Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sneak Peak - Kitchen Remodel

When we bought our house we knew right away that we would eventually need to update the kitchen.  Not only for resale purposes but for our own sanity.  Our home is a 1970s home, so we have this not so pretty floral wallpaper with brass, laminate and old school appliances.  The original owners use to have dark wood cabinets and eventually painted them white.  Smart on their part!  About 2 years ago our dishwasher was causing us some problems so we began the updating our appliances adventure.  All our appliances are white and we decided we wanted to get stainless steel.  So we replaced our dishwasher with a stainless steel one.  Then about a year ago our refrigerator went out and we replaced that with an updated stainless steel one.  Within the past few months we decided to take the plunge and finish up the kitchen.

Repaint cabinets
Change hardware
Take down wallpaper and paint walls/or paint over wallpaper
Update sink
Update microwave
Update stove top
Update oven
Update venthood
New lights
Get rid of fan in eat-in area
Get rid of laminate
New countertops

Our good friend Mike who is knowledgeable in the kitchen remodeling came over to help Nick and away they went.

First task was taking down the old vent hood and removing the upper cabinets around the venthood.  Then we removed the wall to open up the kitchen more. 


Since our current oven was too small for a regular size cooking pan we took the oven out of the built in wall cabinets and cut out space in our semi-island where the current cooktop is for an cooktop oven range.  Then we took a break for awhile while we purchases a new cooktop oven range and a venthood.  Nick had to do some electrical work and rewire.  We hooked up our cooktop oven range!


Last weekend we finally put the venthood up which was probably the hardest task with the kitchen remodel.

Nick and I spent one evening trying to decide what we wanted to do for the countertops.  I thought we should go neutral because we want to be able to sell the house to anybody.  After looking at all our options we decided to go with a quartz countertop.  The price was right, it does not have to be sealed or resealed and it is just the smart way to go with kids and cooking.  We scheduled our estimator to come out to see how much we needed and we waited.  Well Nick started to pick my brain and I guess he really does know what I like, because he popped a thought into my head on a different countertop idea that I would normally go with and is becoming popular and I was like SOLD!  So back to Lowes we went and changed our countertops - still quartz, but different color.

 A new estimator came out and now we are just waiting for our countertops to be installed.  Oh and the cool thing is we got a free sink with our countertops.  So we just had to purchase a faucet and the drains - which we did last weekend!

Delta Savile Stainless 1-Handle Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet

So here is our checklist now:
Repaint cabinets
Change hardware
Take down wallpaper and paint walls/or paint over wallpaper
Update sink - check
Update microwave
Update stove top - check
Update oven - check
Update venthood - check
New lights
Get rid of fan in eat-in area
Get rid of laminate - check
New countertops - check

So we are about halfway done!  Once the countertops are installed we will go pick out backsplash and get that done.  Probably buy a new microwave and fix cabinets that need fixing. Then I will start painting away.  Lights will probably be the last thing to happen.

So this is what we are looking at our cabinets in our kitchen to look like.  White on top and turquoise/aqua on bottom. 

I will update more as we progress!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Love & Marriage: Keeping it Interesting

Please head over and visit the other ladies participating in this marriage series with Megan, MandyJenna,ShayLindsey, and Jenn

Keeping it interesting in your marriage is always a challenge especially if you have children.  Nick and I have been married for almost 7 years and been together for almost 13 years.  That is a long time to try different interesting things with your boyfriend/spouse that sometimes now I feel like we've done everything.  I know we literally haven't, but changing it up is tricky.  I would definitely say the hubby and I are not very good at this topic, but we do try.  I think we get it in our head that we need to have money to do fun things together, but then are we really thinking out of the box!?  So yes we could do more, but this is what we are currently doing and it is working in our season of life right now.

First off we take advantage of when our parents want to spend time with the kids and try to sneak off to at least go see a movie.  And since we are usually hungry too we go to a movie grill type of place to kill two birds with one stone.  Our church has parents night out once a month so we also try to take advantage of a cheap babysitter when those occur.  My oldest son's daycare does one as well once a month, but we've never participated because their price is not in our budget at this point, but if we could the kids would love it.  

We are big movie people so just getting the time to watch a movie after the kids go to bed is super nice!!!

Nick and I are big PDA people around the house, lol - sorry!  Not so much that its inappropriate if someone saw us or they would get grossed out, but enough to let each other know we are thinking about them or wanting a quick connection during a busy moment (like morning times when we are rushing around to get to school and work).  We make cuddling a priority every night.

One other thing we do is write sticky notes to each other and leave them in places around the house and sometimes we have conversations on sticky notes when are paths don't cross because it is a busy day.  Nick is not a big phone person and I don't have time for the phone because I teach kids all day and then come home to my own kids so it is nice to see fun surprises.  

Finally one year and I found this off pinterest I believe or someone's blog.  I planned a date night for each month that was new and exciting and had it all planned and paid for.  I made a fun calendar for that month and put it in a brown envelope and then we decided what day of the month to do the activity on.  

So there you have it.....Nick and I were together first before the kids and our goal is keep a strong and healthy marriage so we can be role models for our children.  How do you keep it interesting?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Overcoming Hard Times

This week on the Love and Marriage Series we are talking about overcoming hard times in our marriage.  Nick and I are truly blessed where we haven't had any super huge struggles in our marriage, but that also scares me.  I am the type of person who likes to plan and have everything figured out and Nick is the type where he goes with the flow and everything will be OK. 

Happy go lucky Nick

Two extremes RIGHT!?  Nick definitely calms me down and makes me see things in another perspective.  I hope I do the same for him, because worrying just a little bit is ok or necessary.  I would have to say our biggest struggle in our marriage has been our finances.  Trust me when I say we are definitely a budget type of family.  I am OCD (just ask my hubby) when it comes to doing our finances, having an excel sheet going, sticking to a budget.  I pay all bills and make sure things are on track.

Nick, Connor and April

Here is our story.....when Nick and I were dating I was in college and Nick was taking a few courses here and there at the community college.  I did not think he was taking it seriously and we argued many times about him figuring out what kind of degree he would want and possibly going to a State college.  I was raised to graduate highschool and go immediately to college.  Nick was not so we had two different views on this topic which led to many arguments.  Nick finally decided that he wanted to become a Kinesiology Teacher.  He loved kids and he loved anything to do with sports and fitness. We got him connected to an amazing counselor who helped him get his associates completed and he applied to UH and SHSU.  A month after we had been married he started taking his courses at SHSU.  Big changes for Nick and I.  Obviously he was doing more studying but also working full-time.  Getting him through school, me working on my masters degree and us both working full-time was a big load for us in our first year of marriage.  We started making goals for our family because things started getting on track.  Nick had some struggles with SHSU on getting courses accounted for and they screwed up his graduation so he was held back a semester for graduation.  When December 2009 came, Nick graduated- yay!  Now it was time for him to get a teaching job.  We had just bought our first house the summer before he graduated and we had big plans on remodeling our home and making it just what we wanted.  God sure had another plan for us!  And this is where our struggle really began! 

The economy just went bad and teachers were getting fired/let go instead of hired.  All our dreams of Nick starting work right away went down the drain.  Money got really tight because Nick was having to take up odd jobs just to bring money home.  At this time it was us and our 1 yr old baby.  There were many times we did not know when we could buy groceries.  Of course we always paid our bills - maybe not on time (depending on when our pay checks came in), but after our bills it did not leave us much left to buy groceries and baby things.  There was definitely no extra money for clothes or emergencies.  Our savings was gone from paying medical bills off.  During the next almost 2 years we struggled with patience and we definitely built on our relationship with God.  We were so stressed and just confused on why this was happening to us.  In the end we had to trust in God and I think God knew that we needed to build our relationship with him and make it stronger.  I think God knew we needed to learn to trust in him and his plans for us and stop thinking that our plan was the best.  It is funny how God works and how he test us.  God provided for us when we had no idea how we would do it.  Obviously he had something bigger and better for us and that in the end wasn't what we thought it would be, but hey thats the beauty of it and we roll with the punches.   Finances is one thing that can really destroy a marriage and again it goes back to keeping an open communication with your spouse and trusting in the Lord.  It has definitely worked for us!  Check back next week for another sneak peak.

Check out these women's blogs as well in the link up:


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Love and Marriage

A few blogs I read are doing a Love and Marriage link up this week (check out Shay) and I thought I would join in.  This week they did an introduction on their marriage, where it all started, etc. 

Here is my story and maybe some pictures if I can find some:

Nick and April
Nick and I met in December 2000 at The Limited (yes the retail store).  Nick was a cashier and helped with unloading merchandise from boxes in the stock room and I was just getting hired for a job as a sales person.  There were only three guys working at the store at the time and at this time I thought this was only going to be a seasonal job for me.  I was in my Senior year of high school and wanted some extra money during Christmas Break and some work experience to put on my resume.  My first thought was what guy would want to work at a girl's retail store, but I found out real quick - why not!? You get to be around women and he got free money to shop at Structure (now Express for Men) so he had nice dress clothes for work.  At this time Nick and I were both in relationships and were just friends who saw each other at work.  Moving forward I graduated from high school and was still working at The Limited (I liked it).  I had many friends who worked there and to this day I am still very close too and married too (ha!).  Nick and I started hanging out that summer and then in August I went off to college in Aggie Land.  We kind of had a mis-communication before I left and stopped talking for about 6 months.  Come December 2011 I got a call from Nick that he was having a party at his house and a friend of his wanted to meet me - would I like to come hang out.  I was actually in town for my 19th birthday visiting my parents and I went because I had nothing going on.  That was the re-start of our relationship!  We hung out most of Christmas Break and when I had to go back to college for the start of the new semester it was really hard.  Nick lived in Houston and was working and doing the community college thing.  Our relationship became long-distance which was something I was use to (previous boyfriend), but not Nick.  He would surprise me up at school to help me out with my Architecture projects or him and friends would come up to go to my Delta Zeta sorority parties or I would travel home to visit.  This went on for 2 years and then I decided I wanted to transfer schools and change my major.  I ended up moving to Fort Worth to attend TCU in the summer of 2003.  Nick tried to move up to Fort Worth, but it did not work out.  I lived in Fort Worth till December 2003 and during that time every other weekend I was in Houston and every other weekend he was in Fort Worth.  That semester was my worst semester of college.  I loved Fort Worth and TCU, but my major did not work out for me and even though my sister was attending TCU as well, I didn't have any friends up there.  I tried to start a chapter of my sorority at TCU, but there was no room for another sorority on campus.  Nick and I bought two dogs (Oscar and Max).  Therefore I decided to make another college change and major change and ended up back in Houston the Spring of 2004 attending University of Houston and living downtown.  Nick and I were excited to finally not have a long distance relationship, but again another major change for me.  I finally finished college in the Spring of 2006 (a year later than I should have) with an Art/Teacher degree.  I rejoined my sorority on campus and ended up moving again to start my student teaching - which was no where close to downtown.  December of 2005 Nick and I had been dating for 5 years.  We had many highs and lows during those five years.  Long distance and trust was a huge learning experience.  Rebuilding our relationship with God separetly and together was another big thing.  Nick finally proposed to me in a intimate setting December of 2005.  Of course I said "YES". 

The night he propsed

He had already asked my dad and had the ring during our Thanksgiving with my family (sneaky).  Fast forward - we knew our wedding had to be either in June or December because I was still in school (decided to start my masters degree in Education) and Nick was now attending SHSU for his teaching degree so we had to plan around school breaks.  We ended up getting married in December 2006 - a week after my birthday and a week before Christmas.  (sucks for Nick on the gift giving).  We really did not need a year to plan a wedding, but we were both so busy with school, so my mom helped out alot!  We had a beautiful wedding with lots of friends and family there to celebrate with us.

Cutting our cake
Mr. and Mrs. Bryan

Moving along -----> During our marriage from 2006-now:

I started my teaching job in the Fall of 2006 and Nick and I were both in school.  Nick worked random jobs around his school schedule to help pay for bills.  Nick also lived a semester up at SHSU and would come home on the weekends because his school schedule was so busy.  We ended up having our first child, Connor on Christmas day of 2008. 


Bought our first house in the summer of 2009 and then Nick graduated college in the Fall of 2009. 

Nick's college graduation

The struggles of him finishing school were very hard and then when he graduated we thought life was going to get way better with him having a salary job.  Boy were we in for a shocker.  This is when the economy went down and teaching jobs were very hard to come by.  Nick's major is in Kinesiology with a teaching certificate.  Those jobs are very hard to come by and we struggled with him finding a job for almost 2 years.  Nick was frustrated because it took him 10 years to graduate college (because he did not know what he wanted to do) and when he figured it out and did it  - he couldn't get a job for the life of him.  Those two years of our life really made us turn to God and trust that he had a plan for our family.  We really got involved in our church and life group during this time and our faith pulled us through.  Nick eventually got a job - not with what his degree is in, but something that he can make a career out of and support our family.  I am currently still teaching and coaching as well and we ended up being blessed with two more babies.  Caden in the Spring of 2011 and our baby girl Codi in the Spring of 2012. 



God has blessed us beyond what we could of ever asked for and wanted.  We learned some valuable lessons on finances, being patient, building our faith and being there for each other.  We are blessed to have wonderful parents who love us and our babies and our great examples for our marriage.  The things that really work for us and we feel our the key to a strong marriage is open communication, a Christ centered relationship, enjoying each other's company and doing things together, and being each other's number 1 fans.  I will go in more detail on those topic in the next weeks- come back and check it out.

Codi's baby dedication at church

The Bryan Family