Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It was a Blog-worthy Weekend


Jeez Louise, you people are really nice! Glad y'all liked the bathroom. You know, I kinda thought it turned out cute but y'all made it sound like it was much better than it actually is! So thank you. You blog stalkers are such an encouragement to me and I appreciate it so much when you take time to drop a comment in the box... even if there is already a stack in there.

I feel as though I will never ever run out of blog material after the questions post and soon I will bring you Round 3, but for now, I'm going to recap our weekend {because it was a delightful one}.

It started Friday night while two older children were pawned off on grandparents so I could put the final touches on the house for the baby shower when the UPS man rang the bell and dropped off a very suspicious package.


Had nothing been tucked inside, I would have been completely content in just looking at the very well designed return address label. If the label was any prediction of what might be inside... I knew I'd love it. If you're new around here I've mentioned before that I have a weakness for teacher supply stores. I also have a weakness for old school houses, Mom & DaddyBoy {my parents} have one on their farm. Put the two together on one really great label and how could I not photograph it?

Included was a very kind letter, that I read first and then passed over for Justin {and his dirty toe} to read...


Next time I say "no one pays me to do this" y'all stomp your feet then email me to remind of the nice people in the world who selflessly send packages to complete strangers, ok? So, this person is not a complete stranger... are you ready for the connection? A girl I went to high school with {Heather}, who just so happened to marry a guy I went to college with {Ryan}, has a younger sister {Ashley}, who is married to a man, who has an uncle {Jason} who owns a school supply store in Birmingham, AL. Jason reads the blog, has 3 kids my kids age, and thought {correctly} that we might enjoy a few goodies from his store. Did you follow? Now, if I told you I was disappointed my kids weren't home to open the package I would be lying, because we had so much fun opening it with out them. There was no: "Morgan, let Paige see that!" "Girls, you have got to share!" It went more like this... "Justin, hold that up to your eye and let me get a picture" followed by roaring laughter. Then, Justin says to me, "You hold that up to your eye and let me get a picture" followed by more roaring laughter.

Eye Spy

And now you can see why I have to curl my stubby little lashes. If I don't, it looks like I don't have any! Oh... yeah, back to the box. It was chocked full...



of really fun stuff! They even went so far as to think about things they had seen on the blog as inspiration for the package!!

When the girls got home we let them have a turn opening it... they loved it all as much as we did. I walked in the playroom the next day and caught Raiger resting while holding her Watercolor Wands. She seriously carried them around until Monday morning when I finally rolled out the paper and let her go to town with them.


Thank you, Jason & Ashley! Y'all go check out http://www.schoolhouseAL.com/ or check them out in person! I hope to make my way there one day soon! I'm afraid I'd have to have another garage sale before I went though, I'm sure I'd like one of everything they have.

Next up, the BABY SHOWER!




It was a huge success and a lot of fun! I took more pictures but most included people who were eating and I know they don't want their pictures on the internet with food in their mouths!

Following the shower we made our way to the pool. The weather was perfect, the water a little chilly, but children never seem to mind!


We even had a chance to watch 2 male anoles have a territorial "exchange", I honestly thought they were going to eat each other. Thankfully, they didn't.


If you live in the deep south these guys are quite common. In fact, more often than I like, I find them running around my house. Usually, it's the females that are out running around. These are the males and they're twice as big. At first, I thought they were baby iguanas. :)

Last but not least, I leave you with another snack idea. My husband has deemed it blog-worthy. If you happen to be on a diet, have given up carbs or chocolate, you may want to stop reading NOW. Or if you have no self-control, keep reading, try it, and then go back on your diet.




News flash:: the ham bullion people make cookies too! And they can be found near the ham bullion in the ethnic food aisle. Or you could make your way to your local Tienda de Latina. They are unbelievable! Light, crunchy, not too sweet and really good smothered in... Sunbutter and Nutella. My friend, Marie, enlightened me to the Sunbutter and let me tell you folks... do I dare say it's better than peanut butter!? We fortunately don't have peanut allergies but I'm seriously considering never buying peanut butter again!! It's "natural" so you have to stir and if you don't want it to re-seperate you should keep it in the frige. But, unlike natural peanut butter, when you pull it out of the frige it's still spreadable. As for the Nutella... I can't really think of words to describe it, if you haven't tried... just trust me, it makes any canned frosting taste like a can of shortening.

If you have a puppy baby, let them try the cookies too! John Martin LOVES them and they're not anywhere near as messy as those biter biscuits!


Later gators!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Orange You Glad

Orange you glad...

... none of your bathrooms look like this.
As I mentioned in my last post we were on a serious budget constraint for these bathrooms {as we were for the rest of our house renovation too} that is why for the last 18 months it hasn't looked too much different than it does in the above photo. The phallic curtains {I'm sorry, I know that's inappropriate but every time we looked at them we would get the giggles} were the first to go and the rest has been sitting there, the square toilet and all.

I knew I had to be creative with this one. This is a full bathoom that our children share. There was no granite/marble allowance. There was no floor allowance. No sink allowance. Being on a really tight budget forced me to be creative with how this one was done. One thing that the Lord continues to work on with me and my heart is being content. I tend to think... "if I just had money to finish this or that" or "if I just could get ____ then I would be content". As those thoughts crept and will continue to creep into my mind the Lord gently reminds me that this world is not my home. A bathroom filled with marble, chrome, and the finest of fixtures will not bring me contentment. Because then I would move right along to the next thing that I would think that I needed to make me content. My mind battles it over and over again. With that said, I can honestly say {for the moment :) } that I am content with being on a REALLY tight budget because it has forced me to think outside of the box, to be creative and to use what I have. {And... I have to give Mom credit for her very talented skills at being creative and thrifty... because she came along side me on this one.}
So the orange stayed.
The floors stayed.
The sink stayed.
The tub & tile stayed.
The cabinets stayed.

The curtains, light fixtures, mirrors, wallpaper, and faucet... WENT.

My sister-in-law will frequently call us if she's getting rid of stuff. Several months ago she called and had a huge pile for Goodwill and asked if I had any desire to come scour it before she sent it off. I found this...
Not too cute. But I remembered that I had this fabric. Hancock's used to carry a really nice line by Laurie Smith but discontinued it and I found it all on the clearance rack for $3/yd. I bought all that I could find. We had just closed on our house and the orange bathroom, as we call it, came to mind!
I had the seat recovered in the orange fabric because I knew it would tuck perfectly in the vanity nook in the girls bathroom. The upholostery fee was $65.
Back to the bathroom...
Last spring, as in 2008, {when Mom was here} we started to peel the wallpaper. We never finished. Justin ended up tackling it and from there we didn't know what to do. So it sat there with bare and damaged walls for 1 year. The foil paper was a real booger to get off and it ended up taking some of the drywall off with it. The walls really needed to be skim coated with drywall compound before we primed and painted and so it just sat and sat and sat. That is, until I found Carl...
He hangs wallpaper for very reasonable prices. He also is very "grandfatherly" and patient with 2 children who thought it was their job to help him. Anyway, we ended up applying wallpaper to the walls. I bought a paintable vinyl grasscloth at Lowe's and rather than hang it vertically we asked the pro to hang it horizontally. He happily obliged. He charged $125 to paper the whole bathroom. And within a few hours it was done. I already had the paint and Mom went to town painting it. {Adams Gold by Benjamin Moore}
I bought all the hardware at Walmart with the exception of the double towel bar {because I knew we'd need it}. It came from Lowe's.
I made a "fixed" Roman shade for over the window. The blinds also came from Walmart. The fabric on the shower curtain was also in the Laurie Smith collection and was also on the clearance rack. I had a seamstress make the shower curtain. It's been 18 months since then so I can't recall what she charged... but I really don't think it was more than $25.
We painted the cabinets white {White Dove by Benjamin Moore} and if you look close you'll see my knobs don't all match. I was ok with that because I had them stashed in a big box from previous home renovations and knew if I went out to buy new ones that all matched I would be forking out more money. The mirrors, toilet, faucet & light fixtures came from Lowe's.
The recessed tray ceiling is still there. I put new bulbs in it for now and cleaned the plexiglass covers. Eventually we want to drywall the ceiling to cover it's ugliness but for now we're fine with it. I'm just glad it's looking better... orange you?

It looks like the total renovation for this bathroom came closer to $500 on it's own. In my previous post I said we did both bathrooms for $500... but that was before I did ALL the math. But this one was much more expensive than the next. So stay tuned...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Church Softball

It's been a hot one here in Alabama... 90 degrees and sunny... that calls for 3 things: BABY POOLS, POPSICLES and SPRINKLERS.


And don't think I didn't get in there with them! I love a baby pool, always have, always will. After a good afternoon outside we headed to the fields.... the s o f t b a l l fields.


Church softball, I ♥ it! I think it's the camaraderie that gets me so geared up for it. It's especially entertaining when you're playing with the Presbyterians and a fan tells the coach to "lighten up this game was already predestined". Seriously, that's funny. And it was my father-in-law to whom I have to the credit for saying it.

Anyway, one of the 1,387 questions y'all asked was: How do you get your children to behave in public? I had to think hard because my children really don't go out in public that often. I try to avoid it at all costs. Well, not all costs but honestly, I tried it a couple times and it's HARD. No way around it. Taking a 4-year old, 2-year old, and 9-month old out and about makes me really just want to stay home... that is... unless daddy's up at bat and friends from church will be in the stands. Daddy hit a homer, but didn't want me to tell y'all that so I'll make it real small so anyone over 95 can't read it. And he drilled this ball... although it looks like he swung high... he didn't, don't you love how I defend him?


While Daddy played softball, I took pictures {& cheered}, the girls played with friends, and JM chilled in his stroller, until Katie rescued him. I'm ready for bed... so here are some pictures....







Be back soon. And now, I fear that y'all have really high expectations for these bathrooms... and that scares me! If I tell you that we did both bathrooms for less than $500... does that lower the bar? I hope so!

And if your name is Kathryn and you asked about the rug that I'm smelling in the ROUND 2 post... email me... I have the rug info for you!!

5 Reasons

There are 5 REASONS why I've changed John Martin's nickname from Hornet to Barracuda...


Can you count them? Those are 5 good reasons, don't you think?

Life is clicking along over here. I haven't made my way to round three just yet! I asked Justin what he thought about answering them, he laughed. He's not made for this blogging world. I may ask one more time just to be sure he doesn't want to! :)

We're having a shower here this Saturday and let me just say, there's nothing better to get your rear in gear than hosting a shower at your house! Especially one that involves 77 invitees, of which many are the older women in your church! And it's even more exciting that it's for 2 ladies and 3 babies... yes, one baby GIRL and one set of twin BOYS! It should be a wonderful time and I look forward to sharing pictures with y'all... but until then I will leave you with this little hint from one of our bathrooms...


Oh... and one more for good measure. I asked Hornet what he thought about his new name, Barracuda...


I think he was thinking of something a little more affectionate. Maybe I should bite him and then he would understand! {Don't worry, I won't bite him! Unless it's to "gobble him up" because he's simply irresistible!}

See y'all soon!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Round 2


Miss Paige would like to welcome you to ROUND 2. Her FAVORITE adjective is "WAY", she uses it with everything. "This is way good!" "This is way hard!" "It hurts way bad!" "I am way tired!" "I want some candy way bad!" So... in honor of her... I will warn you... this is WAY LONG.

I'm still wondering if I was under the influence of a controlled substance when I came up with this idea. Y'all are some noseholes. :) Just kidding... I asked for it, didn't I--but boy, y'all sure came up with a bunch of questions, and every time I turn around there's another one. We've had a great weekend... but I am suffering from 2 ailments: home dec sewing frustration & carpel tunnel. What?! Yes. I despise sewing home dec stuff {pillows, curtains, bedskirts, etc}. It makes me crazy. Both of these bathroom renovations are requiring curtains {of the pinch-pleated and roman variety}. Taking the fabric to a seamstress is out of the question so I'm "pressing on" {no pun intended}. As for the carpel tunnel... I've never had it and I'm not sure why I got it, or even if I have it... but my right wrist is killing me. No numbness... just aching to the point of keeping me awake at night! Just when I get the baby sleeping my wrist is waking me up. I think I'm rigged up ergonomically here but perhaps I'm not. Anyway, there's more below so I better save my words and my wrist!

I'm wondering where you got your rug in your living room? (The room with the tall, white bookcases).
I think she's refering to this one. Shades of Light:: in BEIGE.


And then someone else asked...

And I love your kilim rug...did it have any odor when you got it home? Sometimes I am hesitant to order rugs online because I've read they can be "smelly". Expecting a new baby soon and don't want any unnecessary odors around. Thanks so much!

I don't know why but this made me laugh. Justin and I (and Morgan, too) smell everything. In fact, Erika has even caught me on her camera phone smelling rugs... although she tried to tell her bloggers that I was breakdancing on it. The whole time I was down there on the floor smelling rugs I was thinking of my friend Shireen... who has spent many a day selling {not smelling} oriental rugs. The great thing about a kilim is that it is a woven rug and can be flipped over, as opposed to most orientals that have a cut pile {Shireen, please correct me if I'm wrong on that}. Ours has held up great and it gets a lot of wear & tear and spit up. I've had it professionally cleaned once and every little spot came out. Although, it has acquired a lot more little spots on it now and you really have to look hard to see them. It's definitely "family friendly". I have nothing but wonderful things to say about it... except the price tag. And if it did have any odor it must not have been too bad because I certainly don't remember one and it doesn't have one now. While we're talking about rugs... I can assure you if you spend the extra money and get a nice wool rug it will last forever and it will be worth the extra $. {In my opinion, they wear and look better.} Here I am getting my "rug smell" on, as for my face, I'm not sure what happened, I must have been in a hurry.


Speaking of things that go on the floor.... someone else asked...

Quick question: My husband and I just bought an older home and we will definitely be putting down hardwood floors in the near future - What is the brand/color/width of your hardwood floors?
I have mentioned this before... but this is a good time to mention it again. They came from Howell Flooring. It is a company owned by a family in our church... and they do ship nationwide. Ours are Pecan with "saddle stain" and 5" wide. They are beautiful and wear great... we are very pleased with them.

...what is the color of the walls in the girls' room?
Woodlawn Blue by Benjamin Moore.

Moving on to ... more paint questions {I LOVE PAINT! It alone can do wonders to an old house!} There were several questions about the kitchen but I think this one wraps them all into one:

I would also like to know about your kitchen cabinets. Did you paint them? What was the process? What did you paint them? I have kitchen cabinets that I would like to give a facelift to but I'm a little hesitant to take the plunge!

Yes, we certainly painted them and the panelling. See, they used to look like this:



And in the middle of the process...


We took down the wall/spindles and made the counter top longer along that wall for the bar. We had a carpenter build one cabinet {w/2 drawers} to the right of the stove to support the granite. It was an eat-in kitchen which we changed up by extending the counter top for stools and moved the fridge to where they had the "kitchen table". Here are some pics of after {that were taken last summer when my kitchen was nice and tidy}...



Can't paint work wonders? Besides adding the drawers we did nothing structural to the cabinets. I even left the inside of them that cheery yellow {well, not the open ones but the rest of them}. And honestly, if we hadn't extended the counter top for the barstools I would have left the yellow laminate. It really didn't bother me at all. As for painting these bad boys.... if you are refinishing a kitchen that has had a lot of food fried in it and there is a "tack" to every surface you will need to wipe the surface of your cabinets {and/or wall panelling} with a product like TSP {it cuts the grease off surfaces}. Then I would recommend you lightly sand. But really you don't HAVE to. If you are moving your cabinet hardware like we did {from the center of every door to the corner} you'll want to fill your holes and sand the spot where they used to be. We primed our cabinets and our walls with Kilz {the oil-based stinky kind}. The paint we used is a latex paint by Coronado called Rustscat. {I went to their site but it looked like it wasn't working right so I won't link}. You can talk to your paint people... just be sure you tell them you want a scrubable latex paint for cabinets {they almost all have a "kitchen & bath" variety}. They should be able to find you a good product. If I recall we brushed all the bases of the cabinets but had a painter spray the cabinet doors. If you don't have a sprayer I recommend you use a foam roller for the cabinet doors. Our cabinets and trim throughout our house is semi-gloss White Dove by Benjamin Moore. **side note** If you have Oak cabinets you may want to paint the inside of a door first because even if you paint Oak you will still see the grain through the paint.

How's Morgan progress on the thumb sucking? Has it been 30 days yet? Where do you get all your ideas for the crafts you do with the girls? AND...What's your favorite color?

She's doing great! Thanks for asking. We're still sleeping in bandaids but she's doing great and I can already tell her teeth are looking better. It hasn't been 30 days yet... I don't think! I need to check my calendar. We gave up on the stickers after a few weeks. She lost interest and I did too! As for the ideas for crafts. They come from all places. Sometimes my brain sometimes other people's brains. If I comes from someone else I usually will link to them or at least give them credit! :) My favorite color is green. My favorite paint color is Camoflage by Benjamin Moore.

Moving on to camera questions...

I too have the same camera..but i don't quiet know how to use it correctly. Sometimes, I get better pictures with my small P&S kodak camera, than my canon. So, please guide us on the different setting that you use. 2. i really want to remodel my kitchen cabinets to make them look like yours. Can you tell me the process- such as Did you really sand them completely down?? what kind of paint you use? etc...
I'm quite flattered that you all are asking me for camera/photography advice... but I honestly feel very incompetent to answer. I've only had my camera a few weeks but I will do my best to give you what I feel like is concise advice that has value. I fear any of you photographers out there will get a chuckle out of my advice.... so keep in mind you have asked advice from a novice.

1. Turn your flash off.
2. Learn & Shoot in your CREATIVE zones {in my camera that would be P, Tv, Av, M,& A-DEP}.
3. Learn how to change & select your AF {auto focus} point. Let's take for example my new favorite snack...


In this picture I told my camera to focus on the peanut butter and apple. And you scratch you head and say "how"... and I say grab your manual and research "adjusting your AF point".

To the peanut butter and apple you add...


{I told the camera to focus on those DRY ROASTED sunflower seeds.} DRY ROASTED! DRY ROASTED! I repeat... DRY ROASTED. Where have they been all my life? I could get sick on them. They're better than DRY ROASTED PEANUTS.



throw a little peanut butter on your apple and sprinkle some seeds on top! Then eat up.You'll thank me.

4. Learn how to shoot in Av {Aperture Priority mode}. Aperture is measured in F stops. In Av you select your aperture and the camera selects the shutter speed. Let's take Minnie for example {thank you children for letting me borrow her for a photoshoot}...

In this first picture I set the aperture {F2.8}. With a LOW F-stop {which is technically a HIGH aperture} the shutter speed is fairly fast.


So when I shot Minnie it sounded like "CLICK" and with a LOW F-stop the background will be blurred and foreground {or wherever you set your AF point} will be in focus.

Then I shot her with a HIGH F-stop {F22}, which is techincally a low aperture and results in a sharper foreground & background.


And the shutter speed sounded like this "CLLLLLLLLLLLLLIIIIIIIIIIIIICCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK" and there's no way on earth I could have gotten a clear picture if the camera hadn't been sitting on the counter. Moral, don't shoot in a HIGH F-stop unless your camera is attached to a tripod and there are no children within 100 feet.

So, a large aperture is a smaller f-stop. F 2.8 is bigger {in terms of aperture} than F 22. Make sense, doesn't to me either. So, let's just go with it. And don't tell the girls I shot Minnie. And I wish she'd take those fancy white gloves and get all those little crumbs off my counters.

5. Learn to shoot in manual M {not manual focus} and adjust or meter the exposure.
6. Shooting around noon will cast strong shadows on faces {like sweet little Tutty in the previous post}. Morning and late afternoon are better.

All of this can be found in your owner's manual. Yes, I read mine. And my sister shared some tips that Marla shared with her. So in a nutshell, read your manual. Also, it's a common misconception that shooting in any of the creative zones requires that you "manually focus"... this is not true. Your camera will always auto focus {where you tell it} as long as your lens is set to AF. Marla suggests a book called UNDERSTANDING EXPOSURE. So if you read your manual and still don't get it... maybe that will help. Also, YouTube is a wealth of knowledge... grab your camera, go sit and watch. You can learn great stuff on there.

I have more specifics on my camera {& lenses} info in this POST!

How much did you pay to have any of your chairs recovered?
This one was only $150... the others were more. Closer to $250 each.


I've been back to the same man with other pieces and his prices are drastically higher now. Oh well, I got one good deal out of him!

I noticed a while back in a photo of your outdoor furniture you had a piece of the same brown/white fabric on the outdoor table as you have on your chair in your living room. Did you put it under a piece of glass on the outdoor table? Did you cover it with clear vinyl? How'd you do that?? I dig it. Blog on, friend. :)

The fabric {navy & white} on the chair above is OUTDOOR fabric and I had just enough to cover our patio table. No vinyl, no glass... just fabric and I ran my pinking shears around the outside and stabbed a hole in the middle for my umbrella to fit through. It comes clean in the washing machine. I've been known to throw fabric on tables and "pink" the edges. It's so easy and fun! Try it!

I emailed yesterday to ask about your oversized Easter baskets?! Are they PBK? They look bigger than theirs -...?
Yes, I think. I did not buy them, my SIL gave them to us for Christmas but I'm 99% sure they Pottery Barn {but PBK 2+ years ago}.

Since I refuse to ask your sister design questions--any idea on where to get a comfy and very, very reasonably priced chair and ottoman? Furniture is soo overpriced (at least to my poor self)!

Amen, sister! In case y'all haven't priced furniture lately... a chair & ottoman cost more than a sofa. The only place I can think to find one for a good price is a thrift store. But be aware... by the time you get your fabric and have it reupholstered it will only be a couple hundred less than the new... so think it through. I think we should go on strike against CHAIR PEOPLE. I mean, seriously, why are they so expensive? And I love them. I'd rather have 4 chairs than 2 sofas any day. Sofas are awkward unless you're laying on them. And who has time to lay on a sofa?

I'm almost done... This post has been going on for days now. I'm ready for it to end.

My question is...where are your favorite places to find really good deals...how about a couple of tips on where you shop for furniture...homegoods and clothes for the family?...can't wait for the answer!!

This is a fun question! Homegoods: antique malls & thrift stores. And the curb on "curbside pick-up" trash day. For home accessories that can't be bought at thrift stores if you want them to match {like towels, etc} TJMaxx & Ross. Clothes for me: About 80% of the clothes that hang in my closet used to hang in Erika's closet. Those that didn't came from: Walmart {even jeans, yes, NoBo has cute jeans in lengths}, KMart, Forever 21, Ross, or the Old Navy clearance rack. The girls clothes: Most of their clothes come from their cousin Ava... unless it matches, then I probably got them at Walmart or Target. If what they are wearing is WHITE {which I really like on little children} it came from Dharma.

And my all time favorite purchase from KMart was this little table cloth from the clearance rack for $1.50. It makes me smile and I love that it matches the girls table & chairs.


I wasn't positive if the chairs Mom bought them had lead or not. I tested them and it was inconclusive because the chairs were painted red and if they had lead the swab turned red... wasn't sure if that was positive or the paint rubbing off. So to be safe I ordered some that are 100% lead free. The girls were so upset because their feet won't touch the floor in these... but I imagine it will only be a matter of months before their little feet are planted firmly on the ground.


I also scour clearance racks at all stores. I found these at Target last week. The tag reads $1.96. I bought 6 of them. I'll probably accompany them with a burp cloth and be done for lots of baby showers. They have chicks hatching but no reference to Easter so I think they'll be great for boys or girls year round. JM will be sportin' one too. *** To get clearance tags off {or any price tag for that matter} take a hot blow dryer to the tag for a minute... the glue will warm up and the tag will come RIGHT OFF, and no one will ever know you got their gift for $1.96... unless, that is, you post it on your blog! :)***


Do you like your coffee black or do you prefer a little coffee with your sugar and cream (like me?)
I like it with whole milk & Splenda! Mmm.

Is there any better place to practice the gift of hospitality than our homes?

I'm going to try to convince Justin to do Round 3 for me!