a (big) year in review

this time of year always brings about a feeling of nostalgia, or reflection, on what the past year has brought. and, now that i'm in vacation mode, i had to put together some words of thanks + love + just general wow-ness about what 2015 brought. because i'm sittin' over here in my little corner of the world, making messes and designing things, but it's you....the people who show love + support that help keep me going.

so, here goes....a little look back....

photo credit: jeff threewitt with invironments magazine
- i started writing. like, yes, i've been writing on this little blog, but i started full-fledged article writing. and this all happened because of some ah-mazing friends + fans. words can't describe how thankful i have been for the opportunity to become a regular contributor at invironments magazine + for all of the fantastic good vibes that have come from it. i know not everyone is into diy, but when i hear that someone has tried one of the projects i write about, that's a cool, cool feeling.

my donation to the 2015 for the love of the game fundraiser!
- so many of you trusted me to make some pretty special pieces for your homes. seriously. what i love so much is when new friends see what i share on my shop, and have an idea that they want me to make come true for them. that's fun stuff. here's a couple of my faves from this year here, here, here, here, and here

- insta-awesomeness. i fell in love with instagram. that's really all. and, if you love instagram too, be sure to follow me at @reneststudio!

- some amazing milestones. like, awesome sales. and, amazing viewers to the blog. all of this is only possible with y'all. i can't tell you how much i appreciate you all!

- an amazing sycamore pumpkin fest autumn craft + treasures market! i love getting to set up my work and sharing and telling the story about what i do what i do. but this year was super, super special. it was truly a combo of events that made me sign up for this great show, and then, what was even more awesomesauce, was the new friends i met while there! it was such an amazingly wonderful weekend + such an opportunity to share and grow!

- and, some big goals are up ahead for 2016! i am so fortunate to spend this time at the holidays to recharge, plan + plot out the next year. i have every finger and toe crossed for something big in april, and i have some very cute holiday exclusives that i'll offer throughout the year! i can't wait!

as 2015 winds down, i thank each of you. for being a fan, for your words of encouragement, for your support, and being the absolute best group of fans + friends + loved ones and for being in my court. here's to 2016 + all of the amazingness it will bring! 


how we do holiday decor 'round here....

i think i've said before, i don't do a lot of seasonal decorating. christmas is pretty much the most i do, and frankly, when i got out our decorations this year, i still felt like i don't do a ton. maybe it's a time thing. maybe it's a "we have two young boys" thing. but i can tell you that this year, i felt the pull to add more to the house. (i blame the balmy december weather for this. i'm certain if there was snow on the ground, i wouldn't be trying to fill the "holiday cheer" gap with more garland + more sparkle!)

so, in the absence of snow, i trekked myself out to michaels and hobby lobby and worked to add a little more decked to our halls. 

here's a little rundown of what we do in the re-nest house:

1. the mantle. which includes a giant tv hanging over it (anyone else feel me?) oh, and on the mantle, there's some sort of center channel/sound system thing that is permanently placed under the tv. which makes dressing the mantle in the traditional sense, a total fail. so, i go pretty minimal: a simple "joy" banner, four stocking holders, a couple of tea lights, and some placed bulb ornaments on the mantle. that's it. there's really no more room for anything else.

2. the main tree. this one is in our family room, and is 9' tall, pre-lit, and glorious. this one is what i call "mama's tree." it's silver + glass + grey + ivory. but for some reason, this year when the tree went up, it felt sparse. mr. re-nest + i went about looking for a new tree (this one is seven years old), because we just felt like this one was losing it's fullness. then, we were astonished at the prices. so, we said, "a little fluffing and some extra berries and such, and it'll be totally fine!" so that's what we did. i picked up some great white poinsettias, some white + sparkly flowers, and some more white berries. and, voila! the tree looks like a tree again!

3. the window ledge. so, the stairs going down to our basement are open + finished. you go down eight steps, there's a landing, and eight more steps and you're in the basement. well, at that landing, there is a window ledge that is at ground-level (really kind of cool). normally, there's two vases + some dying plants there. i decided to spruce it up for the holidays with some garland, some sparkle + some more floral this year!  

and, just in case you want to see some more, here's some of what we do 'round here....little decor pieces + such to help us all get in the holiday spirit! enjoy...xoxo!

the "25" canvas i made this year!

merry everything. happy always.

and, i just loved this shot of our little fox.

the boys' santa bags....waiting under the tree to be
filled by the big man.

a beautiful jonathan adler vase filled with christmas bulbs

just a pretty flower in the tree.
the little pop of color on the mantle

our sparkly "joy" mantle banner


(more) a little creative in the kitchen

i think i can finally admit this: i really like to cook. do i like to cook every night? no. but most nights, i don't mind it. for one, we eat much healthier this way. for a second reason, it saves money. and since i started meal planning (like i talked about in this post), cooking isn't the absolute pure torture that it once was. 

so, for those who read my post late last year about my love for meal planning, yes, i'm still at it. do i dread it a little? kind of. it can be overwhelming to sit down and plan two weeks worth of dinners. (especially when you add in there family visits and such) but it keeps me on track. it brings a giant element of sanity to my life when 5:00pm hits + i'm not freaking out trying to figure out what i can throw together with what i have in my kitchen/freezer/cabinets. 

it's been a year since i fully started meal planning. and, call this a check-in of sorts. because i've come across some fabulous new recipes this year that i've tried (some have been successes, some have not), but i love some of these so much, that i just wanted to share! (especially since it's getting colder, and i don't know about you, but i love great, warm recipe ideas for the winter months!)

one of my go-to, absolute fave sources for great recipes is skinnytaste.com (and also the skinnytaste cookbook, available here). i've never been super comfortable with fussy recipes (i.e. those that call for things that i can't pronounce, much less be able to find at the grocery. or that cost an arm-and-a-leg when you need 1 tsp. of it) i literally scour the website on my phone, bookmark the recipes on my phone, and then go through those to help me with my meal planning. and, of course, i also go through the cookbook too to find some new dinners!

so, let's not wait any longer.....here's a couple of new faves in our house. (note: i don't do complicated when it comes to dinner. i don't do things that require overnight prep....honestly, i give myself 20-30 minutes prep time, and the shorter the cooking time, the better!)

butternut squash lasagna rolls (from the skinnytaste cookbook

i'll be honest: this was a mom favorite. and, that was about it. the boys did try it (to their credit), but they just weren't in to it. (honestly, i should have thrown some marinara on theirs and they probably would have gobbled it right up.) but, i love a good butternut squash recipe + i love lasagna, so this sounded like a good recipe to try! there's lots o' garlic in this one, and the prep time is more than i usually take on (this was a sunday night dinner in our house, when mama has more time to cook). but all-in-all, the ingredients are easy, just be prepared to get out lots of kitchen utensils (i.e. food processor) to get this one put together! i did love it, and am still eating the leftovers for lunches this week!

pasta with sausage, baby kale + pepper (from the skinnytaste cookbook)

prep + chopping! this was about as
difficult as this recipe got!
to start, i made this on a wednesday night (i.e. work night/school night), which means the prep time +
the cooking time is pretty minimal. then, i just loved the combo of the main ingredients: turkey sausage (which my boys have taken a liking to), kale (uh, can you say "superfood?"), and red pepper (yum!) and, pasta is always a great addition to any dish (for my family, anyway). 

i was a little nervous about adding in the onion (i usually leave it out of all recipes - mr. re-nest is not a fan), but i took and halved what they called for in this recipe, just for the flavor. i also wasn't sure how the boys would react to the red pepper, but chopped up (finely), and mixed in with everything else, it was a hit! in fact, little mr. re-nest #1 proclaimed it a "noah favorite." (which in our house means i won the best dinner award for that dish!)

also, one other reco: if you have your turkey sausage frozen, be sure to get it out to defrost in the morning. i think it's just easier to deal with meats when they've defrosted vs. doing the defrost in the microwave. 
adding in the kale!

the kale even went over well with the family, which pleased me to no end! adding it in to the skillet to allow it to soften was a huge plus. the next time i make this, i do think i'll chop the kale up more (i had pretty big leaves in there), but it'll make it a little easier for the boys to eat. 

hope you get to add these dinner ideas to your dinner plans sometime this winter! they are really very easy, healthy, and very, very yummy! (and don't forget: the pasta with sausage, kale and red pepper is kid-approved in our house!) enjoy!


a progress report: the master bath

so, yeah....it's been several weeks since the intro post about the master bath project. and, there has been progress (quite a bit, actually), but now we're into the holidays and i feel like i have a half-transitioned bathroom. don't get me wrong...it's looking lovely + so much better than it did, but i'm at that stage where i just need like, three un-interrupted days where the boys maybe go to mimi + papa keith's house, and mr. re-nest and i can knock the rest of it out. but tis the season, so i don't think that will happen. so we continue to steal moments during naps, days off (mr. re-nest's days off) to get this bathroom finished.

so, while we wish for the finished bath, let's take a little look at what has been done (glass half-full, right?!?)

the flowery tile style all around the tub
+ in the shower.

remember how i mentioned we had that really bad decorative tile around the garden tub? well, i went at it with my dremel multi-max, some protective eye-wear, and a crowbar. there was only one major hole put in the wall (i accept blame) + another section that had to be patched, but all of it came out! and, i am in love with my dremel now. mr. re-nest has been a total sport + has been helping get the new tile cut and placed, so that we have some new decorative tile to look at that isn't so flowery.

the countertop + sinks

we had one of those "all one piece" jobs that the builder put in when building the house. (you know, the sinks are molded in to the countertop?) well, it was all well + good, except for the fact that i guess i tend to run my hot water really hot + for a long time, so my sink had lots of little tiny cracks in it. mr. re-nest + i discussed, and we figured if we want to paint and tear down the giant mirror, now's the time to do the countertop. so, some great friends recommended a guy, and we ended up with a really gorgeous quartz countertop with white square undermount sinks for a steal. done + done.

that big giant mirror

the ikea stockholm mirror.
we had one of those. a mirror that is larger than life. that was glued to the wall. since the countertop was going in + we wanted to paint, and i wanted something different to see my reflection in, now was the time to unleash that beast from our bathroom wall. i give 100% of the credit for this to mr. re-nest (all i did was go to lowes and buy those suction cup handle-things so we could get it from the wall to the floor). he pried it off the wall, and once it was down, he broke it up, so that it could be carried away. oh, and he also did all of the drywall patch work from the tar-like adhesive that was used to hang the mirror to the wall. kudos to my mr. re-nest! and....the new mirrors are up! we chose two of the ikea stockholm mirrors to replace mr. big giant mirror, and we're loving the new look! 

my fave paint! pittsburgh paints grand distinction!

this is my fave part! once the mirror was down + the countertop was in, we painted. we went with a grey (shocker!) that complements the tealish-blue that's in our bedroom, and also works with the bedding in our master. we took a quick trip to menard's for my fave pittsburgh paints grand distinction paint, and we went to work. one sunday afternoon + evening later, and we have a painted bathroom (goodbye, tinted primer!)

what's next?
the new tub tile....it's a wip.

well, there's still some more tiling work to finish up, and i have some plans for decor in there that needs to be done. i'm also toying with doing something in the toilet alcove (i have no better term for it!)....maybe wainscoting, or white painted wood panels with some trim? just something to help give some contrast in the area and bring out the white some more.

the new light for over the tub....
without the white globe thing.
i also have a lighting plan. we have a six-bulb fixture over the sink which we're keeping (simply because i'm trying to do this as frugally as possible), but i am trashing the ugly globes. and i think i'm going to try and put some edison bulbs in there instead, to give it a little more modern look. then, i have my eye on a new fixture for over the tub....this one from lowes. whatcha think? 

and, finally we have a great window in the bathroom, that i want to make a fabric-wrapped valence for!

stay tuned! there will be more to come as we finish up this long overdue project! 

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