Friday, September 30, 2011

The Jackster walks alone

I thought I would usher in the weekend with some cute Jackster pictures.  Enjoy!

Jack found the perfect seat in the window sill by these mums and I thought it was a great Fall picture.  At times like these, though, I think, "How did my parents do it without digital cameras?"

HeyWhazzup?  Can't a guy sit on his stoop for awhile?

You want me to smile?  I don't know if that's cool.

 Mom, I'm by flowers!  I'm a boy!  Boys aren't suppoed to like flowers!

Is there somewhere else I can go?

 Oh, fine.  CHEESE!  Happy now?

Yes.  Yes, I am.

In the house to change into shoes and then off to the park!

I finally have videotape of Jack walking on his own, which he has been doing now for about two weeks. I'm so thankful that he has finally figured out how to conquer this feat, or feet, as it were. He is now one independent little kid!

Jack the Conqueror!

Checking out the fountain.  This is one cute kid, in my proudly biased opinion. 

Best butts buds.

The End


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall wreath tutorial

I am not much for decorating seasonally, except for Christmas, when I feel justified in being as gaudy and over the top as humanly possible. 

Since moving to Wisconsin, however, I have discovered a love of wreaths.  I used to think they were overdone and out-of-date, but no more!  Wreaths can add warmth to your home and are very welcoming.  They are the jewelry of your front door.  You can quote me on that.  It's very quotable.

I have bought a couple of wreaths over the years, but prefer ones that I make myself.  What can I say?  I am a DIYer {that's do-it-yourselfer, for those of you not in the know}.  Wreaths can be as simple or complex as you wish, and can take an hour or days to make. You choose.

I've made two wreaths for this fall.The first one was based on this tutorial from Jones Design Company.  If you like this kind of craft, you should check out her website.  Beautiful things.  Anyway, I used the same tutorial last year for these Christmas wreaths for the patio doors.  

My mom and sister loved them so much that they each asked for one for Christmas. 

The fabric in the wreaths above was from a set of curtains I bought from Goodwill for fifty cents.  They made three wreaths.  For this Fall wreath, I found an old fleece blanket at a thrift store for a dollar that was this gorgeous mustard yellow, perfect for Fall.  I was planning on embellishing it {maybe some feathers in autumnal colors?}, but once it was up, I was in love with its simplicity.

Here's how to do it. You'll need:

- a wreath form {the one shown below is smaller than the one above - I decided to make a tutorial after I finished the wreath - oops!}
- fabric of some kind
- hot glue or lots and lots and lots of straight pins
- embellishments {optional}

Cut the fabric/curtains/blanket into strips one to two inches wide. This is very forgiving, so you don't need to be too careful.

Take one strip and wind it around your wreath form, using hot glue or pins to secure.

Once the form is covered, begin looping the strips around, starting with the outside.  Attach with straight pins or hot glue.

Keep going around, playing with the loops until you like how it looks.

Keep going, working your way to the center, filling in places if needed.  When you're done, make a loop on the back and hang it on your door. 

Our storm door is currently awaiting Handsome Hero's magic touch, so I kept the wreath inside, lest it get soaked and be ruined.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Last night, as we were driving home from some errands, I told Ella the story of David and Goliath.  When we were done, she said, "What happened to David then?" and I said, "He became a hero to the Israelites." 

Ella: What's a hero?

Me: A hero is someone you admire.  A hero is someone who is brave and exceptional.  Our greatest hero is Jesus, because he died on the cross for our sins.

Ella: Who else is a hero?

Me: Daddy is my hero.  Is he yours?

Ella:  Of course!

Me:  Do you have any other heroes?

Ella:  Well, actually, I am a hero.

Me:  You are?

Ella:  Yes. {patiently}  Small people can be heroes, too, Mom."

Yeah, I could see that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Granite, part two

If you haven't guessed yet what this post is about, it starts with G and rhymes with Janet.

We moved here with a determination to enjoy any upgrades we did, after frantically finishing home improvements in the last house to put the house on the market for the next owner to enjoy.  We have been saving to do a few upgrades to the house.  As I'm sure you know, kitchens and bathrooms are where you want to spend your remodeling dollars if you think you might ever sell your home in the future. 

Though our kitchen is wonderful, and quite pretty, the counters are not very nice. 

They are white laminate, stained in places and knicked in others.  We investigated putting in concrete, quartz, or granite {again}.  We love the idea of concrete, but, frankly, we have to consider resale, and concrete can be pretty polarizing.  The other two rated equally in all the research we did, and cost about the same, but we love the look of natural stone so much more, so that was what we went with.

We checked out lots of companies, took home countless samples, debated colors, and got several quotes.  Originally, we wanted to have a quiet, monochromatic granite on the outer counters, with something contrasting and vibrant on the island.  The problem was, we couldn't come up with two types that we liked together, and had no help from the sales people here.  When we would ask questions, they would say things like, "Sure, if that's what you want to do."  Not helpful.  We ended up deciding one granite was best for us.  Then the decision had to be, do we stick with a light color to go with our light and airy kitchen, or do we ground it with a dark, bold granite?

To solve the problem, we used a favorite trick.  We googled "kitchens with white cabinets" and selected images.  Then we looked through and saved all the ones we liked in a file.  After that was done, we scrolled through our choices.  Across the board, in kitchens resembling ours - white cabinets, light floors - we preferred dark granite.  It made such a beautiful contrast.  Decision made.

So we cleared the counters, removing the old faucet.

Now, that was sad.  If you remember from this post, we replaced our kitchen faucet only about six months ago.  This was the original faucet,

which we changed to this!

We loved this faucet, but Handsome Hero found a brand new undermount sink at a yard sale this summer {can we say Woo-hoo to saving money!}, but it's shape wouldn't allow for the four holes this faucet takes.  That was a bummer.

Anyway, we plugged the expresso machine in in the dining room {I have my priorities straight},

And the men got to work.

There was this one worker who caught my eye.  What a cutie!  What a looker!  Overalls and everything.

When it was done, it looked like this.

Notice that we changed the shape of the island slightly, curving it so that it's less of a Superman shape.  That was our friend, Drew's, idea.  Here it is before.

And more afters.

The granite is called Verde Peacock.  It has blacks, browns, and greens, with flecks of white.  I love how nicely it compliments the walls.

Handsome Hero will be doing some wall repair and re-doing the beadboard backsplash, of course.  We love it, and, hey, he already has a template!

Our gorgeous new faucet.

I love how substantial it is.  It reminds me of a tulip.  Is that weird?  And I have a soap dispenser!!!!

There you have it.  Our new kitchen.  Are we done?  Well, at least for now, but if you know me at all, you know that I'm never done.  NEVER!!!!  {picture maniacal laughter here}

Monday, September 26, 2011

Granite, part one

When we bought our house in Washington, we thought the tile counters were beautiful. And they were.  Totally not functional, but beautiful.  Tile doesn't get clean. Ever.  Just try rolling out a pie crust on a tile counter.  Not that I was silly enough to try it....

The grout soon started cracking all over the place and little pieces would break off.  Notice the missing tile lip in the picture below.   I thought I was opening the dishwasher and accidentally took off a tile. They all came off that easily.

We decided that we needed a change.  We had lots of friends who worked in the granite business.  Our friend, Drew, a granite salesman, helped us choose the right granite for us - Uba Tuba, or as my friend, Lydia, called it, Ubba Tubba. 

To save money, we {read: Handsome Hero} did our own tear out.  Drew, our salesman and awesome friend, helped knock that job out while his wife, April, and I were shouting at each other over the noise chatting in the other room like nothing was going on.  Wonder of wonders, Ella slept through the whole thing.  Jack had not yet made his existence known, so he was quiet, too.

As insane as it sounds, the guys found that part of the counter had been tiled over a sheet of, get this, styrofoam

So posed.  They also found out that the drywall behind the backsplash would all have to be replaced.  Our friends, Tom and Ben, helped Handsome Hero to do the drywall.  Ben has all the tools that have ever been invented, and rather than just lend them, he came with them to lend a hand.  He is awesome.  He's also exuberant and cheerful, even around midnight, which helped to lift Handsome Hero's spririts considerably. 

The granite was installed in a couple of days, and it was beautiful.  Unfortunately, it was also Thanksgiving.  We had invited company, but the plumbing hadn't been put in yet, so we had to get creative.  The girls and I worked on the meal while Handsome Hero and Bob {below} worked on the sink.

Despite the circumstances, we had a wonderful feast with our dear friends, the Jason's.

Then we washed the dishes.

In the bathtub.

Do you know how many dishes are involved in a Thanksgiving spread?

Once the granite was sealed and the new backsplash went in, the job was complete!

Uh, minus an outlet cover.

It's funny how much stuff I had on those counters.

We enjoyed that granite immensely.  It was a wonderful upgrade to the house. 

Hmmm.  I wonder where this is going.  Do you have an idea about the content of tomorrow's post?

p.s.  Our friends were such a blessing during this and other home projects.  Just to push their awesomeness even further, get this.  Handsome Hero's job in Washington had him working to all hours.  Often he wouldn't begin a house project until 10:00 pm.  These guys came over to help and often wouldn't leave until midnight.  That is friendship with a servant heart, my peeps.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I love you. Me, too!

As I said here, I have a story behind these pictures.

When Handsome Hero and I were approaching our fourth anniversary, I got this amazing idea.  We would each write a list of the things we loved about each other.  We would present them on our anniversary and then frame them and hang them over our bed.  Brilliant and adorable and personal, right?  So romantic!  Handsome Hero thought the idea was fine.  Sure.  Okay. 

Then he forgot about it.

On our anniversary, I proudly presented my list of all the things I could think of that I loved about Handsome Hero.  It was long.  It was good.  He could bask in it.

When I was done reading each item to him, full of love and fluttering lashes, I waited patiently for him to present his list.  He looked at me sheepishly and said, "Um, I didn't finish mine {read: I never started it}.  I'll read it to you as soon as it's done."

I was, ahem, unhappy.  I waited for a few weeks, occasionally bringing it up in round-about ways.  I would say subtle things like, "So, have you gotten around to doing anything about that list?" or "Do you need to take some time so that you can finish any certain projects pertaining to our latest anniversary?"  Maybe subtle isn't an accurate description, but then, it never has been one of my attributes. 

After a month or two, it was becoming apparent that I wasn't going to get my list by asking for it.  So I got all manipulative and tried to guilt him into it.  Now that's true romance.  I bought two frames for over the bed and left them empty.  Again, not very subtle.  When he came home, there they were, clearly waiting for the lists.  And there I was, with lips pursed and arms crossed, waiting for him to get the hint, the picture of a wife you'd want to write a love list for.

It didn't work.  And that's when I got really mad.   I started snapping at him whenever I thought about it {which was whenever I looked at the empty frames}, but not actually saying what I was mad about, because, well, he should just KNOW, right?  I figured he needed another reminder, so I got out two crayons, and in one frame I wrote I love you in rather childish print.  In the other, Me, 2.  He would see these, and just wouldn't be able to stand them, and would finally give me my list.  I was sure of it.

But when he came home, he looked at the frames and said, "Cute!  Did you do that today?"  As if I had been a clever little girl, making my crayon art.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

His reaction sparked something in me, though.  I had been pouting over this for months at this point, wanting him to show me love on my terms.  But why should I expect him to demonstrate his love on my terms?  I started to think of all the things he does to show love to me.  There are lots of things.  Pages of things.  I had them all on a list, remember?  I just hadn't bothered to read it again.

I kept those pictures over our bed as a reminder.  And when we moved into this house, I kind of missed them.  They represented an important lesson in our marriage.  So for Valentine's Day this year, I painted the frames, covered the cardboard with fabric for a backdrop, and used a friend's Cricut to cut out the letters.

He thought it was funny.  So do I.

And, no, I still haven't gotten my list.  But it doesn't matter, because the ways he loves me are more important than a list.

Now that's romance!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

While I was gone

I was very blessed to travel to Seattle last week to surprise my dear friend, Lydia, for her thirtieth birthday.  I'll share more about that when I get the pictures.  Since I left my camera with Handsome Hero to take pictures of his adventures with the Wonderkids, I am depending on my dear friends to share their photos with me.  Consider this a big hint, dear, generous friends, to please send some pics to me. 

While I was gone, Handsome Hero and the Wonderkids played it up.  Here are a few of the events that warranted pictures.

They baked banana bread, and Ella had to look the part of a chef.

I know this is a hat, but...

How do you wear it?

Seriously, Ella?  You wear it like I'm wearing my hoodie.  Every respectable chef knows that.

 Like this?

 OH, yes!  Aren't I pretty?

Abandoning the chef look, Ella showed off the loaf.

 Isn't it lovely?

Ella's assistant helped out with presentation.

Did you know that bears love bananas?  They do.

The finished loaf must have been fantastic, because it was gone before they took a picture of it!

While I was gone, they also began training for a new olympic event - drinking in tandem.  Apparently it's dangerous - Ella required a helmet.  Jack's head is hard enough.

It isn't just any sibling set who can do this.

Jack tried to fill some pretty big shoes and help Daddy be the man of the house.

 Wait!  Do I want to go forward or backward?

I'm very thankful that I got to go out and reconnect with so many wonderful friends and see familiar sights that I love and miss {oh, outlets, how I covet your stores!  Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, J. Crew... (sigh)}.  I missed my dear ones at home, though, and was so glad to become a whole family once again. 

In case you missed it, go back through the pictures and notice the broom, the clean dishes on a kitchen towel, and other evidences of how amazingly well my Handsome Hero kept the house so that when I came home, all I had to do was sigh with contentment.  A job well done, my hero!

Just to reiterate, my friends, SEND ME YOUR PICTURES!!!!!!