recipes you want

Hello friends!  Seems like blogging takes the furthest backseat in my life these days, and I'm sad about it, because I miss all of you! 

I'm a working girl now, remember?  I work at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, loading and unloading bags on planes.  But I only have 10 more shifts and then I'm going to start the training classes to be a Gate Agent.  Although I can honestly say that I enjoy the hard work, I will be super happy to get out of the sun, the fumes, the dangerous equipment and the inappropriate language. :)  Did you know that they recently gave me a headset?  I was so pleased about it that I sent this picture to Andrew right away!

Copy That.

For Spring Break, we took the boys to Newport Beach for a few days and stayed at our darling friend Jennie's beach house.  She lives 50 steps off the sand in this quaint little home built in the 50's by her grandparents.  We had the most relaxing and restful time while we there. We even got to witness some dolphins playing one morning.

Jennie is a foodie (a true kindred spirit) and she made us the most delicious salad the night we got there.  It is a MUST for the spring season and will carry right on into summer beautifully.  It's a simple salad, bursting with flavor and texture.  I just know you'll enjoy it as much as I do!

Jennie's Salad

baby spinach
crisp pear, cut in bite-sized pieces and sliced very thin
crumbled goat cheese (I get mine from Trader Joe's) or gorgonzola
sugared pecans (or toasted pine nuts)


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 – 1/2  cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon extract (optional)
1/4 cup lemon curd (Trader Joe's or homemade)
2 T honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Jennie told me about a delicious new pizza she'd recently tried called the "fig and pig".  I was intrigued to say the least.  I made it for my family a few days later, along with a delicious margherita pizza, (this {recipe} from from The Pioneer Woman) and documented it with this picture on Instagram. (@jillmariemckee)

Mia and her man stopped by the next day and finished it off and loved it!  So with their seal of approval,  here is the recipe!

Fig and Pig pizza

pizza crust of your choice (make your own or use the whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joes)

roll (or stretch) (or throw it in the air!) your dough out and place it on a greased pan.  Spread Trader Joe's Fig Butter over it, shredded mozzarella cheese, and bite sized pieces of prosciutto.  Put it in a very hot preheated oven (450-500 degrees) and bake until cheese starts to bubble and brown. (10-12 minutes)  Take out of the oven and top with arugula and fresh grated parmesan cheese.  I also sprinkled some toasted pine nuts on top.

It's fancy.  And real good.

I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful Spring!  I can't ever decide if I like Spring or Fall better because I really love them both so much.  I have some honeysuckle vines on my back porch that are blooming and it smells like heaven out there.  Jaci's very talented friend, Tyson French, was in town last weekend to shoot a wedding with her.  {Jaci} did the videography and {Tyson} did the photography.  They are quite the young, talented duo.  On a whim, he snapped some quick pictures of her in our backyard.  I absolutely adore this one.  It might be my favorite picture of her.  Ever.

G came over and gave my chalkboard a happy facelift and I made the circle garland to finish it off. 

I just punched a ton of paper circles and sewed them together.  It was a fast, easy, and basically free project.  Even though it's a simple thing, it makes me so happy every time I see it.  I hope every one of you has something simple in your home that makes you happy, too!

your girl,


quick check-in

Hello friends.

I just thought I'd give you a quick update on a major change in my life.

Yep.  That's me  (giving the peace sign, although it's a little hard to tell) sitting right in the belly of the plane where all the luggage goes.  And I've been putting luggage there for 2 weeks now, full time!  So I hope you'll understand my absence.

Why am I doing this?  Well, after my training is over today, I'm just going to be working part-time.  And the reason I'm working is for the benefits.  My whole family can fly anywhere in the United States for free and internationally for a very low price.  Like it's $120 round-trip to Italy, just to give you an example.  And....if we really want to do it up right, it's $20 to upgrade to first-class within the states (including Canada and Mexico) and $100 internationally.  But wait, there's more.....My parents get to fly on my benefits for approximately 10% of the ticketed price.  It's just a tiny way I can reward them for being the best parents in the whole wide WORLD. 

Let me tell you..... I will never get onto another plane again in my life without being so thankful for the people who are making it all happen!  You have NO idea what goes on in order to get a plane off the ground, on time.  (or the pressure to make it happen!)  It has truly been an eye opening experience and I'm actually really grateful for the opportunity it has given me to learn some new skills and meet some amazing people.

Meet "New Crew" Unless you can say it with some hip-hop flair, don't even try.

This is me and my team.  Of course I'm the only girl.  That's because the work I'm doing is meant to be done by a man.  I'm sure for equal rights purposes they have to hire a female every once in awhile.....but it is really hard!  The guys in this picture have seriously become such good friends of mine.  They always have my back.  I'm actually terrified to go work a plane without one (or all) of them by my side!  We have worked really hard in training but we have had a lot of fun and done so much laughing together.  Our trainer Alan (in the blue vest) is a serious professional at what he does.  He has been amazing and patient with me us.  I never even saw him come close to losing his cool, even when I almost jackknifed a machine right under the nose of the plane.  Oops.  And he loves to laugh with (at?) us. 

I'm only working down on "the ramp" through April, and then I will be starting a five week training course to become a Gate Agent, which is where I really want to be.  I will get to be inside, wearing a cute dress and talking into the microphone when it's time to have the passengers board the aircraft.  Trust me when I tell you it's better than roasting on the tar-mac and trying to stack 50+ pound bags inside a bin that you have to crouch inside of as they are speeding towards you on a conveyer belt at the speed of light.  Oh, and while you stack them (neatly, tags out) you must also count them (keeping the "heavy" bags separate) and write an accurate number with your accompanying signature to give to the pilot so he knows how much the baggage on his plane weighs.  It's just slightly stressful.  And when I say slightly, I mean I almost have a heart attack every time I have to do it. 

And don't even get me started on "pushing the plane out".  Did you know that planes don't have reverse?  So you have to hook these machines up to the plane and push them back from the gate onto the runway. 

Do you KNOW how big a plane is?  Well.... when Alan (gently) forced me to pushback, I put the headset on and told the pilot (in my sweetest, most girliest voice) that I was brand new and to please be patient.  All the pilots were super cool and told me I did a great job.  Obviously, pilots are excellent liars, but I'm pretty sure they enjoyed the fishtailing I subjected them to.  Who doesn't like to have a little fun on the job?

And so, here's to another adventure in my life.  Pray for me!  I seriously need all the help I can get!

your girl,


bathroom update, vanity installed!

I know.  Can this be over ALREADY?

Hey, no one is more excited than I AM when something happens in that bathroom, but I like to take two months off at a time.  Or a year.  Don't judge.

Once upon a time (2 years ago) I decided that this gross, outdated bathroom HAD to go.

Fast forward a year and a half and I had finished the shower, flooring and toilet area.

However, I  still had the vanity area staring me down.  The orange-y oak just wasn't working for me anymore and let me show you why.  This monstrous cabinet almost attacked you the second you walked into the bathroom.  The pictures make it look a lot less terrible than it actually was.

All the shiny, protective finish had worn away inside the sinks, so approximately 3.2 seconds after scrubbing them down, mold would appear.  Not a fan.

Also, I would like to start my own caulking school.  You don't cut the tip off so your hole is an inch in diameter.  If you do that, you end up with something like this.

Really?  Who did that and thought it was good?  Baffling.  And very unacceptable.  Not to mention, impossible to keep clean.  A tiny bit cut off the tip of the caulking tube at an angle, then smoothing out the caulking with a wet fingertip is all it takes to create a beautiful seal.  Who wants to come to my School of Caulk?  I'm about ready to qualify myself as a professional in that area. 

Anyhow, I got super excited one afternoon to get this thing out of my face.

And this is what I was left with.

After I finished the flooring, we cut into the wall to see what mystery awaited us in the plumbing department.  The new design called for the sinks to be in different spots than the originals. 

Even though pipes were exposed, it looked better than the old vanity, so I took a couple months off.  It's a good thing I'm my own boss.  I'm pretty sure anyone else would have to let me go....

BUT...... I had a made a plan a year earlier for a new vanity when I walked into IKEA and saw these beauties clearance priced at $49 each, down from $300 apiece.  I purchased two of them for a crisp $100 bill. A $500 savings is exciting.

I talked my family into assembling them the second I got home!  Everyone was thrilled, trust me.  Jaci was serenading us on her guitar to calm our nerves, just like they did on the Titanic.

The vanities sat, completely assembled for a very long time in the basement storeroom because I was on my year hiatus at this point.  Melanie did some very fancy plumbing maneuvers to get the pipes where they needed to be for the new sinks.  I watched in absolute amazement as she measured, cut pipes and glued them together with precision.  She is seriously a plumbing ninja.  I can't even imagine what a plumber would have charged to do it.  Basically, I'm willing the bathroom to Melanie, even though she probably hates it.  And I can't believe I didn't get a picture of her doing her thing!

Fast forward to a few months later when I must have sobbed uncontrollably to poor Melanie about my plight, and so she showed up at 9:30 one night ready to help.  We got the vanities installed and the oak butcher block from IKEA cut to size and secured to the top.  We also set the sinks on top just to see how the whole thing was going to look.  I think we did a little jig but since it was well after midnight at that point, we didn't have the energy to make up an entire routine.  Darn it.

The vanities provide so much storage.  They have 8 big drawers that all have the soft close feature.  Since the toilet has a soft close feature as well, I never hear any banging coming from the kids' bathroom, and that is music to my ears.

The sinks are from IKEA as well, but they don't carry them anymore.  They were called the ANA sink and faucet and I have no idea why they discontinued them.  I think they are so cool.  When I bought the vanities, I could only justify buying one sink and faucet.  The sink was $160 and the faucet was $79 and  I was just going to make do with one.  BUT, a visit to the "AS-IS" section (my fave) produced a floor model ANA sink and faucet combo for $79!  Sold.  I had dreamed of  two sinks all along so it was meant to be.

Despite my demands for all drops of water to be kept INSIDE the sinks, this is a bathroom after all and I really wanted the butcher block top to be well protected.  I did a lot of research and finally came up with this sealer at a local woodworking shop.

I didn't want the finish to be shiny and I loved the natural look of the wood, so I got a flat finish and applied about 6 coats with ample drying time and a light sanding in between each coat.  I love the way it turned out, and so far it has been super effective in repelling the stray drops of water.  The wood still looks natural and unfinished but it's well protected.

And so, there is another day in the life (I mean 3 months into eternity) of this bathroom story.  The only big things left are the mirrors and light fixtures.  The lights have actually been installed and the mirrors.....getting close.  I also have about 10 small things on my punch list, including a couple of drywall repairs, (goody) but I am honestly seeing the finish line.

I totally think it's going to be done before Christmas.

your girl,



bedroom details, part two

The saga continues......

The window in Jaci's bedroom used to be an eyesore, but now it's  a focal point.  I tackled all the window trim by myself (!) and finished it in a night.

After it was filled, caulked, sanded and painted, it looked so much better.  But as I stood back and surveyed it, I concluded that the window was never going to look good with that old and tired scratched up black metal around it.  I taped off all the wood and the walls around the window to prep it for a clean and crisp coat of kelly green semi gloss paint.

It took an hour and a half to tape off and 30 seconds to spray it.  It's one of my favorite things in the room.

Mia came over one night and we made the window treatment:  a workable roman shade with blackout lining.  Teenagers need their beauty sleep.  I loved the fabric I chose, but after it was done and installed, it was looking a little bit plain.

I had some navy trim in my stash which ended up looking great in two rows glued (with fabric glue) down each side.  Adding that little detail made all the difference.

The frames are all {ribba} frames from IKEA.  Jaci is a photographer (her instagram name is @jacimariesmith) and I wanted to showcase what she is passionate about, so I ordered 8 of her favorite pictures in a 12 x 12 size from {mpix}.  It will be fun to switch them out for new favorites, as the mood strikes, for a whole new look.

The coolest console table in America (and maybe the whole world?) is from a thrift store, picked up for $12!!!  It's really narrow (12 inches) and over 8 ft. long, and it's one of my most favorite finds EVER!  You can see in the "before" picture of this space that it has an odd drawer.

That's because it was missing a drawer when I found it.  My sweet dad made me a new drawer and by the time I sanded, prepped, and painted it, you would never know it's any different from the others!  I got the hardware from Lowes.

The chair was found looking very forlorn at Goodwill for $4.99.

The metal parts received a coat of gold spray paint,  and the wood parts were painted white.  I reupholstered the seat cushion in really soft, white leather(ish) fabric and added the fun green and white striped welt to make it pop!  I also added a touch of green paint on the front and back of the chair just for fun.

The big, brown closet doors have been transformed into nice, bright doors that don't dominate the room anymore.  I sketched out a little design and Andrew did a perfect job cutting and installing the moulding exactly how I wanted it.  We just used wood glue and painters tape to hold it overnight, then took the doors outside to spray them.

For the handles, I followed {this} tutorial, using some handles from IKEA and a strip of wood.  Such a great way to get a nice big handle for large closet doors.

Well, that's it for this room!  The only other thing I have planned is new flooring and baseboards.  I found some great tongue and groove laminate in a light pine on Craigslist a few weeks ago and bought enough to cover Jaci's room and the boys room which is right across the hall.  We ripped the boys tile out two summers ago and painted the cement floor to hold us over, but it will be so nice to have some real flooring!

I'm always working on our home and have lots of things started.....always waiting for inspiration, motivation, or cash to complete most things.  Thanks for joining me on my journeys and for your sweet comments.  That's where lots of my motivation comes from!

Still working on tying up the small, unfinished details of that pesky bathroom.  It will be revealed before next year, I can totally promise that! 

your girl,


bedroom details, part one

I'm going to have to split this post into two separate entries.  Because when you go from this:

To this:

There are lots of details to discuss!

The inspiration of this bedroom was born around this headboard I got at a second-hand furniture store for $35.

With the help of my dear friends, Cara and G {the dreamy girls of Club Project}, the headboard was transformed into a masterpiece that is definitely the focal point of the bedroom.  I went to my local upholstery shop where my friend let me use his button making machine to cover dozens of heavy duty brad buttons.  That step saved us hours of time.  If you are upholstering something with lots of tufting, I would highly suggest you find an upholstery shop and do the same.  These button type brads are so much more heavy duty than anything you can buy at a regular store.

 After it was upholstered, it ended up being too thick to go back in the frame comfortably, so (naturally) Melanie had a solution that worked perfectly!  She used her hand-held router and created a little ledge along the backside of the frame for the upholstered piece to nestle into.  We also cut the legs off so I could hang it with a french cleat at whatever height I wanted.

Meanwhile, Jaci and I had painted stripes (a year previous) and I had found a remnant piece of navy carpet at my local carpet store, Mesa Sales.  Often, they have large remnants and their prices are really good.  This piece is 12' x 12' and cost $125.  Since this carpet had a relatively high pile, I didn't even have to have the edges bound because the sides of the carpet hang over the raw edge and you can't tell it's an unfinished edge. 

Mia showed up on Thanksgiving morning with the custom navy and white pillow shams that she sewed right up for me. We had gone shopping a few days before and found the fabric at one of our favorite ghetto stores, SAS, for $3.99 a yard.  The shams are backed with a solid aqua blue, and Mia did a beautiful job on them.  Try not to be jealous that she's my best friend and we started sewing our own clothes in 7th grade.  The gray pillowcases have a tiny white dot on the them and they are made out of a dreamy material that makes it hard for Jaci to get up every morning!  I bought them at Tuesday Mornings.  The white with green polka dot pillows were on clearance at Home Goods for $11 each.

I scored the ruched duvet cover at one of my favorite stores here in Phoenix called Last Chance.  It retails for over $200 and I picked it up for a cool $19.97.  It adds some femininity and softness to the room.

I found the DKNY bedskirt at Goodwill for a few bucks and used some fabric glue to attach the fun blue and white striped trim.  It's a great way to add something extra for very little money.

The nightstands were both battered little pieces that were the same scale.  I actually painted the one on the right about a year ago and detailed the process{here}.  It was a fun find a good friend brought back from Scotland for me.

The other one was a $10 thrift store treasure that was close to the same scale as the one I had.  Painting them the same color created unification but keeps the look interesting because they are different.

For her 16th birthday, Andrew gave Jaci the guitar that took him through college.  (oh if that guitar could talk!) We hung it on the wall using {this} tutorial I found via Pinterest.  It's really nice to have it off the floor and safely hung. 

The wall art?  That was a little brainchild of mine, but when I finally got around to actually doing it (a year later), I saw that it had already been done on Pinterest!  (and done WELL, I might add!)  I'm still claiming I made it up. (although clearly I didn't?)  Maybe the part I DID make up was the use of paint sticks.  The girl on Pinterest used balsa wood, which would have cost me around $40 for my project.  Balsa wood would have been great to work with because it is super light and you can cut it with a pair of scissors, no saws needed.  But I have a saw and didn't want to spend the extra money, so I rounded up around 100 paint sticks and started cutting. 

I cut the curved handle end off of each one, and cut the other end at a 45 degree angle.  I cut half of the angles one way, then changed my saw to cut the angle 45 degrees the other way.  Since two pieces are coming together in the middle, they have to be cut opposite so they form a V.  You want to make sure that they are all the exact same finished size, too.

My sweet sister came over one night and we painted all of them in bright, fun colors.  We left a few of them raw, just to break up all the color.  Don't forget to paint all the sides, too!

After they were painted,  I invited Mia and G to come over for a stick assembly party.  It took all three of us an entire evening to decide what colors should go together to get a fun look, but one that didn't look like a haphazard, hot mess.

Once they were all laid out to our liking, we used a hot glue gun and some plain paint sticks to attach them together along the backside.  I also got some wood scraps in different depths to make some of them pop off the wall just a bit to give more of a 3-D look.  It looks much more interesting than if they were all laying flat against the wall.   I twisted some wire to make little hangers and used a glue gun to secure them to the tops of each piece.

If you're interested in recreating this, you'd better work on becoming besties with the folks behind the paint counters at Lowes and Home Depot so you can snag yourselves a load of paint sticks. This is a great, big impact art piece for little to no money that anyone can do! 

The quote on the wall was thought up by none other than Mia.  She designed it and traced it onto the wall for me.  G showed up ready to help and we hand painted it for hours.....and hours.  It was SO hard to paint on that textured wall and get straight, crisp lines.

 After it was all done and we stepped back, we were pleasantly surprised at how good it looked!  Another big, graphic impact for free......HOORAY!

Stay tuned for part two of the bedroom details........ coming to you soon!

your girl,

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