Archives for April 2016

Finding More Hours In The Day {Meal Planning}

Finding More Hours In The Day {Meal Planning}

This post was prepared in partnership with Blue Apron

The past few weeks have been a little crazy around our house! Between being book writing and book launching seasons, all the house projects I have going on and church stuff we are involved with, our family has been in one of those extra busy times. Those come along now and then (or a lot) for most of us who have a lot on our plate and if we want to stay sane, we have to get really good at juggling if we want to try to find some sense of “balance.”

I wrote a lot in my new book about how I have learned ways to create a more peaceful home and how I attempt calm the chaos of life. The good news is, I know it IS possible to juggle a lot and not feel totally frazzled at all times.

Juggling the plates well doesn’t mean you live a life of domestic bliss or that everything will be easy peasy, because perfect doesn’t really exist. You just have to know what to trim out so you can focus your energy on what really matters to you. That’s my thing. I am learning and training myself to be pretty deliberate about where I spend my time and how I can do what I really love in life and not feel like I’m dropping too many balls.

Finding More Hours In The Day {Meal Planning}

One of the areas I try to streamline as much as possible now is time spent on meal prep and shopping. We stick to our basic tried and true recipes that we can prepare easily and we know what to shop for, so we can buy mostly fresh produce and meats to keep our meals healthy and simple. I try to simplify our activities and schedules as much as possible because I want to have the maximum amount of time with our family. I just hate to waste any of it by being disorganized. Time is precious and how we spend it matters!

Finding More Hours In The Day {Meal Planning}

Yet, I find that when we are extra busy and we dropped the ball on a plan for those days, we end up going out to eat more than I wish we did. Because it is easier. And we are hungry. And no one thought about dinner for that night until everyone is starving and crabby.

Usually my teen son is the first one to venture out to the kitchen and notes that no one is making dinner! Ha. He can cook for himself, but as a teen boy he’s always hungry and looking forward to the next meal. That’s something that matters to me, that we have family meal times and no one is eating on their own all the time.

Finding More Hours In The Day {Meal Planning}

Those super busy days come every single week at our house, I’ll be honest, so they shouldn’t be a surprise. Yet if we treat them like a surprise, we will realize too late that we are hungry and we have to go out, or we will eat eggs again. Those situations happen because I didn’t plan for an in-between option. That is, planning on something for dinner that would be in between eating eggs again and going out.

Finding More Hours In The Day {Meal Planning}

I learned years ago that if I wanted to save time and money, I absolutely had to plan for in-between options. In my dreams I would prepare food in advance for busy days and always be on top of my shopping game, but in reality with my schedule I’m not always able to set aside time for that, nor do I love shopping and cooking enough to make it a big priority every week. But if I plan for easy in-between options, it always saves the day and saves us money in the end because we didn’t have to go to a restaurant in order to eat well at home. And we didn’t have to resort to take out!

Finding More Hours In The Day {Meal Planning}
Meal services are the best invention. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried Blue Apron, but I love it because they deliver farm-fresh quality ingredients for a wonderful meal right to your door in a refrigerated box! You get to enjoy a delicious meal that you still prepare fresh at home, but all the indecision is out of the way so you can get right to preparing.

Finding More Hours In The Day {Meal Planning}

It’s easy! Everything you need is ready to go, the recipe cards tell you exactly what to do and within a short period of time and just a little preparation, you are sitting at the table with your family eating something yummy for your tummy. I love getting to try a new recipe too. The meals are all delicious and I always come away with a new favorite recipe I never would have tried on my own.

Finding More Hours In The Day {Meal Planning}

Ordering even just one meal a week can be the perfect in-between option so you have a plan for for your busiest day, or even give you a day or two off every week of wondering or shopping for what you’ll eat for dinner and stressing out that you have no idea and no time to deal with it.

You can order just what you need with a two-person meal or a family plan. Each meal takes under 40 minutes to prepare. Check out their yummy chef-designed recipes here!

Best of all, you can give yourself a break! Sound heavenly? It is! Blue Apron nights could even be your favorite night of the week and something to look forward to (in addition to binge watching Fixer Upper, of course).

Want to try it for yourself? 

  • The first 50 readers to sign up will get two free meals on their first Blue Apron order!

  • Just click here to get started! There is no commitment and you can cancel the service at any time.

What are your tips for finding more hours in the day?

Painted Stone Fireplace Makeover

Painted Stone Fireplace Makeover

Painted stone fireplace makeover 

You all know I love a “better than it was” project! And I think my painted stone fireplace makeover certainly qualifies! As you also know, I’ve been staring at my fireplace for eight months, wondering how to fix it. The mauve grout, the dated color. The off-centeredness. We could rip it all out, but that comes at a cost of time, money and mess.

Painted Stone Fireplace Makeover

When you have other more pressing projects and are budget-minded, you can’t help but wonder if this one you should even start on? And how much do you really want to invest on a fireplace makeover? If I just painted it, would I ruin it? Would it make a difference?

Questions continued to swirl around in my head with no clear answers. This fireplace was like a billboard, trying to get attention. It wanted to boss my style around and distract me from everything I wanted this room to be. It paralyzed me. I knew how I wanted it to look in my most perfect dream, that part was clear. I also knew there were simple changes we could make to improve it, whether it would be trim work or a mantel.

But finally I decided that I was tired of looking at it like it was and even though I do have a vision for what I want it to be someday, I wasn’t ready to take the plunge with a remodel for it yet. Maybe in a few months. Maybe in a year. But not today. Even if I decided to add trim or built-ins to it in a few weeks, I didn’t like the pink hue of the grout and stone so I had to start somewhere.

Painted Stone Fireplace Makeover

A painted stone fireplace makeover seemed to be the easiest solution for this project. And honestly, the worst that could happen was I still hated it. The best that could happen is I would like my room better than I did with it as it was, and even save myself time and money while we save for this project down the road.

Of course, even after I decided to paint it, more questions popped up. What kind of paint? Do I have to sand? Prime? Gah. And, the worst, I had to decide what color. At first I thought it should just be white so it would basically go away and be less noticeable. That made sense.

But I don’t often like white stone unless it is done beautifully. And, I already had a white brick fireplace downstairs, so I finally just decided to go with gray. It’s a safe stone color that blends in with all my neutrals and I can always go white later if I don’t like it. Or I’ll tear it all out and redo it later. Crisis averted.

Phew, thank goodness paint color isn’t permanent or I might have waited another year wrestling over that one.

Painted Stone Fireplace Makeover

Once I made the decision to proceed with paint, I thought maybe I’d try that chalky type of paint that seems to adhere well to surfaces and would perhaps keep the stone looking more natural. It seemed liked the best choice for this project, so I bought a can of $35 Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to give it a try (I ordered mine online here).

Painted Stone Fireplace Makeover

We only used a tiny bit of the paint, so truly this was a bargain makeover. I still have most of the can leftover to use for other projects! It was easy.

How to: We wiped off the stone to make sure it didn’t have dust or cobwebs, mixed the Annie Sloan Chalk paint with water to dilute it so the stone would retain more of the natural look, rather than a heavily “painted” feel.

This part isn’t scientific and you can definitely play with it for the right ratio of paint and water for the look you want for your fireplace, but for a cup of paint we used maybe only 1/4 cup of paint (or a little more) and the rest water to give it translucency and painted it on with a brush. One coat. DONE.

I’m still playing around with the room and considering how it might feel if we added planks to the walls or a mantel, but I love that I can look at my room now and like it and (to me) at least it feels better than it did. I’m very happy with how my painted stone fireplace makeover turned out!

Painted Stone Fireplace Makeover

Fireplaces can be a focal point, but they don’t have to be in glaring focus if you don’t love it. If you have a fireplace you don’t like, paint can lessen its design impact so you can redirect the vision for your room in other ways.

Painted Stone Fireplace Makeover

Don’t let a dated feature boss your room around. Paint elements you don’t love so they just blend in, or paint something to look better than it did. No shame in the in-between stage. You might even end up loving it! But you’ll never know until you try!

Painted Stone Fireplace Makeover

>> Update: Check out the latest update on this room here, and our new daybed here! <<<

Painted Stone Fireplace Makeover


Round Rattan and White Mirror

Chalk Paint – Annie Sloan Paris Grey



Paint Color: Swan White by Glidden

Room inspiration: Painted Fireplaces

>>> Update: Check out the latest update on this room here, and our new daybed here! <<<