bamboo floors and decor decisions

Al finished up our new floors on Saturday. There are a couple projects left like caulking and gluing down the trim around the fireplace as well as cutting the doors in the hallway so they’ll close but for now he’s taking a much needed break! Nothing like finishing 6 hours of physical work only to run 16 miles in training the next day.

Let’s ooh and aah over his work, shall we? You can take a look back at this post to see how the floors used to be.

Here they are now.

So much nicer! I now don’t feel the need to walk on my tippy toes when I’m down here in the lower level of the house. The old linoleum used to gross me out for some reason.

I found this runner for $50 at Capel’s on Broad Street. I check there often for sales and finally lucked out. It’s a baby blue which wasn’t one of the colors I planned on buying but at that price for such a good quality I decided I’d, as Tim says, ‘Make it work!’. I figure I have a lot of pastel colors in the house so it’ll match somehow.

The flooring is a floating bamboo from Lumber Liquidators. It’s got a great texture and variety in color.

With the floors done, I had a big urge this morning to play with the space.

A couple of decor items have changed since I last took progress photos of the room. The main big item is the new couch! It’s the ‘Cameron‘ from Crate and Barrel. We went ahead and splurged since the last couch we bought for cheap barely lasted 2 years. We wanted one that would last for a long, long time. The other change is the rainbow reversible rug that my MIL bought us when she visited in July. I love me some bright color and just had to have it.

But after taking the initial photo above, I thought the back of the rug which is a toned down version of the bright side might look better so I flipped it over.

I was right or so I think! It still shows all the colorful thread but it didn’t seem to compete with the green walls as much.

On to the next item of business.

We originally bought the ottoman to match the old couch. It contrasted the light tan fabric of the piece but now it competes with the dark grey of the new couch so I did another switch.

Our little entry bench that holds our shoes and doggy bags is actually a coffee table. Another improvement! Not as bulky and a different texture than the couch.

By this time in the process I was sweating and laughing at myself… I had another idea. The pale yellow carpet from the upstairs living room might look even better down in the den! I rolled up the two carpets and made the switch. Oh and I changed the lampshade to white thinking I’d probably have to change the pillow colors as well if I were to keep the yellow carpet. Sheesh.

For now, I’ve got the yellow carpet and the ottoman in the space. We’ll have to find a new bench to hold our shoes before I officially make the switch.

As for the carpet situation, we need to cover more of our new floors so the dogs don’t slip and slide. I was thinking of buying a couple of sisal rugs (like this one) and laying them side by side to form one giant rug. I’ve seen it done a couple times on decor blogs lately.

Knowing that, all that rug moving was probably useless but it was fun to see! Keeping my camera in the same spot while changing out the items really helped me visualize the differences. I could easily flip back and forth between ideas.

At least I decided on one thing. That I want to use the coffee table instead of the ottoman! Phew.

Feel free to send Al lots of compliments on the floors. I’ll forward them to him so he gets embarrassed. Right Al? 🙂

Do you ever have that itch to start rearranging? I’ve moved our entire (very heavy!) bedroom set by myself before because I just knew a different way would work and surprisingly it did.

morning glory muffins

Thank goodness I made these muffins on Monday or else you wouldn’t have a post to read today! We’re still making progress on our projects. I’ll have the ‘after’ photos for you next Monday!

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On Sunday I realized I had 2 very ripe bananas hanging on our cooking wall and 7 frozen in the freezer. It was about time to start using them.

Banana bread is one of my favorite snacks but I wanted to change it up and find a different recipe. I searched my cookbooks and came up empty so I went to my trusty Cookinglight.com and searched ‘bananas’. I found a recipe called Morning Glory Muffins with over 50 positive reviews. By substituting some of the ingredients I didn’t have to go to the grocery store first therefore it was a winner.

I went a little overboard with the substitutions but hey, I can’t not. Experimenting is fun! If you’re wondering about the Peach Yoplait, Al hates that flavor so I wanted to use it up and of course I didn’t have regular yogurt on hand.

To explain it all, I put my changes in parenthesis after the original ingredients in the recipe below.

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Morning Glory Muffins
(source)

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (about 4 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces) (White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (Cane Sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon wheat bran (Chia seeds)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt $ (Peach Yogurt)
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2)
  • 1 large egg $
  • 1 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (Pecans)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple $ (Dried Cherries)
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed (about 2 tablespoons whole (Raw Buckwheat Groat)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Place 18 muffin cups liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray.
  3. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flours and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine yogurt, banana, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in dates, walnuts, and pineapple. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly with flaxseed. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack.

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So I guess I created a variation of the original recipe. My ‘substitutes’ aren’t all similar to the original ingredients! It’s almost like I knew what I was doing.

Fresh out of the oven with a little butter or earth balance. These muffins were amazing. I thought all the dried fruit and crazy yogurt would make the muffins way too sweet so I cut back a little on the dried fruit when I made them. I think this helped because the sweetness was definitely there but it didn’t overpower the pecans or oats. The oats, raw buckwheats, and pecans gave the muffins an awesome chew which contrasted with the gooey fruit.

It’s ridiculous how good these muffins are! No wonder so many people on Cooking Light felt the need to give there two cents.

I’ve taken two with me to work each day this week. I could have probably eaten one for my morning snack and one for the afternoon but once I start one I can’t leave the other all by itself. 🙂

Do you have a yummy muffin recipe?

slowing down to pick myself up

I’m turning inward today! I hope that’s okay.

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When I’m stuck in a rut I easily become overwhelmed – with my to-do list, my relationships, my life. I’m currently at this point.

I truly believe I should be able to fix this problem and have attempted all my life to do so. I’ve written posts about this subject here, here, and here. I’m always able to stay on top of things for a couple weeks but then I get to busy, stressed and everything goes out the window.

I’m so very tired of this vicious cycle.

I watched a documentary on Friday night called Happy. It’s about people and what makes them truly happy.

That night I was up at 3:30 thinking about it. I panicked during this bout of insomnia, feeling overwhelmed about failing to be happy.

After a few hours, my mind started to settle and clear. I began to try and figure out what I could do to fix my problem.

I’ve had a couple nights like this in the past few weeks. They remind me of one night of insomnia last year when I realized I wanted to quit my old job (and career) that I went to school for so long for. Now I’m at a completely new job and loving it so I’m thinking I’m at the cusp of another step in the right direction.

Thank goodness.

When I’m overwhelmed I usually find something to escape my feelings. My go-to options are TV, the Internet, food, and my dogs. I think spending time with my dogs does help me feel better and more present but the other stuff really doesn’t. I feel lazy and stressed once I finally decide to get my butt off of the couch. I’m also usually doing a combination of TV, Internet, and food so I’m even more removed from ‘real’ life! Not good.

I know that it’s definitely healthy to escape the hustle and bustle of real life sometimes but lately for me it’s getting in the way of living that life.

My epiphany on Saturday night/morning was something that I already know but have a hard time doing.

To really try to become happier, I’ve got to take it slow. I’m going to focus on fixing one poor habit at a time. Anything else I do that might not be considered healthy doesn’t matter for now. I just have one thing to do. That’s it. That should keep me from getting worked up.

I’m thinking I’ll start with no TV. Without TV I’d have soooo much more time to do things that I really love like gardening, reading, art, even chores! If I’m successful… wait… when I’m successful, I’ll be able to replace one bad habit with tons of other good options. Perfect.

I’m sure there are other people out there like me but man does it feel like I’m the only person sometimes with these silly struggles.

I hope to update you on my progress next week. This should hold me accountable!

Who’s overwhelmed? Who’s with me? Who has some words of wisdom for all of us?