Peanut Butter + Toasted Coconut Protein Bites @themerrythoughtThis past week has been pretty tough for me with the (mostly) no refined sugar/healthier eating that I’ve decided to tackle this month. I’ll fess up and let you know I’ve had a couple cheats – while I still haven’t had any desserts (killing me!), I did go a little carb-heavy a couple times. 😬 I wish, really wish, I could feel as good eating carrots & apples as I do breads – ha! I’m still at my same 4 pound weight loss that I was last week (I shared that on Instagram last week, I’m mixing it up with sharing progress updates here & over there) – probably because of my cheats – ha! But overall, still chugging along and doing pretty good sticking with it. It’s supposed to be warming up a bit around here, so I’m hoping I can get out to exercise a little more over the next week. (I haven’t been doing great with that).
The bright spot for me last week was my mom making some protein bites that were really good. Since I enjoyed them so much, I decided to share my version of them with you, in case ya need a little pick me up for those hangry moments.Peanut Butter + Toasted Coconut Protein Bites @themerrythoughtMy mom had found chocolate peanut butter powder at her last Aldi’s shopping trip and found a recipe on the bag to make protein balls. I looked at two different Aldi’s and could not find the chocolate version – so I just stuck with the regular pb powder. (This powder does have a tiny bit of sugar in it, so if you’re going completely no refined sugar, you’ll have to find a different brand with no sugar. I’m okay with it because 1). it’s a small amount and it has way less calories and fat than even natural peanut butter does 2). I don’t pound these – they’re a little treat every now & then). I had to come up with my own recipe since my mom bought what seems to be the last bag of chocolate pb powder in the area! (You can find other brands of peanut butter powder, Aldi’s is pretty cheap though – my bag was just $3.49!). These bites get a kick of protein from the pb powder, oats & flax seed. I toasted my coconut because I only eat toasted coconut (don’t like the texture of it un-toasted), but you can leave it un-toasted if you like. I’m happy to have another healthier treat to get me through those hangry moments! 😉Peanut Butter + Toasted Coconut Protein Bites @themerrythoughtPeanut Butter + Toasted Coconut Protein Bites @themerrythoughtPeanut Butter + Toasted Coconut Protein Bites

1-1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup peanut butter powder (I found mine at Aldi’s)
1/2 cup toasted (unsweetened) coconut flakes (see below for how to toast coconut)
1/4 cup honey + 1 tablespoon
1/4 cup water + 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons milled flax seed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. (It does take some good stirring to get it all mixed together; if it’s too dry, add a little bit more honey or water). Shape into balls and stick in the fridge for about 10 minutes to set. I like to store mine in the fridge – they stay a little bit more moist.

To toast the coconut: Spread a layer of unsweetened shredded coconut in the bottom of large skillet. Heat over medium low heat, stirring frequently until most of coconut is light brown. Pour onto large plate or pan to cool.Peanut Butter + Toasted Coconut Protein Bites @themerrythoughtPeanut Butter + Toasted Coconut Protein Bites @themerrythought

Here are a few other healthier treats I like to have around for when cravings hit: Natural Peanut Butter Fudge | Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites | Frozen Greek Yogurt & Fruit Bark.

– Manda


I’m trying to read more books this year – replacing some Netflix watching with some cozy winter reading. This is pretty hard for me because I kind of hate reading. Ha! But I have so many books that I’m actually interested in that I just need to commit to it! I’ve been using receipts, unused tissues, and cough drop wrappers as bookmarks over the past few weeks so I decided to make myself a few fancy bookmarks to inspire myself to stick to my goal! So I grabbed some extra leather pieces and put together these little beauties.What you need:
Leather Punch
Rivets (or try these)
How to make it:
-Cut out the main part of the bookmark to desired size.
-Cut a small section of leather out for the top flap.
-Use the leather punch to punch out small holes on each end of the smaller piece and one hole centered on the top side of the large leather piece. (See photo above.)
-Fold small piece over the larger piece.
-Line up holes and put rivet in place.
-Hammer lightly to secure.
Off to go do some reading!



DIY Live Edge Wood Desk @themerrythoughtIf you read my post last week, I mentioned the boys room as a project I wanted to cross off my to-do list this year. It’s pretty much done – I only have a few smaller things to add and finish up. But I decided I’d start sharing a few of the finished projects before the full room tour…because who knows when I’ll feel ready to share that! I shared the rattan light that we made last fall, as well as the DIY for the hanging paper roll. So many of you loved the desk that we made for their room so we’re sharing the DIY behind that today! (And yes, for those that are observant, the wall color changed behind the desk. 😳 I had it black for about a year, and while I loved the color and how it looked, I just really struggled with picking out decor items for a dark wall. I tend to like a lot of dark greys and blacks, so everything I was finding just blended into the wall and I was feeling really frustrated with that. Plus the black brought out more of a yellow tone in the wood of the desk, so I wasn’t loving that either. So Mike repainted the wall – what a guy!). We also have 2 chairs for the desk, the boys share it; but I took one out for the shoot so you could see the desk in all it’s glory, since that’s the shining star today.
It’s not always easy (or cheap!) to obtain large wood slabs, but we came up with a way that might make getting one giant wood slab a little easier. This is actually 2 smaller wood slabs, glued together to form one piece. Smaller pieces tend to be a little cheaper, as well as easier to find. Mike made our coffee table in the living room the same way a few years ago. After planning about a dozen different desk ideas for the boys room and changing my mind 100 times, we finally settled on a wall mounted desk, and still had some live edge pieces to use, so we used a couple of those to make the desk. (Our wood came from a dead tree out back that a friend of a friend was able to cut up for us). Mike also made the shelf supports underneath the desk; originally I ordered a set of black steel supports, but ended up running into issues with the company I had ordered from, so we made our own. I didn’t intend to share those as a DIY, because I thought we’d be using steel ones eventually, so there’s no step photos for that, but the how-to steps for that are included below. (You can also tell from the step photos how long ago we shot these photos – green grass!)DIY Live Edge Wood Desk @themerrythoughtDIY Live Edge Wood Desk @themerrythoughtFor the desk:

What you need:

– 2 wood slabs (we used spalted maple)
– straight board (to use as a cutting guide)
– circular saw
– power planer
– wood glue
– clamps
– orbital sander
– clear polyurethane finish
DIY Live Edge Wood Desk @themerrythoughtDIY Live Edge Wood Desk @themerrythoughtDirections:

Decide which edge of the two boards you want to be the front edge.

Clamp a straight board as a cutting guide, setting it so that the blade will cut off the back edge of
the board. Cut with a circular saw.

Do the same thing with one edge of the other board.

Use a power planer to clean up both of these edges.

Push the two cleaned edges together and make sure they fit tightly together along the whole length.

Apply and spread glue along one of the edges, make sure to cover the entire edge.

Using clamps, clamp the two boards together checking for flatness; we had to clamp a board on top and on the bottom to keep it flat in one spot.

After the glue has dried unclamp and scrape off any excess glue.

Decide how deep you want the desk to be and using the straight board and circular saw, cut the top to that depth.

Cut the ends off square and to length desired.

Sand the top and apply finish.DIY Live Edge Wood Desk @themerrythoughtFor the supports:

What you need:

– maple boards:
2 pieces: 1” x 1-1/2” x 19”
2 pieces: 1” x 1-1/2” x 14”
2 pieces: 3/4” x 1-1/2” x 17-1/2”
– table saw
– dado blade
– framing square
– scrap wood
– drill + drill bits
– wood glue
– 2-1/2-inch screws
– clamp
– 5/16 x 3” lag screws
– 1-5/8″ screws – this size will be determined by the thickness of your desk top


Using a 1/2” dado blade on the table saw, set at a 45 degree angle, cut a dado across the 1-1/2” side of the 19” pieces of wood; 12” from the end to the long edge of the dado. The dado needs to be deep enough so that there is an 1/8” lip on the short side of the dado.

Cut a dado 11” from the end of the 14” pieces at the same depth.

On a flat surface, lay a 19” piece on its edge and a 14” piece perpendicular to it and even with the back of the 19” piece. With the 19” piece overlapping it, make sure the dados are oriented toward each other. Using a framing square, make sure that they are sitting square to each other and measure the distance from the bottom of one dado to the bottom of the other. This is the length that the two 17-1/2” pieces need to be cut to.

Using the table saw with the dado blade set back to 90 degrees, use a scrap piece of wood and set the saw to cut a rabbit 1/4” deep, and set the fence to be a 1/2” from the blade. Make the cut in the scrap piece of wood and check to see how it fits into the dado. Once you have the saw adjusted so that you get a snug fit, cut your cross braces (the 17-1/2” pieces) with the 1-1/2” side against the fence and the end against the table. Make the same cut on the other end, keeping the piece oriented the same way.

Drill two 3/16” holes on the top back of the 19” pieces, 1/2” in from the end and 3/4″ apart. Hold it in place against the top of the 14” piece and pre-drill for screws using a 3/32” drill bit.

Dry fit the pieces together to make sure everything will come together as planned. Spread wood glue in the dado’s, slide the cross brace into the dado and using 2-1/2” screws, fasten the pieces together.

Use a clamp to hold the cross brace tight in the dado’s until the glue dries, repeat with the other support.

Drill a hole through near the top of the 14” pieces that your lag bolt will go through and one below the cross brace.

Locate the studs on the wall you want to attach your desk to and mark a line at the height you want your desk to be minus the thickness of the desk top.

Place your support on the wall, and make sure the top is even with the line and that it is plumb. Pre-drill into the stud using the correct size bit for the size lag bolts you have.

Screw the lag bolt through the support into the wall and repeat with the other support.

Drill a 3/16” hole in the front of each of the supports, 3” back from the front edge and centered.

Set the desk top on the supports, and using the correct length screw (it will be determined by the thickness of your desk), fasten the top to the supports.DIY Live Edge Wood Desk @themerrythoughtDIY Live Edge Wood Desk @themerrythought
p.s. – did you notice that the hanging paper roll is slightly crooked?! It’s bugging me soooo much – but I could not get it to hang right and gave up on it being straight…but ughh! 😜


  • Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 4:32 pm

    Maria Miranda - Very very nice. Thanks a lot!ReplyCancel


I’m working on the design for a little desk/workspace in a corner of my living room currently – I’m hoping to share it sometime in February! But while I’m waiting for that to be done, I was brainstorming some easy memo boards to get organized in the new year that I can add to my workspace once it’s done. I found a little hanging tin board at Michaels and decided to bring new life to an olddd diy that has been very popular over the last 5(!) years. So here is an easy little memo board for inspiration, reminders, & to-do lists!What you need:
Tin Plaque
-Spray Paint
-Magnets – Round, Square
Mod Podge & Paint Brush (If magnets don’t have adhesive.)
Leather Lace

How to make it:
-Cut string from tin plaque and spray paint if desired.
-Trace magnets onto fabric and cut out shapes.
-If magnet already has adhesive, peel off backing and press fabric on. If magnet does not have adhesive, apply a thin layer of modpodge then press fabric on and let dry.
-Attach leather lace to top holes in tin.
-Hang it up and add some inspiration!
And in case you’re interested – here’s a link for the 2018 Calendar.


  • Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 1:50 pm

    Ivory - Wow, very nice. I love this post. ” Keep em coming”.ReplyCancel


Our friend Courtney, from Always Rooney, recently shared her Home Project List for 2018 and I loved the idea and was inspired to make my own list. It’s a good way to keep track of some of the projects around the house I hope to get done this year, as well as give you a glimpse of some of the things you might see popping up as posts this year! 🙂 Plus it’s always good motivation for me to have my goals out there and hopefully some inspiration for you!
DIY Wood Sofa @themerrythought
I think one of the best and worst things about owning your own house is the never ending project list. There’s always going to be things to fix, update or replace. And then you add in changing styles, and with a family, the ever-changing phases and how that plays into what your home looks like, and you’re basically forever working on your home. Fun because I love dreaming about what our space could become, and seeing those things happen; but not always fun because the work is just never done. Or sometimes you’d like the work to be done, but there’s not time or the budget for that to happen anytime soon.

So here’s what I hope to be working on/getting done in our home this year:

1. The boys room – currently this is shared space between Lincoln & Malacai; however Linc has been saying he might want his own room now, so we could be swapping occupants. This room is just about finished. I’ve got a couple more things to add, but I could basically do a room tour at this point because it’s just that close. (And I probably will before it’s completely finished). We need to add another set of shelves (already built, just need to go up), change up the wall space above the desk (I have another DIY in the works for there), and add some wall hooks and wall art.
bedroom @themerrythought2. Our bedroom – Mike & I will be switching our bedroom to the extra room upstairs. This is a really big deal because I’ll be giving up a big room with an attached bath for a smaller room with a shared hallway bath. 😧 The reasoning behind this is because I really want extra family space downstairs. Our current family space is just the kitchen and living room. And while those are both large rooms – I’d love to be able to have another space to kick the boys to – ha! The winter months are tough here; we spend sooo much more time indoors, for months on end (we do get outside pretty much everyday, it’s just not the same as being able to be out for hours on end like we do in the summer months), and so having this extra space to spread out into will be really nice. To move our room upstairs will mean painting – walls and floor (currently happening), new bed (because we desperately need a new mattress and I want a new frame), furniture swaps/updates, and lots & lots of stuff to get rid of. I’m hoping to do the room swap this month, but won’t have it ready/the way I’d like it for a few more months.

3. Family room – I actually have no idea what to call this space. It’s the room that was our bedroom and will function as family hang out space, an office (my desk is in this room), and guest room when needed. This room will need a daybed (working on building something to function as a couch/bed when needed), rug, and probably some other misc. furniture/decor items. Plus rearranging/reorganizing a lot of things.
4. Levi’s room – Levi’s had his own room for a while, mostly because he’s not the best sleeper, and we didn’t want him waking up the other two. But Lincoln’s been asking if he can take this room, so this might end up being “Lincoln’s room”. Either way, it won’t effect most of what needs to happen in here. We need to build a bed, get a rug, and add a few more smaller elements to the space. I’d like to re-finish the dresser in this room, or I might just pop it in the closet because that room has a decent size closet.

5. Downstairs full bath – the bathroom that’s attached to the soon-to-be family room needs a serious overhaul. The fixtures in there have issues and need to be replaced; it needs a new sink, toilet and shower. And so with those bigger things needing to be changed out, we might as well put in a new floor. And most recently Mike was saying that he thinks we should just gut the whole bathroom 😳 (it’s pretty bad, and not just in a dated way). I wasn’t quite ready to tackle a whole new bathroom this year (I mean design-wise, yes!; but budget/time-wise, no!); but it’s got to be done because of the issues. Plus it will be getting a lot more use now (this is the bathroom the boys will use most, and now also guests occasionally), sooo it got added to the list.

6. Studio – we’re dreaming up possibilities and plans to make an official blog studio space happen! Extremely excited to see this come about this year – we’ll share a little more in the future once things start happening…
workspace @themerrythought

So those are the major things happening (hopefully) this year. We also have smaller projects (always) that aren’t quite as exciting, but that I’m adding to our 2018 list. This list will keep growing and be added to constantly, Mike’s so happy about that – ha!

– insulate: we live in a very old house (1832) and it’s cold & drafty. Mike said this is the year we’re going to figure out where we need to add more insulation and do it.
– new windows: we’ve been slowly replacing the windows in the house. I love, love old windows, they make my heart happy. However you can stand next to them and feel a breeze blowing in, glass is cracked on some, and some of the frames are starting to rot, so it’s just not practical to keep them. Hoping to change out 3-4 windows this year.
– paint house exterior: this one is super exciting for me, but I don’t really show pictures of the outside of our house, so not super exciting for readers 😉
– remove shower: our half bath downstairs used to be a 3/4 bath (shower only, no tub), but we disconnected the shower when we put in the full bath upstairs. However we still have yet to actually remove the shower from the bathroom!! So I’m making this happen this year. Or else. We plan to add shelves and use the space the shower was in for storage/closet-like space. (Our old house is short on closets).
– paint hallway floor: we used the wrong kind of paint on the upstairs floors (it’s just kind of tacky and weird), so we’ve been slowly re-doing those. All the rest have been done/are getting done with the bedroom re-do’s, so then it’ll just be the hallway left.
– update mudroom: I have a few small changes I’d like to do in here – swapping out the bench (I want it in a different room), and making better use of the space and how it functions. Really the whole space could use an overhaul, but I’m not ready to dive into that, so I’m just making minor changes.
– keep de-cluttering: something I will forever be working on. But I like to always keep it listed as one of my goals to keep reminding myself to keep up with it.
cozy corner @themerrythought

Now that I have them actually written down, and they’re not just ideas floating around in my head, this seems quite ambitious – ha! And just for fun, here’s the projects that I dream about happening, but because of budget, they might not happen for quite some time (if ever); but they’re still immensely fun to think about/hope for/dream about:

– new kitchen: this would include bumping out the space to our front porch to use as a dining room, so it’d include massive amounts of work (which = massive amounts of money)
– laundry room: this small room always feels like a train wreck (it’s also our coat room/throw anything & everything into here room) and needs some help, but it’s just not a high priority)
– patio: I’d love to have a stone or brick patio right outside my kitchen for eating outdoors during the summer, entertaining, filling with pretty things like twinkle lights, cozy seating and lots of plants..but since it’s not needed at all, it’ll probably stay on this list for quite some time.
– refinish the floors downstairs: we’re so lucky to have original hardwood floors, however they really need to be refinished. But just the thought of the amount of work that this would involve (having to move every single thing and the amount of dust involved in sanding the floors) is enough to put this very low on the maybe someday list, ha!

How about you? Do you make lists of the projects you’d like to get done around your space? Would making a list actually help you feel like you could get it done??! Fingers crossed this list helps to keep us motivated for getting these things done in a timely fashion!

And thanks Courtney for the inspiration for my home project list!


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  • Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - 3:58 pm

    Ivory - Wow, very nice. I especially love, love the floor lamp and the wooden desk attached to the wall. You nailed it.ReplyCancel

  • Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - 5:52 pm

    Courtney Weston - I’m so excited to see these projects come to life and I love reading others’ home project lists! It’s going to be a great year 🙂


    • Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 7:00 pm

      Manda - Thanks Courtney! And thanks for the inspiration! 🙂ReplyCancel