New year, new you?

Life in general

If you know us personally, then you probably already got a taste of my opinions on New Year’s & all the”new-ness” it brings. I am totally not in love with the whole “New Year, new you” idea. How many times have you set New Year’s resolutions & not even tried to keep them? Or tried really hard to keep all these newly set expectations for yourself & felt like a miserable failure when you didn’t achieve what you wanted to. Maybe you are the person who sets New Year’s resolutions and actually follow through with them. If so, congratulations! You are one of the few. According to research done by the University of Scranton, only eight percent of people achieve their New Year’s goals.

Now before you go thinking that I am trying to rain on your parade or dumb down the changes you want to make for yourself, I’m not. I am totally a fan of change & personal growth. If you are setting goals to better yourself, then awesome! I am so glad to hear that! I am just asking you to evaluate your perspective. Setting goals or resolutions to better ourselves should never be done out of tradition or because everyone else is doing it. I believe that every time we participate in that type of nonchalant goal setting, where we aren’t really that serious, or realistic, or we don’t hold ourselves accountable to actually achieve the goals that we set, it can be detrimental to our perspective on setting and achieving goals. I want to see you set healthy, realistic goals, & succeed at achieving those goals. I want you to love yourself (& those around you) enough to make the changes you may need to make, any time of the year. Don’t wait for New Year’s to do all the things that you think will make you a better person. Set realistic & achievable goals all year long!

So many times in my life I have said things like “I’ll quit smoking after my next birthday.” or “I’ll start that diet on Monday.” or “I’m going to start my gym membership after New Year’s.”, you get the picture. I was always waiting for the “right time” to make any changes that I knew would be hard, but for the better. Guess what? the “right time” doesn’t exist. I promise that there will always be some reason that you feel like it is not the “right time”. There is no time like the present! & let’s face it, if your goal is not important enough to you to make it a priority, then how important is it to you really? I am so thankful that I was able to pull myself away from that vicious cycle of waiting until next time, & the next time after that, & the next time after that, etc., etc. For the first time in my life, I am actually achieving my goals. & there are many reasons for that, but thinking this way has helped me tremendously, which is why I am sharing it with you.

We hope you had a great New Year’s eve that was filled with great champagne & kisses from the ones you love! & we hope you have a great new year that’s filled with love, confidence, & success!

With our love,

The Grays.

Onyx’s outfit:

Hat- available soon on our site.

Headbands- Target

Scarf- Target

Leather jacket- H&M

Dress- Target

Leggings- Target

Shoes- Target

Fall lovin’

DIY's & Tutorials

IMG-6676We love fall! The smell of bonfires in the air, the crunch of leaves beneath our feet, & cold weather accessories! I think it’s a favorite time of year for a lot of folks, but growing up in Florida gives you a special appreciation for that time of year where everything goes from green to golden. You don’t get much of a scenic change in Florida from season to season (or get to wear cute fall clothes without sweating lol!), but it is a much different scene up here in northeast Alabama. Mountains covered in rows of trees moving from green to yellow, orange, & red (& mountains of leaves in our yard). Gorgeous, blushing fall sunsets of pink & purple. & lots of overcast skies, which I used to despise, but have been surprisingly comforted by this year.

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Fall is a season of change. A time to shed the old away & make room for newness & growth. Change can be a great thing, & is something that we are currently welcoming into our lives with open arms. One of the changes is the fact that our Onyx is not really a baby this year. Even though growing up is always bittersweet, we have so enjoyed sharing this fall with her. While it’s technically not her first fall, it’s the first one that she has been able to get out and experience. To commemorate our fall experience, we are making leaf skeletons! It’s something we have always wanted to try and now we have a good reason.

Feeling crafty? Try it out with us:

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What you will need:

-Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (this post is not sponsored by Arm & Hammer)

-A large pot & a shallow baking dish

-A small, stiff, blunt paint brush &/or a soft toothbrush (the soft toothbrush worked best for us)

-Rubber or latex gloves (the washing soda is very drying to skin & can cause irritation) & paper towels

-Some waxy leaves & some patience

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Gather yourself some new (yes, new green leaves, unlike the beautifully withering fall ones) waxy leaves. We used wild hydrangea & magnolia leaves because that was what was available to us.

Mix the washing soda & some water in the pot. I have been told to use 4 cups of water & 3/4 cup of washing soda, but I doubled the water & washing soda so we would actually have enough liquid to cover our big leaves. Stir the mixture while heating on med-hi until the washing soda starts to dissolve. Add the leaves & bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Now, the length of simmering time was an experiment for us since I have read several different methods on how to do this, and each method gives a different suggestion. The suggested cooking times ranged from 20 minutes to 2 hours, so we started with 30 minutes & that definitely was not enough for the leaves we chose. We ended up simmering a full 2 hours (checking them about every 30 minutes) & probably could have simmered them a little longer. Once you feel that your leaves are ready ( I tested ours by gently scooping one out of the pot with a spatula & brushing it just a little to see if any of the pulp moved away), fill the shallow baking dish with about 1/2 inch or so of cool water & place the leaves (we did our one at a time) in the dish.

Get your gloves on & go to work! Start gently brushing the pulp away from the skeleton. When I say gentle, I just mean don’t go crazy! You can actually be a little rougher than I initially thought, but start slow & add pressure as needed. This is where the patience comes in handy, it was a little more work than anticipated (or maybe it would have been easier had we simmered the leaves longer?). Once all the pulp is removed from the skeleton, pull them out of the dish & fill the dish with clean water, put the leaves back in & give them a swish to rinse them (rinsing them under the faucet can damage them, so use caution if you decide to go with that method). Now, you can stop here & go to the drying process if you want black/brown skeletons, we wanted white ones, so after the rinse we soaked our leaves in bleach water until we reached the desired color (several hours).

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IMG-6668To dry, pull the leaves out & lay them on layered paper towels to dry. If you want your leaves to be nice & flat put paper towels on top of them as well and set a couple of heavy books on top, we left ours dry like this over night. If you want a more naturally, curly look to your leaves, just leave them out uncovered to dry on the paper towels.

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IMG-6666Behold your leaf skeletons! Thanks for sharing this fall experience with us!

Until next time…

With our love,

The Grays

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Onyx’s “big girl” room

Home

Here we are. Finally getting settled into a home we love. It has been a very long process, but it has been perfect in its own way. The first room complete in all its glory is Onyx’s “big girl” room, of course. After five months of living with Weston’s parents, who were so gracious to help us make this fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants transition a little more gradual, I knew Onyx was so done with the crib. Out of those five months she slept in her crib maybe two nights and let’s face it even if I were ever to get her back in her crib it would then be time for a transition to a toddler bed. So “big girl” bed it is, and if we are being totally honest the only bed she is sleeping in at this point in momma and daddy’s. But it is there when she (and I) are ready.

If you know anything about us then you probably figured that her room is totally monochrome. In fact, the moment I found out I was having a girl I knew that “all pink everything” and head-sized bows were not an option! For all you parents out there who want a little more than all the traditional offerings for baby and toddler rooms we have teamed up with NotSewStrange to introduce you to a collection of wonderfully modern, handmade quilts, pillows, and décor. The black and white triangle quilt looks perfect on Onyx’s new awning bed that we made for her and it has also been our new favorite setting for family picnics. We cannot wait to add one of their Black and White Minky Sleeping Bear Pillows to the pillow collection!

It was always our plan that when the time came to say goodbye to the crib to make Onyx one of those awesome house frame beds that dazzle every modern toddler room featured on the coolest Instagram pages. But that was also a problem, when the time actually came they were so popular that I didn’t feel like it was special or different anymore. So we had a brainstorming session and came up with the awning bed idea. Still an homage to the cute house frame but with a twist! I know you guys have some cool and different nursery/toddler room ideas to share! Let’s hear them!

Until next time…

With our Love,

The Gray’s