The Old Art Switcheroo

Last you saw our bathroom, it was darn near finished except for the tub surround. Needless to say, that’s still not done. The shared roofline angle poses an extreme challenge, so I’m calling the room finished — with that very large asterisk.

But, something else has been nagging at me every time I’ve entered the room. It’s the first thing we see, and I made it myself. You’d think I’d like the thing, but nope.

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Vertical. Horizontal. All bad.

I blame my beloved shower curtain. It’s damn near impossible to match.

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I added some deeper orange awhile back to try to get the art to work, but, try as it might, the little painting that could…couldn’t.

It’s been a year since I created this little beauty, so it’s been staring at us taunting us for awhile. I’ve been hunting for ideas for just as long. Vintage botanical print? Framed scrapbook paper? Cheeky phrase or graphic? Buy, print, or DIY? 

I searched online for every variation of my ideas. Nothing worked.

Then, while Dave was sitting in the car with a napping Hadley and I was in Target running an errand in the frame section, I found myself perusing the wall art. Most of the time, regardless of the store, I run into art that doesn’t suit our taste for one reason or another, but I tend to look, anyway.

On this particular day, I looked quickly, assuming there’d be nothing. Then I saw these two, and skeptically sent a picture to Dave to see which he liked.

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Initially, I liked the one on the left, but in person it’s a bit busy. I wasn’t sold yet, but the more I described them, the more I liked the juxtaposition of the large graphic cochlear shell against the faded map and linen lining on the right. Plus, the teal blue looked like it just *might* coordinate, if not match, the curtain.

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I think it does. It’s the same tone family as the lighter blues and even plays well with the cornflower blue (looks navy, but it’s not). It all goes to show you that you needn’t have a matchy-matchy room to have a nicely put together one. And, sometimes you can’t tell until you bring a piece (some art or an accent pillow or new sheets or anything) into the space whether it’ll work.

About $15 later, it was more than I wanted to spend, but still not much even in DIY standards. Plus, I don’t want to pull my hair out anymore when I walk into the bathroom…which helps.

Now, if only I could get some guidance on my tub’s wall surround (it’s getting worse; someone did something wrong way back when). Otherwise, I’m calling the bathroom D-O-N-E! I’ll share a final reveal soon.

Being Kinda Productive For Once

I finally kickstarted my “get some $%&# done around the house” engine. Maybe the guilt of not doing stuff was hanging over my head. Maybe the fact that I purchased paint weeks ago and it was sitting, unused, on our deck. Maybe I finally got enough energy (or overcame the mental demons). Maybe I wanted to find “bursts”(remember those?)  of easier-to-manage tasks (or chunked-up tasks) to make it seem simpler.

Whatever it was, I got to work. And, slowly but surely, the trend continues. It even spilled into the nearest vicinity like a nasty plague (not to the neighbors; to Dave!).

I had already wire brushed a majority of the formerly invasive ivy plants which had attacked the side of our foundation. Seriously, the left caterpillar-esque tendrils of plant veins clinging with what looked like millions of legs ON the cement. There were areas that I just painted over them (uncool, I know), but for the most part those buggers were gone.

So a few quick tips for painting a foundation…

Use a crappy brush. This is actually one of my FAVORITE short rubber-handled angle brushes, but it had seen its day. Your brush will be ruined and will no longer be able to follow a straight line. It’s a drunk brush, but it works for this purpose.

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Use horrible posture and wear the least supportive shoes on earth. Seriously. I know you want to take several minutes to get up then walk like you’re 90 when you’re done, right? Follow this example:

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Show your toddler-toting guns. Seriously, I didn’t know I had those. Thanks for the awesome picture-taking, Dorky Daddy!

My actual advice is to use an old newspaper to not only catch drips but use as a guard. Yes, it’ll keep paint from getting onto your garden beds/driveway/etc (it actually works; the stuff you see is actually junk from when they put in our new window) BUT it keeps your brush from getting dirt/gravel/mulch/randomness stuck in its bristles.

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Nothing to see here, really. Just enjoying the picture. I look badass. Painting. With a “Life is Good” (“Half Full” glass) hat and my too-big cast t-shirt from our high school production of “Once Upon a Mattress”. It’s my go-to painting shirt and has splatters from every set I’ve ever painted on it. It’s getting buried with me. But, of course.

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The perfectionist-without-perfection will admit right here, right now, for all the world to read: I’m not a fan of the paint color. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I know I wanted a more charcoal color, and admittedly this one looked darker on the swatch (and in the can, which tells me it’s not mixed wrong). I’m positive it’s the combination of a super bright summer sun and the angle with which it hits the foundation. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

It also dries dark…er. Darker. Kinda.

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Either way, it looks cleaner and brighter, so it’s fine. I’m not going to nitpick. S’all good.

I started the project late last week, then spent time with family on Saturday and got back to business on Sunday during naptime. Since there’s a chance of rain today, I’m not expecting to finish today (I’m about 2/3 done), but if I do, I do. And I kind of hope I do.

No worries, though. I’ve got another project halfway finished that will grab my attention if the “rain rain rain comes down down down…”

This. Damn. Ceiling. Okay. So…ahem. This spot had a super budget style light fixture installed…but it had been placed where the angled ceiling meets the straight part of the ceiling in our upstairs hallway. Like, a half circle was cut out of the angled ceiling. Crazy town.

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(This is actually after I patched it for the LAST TIME.)

We’ve patched and sanded sporadically over the years, always putting it off longer. There were times we had thin little sheets of crappy patchwork hanging precariously. The cats had grown to ignore them, so used to the crapfest were they.

So, Sunday morning after we went out to breakfast (and I had discovered that my favorite antique center nearby wouldn’t open for another hour, egad), we returned home with one foul-moody, high-strung mama on board. I felt like I was spinning my wheels, so I checked my short list of house to-do’s, grabbed my sander and step stool and started the a-gypsum a-flyin’. (Not sure if it’s really gypsum in drywall…or whatever our house is made of…but work with me here.)

Of course, since I threw myself headlong into the project (happens. every. time.), I had failed to check on our spackle supply. D’oh. Very little, and all dried out.

Sooooo, Dave was good enough to watch Hadman while I ran to Lowe’s. Of course, $100-something later I also came home with a few super cheap window blinds and a handful of other do-dads for other projects…and my beloved Dap goes-on-pink/dries-white stuff.

I applied, then had lunch, put the munchkin down for a nap, and hit the outdoors (see: foundation painting). After Dave had gone inside and got the little guy up, I finished my painting for the day and headed indoors to sand, yet again.

I’m sure you already know this, but start with the lower grit number (it’s rougher); the higher, the gentler (finish with the gentler stuff).

Oh, and another word of advice. Don’t take selfies. Seriously, just don’t. But, if you MUST take a selfie, be sure to do it ONLY when you can embarrass yourself royally with it. 

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And don’t lick your lips after sanding. Stupid idea.

So, today I hope to slap on a coat of ceiling paint (how do I have two gallons of THAT in the basement but am incessantly out of what I usually need?)

Oh, and I also took the cat tower’s rope scratching post from annihilated (spelled that on first try, woo to the hoo!) to looks-like-new —

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RIP Monty Mouse. He squealed. #beardsleesourgodfather #jaspersourmuscle

Complete with massive amounts of help and support from Beardslee along the way. #notreally #heslept  He made some headway on reupholstering Daddy’s computer chair completely in cat fur, though.

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And I thought I’d share a few pics of how the garden’s doing, along with its fashionable tulle attire (to keep cat poop out of our food…how’s THAT for fabulous?).

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Last I knew, those things (to the left, to the left) weren’t trees. Too bad they turned into trees this summer ‘cuz they’re bogarting all the sun for my garden, man.

Oh, and the trellis near the garden in that picture? History. (It was being eaten by ants.) That was Dave’s huge project this weekend, and it’s awesome to finally have the thing down. Plus, a farmer helping neighbors move asked if he could take the posts and everything (ants and all), so it all got a second life. *warm fuzzies*

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Summer squash lookin’ all growy and stuff…

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Can you see what I see? Look closely…little neon green cuteness. (I don’t mind that they’re cute. I just mind the taste when they turn red and, y’know, “edible.” Ew. I love my husband enough to grow him two tomato plants, guys. That’s mad huge love.)

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Right after I picked one handful of lettuce, right before I picked the rough-around-the-edges leaves. Keeping it real.

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Our first “bounty.” Just a teensy strawberry (I moved those near the front of the garage and they’re doing “eh, okay”) that Hadley ate immediately, a couple of cherry tomaters and jalapenos, and a fistful of lettuce.

Whew! So! I know it’s a long one, but that’s how we’ve been productive lately. How about you? Getting anything checked off any lists — even if your list includes sitting on a sandy beach with something cold to drink? (I’d like to live vicariously.) Go ahead, tell! Or just post some horrific selfies in the comments to make me feel better about my lack of selfie skillz.

Flashing What We Know

I recently mentioned falling in love with a few homemade birthday presents for our monkey. Thank you, dear friend Pinterest. I call her “Pinny” and she looks remarkably like Kaley Cuoco (whatever her married last name is, I can’t be bothered to Google) in my head. Pinny’s my new enabling BFF.

Anyhoo, one of the super easy projects I just HAD to stay up past midnight working on was the toddler flashcards. See, the kid’s a toddler genius (but what mom doesn’t think that, really?) who is starting to pick words out (for real), LOVES reading, and knows tons of letters, numbers, and animal sounds. Kid’s got it goin’ on, thanks to his Grandma’s diligent work with him daily. So, I don’t want all her hard work to go down the toilet while he’s lazing about spending intellectually stimulating summer days with me.

So, I spent some time on PicMonkey making and saving a few sets of flashcards. Here are a few wicked easy samples (not the whole sets, that’d be cray-cray):


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(Boring as all get-out with the gray, but didn’t want to detract.
Side note: I did a rhombus AND separate diamond. We’ll throw the spaghetti on the wall and see which one sticks. Child-led learning. ;-))

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Matching Game!
(Printing an extra set of the above shapes, he has to match them to the “real life” objects; moon goes with “crescent”, by the way. I’m tricky. I would accept star there, too, though.)

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Now, to print, *evenly* cut, and laminate them! Actually…first, to head to my mom’s basement to track down my tiny old laminator. *wink, wink*

By the way, I’m still thinking of making up a few cards for matching with colors as well as a set of friends ‘n family ones with pictures and names (especially to learn the folks who love us who happen to live far away, or whom we just don’t get to see often).

I am wondering, though — the game ones I’m obviously going to keep loose for matching purposes, but the others I’m thinking of putting on a metal ring. Whatchya think? Loose or ready-for-car-use?

More Homemade Birthday Ideas

Okay. It’s June, folks. In our neck of the woods, that means a couple of things.

1) Inventory in the library. (Also see — “I don’t care, I’m wearing flip flops and yucky clothes everyday. Try and test me.”)

2) School’s going to be done…sooner rather than later. Side note: Where the HECK did this year go?!

3) Hadley’s birthday will be upon us like *snap* THAT. Seriously, the more work I have to get done at school, the faster the time goes. That’s a written law in the time-space continuum.

So, of course I’ve been hunting down some stuff for the big day. Well. Kind of.

More like…gifts. On Pinterest.

Wait, what? Gifts on Pinterest?? What the…how?

See, I know the Hadman gets a lot of…stuff…for his big day. I’m quite sure Dave and I will have a mini shopping spree for a couple of outfits and a book or two, and I think we’ve already sneaked a couple of toys on a trip to Toys ‘R Us. We’re normal, after all. *bugs out eyes, sticks out tongue*

But, after I realized I wanted to get him some felt play food (that plastic stuff’s okay, but this is a tad cooler…and a touch more earth friendly), and maybe some letters and/or numbers and/or shapes while we were at it…well, of course my attention turned to Pinterest and that old stand-by search term: “DIY.” Here’s the “Kid Fun” board I’ve been pinning to.

A few days later, I found myself in possession of a stack of cheap, CHEAP felt (made from recycled bottles, nonetheless!) with dreams of these inspiration images dancing in my head:

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Sorry, no source available!
(Please let me know if this was your idea, I’d like to give credit!)

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(So simple, so genius!)
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(My fave!)
Awesome ideas, right?? I’m holding off on making a pretend kitchen until he shows more interest (and we have a bigger space for it).

The next inspiration came from the FABULOUS job my mother-in-law has been doing with teaching Hadley his letters and numbers. She uses flashcards as well as alphabet books, so I figured it’d be useful to have some around the house this summer. Enter Pinterest, once again.

It’s funny. PicMonkey is my favorite blogging tool for images lately. You’d think I would’ve connected the dots in my mind to say, “Doy! You should use that to make some flashcards for the Hadman!” Der dee der! Silly me. But, this site right here figured it out for me. Thanks, Mommy’s Craft Obsession!

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The inspiration from this site also lead me to think about making “friends and family” flash cards. Y’know, with family members’ faces and names so he can learn about all the people who love him…and to realize that the only “Bill” in his life isn’t the weather man. (Sorry, Uncle Bill!) In his defense, “Mr. Bill” is a family friend.

The other cool thing here is that I purchased a small laminator back in the day (in my elementary ed. days) that will help these suckers last for any possible future kids that come down the line. Look at me working smarter, not harder!

The last handmade thing I’m thinking about would probably be a “sometime this summer” rather than “for your birthday” idea.

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Couldn’t you just DIE?! I LOVE how she made these — right down to the color and use of lima beans (instead of sand, which we all KNOW will end up EVERYWHERE)! I could totally see these living on our back porch. Plus, since they’re made with a couple of Rubbermaid containers, you can easily put a top on them to keep them safe from the elements. *swoon*

Now, let’s see if I can handle that project.

And the invitations. Yeah, I probably should get on those, huh?

(If you’d like to know what we’re planning for the monkey, check out my post announcing our second birthday theme.)

Garden Drawing

It was a casual Saturday afternoon while the baby slept and it rained depressingly cold outside. I was sick of the immobility of winter, the constant laziness, so I picked up a pad and pen and insisted, “What do you want to eat this summer?”

Pulling poor Dave from his own restful thoughts, he gave me a list. “Well, tomatoes. We don’t really eat cucumbers. Maybe peppers?” Before too long, I jotted down the items we’d be growing. On the top of the page, I drew two rectangles — the main event (raised garden beds) — and a few smaller circles — potted plants to be located at a later date. Maybe near our garage, maybe one our deck.

This is what we came up with…

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Hard to look at a bit, I know. Sorry! The asterisks are for marigolds or oregano (funny, we don’t each much oregano)…or maybe thyme, which are all good for keeping pests at bay and adding nutrients for the other plants. Oh, and pretty. They’re pretty. The jalapenos are for eatin’ but also to keep pests (namely, the neighborhood kitties) away. The numbers of the other plants are up for debate, but they’re a good starting point. The bell peppers are so “plentiful” because I’m hoping to have a few kinds.

Oh, and I’m also thinking of putting up some sort of short fencing to keep things looking orderly (and, yes, keep pests at bay).  

Last year, we tried to grow all of our raised bed plants and herbs from seed with middling success. (We also had a couple of hand-me-down tomato plants that took over our front porch.) If I had the space/capability of starting my seeds indoor without risk of cat interference, I’d be all over it. But, a few years ago (we’re talking pre-Jasper), Winston took matters into his own hands…and we remain a “let’s just buy the plants” family. Maybe some day.

I think half the battle when gardening (whether your gardens are massive fields of food or a tiny container set-up) is admitting your boundaries. Don’t over-buy, but don’t underestimate how much you can grow in a small area. Bringing this sketch along will help me to remember approximately what will fit where. It’s all in the planning.

While sketching, I also brought up a chart similar to this one on my phone to determine what plants work well together. This way, I knew that carrots and tomatoes could be in the same bed without fighting each other off. I also took into consideration that the tomatoes like to take things over, and since they’re a high-growing plant I put them in the back so that the carrots will *hopefully* still get enough sun. I’m also going to try to be obsessive about caging them this year. Good stuff to think about.

So, as I write this, I’m anxious to get my hands dirty. In Upstate NY, it’s wise to wait until the end of May to plant anything (frost abound), and I’m jealous of folks I know who have already been out working. We’ve had some crazy arse weekends that have left us with minimal time and/or energy to get much done. I mean, dude, I haven’t even weeded yet. It’s jungle city over here.

I’ll keep you posted on our garden journeys (anyone ever hear that phrase before? Our local news station has a segment called “garden journeys” and I always wonder if that’s a “thing” or if they pulled it out of their you-know-whats), and do tell — what are you growing this year? Anything?  

Partying Simply

Last Wednesday, I revealed my plans for Hadley’s second birthday party (which will be in July). Can you tell I’m a tad excited about it??

While I was typing up that post, I thought about all the things that we do to try to keep the festivities eco-friendly. Mind you, in all things green, I think we’ve plateaued at a nice medium kelly green; not mint green (not at all eco-friendly) but not even bordering on dark moss (practically living in the woods). It’s a place we’re comfortable being. Our efforts are still there and have become a habitual part of our lives, but we don’t sweat it if we have to use a paper towel once in awhile. Y’know?

So, that said, I thought I’d share a few of the *simple* tricks and tools we use to keep a birthday shindig more about the monkey and less about the ozone.

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Reuse, reuse, reuse. I don’t expect every guest not to use wrapping paper, but if I can, I recycle it. (I WILL love you forever if you bring a gift bag. That’s almost all I use anymore. Perfect for reusing!) Our decorations this year will also utilize the poufs I hung around last year (if they’ve survived), probably along with a handful more that I’ll make new. The sign for “Hadley’s Party” I made last year will be tapped into the front lawn again, too. So, any decorations you make or buy, consider whether they’ll have a future purpose, or can at least be recycled (hello, crepe paper!) when you’re done. I’m also going to hit up the thrift shops to see if they have any yellow or blue curtains or sheets to use as tablecloths (may or may not work, but we could use them in the future, too!) Heck, I even saved the party hats I bought last year. I’m turning into a grandmother from the Depression, I swear.

NO BALLOONS ALLOWED. Again, I don’t expect everyone to follow this rule, but as far as my decorating goes…nada. Hence the poufs. Those things are SO scary to me. I don’t want them near my kid (choking hazard) or in the landfill (SO VERY BAD for animals, you guys!!!). If someone gifts one (usually the Mylar kind in the shape of something), it’s fine, but I am a hawk about watching Hadley with it. Plus, I take it out ONLY when I can watch him, then put it in MY bedroom closet. Seriously. It’s Fort Knox up in here.

Use whatchya got. This goes hand-in-hand with reusing decorations. With the ducky theme this year, we’ve got a handful of rubber duckies (although I’ll probably have to get a handful more, admittedly) at home to use for decoration. I also have a mini red wagon (which Hadley, like, never fit in) that would be awesomesauce on a table with some hay or raffia in it. Oh, and I’ll peruse his toys to see if anything else goes with the theme.

Invites. Okay, this is a tricky one. If your family’s a super hip one full of folks who are tech-savvy, good for you. No, really, that’s awesome! But my family has some, shall we say, old school folks (again, not a bad thing!) who don’t spend much time perusing the ol’ interwebs. Thus, I make invitations. How do I keep it relatively low waste? I invite fewer people. Tricky of me, huh? Honestly, less people also equals less waste; makes sense, huh? Oh, and believe me, we DO invite the folks who mean the most to us, so no one’s missing out here. We’re just not inviting everyone we ever met. We didn’t do it for our wedding, we’re not doing it for our son’s second birthday party. 😉

Cups and flatware and plates, oh my! Some folks might suggest to use reusable (or “real”) plates/silverware/glasses/etc. Believe me, it crossed my mind last year, but I also fall victim of the a) that’s gonna take awhile to clean and b) people are raising an eyebrow at me…AGAIN complexes. Instead, I only get the items that I know we’ll need (no bowls if there’s nothing soup-like or ice creamy), and I try my best to get the compostable stuff. Of course, last year I only found a couple of compostable kinds of flatware, so had to supplement with other plastic ones (grr), so this year will probably consist of using all that up. Again…don’t sweat the small stuff, just do your best. Just know that there are more eco-friendly options out there.

Simplify your theme. You could also avoid a theme altogether, but I’m a nut for a good theme. Goodness knows how long I can get away with one! So, this year’s ducky theme will lead into an awesome homemade Sesame Street theme next year (reusing the colorful decorations, duckies, and Hadley’s plush toys instead of buying a bunch of trademarked stuff). Simple is best.

Actually, simplify, in general. This isn’t one that we’ve succeeded with as far as friends and family purchasing gifts entails. As Hadman gets bigger, we’ll talk with him about what he really wants and other ways we could ask people to spend their money in honor of his birthday, but at this age I don’t want it to seem forced. So, we accept graciously (and sometimes have to return doubles or the things we simply haven’t the space for). However, Dave and I try to keep it minimal and put tons of thought into what he’s getting based on his interests and what concepts we’d like for him to learn.   

So, here were just a few easy ideas to hopefully help you consider the environment whilst partying it up. There are already a few great resources on the web (like this and this and this) to help you in this arena, so I’m clearly not reinventing the wheel here. Just wanted to let you know what I prioritize in my mind so I’m not ultimately overwhelmed by all the craziness that birthday planning could possibly turn into.

And the Second Birthday Theme Will Be…

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Yep, we’re going kind of classic and traditional on this one. (And that greenish is totally supposed to be blue. Zoinks.)

I pondered several generic ideas (zoo, barnyard, “twinkle, twinkle little star” — not with animals present on those first two, though…I’m no Kate Gosselin) and a handful of more obvious “kidcentric” character themes he’s into (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Mo Willems, Sesame Street). It was a total tie between Sesame Street and “ducks,” and I’m not gonna lie — it was a tough decision.

I’m not too surprised, either. They’re both totally Hadley’s jam right now.

We’re not huge “buyer of trademarked stuff” people, but he’s got a Sesame Street fold-out couch that he uses to watch ANY of “his” shows (a sweet gift), a handful of hand-held character toys (let’s call them pre-action figure action figures…of cute and cuddly Muppets), and, of course, his plush dolls of Bert ‘n Ernie, Cookie Monster, Grover, The Count, Big Bird…and I’m a horrible Mommy because I’m forgetting if I left anyone out. *scratches head*

Notice we don’t have Elmo (he likes Elmo, but he’s not in LOVE with Elmo…ya get me?), or Zoe, or Abby Cadabby, or any of the newer breed of Sesame Street monsters. Let’s just say that if we’re going to show him an episode on Netflix and he demands requests a particular character, it’s usually “hee hee” (the noise Ernie makes when he laughs, you know the one) or “la la la” (Big Bird) or “ah aaaahhh” (The Count). He also does a “bam bam bam” motion (for Oscar) and a “nom nom nom” hand to mouth motion (for Cookie Monster). Um, he’s also calling lots of things “Bob” lately. That may or may not be related. Bob.

But, the word “duck” comes out of his mouth about 50+ times a day lately. I bring home duck books (fiction and non-fiction) from school. He quacks. He carries rubber duckies around whenever the thought occurs to him. He didn’t want to leave the flower shop we visited just before Easter that has an awesome annual display of a dozen happy, splashing baby ducks.

Kid’s obsessed.

And it’s just so sweet.

After some more conversation, Dave and I realized that next year, he’ll probably still be into Sesame Street. If that’s the case (hopefully it is), we can do a Sesame theme next year, or something else he’s super into. But, he isn’t always going to be into such an endearing little thing like duckies. Plus, it was a huge theme for his baby shower, so it makes this mama a tad sentimental to think about the evolution from shower to second *sniff, sniff* birthday.

Duckies, it is. Plus, Hadley agreed to it when we asked him to pick between the two. That clinched the deal. Not that he in any way knew what he was really voting on.

So, what’s this theme about? The invite is just a quick mock-up (sans the place or RSVP info…not even sure of the time yet, really), but can you really have a two-year-old’s duck party without the ubiquitous rubber ducky? Didn’t think so.

Side note: If we do Sesame Street next year, you know I’m repurposing rubber duckies for an Ernie connection. #usewhatyouvegot

Speaking of reusing, most of the stuff I made last year (cake topper, big poufs, even utensils and plates), I’m using this year…if the tissue paper poufs have held up being squished in a bag all year. (Ahem.) 

Last year’s party was mostly a colored theme (orange, yellow, blue, green), which all totally work with duckies.

The food will most likely be simple (if you really know me, you’re laughing at the use of that word — last year was SUPPOSED to be simple) – fruits and veggies with dip on ice, either pizza or BBQ-type stuff, pretzels/chips, and dessert. There is much pinning to be done, but we’ll either do a nice big cake with yellow frosting or cupcakes (mini duck toppers, anyone?) and a small cake for monkey to dive into. Why do I think he’ll dive a bit more this year?

Decor, well, yeah. Ducks. But to keep it cohesive with the mix of last year’s colors, blue and yellow tablecloths (blue = water) should do the trick. As the invitation implies, I hope to make some buntings to drape, either across the seating area or behind the food table…or both. Maybe some blue or yellow streamers. En masse, they can pack a punch. And I’m sure I’ll probably make a couple of ducky posters or a “year in pictures” poster to hang.

I’ve seen some cute ideas for the food area, like rafia (hay) as fillers, but the thing I’ve noticed most is that the thing that makes a table is its organization. Rows, my dears. Rows. Oh, and cute signage. Preferably on sticks. (“Quackers”, anyone?)

Beverages can be chilled in a baby pool or galvanized tub (whatever is handy) and an additional small tub can be used as a fun game: everyone picks a duck out and the ones with an “H” (or whatever) marked on the bottom wins a prize.

Oh, and since these shindigs tend to be adult-centric for now (he has one best friend/cousin about a year older; then two teenaged cousins who are incredible…just way older; otherwise, friends in far-off places), those gifts will be, like, plants or candles or something. We’ll see. 

I’d do a duck piñata, but like I said, it’s gonna be mostly adults. (Although, the image of our moms whacking away blindly is kind of awesome.) We keep things low-key at our events since our friends and family are pretty good at mingling and finding their own fun. One day when more kids are involved, they’ll need more fun/structure (structure does not equal zero fun, I promise…says the boring librarian ;-)), so we’ll do more games/activities at that point.

For now, just digging out the sidewalk chalk and balls for catch will be just fine, I think.

If you want to see what else I’ve got up my sleeve, check back on my Pinterest board for Hadley’s birthday. (There are also some ideas I picked last year that I never used, which may help me in my future parties, too.) Check back often; I’m sure it’ll be growing a ton.


I’ve spoken often of my disdain for the closed-in, burgundy monstrosity that is my dining room. Well, I can finally say that in the past tense. Ding dong, the red is dead!! For memory’s sake, here’s a fuzzy old picture. I tried my best to deal with it, really I did!

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Just. So. Dang. DARK.

Things take twice as long when scheduling around an almost 2-year-old, don’t they? Enter “bursts”, stage left. I took an afternoon to empty everything out (lots o’ crap in that room, I tell ya! One compound word: bookshelf), a full day to prime (with two coats of trim) and paint (again, two coats of trim for some odd reason), another nap time to prime the baseboard/built-ins/windows/kitchen door, still another nap time to paint the aforementioned stuff white…and let’s just say I haven’t put everything back in yet. Goodbye, Spring Break! 😛

I’m too excited not to share a couple of crappy iPhone pictures, though. 😀 Can you hear me squealing where you live? It might also be my husband, though. He didn’t want the red gone, but has since changed his tune and LOVES how open it is. I can’t blame him. It’s a huge, awesome change.

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In some light, it’s a light tan/beige with a gray undertone. In other lights (such as the weird, overly-bright shot here), it looks green. I promise you it’s the perfect shade of greige (read: beige + gray) with no blue or flesh or purple undertones. Actually, no green undertones, either. Just the perfect neutral.

I still need to (obviously) fill the room and bookshelf, find a rad new rug to replace my, um, attempt at dealing with the red (let’s just say that I’ve become gun-shy to decorate with red…at all…THANK YOU, dining room! *grumbles*), and do some styling.

And, yes. So far, the Boston Massacre has survived. At least until Hadley starts questioning why we have a crude drawing of people being shot on our wall.

So…what do you think? Improvement? When all is said and done, I’ll be sharing the color name and taking better pictures. Just couldn’t wait to share it so far!

Time to go celebrate with the family. This is such a weight off the ol’ shoulders eyes, and it’s time to enjoy the last couple of days of spring break.

Embracing Self Care – Peace in the Home

Welcome back to our third installment in the “taking care of yo’ self” series! (Not really; I just called it that.)

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This week’s “Embracing Self Care” theme involves peace in the home. Now, this can encompass many different topics — from finding peace through organization, surrounding yourself with decor that helps you find peace (or finding decor that helps you feel at one with yourself; finding your “style”), finding a schedule/routine that works for you, etc. See? It really can mean ANYTHING! Love that!

For me, this involves a couple of things. Obviously, I’m in the midst of some “low-stress” spring cleaning. (Taking it a day at a time, folks.) When I’m done with the “cleaning” part (ie the scrubbing, dusting, mopping, vacuuming stuff), I plan to attack on the organizational front. I’m weird that way. I see cleaning as more of a “must destroy dust bunnies!” and “wash windows” sort of thing; yes, things are neat and orderly afterwards, but more in a “picked up” way.

So, after things are spic and span, I’m going to address any organizational issues that we have. This will entail looking at areas where we’re falling short (like finding better uses for our closets and built-ins, and my bills…I pay them, then pretend they don’t exist ‘cuz, y’know, I don’t like them…so they just end up in random piles) and areas that just need our attention, like the basement and garage (y’know…the dirty places).

This is twofold for us. Yes, we want to have an organized, happy, serene environment…but we also hope to ready our house for a possible move. See? Two birds, one stone. 😉 (Hate that phrase, but it’s relevant.) And, of course, I’ll share any tips I pick up on the way.

The second “peace in the home” factor I hope to work on (which goes hand-in-hand with readying our house for a sale) is our style. This is the week I’m FINALLY working on painting the red out of our lives dining room, with the help of my uber-motivated mom. (Spoiler: It’s already gone! Just got some trim to do before sharing.) The other rooms are relatively light and airy (our bedroom is a little moody with a green wall, which we may or may not keep) or at least neutral, and the burgundy sticks out like a sore, outdated, 1990s thumb. 

Aside from that, I’ve got some Pinspiration regarding other areas of the house. Our front room was a spot that helped sell us on the place originally, so I’m hoping to modernize it a bit with the help of some better window treatments (we still use the short sheers that came with the house…for shame). So, I’m on the hunt for some extra long white curtains to hang “high and wide” and a few more bamboo shades, for an effect kind of like this —

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I’m also excited that my stepdad has offered to help me complete the tub surround with a ghetto he-thinks-it’ll-work solution (I have my doubts), so that’ll finally be a done project. I’m not happy with the art I made for that space, so I’ve got my eye out for other DIY art solutions that’ll make me happy. Not to sound picky, but I’m not a huge fan of the word art stuff (“Brush your teeth. Wash your hands.” Uuuummm. No comment.); I guess I’m more into either a graphic or a vintage botanical print type thing.

Maybe something like this… (Different colors.)

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Not sure of original source 🙁 Hate that!
If anyone knows, let me know, please!

Or this type of botanical…

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Original Source

I also recognize that a big part of moving will be weeding out things that we don’t wish to drag with us to our next residence. That can be a horribly daunting task, or it can be an uplifting “ahhh” getting rid of stuff we don’t NEED in our lives task. Probably 50/50, in all honesty. There’s a part of me that looks forward to taking all the wine bottles off the shelf and in storage, putting only the pots and pans that we need in our cupboards, and having less “visual clutter” around the place. I’m already asking myself how many mugs we actual need to have on-hand for guests and for ourselves, how many utensils should be in our drawers, and what food we truly need around cluttering up our cabinets. Maybe it’ll be therapeutic, who knows?

So, the only way that “schedule” really fits into this “finding peace in the home” concept is that we need to better schedule our “to dos” to actually, um, y’know…get them done! 😉 The goal is to remember to keep the peacefulness of our lives while working on these projects and focusing on our future, and to make sure that the monkey doesn’t get his routine too knocked out of whack.

What about you? What “peace” do you hope to achieve in your own lives? How are you hoping to achieve it? Feel free to post a link to your blog (if you have one), or just share in the comments.


TThisWednesday, April 16: Peace in the Home

This can encompass home decor, fashion, organizing and decluttering, schedule and routine, etc. Whatever needs to happen in your life in order to restore peace and equilibrium will be represented during this week!

Wednesday, April 23: Taking Some R&R

This week we’ll dive into taking time to pamper ourselves, time to fully relax, putting aside the to-do list, etc. We will recognize that we need to find healthy ways of treating ourselves so that we aren’t tempted to bad habits that ultimately harm us (i.e. emotional eating of sugar, etc.)
– See more at:

Color Conundrum

Ohhhh, I love this pre-painting phase. It’s the “use your noggin” part (ie the don’t-lift-a-finger part). Just walking around the paint chip aisles, picking things that look good under their light, only to get them home and see how they look in your own space.

Then comes the “oh, crap” moment. The “I’ve gotta make a decision” moment. And we all know how great I am in such a moment.

I grabbed a bunch (about 19, to be exact) of swatches that fell in the “greige” (gray/beige) range to replace the atrocious red of our dining room. After sticking them to the wall with painter’s tape, I immediately knew I could subtract over a third of my selections. RIP Flaxseed!

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And was left with these…represented in a blurry arse iPhone picture. At least the color’s pretty clear…if not totally true-to-life.

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The bottom two colors are less greige and more…grayish-beige with undertones of other colors (blue and green, kind of?), which I will probably nix. But, they look pretty cool next to bright white (which will be replacing the current “dirty cream” of our trim…it’s clean, it just looks dirty to me; drives me nuts).

So, I’m asking for any opinions. Here are the colors in a truer sense (and are still probably a little weird since we all have wackadoo monitors):

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It’s kind of funny, this whole paint-picking thing. I can analyze the heck out of them and explain that the graphic didn’t even come out as true as the swatches (for example, the two “maybe, maybe nots” on the bottom left? Rope is way bluer and Travertine is way greener, and they’re ALL lighter.) So, when I ask your opinion — wait for it, I’m about to do just that! — feel free to mention “the one on the bottom left in the picture” or “Dove’s Cry on the ‘color options’ graphic!” or whatever works. Mkay? Mkay.

Can you pick one that you really like? Or three? Most of them would go pretty well, and coordinate to the colors in the accompanying rooms. (Heck, anything goes better than the outdated red.) We really appreciate any opinions on this one!