Sneak peek at the new house {+ ideas for a closet reading nook!}

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Eek! How is it that I'm moving in less than a week now, and I hardly have anything packed yet? This move has kind of snuck up on me, even though we've been planning it for a couple of weeks now. I shared a few pictures in my recent blog post, but if you're too lazy to go read about it, here's a few pictures from the online ad we saw. It's only four blocks from where we live right now!

It's a really cute, older house that's been completely gutted and renovated. We're not buying it- just renting, but hope to make it our home for a while. It's only a block and a half away from the kids' school, so it almost couldn't be more perfect for our little family. The house has new electrical and plumbing, as well as nice cosmetic updates (and beautiful appliances- I haven't had a dishwasher in years). It's got all of the quirky, old home charm, like arched doorways, old school window panes, and beautiful dark wood floors. Isn't it cute? I'm so beyond excited to move in!

The kids and I walked down to the house the other day to do the walk through and go over some of the boring move-in stuff. While we looked around I took a few pictures so I could start brainstorming decorating and furniture arrangements. My pictures aren't the best, unfortunately, because I was trying to wrangle Harper at the same time, and she was having a blast beating me in the chest and screeching in my ear while I hurriedly snapped some shaky pictures. Trying to stand completely still while holding a squirming 13 month old is no easy task, so here's what I was lucky enough to get:

The living room is going to be a challenge to set up, but I think it has a lot of potential. I love the little built in shelves, arched ceiling, the little windows, and the fireplace. However, the fireplace is going to be a hazard for my little exploring toddler and will have to be blocked off somehow, at least for now while she's still really little. See the little thing Lily is standing on off to the left? Yeah, I'm not really sure what that thing is. It's open on each side, so the kids can walk completely through it. The owner said she used to put a plant right there, and I think I may do something similar. I was thinking maybe once upon a time it was used for stacking firewood or something, but who knows. Also, I have so many cute ideas for that fireplace mantle! We may opt to put the TV up there instead though, so I can get rid of my poor, old TV stand/entertainment center (it's seen better days). We shall see!

The kitchen is beautiful, and much bigger than what I have now. Plus, as I excitedly mentioned before, it has a dishwasher! Hallelujah, it's a miracle. I really could cry. The last three houses I lived in didn't have one, and I've had about enough of hand-washing dishes three times per day. Do you have any idea how many dishes a family of 5 makes? Especially now that we've entered the sippy cup stage with Harper. I hate washing crusty sippy cups! No more- my children have already been warned that there will not be a single dish placed in the sink any longer. They will be rinsed and put directly in the shiny new, stainless steel dishwasher. Seriously, if my family doesn't follow my crazy take-care-of-your-own-dirty-dishes rule, there will be hell to pay. I'm done! Done, I tell ya.

This cozy little area is upstairs, tucked away in between the big kids' rooms and the 2nd bathroom, and is going to be my crafty room! I'll set up my sewing machine, Silhouette stuff, and my fabric stash in this bright and cheery spot and finally move it all out of the dark basement, where it currently lives. I am thankful I have a crafty space as it is right now, but I'm looking forward to actually making this space my own creatively-cute work space. Plus, it'll be pretty. 

The upstairs bathroom is probably my favorite room in the house. Seriously, it's huge, and it's right next to my craft room. It's the biggest bathroom of any house I've ever lived in, and I'm obsessed with the massive jacuzzi tub. Like I said in the previous post, I hate our current bathroom It's tiny, it's old, and the tub only gets about 4 inches of warm water before it starts turning cold, so I cannot wait for the long, relaxing, soaks I'm going to have here. I also love that the shower is separate from the tub! I'll have to get some yummy scented candles and make some pretty crafty decorations to create some ambiance in this bathroom and make it my own little relaxing, bubbly, sanctuary every night. Now, if only I liked wine.

Harper approves of mommy's new bathtub. 

Now, here's a really fun idea I have for Lily's room. Forgive me, because the pictures are absolute crap, but I couldn't put Harper down due to the stairs nearby, and she was getting really impatient and squirmy. Upstairs, in Lily's room, there's a funky little walk-in closet that doesn't have any shelves or hanging bars or anything. It's just a cute little area that we want to turn into something really cool, like a fun reading nook! 

Check it out:

Again, crappy pictures, ugh. It's hard to tell, but there are actually 2 areas within the closet. There's a little door you open for the closet and you can walk into it, then there is another doorway you go through (without a door though) and it opens up into a bigger area. It's going to take some creative configuring, but I think we can use part of the closet for clothes and shoes, and use the rest as a fun reading area, with some curtains and fluffy floor cushions or bean bag chairs. I hopped on Pinterest with Lily by my side and we got some great ideas. We'll probably incorporate a lot of these somehow, some way. Check out my Pinterest board with all of the cute reading nook ideas we found:

There's a lot more to see of the house, but those are the only pictures I was able to snap one-handed. There's plenty of time for me to show you more later on though, since we are getting the keys on Friday! We have a ton of non-house related stuff to do on Saturday and Sunday, but in between the gazillion thing that are going on this weekend we are also going to try to start moving some of the small stuff over to the new house. Then on Monday the kids start school, and we will move the big furniture over to the new house. That means by Monday night we should be sleeping in our new rooms! 

Well, I guess I should get back to packing. Next up: the kids' closets. Oh joy!

Don't you love the idea of a reading nook? Leave me your best packing or moving tip, please :)

on being a good friend (or person)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hey's blog post might get long and/or rambly, and I apologize in advance. I have so much on my mind right now and I'm afraid the words aren't going to come out right, so bear with me. 

We just recently found out we are moving into a new house here in town- it's actually just four blocks away from where we are now, and will be even closer to the kids' school (as in, a block and a half away). I'm so anxious to move into the new house because it's a huge upgrade from what we are in now. Our current house was a "let's take whatever we can get" type of situation, and we didn't have time to look around and find the perfect house. Basically, I've been living without a dishwasher for far too long, and I'm so over it. The new house is an old, fixer-upper that's been completely gutted and updated, and I'm especially looking forward to soaking in my new jetted bath tub! Do you know how long it's been since I've been able to actually soak in a tub? Way too long. Right now, I'm lucky if I can get 4 inches of  warmish water in the tub before the puny water heater decides that I've had enough. To say that I'm counting down the days until we move is a huge understatement. I want to get out of here so bad!

These pics are just from the online ad- it'll look different with our furniture in it ;) 

Along with the upcoming move, my mind has also be preoccupied with thoughts of my sweet and beautiful friend, Stephanie. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you may have seen some of my posts this week explaining my absence on the blog. Stephanie is our priest's daughter, a close family friend, and is also the Godmother of my two girls, Lily and Harper. After experiencing some very odd symptoms over the last few weeks, she ended up in the hospital and had an MRI done, and she was just diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma. When my husband told me to sit down and broke the news to me, I crumpled on the floor in a pile of tears. Why? Why would this happen to her, and why now? It just isn't fair. You know how when you meet someone and you just instantly click with them? That's how it is with Stephanie. Part of it may have been that she wanted to steal my baby (I don't blame her- Harper is really cute), but all joking aside, she and I made fast friends. She's been amazing with helping me with my own faith and has been a great at answering my questions and helping me to seek out God. I truly feel that if I would not have meant Stephanie when I did, I would be in a completely different place (spiritually) than I am now. 

My focus right now is on trying to serve others. Stephanie, her family, her close friends, our church, etc. What can I do to help? After sitting here thinking about it for a while I realized that I need to not just ask- I need to just do. I found this great article on why we should stop saying "how can I help?" and how we should just jump in and actually help. People don't like asking for help, but that doesn't mean they don't need it. Most people are too afraid, or shy, or maybe even proud to ask for help. For some, it's a sign of weakness, and maybe they don't want to seem vulnerable. No one is going to say "You know what, Melissa? I'd love it if you'd make my family dinner because I don't have time. And also, can you wash this load of laundry and unload the dishwasher? Or run these errands? Or pick up the kids from school?" Etc, etc, etc. Maybe it seems like it's too much work, and people don't like to burden others. Even in situations like this, where a family member is hospitalized and fighting for their life, no one wants to ask for help. I get that. It's hard. It's something I struggle with too. So instead of saying "how can I help," I'm going to make it my mission to just jump in and do whatever it is that needs to be done when I see that it needs to be done. Really, that's what I'd want people to do for me if I needed it. Why do we need to be asked?

Part of the reason I'm on such a mission to serve others is because I feel like there have been so many times in my life where I've needed help and never received it. Sure, I have a handful of great friends who mean well, and who, like myself, say things like "let me know if you need anything" or "I'm here to help," but really, how often do people actually follow through on it? I can think of a dozen times just off the top of my head where I've been in a bind or really needed to lean on someone, and there wasn't anyone there. Like when I had surgery 5 years ago for my back- I had a 2 year old and a 5 year old, yet no one offered me any help. My husband had to sit in the waiting room with our kids while I was having surgery because there was no one to watch them. And then later, when I went home and recovered- Shayne was only able to take 2 days off of work to help me, and then I was on my own. Home alone with 2 small children, completely crippled and doped up on pain meds, unable to pick up my 2 year old, and where was the help? I'm not sure. Even more recently, when I had trouble with some kidney stones just a few months back and had to have a surgical poor husband had to do it all with the 3 kids (Harper was only a few months old), and not one single person offered to pick up the kids from school, or stay with Harper so that Shayne could be at the hospital with me. It was a crazy, hectic day of running all over town, dropping the kids off at school, checking me in, running back to the house so Harper could nap, going all the way back up town to be with me when I came out of anesthesia, then picking up my prescription, plus swinging by the school yet again to pick up the kids, and then back home to try to get me settled in bed and figure out what to feed the kids for dinner. Sure, we didn't ask for help, but it also wasn't offered, and that really, really hurt. Or even how about when I've had a baby? I hear all the time about how much help people have those first few weeks after they've had a baby- I've never had that kind of help, ever. No one brought my family frozen meals, or offered to take the big kids for a few hours so I could rest with the baby or offered to wash some dishes when they came over to visit us. Seriously, I'm convinced that that type of help after a baby is born is just a myth, because I've seriously never had anyone help make the transition from 1 child to 2, or 2 to 3 any easier for me. It especially hurts when the friends around you have that kind of support system and you start to realize you don't- at all. 

I'm not trying to turn this into a big rant, but that's kind of how it's coming off. Do I sound bitter? Maybe I am. Maybe I'm jealous too. It really does hurt though when you feel like people don't think about you and your needs. Maybe it's my fault for not asking, but sometimes I feel like when you're really struggling or going through something- big or small- that people should just be there for you. Whether it's helping with food or the kids, or menial, stupid tasks that need to be done around the house, or even just simply being there for someone else- just do it. Be there. Lend an ear, or a hand, or a shoulder to cry on. Let the person know you are thinking about them. Think about them- what do they need right now? Can you do something to help? How can you make their life easier? Can you peel yourself away from your own trivial, selfish needs and put someone else above your own needs, even just temporarily? Can you be inconvenienced? You probably can, but maybe you just don't want to be.

I am far from perfect. I'm not a saint. I'm not the best friend in the entire world, but I do care, and I try to be there when other people need me. If my friend is struggling or needs me, I try to be there, even though I'm extremely busy with my own life and three children. I know how hard it is to do it all on your own, so I always try to step up and do what I can for the people around me. I'm trying to take the bitterness I have right now in my heart and channel it into something positive. My goal now is to be the best friend/helper I can to the people I love around me. I'm going to try my hardest to just jump in and offer up my services wherever I feel they are needed, and I'm not going to wait for someone to ask (or beg) me to do so.

Please keep Stephanie in your thoughts and prayers. Do you have any tips on helping others in their time of needs? I'd love to hear any input, suggestions, and ideas you might have!

Latest e.l.f. Cosmetics haul {first thoughts}

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hello, lovelies!

Today's post is all about one of my latest beauty hauls from e.l.f. Cosmetics. You know I'm obsessed with this amazingly thrifty beauty brand that you can find in Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, among other places. I've even seen some e.l.f. stuff in the checkout line at Old Navy, which was perfect because I was out of my favorite HD Powder and I was trying to refrain from going to Target again in the same week (it's a bad habit, I know). Plus, did you know e.l.f. Cosmetics is a cruelty-free company? Yep, they don't test on animals and they don't contain animal derived ingredients. 

Anyway, e.l,f, has all of my favorites, which I've mentioned, and now I think I'll be adding a few more favorites to my ever-growing list after this latest online shopping haul. Some of these items can only be found online, so if you've never shopped their website, you're missing out on some really awesome, top-secret products that you can't find in stores! Google "elf cosmetics promo code" and you can usually find a free shipping or other discount code for all of your online purchases. Plus, sometimes they have amazing 50% off sales where I love to stock up on all of my tried & true favorites. 

Here's what I got in my latest online order {}

e.l.f. Studio powder brush | $3

This is a pretty basic brush that I got to apply my HD Powder with. I normally use a big, fluffy powder brush for that, but I wanted something a little denser for under my eyes, on my forehead, and on my chin to help highlight those areas a little more. This brush works perfectly for that! It really presses the powder onto my face for a more full coverage, professional look. Awesome face brush.

e.l.f. Studio contour brush | $6

The description of this brush was a little intimidating at first: "This brush is specifically designed for advanced makeup application to help achieve professional looks." I'm definitely not advanced when it comes to contouring, but I've been playing around with contouring and highlighting (HAC) a lot lately, and I've fallen in love with some of the amazing little tricks and tweaks you can pull with the right shadow or pop of highlight. I'd been using a brush similar to this one for sculpting my cheekbones lately, but it just wasn't giving me the control I needed. This new contour brush is exactly what I was looking for, and it works perfectly for shaping and defining my cheekbones, forehead, and jawline. What a difference! I'm loving HAC, and this brush makes a huge difference in my application. I use it with the new e.l.f. contour palette (which I also love and talked about here). 

e.l.f. Studio small stipple brush | $3

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with this brush, but I knew I wanted to finally try a stipple brush. It says it can be used "to create soft layers by adding texture for a natural airbrushed result." Then I saw that it was recommended for cream blush and I knew it had to be mine. I recently tried e.l.f''s HD Blush, but I don't like applying it with my fingertips- I feel like it messes up my foundation that I just applied so carefully. This small stipple brush works great for gently buffing on the cream blush. I just dispense the tiniest dot of cream on the back of my hand, and swirl the brush around in it very lightly, picking up just a dab of the blush. Then I sweep it lightly onto the apples of my cheeks in light, circular motions, until I get the soft-focused warmth I'm trying to achieve. I love this brush!

e.l.f. Studio eyeshadow "c" brush | $3

This is a medium sized eye shadow brush that I use for blending and for creating a soft, smoky look. The soft, tapered hairs are packed together more densely than my other similarly shaped brush, and gives more control and concentrated application. Can be used wet or dry for different looks!

e.l.f. Studio brush shampoo | $3

Since I just bought all new brushes, I figured I'd better get a good brush cleaner to take care of them and keep them nice so they'd have a longer life. Normally, I just use my face wash to clean my brushes, and that will work in a pinch. But this antibacterial brush shampoo disinfects and gets rid of dirt, oil, makeup, and debris while conditioning the hairs for a flawlessly soft application. It smells good too.

e.l.f. Studio "Mad For Matte" eye shadow palette | $10

I've been looking for a nice, matte shadow palette to transition into fall, and this one fit my small budget quite nicely. It comes with 10 gorgeous, warm, earthy tones that are completely matte and super blendable. I was worried they might not be pigmented enough, and I actually went a little overboard with the first application- it's definitely pigmented! No need to aggressively pack it on for everyday wear, or you'll end up looking like a raccoon like I did the first time around. After wiping it off, priming (more on that one later) and trying again, I fell in love with these matte shadows! I think I'm going to be wearing a lot of these this fall and winter. So pretty and you can create so many different looks and color combinations. Perfect for almost any skin tone. And again, amazing price for the size of this palette.

e.l.f. Essential instant lift brow pencil | $2

I was not a fan of this brow pencil at all. It's more of a wax actually, and it gives too much of a natural look for me. I thought I'd be able to use this to groom my brows a little and then I could use my brow powder over it to fill them in, but it just clumped up and turned into a mess. I'll stick with my favorite brow product, because it's never failed me! 

e.l.f. Studio eyeshadow primer | $3

I wasn't sure how I felt about this primer at first, but at the end of the day it actually held up and my shadow didn't crease at all, so it gets a thumbs up for now. I'll keep using it and see how I feel after a few more wears. I do like how sheer and powdery it feels. Some primers get thick and cakey and this is not one of them. Nice, soft texture and made my shadow stay put all day.

Overall, I'm really quite happy with my latest haul. I think all of these, with the exception of the brow pencil, are going to get a lot of use from me. I especially can't get over what a great deal their new studio brushes are. Seriously, considering the quality of their brushes and their insanely low price, I don't think I'll be buying my brushes anywhere else. e.l.f. is the way to go for inexpensive beauty tools!

Know any amazing products that I just have to try? Let me know!

My latest obsession: the Target Cartwheel App

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Johnson & Johnson and Target. I received a gift card to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

It's no secret that I have an insane love for Target. Besides the grocery store and the school pick up line, it's probably my most frequently visited places. You can find me there about once a week, rummaging through the cute little dollar section in the front, digging through the clearance racks for my next amazing score, or perusing the health & beauty section for the latest and greatest drugstore makeup dupes. Target has everything I love and need- including coffee. Plus, my kids love coming along too, and they actually behave in the store (quite possibly because they've been bribed with popcorn and Icees- whatever will get them to let me browse in peace!) On top of that, my local Target has free wi-fi! It really is the happiest place on Earth for me, and now my love has grown thanks to my latest new obsession- the Target Cartwheel App!

Obligatory Target selfie with my mini-me.

Have you heard of the Target Cartwheel App? If not, you're so missing out! It's the first-of-its-kind mobile savings app you can download on your smart phone (or tablet), and it's been helping me save money on things I already buy at Target. Plus, it's fun! You can search, browse, or scan items in store to find offers (I usually check the app before I leave the house so I know what to put on my shopping list, and then I scan all of my other items in the store to find more savings). Then Cartwheel by Target creates my own personalized barcode that can be scanned during checkout like a coupon. You can even use the discounts over and over again as many times as you'd like before they expire, which is awesome. Sometimes I'll find a great deal and then come back a few days later and use it again.

Right now I'm loving Target's Cartwheel app for our back to school shopping. I hate clipping coupons and going from store to store to find the best deal. Now, all of the promotions and sales are right at my fingertips! From cute, fashionable clothing, to supplies and backpacks, Target has everything my family needs for back to school. Plus, you know, it's Target, so I totally don't mind the extra shopping trips.

This week I stocked up on some of my family's favorite brands, like AVEENO® Daily Moisturizing Sheer Hydration Lotion and LISTERINE® COOL MINT™ Floss. I love AVEENO because it keeps my dry skin hydrated for 24 hours, and LISTERINE floss is a brand I know and trust for my family's oral health. Both of these items have deals on the Target Cartwheel app right now!

Here's a few other health and beauty deals you can currently find on the app from 8/9 to 8/15:

Desitin, 5% off

Johnsons Baby, 5% off

Aveeno Baby, 5% off

Neutrogena Cosmetics, 10% off

Neutrogena FSC, 5% off

Listerine Floss, 10% off

Hand & Body Lotion- Neutrogena, 5% off

Hand & Body Lotion- Aveeno, 5% off

Sun- Neutrogena & Aveeno, 5% off

Here's my personalized barcode that I scanned during checkout. It's so easy to use Cartwheel by Target to save money.

Another thing I love about Cartwheel by Target? I can see how much money my Facebook friends have been saving with the app too, along with my own savings. It's kind of like a fun little game to see who can save the most. It looks like my friends really love the app, judging by how much they've used it to save, and I've got some catching up to do! I'm currently in 9th place out of about 25 friends who are already using Cartwheel by Target. I'm hoping to inch my way closer to the top!

*Giveaway now closed*

Are you ready to download Target's Cartwheel app and start saving tons of money along with me? I hope I've convinced you that you need this app! To facilitate your shopping addiction needs, I'm including a $100 Target e-gift card for one lucky Lulu & Sweet Pea reader! 
Back to School with J&J at Target

What would you buy with a $100 Target gift card?!
Good luck and happy shopping!

Quick & easy iced coffee at home {Plus a giveaway!}

Sunday, August 9, 2015

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Folgers. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.


Oh coffee, how I love thee. I can't even begin to describe my love for coffee, and I really don't think I could make it through these long, hot, summer days without my daily treat: iced coffee. Some days I really crave my favorite iced beverage, but rounding up three kids for a hot car ride to the local coffee stand doesn't always sound fun. Especially if it's 1pm, you're still in your pajamas, and the baby is napping. No matter how badly you need that fuel to power-clean and get these dishes and laundry done, you can't leave the house (you don't wake a sleeping baby, even for coffee). Oh, the joys of motherhood!

Fortunately, I found a solution for my iced coffee addiction craving: Folgers Iced Café. These adorably small little bottles of iced coffee goodness are made with 100% coffee extract and contain only 5 ingredients (and no sugar or preservatives!) You just add 2 squeezes of this stuff to 8oz of cold milk, stir, add ice, and enjoy! In just a few seconds you can have your own delicious iced coffee at home, PJs, sleeping baby, and all. I almost can't think of anything better!

These conveniently portable 1.62 oz squeeze bottles of Folgers Iced Café come in 4 yummy flavors: Original Latte, Caramel Macchiato, Vanilla Latte, and Hazelnut Latte. I love them all, but if I had to choose a favorite I'd say it's a toss up between Vanilla Latte & Caramel Macchiato. Sometimes I even mix them together. You can totally customize the flavors to create your favorite iced coffee deliciousness. I love that the bottles are small enough to fit in my purse (or diaper bag) and require no refrigeration, so I can take these babies with me wherever I go. But let's be honest- I'm usually drinking it at home, next to my computer while I try to get some blog work done. It's the perfect little afternoon pick-me-up!

Enter the #FolgersFridays promotion!

Did you know you have a chance to win Folgers prizes on Facebook and Twitter all summer long? From now until September 4, 2015, Folgers fans can enter weekly to win a prize basket of Folgers products (valued at $200) by simply answering a question in a prompted Folgers Facebook post. To enter on Facebook, answer in the comment section. On Twitter, send a public tweet of your answer to @Folgers and include the hashtags #FolgersFridays and #PromoEntry. Promotion is open to US residents and D.C, Must be 18 or older, have Internet access and a valid Facebook account (for the Facebook promotion). To enter on Twitter you must have a public Twitter account and follow the Twitter account @Folgers. Void where prohibited.

Plus, one lucky Lulu & Sweet Pea reader is going to win all four flavors of the Folgers Iced Café coffee concentrates so you can make your own delicious iced coffee at home.

Enter on the Rafflecopter widget below!

Terms & Conditions: Contest entrants are only eligible to win once per sweepstake, per household as part of a campaign sponsored by Influence Central. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Must be 18 or older to enter. Prize retail value: approximately $19.96. Giveaway is open to US residents only. All entries will be verified. The number of entries determines the odds of winning. Winner will be chosen by and will be notified via email. Winner will have 24 hours to claim their prize before a new winner is chosen. This sweepstakes is in no way associated with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. Please note that Lulu & Sweet Pea is not responsible for "lost" emails that get sent to the wrong folder, such as a spam box. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone. I do not share or sell information and will use your information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.

Good luck!
Which flavors are getting your taste buds tingling? 

Ask Me Anything {blog series}

Friday, August 7, 2015

Hey dolls!

I have a fun new blog series I'm starting called Ask Me Anything. I'm pretty excited about this little gem because I get a lot of random questions in the blog comments and in my inbox, so this will be a fun and interesting way to answer all of your burning questions. It can be from the boring & mundane to personal or serious- whatever is on your mind! Got a question for me? Ask away, no matter how random, and I'll do my best to answer it. Seriously, nothing is off the table for me.

Got a question? Shoot me an email, leave me a comment here, or comment on the next post in this series.
I'll keep it anonymous!
{don't forget the little period between the M & S} :)

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