Saturday, March 17, 2012

Getting Inspired!

JJ and I only had three short evenings to work on our house this week.  Despite the small amount of time…we have accomplished much.  

This week, we worked on the Living Room, Dining Room, Master Bedroom and Kitchen.

If you read my blog last week, you will recall what the kitchen looked like:

After ripping down the ceiling, removing the trim, and tearing out the cabinets....

...this is what we are left with (at the moment):

We were able to sell all our kitchen appliances through the Facebook Group: "Dubuque Garage Sale Sight".  

Here is the link if you want to check it out: DBQ Area Garage Sale Sight 

As you look at these pictures you may be thinking "wow, this is a little rough...what a mess for a kitchen".  

Honestly, I think that myself from time-to-time.  BUT, then I remember I am engaged to a master carpenter. :)  

You see, we have many plans for this kitchen space. I found my dream kitchen on HGTV's Remodel Sight.  Click here to see Our Dream Kitchen .  One day, we hope our kitchen will be a version of this beautiful food preparation area. 

Half Bath and Laundry Room:
When we purchased the house, this was the laundry room facility:

This week, we began to tear it apart.

We are planning on making a half bath and laundry room out of this area.  The laundry room will be a small area with not much room for anything but a stacked washer and dryer. 

We will then put a small wall up to create a half bath.  The half bath will be a small space with a pedestal sink and a toilet.  I don't have a picture as inspiration (the vision of the layout is simply in our heads), however; I can show you the inspiration for the color scheme:

Thats right.  

My vehicle is the inspiration.  

We are planning on having our half bath the following colors: Brown/Tan, Black and Dark Grey.

Side Note: Dryer for Sale! We sold the washer this week, however; there haven't been any takers on the dryer yet!   $150 for a Whirlpool Gas Dryer.  Great condition.  Probably 2 years (maybe up to 5 years old).  Let us know if you are interested!

Living Room/Dining Room
This week we tore down the trim and ceiling.

We are still formulating the entire vision for this space.  However the greatest treasure we found while ripping these two rooms apart was....

Wood Floors!!!

We will bring in a sander and cleans these boards off!  I am so excited to know that we will have nice, beautiful wood floors throughout the dinning room and living room!

Master Bedroom:
Here is the 'before" picture of our master:

This week we tore down the ceiling, trim and closets, however; I don't have a current picture to post.  The good news is this:

Hardwood Floors are under the carpet in here too!!! 

If we decide to use the hardwood floor in the bedroom, this is our inspiration: 

This picture was found at:

So, this is the update on our Renovation Project.  

Now onto planning a wedding.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Home Sweet Home

JJ and I purchased a house this weekend!!!

Front Yard

We can’t wait to make it a home.

Back Yard 

In my mind, it is absolutely perfect…although in reality, it is definitely a fixer-upper. :)  

Even though there is a lot of work ahead for us (especially for JJ), I am really excited about the fact that this house needs a little love and attention.  You see, I have always thought the concept of “flipping” a house sounded like a fun project.  Watching “Flip that House” or “Trading Spaces” just seemed to feed this desire of mine, however; it was far beyond what I could manage.  I have always known I don’t have the skills or capabilities to accomplish such a large task. 

I am so thankful I am marrying a carpenter. :)


Although there are many quirky things about this house, JJ and I know that God has provided the perfect place at the perfect time. 

We are so thankful.

Right now we are in the process of picking out color schemes, flooring and cabinets.  This process can be overwhelming at times.  You see, I tend to over analyze decisions I need to make, and then over analyze once again…and again. 

Living Room
However, one things has made me very thankful through this entire process: I don’t have to worry.  As we make decisions I can be a peace because no matter what the house ends up looking like, what problems we run across along the way, or mishaps might occur (who knows what will happen as I swing a hammer) :)…it is all with the man I trust and love.

Routley Construction already hard at work

JJ and I can’t wait to begin remodeling this place.  We have great visions for what our new home will be.  

Stay tuned for updates on the renovations and maybe some “Tips From JJ: easy improvements that anyone can manage” (including me!). :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

a simple love story

Well, it has been quite some time since I have written an entry for this blog.

Nine months in fact. 

A lot has happened in my time away.  Since I have been absent, the following has taken place: I met the man of my dreams, he asked me to marry him, and I said “yes!”.  We plan to marry on June 2, 2012.

JJ Routley is one of the greatest blessing I have ever received.

He is the man that I have been praying for my entire life.  JJ loves the Lord with his whole being and he loves me almost as much. 

Now that life has settled down a bit, I am attempting to blog about simple life adventures once again.  I find it fitting to share a part of my little love story as my returning blog because it was these events, which kept me from blogging over the course of the past few months.

How We Met:
For those who were faithful blog followers, you will recall that my goal last summer was to enjoy the simple things in life.  I desired to slow down in the midst of the fast-pace life surrounding me.  Consequently, I began to attend a small Bible study.  You see, reading and studying the Bible is one of the greatest joys in my life.  I decided that this would be a great way to experience this joy with others.

It was at that bible study that I met the love of my life. 

JJ began to pursue me in a very intentional manner, which I found very attractive.  He was a man who knew what he wanted and pursed it.  We began to spend a lot of time together and, consequently, I fell in love.

One thing I have learned through my relationship with JJ is that when God is behind something, it is very simple.  Sure, there will be hard times, sometimes very hard times…but, when God is blessing it, it is much easier. 

How He Proposed:
I could write about countless memories that JJ and I have made together over these past nine months:  trips to Lake Geneva, Davenport, Springfield and many others stand out, however; the most memorable trip that JJ and I took together was when we traveled to Portland, OR.  While we were there, JJ met my family and toured my hometown.

We spent a morning getting lost in Powell's Books...
and we spent an afternoon exploring Hoodriver, OR.                                                                                                          

Of course we visited Multnomah Falls. :)

However, the best part of that trip:

it was there that JJ asked me to be his wife.

He proposed in front of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.

It was beautiful despite the rain, wind and powerful storm that was occurring all around us.  I can not even try to explain all the amazing details that surrounded this day.  You will just have to trust me when I say:

It was absolutely perfect.

What Is Next:
Now that life has begun to settle down (except for the fact that I am planning a wedding that will take place in 3 months!!!!), I am going to attempt to continue this blog about the simple things in life.

However, now that JJ is in my life, this blog will not only be my personal adventures and lessons in life… will include two of us now. :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Princess Party on a Budget

My good friend, Wendy, has two adorable girls named Isabelle and Kindra.  This week I planned a princess party for these little kiddos and a few of their friends. There was no particular reason for the party.  It was simply to give them something special to look forward to.  For days I heard, “Princess Party?  When is the Princess Party!?”.

It turned out to be such a perfect, simple afternoon.

At first, I was unsure how to execute such a party.  I have planned countless activities for college students, high school students and even large formal events, however; I have very limited experience planning children’s parties.  Additionally, I put myself on a tight budget.  I wanted this party to be inexpensive while still making it a special and memorable time.

Princess Tea:

We began the day with a princess tea.  The day before a friend and I made fairy-tale land cupcakes.  After being formally welcomed to the tea and handed flowers (cut from Wendy’s garden) the girls felt like royal guests.  Total Expense: $9.00

Games & Activities:
Snow White’s Poisoned Apple
Princess music played while the girls passed around an apple.  When the music stopped, whoever was holding snow white’s poisonous apple had to go to sleep.  The girls loved this one.  Total Expense: $0.50

Pin the Crown on the Princess

I had been given a canvas with three Disney princesses pictured on it for free (some friends moved from Dubuque last week and gave a lot of items away). I then made little crowns out of cardstock and glitter pens.  I put the girls initials on each crown.  The girls were blindfolded, spun around and then they had to attempt to pin the crown on the princess.  Total Expense: $0.00

Princess and the Pea
I read the girls the story of the princess and the pea.  Once the story was read I had the girls exit the room.  I placed five pillows on the ground and a tennis ball under one of the pillows.  I then had the girls come back in the room.  They each sat on the pillows and guessed what pillow had the pea under it. Total Expense: $0.00

Princess Stories
I read two different princess stories that were checked out from the library. 

The Princess and the Pea: By Hans Christian Anderson (went with the game)

The Princess and the Three Kings: by Karen Kingsbury (has a biblical lesson about true love)
Total Expense: $0.00


Each girl was given a ring if they won a game. Each girl won at least two rings by the end of the party. Total Expense: $1.00


I purchased pre-made crowns from the dollar store.  The girls decorated these crowns with glitter, ribbon and paper.  Total Expense: $1.00

It was a very simple party but the girls had a great time!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

the simple cupcake

I have a new love for cupcakes. 

I first became intrigued by cupcakes in 2008.  It was during this year that I traveled to New York City for a 10-day vacation with my friend Jamie.  During this trip I encountered one of the most delicious cupcakes I have ever eaten…

…in my entire life.

You see, we went to Magnolias.  Magnolias is famous for being the bakery where all the movie stars purchase their birthday cakes.

After hearing all the reviews, I was surprised to find out that Magnolias was a very humble looking bakery.  Consequently, I was skeptical when I first entered, however; the humble appearance was deceiving.  The baked goods that come out of that plain, little shop are far from ordinary.

I purchased four cupcakes that afternoon. 
All four cupcakes were eaten within an hour.

You see, I soon realized that these were not just any normal cupcakes...these were MAGNOLIAS cupcakes.  They simply melt in your mouth.

My cupcake journey continued on into last summer.  While taking a break from my schoolwork, I clicked on the television.  As I surfed TV stations, I stumbled upon Cupcake Wars (on the food network).  I was so fascinated by the bakers who made scrumptious looking cupcakes under intense pressure and guidelines.  This show left a lasting impression on me.  I realized that there is much that can be done to alter the taste and presentation of a seemingly plain, simple, little cupcake.

This summer I was inspired to make cupcakes. 

I planned a princess party for a few little girls at my church this week.  So, I decided that this was the perfect time to try out cupcake decorating.  With the help of my friend, Kristi, I made a fairy-tale land out of cupcakes.

Plain, little, ordinary cupcakes were decorated into princess crowns, magical wands and my personal favorite…butterflies.

The cupcakes added a fun touch to this little party. 

Thanks Kristi for all your help! Once again…you have taught me well!

More to come on the princess party…. :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

spinning in circles

spinning vs. running...which is better?

Running has been something that I have enjoyed since I was about 17 years old.  I remember the first time I chose to go for a run (rather than being required for P.E. class).  A friend and I ran around my neighborhood…probably totaling about one mile. :)  This initial run was tough, however; it was the run that caused me to realize that I enjoy everything about running.

I enjoy…

the steady sound of my feet tapping against the pavement.
the feeling of sweat accumulating at the top of my forehead.
the sound of my music blaring through my ipod.
the various sights that I can see along the journey.
the ability to get lost in my thoughts without any interruption.
and taste of ice-cold water after a good, long run.

Running is simply therapeutic.

Consequently, I believe that it is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress. 

As a result of my love for running, I had a goal in life to run in a race. This year I decided to accomplish this goal.  I ran in both a 5k and an 8k in Chicago, IL.

In November I ran in the Turkey Trot (8K)

In April I ran in the Bunny Hop (5K)

Now that I have completed my graduate studies, I desire to get back in shape and make exercise a priority once again.  Although I have a great love for running, this month I tried a new form of exercise to begin this process.  I am quickly falling in love with everything about this new cardio workout.


You might better understand spinning as cycling using a stationary bike.  Spinning instructors bring you on a cycling route each day which includes hills (up and down), long and short flats, muddy roads, and windy streets. These classes match your peddling to the cadence of the music, which is being played over the sound system.  Combining the intensity of the music with the energy found from all the others in class results in an incredible workout.

I am dripping sweat by the end of the class.

I thoroughly enjoy both running and spinning. I decided to do a little research to see if one was better for you or more effective.

Here is what I found:

  • works out the entire body (legs, core and upper body)
  • shapes and tones your entire body as it is working against your own body weight
  • requires endurance
  • about 680 calories is burned an hour (at a 10 mile per hour rate)
  • places strain on bones and joints
  • all you need is a good pair of running shoes and a road (and in my opinion…an ipod in necessary as well)

  • builds strength in the lower body (specifically glutes, quads, and hamstrings)
  • your core is engaged during spinning
  • high intensity activity
  • 590 calories is burned an hour during a spinning class
  • easier on your joints--a low-impact exercise
  • a spinning bike and a good pair of shoes are needed (and a GOOD spinning instructor)

If you look at the information, it could really be argued either way.  I think it really comes down to one’s personal preference and what you, individually, will be more disciplined in regularly performing.

At the moment I am partial to spinning.  However, as I type this, I am cooling down from a good run. I just got back from a run, which provided me time to think, pray and choose my music (something spin does not allow) and….I came back refreshed.

So which one is better?!?!

You will just have to try both and then decide. :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Domesticated Woman

It is complete! 

A few weeks ago I began working on a blanket using old Emmaus Bible College t-shirts. I am thrilled to say that I completed this project today!

When I first began this blanket, I failed to realize the significant amount of time that it would take to finish such a project.  My friend, Laura Strautmann, probably laughed when she got my initial text saying: “What do you think about helping me make my t-shirt blanket this Sunday afternoon?”

Little did I know that this project would take over 17 hours to complete (and that is with TWO people working as though they are factory employees!!).

In order to finish this project in a timely manner, Laura and I decided to have a blanket-making marathon.

Today we woke up and began blanket-making at 9:00am.  We began this marathon while sipping on freshly brewed starbucks pikes roast coffee.  It was quite the perfect morning with Colbie Caillat and JJ Heller playing in the background.

However, despite the perfect setting, I had a few jitters.  The day began with the need for me to learn how to use a sewing machine.

I was very intimidated by this task.  Fortunately, I had a great instructor.  Laura taught me everything I needed to know to successfully complete my Emmaus blanket. 

Despite the great instructions that I had been given, there were a few mistakes along the way.

Thankfully, I learned that it is true what they say: “any mistake done on the sewing machine can be undone”.  Once I learned this fact, I was able to more confidently approach the machine.

We finished this project well after dinner-time, however; every minute was enjoyable!

A Lesson Learned:
I must admit an error in my thinking that I carried with me for many years.  Prior to this project I was of the opinion that most craft project cost more (time and money) than they are worth.

I was wrong.

The beauty of this project is that I was able to get all the supplies at a really good price (if not free!). 

Total Expense:
fabric: FREE! (old t-shirts)
thread: $3.92 (40% off at joannes fabric store)
quilt batting: $15.59 (40% off at joannes fabric store)
time spent learning how to use a sewing machine: priceless. (sorry, I couldn’t resist :) ) 

It did take many hours to complete this project, however, I am so thankful for every moment.  I was able to make a meaningful blanket and in the process learn how to sew. Thanks, Laura, for all your help and fun as I made my Emmaus Blanket!

I am now a domesticated women…and have the perfect blanket to sit on as I cheer for the Emmaus Soccer team!  Go Emmaus!