Friday, May 7, 2010

I Ain't Sayin' He a Hole Digga

Now that we had removed the concrete driveway from our yard, it was time to rent a post hole digger to start on our big fence project.

With our supervisors on hand, we were ready to start digging the holes.

Because we spend so much time with our neighbors, it didn't make sense to fence in our yard on all four sides. Instead, we came up with a plan that fenced in both houses just enough to keep the kids and dogs contained.

The plan included keeping the kids out of the driveway, since it runs right next to the alley.

Because I like to go big or go home when dreaming up projects, I came up with an even bigger plan for laying a brick path from the driveway to the deck. This meant that Jason had to cut the driveway a bit to give me a straight line. He did such a nice job, considering it was all free hand! I am the master of having several projects going on at once, but I love it when they all come together all at the same time!

It was really fun to see Jason operating the post hole digger. It looked like a big arcade game, and he really had fun working with it.

It rained most of the time Jason was digging the holes, but that didn't stop the whole neighborhood (The Village, as my dad calls us) from stopping by to admire his work.

Because it would.not.stop.raining, we had to wait a few days before we could put any of the fence posts in the ground. I thought we'd never get the project done!


When we bought our house, the inside was liveable. The guys who owned it before us flipped the house, so we didn't have to do much to it. Our furniture matched the dull beige walls (boring!), the trim was all painted white (including the windows, which were painted shut), the carpet was new (and white...seriously, who installs white carpet on purpose?), and the laminate flooring was okay for now. Man, given that list, it makes me think about how much I need to shampoo my carpets (again) and give my windows a workout so they might actually open this summer.

Because the inside was okay (or just plain overwhelming), we decided to start making our house a home from the outside in. Because we moved in with crazy, high-strung, neurotic Holly, we knew that the side street next to the house could be trouble. We also knew that Ellen would be drawn to the street, along with the neighbor kids.

Our first major decision was to put up a fence. This was a big decision because the starting point didn't have anything to do with a fence. We needed to start with the second (coal) "driveway" that went right into our kitchen window. While a drive-thru might sound appealing to some, we decided against it.

Since we no longer depend on coal for those cold winter nights, the need for a path leading to the house had to go.

We couldn't believe the amount of concrete that we needed to haul out of there. To save money, we used my dad's trailer, which involved many trips down the highway.

It was such a great accomplishment to get this done. We ordered a bunch of dirt to fill in our concrete holes, and thanks to Chad next door, aka "The Grass Whisperer," we had new grass coming up right away.

With that project behind us, it was time to put up a fence!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oh, Vera, You're So Fine

I love to wander through fabric stores looking for prints that catch my eye. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon this gorgeous VERA BRADLEY fabric!!

I knew it would be perfect for an apron, so I bought everything they had left. I managed to squeeze two aprons out of what I had, and one is sold already! The other one will be for sale on etsy. It was really hard not to keep this one!

Funny story, I was at Michael's the other day, and I saw a lady with a purse made out of the same fabric. I think she thought I was crazy when I told her how much I liked it!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A New Entry - Part 2

Yesterday I showed you what our entry looked like on Saturday morning before we got to work. I also explained the huge need for better storage and organization. As a reminder, here's what it looked like before:

We decided the best plan was to build from the bottom up. Because we were incorporating a bench, we wanted to be sure the base was sturdy enough. Jason worked with the existing trim because it gave him a nice starting point.

The bottom slots are perfect for bigger baskets to hold shoes and whatever else needs to be kept off the floor. I'm trying to decide if these black boxes are what I want. Once it's all together, they might stand out less, which is what I'm hoping for.

Here's where we left off last night. I'm going to use the upper cubby area for hats, mittens, sunglasses, etc. I just have to find the right baskets to maximize the storage.
Jason has done a great job building this thing, even though our house slants drastically toward our street. I'm amazed at how much he's had to compensate for that.

I'm excited to show you my idea for what has always been wasted space in here too!

Monday, March 1, 2010

A New Entry - Part 1

Since we bought our house a year and a half ago, I've had dreams for the back entry. There are many things about our house that need help, and this was a big one. For starters, the entry is not very big. It's also dark, has steep steps into the kitchen, and, if you're not careful, you'll fall right down the basement stairs. We, as a family, have a lot of coats, shoes, and other junk that tends to get piled up in this teeny, tiny, cluttered space. As a solution, I dreamed up a built-in shelf/cubby/bench area.

This is what we started with on Saturday. Fortunately, since my mom will probably read this, I don't have a true before picture with the normal pileup of junk on the floor and the former wall hooks.

To give you an idea of what we were working with in the beginning, where the blue paint is, we had a huge board with five hooks for our coats. About halfway down the wall on the left, I hung a set of hooks for Ellen's coats. On her hooks was a plastic sand bucket to hold all of her sunglasses and the occasional hat and/or mittens. The pine boards lead down to our basement. On this side of the entry (where you see that black triangle) are another couple of hooks that we use to hang our keys and my purse.

The original color of the entry is a sand color. It's a nice, neutral color, but I was hoping for something a little lighter to brighten the space.

We played in the entry all weekend, and I'm very happy with the changes. Tomorrow I'll show more pictures of the progress. I can't believe how different the whole house feels, now that our main entry is more inviting!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I'm taking the next few days off from work to play around at home. Ellen will be out of school too, and she's excited to be my helper. I've been working diligently on aprons, but I've accumulated quite a stack of cute fabric to cut apart and put back together (my dad always laughs at my mom for doing that). It's amazing how it all adds up so quickly!

I'm planning to finish Syd's dress to match Ellen's, and I have a few other things in store. I'm looking forward to a break, that's for sure!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A New Dress

While I was out playing with Andrea yesterday, we found some cute Dora fabric, and I was inspired to make new dresses for the girls. I have seen several others on the web using pillowcases, so I went off of that. I was nervous that they would be too short by summer, so I added a little ruffle at the bottom. Ellen loves hers, and I'm hoping to get Syd's done tonight.

...and, yes, I do realize that the purple ribbons are too long. I'm waiting to cut them until I know what to do with Syd's.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Day Apron

I finished an order this week for a Valentine's Day apron. I'm not normally a heart person myself, but I love the colors! The brown swirls on the white fabric remind me of chocolate.

This apron will show up on the etsy site soon. For those who like pink hearts year round, I can replace the bottom ruffle that says "Be My Valentine" with another coordinating fabric. It is cute either way!

Coming up: A very sassy brown/green/pink apron with stripes, flowers, and polka dots in Vera Bradley fabric. Such a find!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Proud Mommy Moment

We had a fun weekend with our company. Sunday we went to the aquarium, and I think it was good for Ellen to be able to run off some energy. In this picture, she's posing with the turtle in the tank. Can you see him?

After the aquarium, we went to Perkins for lunch. Ellen wanted me to write her name on the kids' menu, so I wrote it in dots and had her trace it. She did pretty well, so I asked her to write it freehand, and she did it! (Keep in mind, she turned three at the end of October.)

If you look closely, you can see her name written under Dora on her coloring page. Next to her name are two stick figures. She proudly told me that those were Mommy and Daddy.

I had no idea just how beautiful we are.

Friday, January 29, 2010

This is the Week

I can't believe it's Friday already. I feel like I haven't gotten anything done all week, so I'm very glad that I can get caught up. We have company coming again tomorrow, so there's plenty to be done.

After running a few errands tonight, I'm planning to shampoo our carpets. Watch out, it's about to get crazy!

Ellen has had a busy week too, what with learning a new song and all.

I really like that "clap, clap" is part of the lyrics. Never mind that it's supposed to be an action. I don't have the heart to tell her.

Oh, and did I mention that I'm on etsy? The shop only has one apron on it (the pink one seems to be missing), which is hardly anything to be excited about, but I'll be adding more items within the next few weeks. I got an order for two aprons yesterday with different fabric, and I can't wait to get them done! The fabric is so cute!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Pink Version

I finished a pink apron the other night, and I couldn't be happier. This is the same apron I made a few weeks ago in a matching child/American Girl Doll set.

I love the pink and brown combo, and I might need one of these myself. First, I think Andrea needs a red, white, and blue one to match her kitchen!
Stay tuned for the grand opening announcement of the etsy site!

Friday, January 15, 2010


I sat down with Ellen last night while a special news report covered the devastation in Haiti. She watched as the people wandered in the streets of the capital city, and she asked why they were sad. I tried to explain to her that their houses fell down because of the earthquake and that people were missing. Of course, I had to keep it on a 3-year-old level because I didn't want her to have nightmares last night, but it was amazing to see how much she cared. I can't seem to get my mind off of the situation, so Jason and I decided that we needed to help in whatever small way possible.

So many bloggers have had the awesome opportunity to visit impoverished countries through Compassion. Since we've been participating in the Eat From the Pantry Challenge, we've been able to save a few extra dollars. We've also had a few extra small windfalls this week, and I've felt called to donate the extra money to the children and their families in the Compassion organization in Haiti.

In addition to the initial donation we've made, I'd also like to give $5 of each apron order I receive in January to Compassion. Even though they're not on etsy yet, please feel free to email me ( with orders. Please specify which colors you'd like and any special requests. The costs of the aprons is $45.

A Finished Apron

First, a special thank you goes out to my sweet friend, Andrea, for being a great model. Isn't she cute?

Without further delay, here it is!

I've got some more work to do on the pink version of this apron, but I'm hoping to be done tonight. That would mean I might actually meet my goal of getting them on the etsy site by 1/15!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

mmm... Carrot Cake

Today is my boss's birthday. Last year I found the best carrot cake recipe, so I tried it again this year. Ellen and I slaved over a hot oven to create this masterpiece.

I've heard that you can melt Starburst candies to cut out shapes, but that didn't work so well. We unwrapped what felt like a million little candies and sorted them into colors. (This is where it's handy to have the three year old!) I started with orange, and it was pretty much a failure. I burned my finger trying to scrape the melted candy, so I just resorted to spelling his name in what can only be described as Pac-Man style lettering.

Here's the recipe for the best carrot cake and cream cheese frosting EVER!!

4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a sheet pan.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in carrots. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
To make frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Love This Girl

What is it about being three that gives them the right to make funny faces in front of the camera? Oh well, I guess this is how I think of her anyway!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Weekend Fun

What a great weekend!! It started with the addition of two dogs. My folks left for warmer weather on Saturday morning, so Ramsey and Addie are wintering with us for the next 9 weeks. Four dogs sounds like a lot, but the two guests are pretty easy to deal with.

I was able to work on a few aprons Sunday, which was so fun! Unfortunately, lots of sewing brought me to this:
Without thread, I was left at this point:

I'm so excited to finish all three of them tonight and post pictures of the completed product! I have until Friday to get at least two on etsy to succeed with one of my resolutions for the new year.

Jason's been working at Pizza Man for the past few months, and they had a Christmas party last night. They did a white elephant gift exchange, but we were the only people that truly brought something I didn't want in my house. We exchanged a Snuggie for this wonderful little treasure:

That's right, it's a gift card to the grocery store! Woohoo! We've done so well with our $10 per week grocery budget, and this will really help when our friends come to stay with us this weekend. What a perfect end to the weekend!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Fabric Sneak Peek

I was able to get a few aprons cut out last night in the pink and brown fabric I found. I'm hoping to get the little girl and doll aprons done tonight or tomorrow night, but until then, here's what the fabric looks like.

I love Robert Kaufman fabrics, and I can't wait to see what these look like all ruffled up!
Ellen discovered Charlotte's Web, so hopefully I can keep her occupied while I get at least one of the aprons done tonight. I know it's wrong, but she's the kind of person that watches a movie until she memorizes it, then she tells us about it for the next few weeks. She's not happy until she can recite the whole thing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Aprons & a Great Giveaway!

I received another order today for two aprons. This time they're for little girls and their American Girl dolls. I can't wait to pick out the fabric and see how they turn out! I need to have them done by Friday night for a Saturday birthday party, so I need to get my rear in gear. I hope to get them all cut out tonight! Now I guess I'll have a couple to post to the etsy site before my 1/15 goal.

On another note, my friend, Marybeth, at Baby GoodBuys is having an amazing giveaway! She's giving away a Bumbleride Indie stroller, along with a Bumbleride Jam Pack. They come in such great colors, and they seem to be much better than any of the strollers we've ever had!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Off to a Good Start

What is it about Christmas that trashes our normally clean house? Oh yeah, it's that we all end up with too many presents. Our house is no exception. One of my goals this year is to keep our toy room neat and clean. Ellen doesn't think this is the best idea, but maybe she'll come around. I'm happy to report that I did a bang up job on the toy sorting this past weekend.

This is what the room looked tends to look like all. the. time. Case in point, as soon as I got everything put away, the tent ended up in there. Of course, it was fully assembled. Maybe tonight I can actually get a picture of the clean version for future reference.

I love to have a good rummage sale in the spring. I took more toys out of our house this weekend than I care to admit. Have no fear, Ellen ended up with more new toys than she even knows. I've actually put some away for snow days, so she'll have something new to play with for quite a while!