Bella Carta Boutique LAUNCH!

Today, I am thrilled to announce the launch of Bella Carta Boutique!

What began as a favor for my closest friends, quickly blossomed into something much bigger. Bella Carta was born from a love of design, and the joy that comes with creating something unique and memorable.

Bella Carta officially launched in January 2010, but getting a website up and running seemed like such an overwhelming task that it always sat on the back burner. This year, I made it a New Year's Resolution to get get Bella Carta's website up. I've worked many late nights the last two months to pull this off, but it has all been worth it. I count today as one of my proudest moments.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the designs on our site!

I'd love for all of you to come visit at bellacartaboutique.etsy.com!

I'll be posting on the blog when I release new designs or am running a promotion. And any bloggy friends or readers that are interested in any of my current designs, or creating a custom one, please email me for more information. bellacartaboutique {at} gmail {dot} com




Today I turn 31. Happy Birthday, to me!

When I was younger, I can remember counting down the minutes until the exact moment I was born. I'd use that time to think of all that had happened the year before, all I was thankful for, and all that I wished for in the year ahead.

This year, I'm thankful for...

My childhood... it was full of laughter, full of love, and many happy memories.

My awkward teenage years... I spent a lot of time figuring out who I wanted to be. And while some things didn't turn out the way I planned, I do have the life I always dreamed of.

My high-school self... I wish I could tell you so many things, but most of all, I would tell you that you can stop trying so hard. There are some pretty incredible things to look forward to, and they all happen because you are you, and not anyone else.

My twenty-something self... all of those wrong guys led me to the right one, and I'm so thankful for that.

My parents... for always being a wonderful example of love, for encouraging me, believing in me, and becoming my best friends.

My brother... for 25 years with the funniest kid in town. Thank you for always keeping it fun, and for helping me take myself less seriously. I miss you everyday.

My Otto... for making me a mom, for making me smile, and for teaching me unconditional love.

My husband... for fulfilling the dream of marrying my best friend, for being my biggest fan, my voice of reason and for loving me with your whole being. Thank you for being you.

My son... for showing me a love that I've never known before, for the joy you see in everything, and for your contagious laughter. In 16 months you have taught me more than I could have ever imagined.

My married-into family... for laughing with me, for crying with me, and the endless support in-between.

My friends... for being there when I need you the most, for making me laugh, and for showing me that family is much bigger than I ever thought it could be.

This blog... for the sweet friends I have made in the last two months, who comment, encourage me, and inspire me daily.



Show & Tell Monday: Wedding Bells

Linking up with Becky today for her series, Show & Tell Monday. Today, we're talking weddings!

1. Are you married? If so when did you get married, and tell us about your special day. If not? How would you describe your dream wedding? 

C and I were married on October 3, 2009, a beautiful fall day during the worst torrential downpour you have ever seen. While I prayed and prayed for a day free of rain, when I woke up that morning and saw the forecast, it didn't bother me one bit. I could tell everyone was so worried that I'd be upset: not one person said a thing to me about the weather all day. Nothing could keep me from enjoying every single second, not even a rain-soaked dress and the leaky roof on our trolley!

What my wedding day taught me, was that it didn't matter how big or how small, how or when... your wedding day is gorgeous because of all that it means. All the planning, the details, the stress... they all seem so big before that day. But when that day comes, it's all about the two of you. And, nothing can really take away from that. Not even 3 inches of rain.

 2. Show us some wedding pictures. Either yours or of some that you love. 

All wedding photos are from the amazingly talented Bryan Avigne Photography!

3. How about the engagement? Tell us your story. If not engaged, what's your dream proposal? 

C took me to Burlington, VT under the premise of a birthday weekend.  We had been together for over two years, and already lived together, so I kind of thought he might propose while we were away. I grilled my mom, and she flat out told me "He hasn't asked your father yet, so I hate to burst your bubble, it's not going to be this weekend". And just like that, I stopped thinking it would be that weekend.

While on a walk on Saturday morning, we stopped down at the waterfront and sat in two Adirondack chairs on the pier. C starting talking about how much I meant to him, and to be honest, I didn't hear much after that. I kept saying to myself "he's not really going to ask me... he hasn't asked my dad! oh no, my dad is really going to be upset he didn't ask him...", and then all of a sudden he was on one knee with a ring, asking me to be his wife. C claims I said "what are you doing?", but I'm pretty sure I said "oh. my. god, YES!". I jumped up, and while kissing and hugging and crying, he told me to turn around. There stood both our families, watching the whole thing. This was my reaction:

4. Show us your wedding rings or an engagement photo! If not engaged/married ... show us your "dream" ring. 

5. Tell us why you think marriage doesn't work out for so many? What can we do to make things last?  

This is a hard one! I think there are a lot of reasons, and some of them pretty obvious. In a world where social media runs our lives, I think people have more exposure, or could be more tempted to developing intimate relationships that can be hidden from their spouse. I also think that some people have an expectation that marriage is perfect, and that once you walk down that aisle, your life will be full of unicorns and rainbows. It's so important to be happy and real before you get married, because really, not much is different the day after the wedding. You have a new pair of rings, and a new last name, but that person is still the same person you woke up to the day before.

Happy Monday!


{Home Tour Friday} - Laundry Room

When I started typing the title to this post, I felt a little ridiculous. Am I really about to show pictures of my laundry room? In blog-land?

The Virgo in me actually loves to see other laundry rooms - so many bloggers have created amazing spaces for laundry, ironing, folding, storage and cleaning. Our room isn't quite that big, but I am proud of the transformation!

You have already seen our dining room here; the bathroom/laundry room is directly off of that room. With a little boy and a dog in our house, this room get a lot of use.

As you can see, our washer & dryer are normally hidden by curtains. Closing those curtains allows me to hide the mess that normally sits on top of the washer & dryer

Here are some pictures from the bathroom/laundry room renovation. I'm not sure that I have a picture before we started demolition, but suffice it to say this bathroom was almost as bad as our full bathroom. While it would have made sense to do the larger bathroom first, renovating the half bathroom was all we could fit in the budget after we bought our home. You can see the a little bit of the original wall color, the original vanity and the two (very different) floor tiles the previous owners had chosen.

Because we were unable to use the engineered hardwoods on the riser for the toilet, we chose tumbled travertine. OK...chose would be the wrong word. This tile was left over from my parents home renovation, so we took it from them. It just so happened to be just what we were looking for!

The little door you see in the last picture is the entrance to our crawl space. We framed it out and painted it the same color as the new beadboard so that it didn't stick out quite as much. With some paint, new floors, tile, beadboard, and a pedestal sink... we had a brand new laundry room. I love how this room turned out!

I'm linking up with
Kelly's Korner - SUYL Laundry Rooms 
Debbie Doo's Newbie Party 
It's Overflowing 
A Bowl Full of Lemons


Antique Shopping Finds

The gallery wall wasn't the only thing we were shopping for last weekend! I was on the hunt for the perfect dresser for our bathroom renovation. I didn't find it... but, I did find some other great things. Not all of these items came home with me (but I wish they did)!

Great coffee table for $100. How amazing would this be painted in some Annie Sloan chalk paint?

This pine cupboard was $250. Would be amazing as kitchen storage, or as linen storage in a bathroom. I spent most of our time walking around thinking about where I could possibly fit this in my house. 

Almost every store we stopped in had old ladders flanking the walls. This one was my favorite! It was a great grey-blue, and was easily over 8 feet tall.

This child's play table and matching chairs were only $50! Would be perfect for a playroom, refinished in red with a chalkboard top (like Lyndsey did here!).

And lastly, this mirror was a steal at $40. I actually had to kill a spider to get to it, which meant that I really, really liked it. This picture doesn't give justice to it's height or quality. I can assure you that this was one of the heaviest mirrors I have ever seen!

I'll be sharing what we did with the mirror next week, so make sure to check back for that update!


Gallery Wall Project Update #2

Last weekend, my mom and I were able to sneak in some shopping for their gallery wall project. The intention for the gallery wall is a 'collected over time' feel, and what better place to shop for vintage frames than my favorite antique stores?

Here is the hallway to their master bedroom. It's hard to tell from the pictures, but this wall is just over 8 feet long, and over 9 feet tall. While we want to fill most of the wall at eye level, we also want to leave room to add more frames down the road.

To say the shopping trip was successful would be an understatement. We had so many frames to choose from, that we had to lay all of them out in each store and narrow down our choices. It may be hard to tell from this picture, but this was the arrangement we ended up with when we returned home.

One frame/picture is missing (in the lower left hand corner), but once my mom is able to find it, it will complete the gallery wall. Our next step is to bring all of the frames to Michaels, and have some custom mats made.

Our last purchase was this frame and canvas. This one will be used to create a chalkboard for the entry of their home. The sweet lady who wrapped up all of our items was so concerned about us damaging the canvas of this picture. I didn't have the heart to tell her that we wouldn't be using it!

Not all of the frames pictured above were second-hand: the black frame with the map was purchased new, as well as the two light grey frames. The street sign was a salvage find, but not from our trip last weekend. We spent roughly $200 for 7 of the frames for the gallery wall, and the giant frame for the chalkboard.

I'm so excited about bringing all of these frames to have mats made next weekend - you'd think they were going up in my house! I will say (from experience), that the easy part is over. The hardest part of a creating a gallery wall is choosing the pictures to feature! Have fun, Mom!

You can find the original post for this project here, including our inspiration photos!


August Done! List Update

I’ve made a little more progress on my August Done! List.

 Done! August To-Do List:
Clean out my personal email DONE!
Upload all iPhone pictures & videos to an online storage site DONE!
Backup all family pictures & videos to an online storage site
Create a warranty binder
• Finish and order one Blurb album

Family Pictures & Videos: I’ve finished uploading all of these to SmugMug. You can see my review of their site here.

Personal Email: This is done. Sort of.

Over the last few weeks I was able to get my email inbox down from 1800 messages to 60. I was so proud of myself. Once I finished, I vowed to keep up with my emails and not let them get out of hand again.

And then… I was looking for email I had sent to our family last year announcing the launch of our family blog. I typed “blog” in the search engine at the top… and it returned 2,000 results. WHAT?! My inbox is down to 60! That’s impossible.

After a few minutes of playing around in gmail, I found an ‘All Mail’ tab. Hidden below the rest of my folders. When I clicked on it, you will NOT believe what it said. The top of Gmail showed this:

31,000 emails?! Are you kidding me?

A quick google search led me to the problem. Maybe I’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t know this:

When you delete message on your iPhone, Gmail actually archives them into your ‘All Mail’ folder. This is a default setting. It is very easy to change, but, you have to know to change it. So… for the last 18 months of being an iPhone user, I have never actually deleted an email. I've been saving them, for later, in a special folder. I realize the nice people at Gmail are trying to be helpful – in the instance you accidentally delete something and need it later.


For now, I’m claiming this item as done. My ‘inbox’ is down to 60, and important emails are stored away in folders. One day, when I’m not so mad at gmail, I will try and tackle my ridiculously large ‘All Mail’ folder.


Show and Tell Monday

Happy Monday, friends!

I'm planning to be back with regular posting this week. I was exhausted last week. If you know me, you know that it takes a lot for me to feel like that. I'm feeling a bit better today, thank goodness!

Today I'm linking up with FromMrstoMama for her new series "Show and Tell Monday"

 1. If you were searching for a home now, tell me what would be on your "MUST" list.

Are we the only people that talk about this all the time? 

• Mudroom/Foyer: This is maybe our #1 requirement in our next home. We need a place, separate from our living room, where dirty sneakers/rain boots/soggy dog towels can live.
• Open Floor Plan: I would love to have our kitchen/living room/dining room all open to one another. I wouldn't mind finding a home where we had to knock down a few walls to achieve this.
• Character: although C would disagree, it would take a lot of convincing for me to buy a newly built home. I've always loved older homes with character. While I think some of the new, more modern homes that are built in developments are beautiful, they aren't for me.
• Central Air: enough said
• 2+ Full Bathrooms: our home as 1.5 baths right now. Another shower would be a.m.a.z.i.n.g, especially when there are more kids in the house, and everyone has to get ready at the same time!
• Playroom/Basement: this is something we are fortunate to have now (a playroom... not a basement), and I'm not sure we could live without it. Where would all the toys go?!

2.  Show me your favorite room in a home {either your home, or any home, i.e. kitchen}. 

I couldn't choose one... so here are a few of my favorite rooms from my fictional home (aka Pinterest): 


3.  If you could have any room redone, tell me which one would it be and what would you like done? 

If you've been here before, you'll know that our bathroom is my least favorite room in our home. While we're slowly collecting all we need for a gut renovation this fall, I would love for a bathroom fairy to grace us in the middle of the night, with this bathroom!

4. Tell me where your favorite stores are to shop for home decor. 

Thrift/Salvage/Antique Stores
Pottery Barn 
• Wisteria 
• Etsy 

5. Show me your dream home {it can be your home, if you already have your dream home} 

My dream home? A big converted farmhouse, with lots of land, and no neighbors. A place where our guests love to come, dogs can play all day, and our teenagers can lounge with their friends. A place where the door is always open for dinner, and C and I can enjoy long, lazy Saturday mornings on the front porch with coffee. A place I could call home for the next 70 years, and then pass onto my children....

That's my dream!


Wednesday Love

What I'm loving this Wednesday!

1) Lands End
Not a place I shop often, but I'm so glad I did. So many cute things! I ended up buying two canvas totes...


I can see these canvas storage bins all over my home - the linen closet, under the beds, toy storage in the playroom.... I ended up buying the smallest size to use as our 'portable' diaper storage around the house.

2) Baby Gap
Oh my word, baby cuteness. I wish A still fit into their baby sizes, because I would buy each and every one of these items. The second one down is called "Earn His Stripes" - really? I feel like Gap made these for me. Gap merchants - if you are reading - please consider making these outfits in toddler sizes. Pretty please?


3) Pottery Barn Vanessa Duvet
Clearly I'm late to the game. This is long gone from Pottery Barn...but it is available on eBay. I have always had a hard time shopping for bedding. I can never find something I love. This is one that I keep thinking about... maybe that's a sign I should buy it. I have a feeling, though, that the hubs will say its not very masculine.

4) Martha Stewart for Home Depot
I'll explain more in another post, but suffice it to say I'm losing steam in the hunt for a bathroom vanity. After searching the big box stores, we seem to agree on this one: it fits the budget and it fits our decor. This may be the one...


5) More Fall Outfits
I know, enough already with the fall outfits! I think this would be perfect for our family pictures this fall. Now I just need to find a great pair of boots!

Source: tumblr.com via Jillian on Pinterest

6) Pinterest Quotes
These are my favorites from the week. Especially Betty's - so well said.

Source: tumblr.com via Jillian on Pinterest

I'm linking up with Jaime for WILW!

Happy Wednesday Friends!