Jan 16, 2015

Everything's Rosie

It occurred to me that I have not shared a single peek into our home since move-in day. Unless you count the disassembled kitchen cabinets, which I don't. Most of the time, it's a hot mess around here. Like crazy tornado-style, four-alarm disaster. Not fit for public consumption.

But while the kitchen sits in shambles, I've been piecing together Rosie's bedroom. Pardon the not-so-great photos. The sun was going down, kids were racing around, and this mama was eager to snap pictures - a work in progress, but coming together. Note the poor stuffed bear - I'm telling you, nothing stays where you put it in this house. Future visitors: you've been warned. Put your sh#* up high if you want to see it again.
For a little back story, Miss R was sleeping with us in the master bedroom room until she was one; up until then, she had pink walls, a crib, and not much else. Poor gal! Must.finish. I will say that a major project of my pregnancy was settling on the appropriate pink color. I tested out about a gazillion, and settled on this: Romance by Sherwin Williams. The pictures don't do it justice, but it has just a touch of peach to it. It's incredibly soft and warm, without being too much.
I've loved gathering pieces for this room. Who knew I could let my girly flags fly so high?! The chest of drawers was a flea-market discovery a few weeks before Rosie was born. I spray-painted the mirror orange for another project, but decided it fits perfectly in here. Can't wait to hang it!

I love to keep out a few of her wonderful baby gifts, like this burp cloth made by Ben's aunt, and the penguin from my aunt and uncle. The lamp is by Anthropologie - but I snagged it from our local Buy/Sell/Trade group, which has some AMAZING finds, for $11!
We used to have a chic, expensive glider, but it was a victim of our Dave Ramsey budgeting purge. This Ikea rocker worked great with Max, and still works just fine for the handful of times per day I'm in here nursing Rosie. I love the blanket thrown over the back, a sweet handmade gift given to me as a baby and now passed down to my own kiddos.

The giraffe art is a canvas made by a talented friend back in Calgary. It was in Max's very first nursery, and now it's here. This space is simple, but all of the elements make me smile.

The custom valance was my latest steal from our local swap group. I was nerdily excited about this one. I think I made Ben come gaze at it about four times trying to get the appropriate level of appreciation out of him. It just works. And for $20!
The bunting is from one of my favorite antique/shabby chic boutiques, Three French Hens, in Nolensville, TN. {I initially bought it to use as decor at Rosie's first birthday party. Gotta love multitasking decorations!}

This room just feels cozy, peaceful and happy to me. Hopefully my baby girl feels the same way!

Dec 29, 2014

Of Holidays and Huge Projects

I hope everybody had a fabulous holiday! Ours was sweet, hectic and wonderful. The kids were so much fun. And we wore matching jammies. Enough said. And I could be biased, but I'm pretty sure I have the handsomest husband and cutest kids I've ever seen. :)

In other news, I lost my mind yesterday. It's been nice knowing you all, but I'm not sure if I'll survive my newest project. Here's what I did...
Yep, those are my kitchen cabinets. Without doors. Normally I'd clean up for photos, but who's got the time? Just keeping it real so nobody feels bad about their own mess!

When we bought this house, the plan was to paint our little hearts out until every.single.surface was new again. We've saved the most challenging spaces for last, but I've finally had enough of our drab, 80s looking space, so I removed all of the upper doors yesterday. These cabinets are great quality solid wood and should hold up for many more years with fresh paint. So far I've sanded them down (that power sander was FUN!) and plan to degloss and prime today. Those uppers will get a nice coat of white paint. I'll go in phases so the entire kitchen isn't disassembled at once.

Our thought is that we'll do the lowers in a dark charcoal (I've already painted the little peninsula that color and we love it), and keep everything up top white and bright. See that long section of cabinets over the sink? I want to go ahead and replace them with floating shelves. If we feel ambitious, we'll try to remove that bizarro tiled back splash and put up white beadboard. We like to store baby dolls and nail polish on the kitchen counter because that's just how we roll.
We are living with our faux wood laminate counters for the forseeable future, so we're trying to make them work. This inspiration photo should give you an idea of the end goal. Isn't it purdy?! {photo via Apartment Therapy}
I'm toying with the idea of antique brass hardware like this... what do you think?? I think this entire kitchen over at Hello From the Natos blog is so dreamy.
Well we're off to the hardware store for supplies. Wish us luck!!

Dec 2, 2014

What Goes Around

I just love random acts of kindness! And lately I've had lots of sweetness bestowed upon me.
While shopping with both kids a few weeks ago (I was wearing Rosie in her carrier, pushing my cart, and Max was pushing a tiny shopping cart around), my crew was literally clogging up the whole grocery aisle. I apologized as I tried to maneuver around and usher Max out of the way. I had noticed plenty of people getting antsy as they became stuck behind us or couldn't rush past easily enough.

But this time, one woman patiently waited at the end of the aisle, smiling. As we approached, she looked me in the eyes and said, "You're doing a good job." Nothing more, nothing less. Just, "You're doing a good job." She could have said nothing at all. She could have sighed, pretended to be busy with something, or even just smiled and left it at that. Instead, this woman, a total stranger, reached out and said the exact words I needed to hear. Not everyone here thinks my kids are out of control! Or that I'm a crazy, flustered mama! What a wonderful thing for one woman to reach out to another in this way. To offer support.

Today at the store, Rosie was once again in her carrier as I busied myself loading our groceries into the back of the car. Another stranger rushed over and offered to hold the shopping cart in place while I unloaded it. Amazing! My heart feels so full after these types of encounters. So grateful for the human capacity for kindness, that I can easily forget that often times all of us are just as equally grumpy, rushed, self-centered.
These two practiced their kindness skills by coloring together on Thanksgiving. :)

I'm definitely far from a saint, but I do TRY to remind myself that a smile, holding a door, friendly chit-chat - whatever kindness looks like at any given moment - can truly brighten a person's day. These acts of kindness are something I'm trying to focus on with the kids this holiday season. Because selfishly, boosting up others is a way of boosting ourselves up too. Kindness feels good. Not always easy, but the rewards are there for the taking. 

Nov 23, 2014


Cookies & Beer has been in the back of my mind - like, pretty much always. But only now did I realize that a whole year has passed since my last post. This is sad stuff for my creative side. But I'm okay with it. Life took over. Two kids ages three and under is crazy, ya'll. You think you know, but you have no idea. (Or you totally do, because you've been there - or are still there. Or have it way harder!)

But here's the deal: I'm ready to get blogging again. Hooray! I'm not entirely sure what that means yet - it will probably continue to be sporadic, but we have lots of fun stuff going on that I want to share. There are still obscene amounts of cookies and beer being created and enjoyed in our home. And I'm a writer who hasn't been writing, so yeah - I need to fix that situation.

Let's see if I can do a speedy recap of the past year. In just 18 bullet points!

1) Max finished his first year of pre-school. And is the coolest kid in the world.
2) Ben and I attended a positive parenting workshop and are trying in earnest to be gentle, calm, loving parents in the midst of these chaotic early-parenting years.
3) Rosie turned one, started walking, and steals our hearts daily with her heart-melting smile.
4) We didn't sleep. All year.
5) We went through oodles of medical screenings and doctor's appointments with Rosie because our doctor thought her weight gain was too slow. We were terrified. She is FINE!
6) There was lots of laughter, lots of hugging, many small triumphs and big joys, and also many tears and challenges.
7) We got a puppy for one week.
8) Ben played on an Ultimate Frisbee team.
9) I had a blast helping host a baby shower, and then became an aunt!
10) We did a Dave Ramsey financial planning course and went into hardcore budgeting mode.
11) We've considered moving and driven to about 20,000 neighborhoods across middle Tennessee.
12) We went camping twice, the lake several times, and spent tons of lazy summer evenings grilling out in the backyard.
13) We've formed new friendships and strengthened old ones.
14) We have almost painted the entire interior of our house (including crown moldings and window frames, damn the window frames); have planted trees in the back yard, and DIY'ed a handful of home upgrades.
15) Animal control hauled away a feral cat that was living under our AC unit, a squirrel that had set up shop in the attic, and will soon be cleaning up after a skunk that was hunkered down in our crawl space. (Seriously, what is with this house and wild animals?!)
16) I volunteered as public relations coordinator for the Empowering Fearless Birth Conference. And got to sit on the home birth panel and chat about two of the best moments in my life. What a huge honor and humbling experience!!
17) Max turned four. He's officially smarter than me.
18) I became obsessed with Matilda Jane Clothing. Bad habit. Dave Ramsey wouldn't approve, but just look at Rosie in these clothes!

19) And finally, I took 82,000 photos and now have to sift through them all to find some to share in the blog.

There is of course much, much more - I'm exhausted just thinking of all this past year has entailed, but I wouldn't change it for anything! I may be delirious with sleep deprivation, but I mean it. Grateful mama here. Exhausted, yes. But very grateful. I'm excited to once again devote time to writing, sharing, photographing and generally documenting my life on this little blog. Below was one of my favorite moments of zen this year - sunrise at Fall Creek Falls. Awake before the family, taking it all in. A rare moment indeed.

Nov 24, 2013

3 + 100 = Fun!

It's a landmark moment. Little Wild Man has turned THREE! When did this happen?? I swear it was yesterday he was a pudgy little wiggle worm, happily sloshing pureed prunes and avocado chunks all over himself while babbling incoherently. Now he's a slim, coordinated pre-schooler {I think he's officially now a pre-schooler and not a toddler?} who can feed himself a sandwich and speak to me in full sentences. I'm so proud of him, and thrilled we survived another year, but it's bittersweet too. Will every birthday feel like this for us mamas and papas? It's amazing to watch your kiddos grow into little people, but oh so hard to let go of the notion of them as snuggly, needy newborns.

Little wild man is coming into his own as he strides into his third year. Here's what I know about him right now: he knows what he wants and is great at communicating those needs. He is intense, smart and observant. You cannot slide anything by this kid. You have to earn his trust (my mama bear instincts tell me this is a great personality trait). He is intuitive, empathetic and feels things deeply. What an honor that he's let me peek into his beautiful little soul and get to know him. I can only hope he'll continue to let me do so as the years go on!

The other landmark news? This is my 100th blog post! It took over a year to get here, but I'd still say it's cause for celebration! In honor of this momentous occasion, I thought about doing a giveaway - but then I realized I'd need something to actually give, and enough readers to warrant a drawing, ha! Instead I'll just share a quick tutorial with you on this rad teepee Ben and I made for Max's birthday. Seriously. Ben and I sat inside it and drank wine for an hour once it was assembled; it's fun even if you don't have kids. {In the interest of time, these are all unedited iPhone photos. Perhaps I'll take some better photos one day. Or perhaps not.}

A few notes: This project took several naps and several evenings (and glasses of wine) after the kids were asleep. If kids being asleep isn't an issue for you, I imagine you could knock it out in a weekend. And if you actually know how to operate your sewing machine - yeah, that would speed things up, too. This involves quite a bit of sewing, but the sewing is basic and once it's assembled, the teepee is very forgiving of squiggly seams and uneven fabric panels. Since we had a free corner in our living room, we opted to go big. This teepee will easily fit our whole family and then some, but you can scale down to suit your own space.

These are the two tutorials I leaned on most heavily (these people clearly know how to actually sew), but there came a point when I veered too far from the instructions and just started making things up, so I can only take you so far in this process!:

Makes Me Smile blog : Check out the AWESOME sketch of how all the pieces go together. I also loved the hilarious commentary.

Smile and Wave blog : This is what I used for all my measurements.

Here's a rough idea of how this all went down:

1. Gather supplies.

* 6 - eight foot 1" x 2" x 8' pine "poles" from the hardware store
* 1 - 9x12 canvas drop cloth
* Around 3 yards cream colored ribbon
* 12 inches of 1/4" elastic
* small role of rope or strong leather
* 1 yard extra fabric for door flaps

2. Assemble poles. You can make your teepee shorter, but we stuck with the 8' height of our poles. We measured 12" down from the top and Ben drilled a 1/4" hole in each pole. Stack the poles on top of one another and thread your rope straight through (a piece of tape around the end of the rope helps keep it from fraying as you work it through). At this point, we stood up the poles and tied the rope loosely where we thought we'd want them to stand.

3. Congratulate yourselves on being "half way done." Enjoy the small victory, because you're really not even close to half way done.

4. Create five fabric panels. {The sixth panel will be the door, which I made larger than the other sides.} After draping up the drop cloth and playing around with it, I decided to follow all of the measurements given at the Smile and Wave blog tutorial: 4" at the top, 38" at the bottom, and 80" tall. I thought it seemed huge, but thank goodness I stuck with the suggested dimensions, because they gave me plenty of wiggle room to correct my mistakes. I used Max's sidewalk chalk, a yardstick, and a patient hubby to help double check my measurements and hold everything in place while I drew out my panels (they look like a triangle with a flat top, for lack of a better description). Then I cut them out and, before going to bed, congratulated myself once again on being half way done. This time I was much closer, but still not half way.

5. Stitch panels together, along with inner ribbon ties, leaving the ends open for the door panel, which went on last. I won't pretend to have any advice on sewing, other than trying to avoid losing your sewing machine manual and wasting precious time watching out-of-focus youtube videos about how to thread your needle. I loved the suggestion from Makes Me Smile blog to fold over about 12" of ribbon and tuck it into your seams before sewing. (These ribbons tie around your poles to keep things in place). You end up with little tabs in the front, but Ben and I thought they looked cool. Plus I saved tons of time because I didn't have to stitch them on by hand at the end. This is the only photo I snapped in the midst of sewing, but you can kind of see the tab sticking out between the panels.

6. Create the door panel. This is where I went renegade and thought I could toss my tutorials to the wind. Oops. I measured and cut a canvas triangle for the upper portion of the door and sewed that on. Then I cut my owl-print fabric in half, hemmed the inside edges, and pinned them onto our set-up teepee to make sure I got the flaps where I wanted them. I eventually got things reasonably lined up and sewn into place, but I'm pretty sure there's a simpler method in either of the tutorials above. (Like maybe sew the entire front panel together FIRST, then attach it to the teepee).

7. Elasticize. Fold the top edges over about 1/2" or more, and stitch all the way around. Attach elastic (I think we used less than 6 inches after testing it out on the poles) to a safety pin and work it through, sewing at the beginning and end to secure.

8. Hem the bottom.

7. Set up, embellish, and snuggle in with your favorite people! We added these twinkly LED lights from Amazon. I love that they are cool to the touch, so completely safe for stringing against fabric. I also snagged this 2'x3' faux sheepskin rug from Home Decorators Collection, and threw in some pillows that had been sitting in storage.

Total Cost: $87 (way less than buying a pre-made one, AND this price included our fun accessories)

Poles & Drop Cloth from Hardware Store: around $36
Ribbon, elastic & Extra Fabric (from fabric.com): around $12
Rope: $7 from Amazon
Twinkly Lights: $13 (price has since gone up on Amazon)
Rug: $19

This project took some legwork, but it was seriously so much fun. And how cool is it to give your kiddo something you made with your own two hands? It's a great feeling! Max seems to love it. He wants to nap in it, sleep in it at night, and has brought many of his favorite books and toys in there to live. At his birthday dinner last night, much of our evening was spent rotating family members in and out of the tent to snuggle and/or read with him :)