Thursday, February 22, 2018

Spring Fever, Disney Style

Every year, I'm ready for Spring the day after Valentine's Day. I love winter, and I enjoy it- right up until February 15, when I switch out hearts for bunnies and flowers. This year, the Tennessee weather listened the secret hopes of my spring loving heart, and we've had sunny days in the 70s after weeks and weeks of dreary winter rain and cloudy skies. I am loving it, and my Disney preferences reflect it. So whether you're enjoying this early spring like me, or if you're further North and still drudging through grey days, give your eyes a break with these beautiful Disney films and it'll at least be spring in your living room.

Ten Disney Movies That Scream Spring

  1. The Lion King- summer rains, African plains, the most heartbreaking Disney death on record.

  2. Tangled- Best-Day-Ever! If Rapunzel can walk barefoot throughout the entire kingdom, it's a place I want to be.

  3. Enchanted- No lie, Giselle is living my best life. I don't want to battle an evil queen, but a princess has to do what a princess has to do! And that includes singing and dancing through Central Park in floral dresses in perfect spring weather. Bonus- Amy Adams!

  4. The Little Mermaid- Seashell bra under the sea means warm climates to me! I dream of beaches this time of year, and Ariel helps.

  5. Moana- Why yes, I would like to set sail with a sarcastic demigod, a gorgeous future chief, and a not-so-smart chicken. Wouldn't you?!

  6. Winnie the Pooh- his animated world is so beautiful, and green. I sure do love that silly old bear.

  7. Disney Short Films- Okay, so skip Little Match Girl or you'll cry for days and it will feel like the longest winter ever. But John Henry, Paperman, Frozen Fever, and John Henry are all spring time beautiful. 

  8. The Princess and the Frog- New Orleans, frogs, swamps, and spring rain. 

  9. Pocahontas- Running through golden fields, canoeing down rivers. Sigh.

  10. Hercules- Oh Greece, I love you. Blooming trees, sunny days, bare shoulders. Love it all.

    What are your favorite springtime Disney movies?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Boys Don't Cry and Other Lies We Tell Our Sons

My latest Knoxville Mom's Blog post is up! You can check it out here

Friday, January 12, 2018

When Home Depot Ruins Your Car

Once upon a time, Home Depot ruined my sister-in-law's car.

So my sister-in-law Molly has this gorgeous home, which she regularly changes up with new paint colors and accessories. She easily could've been an interior designer, because everything is unique yet somehow blends perfectly into her overall design scheme. It's masterful. She's an experienced painter, knows what she's doing, and has bought paint many times.

Not too long ago, she decided her house was almost exactly how she wanted it. All she had left was one room- her bathroom. All she needed to do was paint the walls with her chosen color, Chocolate Froth. She went by Home Depot to buy the paint, and planned on finishing her project that day. She was excited to have her whole house exactly how she wanted it.

Molly went to Home Depot, and they mixed the paint. They handed it to her, just as they always had when she had previously purchased paint there. She checked out and headed home.

She wasn't quite a mile down the road when she reached into her passenger seat to get something, and her hand came back wet. It was paint. Chocolate Froth paint, to be exact.

She pulled over, and discovered the paint can had tipped. It hadn't fallen over, she hadn't slammed on her breaks, she was just driving normally and it had leaned to one side.  Had it been shut properly, what happened next would be inconsequential. But it hadn't been closed properly. So when the paint can tipped, paint leaked out of it. All over her seat. All over her belongings in the seat. Through the seat foam, and onto the floor and vinyl of her car. Because it got on her hand, it also got on her clothes.


She turned around and went right back to Home Depot, where the manager was extremely apologetic and had several staff members take rags and wipe up as much as they could. They filled a trash bag with paint soaked rags. Then they had her fill out a claim for their insurance, assuring her it would be taken care of.


Fast forward several weeks. Corporate has been giving her the run around. The person she contacted about cleaning it said cleaning won't remove it all, and recommended reupholstering the seat and replacing the carpet (which is only $50 more than the cleaning fee). Home Depot corporate refused, saying they would pay for the cleaning of the seat but nothing else. Her car will have significantly decreased in value if this isn't resolved, all because the person at the paint counter didn't properly close the lid with a mallet like they're supposed to. Corporate's reasoning? She should've bagged it.

Let's pause on that. Home Depot doesn't allow you to bag your own items. When you check out, the cashier bags your items. So if their theory for not paying is that the paint should've been bagged, it's still their fault. It's a moot point- either way, they're responsible for making sure you can get your supplies home without destroying your car.


My hope is that by sharing Molly's story, and Home Depot's reaction, we can get Home Depot to step up and make this right. The local store was wonderful- they tried to help her in the moment and in the long term, and now it's out of their hands. Corporate should be as responsible as their store, and fix it properly once and for all. They need to take responsibility; their employee should have properly closed the paint can lid with a rubber mallet so that even if tipped over, it would't spill.

If Home Depot does do the right thing, I'll update this post. I'm also posting a Twitter thread you can follow to see how they'll handle it. I hope they'll fix this #HomeDepotFail and right this retail injustice.

In the meantime, I recommend heading to Lowe's for your paint needs.

After this post, Home Depot did step up and do the right thing! They've paid for the damages and the new person to contact Molly was much nicer than all the previous people she'd been dealing with. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2017: The Year of 75 Books

I'm obsessed with reading. It's true. I'd say I'm on the road to recovery, but I'd probably stop by the library first.

I've gotten a lot of questions recently about how I find the time to read. For me, it's about making time. Reading is my self-care. I shared many ideas on how to make time for yourself in this post over at the Knoxville Moms Blog.

My reading goal for 2017 was originally to simply read more than I did in 2016. I met that goal towards the end of the summer! Since I finished so early, I set what I considered a high number: 75.

I did it! I read 76 books by year's end, and finished what would've been the 77th on January 1, so instead it became book 1 of 2018.

Without further ado, here's the full list of what I read in 2017 (let's just ignore the stack of magazines I totally abandoned and am way behind on!)

2017 Books I’ve Read

  1. Black Heels and Tractor Wheels, Res Drummond
  2. Sweet Water, Christina Baker Kline
  3. Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline
  4. My Not-So-Perfect Life, Sophie Kinsella
  5. The Assistants, Camille Perri
  6. The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Jenny Colgan
  7. gods in Alabama, Joshilyn Jackson
  8. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Joshilyn Jackson 
  9. Lucky Us, Amy Bloom
  10. Backseat Saints, Joshilyn Jackson
  11. Between, Georgia, Joshilyn Jackson
  12. Magnolia Story, Chip and Joanna Gaines
  13. All the Summer Girls, Meg Donahue 
  14. The Life List,  Lori Nelson Spielman
  15. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, Katarina Bivald
  16. Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee
  17. The Jane Austen Book Club, Karen Joy Fowler
  18. This is your life, Harriet Chance!, Jonathan Evison 
  19. Meet me at Cupcake Cafe, Jenny Colgan
  20. The Guest Cottage, Nancy Thayer
  21. The Bookshop on the corner, Jenny Colgan
  22. The butterfly and the violin, Kristy Cambron 
  23. Present over Perfect, Shauna Niequist
  24. Disconnected, Jennifer Wiener
  25. The Lost Heiress, Roseanna M. White
  26. The Opposite of Everyone, Joshilyn Jackson
  27. The Summer Before the War, Helen Simonson
  28. Windfallen, JoJo Moyes
  29. Someday, Someday, Maybe; Lauren Graham
  30. Daisy Chain, Mary DeMuth
  31. Sweetshop of Dreams, Jenny Colgan
  32. A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, Joshilyn Jackson
  33. Saints for All Occasions, J. Courtney Sullivan
  34. Blackbird House, Alice Hoffman
  35. The Two-Family House, Lynda Cohen Loigman
  36. Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper by Hilary Lifton
  37. True colors, Kristin Hannah 
  38. A Slow Burn, Mary DeMuth
  39. Life in Defiance, Mary DeMuth
  40. Home Front, Kristin Hannah 
  41. Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
  42. By the numbers, Jen Lancaster
  43. Looking for Alaska, John Green
  44. The Marble Collector, Cecelia Ahern
  45. Perfect, Cecelia Ahern 
  46. The Art of Neighboring, Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon
  47. The Kitchen Goddesses, Barbara O’Neal
  48. A piece of heaven, Barbara O'Neal
  49. Lady Luck's Map of Vegas, Barbara O'Neal
  50. Claude and Camille, Stephanie Cowell
  51. Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, Jenny Colgan
  52. Today will be different, Maria Semple
  53. Sloppy Firsts, Megan McCafferty
  54. Close Enough to Touch, Colleen Oakley
  55. How to Start a Fire, Lisa Lutz
  56. To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Jenny Han
  57. Of Mess and Moxie, Jen Hatmaker
  58. The Spectacular Now, Tim Tharp 
  59. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Beth Hoffman
  60. Three Story House, Courtney Miller Santo
  61. Return to the Isle of the Lost, Melissa de la Cruz
  62. I’ll see you in Paris, Michelle Gable
  63. PS I still love you, Jenny Han
  64. The Right Side, Spencer Quinn
  65. The lake house, Kate Morton 
  66. Out of the Spin Cycle, Jen Hatmaker
  67. Radium Girls, Kate Moore
  68. Always and Forever, Lara Jean; Jenny Han
  69. Harriet Beamer takes the bus, Joyce Magnin
  70. Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff
  71. Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, Gail Honeyman
  72. The Almost Sisters, Joshilyn Jackson
  73. Lyrebird, Cecelia Ahern
  74. Christmas at the little beach street bakery, Jenny Colgan
  75. The scent of hours, Barbara O’Neal 
  76. Disney Lands: The Return, Ridley Pearson
Best of the Best
I have some definite favorites for this year, but too many to narrow it down to just one. So by category:

Nonfiction- Jen Hatmaker's Of Mess and Moxie made me laugh, and think, and realize I'm not alone in my struggles. Radium Girls came in a close second, because it was riveting, but also heart-wrenching. 

YA- Do I have to pick? I loved the Lara Jean series by Jenny Han, as she perfectly blended average teen struggles with grieving and trying to fit both of your cultures into your life. But Cecelia Ahern's finale to the Flawed series was utterly captivating, and I couldn't put it down. So- it's a tie.

Southern Lit- Joshilyn Jackson's The Almost Sisters stole my heart and mind. It was thoughtfully written, weaving racial tension and family history seamlessly together through quite possibly one of my favorite protagonists. All of Jackson's characters are so thoroughly developed they feel completely real, and I obviously want to be besties with all of them.

Fiction- I can't pick just one. I just can't. I will narrow it down to two authors, who's backlists I've been steadily working my way through. Jenny Colgan and Barbara O'Neal appear numerous times in my list for this year, as their works are enchanting and I can't get enough of them. I now want to visit all of Colorado, the UK, and Paris, where the majority of their respective novels are set. They paint such lovely worlds with their words, and I've loved spending time there.

Most of the books I read had something I loved about them; a character, setting, or even just a sentence that brought me joy. 

If you want to follow my reading journey in 2018, I regularly post about what I'm reading on Instagram (@PawPrintsintheSink). If I'm feeling brave, I tag the author in my #InsaReview, and Barbara O'Neal recently commented and that was a highlight of my year!

What were some of your favorite books of 2017? Do you have a reading goal for 2018?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Go Big, Go 30 Kitchen Makeover

When we moved into our house in summer 2016, I loved our kitchen. The mint green cabinets paired nicely with my red accessories, and gave off a retro feel. The only thing I didn't love was the painted-on backsplash meant to look like subway tile. It was done freehand, and the lines weren't uniform. It drove me crazy.

Originally, my 30th birthday plans were an epic trip to Disney World, including a stay at the Art of Animation resort and a Disney dining plan to make the whole trip easier. Unfortunately, I didn't start saving in time and that trip is quite expensive. Then we amended it, thinking we'd head to the North Carolina coast and I'd finally see the wild horses that live there. Our summer travel plans then got moved to the fall, and we didn't want to drive eight hours each way three weeks after a 12 hour drive each way to Oklahoma. I knew I wanted to do something big and special for my 30th, I just didn't know what.

Life has a way of delivering an epiphany right when you need it. Shortly after falling in love with those mint green cabinets, the paint started peeling and chipping off. As we've found with many of the DIY updates the previous owners took on, it wasn't done properly. They painted the cabinets, but never sealed them. They also didn't remove them, which meant the hardware was covered in paint. The fake subway tile was driving me crazier by the day, the mismatched dining furniture wasn't helping, and it hit me: I spend most of my time in the kitchen. I create three meals a day, plus snacks, for my family each day in that kitchen. We work on homework in there, we do crafts in there. The combined kitchen and dining area is the hub of our daily lives. Why not make it exactly what we want as my big 30th birthday project?

Here are our before photos, with some special models (why do kids only want their photos taken when they aren't meant to be the subject?!):

As you can see, our furniture is mismatched. This is even after we added the white coffee bar in the back, instead of using an old dresser.

Our kitchen doesn't have a ton of storage, so we use an armoire as a pantry. Because we shop at Costco, a lot of our bulk items don't all fit in it at once and I've been having to use the playroom closet as overflow storage. I discovered during the project that our lack of storage is partially due to another shortcut the previous owners took. When they added an over-the-stove microwave, they cut the cabinets over the stove into 1/3 of what they'd previously been. They also didn't vent the microwave anywhere, so bonus issues there.

I decided I had a few goals with my makeover:
  • For the furniture and cabinets to coordinate
  • New wall color that wasn't matte
  • New, properly sealed cabinets
  • Improved flow
  • Coordinating hardware
I wanted to get rid of the fake subway tile and also use a non-matte paint. All the walls in our house are painted this lovely blue-gray, but they used a matte paint, so every handprint and smudge shows up. It's yet another thing that drives my semi-OCD self insane. Also, the curtain rod doesn't go with anything. The dining area before photo shows the new furniture arrangement, because I was too excited to take photos before getting the new coffee bar and moving the pantry.

If you've been following me on Instagram (@PawPrintsInTheSink), then you've seen a few teaser photos of this big project with the hashtags #GoBigGo30, #BraveNewYear, and #BirthdayProject. I went with Brave New Year because I'm trying not to let things I'm intimidated by stop me from trying them in my 30s. So, I tackled a huge DIY project all on my own!

The first step was to paint the cabinets. I chose to use chalk paint, since it doesn't require priming or sanding. Instead of sealing it with wax, as is typical, I chose to use a hardier polycrilic. I read a post over at the Knoxville Moms Blog about using chalk paint, chatted with my fellow contributor who actually did it, and then followed suit. I removed all the cabinets and hardware, scrubbed them down, and got painting.

I did the upper doors first, then the upper bases. I feel quite close with Jen Hatmaker now, as I listened to her podcasts the whole time. She basically helped me with my kitchen makeover. Starbucks helped one day, too.
One of my Instagram teaser posts

Halfway through the cabinets! 

The first paint stroke was intimidating, on both the doors and the bases. It just felt so permanent, and I wasn't confident with what I was doing. But chalk paint is super forgiving, even if you spill you can wipe it up fairly quickly. I went with Annie Sloane chalk paint from a local seller, so I got to see the paint in person before making a decision. I chose Aubusson blue. I got two quarts, and spent $80 total. I then purchased a quart of Minwax Polycrylic from Amazon for $13, and still have a ton left over of both. I did have to crack open the second quart of chalk paint, but didn't use much. I have enough left over for another project.

I also purchased new hardware for the cabinet doors. I've always loved glass knobs, so I took this opportunity to incorporate them in a small way. I spent $20 on the knobs. I also got a can of Rustoleum spray paint in oil rubbed bronze for $4 to paint the old knobs and put them on the new coffee bar, so the coffee bar and pantry have matching knobs.

That $4 can of spray paint went so far. After scrubbing the caked on paint off of the hinges, I found rust. It looked awful. So I cleaned them thoroughly, and spray painted them. It worked like a charm! I also scrubbed our black, chipped vent covers (registers), and painted them. Now all the hardware in our kitchen matches!

After completing the cabinets, I painted the pantry. I painted it in three coats of linen white from Rustoleum ($17), after priming ($5) over the knotholes.

Once the pantry was done, I took on the walls. It's been years since I've painted walls. I got rollers and a paint tray ($17) and painters tape ($7) from Amazon, and the paint itself (Behr's Frittata with an eggshell finish, I believe) from Home Depot ($40). I did it all in one exhausting day while my kiddos got unlimited screen time and the hubby was at work.
In Progress- taped and furniture moved

I primed over that terrible fake tile
I used the primer left over from the knothole covering to prime over the fake tile. I did two coats of primer, and it still took 3 coats of the Behr with built in primer to cover the awfulness. If you look closely now, you can still see some of the lines, because she put it on so thickly. In time, I plan to do other improvements, including adding a backsplash. If that wasn't in my mind, I'd probably have to go back, sand down the existing paint, and repaint it.

 Once all the painting was completed, I saved up and purchased the dining table and benches I've been eyeing for months. I chose a larger table and two benches, to seat more people, and purchased it. I chose one with a white base and dark wooden tabletop to tie in the existing curtain rod and coffee bar. I'm saving up for the matching chairs to put on each end for additional seating. I found the coffee bar on CraigsList for $35, purchased patterned contact paper as a backsplash, and refinished the old cabinet knobs to match the pantry. I also added a set of 3 dark brown baskets ($20) to tie in to the table, and store things like cleaning supplies that I keep on top of the pantry and out of kids' reach. I added a rolling spice rack to help corral spices ($16), that slides between the pantry and coffee bar. This also allows me to move more of the overflow Costco groceries to the pantry itself.

Of course, there are other improvements. I'd love new countertops, sink, and faucet. The dishwasher and oven don't work perfectly, either. But in time we'll tackle those. For now, I'm thrilled with my new kitchen. I smile every time I walk in, as the sun lights up the room and brings out the light yellow paint. I love not seeing that awful fake tile, and every time I enter I'll be reminded of the hard work I put into making it truly mine.

I spent about 2 months completing the project. I tackled each project in a mini-version, as we were still using the kitchen during the makeover. I finished the cabinets before doing the pantry, finished the pantry before tackling the walls, and finished the walls before bringing in the furniture.

Total cost:
Cabinet paint: $80
Cabinet sealant: $13
Cabinet knobs: $20
Spray paint: $4
Pantry paint: $17 

Wall paint: $40
Brushes/accessories: $17
Painter's tape: $7
Dining table and benches: $320
Coffee bar: $35
Contact paper: $3
Baskets: $20
Spice Rack: $16
Total: $592

Since I did all the work myself, our total cost for a new-looking kitchen was $592. Without the table and coffee bar, the total would've been $237. So if you're looking for a new look, it doesn't break the bank to just paint your walls and cabinets. There were so many small things I didn't realize I'd need to do, like scrubbing and painting hardware and vent covers, but it saved a lot in the long run to not have to replace those. And I'm beyond thrilled with the results. 

Final Reveal:

Monday, November 27, 2017

Coco Review

Pixar's newest film, Coco, released last Wednesday. It was SPECTACULAR.

Olaf's Frozen Adventure was the short film that plays before the movie. I was thrilled to see all my favorite characters return, including Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven. This short had more songs than Frozen Fever, the short that aired before the live action Cinderella. The characters showed growth as they struggled to recall traditions from before their parents' death, and reconcile their expectations with their reality. It was really well done, and I loved revisiting Arendelle. I'm super excited for the Frozen sequel release in 2019.

When I first heard of Coco's theme, Dia de los Muertos, I was disappointed. I loved that Pixar was expanding and telling stories from other cultures, but I was saddened it would be a few years before I could share this one with my boys. At four and two years old, they're not old enough for this film. I was skeptical they would be, and after viewing it without them, I know I was right. The way death and family is portrayed is beautiful and wonderfully done, but my kids just wouldn't understand it at this age. In a few years, when they can see beyond the skeletal visualization of each character, they'll love it. In the meantime, I'm a huge fan!

Coco expertly navigated themes of death, remembrance, and the importance of family with a gentle hand and a broad understanding. It provided a deeper insight, at least for me, of Dia de los Muertos. It was, of course, visually stunning. The characters were flawed and complex, including the protagonist, Miguel. We see and understand where he's coming from, and I spent a good part of the film wondering how he could reconcile what he loves with his family's expectations.

There were many good messages in this film, ranging from respecting your family's traditions, to being open minded, to seeking to understand where the opposing side is coming from. Remembrance played a huge role, emphasizing remembering loved ones and passing their stories along.

I'm not going to lie; I cried several times. Then again, it's Pixar so I fully expect to get teary at least once. They often tackle deep subjects and explain them to minds of all ages.Many themes hit me hard personally, as many beloved members of my family are no longer with us. Seeing grief portrayed, and how those on the other side feel as well, was both comforting and a little heartbreaking.

Coco took me on an incredible journey, through the land of the dead and the traditions of Dia de los Muertos. I'm looking forward to the day when my kiddos are ready to see it, so I can share it with them.

Have you seen Pixar's latest hit yet? What did you think of it?

New Dollywood Insiders Post

Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas is truly magical. If you've been thinking about going, but worry about what to do with the smallest members of your family, fear not! My latest Dollywood Insiders post covers all the fun things for your littles and some not to miss events! Check it out here!

And remember, if you're looking for a discount, you can save $5 per ticket by using my code, DWINSIDERS5. Purchase online, print at home, and you'll be one step closer to experiencing a magical Christmas at Dollywood!