May 7, 2016
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Thirty + One

Year 31, here I come! Last May I was turning the big 3-0 and decided to have a 60’s cocktail party to celebrate the occasion. This past year has been filled with so much (moving, going to Paris, renovating our new house) that I just wanted to do something simple and quiet with the one I love most—Todd! He actually wasn’t supposed to be home for my birthday this year but schedules changed and I’m so happy to have had him around for the past month. It’s definitely been the longest he’s been home since we moved last July and I almost feel like a “regular” person with a “regular” life. It’s been a nice change for sure.

Since I didn’t want to make a big fuss this year, all I asked was a trip to my favorite Nashville spot Le Sel for some pink champagne and french fries (they have the best fries!). I feel like this place is the closest embodiment of myself that’s I’ve ever seen in a restaurant so far. Blush pink velvet booths, black and white stripe floor tiles, neon signs everywhere…perfect! I knew that this adorable romper would perfect for just such an occasion as soon as I saw it. It’s a little bit 60’s, a little bit French, and all black and white—YAAAAASSSSSSSS PLEASE!

Romper/Nasty Gal, Shoes/ShoeMint, Sunnies/Forever 21, Bag/Modcloth

I’ve definitely starting thinking more about what it means to get older lately. And yes, that can mean starting to look for wrinkles in the mirror and wondering what the coming years will bring, but in such a youth obsessed culture I’m also trying to focus on the positives being one year older can bring. Hopefully I’m one year wiser, kinder, and more patient than I was last year. I’ve had one more year to know myself a little better and one more year to love my dearest a little bit more. If you ask me, that sounds like something worth celebrating…signature2 copy

May 5, 2016
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My Favorite Natural Cat Products!

So, besides talking about all the projects I’m working on lately or venting about the ins and outs of being a band wife, my other favorite topic to discuss is my cats!! I spend a lot of time with them so I’m always on the hunt to find things to make their life (and mine) a little better. Lately I’ve been trying to find more ways I can be healthier and more eco-friendly in my daily life (more on that whirlwind process later) but you can believe that trying to be more green has taken over the cat kingdom here as well. I had already been trying out a few all natural litters that I wasn’t that happy with when sWheat Scoop contacted me to ask if I would be interested in giving their natural cat litter a try. I said I would definitely be interested and I liked it so much that I wanted to partner with them to do a roundup of all my favorite natural cat products to share with the rest of you kitty mammas who might be looking for some good products to change to as well. sWheat Scoop Litter: The worst thing about litter boxes for me isn’t the the constant cleaning (or even the smell at times) but all the chemicals that go into traditional litter. Not only are those chemicals tracked around your house but the toxins are directly ingested by your kitty when they go to clean their paws—gross! I love that the sWheat Scoop is completely biodegradable and is made from 100% wheat. It’s clay-free, chemical-free, and you can even flush it down your toilet if you wanted to. The corn and pine based litters I was trying before this product worked OK and I liked that they were more natural, but they didn’t clump as well as I would have liked and when urine would mix with the corn product it would kind of give off a smell that was actually worse than the pee just by itself. sWheat Scoop is much better at masking odor than the other natural litters I tried and it clumps with liquid pretty well too. I would say that I usually let the liquid dry a bit before scooping it out though which helps it stick together a lot more than when it’s freshly wet. It’s great to know that there are no more paw-shaped toxins throughout the house and they can lick their paws in peace.Litter Genie: Speaking of litter boxes, this is another product that will make your household pawprint a little greener as well. We all know how many plastic bags you can use when cleaning out you cat’s box day after day, but the Litter Genie acts the same way a diaper genie does for dirty diapers and can save you from using dozens of plastic bags a month. The waste goes down a chute and is kept in a plastic bag lined area that is sealed off at the bottom of the Genie so no odors escape (really, they don’t!) and you can keep collecting waste daily until the cavity is full. Even with two cats we probably only have to change the liner ever 3 weeks (although they do like to dig and go outside in the great outdoors when they have a chance) and one liner will allow you to use it three times. I’ve kept one by every litter box we have for years and it’s made cleaning the boxes so much faster with less plastic use.
Only Natural Pet Stain and Oder Remover: I am the type of person that doesn’t like to use a lot of chemicals when I clean. In fact, I really only use water (with maybe a mild soap) when I can get away with it, but when there are pet accidents you want to use something that has enzymes to cover specific scents so the pets don’t come back to remark that spot again. This non-toxic stain and odor remover is made up of organic bio-enzymes that has an amazing fresh scent (mandarin orange and green tea) so you can keep your home smelling clean without any harsh chemicals.Kittles Cat Treats: Kitty snacks can be a tough deal in our house. We have one cat (Mac) that will eat literally anything and another kitty (Charlie) who is incredible picky about her tastes. In fact, there’s only ever been one treat that I’ve bought her that she’s actually eaten so she considers herself quite the connoisseur. I wanted to switch them to some treats without preservatives or artificial colors but I thought it would be quite a long shot to find something for Miss Picky-Picky’s palate. I couldn’t believe it when these Kittles treats (the first natural treats I tried by the way) were an instant hit with her. She does try to steal bites of my cooked salmon when I make it so I guess she appreciates the real salmon in the treats!This is me feeding Mac the treats during my kitty pajama DIY photoshoot. He’s an easy boy to bribe!
Junk Food Cat Toys: Ok, this one involves a little more work than the others, but it’s still my favorite natural toy for kitties. I made them these junk food cat toys last year, stuffed them with organic catnip, and they make me smile every time I see them scattered throughout the house. How can a cat playing with a tiny hamburger not make you smile?? Are you made of stone?!? You can even use organic plant-dyed felt for the toys as well so everything on the toy is safe to bite and play with. LOVE THESE!Trying to be more aware of the choices you make for your pets can really affect both your lives in a positive way and keep everyone happy and healthy for as long as possible. I don’t have a main natural food on this list because we are in a bit of a food transition with Mac having to be switched to a wet prescription food because of a serious UTI infection recently and so I’m trying to figure out what’s best for that situation right now. Also, if you have any tips I’ve been really interested in finding a more natural flea and tick repellent so we don’t have to do the chemical doses on the back of their neck. They love to be outside all day long and we live right next to some serious woods so they definitely need some good preventative treatment for sure.

Hope you’ve found a few good things to try in your house and let me know if you have any natural or green favorites that you love!

P.S. If you’re wondering where our other baby Charlie is in these photos, let’s just say she does not enjoy being photographed except for rare moments so I don’t force her into it! Mac however, will happily be a model baby all day as long as he gets treats…signature2 copy

May 4, 2016
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“No TV For A Week” Challenge Results

Well, I did it! I spent a full week without TV. Now, before you say something like, “Big deal. I’ve gone a month without TV” or “I don’t even own a TV” or “What’s a “TV”?” let me explain why it IS a big deal. It’s mostly a big deal because I have never in my life gone a week without TV. Ever. Maybe not even a day unless you count some crazy international travel days but even airplanes give you your own personal TV these days so those don’t even count. If there was ever a reason to fast something, I would pick some food item or shopping in a heartbeat over the old boob tube because I just love it too much. And therein lies the problem. I’m too invested and so it was time to cut the cord (pun intended) for a bit.

I think what got to me the most at first was the silence. I like to leave the TV on even when I’m not watching it as background noise which is an old habit from my time living alone in an apartment. Hearing voices from the tv always made me feel less alone in a way that music couldn’t quite do. Since Todd travels so much I still keep that habit of a low tv volume a lot of the day while I go about my daily tasks, so the first day of no tv felt weirdly quiet. Thankfully, that feeling only lasted about a day and by day 3 it didn’t seem odd anymore. The bigger issue was actually figuring out what to do each mealtime instead of watching tv or Netflix. Rather than flip on an episode of Fraiser (the perfect length for watching while you eat) I would instead read, listen to a podcast, or when Todd was home we would sit at the table like “regular” people and have a (gasp!) conversation while we ate. I read a few different books during the week, got some good online chores taken care of (computers were allowed for work or task purposes, but no surfing was allowed), made some new foods and desserts, got back into working out, had a few game nights, but there was still a mixture of being glad to be productive and feeling like a small something was missing.

To be honest, even though I enjoyed all the different activities that we did instead of watching tv, I still felt like something was missing. Since I do creative projects (making DIYs and the rest of the photographing, writing, and editing that come with blogging) all week long for my job and then in my free time fill it up with more of the same, it can be pretty draining when I don’t take a “non-creative” and yes even kind of “mind numbing” sort of break now and then. I’m constantly thinking and problem solving in my brain so I missed that sort of escape that watching your favorite show can bring. Not a heavy documentary, not a thought-provoking political show, just pure fun or a suspenseful drama can make me feel like I had a mini vacation of sorts. I am totally the person that feels they don’t have time for lunch or will have to pee for hours because I feel I’m too busy take 5 seconds and to run to the bathroom. I can go-go-go and wear myself down to the bone all in the name of getting things done or trying to make good progress on something. Taking that break is paramount to not feeling crazy and cranky when I finally do hit that wall.

Now, if you are thinking that there are plenty of other ways to get in a mental break that doesn’t involve a television, you are right. I think I just realized conclusively that when I tried to fill too many hours that TV would have filled with projects and work to be productive and not be bored, well, it just burned me out really fast and that some TV could still be helpful to take a bit of a rest. It just shouldn’t be the only thing I do to take a break. If variety is the spice of life then it’s time to learn which other things can also be that important mental break, so when it’s time to get back to that next house project or idea, I’m excited to start it rather than already feeling drained.

It is a good feeling to prove to yourself that you can go without something and that it doesn’t have to control you. Or remote control you I should say. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m got some Mindy Project to catch up on…signature2 copy

April 28, 2016
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3 Ways to Travel in Style: Part One!

As you know, we here at the Gummerman household live a life full of travel. Well, it’s mostly Todd doing his fair share of travel for work but since I go and visit him when I can and we have all our family (and a good chunk of our closest friends) in other states, I fill up the ol’ suitcase and head out quite a bit as well. While I have been known to choose looks over comfort when a piece of clothing is just too good to pass up, I generally like to be as comfortable as I can, especially when traveling. And when comfort and good looks collide? Well, that’s the sweet spot right there. I’m always up for a sleek and stylish black flat/sneaker so when Naturalizer asked me if I would want to partner with them and style a gift of one of their new shoes for a travel series, it only took one look at the Kail slip-on style before giving a resounding YES.

This past weekend Todd and I got a chance to drive back to our old stomping grounds of Springfield, MO (we lived there for 12 years before moving to Nashville last summer) and see some of our pals, check in on how big some babies have gotten, and eat ALL THE FOOD we’ve been missing since we left. The biggest problem with packing for a trip with a “want to be prepared for every possible situation” brain like mine is always the shoes. Will I be walking a lot? Dressing up? Casual BBQ? It’s nice to have a pair of shoes like the Kail that I can wear with jeans and a t-shirt for brunch or vintage shopping (and for only $69 too!) but then also wear with something dressier for dinner or a drink out.

The high-waisted jeans with the flats make a shortie like me look a little taller and you can’t go wrong with a black and white stripe anything as far as I’m concerned. I also like that the slip-ons have the elongated toe which makes your legs look a little longer too. All in all, this was the perfect look for feeling comfortable and cool while reminiscing a bunch and making some new memories as well. I’ll show you parts two and three to this series when I go to my brother’s wedding in Pittsburgh next month (so excited!!!) and head out to visit Todd on his summer tour in June. Check out the Kail over at Kail slip-on style and see if you just found your new favorite pair of shoes too!signature2 copy

March 31, 2016
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Favorite Hanging and Floor Planters!

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Since now you guys know all my secrets for keeping cats away from your houseplants I thought I’d do a little round-up of my favorite planters, plant stands, and hanging planters! If you are ever searching for a plant stand online, make sure to look for “end tables” or “side tables” as well since those types of small tables work just as well for holding plants that are already potted in a container. I have the coffee table version of number 1 above and I just love it. I’m also dreaming about number 9 for my back patio. The whole area needs a makeover really bad. It’s so boring back there at the moment…
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Hanging plants and wall planters are one of my favorite things to add into rooms and get some of that greenery up high! The gold bowl planters I made are similar to the first hanging planter (although I like how thick those chains are on the UO one) and I have a couple of number 5 that I’m going to put in my kitchen soon. They make smaller versions as well and they look really good in a grouping.

Hope you found some plant options for your wish list as well! Happy planting!signature2 copy