Top Projects in 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010



  • Hi there and happy Wednesday! The week is already half over and I still feel like I am recovering from the whole holiday hangover. I finally just got through all of the laundry that had been piling up. Our Great Room still looks like a bomb went off and that is certainly my next project to tackle. A Playroom for Jillian. I think the days of just keeping all of her toys in the Great Room basket are numbered. I don't want our Great Room to turn into a Toys R Us show room. Her toys are starting to get bigger and we are running out of space quickly!!!!

    Speaking of projects,
    Rhoda over at Southern Hospitality is doing a link up party to recap your Top Projects of 2010. Since I am not super crafty or a home improvement diva just yet, I thought I would recap a few of the home decor improvements that I am most proud of this year. Now with the holidays behind us, I can't wait to get a jump start on my home decor goals of 2011!


    Top Projects 2010

    My
    Master Bedroom Evolution was definitely a work in progress for several years, however, this spring we finally had a finished room. We furnished our room with Wal-Mart's Canopy line and couldn't have been happier with it. My Restoration Hardware knock off bedding is still my most favorite thing in the whole room. I am still looking for a mirror and more wall decor for this room but it feels good to have it completely furnished.

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    I love how Jillian's Nursery turned out and would like to do even more with it in 2011. I love how the 'J' vinyl decal looks above her bed, it's one of my favorite things in her room.

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    My biggest home decor find of the year has to be the Sunburst Mirror that I found at TJMaxx/Homegoods. I had been looking on line for months for one and just happen to come across one at our local TJMaxx a few months ago searching for something else. It was love at first sight!!!

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    I used my new Kitchen Island Apothecary Jars for two projects this year. One was for every day using fake fruit and the other was using Christmas ornaments for the Holidays.
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    My mind is has been spinning lately with new ideas to decorate our house in 2011. Here are just a few I had in mind:

    1. Purchase entry way tables.
    2. Finish the Great Room Curtains.
    3. Convert the Den into a functional Den/Playroom.
    4. New Kitchen curtains and valance.
    5. Paint the Dining room a blue/gray color.
    6. Paint the Powder Room Sherwin Williams Restrained Gold.
    7. Purchase more wall decor for the Master Bedroom and Master Bath.

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Christmas 2010 In Pictures

Monday, December 27, 2010

This Christmas meant so much to me for so many reasons. If you have been reading my blog for awhile now, you know that Christmas has been rather eventful for us, and at times, very unhappy. As depressing as it sounds, this is probably the first Christmas in several years that I didn't end up in tears. Last year was technically Jillian's first Christmas, however, I spent it watching Jillian glow like a Christmas light bulb under the Billi Rubin lights while eating hospital chicken pot pie. I remember I was so sleep deprived and stricken with worry that day that some one would just ask me a random question about anything and I would just burst into tears.

This year was an amazing Christmas, one filled with laughter, family, fun, food and most importantly, a beautiful, healthy daughter to share it with! As stressful as the preparations were this Christmas in getting everything ready on time, it was my most memorable Christmas ever. All day Jeff and I kept saying to each other, "Wow, what a difference a year makes!"Our Christmas Weekend in Pictures

Christmas Eve

We always celebrate Christmas Eve with Jeff's family. It's their family tradition to serve the Italian Christmas Eve 7 Fish Dinner.
Jeff, Jillian and I posing in front of Jeff's brother's tree. I wish we would have snapped a picture before Jillian peed through her beautiful Christmas dress on to Daddy's dress shirt!!!


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Look at the beautiful Lobster!!!

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Christmas Day

Jillian woke us up at 6:30am on Christmas morning. This was even considered early for her. She must have been excited to see what Santa had brought her!! Jeff snapped a picture of the presents under the tree when we first walked down the stairs.


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In the middle of opening our gifts, a huge pack of deer showed up in our backyard to wish us a Merry Christmas. I thought they were so beautiful, what an amazing sight to see on Christmas morning. Jillian loves the deer and will always wave to them, it's so adorable!!

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After church, we headed over to my parents house. The insane number of Christmas presents that were sitting under my parents tree was certainly a sight to see! They were practically taking over every corner of the Great room and completely spilling out from under the Christmas tree. My parents have five grand daughters all under the age of 2 so you imagine the spoiling that occurred on that day. We had to take an "present opening intermission" to reload on snacks and Christmas cookies because it was taking us so long to open all of the gifts. We are so blessed by the generosity of our family.

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Jeff, Jillian, and I posing for a picture in front of my parents fireplace.

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My brother Brian and his wife Stephanie with my sister's new arrival, Katelyn!

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My brother Jason with his wife Amanda and the twins!

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My sister in law bought me this adorable holiday beverage tub from Target. We took turns taking pictures of the babies inside of it.
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Jillian getting in on the fun.

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My brother Jason and the twins.
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I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas holiday weekend!!!
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2010 Christmas Card Photo

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Karen At Home Family!


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Happy 1st Birthday Jillian!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

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A year ago today our Christmas miracle was born! It's so hard to believe that a year has passed already. It's been an amazing year at that and I am so unbelievably blessed to be this little girl's Mommy!

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You bring so much joy to our lives and have loved watching you grow from a sweet newborn baby to a loving little girl this past year.

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Happy Birthday beautiful girl! Mommy and Daddy love you so much!
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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Sunday, December 19, 2010

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My friend Andrea made these amazing Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins for us when Jillian was first born. They were so moist and delicious, I just had to have the recipe. Enjoy!!!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Muffins

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Ingredients:
  • 4 Eggs
  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 15 oz Canned Pumpkin
  • 1 12oz package of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

How to Make It:

1. Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees.

2. Beat Eggs and Sugar.

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3. Mix in the Dry Ingredients.

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4. Mix thouroughly - I just used a large spoon.

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5. Spray Muffin Tins with Pam.

6. Fill each section 3/4 full.

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6. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly brown.

Makes 24 Muffins.

Enjoy!!!




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The Cold Streets of Cleveland

Saturday, December 18, 2010



I saw this story on Cleveland's Own Fox 8 news this week regarding the homeless problem here in Cleveland. It is especially heart breaking to watch as I sit in my beautiful home, blessed with both heat and electricity. It really makes you thankful for the little things in life and just how blessed we really are this holiday season. I am reminded that the holidays are more than just shopping for the perfect gift, but a reminder to help out your fellow neighbor, co-worker, and family members.

You can also see from the video how much snow Cleveland received this week!!!
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Jillian "Purring"

Friday, December 17, 2010

As I mentioned in Jillian's 11 month post, Jillian loves to "purr" when she is eating. It's adorable. Not one bite occurs without a satisfying purr from Jillian. You will also notice her infamous double arm wave. Then you really know that she is enjoying her meal. Enjoy!!!

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Ornament Exchange Link Up Party

Thursday, December 16, 2010



Thanks to everyone who participated in the First Annual Ornament Exchange with myself and Shannon over at Webbisodes. I couldn't be more pleased with the turn out and all of the excitement surrounding our exchange! I even saw a few of you Tweeting about it, that really made my day!

We had 44 participants from all over the country and I can not wait to see all of your ornaments!!! I also want to extend a huge thank you to
Shannon who facilitated the whole Ornament Exchange. She designed the beautiful blog buttons and pretty ornament exchange list. The Ornament Exchange would not have been possible without all of her creativity and dedication to make sure that everything ran smoothly.

And without further ado, here are my beautiful ornaments!!!! I was matched up with
Melissa from Meli Faif Life. Melissa's blog is so light and fun, you can just tell that this is the type of person that she is. Her fun personality is apparent in the beautiful ornaments that she selected for our Christmas tree!! Jillian absolutely loves the monkey ornament. She is always pointing at it and wants to touch it.

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My personal favorite is the pink hippo with the feather boa. So pretty!

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I love the colorful Elephant, all three really add a beautiful pop of color to our tree. Thank you so much Melissa!!

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Be sure to link up your beautiful ornaments today by submitting your blog post link below! I can't wait to see every one's beautiful ornaments.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!



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Jillian is 11 months!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

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Even though we are only a week away from Jillian's first birthday, I had to write her 11 month post before I forget. I can't believe that this is one of the last pictures that I will be taking of my baby girl with her monthly onesie stickers on them. I have to say that buying these stickers was one of the best purchases that I made. Looking back at all of Jillian's monthly pictures is, without a doubt, an amazing transformation into the beautiful little girl that she is today. I will cherish these pictures forever. As previously mentioned in other posts, it has gotten harder and harder to take her picture!!! I practically have to duct tape her body to the chair now to keep her from leaping out and severely injuring herself. This time around I enlisted Jeff's help for entertainment value and to catch her if she tried leaping out of the chair again. Perhaps it's a good thing that these monthly picture sessions are coming to an end!!!

As Jillian's first birthday approaches, I am constantly reminded lately on how I was feeling last year at this time. Not wanting to leave the house in fear of contracting the swine flu or afraid of slipping and falling on an icy sidewalk. I also remember this time last year leaving for work each night thinking that it may be my last for a long time! Everywhere I look or everything I experience lately constantly reminds me of how I felt those last few days leading up to the day I became Jillian's Mommy, before my life would be changed forever.
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I am excited to say that Jillian is now a great sleeper. As hard as it was, having her Cry It Out a few nights has completed changed her life and ours. She goes to bed every night now without a struggle. Jeff and I no longer take turns trying to get her to sleep. Jeff and I actually have our evenings back to enjoy each other. Jillian actually now spends her evenings getting 1o or more hours of quality sleep. Jillian is in bed by at least 8:30pm, sometimes earlier if she is over tired, and will sleep until around 7:00am. I can only count a handful of times that she has woken up at night and cried. So now when she does cry in the middle of the night, I know something is really bugging her and it is no longer out of habit. Lately I feel that we may need to move Jillian's bedtime up to around 8pm. By the time 8:3o rolls around, more times than not Jillian is already starting to become cranky and over tired. Tonight we put her to bed at 7:45pm and she was already a basket case!!! I am sure teething may have something to do with it.

Speaking of teething, Jillian still has only two bottom teeth although I can now feel her two upper teeth coming through. Jillian is such a sweet and pleasant baby so you know when she is cranky, something must be really bugging her. I swear it seems like she has been teething for months with her two upper teeth. I will be thrilled when they are finally in. I swear she is going to wake up one morning with a full set of teeth the way she has been teething lately. I think that because she is teething, she has been waking up at night a lot more than usual. We have gone weeks without a night awakening and now it seems to be happening once every few days lately.
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One of my favorite things is to listen to Jillian enjoy a meal. She makes the cutest humming noises as she chews her food. Jeff and I affectionately call it "purring". I took a video the other day of Jillian purring and I will have to share it with you all soon. You also knew when Jillian is eating something that she enjoys because she will stop purring for a moment and give you a double arm flap. You know when those two arms start flapping like crazy that you have picked a winner. I was off from work the week of Thanksgiving. My goal during that time was to fully transition Jillian over to table food. Jillian moved up to the next room in daycare this week and I really wanted her to start eating from their menu like all of the other kids in the new room. The transition went so well. She loved everything that I put in front of her. Jillian has successfully eaten grilled cheese, Kraft macaroni and cheese, Tyson chicken nuggets, green beans, broccoli, Cheerios, Baby Goldfish crackers, Oyster crackers, and L'eggo pancake mini's and waffles. We even ordered Jillian her own grilled cheese sandwich at Panera one day for lunch! She was such a great eater that week that I thought this transition was a piece of cake. I was so happy that I was going around telling everyone what a great eater Jillian was and how she wasn't picky at all!!! And then she got the flu...... Now she is an extremely picky eater and we have pretty much resorted back to eating baby food! She refuses to eat vegetables if it's not in a baby food consistency and also no longer likes Kraft Mac & Cheese! So I am struggling right now with what to do with her. I think I am going to just have to slowly start to reintroduce table foods again and just hope that she starts enjoying them again. I certainly can not blame her. I also got the flu and my stomach just doesn't seem to be the same either. Hopefully this too will pass. Jillian is exclusively a formula drinker now since I weaned her off of breat milk last month. She took to the transition so much easier than I had anticipated. I honestly don't even think she remembers what it was like to breast feed which honestly does sadden me a bit. However, the count down is on to her first birthday where we plan on getting rid of all her bottles and formula. I have already spoken to my pediatrician about whole milk and she has given us her blessing to start giving it to her once she turns a year old. It's hard to believe that I may have just bought our last supply of formula and that our days of washing bottles are coming to an end!!! Jillian is a pro with a sippy cup so I am feeling pretty hopeful that it will be an easy transition.

Jillian is not talking just yet, however, still says the occasional Momma or will try to sputter out "Papa" whenever her Papa is around. We think she has tried to say "Dada", however, we are not convinced just yet. I fully believe that she does know what we are saying to her and will respond to our conversations by pointing to objects that we mention or respond positively or negatively with noises or fusses. If you were to ask her where Mommy or Daddy is, she will look in our direction or point to one of us. She also will crawl or point to her Snoozer bear or Elmo doll if we talk about one of them.
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One of the cutest things that Jillian does is give "smooches". She has been doing this for a few months now with me and now she wants to smooch EVERYBODY. My whole family got together over the week of Thanksgiving to have our pictures professionally taken and all Jillian wanted to do was smooch the twins and smooch my sister's little girl. It was hilarious and just oh so sweet! Jillian has such a big heart and just wants to love on everyone!

Jillian is a champion crawler and is on the verge of taking her first steps. Even though she has only pulled herself up on to furniture a few times, once she is up there, she will concentrate very hard on moving her feet and pulling herself along the different pieces of furniture. Right now she loves walking along our coffee table and will do laps several times a night. It's so fun to watch her concentrate so intently on what she is doing. I have found that she certainly takes more of an interest in furniture walking after the two days she is in daycare.
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Jillian is also starting to show signs of separation anxiety and has been wanting me more and more lately. Dropping her off at daycare lately has been hard and it usually ends with both of us in tears. She just started her new room this week, Infant II, and I think the fact that she is going through separation anxiety and that she still isn't used to her new teachers yet is causing a problem. I feel so awful leaving her while she is crying and reaching out for me. I feel like the worst Mom in the world. I have to keep reminding myself that when she does settle down, she absolutely loves playing with her friends at daycare and that she is only there two days a week.

Jillian lately HATES to have her diaper changed whether it's on her changing table or even on the floor. She screams bloody murder and I have to continuously wrestle her back in place. It's like trying to wrestle an alligator. It's crazy! I am not sure if it's due to the really bad diaper rash she had a few weeks ago so now every time she thinks I change her it's going to hurt or what. Hopefully this is just a phase because I now dread every diaper change.
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Jillian's 11 Month Stats:

Weight: 18 pounds 4 ounces - We were able to weigh Jillian at the pediatrician's office last week when she was in for the flu. Shehas lost some weight since her last time at the pediatrician's office although it was probably due to the fact that she had the flu.

Clothing: 6-9 months. Jillian is still a little peanut and is comfortably still wearing all of her 9 month Carter's clothes. Several of her pajamas are twelve months since she has her Mommy's long legs. Every now and then I will try one of the twelve month outfits she has sitting in her closet and they are just way too baggy on her.

Height: We didn't measure Jillian this month, however, she was 28.5 inches a few weeks ago.
Diapers: Size 3.
Favorite Toys: Books, Blocks, Fisher Price Laugh and Learn table, and the V Tech electronic book. Jillian still loves her Snoozer bear, however, Elmo is fast becoming her new favorite.
Favorite Book: The Ten Little Lady Bugs.
Favorite Past time: Bath Time.
Communication: Clapping, waving her arms, saying "Ah!", pointing, and giggling.
Bedtime: Between 8pm and 8:30pm.

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It's so hard for me to believe that Jillian's days of being considered a baby are numbered. It won't be long now until she is walking and another new chapter of her life will be beginning. It's been an amazing, although sometimes challenging, ride so far and I have loved every minute of being Jillian's Mommy!
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Home Tour Tuesday

Tuesday, December 14, 2010







I am participating today in Home Tour Tuesday hosted by Shannon over at Webbisodes and Daphne over at Flip Flops and Pearls Home Tour Tuesday Event. Today's home tour features Trimming the Tree!! I am also excited to see a few of my Cleveland bloggy friends, Shannon and Heather participating in today's home tour. I love seeing how you have decorated your homes for the holidays!!!

After last week's stomach bug debacle, the Karen At Home family finally ventured out into the cold this weekend and purchased our Christmas tree.


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Bringing home our Christmas Tree!

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I put most of the ornaments and lights on last night and hope to try adding some ribbon to our tree this year. Since I have not bought the Christmas tree ribbon just yet, do you have any recommendations on where you have found the best ribbon to trim the tree with???

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Jillian was only 4 days old last Christmas. Here is one of our cherished first ornaments in honor of our most special Christmas gift last year.
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One of our favorite Christmas traditions on Christmas Day is to watch the 24 hour marathon of 'A Christmas Story'. The Christmas Story has an extra special meaning here to the people of Cleveland since the movie was actually filmed right here in Cleveland. Every year Cleveland attracts thousands of visitors from all over the country who tour the Christmas Story home. Leg Lamp included!!!


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Christmas Apothecary Jar Project

Sunday, December 12, 2010



I have three Apothecary jars sitting on my kitchen island that I normally fill with plastic fruit to give a punch of color to our kitchen. You can fill Apothecary jars with pretty much anything and can change up what you are displaying to keep your decor interesting year round. One of the best things about decorating with Apothecary jars is the ability to change what you are displaying inside them depending on the season.


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One of the decorating projects that I wanted to tackle this Christmas was to decorate my three Apothecary jars. And I wanted to do so without spending a lot of money. Glass ornaments can be expensive! Even a box of glass ornaments at my beloved Target can go for $5 a box of 7-10 ornaments. To decorate three large Apothecary jars, I was going to need at least fifty small to medium sized glass ornaments. I also didn't want to use up the ornaments that I already had reserved for our Christmas tree. So I decided to check out our local Dollar Tree and I was impressed! They had boxes of 7-10 medium sized ornaments for a $1 and sleeves of 15 glass-like small sized ornaments for $1.

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I bought two boxes of medium sized ornaments and three sleeves of small ornaments. I also wanted to only decorate in green, red, gold and silver ornaments to give it a simple and classic look. I already had a few boxes of glass ornaments at home in these complimenting colors to fill in where I needed to.


Here is what I did:

1. I emptied out my plastic fruit and stored them away in a bag for safe keeping. Afterwards, I washed and cleaned my Apothecary jars. Even though they are covered, dust from the fruit tends to settle on the bottom and fog up the glass. I was then ready to work with a clean slate.

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2. I filled the bottom of each Apothecary jar with the medium sized ornaments to create a base.

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3. I then alternated layers of small and medium sized ornaments, filling in gaps as I went along. I filled each Apothecary jar the top.

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4. I put the lids back on and repositioned them back on the island. So easy!

What this project cost:

1. Three Apothecary jars - Purchased at TJMaxx Homegoods for $6-$8 a piece.

2. Glass Ornaments Size Medium - Two boxes of Glass Ornaments - $2.

3. Glass Ornaments Size Small - Three sleeves of Glass Style Ornaments - $3.

4. Also filled in with a few Glass Ornaments I already had.




Merry Christmas!!!!
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