quick takes // spring, books, & our house

08 March 2018

08 March 2018
It's been a few weeks since I blogged about normal goings-on around here, so I thought I'd take a break from the incessant fight-breaking-up I've been doing between the resident 3 year old and 1 year old and blog. (Read: ignore them and make them learn conflict resolution on their own.)

Linking up with Kelly!

We had a couple days of glorious spring weather last week, and the girls and I loved the opportunity to waste witching hour outside waiting for Dada to get home.

I don't remember Kitty being as curious about everything when she first learned to walk, but man -- Cora loves to rub her hands in the dirt, pick up sticks, try to work Dad's tools, you name it and she wants to get into it. It's real cute and exhausting. I probably need to get her some cute outside boots to match Kate's because she just wants to be everywhere, doing everything!

Right now there's 2 inches of snow on the ground so I'm dreaming of spring. This endless freaking winter needs to end.


Homemade pizza has been on rotation for dinner in the last few weeks. As long as I have my ish together, it takes 7 minutes to prep the dough an hour before dinner, and 3 minutes for toppings, so it's pretty darn easy as dinners go. (Not that we literally EVER make anything complicated, but I think people get unnecessarily scared of homemade pizza. It's so easy!)

My current favorite toppings are Costco pesto sauce & pepperoni. David only tolerates pesto, so we try to switch off between that and regular tomato sauce.

I'm really bad at meal planning but this almost always sounds good, and a salad is an easy side to go along with it. (We actually eat a salad for dinner almost every night now -- who are we??? -- because the romaine at Costco is so cheap.)


Most times our house is clean. Because it majorly stresses me out and distracts me from my work when it's a mess, so then nothing gets done because I either have to stop and clean it all, or think about it the whole time I'm working, which is beneficial for nobody.

But while I'm working the above is what happens. I'm not entirely sure how that's any fun, but apparently it is?

Quick book reviews: (and Amazon links ahead)

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen: compelling, checks one of my 2018 reading goals as a recent Pulitzer winner, still has me thinking about it a week after finishing it. Definitely worth a read (but beware of some vulgarity if you're not into that sorta thing).

Who Thought This Was A Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco: quick little memoir by the former deputy chief of staff under Obama. Charming and quite funny at times, but with a dose of realism about women in the workplace that was really eye-opening. I liked this, didn't love it. If you like political insight a la The West Wing / House of Cards / plus humor, you'll like the stuff in here.

Currently reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I only have like 4 days until it's due back at the library (with no renewals eeeek) so I am hoping to finish before then! Super compelling already.


There are a few things about this house that I extremely dislike. This beautiful joinery between our main bath and the wood floor in the hallway is NOT one of them. You probably can't tell from the photo but they are exactly the same level and they fit together sooooo beautifully, it's kind of hard to believe.

If we ever reno this bathroom, I think the floors will have to stay just for this very detail because I love it so much.

Also I'm in love with this Essie nail color, mint candy apple. My feet are at least in somewhat-spring-mode.


I finally got some photos hung above my dresser in our bedroom, to replace what I had haphazardly hung there before, and it makes me happy every time I see it.

If you've got a spare 20 minutes to read something fascinating, this piece from Highline (HuffPost) is a fascinating look into the lottery and how a retired couple gamed the system.

How are you spending the weekend? Hoping clear sunny spring skies are in your future. Head to Kelly's for more quick takers!

Kitchen renovation plans

06 March 2018

06 March 2018
Since we've finished the living room, next on our house-updating-plans is the kitchen. For awhile, we were considering doing a full reno, ripping out cabinets, replacing flooring, all that jazz. But after some arguing discussion, we decided our money is probably better spent on a "light" reno for now, since we won't be in this house forever and it's not in terrible shape overall.

In the next few weeks, David's going to be building me a new dining room table (eek!) and after that, it's kitchen time! (And by that I mean we'll spend another month planning and gathering supplies, and probably start actually doing stuff in May.)

For now, I'm gathering inspiration images and trying to nail down a list of what we need so I can try to shop smart. We're hoping to go to Kansas City (aka the closest IKEA) at the end of April to get whatever we need -- probably countertops, if not more than that -- and hit up Memorial Day sales for new appliances. Pray that our fridge and microwave hang around that long, because both of them are somewhat on the fritz and we'd like to use them as long as possible before replacing.

To kind of keep with our ongoing style, and not spend a bunch of money, I'm leaning towards a Scandinavian neutral theme for the kitchen...or as much as I can get it to look like that without spend a bajillion dollars.

Here's a picture of what the kitchen looks like right now.

And here are my plans, both in picture form and list form:

I am CRAZY good at Photoshop, guys.
Jk jk.

Here's an almost-exhaustive list of what needs to happen. We haven't fully decided on a few things, but the bigger things we're pretty set on: paint the cabinets, replace some appliances, new countertop & sink & faucet. It looks like a lot more work all written out like this so hopefully I don't psych ourselves out of doing it by writing it all down.

Kitchen renovation plans:

--paint cabinets white
--install new butcher block countertops (IKEA?)
--replace hinges on cabinets to inside the doors
--replace hardware with black drawer pull handles (like these or these but cheaper)
--install stainless steel sink (apron front maybe?)
--new faucet
--paint fake brick white
--replace dishwasher, fridge, and microwave
--find a way to build in a spot for a microwave? maybe under the oven?
--paint door to garage -- pale sage green?
--paint trim/window frames throughout the kitchen - maybe all black for a fun accent? dark gray?
--expand L shape counter so it's not two levels
--clad underneath counter to match living room cladding
--add backsplash (maybe this hexagon tile?)
--build shelves in by window overlooking sink?
--cut angled cabinet to be flat?
--replace floor? maybe white pine DIY flooring? (we can't decide if it's worth the cost to do this or not, tbd)
--remove decorative molding above fridge and sink
--rip out wooden built-in to expose brick column?
--add recessed lighting throughout kitchen
--replace dining room fan with chandelier (maybe something like this?)
--replace outlets & switches
--replace bifold doors with sliding door
--spray paint heating vents or replace
--update crown molding or paint all to match
--remove hardwired clock above sink

I think most of this stuff will be easy/small-scale enough that we won't have to ever go without a kitchen while it's happening. Maybe a couple days while we replace appliances or the sink, but I think everything else can be worked around. Just in case, I think it's a good idea to wait until the summer nonetheless so we can grill and cook or eat outside when necessary.

I'm also not sure what order we'll do stuff in. We will probably paint the cabinets/walls/trim all in one weekend, whenever that is, and try to tackle the other stuff piece by piece after that. Or maybe we'll tackle all the lighting first, and then move on after that. Since we're not doing a full-scale reno, it's nice to have a somewhat fluid timeline and the ability to shift or change our priorities when we want to. Plus we're going to do it all ourselves, so we don't have to schedule anybody and can do it whenever our schedule allows.

What are you working on these days? Got any good cabinet hardware stores I should check out?

My mental health and reading updates

28 February 2018

28 February 2018
I know, I know, those two things don't seem related but just bear with me, k?

I had this whole post planned out about my 2018 reading goals. I even made a graphic buuuut it's already the end of February so I'm not going to pretend like it's still the beginning of the year and post it. Sum up that whole imaginary post by saying: I wanted to be more intentional about my reading this year, so I have planned out some goals and specific books that are more "intellectual" that I wanna read this year, which is a break from my post-college-reading-list life, where all I did was fly by the seat of my pants.

My goal is to read 50 books in 2018, and I think I can do it. I've read 8 books so far, halfway through my 9th, so I'm on track for it!

Here's what I've read so far, in order I've read them.
Amazon affiliate links ahead.

The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King: 2 stars. It was a nice interlude (not part of the main story, for those who've read the series) but mediocre at best.

Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King: 5 stars, my favorite book of the series. So compelling. SK should drop everything else he's writing and stick to this genre forever, please.

Song of Susannah by Stephen King: 4.5 stars? I sped through this one and the last one so quickly to get to the end that it's hard to differentiate them in my head, but I remember wanting to know what happened next on every single page so that's always a good thing.

The Dark Tower by Stephen King: 5 stars. The finale, the coup de grace of this over 7000 page series. Whew. It was great and I actually really liked the ending - not going to spoil it for you, but it was worth it. If you've got time for it, pick the series up.

Breaking Night by Liz Murray: 5 stars! a memoir about a girl who was homeless but eventually went on to attend Harvard, and the story of growing up with parents with a drug addiction. This book was INTENSE. I felt so deeply for Liz, and was so compelled by her strength and stamina. Highly recommend.

Abaddon's Gate by James S. A. Corey: 3.5 stars. This is book 3 in The Expanse sci-fi series, and although it was still really good, not quite as strong as the others I'd read. It's written by the personal assistant to George RR Martin of Game of Thrones, so it has a similar vibe, as in each book is somewhat interwoven with the others and there are repeat characters that show up throughout, but I just felt like the narrative was a little weaker in this than the previous ones. Still good!!!

What The Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell: 2 stars, from someone who normally likes Gladwell (I even listen to his podcast, Revisionist History). This just felt weird as a book -- it's a collection of his New Yorker articles, and there are some stunning ones in there, but it wasn't cohesive enough to work as a collection, and there were definitely some filler pieces in there. Unless you're a big Gladwell fan, you can skip this one.

Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey: 5 stars. GUYS. This next one in The Expanse was so dang good. Full of nuance and politics and really greatly-researched sci-fi. I couldn't put it down.

SO. Obviously looking at that list, you're like, Hannah -- none of those qualify as intellectual or intentional. The problem is, I'd already started those two series before I made this plan (like back in 2017, duh) so I can't just quit a series halfway through on a whim. I'm planning on finishing out The Expanse (I think I have two left?) but I incorporated them into my plan.

Right now I'm reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, which is really good. It won a Pulitzer so it's a little more intellectual...haha. It's about a communist spy in Vietnam and holy cow, it's good and funny and weird and I like it so far.

Mental health segue: reading is vital for my mental health, and sometimes I forget that. Being surrounded by small children who can't follow a single train of thought for more than 30 seconds at a time means that my brain is not exactly intellectually stimulated all day, every day. I do work from home but it's not exactly brain-bending work, either.

I'm trying to be kinder to myself when my mental health suffers. I'm prone to anger when my tank is empty -- anger at the girls, anger at David, anger at myself for not coping with difficulties or struggles the way I "should be."  And then I'm just no fun to be around whatsoever.

I'm trying harder to identify things that really do fill me up and help save my sanity on a day-to-day basis. So far that short list includes:

-- Going outside, even if it's freezing out and just for a few breaths of clean air
-- Reading daily, even if it's only a page or two
-- Moving or working out, even if it's just getting my daily steps in
-- Having a little fun every day, even if it's just watching a silly video or dream house-hunting on Zillow

I know none of that is rocket science. But it's taken me awhile to remember that sometimes I do have to prioritize myself. We were in such a survival-only mode after David's cancer diagnosis, which was right and necessary and exactly what had to happen. But now he's feeling better, and it's been a few months, and I'm realizing I need some more breathing room to not lose my sh*t on a daily basis. (Harsh, but true. Little ones are exhausting.)

So as a reminder, both to myself and to you: if you're coming off of a survival mode period, or even if you're just in a mental or emotional slump, it is important and necessary and right to be kind to yourself. If what you need every week is a dinner alone, or a half an hour shopping by yourself, or whatever it is -- do it. Don't sacrifice unnecessarily because you're stubborn (like me) or don't like accepting help (also me).

I'm certainly not perfect at this yet, but I'm trying, and I'm getting better, slowly but surely.

Galentine's Day and Lenten plans

13 February 2018

13 February 2018

My little Valentines...or should I say, Galentines?
Let's be honest, either way my heart is full with them, each and every day.

That being said - parenting lately has been especially challenging. I think it's more me that's the problem, but we're going through some naughty stages and man, a day is a lot harder to get through when timeouts pepper the entire day. We had a really good stretch of playing together nicely, and tantrum-less weeks, but they're back in full force and the constant disciplining takes it out of me.

Plus, Cora is trying valiantly to drop one of her naps which I am NOT about (umm, Kate took 2 naps every day until she was 2), so she's tired and teething and that makes me tired because honestly nothing is worse than battling a tiny human who needs to sleep but just won't because they're stubborn.

For my mental health I've taken to escaping into my room to get like 5-10 minutes of peace and quiet when I can find it, or shoving the children into David's arms when he gets home while I go run errands or work out or sit in our room and read. At this point it seems to be the best I can do. My work still has to get done each and every day, and a regular babysitter doesn't make sense fiscally right now, so I'm taking the calm when I can snatch at it.

I know one of my biggest struggles with parenting is unrealistic expectations. I have very high standards for my literal small children, and they can't live up to them because they are small children. That battle between what I expect of them and what they can actually do is really hard on my personality. I know it's going to be something I struggle with for years, because hello, grown up humans don't even do what I want them to every hour of every day. 

I'm trying to teach myself to react calmly instead of yelling, trying to take a deep breath before I react, trying to remind myself over and over that they're just kids, that this will pass, that everything isn't built around my ultimate happiness and satisfaction. The world doesn't revolve around me, and really it shouldn't because that would be a super easy way to devolve into a horrible, selfish monster.

And honestly, I have really beautiful and easy small children as small children go. They are great sleepers at night. They love playing together most of the time. They have happy, relatively easy-going personalities. I know all these things in my head, I really do. So I should be more grateful instead of counting all the things that disappoint me every hour.

This Lent, for my prayer aspect, I'm going to attempt to say a prayer every time my kids frustrate me, even if it's just a quick "LORD JESUS HELP ME" before I respond, which is honestly already like 90% of my prayer these days. I'm giving up getting coffee outside of the house, which will also legitimately sanctify me because that's been my coping mechanism in this never-ending winter for every little thing that frustrates me, and that's a bad habit. I'm also going to wear my retainer every night -- a weird Lenten goal, I know, but I need to do it and it will be a bit of a pinch, which is the goal, right? David and I haven't decided what we're doing for almsgiving yet, but we have like 24 hours left to decide, so we'll figure it out. 

I'd love to hear what you're giving up, and if you struggle with the same thing in parenting: you are SO not alone. 

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