Summertime.

Whoah. Two weeks just seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye! But now it’s officially summer, and there are lots of fun things going on around here. Let’s see, where to start…

hermione

Hermione is home! You guys – she was gone for TWO WEEKS. I had totally given up hope that we would see her again. I had packed away her food bowl and emptied her kitty litter, when lo and behold I got a phone call from a lovely older woman one saturday night who said that hermione had been hanging around her yard ON THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN and did I want her to bring her inside? I jumped in my car and raced to pick her up (2.5 miles from our house!) She was a little scrawny but otherwise totally fine. I think the baby rabbit population of our town is glad we recovered her. Little minx. Not sure the dog is too thrilled to see her again, but I’m over the moon.

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We’ve been spending tons of time outside, with friends, doing fun crafting and art activities. I found a super simple recipe for outdoor chalk paint (here) and love setting Lucy loose on our neighborhood sidewalks. We’ve gone to feed the ducks and geese at our local landfill turned lagoon, and parked ourselves in the front yard with watercolors and ice pops.

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Lucy went to White Sox game. I think she liked it. Hotdogs and lemonade and Daddy – what’s not to like?

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I picked up a Phil and Ted’s Freerider. It’s a scooter that attaches to the stroller and can be used as a buggy board. Lucy is absolutely obsessed and I love keeping her close when I want to.

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We adapted my Schwinn Meridian Trike to take a Yepp stem mounted rear seat for Lucy. I lovelovelove the stability of the trike when I’m biking with her. I won’t be winning any road races, but it’s fun to cruise to the beach.

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Deck progress! Finally! Sean was really slammed with other jobs, but he’s finally back and working through the weekend with his helper and Pete to get the deck going. The gravel covers the swale we dug for drainage and the concrete footings for the deck. They still have to attach a ledger board to the house before the framing can get going.

So! That’s whats been happening. Oh, I also started meds for our FET(happening in mid July) and have had migraines like twice a week, which is why I haven’t been posting much. I’m not eager to add any more heavy duty meds to my regime so I’ve been trying to just tough them out with tylenol. I did pick up a homeopathic remedy that I’m eager to try – normally I wouldn’t have much faith in that sort of thing, but I’m trying to be more open minded. So! That’s what’s been happening around here. I also completely rearranged our living room, but I’m waiting for a few more details to come together before I put it on the ol’ blog.

Hope you all are well!

xx-H

The front garden.

You know – the one that only exists in my head. Right now all we have in front of our house is a scraggly patch of lawn.

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Our house is practically flush to the sidewalk, and since there is no sidewalk on the other side of the street we get A LOT of foot traffic. We live across the street from an elementary school so there is basically a neighborhood parade in front of the house twice a day. I’d love to have a little garden there just to increase our curb appeal, but also because I’d like people to walk on the sidewalk, and not on the grass. It’s a partially shaded area that mostly gets indirect sun in the late afternoon so I’ve decided on some shade loving perennials to make an easy and welcoming front garden (and to hide the ugly gas meter!).

1. Hydrangea

annabelle hydrangea

I would probably choose a white mophead variety if I can find them at my garden center. Maybe a dwarf variety? Hydrangeas can grow fast and furious, so I probably won’t plant too many, but it will be nice to have something with a bit of height.

2.Hosta

hosta

I love hostas – easy to deal with and a million shades of green. My favorites are the huge elephant ear varietals with bluish tones mixed with a few of the bright chartreuse ones.

3. Hellebore

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I love the unique colors and appearance of hellebore (christmas rose.) I planted a few green ones at our first house and they thrived in a densely shaded garden so I’m hoping I can have repeat success here.

4.Astilbe

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I love Astilbe for a little bit of drama and color. The feathery plume is so pretty. They make great cut flowers too. They bloom quite tall and have a pretty kind of spiky foliage.

6. Japanese Forest Grass

japanese forest grass

I love the waterfall effect.

7.Japanese Painted Fern

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I love the petite Japanese painted fern. It stays quite short, but has a huge variety of colored foliage.

8. Irish Moss

irish moss

I spotted this lovely ground cover at our local botanic gardens and totally adore it. The petite white flowers are charming, and I’ve read it’s almost as durable as grass – which is a good thing if school kids will be trudging over it every day.

It’s a pretty small area so I won’t need a ton of plants, but I’d like it to have a lot of variety. Of course, my plan depends on what’s available at my local nurseries this year, but a lot of what I’ve chosen are fairly easy to find. We also have to put in a front walkway since we moved the location of our front stairs and I’d like to add a rain barrel since our downspout is right there on the front corner of the house (although you can’t see it in the pic because it fell off, like, 2 months ago. #stayingontopofthings

So! That’s the plan for the front garden. Meanwhile  Pk is till out of town and contractor Sean is pouring footings for our new back deck. I’m watching my brother’s very energetic dog for the week. He gets along great with our dog, but they never stop playing – it’s a bit exhausting for everyone. Also, I’m the only mammal in my house who didn’t pee on the floor yesterday #goodthingimhousetrained

Sorry, I’ll stop it with the hashtag thing. I don’t even use twitter! Hope you all are well.

xxH

all images via BHG

Goodbye 2012!

Last year about this time I posted a list of things we wanted to try to accomplish on our house. Looking back, we did a ton of projects around here. It’s weird that it didn’t feel like that much until I sat down to write it out. With our contractor Sean’s help we really improved the character of our house.

We put in a new kitchen

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We staightened the walls, painted, and added trim to the the living room and sunroom

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Here’s a couple shots of the living room taken at Lucy’s party.

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Lucy got a big girl room

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We enclosed our front porch and added new steps- ( I’m waiting for a sunny day to photograph the inside – it’s looking great!)

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We did a quick fix update to the upstairs bathroom to make it last until we do a full gut job –

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We also started to finish the garage for a studio space for me and workshop space for Pk. –

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We still have to reframe, add skylights, insulate, run electric, and plumb it. Oh, and build carriage doors for it. You know. Not much.

On tap for 2013 –

Finishing the basement. This project will probably dominate 2013 after the garage studio is done. It would add a ton of living space for us and boost our house’s value. I’d love to move the tv and playroom into the basement so that the living room and front room feel a little bit more like adult spaces. We have a bad habit of leaving our tv on all day and I’d love to de-emphasize it in our daily routine. Finishing the basement means digging it out, adding a laundry room, and a bathroom, and addressing some structural and electrical issues.

Refreshing our exterior. I’d like to paint our brick facade and do some serious landscaping. We also will be replacing the fence around the whole lot and probably replacing all of our windows. Cha-ching! It needs to be done  though, all the seals in our windows have failed and they are vinyl. yuck. The fence between our house and our neighbors’ house is falling down and the street side is weirdly configured.

I also have a little Master Bedroom refresh up my sleeve. I’ve been hoarding new bed linens and rugs for a while and I think it’s time to  do a little sprucing up while Pk is out of town.

On a personal level – I really hope that 2013 is the year that Lucy’s gets a sibling. My miscarriage in the spring was so hard, especially when my due date came and went before Christmas time. Knowing that we have to go through fertility treatments again is so daunting, but I know our family isn’t complete yet. Since we will be doing some really stressful stuff, I need to plan ahead for some date nights for me and the Mister. We’ve really let our time alone together slide in the face of busy schedules and a sloppy bed time routine for Lucy. I’m not really one for resolutions but consciously planning to hold my family close seems like a great idea. I need to remember to speak with kindness and not be impatient with the two people who mean more to me than anything else in the world.

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Have a great weekend!

xo-H

quiet afternoon…

Lucy napping on the couch. You can see the new slipcover(!) more on that later…

My mom sent Lucy this easel. It fits perfectly in the corner of the office/playroom. I promise I’ll share the rest of that room soon! Just a few more details to pull together…

Maya gets the other side of the couch. It’s hard work guarding the house when Pk is out of town…

Hermione resents having her photo taken.

I just picked up this vanilla/peppermint candle from Whole Foods. It smells unbelievably good, and was not expensive.

My new favorite boots from Urban Outfitter. Click the pic for a link.

Late lunch/snack – fresh baguette, goat cheese, and figs drizzled with a little fig-balsamic vinaigrette.

I love these peaceful moments. We had a fantastic playdate this morning and Lucy Faye tuckered herself out. I should be painting the porch, or covering buttons so I can reupholster our ottoman, but instead I’m drinking in the quiet. I know in a few moments she’ll wake up and the never ending pile of laundry will need putting away; but gosh. I’m so lucky to have this amazing family and home. I feel like the luckiest girl on earth sometimes.

Happy Friday

xxH

thrifty thursday

My thrift store finds from this week… (AKA things I’ve been doing to avoid painting)

This stunning crystal plug in sconce – $8. I hung it in the living room near the bar. It needs a new shade and bottom finial, but it’s absolutely gorgeous. It glams this place up a bit.

 

Speaking of glamorous, I found these amazing Loeffler Randall Flats for, get this- $5!!! (originally $295 – they clearly didn’t know what they were practically giving away!)

 

My favorite of the bunch – a treasure trove of books for Lucy, just $8.75

Not a bad haul! It’s much more fun to poke around thrift stores than work on the porch. Here’s a sneak peak of another project I started to avoid painting.

 

Making a zillion self covered buttons is much more fun if you do it while watching a recap of an interesting blog talk chat. Here’s a link to Joy (from Oh Joy!) Cho’s chat with Naomi from rockstar diaries about the business of blogging. Interesting to hear to different perspectives on blogging and now I want to check out Joy’s book, Blog, Inc.

Here’s what Lucy has been doing to keep busy.

She LOVES watching videos of herself, especially dancing. If I need a minute, all I have to do is turn the Ipad camera on so she can use it like a mirror. We also started a tradition of listening to top 40 while we do the dishes, which is honestly the highlight of my night. We record her sometimes so she can watch it later and it never fails to make her smile ( even when she watches them a million times!) It was a little disarming to hear her sing along to Taylor Swift though…

Hope you are having a splendid week.

xx-H

DIY play tent (with lights)

It’s been extra dreary weather this past week, and with Pk gone, Lucy and I didn’t get out much. I thought it would be fun to make her a little retreat in her room for the dark fall afternoons.

It’s been a big hit.

It was fun to make, but this is the second version. The first one was so cattywampus  that I redid it. Here’s how

Materials

1 6 foot length of 1/2 PEX tubing (you could also use a hula hoop if you have one lying around)

1 1/2 inch PEX coupling

1 6 foot rope light kit

White electrical tape

An old pair of sheer curtains ( I had leftover sheer panels from the living room that we decided not to use after we repainted)

A length of ribbon or string (at least two feet so you can trim off excess)

A hook to attach it to the ceiling

Instructions – Tape the rope light along the length of flexible PEX with the white electrical tape (it doesn’t have to be white, but this way it doesn’t show through the sheer fabric)

Cut about 14″ off the bottom of you curtains and sew it back on to the top making sure to leave the rod pocket open. Hem the (new)bottom. My curtains had an existing pocket at the bottom too, but you may have to open the ends of yours if the hem was sewn shut. Run your ribbon or string through what is now the top. Run the taped together light/pex through the what is now the middle rod pocket and close the PEX into a loop with the coupling. Tie your ribbon tight to gather it at the top and hang it from a sturdy cieling hook. Voila! A lit play tent. I added a cozy faux fur throw and a pillow for comfort. 

I managed the wire that was running down the wall with some stick on velcro. I also added safety pins to keep the panels together around the hoop.

We also had a conveniently located outlet that I added a safety cover to.

I chose not to sew the panels together to give it flexibility, in case we hang it somewhere else or want to have a front and back exit.

A view from inside looking up and a glimpse of my atrocious sewing.

Lucy’s ceiling is angled so I just tucked the leftover fabric under the cushions on the floor. If you are hanging this in a room with tall ceilings I would suggest using longer curtains, or maybe sewing an extra panel on the bottom to give it the height you need. The great thing about this projects is how customizable it is. If you are handy with sewing (I’m not!) you could add all sorts of embellishments to it. The materials cost less than $20, not including the curtain panels. Much cheaper than this one from the Land of Nod.

Just a safety note, we don’t leave it on all the time and always supervise Lucy while she’s playing in it. I would recommend hanging it from a stud if you can; I wasn’t able to find one so I used a super sturdy drywall anchor to hang my hook. If she did pull it down, it’s quite lightweight and wouldn’t hurt her. I think I’ll add a few more cushions so it’s extra cozy for both of us.

Have a fantastic weekend!

xx-H

my baby you’ll be.

Be warned, mommy rant ahead.

So lately I’ve been struck by how big my little girl is or maybe looks? Sometimes she seems so grown up that it makes my heart squeeze in my chest. I mean, for real. Look at that outfit. Chevron puffy vest? check. Sassy Minnetonka’s that I just saw in the new Crewcuts catalogue? check. Extra chic haircut? check.

In fact, today she announced that she was a “big girl”. and I laughed and said “you sure are!” but in my head I was thinking “you are my baby and always will be. PLEASE STOP GROWING SO FAST.”

Sometimes, especially when Pk is out of town, I find myself losing patience with my little gremlin especially since she’s avoiding naps like the plague and has taken to shrieking all her desires in a pitch that makes even the dog cringe. Some times I want to say OH MY GOD PLEASE GO TO SLEEP DON”T YOU KNOW THERE IS A NEW EPISODE OF REVENGE ON?!?! When I find myself getting steamed up and frustrated I try to remember that this time is so brief and that she might be the most precocious 22 month old on the planet but for goodness sake she’s still a baby. When I have yet another conversation with someone that thinks that nursing a toddler is crazy or fielding questions about where she’ll go to preschool I sometimes want to scream SLOW DOWN PEOPLE SHE”S NOT EVEN TWO YET. I’m not sure why everyone is so eager to have babies grow up fast. I figure it’s going to happen no matter what so I might as well revel in the baby-ness while I can. Maybe because our journey to parenthood was so crazily difficult and long and she’s our only baby (for now) but I want to preserve Lucy’s baby/toddler hood as long as possible. I want to remember all of her crazy opposite talk (up instead of “down”, saying “help” when she wants to do it herself), counting “1,2, free go!” on the swing, and calling every dog she sees “Maya! ”

There hasn’t been a single stage of Lucy’s development that I haven’t enjoyed, and I know that I’ll love her terrible two’s, threes and beyond; but right now I’m letting my baby be a baby and savoring every sweet fresh from the bath cuddle and tender milky kiss.

Whew. It felt good to get that out.

Hope you’re having a great week.

-H

Updates in Lucy’s room

A while ago I posted that we had found a big girl bed for Lucy. She’s been in it for a few months so I figured it was time to update with what her room looks like now. You can see pictures of her room before here.

We ended up using a mattress and foundation from Ikea and only used the headboard of the vintage bed we found. The Ikea foundation has storage built it in, which is actually holding her disassembled crib and some extra bedding. I finally got around to painting her closet doors with chalkboard paint and added a pretty knob from Urban Outfitter. I changed out the artwork over  her bed to a poster of a vintage map (also from UO). I chose not to frame it because she kicked down the old frames during some wild diaper changes. I also ditched the bright orange rug in favor of the sheepskin that used to be on the chair. I like seeing a bit more of the wood floor anyway since it makes her tiny room feel a bit bigger. The lamps are just an old pair of cheap Ikea bases that I added chrome dipped chandelier bulbs to to give a more modern feel. The duvet cover is from Urban Outfitter and was on clearance at my local store (i think it was from a display).

I really like the feeling of Lucy’s room. It’s bright and warm, and girly without being too sweet. We do have a bed rail on her bed (it’s the kind that tucks under the mattress when not in use.) She’s pretty good about not falling out of her bed, but she only spends about half the night in her own bed anyway. I’m thinking about putting the rocking chair in storage since we mostly just cuddle on the bed during story time and that way she would have more space to play. I love how her room keeps evolving.

Hope you like it!

-H

p.s. in case you are wondering about the location of her bed, there is a child safety lock on the window.

Fall

 

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2.

3.

 

1. A before and after – my shaggy haired girl got her hairs cut. She looks so chic! Sometimes I feel like she’s about to start reciting Le Petit Prince in perfect french at any moment. She reminds me of this girl.

2. Today was the first day that we really needed a coat outside. I picked up Lucy’s jacket at the thrift store for$5 bucks!

3. There is something special about sunny fall days and leaves scattered on the ground that makes me so happy. I’m also excited that Lucy gets to wear her new boots. I’m considering getting a pair for me too.

Pk has been gone all week but should be home tonight  after a week away and I’m so anxious to see him (Lucy too!)

Have a fantastic weekend.

xx-H

diy black pipe console table

Pk and I recently undertook a fun diy project. We made a console table out of black pipe and wood salvaged from a barn that belonged to his family in Michigan. I’m really happy with how it turned out!

One of the great perks of building your own furniture is that you can customize it to fit your needs. There are so many sizes and fittings of black pipe, you can basically create any shape you want. We wanted a pretty shallow depth table for this space because it butts up against a bookcase and seating area. The barnwood we had was 62 inches long and about 14 inches wide and we bought pipe to fit it, but if you’re building your own, you may want to get different sizes based on the size wood you choose. Black pipe can be cut and threaded to any length you choose. We chose 3/4 diameter pipe because we liked how substantial it looks.

Here’s our material list –

4 – 3/4 diameter 21″ nipples for the legs (we had 24″ lengths cut down and threaded)

6 – 3/4 T’s

1 – 3/4 48 nipple” for the cross bar support

4- 3/4 5″ nipple for the legs above the joints

4- 3/4 3″ nipples for the horizontal support

8- 3/4 floor flanges to act as feet, and to connect the base to the table.

1 can of Rustoleum High Performance enamel in flat black.

Wood screws (we used inch and a half long screws because our wood top is so thick.)

Our material cost was about $125 (black pipe isn’t cheap!) but that’s still a whole lot less than some of the other console table options I liked and we were able to customize the length. I also wanted to be able to fit our ottomans underneath so we could have a bit of extra seating when we need it.

Our process was pretty straight forward. Once we decided on 3/4 diameter pipe, we just played with the fittings at Home Depot until we got the look and stability we needed to support our heavy wooden slab.

We initially thought we wanted a shelf too, but once we spied this huge slab in our pile of salvaged wood, we knew that keeping it simple was a better idea. It’s got so much character; saw marks, wormholes, etc. We didn’t do anything to it except give a wipe down and a quick coat of teak oil to even out the color and bring out a little   bit of depth.

I initially thought we would cut down the board to be closer to 52 inches, but once we had everything put together, we decided to leave the edges as is.  Once the base was assembled, I took it out to the backyard and seriously cleaned it. Black pipe always has a ton of cutting oil residue so before I painted it I gave it a really thorough cleaning with a degreaser. I used Rustoleum High Performance Enamel spray paint in flat black. I only had to do one coat to even out the color over the whole base.Once it was dry we simply screwed it on out board upside down and voila! Gorgeous, rustic/industrial table. Because the pipe is threaded we were able to level the table to accommodate our seriously sloping floors. The slab itself is a little warped, which presented a challenge in terms of leveling, but if you’re buying dimensional lumber that won’t be a problem for you.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you might remember this picture of the same spot in our living room from holiday time. We had a larger farmhouse table.

Then

and now

 

I think the round mirror will go back up, and I’m thinking about slipcovering the ottomans. I love the scale of the table and how the black pipe picks up the black of the bookcases. I also love that the wood is from one of Pk’s Grandma’s barns in Michigan. The pipe furniture look isn’t for everyone, I know, but right now its working with our casual/luxe living room style. I just made that up. Our style could probably be more accurately called doing the best you can while living in a tiny house with a toddler, dog, cat, and trying to decorate on the cheap. But i digress…

 

The slab has to be at least 100 to 150 years old, and who knows how old the tree was when it was cut down and milled into this piece of wood. I love having a piece of furniture that’s connected to Pk’s roots and I especially love that we were able to come up with an option that used a material we already had on hand. Have you guys ever built anything out of pipe?

I finally feel like our living room is starting to come together. After so many months of renovations (enclosing the porch, remodeling the kitchen, and putting trim in the living room/sunroom) it’s so nice to finally start decorating and creating a space that works for our family.

x0-H

update – 5/22/2014

This project was selected for the Bob Vila Thumbs Up Competition!

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