Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Super Simple DIY Train Board

Alright, so I've an insanely simple DIY for you today. A train board! 

My youngest loves her train set, and in our old house I kept it downstairs so she'd just set it up on our hardwood floors and it was fine. But in our current home we keep it upstairs, and upstairs is carpeted so I've been wanted to  make her a simple train board she can set the tracks on. When my teenagers were her age they had an actual train table. The thing was big. And don't get me wrong, it was super nice and super cute but over a decade later and it's not ideal for our current way of life. First off, I'm totally a minimalist (I just recently stopped calling myself a wanna-be minimalist but that post will wait for another day) so the thought of having a massive train table like I did ten years ago for the big kids annoyed me for several reasons...one being the footprint it'd take up; the bigger our family has gotten and the more psychotic passionate about minimalism I've gotten. I want to do more with less and I knew there had to be a way to incorporate the function of a train table without it taking up the space of a train table which is essentially the size of a toddler bed. 

So I did some thinking and I was like, "Eureka! I can make something that can just slide under her bed when it's not in use!" This way she had something to put her trains on and yet it wasn't taking up a valuable floor space when not in use. I knew to move it easily in and out from under her bed I wanted it to have wheels. Then I thought about what it should look like and I immediately was like "all white". But let's be honest, like most of our house is white. So then I thought it'd be fun to paint trees and water and what it on it but that felt too limiting because I started to imagine her also using the board to build legos or stack blocks, etc on. Finally I decided to just use paint I already had because who really cares what color it is, right?

So here's what you need to make this yourself:
  • Piece of wood cut to desired size 
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint
  • Polyurethane 
  • Wheels
  • Screws
  • Sander

I had everything on hand already so this project cost me a whopping $0. Pro tip: if you have a Kelley Moore Paint store you can get a free quart of paint from them using a coupon (that's where my paint came from and was left over from painting the baby's dresser). 

  1. Measure the underside of the piece of furniture your train board is going to be stored under. Take into account you want a bit of wiggle room
  2. Cut your wood to size. If you're buying from Lowes or The Home Depot they'll cut it for free. I usually take advantage of that but since I was using left over wood I just used our jigsaw for this project. 
  3. Sand the edges of your board really well, you don't want little fingers getting splinters and you don't want sharp corners. I use an electric sander and it's one of my most used tools and still going strong after almost 10 years, if you DIY a lot it's a good investment. 
  4. Attach wheels. I had these left over casters from a previous project and like how chunky and sturdy they are. 
  5. The fun part! Paint or stain your board! I got away with a single coat of paint but usually you want at least two. 
  6. Let paint dry fully then add a few coats of clear poly if you want the paint to stay as is. If you like the chipped or worn look then you can skip this part and your board will get nicks and scraps naturally with use. (Note: Obviously don't apply poly to the board if you use chalkboard paint and want it draw on it) 
  7. Admire your work! 

I hope you found this tutorial simple enough and gained inspiration to recreate it or to put your own twist on it for some other use. 

Avery loved helping me with the project (especially the painting) and was so excited to put her trains on it when we were done. 

Total cost for this project if you didn't have any of the materials on hand would be around $30. But chances are if you take on DIY projects you probably have most of this on hand making it even cheaper. 

Free, functional, and I can wheel it under the babe's bed when it's not in use. My kind of project. 

Hugs, guys. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Fordhouse Courthouse

So my gas light came on the other day. Said 50 miles or something til empty. Blew it off. You can do a lot in 50 miles right?! I have time, I told myself. Go about my day. Come home for the evening. Next day is here and I have a doctor's appointment at 1. The baby slept until 10am so that was fabulous. So we had a lazy morning, one which included a bath for her. Fast forward to what should be the end of said bath and she refuses to get out of the tub despite us needing to leave the house by 12:30. 12:37 comes and she's finally dressed albeit with not thoroughly brushed hair and no socks with her tennis shoes because I don't have time to argue with a two year old about socks. Drop her off with a friend so I could make my anatomy scan at 1. My obstetrician had changed locations since my last visit. I know this bc I got a voicemail the other day telling me the location of their new office. I can't find the street on any map app I have nor on the GPS in my car. But the voicemail says "behind the Courthouse" amongst other details as to where exactly they are. Perfect. I know where the courthouse is. 

Despite running late I make it to the courthouse by 1:01. No biggie. One minute isn't going to hurt anyone. But wait, I can't find the OB's office. And I'm behind the courthouse. Call the office. No answer. Drive around. Don't see the street name I'm given. Keep driving in that general vacinity whilst continuing to ring the OB's office. Finally someone answers. 1:07. I tell her I'm lost and I'm behind the courthouse. Courthouse? 

She's confused. Yeah, in the message it says y'all are located behind the courthouse. No, she tells me. They are behind the FORD HOUSE! WTF is a ford house, you ask? I pondered the same - answer? The local ford dealership. Who calls it a ford house? Whatever. I ask if it's by the courthouse. No, she says. Fantastic. It's 1:10. I get the proper address to the godforsaken ford house and haul ass. Within legal speed limits of course because I'm no monster. A few miles down the road I'm feeling hopeful, my car tells me I'm two minutes from my destination. It then also immediately tells me I'm zero miles until empty. Zero

Has your car even said zero miles? Heart. Attack. And it only chimed this cute little single chime before my dashboard lit up with the words zero miles to empty. My mind did what the car should've done. FUCKING SIRENS. 

Yeah. Sirens went off in my mind and my body temp immediately roses 26 degrees and I'm frantically searching for a gas station. I see one. It's on the next exit. I get off the highway and it's a fucking smoke and save or some shit where they turned an old gas station into a "grab your smokes and liquor" joint (do ppl still say joint?). So I saw gas pumps but that shit hasn't works since god knows when. 

I let out some profanities and keep driving. 

Finally coming across a proper gas station. The light right before the station is green but I envision it turning red and me running out of gas and standing on the side of the road pregnant, hot, and crying because I want my husband whom is probably flying (therefore unreachable) with my luck. The light stays green, proof that Jesus loves us, and I pull into the gas station. I pump 20 seconds worth of gas which I've learned buys you 54 more miles according to my car when I got back in. Drove my two more miles to the OB office. Pull in the lot and see the dealership next door. I mumble something like "fucking ford house"... 

...because its totally the Ford House's fault that I can't get my kid out of the tub in a timely manner and have gas in the car. 

I hobble-run inside and tell the ladies at the desk a very condesed version of the last 20 minutes. Which went something like this. "I thought y'all said the courthouse". Laughter amongst us all. 

Then they tell me how "an older woman" made the same mistake. Great. Now I have the hearing of "an older woman". It's 1:19. I'm still seen. Anatomy scan done. Baby boy healthy. Drove home less heart-attacky. Hate the fordhouse. Fin. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The First Years Minnie Mouse Feeding Seat

Disclaimer: I was provided with the products in this post at no cost however all words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

The baby is at an age where mealtime is no longer a complete challenge so long as we allow her to do everything herself. And I mean everything. She prefers sitting at the table with us rather than her high chair so when we had the chance to check out The First Years Minnie Mouse Feeding Seat we jumped on it! And I'm glad we did. 

It's the perfect solution between a high chair and sitting in an actual dining chair. The seat straps securely to the chair and it even comes with a tray, which I can see being convienient if you wanted to save space and minimize the number of products you bring into your home. I've been on a minimizing kick the last year or so and the first thing that came to mind when I saw that The First Years Minnie Mouse Feeding Seat came with a tray was: this is perfect because now you don't even need a high chair! Because not only could you use this at the table as a booster with no tray when your child is older but you could also use it as a high chair by popping the tray on. The tray is adjustable as is the safety harness so the seat can easily grow with your child. Ours gets use at mealtime time and at play time as I find this scene often:

We were also sent coordinating dish ware. I really enjoy trying different types of dishware for kids, I feel like that should be a proper job title. You know, like a food critic? Except it'd be a baby/toddler dish ware critic. Okay, now that I typed it out it admittedly sounds a bit ridiculous but humor me, please. 

These forks and spoons are a definite keeper. And the sippy cups are a winner too. There's also a bowl as well as a sectioned place which is nice if you have a picky eater that doesn't like their food touching. *Cough Cough* My littlest. 

Click here to see more!

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Mother's Day with American Greetings

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MoreThanAMom #CollectiveBias

When I think about my mom, I get pretty sentimental. She means the absolute world to me, and it wasn't until I became a mom myself that I realized the level of love she had for me. Without a doubt I've always known she's loved me, but until you have a child yourself you've never experienced this type of love and therefore couldn't completely appreciate the love your mom has for you. But now I do and I'm so thankful for her and I'm thankful I know that feeling when it comes to my own children as well.

So with Mother's Day just around the corner I'm excited to be able to celebrate her and show her just how much she is appreciated. And being physically distant from my parents due to my husband being in the Air Force, it makes Mother's Day that much more special and its our chance to let her know that even thousands of miles apart, we still think of her, love her, and value what she brings to our lives. 

So I went to our local AAFES Base Exchange (BX) to check our their selection of Mother's Day items and the first thing I saw when I walked in was the American Greetings display filled with an array of Mother's Day cards, gift bags, and more. 

It made my heart so happy looking through the selection of American Greetings cards because it looked as though they have thought of everyone and were truly determine to celebrate every mom! They had cards for wives, mothers, sisters, friends, grandmothers, aunts. They had cards from one mom to another, from kids to their mom, from kids to both their moms; it was so great to see American Greetings had the perfect Mother's Day card for every mom!

When I saw their wide selection I even picked up a card for a close friend of mine that I met when I, myself, was in the Air Force. Being in the Air Force means you are away from your extended family a lot, so friends that you meet in the same situation become more like family and its so important to let them know how much we appreciate them just like we do with our extended family. And what's great is that American Greetings currently has a promotion for "Buy 3 cards, Save $2" so this is prime time to find a special card for several moms in your life, promotion runs from 4/17 to 5/14!

Its common for one to receive flowers on Mother's Day but what's even better are flowers that last forever, am I right?! So the kids helped make a fun, colorful bouquet out of tissue paper that we also grabbed from the American Greetings selection of products at the BX. The how-to is simple. Here's what you need:

  • Tissue Paper
  • Scissors
  • Vase
  • Rubberband

  • Choose the size of your flower(s), the larger your flower the bigger sized tissue paper you want. For a fuller look, use more sheets (we used two packages and didn't cut them down in size so our bouquet is big and full). 
  • Begin folding the tissue paper like an accordion until the entire thing is folded.
  • Place rubberband in the middle (this holds it all together) and fold the whole thing in half.
  • Trim the ends if you'd like a pattern on the edges of the flowers or leave as is for a pointed look
    • Now gently pull each piece of tissue paper away from the next to create a full, flower look. Fluff to your heart's content! Then place in a vase and you're done!

    I know my mom will love her card, notice it has "coupons" for use with grandma? So clever. I always love when my kids make me coupons for things, they love when I redeem the coupons and just get so excited. And the card I got my friend was so perfect ("Momming is not easy"), and on the inside it referenced chardonnay so naturally that's the gift I got for her.

    With Mother's Day right around the corner, let American Greetings help you celebrate every mom in your life! To get further inspired for your Mother's Day gift ideas, or to check out their other amazing products check out their site.

    Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Anatomy of a Sam + Av Pic

    If you follow me on Instagram its no secret my dog and baby are the stars of the show. But that's what happens when you're a stay at home mom and spend 90% of your waking hours with the two of them. Who runs the world? Sam + Av, that's who. Or at least my household. Deeeeefinitely running my household.

    I receive numerous questions on how I get my pup (I use that term loosely, she's almost four) to cooperate for their notorious Sam + Av photos. So I'm here today with the not-so-secret secret.

    Truth be told, its the baby that requires the most work. The dog is just there for the treats, no lie. We got her as an eight week old puppy and began training her immediately. We've always used treats as her rewards so I think because of that she's very food motivated - she will do nearly anything for a treat. She already knew basic commands of "sit", "stay", "down" (lay), "paw" (shake), "come", "leave it", etc before the thought even crossed my mind to dress these two up and take their photo, so those basic commands definitely come in handy when taking these photos.

    Like I said, the baby is the wildcard so I alway, always, always get Sam in position and dressed first. Then I give her the stay command and she hangs tight while I bribe the baby to participate. Okay, its not that bad, usually its not a bribe but sometimes it truly is. While other times she will put something on Sammy and herself and request to "CHEEEEEEESE!"

    If something covers Sam's ears she typically wants to shake it off so I just give her a "leave it" and she sits still, I snap the pic, give her a snack, and release her. Honestly she's a brilliant dog and after just three or so of these photos she seemed to know what the routine was going to be the moment she saw me pull out my camera so that's helpful as well.

    The whole Sam + Av series started as an accident. The baby wanted to play with some sunnies, I had another pair and put them on Sam and she just walked over to the baby with them on and I died laughing and snapped a pic.

    I shared it on my personal Facebook page and people got a huge kick out of it so I started doing them weekly and posting them to my Instagram as well as a tab on this blog of mine. I've since removed quite a few of them because I've decided I don't want a million photos on the internet of my kids' faces, but there are a few still up. I'm definitely not anti-posting-pics-of-my-kids, but I just don't want every photo to be of their face, if that makes sense. So if you look at my Instagram you will see that there will be side-profile pics, or a photo from behind, or a photo where the kids have something covering a portion of their face, and every once in a while you will see their entire face. It gives them some privacy and the photographer in me has actually had fun trying to see certain shots from a different perspective so I feel like I'm forced to be a bit more creative with the shots due to trying to keep their whole face out of the photo. Sometimes its simple cropping like so:

    A post shared by Lorri | The Pretty + The Brave (@theprettyandthebrave) on

    and other times its snapping the pic mid-bite like so:

    A post shared by Lorri | The Pretty + The Brave (@theprettyandthebrave) on

    Getting back to the Sam + Av pics, I plan to bring them back with a little twist now that I have somewhat explained why I took many of them down. I'm sure you've guessed that they will likely have props to cover their faces and you'd be right! So go take a peek at some of the older ones that are still up here and check out my Instagram here and search the hashtag #SamanthaandAveryShenanigans to find loads of photos of those two getting into everyday mischief. And check back in a few weeks for their newest photo with a twist! Its sure to please.

    Happy Tuesday, ya'll!

    Tuesday, March 07, 2017


    The last few days have been hectic. Like, I want to move my mother in with me for the next two months type of hectic. Hey mom, you can make that happen, right?! ;) But that's life. Basically, 2017 is already proving to be amazing with more amazing things coming. But that also means chaos, and changes, and rolling with the punches. But again, life...am i right?! Its what we are used to. Good news is my husband gets to stick around for more than three seconds at a time here soon. We moved here to America ten months ago and he's been gone for almost half of that, not for five consecutive months or anything but that doesn't make it any better. If I'm being honest it would probably have been easier if he was gone for five straight months because by the time we finally get into a groove of him being gone he's back. Then a few weeks later he has to leave again and we start the process from scratch. But who cares, right? Because pretty soon that will be no more and we will get to have him home every single day with us. For a while, at least.

     Ariana and I went to see Twenty One pilots in concert the weekend before last and guys, it was SO FUN! Maybe since I haven't been to a concert in like 20 years I didn't really know what to expect so my standards weren't the highest (they're a great band, but I just didn't know what to expect concert-wise) but it was one of the funnest nights I've ever had. We spent the day entire day together just the two of us so that was nice. We try to make time to go do things with the kids one-one-one but in reality it doesn't happen as often as we'd like. So it was so important to have that time together. We had floor tickets so we were literally inches from the stage so you could really feel the energy. Their fans are insanely dedicated. The way they were dressed, their topics of conversation, one girl was even crying so hard she literally sounded like a wolf as in, she was howling. Legit howling. Like, you know the ugly-cry you get during a super intense episode of Grey's? Yeah, multiply that by 3.7 trillion, then add a howl in. I was kind of concerned for her, to be frank.

    Sammy's been feeling poorly. She needed to go outside to potty at least once an hour for a few days straight. It was like having a newborn all over again. That hasn't stopped her from strategically laying where the baby drops the most crumbs though so I know she's not doing too awful.

    And the baby still refuses to allow me to dress her. She's either naked or wearing 17 layers. There is no in between. And a hairbrush?! You better get away from her with that! Are you crazy?! She doesn't need to be properly groomed. At least that's what she would tell you.

    Luckily she loves taking baths and brushing her teeth so don't call child services on me just yet. I've had a couple questions about whether she's potty trained and if so how I went about it. I promise I'll do another post about that, but be forewarned that there are certain things I don't share on the internet and potty-training specifics is one. So my post will share what I've learned about potty-training four kids and my method and how long it takes (basically general info I've learned from experience) but it won't be any one specific child of mine's story, if that makes sense. I promise I'm not a prude but here's how I decide what to share about my kids: I ask myself "If mom or dad put that photo or story of me on the internet would I be okay with it?" If my answer is no, I don't share it. Easy as pie. My dog on the other hand gets her business blasted all over the interwebs.

    Happy Taco Tuesday, friends. Think of me when you're sipping your margarita tonight. xx

    Friday, March 03, 2017

    Favorite Finds

    Happy Freaking Friday! This week started out great and then on Wednesday I woke with an itchy throat and a pounding headache and I was like: Nope, don't have time to be sick. And I had just been feeling grateful that our house has managed to escape this bug that I see has been going around. So I spent Wednesday taking it easy, like waaaaay easy, like I fed my children and played taxi to after school activities and that's about where my productivity ended. I drank loads of water, took my vitamins, pounded shots of raw apple cider vinegar (I swear by this stuff, I have my kids take a couple tablespoons of it and they rarely get ill), and diffused some thieves. And today I feel 95% better. Luckily the kids haven't showed signs of falling ill and hopefully it stays that way.

    Anyway, on to my favorite finds of the week!

    This Braised Red Wine Short Ribs recipe is heavenly! Seriously one of the best dishes I've ever made. We celebrated Valentine's Day in our house on the 15th since Seth was night flying and Ari had gym until 8, so none of us got home until at least 9pm on the 14th. But the next day we gave the kids their gifts and I made a fancy-shmancy dinner and this was on the menu. It was sooooo good, guys. And it was pretty simple too. Try it out!
    _ _ _

    Photo: Martha Stewart

    This cross-stitch family portrait is really speaking to me. Call me a nerd but I've totally bought the supplies and I plan to make one of our family when I finish my other 73 projects I've going on at the moment. I think its unique and quirky and would fit right into my decorating style.
    _ _ _

    With Avery's birthday around the corner I've been on the hunt for a shirt for her. Last year when she turned one I had my sister-in-law make her a shirt that said "Wild one". Get it? So I've been trying to find a phrase for her "two year" shirt. I came across this one that would be adorable for a third birthday.

    Photo: Etsy
    _ _ _

    These Nikes are EVERYTHING! But I can't find them anywhere, so I guess technically this isn't a "find" but if ya'll know where I can get these holla atcha girl! I tossed my old Nikes with the thought that it'd force me to replace them quicker since I've been needing a new pair for months. And my poor foot already needs surgery for the THIRD time so I figured I'd stop putting it into shoes that needed replaced. Le sigh.

    Source unknown
    _ _ _

    These blackberry lemonade margaritas are delish. And with the weather in my neck of the woods being absolutely beautiful, this weekend would be the perfect time to make a pitcher and sit out on the deck while grilling burgers. mmmmmm burgers. 

    You deserve it! xx