Rock Fireplace Makeover

January 30, 2019

Design / Our Home / Uncategorized

This first shot is the completed fireplace! When we were looking to buy this house I thought this wooded roof part of the home felt so cozy like a treehouse. Then when we moved in it felt like a total design challenge because the color of the stones felt so ruddy and the mantle was like sandwiching the room because it matched the ceiling. 

The same sort of thing was happening in the kitchen because the floor were this orange color and sandwiched that room with the ceiling too. We redid the kitchen and floors so now the warm wood roof feels like a cozy cap rather than the top of your sandwich. 


Here is a before shot of the rock fireplace. It looks like when this was installed, a faux paint finish was applied. When we moved in this entire room was painted a similar ruddy tone and as we refreshed the space with white paint and cool, beachy flooring, The gold trim and wood handles felt cheesy. The worst was that the transparent blue protective coating on the gold trim had never been removed so it was stuck on there. Also, the can lights were a beige color. Wah. 

I had to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING soon after we moved in to make peace with this room. SO….

Step one was to scrape that off with a razor blade because that blue drove me cray cray. Next thing I did was get some flat cord tubing from Home Depot to “conceal the cords.” I found a matching paint to the rocks by brining home paint card sample and matching them. I painted the cord cover this color. There is a little piece coming down from the TV and a little piece going to the left (as you face it) bookcase where it connects to a white, unpainted flat tubing and then down to a hole where the extension cord cable and cable tv cable goes through. The power source in in the left lower bookcase cabinet. 

If you are still reading this you are as neurotic as me and I salute you, friend! Alright…

So these few changes placated me for one year or a year and a half. I have 2 little kids so its not easy to do reno-anything. Like I’m going to tell you that I hired a babysitter so I could do those little things because honey, I didn’t want to fight with my kids over that razorblade. BTW you can buy these cheap razor blades with a plastic handle (they are reversible when dull) and you can scrape stickers off glass etc. 

Much later I decided I could no longer take the gold trim and wood handles because I heard of this matte high heat spray paint! I pulled off the doors, sanded the gold as well as the handles and sprayed them both matte black. GLORIOUS!!

Now with the all black fireplace boxes shaping up, I had to visualize my next move so I did some photoshop mockups, called contractors who gave me quotes like $1500 just to demo the rocks plus a lot more to rebuild a fireplace. I started thinking of ways to add or subtract that would be cost effective. Like this ugly little ditty:

Hey, look! It’s fresher! I even “digitally painted” the can lights white! Oh I could run the cords up the top of the tv or extend the mantle so they run through there! The white brightens up the rock tones but dude. NO.

I had a new idea: Sand the mantle to see what it looks like without the orange stain. Now this was after LOTs of research. I purchased a TON of different stains, pickling stains, waxes and bleaches. This sounds like a female hygiene project, I know. 

Here’s what I got:

A mask for the dust, plastic drop cloths, a hand sander, tape for the drop clothes, 80 and 120 grit sandpaper sheets for the hand sander.

Here is the first reveal of the sanding and oh it took some work. I sanded the whole thing. Dust everywhere. An arthritic finger for a week but it looked glorious! 

Look! No more sandwich but oh the rocks look even ruddier in tone!

I spent forever trying to find new white can lights with this half cover that would perfectly fit and replace these. I ordered them, they came and they were wrong. AHHH! Ok so then I popped these out, sanded them and spray painted them a matte white! It was chalk paint so it gave it an ultra matte finish I wanted. Perfect!

On a Saturday before a kids bday party, I ran to the paint store. I found a color paint that was like this taupe but the fresher, more modern version. Then I diluted it with a lot of water…you are going to have to play. Start with a LOT of water and tiny paint, apply and allow it to dry. This is NOT a white wash becuase its more like a taupe wash! I used a big sponge to apply the color. 

TEST A SMALL area before going crazy because once you start, there’s really no going back! 

Here it is halfway done as we had to leave for a friend’s batman birthday party that the kids LOVED. The painted side is on the left. OH and the mantle is white because I taped white printer paper all over it to visualize what a white painted mantle would look like. 

After the birthday party, I finished up the paint wash below but it looked SO flat! I had painted the rocks and the grout all the same color. 

SO, the next day when I had good light, I made a new wash. I mixed the taupe paint with some white and then I watered it down and did a dry brush technique on the high points of each rock which game them dimension and made them POP. Dry brushing is when you dip your brush into the liquid, then dry it as much as you can and use the tiny bit of moisture to paint. You are kind of smashing it around to transfer what’s left. I used one of my husband’s old t shirts to soak up the paint. 

Now you may think you are looking at the most subtle DIY Reno ever and it kind of is BUT the shift to a fresh tone and a lifting of the sandwich vibe has taken me from despising (ok that’s a bit dramatic) this room to loving it! It feels more modern and I find it easier to style around. 

The best lesson was to take my time, go in steps and adjust after each one. It’s kind of like a birth plan: Have one but be ready to adjust as things happen! 

I may have to eventually do some treatment to the bare wood mantle to protect it but I love the color so much now! I know stains can darken it but there are other options like the bleaching or waxing or pickling I talked about before. We will see! You know I move at a snail’s pace! HA! Thank you for reading and joining me on this adventure. As painstaking as it was, I enjoyed it and learned so much!


Cyber Monday

November 25, 2018

Shop / Uncategorized

Hi, Friends! Hope you all had a great weekend! We celebrated with family at our home and it was awesome. I have been starting to get some gifts checked off and I’m excited to buy some great home items I’ve been waiting to go on sale today! 

I often get sale FOMO because I am such a purchasing planner and if I haven’t been thinking about something for months, when sales come around I have no idea what to buy. Ha!

So this year, I’m ready! Here are some things I’m going to be shopping for this weekend and some favorite, value items I have that I highly recommend. I will be sharing more on IG stories as well! 

Black Friday/Cyber Monday is a time for me to get some expensive items at a discount. I am very selective when I purchase ANYTHING. Like to a debilitating fault sometimes but I’m going to share with you my top sale value brands and items. 

Some of these links are affiliate links which means I receive a commission from your purchases. I appreciate your support! Thank you!

Kitchen Dining Light

One of the most popular items and most asked about is our kitchen dining light fixture. It is has beautiful proportions and the quality is awesome for the price! We have the rubbed bronze wihich looks black but does have bronze showing through on the edges and corners.

Some friends have spray painted it for a full matte black look but I love it how it is! It looks just like the picture here. You can’t beat this price for a designer look. 

Cabinet Hardware

If you are going through a remodel this is a great time to stock up on your hardware. Here are our favorites. I got most of ours on Cyber Monday too!

Serena & Lily 

A high end, gorgeous design house with timeless pieces. 

Our light dining room light fixture is a showstopper in our home. We have it on a dimmer and it is so dreamy. It has such a huge impact on that space. We have the small size and purchased it when they had a sale (but this sale is even better). 

Our master bedroom is decked out in layers and layers of gorgeous Serena & Lily bedding. My top pic would be this white linen quilt I have not seen one like it anywhere. It’s luxurious alone in the summer or layered in the winter. 

As for functional decor, this step stool is so unique and useful! It works great in the kitchen or bathroom, adding warmth and character. 

The best value and most versatile decor items are their iconic dip dyed stools! These also move around the house and are used for displaying seasonal decor, drink holders, by the tub or just pretty accents. 

McGee & Co. 

Shea and her team have unmatched style! They purvee the most beautiful goods that blend with any decor. Their holiday decor is so on point as well! I just got the olive wreath front door mat and LOVE IT! Here are my picks:

Pottery Barn

I bought so many of our house fixtures from here. Bathroom mirror and lights etc. The powder room has the vintage rounded edge mirror and the sharp cornered ones are in our Master. 

I’ve loved the light fixtures here as well.  We have these:

Our Bed! It is timeless. We have had it for over 5 years.

Our new sofa. We LOVE it so much! slip covers make it easy to wash and it is so supportive and comfortable! 

I’m going to be checking out the linen curtains. I have bought the Cameron Cotton ones for multiple homes we’ve lived in. I’ve been very happy with the quality and the price is great. 

Kitchen Dishes

We use these every day and I am so happy with them! So nice to have a matching set. Great quality and price!


The Ivory Gull: Her prices, quality and selections are so good! She is a sweetheart!

Susan Conner New York-This small maker has the most beautiful and exotic textiles! I am praying she has a sale because her handmade items are pricey but SO unique and worth it!

Greige Design/ Greige Textiles: love their pillows! Many other unique and beautiful home items.


Here are some holiday items and home items that I hope will be on sale!



They have some great sales! Remember, they price match. I see my black diff aviators are sold out on the DIFF sight but still in stock here. SO cool and love them. I don’ think my Chloe bag is on sale but I added it for those who have been asking. The strip top is a perfect shirt.


I’ve always admired that primrose mirror and this sale is so good! 

Amazon Favorites 



I have a pair of these and LOVE them. I’m wearing them as I type. I wear them to exercise, the park, drop off or the cafe. You can roll up the cuff to the length you need.

J. Crew

The classics!

Free People Shoes

These are THE SHOES! They go with everything. I have them in Taupe. They are true to size and will stretch once you get them for a great fit. This site has the best price. 

Small Shops

Chalk Full of Design: Handcrafted Chalkboards for littles

Tubby Todd Natural body care product for kids (best bubble bath and all over ointment)

Cuddle and Kind  Heirloom quality dolls. dolls= meals for kids. right now each doll = 20 meals!

Wild BIrd– Most beautiful Baby slings

Solly Baby Best Baby wraps.


Thanksgiving Prep

November 17, 2018

Lifestyle / Recipes / Uncategorized

Hosting Thanksgiving has changed so much since having kids! Now I order the Turkey and Ham, buy some desserts and make a few sides. The idea of a “purchased” meal used to appal me and I love it now!!

Cooking and prepping used to be what made it feel like the holidays for me but now it’s spending time with the family and resting that makes it feel special. I wonder if ‘ll return to all the details one day when the kids are grown. Ha!

I’m happy to let someone else make a delicious and juicy turkey for us (We have been using Whole Foods) and that Honey Baked Ham is unmatched. 

Just like a wedding, I think of what makes events most memorable


  1. A signature drink upon arrival

  2. An Appetizer Spread with lots of contrasting options

  3. Great dessert

  4. “Party Favor” leftovers for tomorrow and a coffee for the road

Spend your time HERE!

Here is our menu:


Ham & champagne mustard

Appetizers (bacon wrapped dates, cheeses-goat, manchego, brie, Rosemary Marcona almonds, rolled prosciutto, variety of crackers/crips breads, nuts, olives, goat cheese, fig spread, grapes) Trader Joes is the easiest place to pick up all kinds of exciting apps. Check out the frozen section to add a hot one you can do quickly in the toaster oven.

Alcoholic drinks (old fashioned: Makers Mark, amarena cherries from TJs, bitters, oranges for rind garnish)

Non alcoholic drinks (coke, apple juice)


Mashed Potatoes 


Swiss Green Beans

Cranberry Sauce Natural

Canned Cranberry Sauce


Pumpkin pie 

Pecan pie 

Ice cream

Whipped cream


So basic and it hits all the marks for us!

Here are the guidelines I use for portions

1-1.5 lbs Turkey per person

5 lbs potatoes for 10-12 people 

1.5 lbs green beans makes 6-8 servings //I buy 2 bags of frozen French green beans/2 cups sour cream/onion/cornflake crumbs/ shredded Swiss

Stuffing 16 cups 14 oz=11 serv


Ok, so now I’m going to share the most incredible green bean casserole you have ever eaten. You really must add this to your repertoire. Its a great winter side all around. 

Green Beans Swiss Style
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  1. 2 tbsp. butter
  2. 2 tbsp. flour
  3. 1 tsp. salt
  4. 1/4 tsp. pepper
  5. 1 tsp. sugar
  6. 1 tsp. grated onion
  7. 1 C. sour cream
  8. 4 C. cooked French style Green Beans
  9. 1/2 lb. grated Swiss
  10. 1/2 C. corn flake crumbs
  11. 2 tbsp. butter
  1. Melt 2 tbsp. butter; stir in flour, salt, pepper, sugar and onion Add sour cream gradually, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture thickens; fold in beans. Pour into buttered 1-1/2 qt. casserole. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top, then the crumbs mixed with butter. Bake at 400º for 1/2 hour. Serves 6.
  1. I grate the onion on a hand held cheese grater.
  2. French style green beans can be the ones that are long and sliced in half lenghthwise. This makes them soak up the flavors more but you can use any kind of green bean. I get frozen long ones and just let them thaw and drain before adding them to the mixture.
  3. I get the grated "gruyere" at Trader Joes. It's basically Swiss.
  4. Some big grocery stores sell cornflake crumbs in a small box but I just get the organic corn flakes from Trader Joes and pulse them in the food processor. SO integral to this recipe! The crunch is so so good.
  5. I make this a day ahead, pull it out in the late morning to get to room temp and bake it before serving the meal.
Christina J Warren
Grocery List:





Green beans

Sour cream


Cornflake crumbs

Shredded Swiss 





Wine Beer


Capers / lemon / smoked salmon / cream cheese





Crackers/ Cheese/ Proscutto

Cranberry Sauce Natural

Canned Cranberry Sauce


Pumpkin pie X2

Pecan pie x 1

Ice cream

Whipped cream



To Go Coffee Cups

Tupperware to send leftovers home



Crock pot to keep potatoes warm

Drink labels









Turkey Gravy Boat

Prep Timeline:

Up to a week before do the grocery shopping


Pick up the ham

Pick up any pies and rolls

prep the green bean casserole

set the table

pull out all the plates, cutlery, serving dishes etc. 


Pick up the turkey

cook the green bean casserole, potatoes, stuffing, gravy



Pull out a huge Chartucerrie board and spread everything out with cute, small spreaders. Have some festive cocktail napkins, good glassware for drinks and ways to identify each person’s drink. 

As with all entertaining, its most fun when you’re having fun! If that means you make it a potluck or buy premade stuff then do it and enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving everyone! XO

The Most Delicious Gluten Free Pecan Pancakes You’ll Ever Make

June 6, 2018


I got to be a part of a wonderful girls trip while I was pregnant with our youngest (who is now almost 2) and one of the women took charge of the menu. We rented a beautiful home in Palm Springs and this woman, Heather, prepared a gluten free menu to suit many of the ladies on the trip and it was sensational!! She shared this recipe with us and told me I was welcome to share it with you. Our whole family has been enjoying them for years and LOVE them! Thank you, Heather!

Anyone can enjoy this recipe. They are grain free and packed with portein! You can make these ahead and they are even good cold as a quick protein snack or breakfast on the go! Serve them warm with butter and syrup or agave nectar.

The most important thing about making these is the technique and I will walk you through. Its all done in a blender. I use a Vitamin we bought at Costco years ago. 

Heather’s GF Pecan Pancakes

Start with the Pecans

Flour 1.5 cups pecan pieces (This means blend them so that they are all finely chopped but be sure not to “cream” them into pecan butter. You might need to blend half, pull them out, blend the other half and then put them all back. Especially if you make a double batch!

Add 3 eggs, 1 ripe banana (you can defrost a ripe peeled and frozen one in a pinch), 1 (ish) tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 tbsp honey, 1⁄2 baking soda, 1⁄4 salt and blend until just incorporated. 

A griddle is best so you can cook many at once. These cook slowly!

Heat the pan or griddle to medium/low heat. You’ll have to do a test pancake to get your temperature right.

Greace your pan or griddle. I like to use spray Coconut oil from Trader Joes. Coconut oil has a high boiling point. 

spoon out the pancake batter. You can see the texture from the images above. Give them some time to firm up. 

Flipping these is the most delicate part. You will get so much satisfaction after mastering it! These are not like regular pancakes. Because they have no flour, they are jiggly and lack form so you have to quickly swipe the spatula under the pancake to keep the circular shape and do a quick flip. 

The pancakes can burn quite easily so check on them and keep the heat on the lower side. 

Now you’ve got the hang of it and you are ready to make tons. Enjoy!!


A Perfect and Easy Father’s Day Gift from Artifact Uprising

June 4, 2018


This post is sponsored by Artifact Uprising

Choosing gifts for my husband is very challenging for me! I usually wait until the last minute to look for one and end up either getting something that doesn’t feel heartfelt or nothing at all. So when my favorite photo printing company asked to join them in their Father’s Day campaign, I was excited to find a meaningful gift my hubsband will love! P.S. He does not do social media so he won’t see this LOL. 

When I saw the brass and wood display box I thought it was perfect! Its a frame he can put on his desk at work and he can change out the photos periodically. It can hold up to 50, 5X5 square prints. I love that it is free of glass. The display box comes in two options: Walnut and Birch (shown here). The minimal style fits beautifully with many decor styles. The brass has a lovely sheen and is the perfect hue, being just cool and warm enough. 

Now that I have it in person, I want to give it as a gift to many people in our lives! I’m such a set it and forget it person so it’s really satisfying to find a perfect gift that works for so many people! Plus I can send a new set of prints for subsequent holidays or just because. Ok I also want one for our home. Ha!

Use CODE: CW15 for 15% off your purchase from now until Friday, June 8!

This discount applies to ALL Artifact Uprising items/photo books/prints etc. across the entire site! 

Years ago, we ordered our wedding album from Artifact Uprising because we wanted the best and its perfect! Their quality is unmatched! I also love their company culture. They use recycled and sustainable materials and provide jobs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

You can order prints right from your Instagram account! It took me minutes.

You can visit Artifact Uprising to see all their beautiful prints styles, frames, photobooks, gifts and more. You can see our exact brass and wood display box HERE. 

How My Family Saves Money On Our Grocery Bill

May 9, 2018

HEALTH / Lifestyle

This Post is in Partnership with Thrive Market One thing that makes our house run smoothly is keeping the pantries stocked with items from food to toiletries. Its important to me to have the highest quality ingredients at the ready. Shopping for all our favorite items in one place really helps to cut down on shopping trips and keeps us prepared for things like cookie baking. We also love getting the best prices and knowing that all the items are non GMO.

Many of you asked for a list of some of our favorite products at Thrive Market and here  are some of them and each one is linked:

Pacific Foods Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk
Late July Organic Mini Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Late July Organic Mini Cheese Sandwiches
Peace Cereal Clusters and Flakes Cereal – Vanilla
Larabar Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars
Kodiak Cakes Protein Packed Buttermilk Flapjack & Waffle Mix
Wholesome Organic Blue Agave
Woodstock Organic Prunes
Coombs Organic Maple Syrup Grade A Dark Color
Wholesome Organic Dark Brown Sugar
Marukan Oraganic Rice Vinegar
San J International Organic Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce
Frontera Green Chili Enchilada Sauce
Simply Organic Vanilla Extract
Pirates Booty Aged Wite Cheddar Lunch Snacks
Bobo’s Oat Bars Original Oat Bars
Dr. Bronner’s Organic Baby Mild Castile Soap
Annie’s Organic Ketchup
Smarty Pants Kids Complete Gummies with Mulitviatim …Vit D

Thrive Market is offering this discount and 30 day free trial to my readers: 

Get 25% off your first order + Free 30 day trial!

So, Thrive Market’s prices are already up to 50% off.  And now they’re giving you an EXTRA 25% off your first order + free 30 day trial!” Try it  HERE.

If you normally spend $100 at the grocery store, it would be around $50 – $75 on Thrive Market because of their already low prices.  And now they’re giving you an extra 25% off!

No code is necessary. Shop around and the discount will be applied at checkout.

For more details on Thrive Market, scroll down to the end of this post!

I have been hearing about Thrive Market for years and so happy we decided to try it out! Recently I have been working to streamline our grocery shopping and this online store makes it easy. We tried out our first order with some of our favorite on-the-go kid snacks we know and love.

Thrive Market offers organic foods, nontoxic home and personal care products for 25-50% off what you would normally pay. You can shop from the app or your computer and even search by special diet like, “Paleo,” “Vegan” or “Gluten Free” and it comes right to your door. Thrive Market is on a mission to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone.

With your membership you have

-Access to 4,000+ organic and non-GMO products. Food, snacks, vitamins, supplements, personal care products, eco-friendly cleaning supplies, safe and nontoxic beauty products, kitchen staples, homegoods, organic baby food, kids products and much, much more and it’s all shipped straight to your door.  

-25-50% savings on every purchase

-Free shipping on every order over $49!

-An opportunity to make a difference: For every membership purchased, Thrive Market gives a free membership to a low-income family to help make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone.

-Exclusive access to special deals, new product launches, weekly free gifts, blogs, video recipes, and more!

NEW Thrive Market now offers Fresh Meat and Seafood!  These are the highest quality meats at the most affordable prices.  Their beef is 100% grass-fed, free range and antibiotic free. Their chicken is certified free range and organic from small family farms. Their seafood has earned The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program’s stamp of approval, which states that our business is choosing seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that support a healthy ocean!  

What Makes Thrive Market Stand Out

  1. More than 70% of the Thrive Market catalog CANNOT be found on Amazon!  
  2. Largest retailer in the country that sells exclusively non-gmo groceries
  3. All packaging, boxes, and inserts are made from recycled paper and are recyclable. Thrive Market is 100% carbon-neutral and certified through Our certification covers national shipping, packaging materials, warehouse utilities, and even the commutes of our team.

Get 25% off your first order + Free 30 day trial!

So, Thrive Market’s prices are already up to 50% off.  And now they’re giving you an EXTRA 25% off your first order + free 30 day trial!” Try it  HERE.

If you normally spend $100 at the grocery store, it would be around $50 – $75 on Thrive Market because of their already low prices.  And now they’re giving you an extra 25% off!

No code is necessary. Shop around and the discount will be applied at checkout.

Let me know what favorites you find on the site!