Monday, June 24, 2013

Fitness by Pinterest: A Four-Week Exercise Challenge

If you are anything like me, you've spent a lot of time saving fat-burning, calorie-torching, metabolism-boosting exercises to Pinterest. And I hope you've actually been able to try some of these exercises.

Me? I can honestly say that of the 79 pins that are on my "feel.the.burn." board, I have tried ... one of them.

My fitness routine is pretty boring right now. Other than tennis practice once a week and walks with Sloan - and an occasional sit-up/push-up session while watching the Food Network - I definitely don't have much variety in my workouts (if you could even call them that).

I do belong to a gym, but the ideal time for me to go would be really early in the morning before Sloan wakes up -- and I am just NOT a morning person. We do have a small home gym that I really don't (ever) take advantage of either.

Hello, Joe. 
Well, time for that to change. In honor of #motivationmonday, I've decided to get up and get moving with something I'm calling: Fitness by Pinterest: A Four-Week Exercise Challenge. Pulling from all the fitness information I've already saved, I've created a four-week exercise calendar that I'm hoping will get me out of this rut and start making exercise a bigger part of my daily routine. I mean, with something called the "World's Fastest Workout," how hard could this be?

Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

10 for 10

I almost can't believe these words as I'm typing them, but today our sweet Sloan is 10 months old. 10 months! There's just no way that can be true. I mean, wasn't I just in labor (for 36 hours) yesterday? Didn't we just get home from the hospital?

24 hours young.
For the record, I'm not wishing for my postpartum days back. Nope. I just -- Warning: major cliche ahead -- can't believe how quickly time has flown by.

So, in honor of Sloan's 10-month birthday, here are 10 fun facts about this little peach:

10. She's the first grandchild on both sides of the family. (Just like her mom!) And on my mom's side of the family, she is now the fourth generation of first-born women.
Six weeks old at my cousin's wedding in NYC. I can't believe how tiny she was! And it's hard to see here, but my favorite part of this picture is her Dr. Evil pinky wave. Because I'm sure she's dreaming about Mike Myers.
9. Sloan has already traveled to 9 cities (including one other country). So far, she's proven to be an awesome road warrior. She's impressed the flight crew on plane trips to New York City, Vail, Richmond and Grand Cayman. And luckily she was great company from the backseat on road trips to Greenville, Clemson, Charleston, Asheville and Pine Island, Fla.
Here's a behind-the-scenes look at Sloan getting her passport photo taken. Hands down one of the funniest moments I've experienced in the past 10 months.
8. I love how quickly she is picking up on things we teach her, like dancing, waving, clapping her hands and giving kisses. She can also give you a "hug" but right now it's really more like a headbutt. (It's a start, right?)

7. I've already packed up 5 tubs of clothes that she's outgrown. Craziness.

6. Crawling? Ain't nobody got time for that! If you put Sloan on her belly to try and get her to practice crawling, she will almost immediately flip over. Not interested. Sloan would much rather spend her time chasing after the dog by scooting around in her walker.
Like I said - not a fan of tummy time. Circa October 2012.
5. Sloan is definitely showing us that she's willing to try anything. Like petting a stingray, for example.

4. She already has 4 teeth -- two bottom and two top. Right now there is a super cute gap between her two top teeth. I already miss her gummy smile, but I'm digging the gap-toothed grin, too.

3. This baby girl loves her naps. And that's certainly something that I don't take for granted!
Don't you kinda wish there was an adult version of a swaddle wrap? 
2. We already had to cut her hair! Almost two months ago Sloan got her first hair cut. It was absolutely the fastest haircut in history, because I was barely able to snap a few photos.

1. She is -- hands down, 100 percent, without a doubt -- a daddy's girl. But I wouldn't have it any other way!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Home Improv-isation: Part 2

About a month ago, I spilled the beans about how skilled I am at sewing fond I am of using tape for DIY projects. If you also lack sewing skills, you'll likely appreciate the following two improv-isation projects.

I'd been wanting to add a table and some artwork to our foyer for a while, but just hadn't found the right pieces. As luck would have it, within one week I was able to find and create everything I needed!

Exhibit C - Foyer Table Drape Cloth

Living around the corner from a Goodwill definitely has its advantages!
I recently found the perfect sized table to put in our foyer. The only problem is that it was begging to be covered, since I bought it secondhand and has some wear and tear (but I can't resist a bargain!). After I bought a burlap-style tablecloth to conceal the table, I decided it needed a little color. Then I remembered that I still had some fabric leftover from our family room curtains. So, I cut a piece to size and then attempted to seal the edges together using fusible webbing.

Well, I clearly either 1) didn't read the instructions on the box correctly (who has time for that)? or 2) bought the wrong kind of fusible webbing because I absolutely could not get the stuff to work. Rather than head back to the store to try and find the right kind, I decided to instead turn to a trusty friend.

No, not duck tape. Good 'ol industrial-strength glue. May I introduce you to E-6000. You can use it for all kinds of projects, including on fabric. All I had to do was iron the edges of the fabric over to create a clean edge, and then glue the "hem" that I'd just created. Not even 15 minutes later, I had my drape. 

It's good thing I didn't mess this project up, because I only have a little bit of this fabric left.
Could I have used duck tape to hold this together? Sure. But I had another project where I knew my trusty companion would be needed. 

Exhibit D - Burlap-covered Poster Frame

This poster, which is a compilation of Italian postcards, is an awesome daily reminder of our honeymoon in Italy.
I was at the Ballard Designs showroom last month when I found a pile of what the store was calling "book wraps." Well, to me these looked like reproductions of vintage posters. And there were only $6. SOLD!

They had a handful of different posters, and the images were either French or Italian. Since we spent our honeymoon in Italy, I grabbed the three that were Italian (a map of the whole country, a map of Rome and the one above) plus a map of the whole world. But then I needed to figure out a way to display the posters.

I knew I didn't want to go the traditional frame route, but I did give some thought to making some pallet wood display boards. After weighing my options, I decided to do something that didn't involve hammer and nails. (And splinters.)

All I needed to complete this project was foam core board, burlap, thumbtacks, picture hangers and - you guessed it - duck tape. I'm fairly certain you can figure out how to put it together, but just for fun, here's a picture of the back of it.

I should have invested in this stuff years ago. 
And, voila! We finally have some artwork for our foyer. The cool thing about these boards is that now I can easily swap out the posters should I find something else that we want to hang up. I'm already thinking about what I can create and hang up for holidays and special events.

Finishing this project and knowing that I could easily swap out the posters down the road inspired me to get cracking on another project that I've been procrastinating thinking about. Believe it or not, duck tape was not used at all. But it did involve spray paint ... can you guess which project I'm referring to?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Home Improv-isation: Part 1

It was a busy weekend 'round these here parts. That is to say I am super thankful that the nasty Atlanta weather pretty much let me clear my agenda to tackle a bunch of projects around the house. And I'm also thankful that my husband's semester is over, which means I was easily able to sweet-talk him into helping me finish said projects. (I'm also pretty sure that he doesn't trust me with his drill, so it really doesn't take much convincing.)

All of the projects that were completed this weekend have one major thing in common ...  I had to improvise. Thus, I bring you the latest installment of Life @ Laurel ... Home Improv-isation: Part 1.

Exhibit A - Dining Room Curtains

And the curtains were hung by my husband with care ... in hopes that soon enough I'd get out of his hair ...
I'd been poking around for a set of dining room curtains for a while now, and finally found some (and on sale!) at West Elm. When I placed my order I learned they were back ordered, but then they actually arrived a lot faster than West Elm promised -- which was great! So, Saturday morning I dug through the small pile curtain rods that came with us when we moved and found one long enough. Awesome.

But ... no mounting brackets to be found. Of course. I had to make a quick run to Target anyway (I mean, seriously, what trip to Target is ever quick?!), so I added mounting brackets to my list. And wouldn't you know it -- you can't just buy curtain rod mounting brackets -- you gotta buy the whole package. Well, I wasn't about to do that. So, I improvised.

I'd already picked up two packs of hooks for our closets, and as I looked at the pile of goodies in my hands (Yes, hands. I no longer use a basket or cart at Target unless I have Sloan with me. Because if I just use my hands, I actually walk out only with what I intended to purchase.) I realized that these robe hooks would probably be the perfect size for this curtain rod. So I wandered back and grabbed two more packs.

I have a funny feeling that Julie Nobles is going to like these curtains! 
It wasn't until I took this close-up that I realized Matt decided that just one screw is all that was needed to hold this in place. Works for me!
Doesn't look too bad, huh? OK, maybe the close-up looks a little wonky. But, not too shabby for only $3.

Exhibit B: Breakfast Nook Curtains

I'm a big fan of discount retailers like Joss & Main, One Kings Lane and Zulily. When I was still super sleep deprived during Sloan's infancy, I had a VERY bad habit of shopping online in my sleep. Literally. I'd get up with her for the "zero dark thirty" feeding and pass time looking at stuff online. Then -- oops! I bought stuff. (Too much stuff.)

Like these curtains, for example! For our breakfast nook, I was thinking that a simple valance would do the trick. These are actually curtain panels that originally had little ties at the top for you to tie around the top of a curtain rod. I just cut the ties off, turned the panels horizontal and then folded them down to the right size, then sewed a pocket rod into the fabric to hold it all in place.

Wait ... did you think that I actually sewed these? Ha! No - I didn't sew anything. I grabbed the first roll of packing tape I found in the garage and taped these bad boys together.

Matt said I shouldn't expect this tape to hold for very long. Maybe I actually will be forced to try to sew them together at some point.
I love the color that this adds to our breakfast nook, and I don't think the tape is visible to the nekkid eye (unless you've read this blog, and then you're in on the secret!). So far, these have been holding up pretty well. However, I can't say the same thing about one of the other projects I "finished."

More to come about that soon -- as soon as I find my duck tape ...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Not-So-Foolish 40: The Final Four

It’s going to be a BIG weekend in Atlanta, y’all. The Final Four comes to town. The Dome is gonna be rocking and rolling, traffic is going to be amazing(ly awful) and car flags are going to be flying. Personally, I’m not going anywhere near that mess. I’ll be happily watching from my couch, without a true stake in any game. Didn’t fill out a bracket this year. #aintnobodygottimeforthat 

So -- this is my FINAL FOUR. The last four posts in my Not-So-Foolish 40. And I was thinking we could play a little game. Of the four teams remaining in the men’s NCAA Championship, each one of the mascots could be matched up to an item below. Who is gonna be the first person to match them up correctly?! In case you need them, I've thrown in some hints below. Aaaand ... go!

4. Food -- The other day, I mentioned that burgers are probably my favorite food. Loving cheeseburgers probably doesn't qualify me to be a foodie, but I sure do appreciate a chef's skills. And I'm trying to be better about trying new things. Exhibit A: Brussels sprouts. For years I avoided them, and now I can't cook them enough. They will be on my plate for dinner. (That's the second time this week that I've eaten some, in case you were counting.) And as I type this, I am hungry like the wolf.
Goat cheese just makes anything better, right? (Photo and recipe credit here)
3. C-L-E-M-S-O-N ... T-I-G-E-R-S! -- (I can feel all my Jacket, Dawg, War Eagle, Hokie, Duke, etc. friends out there rolling their eyes.) Yes, my blood runs orange. I have already started brainwashing my child. But I know that hands-down one of the best decisions I have ever made, and will ever make, was to go to Clemson. Waaay too many memories, amazing friendships and life lessons learned. I know my fellow Tigers understand. There's just something in these hills.
Clemson vs. GA Tech, 2011. Such a fun tailgate! My amazing friends hosted a shower for Matt and I at the game. And the Tigers won, of course. 
2. Mom -- I would seriously be the worst daughter ever if I didn't mention my amazing, wonderful, supportive, caring, and strong mother. I always knew she was cool. Then I grew up and become a mother. And then I realized that she is THE COOLEST. Beyond the coolest -- the woman is practically a saint. Her patience could easily rival that of the pope. I know I'm going to continue to learn more from her, and if I play my cards right with our kids, I'll have as good as a relationship with them as the one that we have. I know I didn't truly appreciate everything that she did for me and our family while I was growing up, but boy do I recognize what she did now. Thank you isn't enough. But I hope it's a start.
No resemblance there, huh?
1. Sweet, sweet Sloan -- Welp, I know that no one is shocked that my daughter has come in at No. 1. I am beyond a fool for her. We are ridiculously thankful for the gift that God has given us. I will not tell you about how perfect, wonderful, beautiful, charming and charismatic she is. Oh, whoops. And I know we're going to have (many) moments of frustration and arguments along the way. But I can already tell you that they will be worth it, based on the sheer joy that she's already brought to our lives.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Not-So-Foolish 40: Elite 8

Here we go, friends. We're down to the home stretch -- the last 12 out of my Not-So-Foolish 40. Thanks for sticking with me this week as I bombard your news feed with information that I'm just sure you were dying to know. And now, the Elite 8:

12. Post-It Notes -- Have you seen those pictures of people who use Post-Its to create a work of art? Yeah, that's pretty much my desk at work. I'll get a crazy idea or remember a must-do task and jot it down and stick it on whatever open space there is so that I won't forget it. Sticky-Note Organization, I like to call it. Except that there's no real organization to it.
OK, so my desk doesn't look like this. But I totally appreciate the time it took to create it. (Image courtesy of
11. Family & Friends -- I consider myself ridiculously blessed to have friends that I consider family, and family that I consider friends. For years when I moved to Atlanta, my closest family members were a 9 hour drive away. I valued the independence, but I also relied on my close friendships to fill the gaps. I think this also strengthened my family ties, because when I was spending time with my family I soaked in every second. It may sound cliche, but now that I'm a mother I realize that it really does take a village to raise a child. And our village? Full of family and friends. Wouldn't have it any other way.

10. Consignment stores -- I have a confession -- I'm a shopaholic. Shocked? Yeah, didn't think so. But I'm a bargain shopaholic. I love a good thrift shop (including the "Thift Shop" song by Macklemore) or consignment store. In fact, tonight a bunch of my friends and I swapped a ton of clothes and accessories. It was the perfect combination of friends, food, clothes, conversation and wine. (Of course there was wine. Duh.)

9. Contacts -- Remember when it was cool in middle school to wear fake glasses? Never had that problem. I've been a card-carrying member of the Four-Eyes Society since I was 8 years old. But one of the things I am certainly thankful for are my contacts. Game changer for me, for sure. That's not to say that I don't dig the geek-chic trend. I have been eyeing a pair of Warby Parker specs for a few months now ...
Ironically, these are the Sloan glasses. That just means I HAVE to get them, right?
8. Magazines -- My first big girl job was working for a small magazine publishing company. That first job fed my passion for information (and interior design and DIY) and taught me a whole lot about the real world, including how the demands of a changing econonmy can flip your world upside down in just.two.minutes. But even though I was laid off from what I would consider was a dream job, I now covet the time that I have to dig into one of my favorite magazines.

7. Drive-thrus -- I have absolutely no idea whose invented the first drive-thru, but THANK YOU.

6. My Dad --  This May will mark 6 years since my dad passed away. As I type this, it sounds surreal to say that. Six years. So much has happened in my life in the past six years -- and even though my dad may not have been there to physically share in those moments, I could feel his presense. I try hard not to get upset when I think about my dad (which is all.the.time.), because I know that's not what he would want. He would want me to be happy and to live my life to the fullest the way that he did. At the same time, I know there are others who have a much shorter time to create memories with a parent or loved one, so I'm grateful for the time that I did have with him. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't see, hear or think of something that reminds me that my dad is there -- and for me, there is amazing comfort in that.
Outside our house in Charlotte, spring 1984. Man I really wish I could see what's on Eric's shirt! Can anyone tell?
5. Work-Life Balance -- Remember yesterday when I said that this has been a rewarding week, both professionally and personally? Are you ready for the scoop? I'm transitioning from working full-time to working part-time! And the only way I can really explain my excitement about this transition? You guessed it -- through hashtags! #pinchme #luckylady #bestcompanyever #pinchmeagain #ouch #okstop #thathurts #bruised #buthappy

Come back tomorrow ... it's the FINAL countdown!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Not-So-Foolish 40 (Third Time's a Charm?)

I’m back! Did you miss me? I’m sure all 6 of you who read this totally did. (And by the way, thanks to those of you who are interested enough to keep coming back for more. Appreciate you!)

So, it’s Wednesday. The week is halfway over, and for me this has been a big week both professionally and personally. Don’t worry -- I’ll absolutely fill you in. (Is the anticipation killing you? Not yet? How about now?) But first … here’s the 8 latest and greatest in my Not-So-Foolish 40:

(By the way -- if you’re just tuning in, you may want read this and that first.)

20. Mood Swings -- No, not the PMS-related ones. That’s the name of my tennis team. Unfortunately our practice tonight was rained out, and I am totally bummed out because I love my team, our coaches and being able to work off some mid-week aggression on the courts. (And last week during a match I hit my first ace. Possibly my first and last, so I wanted to be sure I documented it!)
End-of-season team dinner. Pretty much an excuse to get everyone together for margaritas. 
19. Breath mints -- See No. 35. My coworkers are probably the most thankful that I value these.

18. Yeah! Burger -- I love burgers; they are quite possibly my favorite food. For my money, this is the best burger joint in town. And I had dinner there tonight. It was delicious.
So much for my diet. 
17. Big Brother -- Well, I actually have a little brother. Actually, he isn’t so little. Wait, that sounds bad. What I’m trying to say is that he’s all growed up. And I’m proud of him. Love you, bro.

16. Melatonin -- I’m a pretty light sleeper, and I also have a hard time turning my brain off at night. When I need to get a solid night’s sleep, I pop one of these, hand Matt the baby monitor and zzzzzzzzzz …

15. Music -- I honestly cannot think of a day in recent memory when I haven’t spent a significant amount of time listening to music. I pop in some earbuds and listen at work. When I get home, I’d much rather listen to music than put on the news. And if you have any new toons that you think I should check out, puh-lease let me know! (I’m listening to the new JT as I type this.)
I got this for Christmas a few years ago. Not only does it play records, but it has a radio, CD player , jack for your iPod and .. wait for it ... A CASSETTE PLAYER! Time to bust out all your old mixed tapes, kids. 
14. Microwaves -- Seriously, one of the best modern inventions in my book. Except I will not microwave leftover pizza. Must be reheated in the oven.

13. My bonus fam -- That’s what I call my in-laws. And.they.rock. I’m putting my bonus mom, dad and sister at number 13 because I recognize just how lucky I am -- because we’ve all heard the stories about those who are unlucky in this department. For those of you who have met them, you know just how outgoing, kind-hearted and generous they are. Pretty much exactly how I want my children to be. I have definitely hit the in-law lottery, folks. #nowhammieshere