Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pages of Penrose: Books of 2015

I cannot believe that 2015 is nearly over! This week is filled with the excitement of Christmas, but I am also really excited about this post! Back at the beginning of the year, I made a commitment to myself to read more.  I love reading, and wanted to find time in my day for books.  I've done that in two ways, audiobooks during my commute to and from work, and reading books or e-books.  At the beginning of the year, I made a goal of reading 15 books during 2015.  I have far exceeded that! I am so glad for the wonderful books that I came across this year, and I already am looking forward to a bunch of books that I want to get to in 2016!

Isn't that the truth??

Print or Kindle:
For the Right Reasons by Sean Lowe, Nancy French
Going Off Script by Giuliana Rancic
Bridesmaid Lotto by Rachel Astor
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

Can you Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty
The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
The Perfect Letter by Chris Harrison
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
11th Hour by James Patterson, Maxine Paetro
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Witness by Nora Roberts
14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson, Maxine Paetro
Invisible by James Patterson, David Ellis
What I did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Now You See Her by James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge
Kill Me if you Can by James Patterson, Marshall Karp

Pages of Penrose Review: The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

I am so excited about this book review!  This is a somewhat long book, but mainly because it is written entirely as correspondence between the characters.  I had the perfect opportunity for long hours by myself to finish up this book over the weekend...

What you don't see in this photo of the Detroit airport is that it was -4 degrees outside! There were about 15 birds flying around inside the concourse because it was too cold for them outside!  I cozied up near a window view of snow falling...

Flights, layovers, a Gingerbread Tea Latte, and a great book...I also may have repeated this exact moment on the way home, those darn lattes are just so good ;)

I was surprised to learn that this was Susan Rieger's debut novel.  I found the characters of The Divorce Papers witty, intelligent, and the plot of the story curiously exciting.  As I mentioned before, the book is written entirely as correspondence, made up of inter-office memos, letters to the other law firm, invitations, personal notes, and emails.  I really liked this aspect of the book, and thought that it added to the interest of the book.  Unlike a typical novel, I felt myself keep turning the pages because I could not wait to see what happened next, not just turning pages trying to end at the start of a new chapter.

Although I have an entirely different career and family than Sophie Diehl, a bright, young lawyer who typically works on criminal cases, I found moments of her life easy to relate to.  Trying to make a name for herself as a young professional, the playful exchanges with her best friend, complicated relationships with her parents, clients, love interests.  These are all things that many 20-somethings either deal with, or have a friend dealing with, on a regular basis.

Rieger did a wonderful job developing the characters, playing off of stereotypes, entertaining us with the plight of the high-end divorce client that this plot surrounds.  As long as you like the unique correspondence format, I highly recommend this book to other readers!

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own.

Have you read The Divorce Papers? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

Read more about my book reviews here, and friend me on Goodreads to see what's next!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Plates of Penrose: Red Velvet Cookies

If you or someone you know loves red velvet as much as my husband does, you will want to make these cookies! 

I took inspiration from this recipe that I found on Pinterest, but changed it a little because I do not like rolling cookies in sugar.  These. were. so. good.

Follow me for more ideas on Pinterest here!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pages of Penrose Review: The Perfect Letter by Chris Harrison

I did not know what to expect from The Perfect Letter, but I have been a fan of Chris Harrison/The Bachelor franchise for years so I wanted to see how he was at being an author.  My first impression was that the plot was another mimic of the movie Sweet Home Alabama, but the further I read the more I realized that Harrison is a very talented writer. There was so much storyline and depth packed so much into this novel.  The twists and details of the story really build on each other, and I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a love story.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Philanthropy & Penrose: Cyber Monday Deals!

I'm pretty much bursting with excitement for our Angel Tree child. This little boy scored so many gifts on Cyber Monday!  Check out all of the loot that we were able to get for him off his wish list, thanks to Cyber Monday deals from Crazy8 and Amazon...

What we know about him....He's from our hometown, and he's a 7 year old little boy that loves action figures, especially Superman!

Now, I like to pride myself on my bargain-shopping skills, but I am so impressed with all that we could find for him.  I used the code CYBERWK20 on Amazon to get an additional 20% off the jacket, sneakers, socks & undies, and got at least 50% off the action figures and books there as well.  We also have Amazon Prime so all items ship for free!  The rest of the clothing items are from Crazy8, which was having a great cyber sale and emailed me coupon code for an additional 20% off my purchase with free shipping.

Total, we purchased everything above for under $160.00.  The shoes and jacket alone would have cost almost that much!  I am so excited to start receiving the packages in the mail so that I can get them all wrapped up :)


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Show & Tell Tuesday: Service

Linking up today for Show & Tell Tuesday with Momfessionals!

I love reading the Show & Tell Tuesdays posts from some of the blogs I follow, and today's topic is something I am really passionate about so I thought I would join in!

If you have ever followed my Philanthropy & Penrose tab then you know about my passion for the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.  My love for this charity was planted while in college when I joined the Alpha Delta Pi sorority, and has since continued to blossom into a passion of mine.  I have been a committee member for two annual fundraising events at the house, Storybook Ball and Girls' Night Out.  

RMH Charlotte Storybook Ball 2015
RMH Charlotte Girls' Night Out 2015
This coming year, I am so excited to be co-chairing Girls' Night Out 2016!!  This event is like no other.  It will make you smile, laugh, cry, dance, and leave with such a full heart.  If you are a woman in the Charlotte area, I highly recommend attending this Spring event!

Other philanthropic causes that we support each year are some through our church.

We always pick at least two names off of our church Angel Tree.  We have a lot of teachers in low-income areas who submit the information and I love that the little angels we help are from our local community.  

We also love stuffing at least two Operation Christmas Child boxes each year!  This year we are gifting to a 5-9 year old girl and 2-4 year old boy.  

P.A.T.H. is a local food bank ministry that helps families in our county.  We donate to them periodically throughout the year, as well as through our Annual Fall Festival where entry is canned goods instead of money.  The past two years, we have raised close to 1000 cans and $600 from the event.  Pretty good for our little country church AND getting rained out both years!

Two other things that have been on my heart are Christmas giving traditions.  The first, is that I have always wanted to skip the 'normal' Christmas day stuff and volunteer at a big soup kitchen.  I think once we have older kids, this is something I want to do at least once and who knows--maybe it will become our yearly tradition then.

The other is--now that Ryleigh is old enough to start learning and experiencing Christmas (last year she was still too young to understand), I feel like it's important to have the foundation of the Reason for the Season.  Yes, we are definitely having all the Santa fun and next year we will probably get a visit from a pesky little Elf on a shelf, but I want to tie it all back to Jesus.  I've heard ideas from friends that since the Wise Men brought 3 gifts, they give their children 3 gifts from Santa.  I really like that idea. Also, I'm thinking of doing three special charitable gifts each year--something like Heifer Project.  Each year sponsor three different animals or gifts.  As our kids get older they can help choose what we do, which will make it special for them and also open their eyes to life outside of our little world.
Last year -- Christmas 2014

I can't wait to read everyone else's ideas in the link-up :)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pinning for Penrose: Eat-in Kitchen

In our house we have an eat-in kitchen area in front of our big kitchen window.  I go back and forth with what I want to put there.  We have bar space at the island for people to eat, and when we re-do our kitchen counters within the next year (granite and backsplash) we will be adding 2-3 more bar seats on the wall between the kitchen & living room, where we currently just have wood moulding.  I am not crazy about the idea of just getting a table and chairs and calling it a day in there.  I would rather have some comfy seating, more of an informal area, where friends or family could sit and chat while we prepare a big meal.  So, I've been looking at some Keeping Room inspiration on Pinterest....

reading nook // built-in bench // club chairs // lounge area

Don't these just make you want to grab a cup of coffee or holiday beverage and some snacks to relax a little while?  I'm loving this so much more than a plain ol' table & chairs.

This is not one of the most important items on my list of ideas, but eventually I plan to create something like this.  I will have to keep my eyes open for good deals and see what I come across!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Plates of Penrose | Inspiration!

Yall, I am so excited. So many people ask me where I find recipes for delicious dinners, appetizers, desserts....the answer anymore is almost always Mix & Match Mama.  It's a foodie blog written by a mom who just so happens to be Sean Lowe [former Bachelor]'s sister.  I love her recipes for so many reasons --they have always been delicious, they are for "normal" people (i.e. there is no fancy chef lingo), and they are practical!  She's a mom so she understands the need for balance. She has great ideas for meal planning, crock pot cooking, and delicious yet easy desserts.  I have never had one of her recipes fail me!  I incorporate them into our daily dinners, covered dishes to bring to events or people who have had babies, holiday meals....everything!  Even my picky-eater husband loves her recipes.

So, I may have squealed with excitement when she recently announced this:

I know that these will be just the first cookbooks of many from her and I plan to add every single one to my collection.  I have a drawer full of printed out recipes from her blog and now I can have them all bound and pretty!

It looks like they will retail at $16 each once they are available February 1, 2016.  Preorders are available now!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pages of Penrose Review: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

This suspenseful story from Gillian Flynn will keep her fans guessing...forever.

The Grownup fits the bill for a short ghost story, leaving the reader with questions throughout the twists and turns, and that unsettling feeling that lingers after the story is done.

Just like one would expect from Flynn, the lead role is a young woman with a troubled, questionable life yet she fascinates us with her obvious intellect and quick-thinking.  The story surrounds her choice of jobs, and one particular client visit that ends up leading to a bigger ordeal.  The story is just over 60 pages and while it builds steadily in the beginning, the middle of the book becomes a rapid page-turner where the reader is questioning just which twists to believe.  Is it supernatural? Who is lying? What happens next?....and that final question will stick with us always as the ending of this story leaves all questions unanswered.

I do not read many short stories so it may be more of my predisposition to wish for a more developed ending, however I felt being a thriller it was fitting to leave the reader speculating with so many options for the direction the conclusion could have taken.

Purchase your own copy here.

 *I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own.

Have you read The Grownup? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

Read more about my book reviews here, and friend me on Goodreads to see what's next!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Pages of Penrose: Exciting update!

Last week I updated you on my renewed love of reading and this week I have some exciting news!

I stumbled across the opportunity to start doing online Book Reviews, and my first book is currently on the way to me now!  I'm being sent a copy of Gillian Flynn's new story, The Grownup and sometime in the next month you will get to hear what I think of it!  This isn't a full novel, it's a 64 page story that is being published as a stand-alone.  I loved Gone Girl and I'm already excited about her newest story just from the synopsis and cover art...

I know they say 'Never judge a book by its cover' but I'm totally a sucker for some good cover art.

From Random House:


Gillian Flynn’s Edgar Award-winning homage to the classic ghost story, published for the first time as a standalone

A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it. 

The Grownup is currently available for Pre-Order and goes on sale to the public TOMORROW!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Parenting Penrose: Halloween

My little Minnie Mouse had the best time trick-or-treating with her friends! We had a bunch of friends and family over to take the kids around our part of the neighborhood and then have dinner, snack, and watch games for the night.  We had some great conversation and laughs! 

She loved carrying her "punkin basset" around full of candy and glow sticks.  She would walk/run up to the houses and say "treat treat"....I guess the girl knew what she wanted!  She was so polite and would say "thank you bye bye" to every house, haha!  She also learned how to grab 5-10 pieces of candy from a bowl with just one of her itty bitty hands in a giant grab. She got one little taste of chocolate and we created a monster!  She takes after her Momma with that sweet tooth I suppose.

I mean, all the heart eyes.....We got her dressed and then took her into her bathroom to see herself in the big mirror...she thought it was hilarious! I put on her hairpiece (just alligator clipped on top) and she started cracking up at herself and thought she was the coolest thing.  I loved seeing her enjoy the holiday and somewhat understand what was going on. 

Her hair clip was the only thing that we needed to buy for this little outfit! The leggings and black long-sleeved shirt are just Garanimals that we already had, moccs were an online deal I bought months ago and she's finally growing into them, and the romper we found on Amazon a while back.  It's sized for next summer so it was perfect to go over another layer.

In other exciting news, I pre-ordered this.  Can't wait for the 20th to get here!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pages of Penrose: Reading

Maybe it's the creative spirit in me, but I can get so immersed in a good book or a good song.  I've always been that way, even as a kid. I remember in middle and high school, getting a new cd and listening to my favorite song over and over, not because I liked the song or wanted to sing it, but because it was so emotionally gripping that it felt like therapy to hear it.  It's the same way with reading. If I'm reading a really good book, towards the end I always have this bittersweet anxiety because I want to know what happens but at the same time I'm already dreading parting with the characters.

I love, love, love to read but especially over the past few years it was one of those things that I could never seem to fit into a day.  As a tired new mom, was I really going to spare precious moments of sleep to stay up later and read a book? When could I find time to do that when I was already up late pumping, washing bottles, and packing meals for the next day?  Although with a child things are still ever-changing, this toddler stage we are now in has made it a lot easier than the infant stage to find some spare moments for me in a day.

Back at the beginning of the year, I decided that I was going to read more.  I started putting a book in my Medela tote bag to read during my 30 minute pumping sessions and it was so much more fulfilling than "window shopping" on the internet every day.  That sort of kick-started my want to read more, and I decided that instead of listening to the radio on the way to and from work [I have about a 35-45 minute commute each way] I was going to give audiobooks a try.  I was hesitant at first because I remember my dad reading books on tape when I was a little kid because he had over an hour commute each way out into Amish country in Pennsylvania, and thinking it was soooo boring.  Monotoned, robotic voices were my impression of audiobooks.  But, I scoured Amazon and bought my first one, Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella. I figured I couldn't go wrong with a good Sophie Kinsella book.  I loved it and when I finished that book I immediately wanted to start another one. However, buying all of these audiobooks is not cheap. With a little research, I found out that our local library actually has a really large selection, especially between all of their branches. Free to get a library card, free to listen to audiobooks :)

So that's what I've been doing, and I have read 17 books so far this year, a couple on my Kindle but most audiobooks.  It makes me feel very accomplished and also is pretty exciting when I test out a new author and find a love of their books.  Technically I guess you could say that I'm listening to books instead of reading them, but I think the intention is still there and it certainly activates the mind and imagination more than terrible radio with commercials and ads every five seconds.

Find my Goodreads page through my Pages of Penrose tab and friend me so that we can follow along with each other!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Our First Night on Penrose

We moved in this weekend [for the most part...] and spent our first night in the new house last night! It is so exciting to see everything coming together, and filling with furniture.  We still have a bunch of kitchen items and artwork to bring over from the apartment, but we are slowly getting there...

The first night went pretty well.  Ryleigh was loving the house and her new room all the way up until it was time for bed.  Then she had a 10 minute freak-out that completely shattered my heart to a million pieces because she was clutching onto me so tight, crying and saying "I sawwy mommy, I sawwy" because she was scared and I guess felt like we were leaving her or punishing her. I wanted to curl into a ball and die. But, with the comfort of her 13 4 blankies and every stuffed Bubble Guppy that we own, she calmed down after some rocking chair cuddles and went right to peaceful sleep.

And this is an exciting week! For several reasons...

1. Internet, phone, and cable were hooked up this morning! Yay for all of our DVR shows transferring because we are about 3 weeks behind on every single show...

2. Tomorrow is my birthday!!

3.  Wednesday we get our new living room sofa, loveseat, and entertainment center :)

4.  Our HOA approved our fence, so hopefully that is installed soon so that we don't have to bundle up at 6am to walk the dogs around the cul-de-sac!  Also, so that they can RUN. They have been so cooped up the last few months and I hate that for them. They will probably run circles for an entire day around the new yard once the fence goes in.

Also, some fun new randoms...

I am totally obsessed with Joss & Main.  I scooped these little trickets up, each for less than $8, and I had free shipping because after you make a purchase, you get free shipping for 30 days!  I have been buying several things on there lately so I've been running with free shipping for the past 2 months....... #sorrynotsorry

They have some of the CUTEST Christmas decor items right now. I got this cute little sign, which will find it's way either onto our mantle or somewhere in the kitchen.   The Bunny ring holder is for my kitchen.  I always take off my ring to cook and do the dishes, which is all the time with a little one.  I always sit my ring on the counter, but stumbled across this and thought it was too good of a deal to pass up, and so unique!   I also just bought this to go with our new duvet cover.



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Projects of Penrose | Paint, Flooring & Organization

We are getting so close to move-in!!  We are hoping for this weekend if all goes according to plan.

We went to the house all day on Sunday and I painted two accent walls, one in our bedroom and one in Ryleigh's.  My handy Daddy also helped with hanging some lights and ceiling fans.  I was preoccupied so I didn't get any pictures yet, but those will be coming soon enough!

Our flooring downstairs is going to be installed on Thursday and should hopefully only take one day!!

Here is an update on some purchases and room Decor.....

Family Organization Center 
 This fun display will be in our mudroom across from our cubbie bench area.  I can already picture lots of beautiful pictures of our friends and family on the corkboard to celebrate their life events :) The calendar and whiteboard (aka-where we can make a grocery list) will help to keep Jake and I on the same page with our busy day-to-day.   I really love this unit with the white frame, especially since it will be across from our white cubbies, but white is backordered until February.  So, espresso it is! Luckily we are espresso people so it will match everything else and especially the kitchen which is the next room over.

Ryleigh's Room
Artwork // Be Wild and Free  |  Paint // Sherwin Williams for Lowe's
Still searching for a good vinyl decal for her name on the wall via etsy.  I think I'm leaning towards this one or this one.

Master Bedroom

Loving this new color scheme and how the patterns play off each other.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Finally Ours! Now if we could just move in....

Yay! We finally closed on our house and we are so excited! It doesn't quite feel real yet, because re-doing the flooring downstairs is like this ominous cloud hanging over my head of a project that must be done before we move in.  However, today was a fantastic day and I feel like we got a lot accomplished!

I spoke to the flooring contractor and got some great information and advice, and per his suggestion we purchased bamboo hardwoods.  The durability is key for us, and nowadays they offer so many great colors that do not actually look like the typical stranding of bamboo.  I'm also excited that it is working out for the flooring company who worked for our builder to be the same company installing our floors.  They were so wonderful every time we visited during building and we totally feel comfortable having them in our home to install these floors.

Originally we were planning to go with a solid oak hardwood, but Rafael really suggested bamboo instead because it is going to be just as durable, if not more durable, and since we are on a slab bamboo will perform better.  One of the benefits to a solid hardwood is being able to sand and re-stain, but since we are on a slab if we tried to sand solid hardwoods Rafael said it can ruin the floor.  Also, we saved 50 cents per square foot by switching to bamboo, so that was a $600 win! 
PS--Lumber Liquidators is now in Rock Hill! Who knew?! I never drive down Cherry Road anymore, but Jake informed me that they are now where Blockbuster used to be.  Yay for free shipping to store for pick up :)  Hopefully in a few weeks this will be done and behind us, and the house will really be looking like home!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Products of Penrose: Kiddie Kitchen

I am so excited for Ryleigh's big Christmas gift this year...

KidKraft Espresso Play Kitchen
This was such a deal that I scooped it up earlier than I usually start shopping for Christmas gifts.  We have the perfect wall in our new kitchen to put a little play kitchen for Ryleigh, so I was a little bit picky about the way hers would look so that I do not have a giant primary-colored, plastic eye sore in there.  I love how this is a mini version of our kitchen!  Espresso cabinets, stainless steel appliances, tile backsplash and white granite countertops :)

This prices anywhere from $115-230 depending on which store you find it in and if it is on sale.  I snatched it up on a Zulily sale for $104! #success


Monday, September 21, 2015

Projects of Penrose: Home Decor Update :)

So our house closing is LESS than TWO weeks away!!!!!

I'm a little bit in shock and a lot a bit excited that it's finally here.

Since we are closer I have made a few purchases lately........

This beauty will be installed over our kitchen island...[all the heart eyes]
Chandelier from Joss & Main
Shop the site through my link here:
Joss and Main

Also our master bedroom color scheme was changed around after Jake and I both fell in love with this duvet cover:
The Blake duvet cover from Potterybarn

Next purchases...a fence and hardwoods for downstairs!  I will be so happy a month from now once those two items are installed and we are moved in.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Plates of Penrose: Buffalo Chicken & Cauliflower

A healthier mix of a favorite. Instead of carb-loading on macaroni or chips with buffalo chicken, I mixed in cauliflower.

Now, you could use fresh cauliflower and steam it on the stove then season and mix in with your cooked chicken. But, like me, you could also buy this great mix: Birdseye Steamfresh Buffalo Cauliflower.  You could also get a steamer bag of regular cauliflower and season it to taste, but I found this bag to be really good.  Steam this in the microwave as directed while you do the following...

I diced my chicken breasts then seasoned with some chili powder, Kick'n Chicken, Dry Ranch seasoning, and tiny bit of garlic salt.  I'm Italian so we cannot use just one spice... Then cooked on the stove. As the chicken was almost cooked through, I added Buffalo Ranch dressing and Texas Pete (or Frank's Red Hot, to taste).  You could also add in 4oz cream cheese and/or shredded mozzarella.  Once the chicken is cooked all the way, add in the steamed cauliflower and mix it up.  An easy, one-pot kind of meal :)

Since I did not put in the cream cheese it was not as thick as a dip, just a normal sauce.

We ate it with some homemade cheesey bread. I had never done home-made but this was really good and simple!  Tasted just like Texas Toast but the slices were not as thick.  Spray a baking sheet with Pam, then lay your bread slices down.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and Greek seasoning.  Melt 1/3-1/2 stick of butter in the microwave then pour out evenly over the seasoned bread.  Top with shredded cheese of your choice (we did mozzarella) and cook in the oven.  You want the cheese to melt and the bread to toast, which generally takes about 5-7 minutes with your oven at 350 degrees.

Enjoy :)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Pinning for Penrose: Wall Decor

I am so excited to start making the new house feel like home. We are supposed to close the first week of October, and hopefully will be moved in around my birthday.  

I found a great deal on Groupon for Gallery Wrapped Photo Canvases that I snatched up! We have a big open wall in the kitchen and I have such a fun idea for it. I can't wait to get these canvases ordered closer to our closing date!

Here is some inspiration for other areas of the house...

Three more weeks until we close!!!!


New Features

Hey there! You may have noticed the new pages bar across the top of the blog. I follow the Mix & Match Momma blog and always love her book review posts so I thought I would share my own Goodreads page so that if you are a reader and want to know what I'm loving, you can follow along too!

Also, if you know me you probably know about my passion for volunteering with our local Ronald McDonald House, so I decided to share that information with you as well. If you are interested in learning more, just message me and I would love to share more!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Products of Penrose: Fireplace Focus

If you follow me on instagram then you saw this recent house udpate...

Let's focus on that top left picture of our new fireplace!

The fireplace was one of my non-negotiables when building this house and Jake was completely on board with it! I love, love, love how cozy a fireplace makes a house feel.  We opted for the gas fireplace and we went with the larger size of 42".  What can I say, we really like fireplaces.  We also chose to do an upgraded mantle so it is really a focal point in the room.  The builder puts in directional lighting in the ceiling to highlight the wall over the fireplace, and we did a black granite surround.  I also added an electrical outlet over the mantle so that I can plug in lighted garlands and holiday decorations. I am so, so excited for this!

I got an email today from TOMS that they were having a Surprise Sale, and decided to check out what they had to offer.  Sadly none of their Classics were on sale in gray--something I've been wanting for this fall, but....Their Christmas stockings, which I have had my eye on for a while, were on sale for $8.10/each, down from $27!  Pom-poms & paisley make my heart go pitter-patter :)

I purchased them immediately, one of each of the above.  They have a teal version of the diamond pattern one (far right) but I decided to go with all red.  I love how they work together but aren't too matchy-matchy.  I can't wait to see them up on that mantle in a few months!

I also picked up this Pumpkin & Black pocket tee, which  I think will be a great fall transition tee for casual weekends.  It was on sale half off at $17.

I can't wait for these purchases to arrive.  All at a great deal, and also guilt-free since we helped empower women & children in Uganda and the Himalayas through TOMS One-For-One movement.

Happy September! Who else is ready for the holiday season?!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Practically Penrose: Quick House Update

Things are getting so exciting out at the new house!  I mean, it has been exciting from the beginning but now it's looking much more like a home instead of a construction project.

The exterior is done with a couple little touch ups needed, the interior has cabinetry, moldings, doors, paint, hardware, fireplace, fireplace surround, mantle, vanities, and as of last Thursday it was being prepped for the tile in the master bathroom.

I'm sure that countertops and plumbing fixtures are not far behind!  Although, the kitchen countertops will be ripped back out shortly after we move in, to make way for my pretty new granite!

We will be out of town this coming weekend (can't wait for that!! our first official vacation as a family of 3?!) but I'm hoping to visit the granite yard in a couple of weeks so that we can finalize that selection and get it scheduled.

Also next up on the to-do list:
 1.  Pick a hardwood for the floor and finalize that with the contractor.
 2.  Finalize granite selection.
 3.  Start buying stuff!  It's been a lot of window shopping thus far and now we are finally at the point where we can make the purchases of some of the new items we want for the house.  Of course, it will be a process over time but mainly in the living room, we are getting a few new items.  I'm excited because this house, aside from the obvious differences, is going to look a lot different from our hold house.  It makes things fun for this interior designer :)

On the more boring side, we have our interest rate locked in and the paperwork side of things is moving along smoothly!

Monday, August 17, 2015

18 Months of Change

On August 14th, my girl turned 18 months old.  Wow has time flown.  She has been walking for 7 months already.  That seems like a minute and an eternity all at once.  Her language and skill development in these last six months have grown tenfold.  She makes us laugh and makes us proud every day.  I'm sure every parent says that so it seems cliche, but it really is incredible to see something that *we created* change and grow every day.  

Weight:  24.9 lbs
Height: 33"?? Not sure because she hates the doctor's office and was screaming & wiggling the hole time.

Ryleigh still gets a mid-morning/lunchtime milk and a bedtime milk.  She will take the lunchtime one from a sippy cup but she still prefers the nighttime one in a bottle.  

Breakfasts--some variety of the Eggo kind, along with puffs and sometimes peanut butter crackers or a fruit squeeze pouch.

Lunches--grilled chicken, pulled pork, pizza, hotdog, burger patty...She's not big on ham or sausage but will eat most other meat that we have given her.  She refuses to even taste pasta. Still to this day she has never eaten it. I suppose that is a good thing, especially for later in life, but right now it drives me bonkers.   She also always eats a veggie squeeze pouch and/or Greek Yogurt pouch, cut up fruit, and some other snack-type food like peanut butter crackers or Lil'Crunchies.  She may be a skinny mini but she can throw back some food!

Dinner--Depending on what we are eating (if it doesn't involve pasta or anything containing annatto) she will get some of that, or she will get some mixture of the lunch items listed above.  

12?14? She's pretty much got everything possible for her age, although she doesn't let me get my finger in there to count. Everything is either in, or already broken through and coming in.  

Thankfully this is back to normal with the exception of a few days where she's woken up earlier than usual.  She still naps for about 2 hours once a day around noon.

Still obsessed with coloring and stickers!  She will request her "colors" almost every morning before going to daycare.  She loves trying to say new words and some of her favorite things to do are counting and singing the ABC's.  If she is getting fussy, especially in the car, all we have to do is sing ABC's and she will calm down then start to sing along.

She counted on her own from 1-10 at dinner the other night! Usually if we say the number she repeats them and will sometimes beat us to the next number so we knew that she was learning the pattern of it.  But, while we were waiting on food at a restaurant the other night I said "one" and when she repeated it she kept going all the way to 10!! Extremely proud momma moment!  

Her language skills continue to grow and she will regularly speak in small sentences to us. She will ask the dogs "Kona, wanna play?" while tossing handfuls of chalk or hairbows to him, will say "I want my daddy" or "me ride in daddy truck".  She's also singing along to more and more country songs in the car :) haha!

Size 4

Such a mixture.  We have been introducing some 24month clothes for added length but she still fits into 18month clothes. She even has a couple of tank tops that she still wears that are only 12month size.  We have been putting her in some 2T sleepers that fit her pretty well too, a little bit long through the middle but they are wearable.

--Counting to 10 on her own!!
--Drinking from a straw cup.
--Visiting the zoo!
--Visit to GA
--Passport Photos
--1st ear infection :(

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Find more hours in the day. That is what I've told myself I need.

I like getting into a workout routine but with a very active toddler and working during the day, when do I have time to work out??  I already wake up around 6:30-6:45, and I'm not enough of a morning person to move that earlier to work out in the morning & shower, etc.  I usually shower at night, and I prefer working out in the evenings.  So, I've decided recently to get my lazy bootay moving in the right direction.  Not working out over the past 6 months once I stopped breastfeeding (aka burning hundreds of calories a day) has had some effects that I'm not super happy with and if I'm being honest here I have double-digit pounds that I could lose.

So, I decided that I could do some things to move in the right direction...

1... I went out and bought some new workout clothes [hello motivation] from the Under Armour outlet on tax free wkend...see, totally justified! I actually did make out like a bandit! I got a sports bra, two pair of workout capris, two pair of athletic shorts, and package of 5 no-slip headbands (to hold back those lovely post-partem whispy hairs) all for under $95.

2... I stopped buying foods that I don't want to eat.  If it's not in the house, there is no temptation to eat it.  Therefore, klondike bars have been replaced with extra Greek yogurt to snack on and there are no more oreos in the pantry.  Thankfully, I do like the taste of healthy food and I have a Greek yogurt addiction so this is easy to do.

3... I bought some new fitness material.  I love, love my Insanity dvd's but living in this apartment wouldn't allow me to do all of the running/jumping/etc that Insanity uses since we are on the 2nd floor.  I didn't want to keep pushing off working out 'until we get into the new house' because that's almost two months away.  I heard great things about Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide and also Tone It Up.  I decided to go with Kayla's Bikini Body Guides booklet (a $69 digital download of her 12 week plan) and also ordered Tone It Up's dvd Bikini Series 1 for $19.99.

4... I made an instagram fitness account [fit_momma_smw] and am connecting with the #tiu and #bbg community, especially #tiumoms and #bbgmoms.  Such a great source of accountability and healthy recipe ideas!

5... I've used MyFitnessPal app before, and I'm trying to get back into it. It can be a little much to handle, but I do like seeing the calorie counter.

6... I've never really been a meal prepper on the weekends, but I think I'm going to start trying it.  I feel like that will help to cut down on the "well let's just go out to eat tonight" moments because we have those at least once a week due to a hectic day or getting home late because we went to go check out the house.  Meal prepping will make everything mostly-ready and there won't be a reason to pick up pizza!  This will be especially good once we are in the new house and I have a much bigger kitchen than this tiny little apartment one I'm dealing with now.  

So, here we go! Half-way through Week1 and I'm already feeling the burn and loving the changes :)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Plates of Penrose: Brown Sugar Ham French Toast Roll-Ups

These were so good!  Inspired by the French toast roll-ups that I saw swimming around Facebook, I changed it around a little.

Brown Sugar Ham French Toast Roll-ups
We never buy bread in our house. Unless I know we are doing something where we are packing sandwiches (like a day on the lake) or specifically need bread for a recipe, we don't buy it. We never end up eating it or making it more than a couple slices through the loaf, and old, moldy bread grosses me out.

Therefore, in a pinch I decided to use some delicious Pilsbury crescent rolls for the bread (I even had Honey Butter flavor so I chose that!).  I smooshed together the seams and made 4 rectangles, then baked them as directed for about 8 minutes.

I cubed a ham steak and simmered on the stove with some brown sugar for flavor.

While still warm (and easier to roll) I took the "bread", put some ham on it near the edge, and carefully rolled them up.  Then, I rolled them in a raw egg & cinnamon mixture before putting them in a pan on the stove to toast.

Simple, easy, and ready in about 12-15 minutes.  If you are a lover of breakfast for dinner like we are, this is a great weeknight meal! (or anytime meal. They were good!)

You could also modify by stuffing some breakfast sausage or fruit into the middle, but we had a ham steak left-over from another meal so decided to use it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Plates of Penrose: Momfessionals Recipe Club

Today I'm linking up with Momfessionals for the Recipe Club exchange.

I'm sharing my Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese, and I can't wait to see some great recipes from all of the other ladies!

My original post on this recipe a few weeks ago can be found here.

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese

--Chicken (I used tenderloins but you could also use breasts)
--Hot sauce
--Dry Ranch seasoning
--Chili Powder
--Onion Powder
--Macaroni noodles
--Velveeta Cheese package

*If you are able, marinate your chicken in some chili powder & dry ranch seasoning overnight. No worries if you don't have time for that though!

On your stovetop, put cut-up chicken in a pan and season with chili powder, onion powder, and dry ranch seasoning.  A light dusting of all three is enough, just to cover the tops :)  Mix together with some hot sauce and continue cooking.  Boil your water in a separate pan and then add in macaroni noodles.  Once macaroni is cooked, drain water then put back on the stovetop over medium heat with half of a Velveeta cheese package, some more hot sauce (to taste) and a little bit more dry ranch.  Combine your chicken in and mix all together, once cheese is melted into a nice sauce, lower heat.  Enjoy!  Serve with some carrot or celery sticks, or throw a steamer bag of veggies in your microwave for a nice, balanced meal!

Of course, if you like onion and celery you could also sauté them with the chicken then throw them into the mac & cheese, or get fancy and top it off with some bleu cheese crumbles.

Follow me on Pinterest if you want more of my recipes and some great ones that I've tried from others!

Plates of Penrose: Quick, Easy & Filling Breakfasts

I'm someone who definitely needs to eat breakfast in the mornings, but typically never sit down to eat it. It has to be something "on the go" or something I bring to work and eat at my desk while checking morning emails.

About a month ago my cousin, who is a Beachbody coach, sent me a sample of chocolate Shakeology.  I have been wanting to try it for a while, but haven't made the splurge.  Which in reality, it comes out to about $4/shake which isn't that bad but the $129 lump purchase made me want to try a free sample first to make sure (1) it actually tasted good and (2) was as magical as it claims to be.

Well, I was really impressed with Shakeology.  My usual breakfast (granola bar, greek yogurt, or bag of cookies) would only sustain me until around 11 when I wanted a snack to hold me over until my 1pm lunch.  I mixed the chocolate Shakeology sample with my iced coffee and it was pretty darn good. I wish that I had my blender at the apartment so that I could've made a smoothie but that is packed away so I made due.  What I was most impressed with is that I drank it on my way to work and did not get hungry at all --like, did not even think about food--until lunchtime.

Another great breakfast option that I came across recently is Refrigerator Granola--perfect because it is made in advance and is a good grab & go solution for busy weekday mornings while I'm more focused on packing Ryleigh's lunch for the day.  #workingmom #needmorehoursintheday
Easy, no-cook oatmeal with make-ahead convenience; packed with nutrition to get your day off to a healthy start. Make it in individual mason jars for a perfect serving size and an easy grab-and-go breakfast. From TheYummyLife.com
The Yummy Life blog

There are so many great flavors that she gives recipes for:  Mocha, Cherry Chocolate Chunk, Peach Raspberry, and one that I think will be a favorite this fall--Pumpkin Pie.  

I'm a chocolate lover and if I get to incorporate some dark chocolate into a healthy breakfast, it will give me my fix for the day so that I don't find myself with candy for a mid-morning snack.  #sweettooth4life #moderation

If you try any of these, or have other ideas to share, I'd love to hear them!