than to celebrate one of your friends getting married?! (because we all know girls weekends are the best weekends)

The four of us stayed at the most beautiful modern farm house that was close to town to celebrate our bride. We decorated the house with all the classic bachelorette things, ate a ton of bomb food, played some games and danced and talked all day and night.

The weather was incredible! It was our first taste of Seattle summer and we couldn’t get enough of the sun. We started the morning by meditating together in the grass to get us awake and energized for the day. Blankets, pillows, sunshine, your girlfriends…what else do you need.

Later we surprised the bride with a virtual tarot card reading over Zoom. This was a first experience for me and I loved it! Each of us had very different readings with one main connection, that we are all on a journey to find joy and happiness in life. The woman told me my mantra is to Following the Callings, so this is something I will take away from the weekend. If you have never done a tarot card reading before, I highly recommend! It’s all about perception and reflection. To me, it’s where you think about what each card could mean or represent for your life in this moment and then determine how you want to move forward with those ideas. Check out RaDonna Reed if you are interested in using the same Tarot Reader.

After our tarot card reading we packed up a picnic and headed to the beach called Point No Point. I highly recommend checking out this beach if you are in the area. It’s HUGE with plenty of space to spread out away from others and so very beautiful.

Later in the evening we played some of the classic inappropriate bachelorette games, (won’t be sharing those photos here 😉) put on our cozy matching outfits, drank lots of wine and had a dance party. It was a perfect bachelorette weekend celebrating the bride-to-be with some of my favorite girlfriends!

Galentine’s Day

When I told my husband I wanted to have a little Galentine’s Day celebration, he had no idea what this was. “What is Galentine’s Day? You get together with your girlfriends, dress in black and vent about men?” I couldn’t help but laugh. I think he was thinking more of an Anti-Valentine’s Day celebration which isn’t what Galentine’s Day is at all. It’s about celebrating the girlfriends in your life, getting together and showing your love for each other.

Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec explains it best, “What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my ladyfriends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas!”

And the best part about Galentine’s Day is you can make it whatever you want. Brunch + Mimosas, Wine Tasting, Movie Slumber Party, Pot Luck, Game Night. It’s a chance to recognize the impact that our friends have on our lives and celebrate!

We wore our PJ’s, drank some bubbly and wine, ate charcuterie and sweets, gave some toasts, played some games and just talked and hung out with each other. I also made pasta from a recipe I saw on TikTok (yes I caved and downloaded TikTok) and it was pretty tasty! You can find the Baked Feta Tomato Pasta recipe here.

Of course we can and should celebrate our gals anytime throughout the year. It’s just something about wearing your PJ’s while sipping on pink champagne with your besties that makes this holiday feel extra special. ❤️

Townhouse Makeover

And just like that..it’s 2021! Wow, what a year 2020 was. To me, this past year flew by because many of my memories blend together (staying home each day, teaching online, Zoom meetings, lots of Netflix shows, more Zoom meetings, walks with my pup, mixed in with a couple of weekend trips with my close friends). And although it was definitely challenging, I still have many positive moments and experiences from 2020 to reflect back on. One significant event that stands out is we bought a house in November!

My husband Tommy and I have lived in our current neighborhood the past 5 years. We have loved the location so much that we decided to buy a little fixer upper right down the street (I literally walked to the open house). Throughout those 5 years, we made small changes to our townhouse to make it feel more like us. We began to realize just how much we love DIY projects and decided we wanted to take on more! But before we could begin any new project in our new home, we had to get our townhouse ready to be rented out. This made for a couple of insane weeks. Packing, moving, painting, cleaning, townhouse tours, tenant screening…all while having just one week to get our new home painted and livable. I blinked and somehow we did it.

But anyway, with this blog post I wanted to put together a list of everything we did in our townhouse to look back and reflect on. Many of the DIY projects were very simple but I think made a big difference. A little paint goes a long way! If you are thinking about tackling your first DIY home project, maybe this list will give you some inspiration.

  • Painted kitchen cabinets, extended to ceiling with crown molding and added hardware
  • Installed Faux Shiplap Wall
  • Painted all the orange trim white
  • Changed wall color (and added an accent wall)
  • Took out carpet and installed Luxury Vinyl Plank
  • Updated Fireplace with tile and new hearth
  • Remodeled Powder Room with tile and new vanity
  • Replaced interior builder grade doors with shaker style doors
  • Painted front door and railing
  • Replaced light fixtures in dining and living room
  • Installed dimmer switches on all outlets
  • Added weather tech floor to garage stairs

Here are some before photos from when we first bought our townhouse in 2015 (I only have a couple from the listing) and some after photos from when we rented it out in December 2020.

We had many amazing years in our townhouse but we are so excited to take on more advanced DIY projects in our new home this upcoming year! Stay tuned. 😀

DIY Fireplace Makeover

My husband and I decided to redo the fireplace when we were putting in our new floors. This was our first tile project and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!

Tile: The first step was to remove the hearth and surrounding beige tile. My husband used a sawzall to do this and was pretty proud of himself when the hearth came out in one piece. (Don’t mind the huge red wine stain on the carpet – I knocked over a full glass a couple of days before this photo was taken and decided to just leave it there since we were tearing out the carpet anyway)

One easy thing we did once Tommy took off the old tile was clean the fireplace glass! I just used windex. It’s crazy how much better this alone makes it look.

Next it was time to cut, measure and nail on the cement board. Tommy found the best way to cut cement board is to score it, then snap it. He used a diamond bit to drill through and then installed with flat head nails so the tile could go over smoothly. After the cement board was up, we measured and created a template of the fireplace using tape on the floor so we would know exactly where to cut each piece.

Then it was time to cut the tile! We used a large wet saw rented from a nearby rental equipment store (also took a break for a bomb lunch).

I used a lot of adhesive to put the tile on (probably too much but again, first time doing this). The tape around the fireplace helped ensure no glue got on and made for an easy clean up.

After a couple days, we applied a grout sealer/cleaner, let it dry then started grouting (applying the sealer before helped ensure the grout didn’t stick to the tile and makes it easier to clean off after). We made sure to use unsanded grout, since the lines are narrow and we didn’t want to scratch the tile.

Then after it dried for about 20 minutes, we cleaned it off and used the same sealer from before to seal the grout lines. Next it was time to tackle the hearth and fireplace surroundings.

Materials Used to Tile:

Hearth: We decided to do a large marble slab to match the herringbone tile for the fireplace hearth. We designed and cut the template ourselves to save money and had this custom piece made for our fireplace. We splurged on real marble but we love how it came out! Hearth Cost: $250

Materials: My husband built and painted the mantel surroundings using scrap trim pieces + paint we had on hand. We removed our top corner insert, gave it a fresh coat of paint and secured it back on.

Total cost for DIY Fireplace Makeover: $481

Weekend Road Trip to…Montana!

A 10+ hour road trip from Washington to Montana and back in 3 1/2 days? That’s over 20 hours of driving. Normally I would try to extend a trip like this but since my husband and I only had a couple of days and had the urge to travel, we decided to go for it! Oh, and there was a special reason why we chose to road trip to Montana…our friends who live there were getting engaged!

We left Thursday and started the 10+ hour journey. Tommy made a little bed in the back of the car with an air mattress, pillow and blankets to trade off napping. Our first stop was Ellensburg for some lunch. We discover THE BEST little sandwich place. If you ever find yourself passing through Ellensburg, definitely stop at Daily Bread and Mercantile. We had the Very Veggie and the Mean Green Panini. So, so good.

We continued to drive until we reached St. Regis Travel Center where apparently they have the best huckleberry milkshakes. **One thing to note, Tommy started filling up the gas tank and then we went inside to grab a bite to eat. We were so excited to get back to the car and eat our tater tots that we forgot to put the gas nozzle back. So Tommy drove off and the entire gas thing flew off dangling from the car!! 😂 Luckily it was able to go back on and reattach but this was definitely a first for us.

The next day, we explored Helena where our friends Kevin and Mary live before setting off to Livingston, Montana where Kevin was going to propose! (Livingston is a former railroad town in southwestern Montana along the banks of the Yellowstone River. It has this old western charm and a small town vibe. They stayed at Livingston’s famous historical hotel called The Murry, which is the place to stay if you are visiting the area).

The day of the proposal we went to this little restaurant called Faye’s Cafe in an old school building called The Shane Center. I cannot recommend this gem of a place enough! Customers pick out 2-3 words from the menu to describe the meal you would like. Then the waitress takes the words back to Faye (the cook) and she will whip something up just for you! The words I chose were potato, veggie and cheesy and this is what I had. Poached eggs, cheesy hash browns, green beans with balsamic, pesto and hummus on naan bread and citrus orange corn bread. Incredible. So rich and so flavorful. I’m still dreaming of this breakfast.

Next we set off for our hike to Pine Creek Falls where our friend Kevin was planning on proposing! Around 2.5 miles, this hike was short and sweet with beautiful views all around us. (But be careful if you go in late October. We were slipping all over the place since it was very icy. A couple of close calls on my end but no major falls).

We got to the falls and it couldn’t have been more perfect. There was this little bridge where Tommy and I stood to take photos. Kevin proposed and Mary said YES (She also had no idea and was so surprised)! Then we popped some champagne and enjoyed the moment before making our way back. The most special and memorable hike with great friends.

Next was the second part of Kevin’s proposal plan, to go to Chico Hot Springs! This resort was established over 120 years ago in 1900 and is located in the heart of Paradise Valley. It definitely didn’t feel like our typical cold Halloween day in Seattle. We felt like we were on a mini tropical vacation with the warm hot spring water and pool side drinks. So much fun!

We ended the day by going out to dinner in Livingston to celebrate the newly engaged couple! (I really enjoyed taking photos of all the neon signs that lit up the streets).

Then on Sunday Tommy and I started our long journey home back to Washington. I was so grateful for that extra hour we got with daylight savings. And the bed in the back of our car really came in handy for naps. Not to mention the scenic drive was absolutely beautiful.

This was one epic Halloween weekend to celebrate our friends’ engagement and an amazing quick little road trip to Montana!

DIY Living Room Makeover

Over the summer something very exciting happened, my mom became a homeowner! She has been living in her townhouse the past 6 years and decided she was ready to invest in some property and have a place for herself that she can truly call home. In June she asked her landlord if he would be willing to sell her the property and the next thing she knows it’s officially hers!

Since the transition happened over the summer during quarantine, it was the perfect time to take on a new DIY project and upgrade my moms space. We didn’t do too much. In fact, the only things we did were:

  • New floors and baseboard
  • Painted all walls and ceiling
  • New light fixtures
  • Upgraded and rearranged furniture

It’s incredible what new floors and a little paint can do. My mom gave me free rein and told me she trusted me to pick out everything so this made the project even more fun!

There was this awkward trim that ran all along the downstairs walls and this was the first thing to go (it was nailed in the middle and basically cut the walls in half). The walls were covered in a shiny bright white paint so we went with all new paint throughout. We used Sherwin Williams Eider White in flat for the all over color and Sherwin Williams Slate Tile in flat for the accent wall.

Side note: Make sure you double check your paint and get the correct finish! We order another gallon of the Eider White, used it for touch ups and then I noticed something just didn’t look right. Well the galloon was in a satin finish instead of a flat! So there were these random shiny patches throughout. 😂 We ended up having to repaint over the shiny areas. Again, always double check so you don’t make the same mistake.

For the floors we decided on Lifeproof Luxury Vinyl Plank in Fresh Oak. I used this same product in our home (just in a darker color) so it was easy for my husband and my dad to install them at my moms place.

Then it was time for the most fun part, decorating! My mom and I mostly used Wayfair for larger pieces and then got a lot of the little things from places like Target, Ikea, Home Goods, etc. We are both extremely indecisive (I can’t even tell you how long it took us to pick out that credenza lol) but this just meant spending more time together until my mom found everything she loved. We had so much fun shopping and working on this project together.

I am so incredibly proud of my mom and proud of how hard she worked to get to this place of owning and remodeling her home! (Also real estate in and around the Seattle, WA area is no joke). She is absolutely amazing and proves it’s never too late to accomplish your goals and dreams.

DIY Faux Shiplap Wall

Like many, I have always loved the show Fixer Upper. Basically anything Joanna Gains does I love, and when I discovered what a shiplap wall was I knew I wanted this in my home.

Luckily my husband is up for any home improvement project idea I throw at him and was ready to tackle this one. It was pretty easy and straight forward and we were finished within a day. Below are photos of the the walls before; plain, boring, ready for some shiplap! (Also, see if you can spot my dog Edgar in the photo above. I caught him sitting in his favorite spot behind the couch next to the window ☺️)

We went to Home Depot looking for the cheapest wood option, found some thin underlayment ($12 a sheet) and asked the employee to rip each sheet into 6 in wide planks. My husband used his nail gun to attach each board to the wall. We started with the longest board on top and then cut the lengths to fill in and create a staggered looking pattern. We taped two pennies together and used these as spacers between each board as they were nailed to the wall.

**One thing to note, the employee at Home Depot did not rip each sheet exactly 6 in. wide, so half way through our project we nailed on a board that was 6.5 in., causing the corner where the two boards meet to be misaligned. I recommend double checking that each sheet is ripped the correct length or ripping the boards yourself so it is exact. (My husband wanted to redo this whole project because of the misalignment but I talked him into leaving it – I still love it!)

After the boards were nailed to the wall, we added trim, used putty to spackle the nail holes and then used a sprayer to paint the boards white. This tied everything together (we also replaced our floors, trim and bathroom door which are shown in the after photos). Below you can see the corner where the boards don’t align – maybe one day we will fix it!

Total Cost for Faux Shiplap Wall: $70!

Wedding Day Dreams

I didn’t shared many detail photos of our wedding last year and since my husband and I recently celebrated our 1 year anniversary I thought I would now. Plus, I created this blog as a way to look back and remember my adventures and this is definitely a day that I want to remember every detail from 🙂 (FYI long post ahead).

Details

Venue: Trinity Tree Farm We got married at The Lodge at Trinity Tree Farm in Issaquah, WA and felt this was a perfect venue for us. An outdoor ceremony with Christmas trees as the backdrop and an indoor reception with classic white lights and plenty of space for our guests. We loved the PNW vibe mixed with a romantic and elegant feel.

Catering: The Tall Chef Tommy and I love to cook together. One of our favorite things to make is tacos because they are so delicious and also so easy to make. This led to an easy decision to have a taco bar at our wedding and it did not disappoint. (Jack from The Tall Chef is very talented – we have already used his catering services again for special occasions and a few of our friends are using him for their upcoming 2021 weddings).

Dessert: My husband had two best men at our wedding. He has known them and their families since elementary school. One of their moms is an amazing baker and created our wedding cake. She also made cupcakes for dessert. It was so much fun going to ‘tastings’ at her home. It felt so special to us that she was part of our day, since she is like Tommy’s second mom. And the cake was absolutely DELICIOUS!

Florals: BloomTara our florist was amazing! She sent us a mood board and completely nailed our my (lol) vision with blush and green tones. Fun fact, we met her about 4 years who when we first got our dog Edgar. She owns an indoor/outdoor Dog Park + Bar (check out my post Dogwood Play Park to learn more about her space). She created the bridal bouquets and gorgeous arbor. For our centerpieces, boutonnieres and sweetheart table, one of my bridesmaid’s mom was kind enough to make these. She is a master gardener and is incredible at what she does. The garden at her home looks like it could be out of a magazine. We felt so grateful she did this for us.

My grandma passed away in 2015 and left me her wedding ring which I tied to my bouquet.

Dress + Shoes: My wedding dress was from Dolce Bleu and I am so grateful for their help. Long story short, I found a dress at their store that fit me perfectly that they no longer carried. They offered to have the dress dry-cleaned since it was the store sample. When I picked up my dress it had a yellowish tint to it. They called around other boutiques, found the same dress/designer (Martina Liana) and ordered me a brand new one. It was definitely an ordeal but it all worked out in the end. My reception dress was from BHLDN and shoes were Jeffery Campbell.

Hair + Makeup: Since I had 7 bridesmaids + my mom and mother-in-law, we needed a couple of people to help us with our hair and makeup. Joey Van Pelt and my friend Alana did makeup and helped with hair. I met Joey about 8 years ago through a friend of a friend. Random fact, she was on Big Brother Season 16. She and Alana were great (love you Alana!). Leah from Zo and Co Styling did my hair. A couple of weeks before our wedding date, I got a ‘trim’ at a new salon nearby. The lady took off way more than a trim so I used Luxy Hair extensions and Leah ensured everything was blended and looked natural. We started hair and makeup early…I can’t remember the exact time but I want to say like 6am early. All worth it though especially since I got to spend even more time with my besties the morning of my wedding day!

Wanted to add some portraits of my hubby because he looks so good! He def did not wake up at 6am to get ready. Probably woke up around 10 or so, showered, got dressed and was ready to go.

DJ + Photo booth: DJ Daron I think a great DJ or Band is important for a wedding because they help keep things moving and keep the party going. Our DJ also offered photo booth services and this was such a blast. I have always loved photo booths at weddings, plus the photostrips make a great keepsake for guests.

Stationary: I used a template off Etsy to design our invitations and then printed them on CatPrint (much cheaper than Minted and great quality). I made the menus, fans and signs using the same template and just printed on my home printer with card stock. My favorite sign I made was our signature drink The Edgar because I wanted to somehow include our pup on our special day. Dogs were allowed at our venue but if you know Edgar you know that would have been a disaster waiting to happen.

Wedding Party Attire: Bridesmaid dresses were Show Me Your Mumu in blush. Groomsmen rentals were The Black Tux.

Gifts: The girls were given Bridesmaid Robes and Jean Jackets (check out my blog post Hand Painted Denim Jackets to read about how I made them). The boys were given Duke Cufflinks to honor one of Tommy’s best friend who passed away in 2015. My mom and dad were given Mother + Father Handkerchiefs. I gave my mom, step-mom and mother-in-law necklaces from one of my favorite jewelry shops, GLDN. We gave our officiant (Tommy’s friend growing up) this Custom Officiant Flask with his face on it.

Little Details: I think all the little details in a wedding make it that much more special. Some of my favorite from ours are: Advice for Marriage Book – My 2nd grade students wrote us marriage advice. I turned their advice into a book and absolutely cherish this. Corn Hole – My father-in-law designed and built this for us. Edgar’s Cantina Bar Sign – Because we love going to Mariner’s Games and we love our dog Edgar (I used my Cricut to make this). Kappa 2 Kanuch Sign – The first picture of Tommy and I taken together when we were 19 at a college house party. A gift from one of my best friends that now hangs in our home (didn’t get a pic of this). T+N Wine Glasses – A gift from my maid of honor which we now use for special occasions.

Lodging + Transportation: We stayed at The Marriot hotel in Bellevue because it was close to our venue. The night before our wedding, we got drinks in the lobby and went out to a restaurant close by with our bridal party and family. On our actual wedding day after we left the reception, a bunch of us went out to a bar close to the hotel to keep the party going. This made for a fun little wedding weekend. We used BMC Limos for transportation to and from The Tree Farm.

Photographer + Videographer: All the pictures I’m sharing on this post are from Luke and Mallory. Our friend Jens Bracht was our videographer. We are so happy with how our photos and video turned out! Below is our wedding video.

If you made it to the end of this blog post…wow, congrats because it was a long one! Hopefully if you are a bride in WA reading this, you found it helpful in planning your special day (I tried to link everything). I especially enjoyed writing this post because it brought me right back to our wedding day and gave me all the feels. Cheers to marriage. Cheers to planning weddings. And cheers to all the future brides. 🙂

Hot Tub Boat Adventure – Seattle, WA

My husband Tommy and I celebrated 1 year of marriage last weekend! It’s so crazy to think a year has already passed by. I feel like we got married just yesterday and can’t believe how quickly time is going. I wanted to surprise Tommy with something fun and unique for our anniversary and stumbled upon Hot Tub Boats which is exactly as it sounds, a hot tub in a boat!

We rented our private Hot Tub Boat and cruised around Lake Union. It was SO MUCH FUN! Also so very easy to drive. There is a small joystick which you maneuver around to determine where you want to go. It felt like a video game. The boat goes about as fast as kayakers and felt very safe. It’s large enough to hold 6 people. There was also plenty of room around if we got too hot and wanted to sit outside the tub (I jumped into the lake to cool off).

We brought some boxed wine (super classy but ya know it’s a hot tub), put some music on the speaker and soaked in the views. Our rental was for 2 hours and this allowed us to make a loop by Gas Works Park and back.

We had an absolute blast! This was such a unique experience and definitely an adventure I won’t forget, especially to celebrate our 1 year of marriage. If you are in the Seattle area, I highly recommend renting a Hot Tub Boat, no matter what month it is. We are already looking forward to doing this again with a group of friends!