Garden Addition

This year, with prompting from our neighbor who wanted to expand and fence in their garden, Brian did the same for ours. We had to plant a lot of our sprouts before it was completely done, so I wasn’t able to rotate our “crops” much this year, but next year I’m so excited with the additional space we have to move some things around. I really need to give squash a lot more space, and the tomatoes need some new placement.

Coraline has been looking for treasure in all the holes for our new garden fence. In the very last hole we found pebbles!

Coraline was looking for treasure in all the post holes for our new garden fence. In the very last hole we found pebbles! It was pretty fun to find an actual “treasure.”

The best part, I think, is the stones between each raised bed. No more will I find snakes in tall grass between them!

Here’s Coraline enjoying the fruits of our labor. Snacking on raw green beans. Jameson also tried mint which lasted .2 minutes until he realized it was NOT like gum like we told him. Ha!

We lost most of our squash early again since we were dealing with some powdery mildew. This year we caught it early enough that it didn’t spread to the tomato plants, and we did still get more squash than in years past. We spiralized zucchini for the first time! Coraline loves anything shaped like pasta.

We also got a pumpkin this year! We had sprouts in our compost and I let a couple plants grow. Our first pumpkin rotted on the vine, but we have a second smaller one that I’m going to cut from the vine soon.

We thought we were growing brussel sprouts, but turns out it was broccoli! When they are sprouts they look very similar, and I misplaced the labels early on when we were transplanting things. We added it to our salad the other day, and it wasn’t bitter like the broccoli we have had in the past. We also are trying eggplant this year, and watermelon, but the watermelon isn’t doing much beyond spreading it’s vine everywhere. We lost the one fruit we had to Jameson, oops!

Overall, it’s been a fun year with the garden, and we’ve gotten and used a lot more herbs this year. We are drying them with the food dehydrator. It feels really good to be using a lot more of the food we’re growing this year, and not be stuck with a thousand pots drying out daily!

Continue Reading

Our New Basement

Are you ready for this monstrosity? It has been over a year in the making.

Last January 2014, we were about to sign with a contractor, also a family friend, to finish off our basement. We literally were about to sign the contract, that very night, when I was laid off from my job. So this project was put on hold. We had already picked out flooring, narrowed down our choices on carpet, and had a full layout planned.

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before I found a new job, but the project needed to wait for an opening in our contractor’s schedule. We began it in the fall of last year, and hauled out nearly everything from our basement to Brian’s sister’s house and upstairs.


The kiddos loved having the couch, chair and miscellaneous speakers on our landing upstairs. I did not. The yellow chair has still not found a home, but this couch fit perfectly in Jameson’s room, so some space (and all the clutter at least) has been cleaned up.


We had to deal with a column in the middle of the floor, as with many basements. We also wanted to hide the electrical panel, which was on the finished half, and the water shut off. Our initial plan was to hide the electrical panel behind a built-in entertainment center. However, as soon as the project got moving, we realized it made much more sense to move the built-in to a different wall.


First step was framing, insulating, some electrical and drywall. This part went by very very fast, and then we could really see the space we were working with.





When the drywall went up, the space got really bright (also I had my fancy camera, so these photos are much clearer). It already looked so much more finished, but I didn’t realize how much more time there really was left to go. This was the easy part.


Next was beginning the ceiling tiles. There were so many little decisions during this whole process, such as deciding which switches should control which lights (which in the end we think we could still optimize).




Aside from the fundamental restrictions like the column, electrical panel and water heater, we had some other must-haves with our basement. We wanted to have:

  • under stairs access for storage
  • we wanted to have playroom storage for the kids
  • and we needed to have a place to store with easy access Brian’s music equipment and speakers.


The built-in shelving and cabinets was debated at first with the various layouts we were considering. Debated by Brian, anyway, not by me. I always wanted floor-to-ceiling shelving. The angled edge makes the transition into the basement from the stairs much smoother.

The two large cabinets on the right, next to the wall, have magnetic trim so that the speakers can be fully wheeled out into the living space, so no one breaks their back moving them in and out to play.





We chose gray as our neutral rather than beige, though beige and browns are in the flooring we chose. The gray can look blue when the sun is out and shining in, and it’s a really soothing color I would paint my entire house in. This is how our basement looked for a couple months before we had furniture and before we could bring back down all our stuff.


The alcove here next to the understairs storage stayed like this for a couple months. We originally were going to do the bar ourselves, but changed our mind after the initial contract. So we signed a new agreement to add the back bar. We also waited for cabinet doors, since we decided to have them done by Amish craftsmen with the bar cabinet doors as well so they all matched.


The back bar came together so easily compared to the basement as a whole, in terms of decision-making. Brian and I picked the very first piece of remnant black granite we saw. We chose clearance tile from Home Depot, and a medium gray paint between the wall color and the dark gray we used on frames and the understairs door.

Brian did the tap work in the back, connected to a fridge. He’s insulated the tubing running to and from. The first time we used the taps was pretty thrilling.




It’s hard to peak at the bathroom, since it’s a tighter space (though not in person). It is done in a darker green on one wall, surrounded by a neutral greige. We picked the sink out at Ikea, and found a nearly matching frame at Home Depot, along with the toilet and light fixture.


Hidden behind one of these large frames is the electrical panel. We had our contractor make the frames since they were so large, and so they would match. They are actually sheet metal covered in a fabric I picked up at Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores, and I’ve used small round magnets from Target to hang up our kids’ art.


The frame in the back behind our exercise equipment was also done by then, and is a brewery map by Pop Chart Labs. By accident, it was also backed with sheet metal, which turned out really well so Brian can mark where he’s been with little magnets.





Instead of hiding our understairs storage door, we’ve framed and highlighted it. The paint looks like chalkboard paint, but it is not. It is, however, magnetic. The color is the same as the frames. Coraline likes to take the magnets and hide them under the door.


We are so happy with our new space! I have been working out, which is a much more pleasant experience. I can easily see the TV from the treadmill. And take a drink when I’m done.

Lest you think the space is always this clean, we do have a kid desk, easel, car track and workshop that sit out that I simply moved out for the photos, as well as games and other miscellaneous items on our shelves. It’s truly lived in and well used, and we’ve really put it to work this winter with all the snow we’ve been having!

Continue Reading

Jungle Garden

I am past due to show you an update to our garden! This has been one of our most successful garden, which I credit to the raised beds we made. We have had snap peas from our garden about 4 times, and loads of cherry, olive and yellow pear shaped tomatoes. I just started getting some Roma and Early Girl tomatoes which are larger. We’ve had batches of green beans, plenty of basil and cleaned up our lettuce. Radishes we finished a couple months ago; they were quick to mature and quick to eat!

Still to mature are our carrots and green onions which I planted from seed. We’ve had just a few small peppers but looking forward to more. The peppers may be the only veggies that aren’t growing as well as hoped.




Since we fenced off the garden to keep deer out, the grass grows much taller there. This guy found a home in our garden then for a few weeks. However, since Brian put him over the privacy fence, we haven’t seen him back, so he must not have been able to find his way home.

The first time we saw him I screamed (like a girl, obviously). Jameson was with us and I flung him over the fence and tiptoed out myself; It was nearly ready to rain though so Becky, Coraline, Jameson and I all ran for the garage. I think I scared Jameson a bit between the screaming, fence swinging and running!




Jameson didn’t want to hold him but he did touch him a couple times. I even did as well. I was okay with the snake… as long as I knew exactly where he was at all times! He is a harmless type snake local to our area but I’m just as happy to see him gone now.

On top of this, we’ve been enjoying our weekly crop share program and getting loads of veggies from the Farmers Market as well!

We had a 3 week hiatus, but it’s back again the past couple weeks and we’ve enjoyed everything in our boxes. We’ve had turnips, kale, potatoes and radishes, lettuce, beans, 3 different kinds of peas and we’re just starting to get zucchini, cucumber, garlic and tomatoes from it.


It’s been such a good, healthy summer and I love to tell Jameson where our food is coming from every night when we sit down for dinner. We introduced prayers before eating in the past 3 weeks and Jameson has learned to wait until everyone sits down before eating and loves to say prayers with us. He loves to end it with an extra “Amen! We eat!”


Continue Reading

Coraline’s Nursery

Coraline moved into the room that was formerly Jameson’s; a gender neutral room in yellow and green. She seems to enjoy the leaf mobile I made more than Jameson did; but like Jameson she adores the little moving black birds over the glider chair the most.

A few differences in her room is the white dresser we purchased for her; Jameson took his with him to his new room. We also purchased a nightstand that will go with it once she is old enough for a big girl bed (we have a pink princess bed from Little Tikes waiting for her).

The dresser takes up a lot of space, so there is no room for a bookshelf right now. However, there will be plenty of space once we’re done with the changing table, so she will have one in her room eventually.

We also have cross stitch work hanging up. The two small circle artwork below are ones that I made for my grandmother; when she passed away, I took them back. Above, the floral work is one my grandma made but never framed. I had it framed and hung it in Coraline’s room.

I have big plans for her room once it transitions to a big girl room. I want to have it pink, white and black. I think the black accents will give it a more sophisticated look that will grow with her longer; and I want to limit the pink to the bed and a few other accents so that color can change when she outgrows it. For now, the room is perfect for a baby, and I enjoy the beautiful dresser with extra storage.

Continue Reading

Fresh from the Garden

We finally got some rain at the end of last week; it was nice not to have to water the garden. Also to start filling our rain barrel!

Brian called around local breweries and wineries looking for an old barrel; we obtained one a couple weeks ago and he built a stand for it and installed it around the shed gutters (also newly installed).

It has a minor leak around the spigot which he just installed, but otherwise it looks like it’s going to work out perfect.

The garden is coming along great, and I was excited to see the radishes shot straight up. Within a couple weeks I already had to thin them out. We also have pole beans, carrots and green onions sprouting, and the peppers and tomato plants are getting bigger.

Last week we also added mint and strawberries potted, planted lettuce, and some additional pepper plants and basil.

Saturday was also our very first crop share program pick up. After three years of being on the waiting list, we finally were able to obtain “shares” at a local farm. We pay a lump sum, and each week we pick up a box of fresh produce. In our box this week was kale, bok choy, turnips, radishes, mustard greens, and a lettuce head. You can’t see the lettuce head here or the bok choy.

I’m so excited with the fresh veggies we are going to have this summer!

Continue Reading

Big Enough for a Bed

Over our Thanksgiving holiday, we decided it was the prime opportunity to have Jameson transition into his big boy bed and room!

We had the room nearly set up, after forcing Brian to stay up each night to paint the dresser knobs, clothes hooks, and nightstand. We hung the artwork line, and I ordered extra road for the decal to finish off the wall.

We decided that nap time wouldn’t be the optimal first new-bed-experience, so we introduced his new room after he got up from his nap on Friday. To prepare him, we read him the Elmo book Big Enough for a Bed a couple days beforehand each night (he loved it, and we are still reading it). When we went into mommy and daddy’s room, we reminded him that he’d be getting a new bed of his own soon too!

New Bed
Friday after his nap, he wasn’t too enthusiastic. At first, he didn’t want to get on his bed. We attributed that to being a little groggy from nap time and confusion, so we started moving his stuff with him there so he could see. Little did he know, most of his belongings were already in the new room, except for a couple big things.

New Room

New Room
First all his books on the new, lower bookshelf; and then his whole dresser. Last, Brian put on the new knobs for his dresser, and Jameson was fascinated watching and wanting to help. After that, we took turns climbing into the bed with him and play at getting under covers. Jameson loved it! We spent about an hour in his room that afternoon before heading downstairs for the evening.

New Room

New Room
We were sure to say goodbye to his baby room, turn out the lights, and close that door for a few days (at least when Jameson was awake).

The real test was bedtime that night. Jameson was so excited, he didn’t want to read stories in the new bedroom chair, he just wanted to climb into bed! We did make it through story time and milk, and turned on his stars, just like usual. It took him about an hour and a half to fall asleep — but he never made a sound. He rolled around and tossed and turned, but stayed in bed until he finally fell asleep.

Clothes Hanger

The next day, Saturday, was a little more rough. He told us he liked his bed when he got up and was cheerful, but had trouble napping there at first. He sat straight up, and I had to go in to yell at him because he was trying to eat the googly eyes off his shirt for a couple minutes.

I have yelled at him just a couple times before just to get him to nap, and he flattens himself out and pretty much doesn’t move until he falls asleep then, which is pretty funny. I’d feel bad, but I’ve done it before and since it works, I don’t stress about it. The trick is surprise and opening the door quickly. “What are you doing? It’s nap time!” and then I rub his back a little so he knows I still love him and cover him up.

Saturday night, he cried for us, and I went back upstairs after about 5-10 minutes to rub his back. That wasn’t really helping him fall asleep, but after he laid there for a bit I left and he cried for just a minute or two before falling asleep. Since then, every day has become easier.

Sunday, he napped in a crib at grandma’s house though so we haven’t experienced any more naps in the bed. At night though he is still very excited to climb into bed and stays there, falling asleep pretty quickly. Aunt Melissa even put him to bed on Tuesday.

A couple days ago, I opened up the door to his old room so it could get air flow and he walked in and said “Baby”. We haven’t talked about it being the baby’s room now more than once or twice, but I think he is associating the crib to babies now, thanks to the Big Enough for a Bed book.

The transition is about as easy as I could’ve hoped for, and I attribute it to the wonderful book, the fact that he is already familiar with sleeping on a cot at daycare, the excited build up to getting his very own bed, and having him see his stuff moved all out of the old room into the new. I’m really happy that he loves his room so much (and I do too!).


Continue Reading

The To Do List

This has been a tiring week, and it’s only Thursday. I even got to skip out of the Monday madness since we were driving back from Emma’s wedding.

But for some reason, it’s hard to get control of life this week. The kind of week when the To Do List feels populated with all the things that have been always been on the list, unnamed, but ignored for months.

The kind of week where you come home from work having not done anything of worth and at home you feel the same, because the laundry is piled up, the fridge is empty, the bathrooms and floors are dirty, and the desk looks like it has a year’s worth of mail and paperwork on it. And if you’re lucky like me you feel guilty because your partner is doing the cooking.

Today I tried to take back some control by listing those things out, that were overwhelming my subconscious with weight. I will try to tackle that list, slowly. But at least now it’s in the open.

  • Paint Jameson’s baby foot and put on display somewhere (from a year ago)
  • Get grandma’s cross stitch framed & hung (from a year and a half ago)
  • Transcribe Jameson’s daycare logs to spreadsheet (been piling up for a year)
  • Start 2012 journal photo book / blog (6 months behind)
  • Send in old photos to be scanned (from a year and a half ago)
  • Add screen protector to camera screen (purchased months ago)

And then maybe tonight I’ll do a load of laundry.

And tomorrow maybe we can talk about working on planning office furniture, laundry racks, and a garden bed.

Continue Reading

Sweet Sunday

Without any ado: Happy Birthday Mr. Husband, sir. Together we make 60 years now of wisdom and awesomeness. 🙂

And now, Sweet Sunday.

JP, Lisa & Jonathan came over last Sunday for a small get together. We had ribs, beans, coleslaw and potatoes. Fresh salad greens from the farmers market the day prior.

And a whole lot of fun!

These were some of my most successful outdoor photos yet. I love the pictures of Jonathan, splashing away in the water table. They’ve both tried to climb up in it, so this weekend we are thinking of breaking out Jameson’s water bounce house since it is expected to be so nice and warm!

Jonathan adored the slides, over and over. He didn’t mind going too quickly down the slide. Jameson is quite a bit more hesitant on the slides now, wanting to hold mom or dad’s hand.

Jameson seems to be our climber, and Jonathan, the daredevil!

The boys are interacting quite a bit, though it takes just a little while for them to warm up to each other. Meanwhile, Jameson sees Lily nearly every other day during the week, and they are becoming quite familiar with each other. He gave her a “hug” the other day, by laying his head against her chest. He was too shy to wrap his arms around her like he does mom and dad!

New words this week is saying “Hi” and “Bye Bye” He could say bye bye over and over and over, it’s a new favorite word. At school, they are learning to sign “water” (how appropriate!)


In a bit of related, but unrelated news, our play equipment is all in the front yard, due to what’s going on in our back. Our HOA (Home Owners Association) sent us a rather formal, scary note about removing “unsightly objects”.

I don’t know about you, but I think those photos don’t lie. The play equipment doesn’t seem the least bit “unsightly” to me.


P.S. This weekend is going to be packed with fun! We are planning a zoo trip with JP, Lisa & Jonathan tomorrow morning; and celebrating Brian’s birthday with family on Sunday! And Monday? It’s expected to be hot, so it might be a great time to bring out that water bounce house (which should be big enough for adults too, no joke, I’m excited!).

Continue Reading


A couple weeks ago, we broke out Jameson’s new Sand and Water table. We purchased this one, with its classic lines and roadways, and nearly complete positive reviews. We’ve only filled it with water, but the children have enjoyed it a lot as just a water table!

Jameson and Lily love to laugh at (with?) each other now. One will start, and the other will squeal with them. Their laughter is catching for us too!

Jameson and Lily don’t seem to mind being soaking wet.

It’s so fun to watch them together and interact. When we say “hold Lily/Jameson’s hand!” they do! They also blow kisses to each other now.

Lily is a good influence on Jameson; he’ll sit still some when she’s around showing him what to do.

However, I’m sad to say that the backyard we’ve enjoyed so much already this summer is pretty well gone. We hauled all the outdoor toys into the front yard this weekend.

Details to come!

Continue Reading

The Blank Wall

In our kitchen, there is a big wall that we always took our family pictures in front of. It’s what I like to call “builder beige”, like the rest of our house, though it’s not really the builder beige you might think. It does have some actual color and will take on different hues depending on the light. It’s subtle, light, and it suffices for now.

The same wall housed the giant ONE collage in photos for Jameson’s birthday (for months since we left it up for quite some time), and then most recently it held newspaper.

I read somewhere that newspaper can be an effective way to help determine placement of frames. I have been collecting frames for over a year now, and I’m ready to make a photo collage on my wall.

The newspaper though wasn’t doing it for me. I couldn’t remember what each of the frames looked like. Some are thinner, some have modern styles, some have mattes. I wanted to balance this all out, and the newspaper wasn’t working for me. The one thing it did tell me was that I needed some smaller frames, which we picked up on clearance at Target.

We left it up for a couple weeks, cause we’re I’m slow.

Then I turned to my good old pal, photoshop (and my phone, because I was too lazy to take nice photos). First I took the photo you see above, of the wall with newspapers I had already cut out to the shape of my frames. Then I took pictures of the frames themselves.

Do you see where this is going? I made some photoshop magic happen. I took all my frame pictures, cropped them, and resized them to fit within the newspapers on the wall since I already knew they were the proper size. Then, I removed the newspaper in photoshop with the healing brush (works like magic).

Then I had my bunch of frames I could move around on the wall willy-nilly. (Yes, willy-nilly)

My first few designs looked something like this, because I wanted to try and follow a diagonal up the stairs. I couldn’t find the right balance though. I wasn’t satisfied with this.

Finally I came up with a design that lived by itself on the wall, contained in itself. It could be on any wall, not just this wall. It looked more like a collective.

I sent it to Brian, and we decided to put it up this weekend (I was tired of newspaper on our walls, and frames overtaking the guest/craft room floor).

Jameson was a big help, of course.

The first step was figuring out where to start, and we decided the upper right was a good location. Then we made our first mistake, by just eyeballing it.

We did nearly the entire top row which everything else was to be based on before we realized the frame in the upper right was too far to the left.

So back Brian went, to move the upper right frame over by about 4ish inches. Much better after that.

Learning from that mistake, Brian started laying out how much spacing should live between each of the frames and how wide that would make the collage. We still allowed for some flexibility, but we need to make sure everything would fit on the walls.

Jameson continued to be a big help.

This is also a great shot of his terrible haircut. Terrible.

Finally, after one failed nap later, Brian was putting up the last frame.

Observant folks will notice it doesn’t match my plan. That’s because, at the last minute, Brian decided he wanted to take one of the frames in to work with him (as was originally intended though he never had before).

With this frame out of the picture (so-to-speak), we made some last minute changes. I am not satisfied though so I will be finding a replacement for this frame to complete the wall and fulfill the vision I had before.

So it’s done, but not done. Because there’s still the critical piece missing, you know, where I actually fill the frames with photos.

Knowing myself, it will probably be another month or more before I fill the frames, but I’m already happy with how this looks. It makes the kitchen feel more complete, and Jameson LOVES to point at big picture of him and Sasha.

Speaking of, we are teaching him to say Sasha (and Uh-oh). He is practicing these two syllable words frequently and is pretty close. He is still completely missing the “S” sound in Sasha though. Adorable!

Continue Reading