Marsala make ya holla

Let’s check in on how Marsala – the Pantone “color of the year” – is doing so far. It’s April now, so it’s had plenty of time to gain some footing. I’m sure you’ve already painted half your walls and converted most of your wardrobe into this trendy shade.

No?  I’m shocked!

Of course I’m not. I don’t HATE it, but I think it looks less ‘fresh and fashionable’ and more like ‘freshly bruised.’ (Why won’t they hire me to name paint colors already? Fresh Bruise is a winner if I’ve ever heard one).

Holly couldn’t take another second of her Marsala-soaked bedroom, not to mention the yellow window trim and electric blue closet thing, so she started back at zero with clean, crisp white on white.

clashing colors before bedroom

neutral-bedroom-makeoverAhhh. My eyeballs just sighed with relief.

But Marsala wasn’t all she had to contend with, there was also this Tangerine Tango wall, a throwback to the color of 2012! At least someone out there has been taking Pantone seriously all these years.


orange bedroom wall before makeover

neutral bedroom makeover with open wardrobe

She ditched the blue closet and opted for an ‘open wardrobe,’ and if all of my clothes and shoes were that lovely, I would too. They look more like perfectly planned accessories.  My paint-stained yoga pants and piles of ugly shoes that I don’t even wear anymore but keeping holding onto for some reason just could not hang.

See more from Holly on her blog Avenue Lifestyle.

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New Floor Reveal!

Hey gang! I’m wrapping up the saga of my new flooring today, can I get a woo-hoo?

Previously, on The Story of My New Floors, I left you with a cliffhanger.  Was tearing out tile and ripping up carpet going to be the death of me?

Kinda sorta yeah. It was the worst. And for a long time my house looked like this:

tearing up carpet

But now …

living room driftwood floor

It looks like this! Hooray and yay!

Everything is installed and put back together and we are loving it.  I’ll share a few more details at the end of the post, but for now, pictures!


The kitchen floor used to consist of this uninspiring 12×12 gray tile. It really seemed like the type of flooring you’d find in the waiting room at Big-O Tire or like, the bathrooms at Jack-in-the-Box.

kitchen tile floor beforeBut now …

driftwood kitchen flooring

Oh yeah. That’s an improvement.


kitchen flooring driftwood laminate

I hated this area where the carpet from the hallway met the kitchen.  It was a one-way ticket to Grossville on the Grunge Express.

kitchen floor before

laminate flooring in kitchen

Now it’s just one solid expanse of floor! It makes the house feel so much bigger now that the flooring extends all the way down the hall.

This hallway is like the main artery of the house. It goes from the front door to the kitchen with the living room and laundry room on one side, and the office and dining room on the other, so it’s nonstop foot-traffic through here all day everyday.  And sometimes scooter traffic. Carpet just can’t handle that.

driftwood flooring detail


But let me be really real with  you. I’m about to hit you with some truth. There is something I can’t stand about these floors. Can you see it?


transition piece

THIS TRANSITION PIECE. It seems like a little thing, but I can’t get over it. The type of flooring we used is considered a ‘floating floor’ and basically as far as I understand it, the amount of area we wanted to cover was greater than the flooring specifications allowed, so a transition piece was necessary to combat any shifting and spreading of the planks. It’s a little strip that matches the flooring perfectly, but it’s slightly raised, and to me is glaringly obvious. Much more obvious than the picture shows.

However, I learned from a flooring expert that there are ways of possibly getting around it. Of course I learned this now that everything is said and done.  But I have some ideas floating around of ways I can potentially change this so it doesn’t make me so cranky. And crazy. Crankzy. It’s a thing.

BUT! The other 99% of my floor I truly am happy and in love with.  And it’s definitely a step up from what we had before.

living room driftwood flooring

Here are some of the frequently asked questions I’ve received about my floor:

What is the name of your flooring?  Delaware Bay Driftwood by Lumber Liquidators.

What kind of flooring is it? 10mm laminate with pre-attached pad

Laminate? Oh no! Haven’t you heard the news??  Yes, I’m aware of the big laminate flooring controversy raging right now. I talked about it in my last post. Going into this, I had no idea about any of the allegations and claims against Lumber Liquidators.  The news broke about two days after my floors were installed. It was kind of a nightmare. Fortunately, my particular flooring was not affected. My advice is to just to inform yourself as much as possible and make the best decision you can for you and your family! I do believe that laminate flooring is safe, and I know there are tons of regulations and tests in place that are supposed to ensure that. You are also just plain better off choosing products that are made in the USA vs. China.

Whew. Ok. I feel better. So, is it hard to keep clean? What about footprints? I think it really depends on your finish, not so much on laminate vs. hardwood.  My parents used to have a super glossy hardwood floor, and you could see every single speck and smudge.  I specifically chose a very matte finish for this reason.  So far, so good! I clean it with just water, using an ever-so-slightly damp mop.

I heard that laminate makes a ‘hollow’ sound when you walk on it, is that true?  In some cases, yes. However, my flooring came with a pre-attached underlayment, and also features a thicker, sound-reducing core, so I haven’t noticed a hollow sound at all.  There are also many different types of pads you can lay underneath to help cancel out sounds.

Is laminate extra slippery? Again, I think that just depends on your finish. It’s no more slippery than my parent’s hardwood floor.

Is it safe to put laminate in the kitchen? What if it gets wet? Laminate has made some big strides in the past, and is more durable and water-resistant than ever. My particular brand came recommended for moist, high-traffic areas like the kitchen and even the bathroom.

driftwood flooring next to rug

Let me know if you have any other questions, and I’m happy to share my answers!


Disclosure: Lumber Liquidators provided me with product for this post, all words and opinions are 100% my own.

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Get Cooking with Blue Apron

>>This post is in partnership with Blue Apron.

Cooking is not something that comes naturally to me. At all. I like food. I love eating food. But I do not love the process.

Just thinking about is paralyzing.  First I have to plan a menu, make a list, and go to the store, all of which is like a complex mathematical equation. Factor in food that we have on hand, plus food that we need, divided by food that everyone actually likes, cross multiplied by what’s on sale, subtracted by how long the baby will allow himself to be in public before a having a nuclear meltdown.

Then I get the the store and inevitably discover I have forgotten my list (EVERY TIME!). Then I get home and realize I’m out of some necessary staple like butter. Buttermilk is close enough, right? Wait, I’m out of buttermilk. Chocolate milk? Close enough.

Then my kids eat two bites of food. Then we clean it all up. Then I do it all again. I’d rather just order a pizza and spend my time spray painting something. Do you feel me?

So when Blue Apron came along and told me they could help make the cooking process enjoyable, haha! I seriously doubted it. But I told them I’d give it a shot.  Here’s what I learned.



Blue Apron is a meal delivery service that sends everything you need to create a chef-designed meal to your doorstep. Everything. Even the two tablespoons of butter. The ingredients come in a refrigerated box and are incredibly fresh.

blue apron raw


This was what I received to make Seared Flank Steaks with Roasted Potatoes and ‘Creamed’ Kale. Have I ever made seared flank steaks or creamed kale before in my life? No. So it was actually kind of fun to be pushed in a new direction.

kale and potatoes

blue apron me

Here’s me begrudgingly having fun cooking. And concentrating, and being pale. Look at that mountain of kale! It seems like you could never eat that much kale, but it shrinks down a lot, so now you know.

blue apron detail

Not only is everything fresh and often even sourced from local suppliers, it comes in the perfect proportions. No measuring, and no waste! You can feel like one of those chefs on TV flinging around their little pre-measured bowls of ingredients, cooking a meal in five minutes without even trying.



Actually, Blue Apron meals are designed to take 40 minutes or less from start to finish. It’s all mapped out. That was my very favorite part. Your meal comes with a recipe card that tells you what to do step-by-step, so that everything finishes at the same time, and poof! Dinner is served.

blue apron dinner 2

Here is another thing I learned.  WOW, it is SO HARD to take pretty pictures of food. Especially while you’re in the midst of cooking it. And the sun is going down. Picture me crouched on a stool over a pan of cooking kale while shooting a picture with one hand and stirring it with the other so it won’t burn, and then not even being able to use any of those pictures. While creamed kale is surprisingly delicious, it is not at all photogenic. This is why I’m not a food blogger. Besides for today.


The potatoes were pretty darn good-looking though. (Tell me about it, spud).

So, what’s the verdict?  blue apron dinner3

Yay! We loved it! It was fun! It was easy! It was new!

Our portion was for the Family Plan, perfect for feeding a family of four. My husband eats like he’s a one-man family of four, but we actually had leftovers, so that was unexpected and nice. There’s also a two person plan, and shipping is always free!

The price for the Family Plan is $69.92 for a delivery of two four-serving meals, so $8.74 per meal.  Not cheap – I couldn’t make this an every-single-night kind of thing – but it’s less than eating out at a restaurant, and they use such high quality ingredients that it’s definitely worth it.

So, whether you want to get out of your rut of always cooking the same old thing, or would enjoy the luxury of having everything you need to create chef-worthy meals delivered straight to your home, give Blue Apron a try!

The first 50 readers will get two meals off their first Blue Apron order free! No commitment, cancel or skip anytime.

Check out their entire collection of recipes here.  I could definitely go for that Chili Blackened Cod or Spicy Thai Chicken Noodle Soup. Yumz.


blue apron dinner

Enjoy your weekend!


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Choosing Laminate vs Hardwood

Spring Break is over and it’s back to the grind.  Sometimes I don’t mind the grind.  I appreciate having things like: a routine, clean laundry, and groceries. For some reason, throw a few days of free time in there and I can’t manage any of that.

So let’s get grinding! Today I’m bringing you another installment of the story of my new floors, dramatically titled: “The Story of My New Floors.”  (Part one here).

Long before I had the chance to work with Lumber Liquidators, I already had an idea of what I wanted.  Laminate floors.  Record scratch Whaaaaa??  Not fancy, luxurious hardwood?  Nope. It’s true.

Like I mentioned before, my brother Nate is a professional remodeler who owns a restoration business. With all his experience, he has chosen to install laminate flooring in his past two homes, and I’ve always loved it.  It looks fantastic for a fraction of the cost, and is ridiculously durable.

((Insane side note: One day a few weeks ago, Brooke White, yes THAT Brooke White of American Idol fame, and one of my favorite humans on the planet, just so happened to be in town. She was shooting a new music video and needed a good looking kitchen and laundry room to film in.  Somehow, someone in the know suggested Nate’s house, and she ended up filming there! Anyway, my sister-in-law Kalli said that the very first thing Brooke said when she walked in the door was not “Hi!” or “Nice to meet you!” or “We’re shooting a music video in your kitchen, now get out of the way,” {of course she wouldn’t say that, she’s the best}, but the first thing she said was “I LOVE your floors! Where did you get them?” So. If it’s good enough for my brother and Brooke White, it’s good enough for me)).

Here’s a shot of Nate and Kalli’s stupidly stunning kitchen and laundry room.  Definitely music video worthy. Here’s the music video.

kalli kitchen


kalli laundry

But let’s talk about me for a minute.  I visited Lumber Liquidators to see what was in store.

photo 1 copy

If you’re looking into new flooring for the first time, all the choices and information may seem overwhelming.  But Lumber Liquidators stores are laid out and organized really well, and they are happy to help you with any questions.  I mean, like super happy.  Their customer service went above and beyond.  I mentioned to my husband Matt several times while we were in there that “These guys seem to REALLY like their jobs.”

The samples on the floor are some of their more popular selections, so you can see exactly what a particular flooring will look like installed and out of the box, not to mention how it holds up to heavy use.

lumber liquidators store

After much perusing, bringing samples home, weighing pros and cons, I finally found my winner.  It’s got a lot of gray in it (shocker!) but plenty of brown tones too. It has a weathered appearance, but just slightly.  More like driftwood vs. something that fell off a rotting barn. In fact, that’s the name of it, Delaware Bay Driftwood.

new laminate floor

Here’s a peek!  I’m not being coy, this is actually the only picture I have so far.  Remember how Spring Break kicked my behind? More pictures to come soon.

Now then.  Let’s address the controversy.  Just days (DAYS!) after my floors were installed, news broke out that was highly unfavorable to Lumber Liquidators. The gist of it was that their laminate flooring contained off-the-charts levels of formaldehyde. My stomach instantly tied up in knots. I think I even cried. This was bad news.

As I read everything I could find about it, I learned that my floors (made in Austria) weren’t affected. Huge sigh of relief. The study showed that a small percentage of laminate imported from China was problematic.

But I still find myself mired in a mess! Can I tell you, my reader, to trust Lumber Liquidators? Do I believe that their flooring is safe?

After reading and contemplating both sides of the story, yes, I do believe what Lumber Liquidators had to say in defense of the allegations.  You can read all about it here. The fact that they’ve been a trusted name in the business for over 20 years, that they have a track record of insisting on safety and sustainability, and that they’ve offered to test the air quality in the homes of their customers and ensure their satisfaction are what speak volumes to me. But be aware. Inform yourself.

So, are hardwood floors the better choice because laminate might be dangerous? What I’ve found suggests not. Hardwood floors can also contain formaldehyde, as formaldehyde is a substance that occurs naturally in wood, and formaldehyde is a common ingredient used in flooring adhesives. Like I said, I think the best thing to do is just inform yourself as much as possible and make the best decision for you and your family. Here are some more pros and cons to consider:

Laminate PROS:

  • more durable than hardwood
  • more affordable than hardwood
  • easier to clean
  • no defects, no waste
  • can be installed in ‘moist’ areas
  • stain resistant
  • scratch resistant

Laminate CONS:

  • doesn’t repair as easily
  • doesn’t add as much value to your home as hardwood
  • ‘hollow’ sound
  • may require transition pieces

Obviously this is not a comprehensive list, and there are many more considerations to weigh, but for me, the pros of laminate outweighed the cons. It’s WAY more affordable, it resists scratching and denting and general wear and tear much better than hardwood, it’s recommended in ‘moist’ areas such as the kitchen.  It’s true that if it became damaged, you would not be able to sand it down and repair it the way you would with hardwood, but it’s so durable that I don’t forsee that becoming an issue.

Some people argue that laminate has a ‘hollow’ sound, which I have not noticed.  My flooring has an average thickness at 10mm, and also comes with a pre-attached acoustic foam underlay, so I’m sure that makes some difference.

WHEW! This was WORDY! Thanks for hanging in there.  I’ll be sharing the final wrap-up soon!

Disclaimer:  Lumber Liquidators provided product for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

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