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“No Soliciting” Door Sign Printable

Welcome friend, we'd love to talk, but if you're a stranger, please don't knock. No soliciting.

Do you get a lot of door-to-door sales people in your neighborhood? We get one occasionally, and I am never happy about it. Somehow they always seem to choose naptime, and inevitably wake the kids by ringing the doorbell (which also makes the dog bark). Grr!

For the past few years we’ve had up a small, laminated “no soliciting” sign right underneath the doorbell. It has definitely cut down on the disturbance, and we’ve actually seen people come up the porch steps and then leave immediately. Hooray! But then there are those people who just don’t care, or say that they didn’t see it (really?!). Which makes me wonder if a bigger sign might be in order.

Welcome friend, we'd love to talk, but if you're a stranger, please don't knock. No soliciting.

I saw a cute one on Pinterest a while back (which I’m still looking for), which made me wonder if I could come up with a clever phrase of my own.  It is surprisingly challenging – if you sound too rude, you can put off those that you want to greet, yet the wording needs to be clear enough that the people you want to stay away understand your intention. You know what I mean?

The rhyme above is one that I thought up in the car the other day. It lets friends know they’re welcome, but tells strangers that we are not interested. What do you think? Is the message is clear?

Would you like your own copy to print? Because if so, you can download a printable copy of this same sign by clicking HERE or by clicking on the image at the top of this post.

Original doorway image taken from here.


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Making Exceptions

I am making a lot of exceptions today. Right now, as I type, I can see Chloe playing in the backyard with Leo and Barkley. She is wearing her Mini-Mouse princess dress. Her legs are bare and on her feet are Keens. It is cool outside, but at least she is wearing her coat. Normally, I don’t let her wear any of her dress up clothes outside, but today I don’t care. I’m just glad the kids are out of the house for a while.

This week I’ve put in extra effort to keep the house clean. It is so hard! One of the problems of wanting a clean house is recognizing that the house has clutter in the first place. And noticing that the kids are causing the majority of it. So then I get frustrated. Two minutes after picking up, there is a mess on the floor again. Right now I am looking at the discarded wand, butterfly wings, and light up princess shoes by the back door that Chloe dropped in her haste to get outside. I can either pick them up or I can ask her to do it. Either one involves me getting involved. Its easier to just do it so I don’t have to remember to ask her, or to follow up and make sure they go back to their proper place. Or I could ignore them.

And there! Chloe just presented me with another example. I mopped the floors this morning. She just ran in, through the kitchen to the living room before I noticed the muddy shoe prints she was leaving and called for her to stop. Stop!

It’s impossible. I can’t keep up.

I’m tired of being the cleaning lady today. I’m tired of being the cook, the laundress, the referee, the coach, the safety monitor, the naysayer.

I just want to be the mom. The hugger, the playmate, the tickler, the storyteller, the teacher, the explorer, the kisser of bruises, the planter of ideas.

But today isn’t that day. I’m too tired. It is my fault. I’m not getting enough sleep, or eating right. And today is not a day I can dedicate completely to the kids. There are other things I’d like to do. But I’m too tired to do anything more than sit here right now. And drink water, and take my vitamins. Remembering to begin again with the little things, one at a time.

The kids have abandoned their lunch on the chair outside. Another exception, because I let them eat partially unsupervised. Which means they may have eaten a little dirt.

There they are. Getting muddy, having fun, enjoying the sunshine that just recently flooded the yard. The birds are chirping merrily. Someone is mowing their lawn. When the kids come in they’ll be a mess, but I’m going to help them calmly because I never care how messy they get outside, as long as they’ve given me a little peace while doing it.

Better yet, it will be nap time soon.


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Picking up the pieces of a real life mess

This is what I caught the kids doing earlier this morning. Actually, it was Chloe who came to me to let me know something was up. Turns out Leo climbed into Chloe’s closet, pulled down the jar of Pyssla beads, unscrewed the lid, and dumped handfuls out all over the floor.

A pretty big mess, as you can see.

This son of mine… don’t let that innocent looking face fool you. Only a year and a half old, but he gets into EVERYTHING. He is his father’s son, for sure. A real problem solver, always trying to figure out how things work and what they do. Right now he loves things that have moving parts or pieces that work together  – latches, drawers, door knobs, lids… I’m sure throwing all those colorful beads around must have been quite a reward for a job well done.

I’ve known for a while now that I need to find a way to lock that closet. The last time he was in there he drew on the walls with marker. Just this week I installed latches for the hallway drawers after the internal latches failed to keep out little hands. How can such a little boy, who barely talks, be this capable? And why do I continue to underestimate him?

For now, I guess I need to install more locks!


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Nursery Thoughts

I’ve been wanting to spruce up Leo’s nursery for a while now. Currently his room consists of his sister’s hand-me-down white Ikea furniture (2 malm dressers, a billy bookcase, and a crib), a rocking chair, and two Isak prints, which I still love (you can see them in Chloe’s old nursery from a few years ago). The only things I’ve bought specifically for him were a grey minky changing pad cover, a colored bin set we found at a yard sale, and a set of shelves that we just installed.

It looks nice enough, but now that he’s a year and a half, his room is transitioning from a baby’s room to a toddler room – a comfortable and safe play area and toy storage are necessities. There is also the concern that Leo’s room is the coldest in the house, while Chloe’s gets the hottest. When we turn the heat up for Leo, Chloe’s room turns into an oven. Also, Leo’s room cools off quickly, especially at night. Room heaters seem to be either too hot or too loud, or a safety hazard.

Eventually we’ll put in replacement windows, which should cut the draft, but until then, David suggested an area rug as a layer of insulation. As long as it wasn’t white or light colored (which would just get dirty from the kids and dog) I could pretty much choose. I scoured the internet, including Ikea and Target, but nothing in the right size or for under $100. Finally, I saw a decent one on Craigslist, but it had sold. She told me it was purchased from rugsusa. I saw it on sale for the same price, including shipping, so I decided to go for it. I really hope it looks good.

The other thing I’ve been considering is a wall decal. I had one of David’s canvas paintings hanging above the changing pad, but Leo thinks its great fun to knock it down. A decal would solve this problem. I particularly love this one from LittleMooseDecals. I imagined it including Leo’s name and a slight tweak of the moon and asked if a customization was possible. Then Michelle sent me the image above as a sample. Awesome! Have I mentioned Leo’s walls are the same pale blue? And that I like clouds?

So, the question is, will these things go together, do you think? One thing I’ve learned about myself is that being a graphic designer doesn’t always translate well to home decor for me. However, I notice I gravitate to the same kind of nursery images on Pinterest, so maybe I should just go with my gut on this?


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Christmas (Yuletide) Camellia

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Our christmas camellia is beginning to bloom! Must mean we’re getting closer to the big day! This is our first winter with this little bush – we bought it at a local nursery this summer for its glossy evergreen leaves. But seeing the little red beauties with their bright gold stamens pop open at this unexpected time of year is really a treat! Now I wish I had chosen one twice as big! Wouldn’t it be nice to someday dress a holiday table with fresh cuttings straight from the yard? Such a neat way to add to the holiday magic. 🙂

 


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Make Ahead Meals + List Progress

I’m making progress on my list!

1) On Friday night I got a much-needed massage – it came as part of a Groupon, and also includes 7 drop-in workout classes I hope to start later this week.

2) Last night David and I processed a big batch of garden tomatoes. This is our first year having a stand alone freezer, thanks to David’s parents. We followed these directions on how to freeze tomatoes from your garden. I’m looking forward to using them in mid-winter sauces and soups.

3) We’ve begun cleaning and sanding the craigslist dresser for the hallway (more info about that later).

4) Also, this past week, I found some affordable recipes to make good freezer meals. These are the five I’m starting with:

• Spicy Pork Tinga Enchiladas (shown above)
• Taco Chicken Bowls
• Chicken Chili Verde
• Lentil & Sausage Stew
• Teriyaki Meatball Bowls

(The last four recipes come from a food blog called Budget Bytes, which has appetizing, step-by-step photos and also provides an interesting cost break-down of each ingredient). Around midweek I made a list of all the food I would need, and then Chloe and I went grocery shopping on Wednesday evening after dinner. On one hand it was nice to have a list to stick to – usually I just wander the aisles looking for things I hope my family will eat, not really thinking in terms of “meals.” That leads to lots of impulse buys, I can tell you. But having a list meant that if I forgot something, I had to go all the way to the other end of the store to get it. Luckily this just happened once, since I had organized the list by food type (meat, dairy, canned, dry and fruits & vegetables).

The first recipe I wanted to try was the Spicy Pork Tinga Enchiladas, planned for Thursday. Unfortunately, I didn’t look at the recipe until the afternoon, and then noticed it required 6-8 hours in the crock pot. Bummer. Lucky for us, friends invited us over to dinner that night. On Friday, I forgot again about starting the crockpot, and instead made salmon using the Teriyaki Glaze (yum!) from the Meatball recipe, which I paired with rice and vegetables. On Saturday, I forgot again and at the last minute decided to use this recipe for Parmesean Crusted Chicken. It was super-easy and quick, and will definitely go on my make-again list. The leftover chicken was perfect in today’s lunch of chicken salad sandwiches.

This morning, I finally remembered to prep the ingredients and start the crockpot (good thing I set the alarm on my phone!). Everything is in there simmering as I write, and the smell of slow-cooked pork and chipotle peppers is beginning to waft through the house. It makes a pretty large batch, and I’m thinking there will be enough for dinner, leftovers tomorrow, plus enough to freeze at least one or two meals. I’m pretty excited!

P.S. Can you imagine meal planning an entire month of meals? That is what Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler does. She’s posted her meal plan for the month of September here. It was really inspiring to see the entire month at a glance, and gave me recipe ideas to add to my list (Tater Tot Casserole anyone?).

 

 

 


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Tackling the Toys

I FINALLY organized the toy drawers in our living room. I think its been about 2 years since the last time, and that was just to pull some of the infant toys Chloe no longer touched. Talk about procrastination! And honestly, once I finally sat down to do it, it went pretty fast.

The dresser is a Malm that we use as a console table (not the bins shown above). Of the dresser’s 6 drawers, the 4 lower ones were dedicated to Chloe’s things. One drawer is for Chloe’s jackets and hats, so she can put them away by herself when she comes in the door. The other three were full of toys and random junk. I wish I had taken a “before” photo, just to prove what a mess it all was, but the energy to do it came on suddenly. I mean, I had thought about doing it a million times, but this is the first time I sat down to do it. That is the hardest part, in my opinion, just setting down to the task.

Getting Started
I started with 2 large empty bins and one paper bag for junk. Junk equaled anything broken, useless, missing pieces, or not worth giving away. The first bin was for donations and the second for holding items to keep, so I could fully empty a drawer and vacuum out the accumulated dust. After a short time I brought over one of Chloe’s little play chairs, to help my back. Once I saw a pattern emerge, I began to group items in organized piles on the floor, a lot of which needed to go somewhere else. In our house this means:

Bathroom
Bath toys

Chloe’s Room
Books to the bookshelf
Play clothes to the dress-up bin
Play jewelry in a play purse
Finger puppets bagged together (closet)
Games (closet)
Play doh/ Art supplies to the art shelf (closet)

2nd Bedroom (soon to be Leo’s!)
All Legos and blocks

Great Room (aka kitchen/dining/family area)
Baby toys for Leo in the baby toy bins (more about this later)
Play food and utencils to the play kitchen

Living Room
After sorting and putting toys away that belonged to the above areas, the remaining toys that stayed in the Malm drawers now fit into just two drawers. One drawer is for all stuffed animals, dolls, and doll clothes. The second drawer is divided into musical instruments on one side and tiny figurines, knick-knacks, cars, wind-up toys, small balls, bean bags, and anything that Leo (now 8 months) shouldn’t play with. Also, any very small toy that was worth keeping, but that I didn’t care about losing, were put away into a separate grab bag for taking on trips.

The remaining empty drawer will be used for Leo’s jackets and hats, and to help ease Chloe’s jacket drawer for now, which is completely stuffed thanks to generous hand-me-downs. Through the winter she mostly rotates between only one coat and a jacket, but once spring comes she’ll be using her lighter-weight ones, too.

The biggest accomplishment in all this, at least for me, is that now everything has a place. No, I don’t like that things are spread over four rooms, but the fact is that Chloe would rather be where we are than playing by herself in her room. Right now her room is for sleeping, getting dressed, and reading. Otherwise, she spends most of her time in the great room or the office where she is allowed to watch occasional shows on the computer (via Netflix or PBSkids.org).

Leo, being the baby, is also, naturally, wherever we are. Thus there are 2 of the large Target bins (shown above) of baby toys in the great room. And honestly, Chloe plays with them, too. Someday I’d like to add structure and storage to the great room (maybe with some Besta?), but that won’t be anytime soon.

The hardest part of this whole experience was keeping Chloe from undoing the work while I was trying to cull and organize. She would want to play with some newly uncovered toys and then walk away with them, or scatter my piles before I had a chance to put them were they belonged. I also had to take breaks to entertain or feed Leo. So I would suggest doing this while the kids were elsewhere, if possible. Even if, by some miracle, both my kids napped at the same time, our house is too small and the noise of shifting toys would certainly wake them.

So there you have it. I feel I should add that I am by no means naturally tidy, and I don’t expect everything to stay put, because it won’t. But, when I occasionally attempt to maintain it, it is much easier to do now. Chloe is able to find things easier and enjoy her toys more. It is a really good starting point for an organized (if not tidy) future.

If only I could organize my office as easily…


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Who me? Organized?

I’ve been on an organizational kick lately. I had just begun with some preliminary things (like my desk) when I came across a Go Paperless post at Styleberry Blog. The timing was perfect as motivation to keep going.

So far the biggest thing I’ve tackled is our office closet. The best way I could describe it was train wreck. It was a horrible, frustrating, dark hole made up of piles of stuff. One culprit was paper, especially design samples we kept as “inspiration” from our student and early designer days. Another culprit was boxes, including packaging we had designed and were keeping as portfolio pieces… all that stuff we paired down, tossed, or put up in the attic space. Then there were random items to go to Goodwill – a beautiful red leather Franklin Covey binder I don’t use but had trouble parting with for years, holiday ceramic jars that I’ve kept meaning to re-gift with holiday goodies, my ten-year old Toshiba laptop… you get the picture.

Bye-bye stuff, hello space!

Here are two excellent pieces of advice I’ve read recently:

  1. Put things where they belong. If something isn’t used where it is, then it needs to be stored somewhere else – kitchen stuff in the kitchen, office stuff in the office, etc. This may be obvious, but it was handy in helping me make decisions.
  2. “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Ah. Right. I was reminded of this William Morris quote thanks to Pinterest.

One thing I’ve moved from the office is fabric. It is now in the bedroom where the sewing machine is (soon to be Leo’s room, but oh well). On a photo tour of Melissa’s studio, I noticed she keeps her fabric in an Ikea Antonius frame with wire baskets. A lightbulb went off in my head – I have one of these! I emptied the top two shelves (full of clothes I hardly wear, which I moved to my closet) and replaced them with my fabric piles. Now, instead of digging down into a box, I can see at a glance all of the fabric I have on hand. Brilliant! (And yes, I agree, that is an awful lot of fabric for a person who hardly sews. Must do something about that.)

Isn’t that one of the greatest things about blogs? The way they can inspire us? Maybe you’re ready to tackle a project of your own now. Best of luck!

 

 


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Before & After: Cubbie Storage Bench + Greatroom Update


There has been a little sewing going on around here. We purchased this Martha Stewart cubbie-storage bench from Home Depot to put right inside the french doors in the great room. It came with a plain cushion so I bought some home dec fabric during the labor day sale at Joanns. What I really wanted to do was a whole entry-style unit including wall hooks for hanging jackets and such, and use the cubbie for shoes, dog items and other outdoor paraphenalia. David didn’t agree, saying that it would just accumulate junk, so we comprimised. We got the cubbie, but instead of hooks we hung our new tree of life print above it.

Do you remember this photo of our under-construction great room? Well, besides the cubbie bench we’ve finally started furnishing it to a point it is somewhat livable. We’ve been really budget conscious, so it remains on the bare side as we decide over time how best to use the space. The sofa was a happy hand-me-down from David’s parents. Otherwise the most expensive item in the room was the Ikea Bjursta dining table and bench (which we keep in the bedroom unless we have company for dinner). This is a bit of an older photo, but you can get an idea of the layout (a rare moment not toy strewn). I’ve since changed that stretch-frame fabric for a different print in an actual frame (see below). That wall is so big, I’m not sure what we’re going to do there. Shelving? A collage of frames? One huge piece of art (that we likely can’t afford)?

The only other purchases I haven’t mentioned are the 8×10 rug we bought for $100 at HomeGoods and that coffee table ottoman that we bought on sale at Fred Meyer for $50 (which I love because it is soft – no bumped heads and such). Everything else we’ve had.

P.S. After re-reading this I realized I wanted to mention that quilt above the sofa. My mother-in-law made it for us from  an old Pottery Barn sample book of discontinuted (mostly) velvet swatches of upholstery fabric. For the backing and sides she used an old deep burgundy velvet table cloth we were getting rid of. Its very heavy and very cozy. 🙂

 


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August

It’s August! Wow! I need to really start soaking up the summer, because I know it will be gone all too soon. Check out this lovely week we’re in for:

While we Portlanders complain about the grey and rainy winters, it is the perfect summers that we live for (thankfully, not the scorching heat waves allotted to the rest of the nation). Everything is so sunny and green and beautiful out right now. Despite it’s early neglect, our garden is exploding. David’s mom did a bunch of weeding (among the many other tasks she accomplished) while she was here, and we are eating lots of fresh green beans, spinach and rainbow chard, and picked our first red tomato!

I’m happy to say that life is beginning to take on a pace that I am finally beginning to keep up with. For one thing, Leo is starting to have a recognizable schedule. I’m beginning to understand his needs, although sometimes still there is no telling and I have to try everything I can think of. Also, we finally finished the hall bathroom (aka Chloe’s Bathroom). I LOVE how it turned out, even more so than our master bathroom. Interestingly, too, we spent way less on the hall bath than the master bath, yet it still turned out better. I hope to share photos of it soon!


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More home addition progress

Things are still happening here on the house. Most notably, our master bath is close to complete! I wanted to wait and do a big reveal, but I’m too excited not to share. Everything works – our new dual-flush toilet, rain shower, and sink faucets – but there are still a few finishing touches left, like putting up the wood trim/moulding around the door, window, and floor, priming and painting the pocket door and adjusting the drawers on the sink cabinet to open and close properly. We’re talking about painting the bathroom door a fun color, but that is still undecided. Right now we’re just using a shower curtain, but eventually I’d love to have a frameless glass shower door put in. Unfortunately it costs big $$$, and there is still so much left to do yet in the rest of the house. And see that curtain? I made it from some Ikea fabric I had on hand, and I’m quite proud of how it turned out (simple as it is).

Two other notable occurrences include the professional installation of our ultra-high efficiency heat pump and the installation of our new bamboo floor. Being extra sensitive to sounds, our new heating system is taking a little getting used to, especially that only-noticeable-to-me “newly-installed” smell. I understand it is very quiet compared to most systems. Previously we had baseboards, which were almost noiseless except for occasional ticking. We used Pyramid Heating and Cooling, so if you’re in the Portland area, we would highly recommend them.

The bamboo floor was purchased from Costco, and David installed it himself over a couple of weekends. It’s noisy and repetitive work with all the pounding and sawing.   I had to take Chloe and get out of the house several times to save our sanity. It looks awesome, though. Makes me think of a ballet studio, so smooth and satiny. The above photo also shows a new-to-us Crate & Barrel sofa. My in-laws got a new sectional and drove this one out with them (from Colorado!) when they came to visit in April. It’s SO much more comfortable and better looking than our old Pottery Barn Basic sofa..

Things are really shaping up around here. Today David painted and installed lighting in our his-and-her closets. He wants us to move into the master bedroom before the baby comes, but for some reason I want to wait. It’s such a big change. I think I want to keep some sense of familiarity, plus I want to stay close to Chloe during this transitional time. Maybe I’m just silly. 🙂


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Progress

Hi! Just thought I’d check in, considering my deplorable lack of posts! Although it doesn’t always feel like it, we are actually making progress around here. This week, for example, included some landscaping, flower and vegetable gardening, a bit more painting, the final grouting/sealing/caulking of our master shower tile (all not easy with a huge 33 week belly!), and the beginning of our professional heat pump installation.

Do you have a heat pump? It was a big decision for us, deciding between a gas furnace or an electric heat pump. Our original house was fine with a couple of baseboards, but we knew we needed something better for our new space. In the end, we decided to go with the efficiency of the heat pump, especially since electricity in our area is pretty affordable compared to a lot of places. Plus the installation company gave us a deal on a refurbished unit. I hope it was the right decision.

Also partially complete is the hook-up of the Ikea Braviken Sink and Godmorgon Sink Cabinet for our master bath. It has been a real challenge for David to connect it with plumbing. He’s had to do some serious jerry-rigging due to the unusual european-style piping of the shallow double sink and having to adjust for the position of our under-sink electrical outlet.

Last weekend, Chloe also passed a major milestone – having the side-rail removed from her crib to make it a toddler bed. We probably could have left it on for longer, since she has really never tried to climb over the bar, but it seemed inevitable at almost 2 and a half. The month we were in DC she slept in the same room with me, and then when we returned to Oregon we moved her crib into our room while Grandma and Grandpa Feldkamp could have her room while they were visiting (which was AWESOME by the way). When it was time to put her back in her own room, it seemed like a good time to make the switch. I’m proud to report an almost seamless transition. My little big girl. 🙂

Home Addition by Alex Freddi Contstruction, LLC.


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Sand and water

A couple weekends ago we had Daddy all to ourselves. This particular day we joined him for a brief afternoon on the river, and then a few hours at Cannon beach. It had been a long time since we’d done something like this, and we had such a great time. Chloe loved playing in the water and especially the sand, despite the cold temperature.

I wish we could do this kind of thing more often, like we used to, but there are so many reasons we don’t – I’ve been so tired this pregnancy, or David has to work the weekend, or we need to take care of house-related errands or chores… And honestly, Chloe is becoming a handful. At two, she is naturally more independent and willful (and sometimes downright naughty!). There are days I can’t even bear to take her for groceries, and have put it off, if it just isn’t a good day. I wish it wasn’t that way.

I wish getting out of the house was easier… that everyday could be spent somewhere stimulating and fun. But now I’m okay if its just a few times a week, not counting her dance class or her morning at baby preschool. And when Baby Two comes along… well, I think its going to be tough for a while. David said something along the lines of wishing we could fast-forward through that first year, and though I see his point, this will be my only other baby. The last time I’ll get to experience the wonder of a newborn and all the sweetness that entails. And I want to share that with Chloe in a good way. I want them to love each other, to get along, to be friends. But I won’t be able to help them do that if I’m exhausted all the time, like I am now. So, when things just happen to work out, like it did on this special day, I am that much more grateful.


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And so it begins…

David and Alex completely removed our cedar deck on Sunday. It was step one toward beginning site prep for our new foundation. The weather was awful, grey, pouring rain, cold and muddy, but they managed to get it done in a few short hours. It feels weird to look out there now and see no deck. I can only imagine things will get much weirder as work progresses.


David playing with Chloe through the kitchen window.


Top portion removed to reveal the mud and dirt underneath. Then completely gone.


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Home addition!

Big news – As of right now, we are currently moving forward with plans to add on to our house! Can you believe it? For years David and I have been discussing  ideas on how an addition would make our tiny home so much more liveable. And now I think it might finally happen!

How will it look? Well, basically our plan calls for a rectangular push out into the back yard. We’ll be losing our office space (boo!) to re-convert back to the garage, and losing our existing bathroom to make way for a hall. We’ll be putting both those rooms back within the new space, but what we’re really gaining is a large dining room (and possible small play space) and a second bathroom! What we are also not doing is making any changes to the kitchen, which is hard since it is so tiny, but it is serviceable, and we’ve decided it isn’t as high a priority to us as being able to sit at a real dining table.

That is one of the hardest parts about planning out our new space – figuring out what our priorities are. We plan on living here for a long time and raising two kids, plus we have a dog. It didn’t make sense to do just a part of it now, and hope that we’d add on again later. It is much more cost-effective to break up the house just this one time. And honestly, I’m nervous (and pregnant!). How will we cope with all the racket of construction as we continue to live in the house? How will Chloe nap (light sleeper that she is)? What about dirt, dry-wall dust and other airborne particles with a newborn baby around? Will there even be a working bathroom during my last trimester? So much to think about!

Lastly, all we can do right now is design on paper, but we all know that the way things look on paper and how they look (and feel) in real-life can be different. There are so many questions and choices. I can only hope we are making the right ones for us!

Just for the record, our humble shoe-box ranch looks nothing like Niek Geurts‘s modernist Lego house (above). While we love modern, our neighborhood association is strict about matching the current look of the structure. With my husband and daughter so into Legos right now, I thought it was a cool example of the possibilities.


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Spam Upside Down Pie Recipe

David is away on a fishing trip, Chloe is sick, neither of us got much sleep last night and I had Spam and eggs for breakfast. Yep, I said Spam. I know a lot of people have a problem with it, including my husband, which is why I rarely eat it. Sure, it is far from healthy and organic, but it brings back some good childhood memories. I actually like its meaty saltiness, in small, rare doses. I’m not even sure why we have a can in the cupboard, except I must have bought it on a whim, for a camping trip maybe? I can’t remember. You’d think that would make it pretty old, but the expiration date isn’t until 2013, which in itself is kind of suspicious. The last time I clearly remember eating Spam was in Hawaii during our Honeymoon in 2004.

Anyway, I was curious to read what wikipedia had to say about it and was tickled by the above Spam advertisement printed on the back cover of Time magazine on May 14, 1945. Is it weird that I’d love to try making a Spam Upside Down Pie? Except no one would eat it with me, which is too bad.

It’s kind of hard to read on the advertisement, but here’s the recipe:

The Original Spam Upside Down Pie

Line and 8-inch mold with Spam slices and fill with baking powder biscuit dough (prepared or home mixed) well laced with tiny cubes of Spam. Bake 40-45 min. at 425F. Turn it out on a platter, fill center with a tart cheese sauce (or one made with tomato or horseradish) and watch the family turn out and fill the table in a hurry!

Tart Cheese Sauce Recipe (from Ladies’ Home Journal, December 1946)

Blend 1/3 c. flour in 1/3 c. melted butter. Slowly stir in 2 1/4 c. milk. Heat and stir until thickened. Add 1/2 lb. grated American cheese, 1 tsp. prepared mustard, 1/8 tsp. Worcestershire, 1/4 tsp. lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt. Cook in double boiler, stirring to make the mixture smooth, until cheese melts. Serve hot over a Spam Upside Down Pie.


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Appliqued Handtowels in 5 easy steps

While we were in Colorado earlier this month, I had an opportunity to watch my mother-in-law make this fun set of appliqued handtowels as a gift. She made it look so easy! Here are the materials and steps she used:

Materials
Dishtowel
Double sided fusible interface
Fabric scrap for the design
Thread for both the top side and bottom side

1. Find an image that you like and cut the shape out of both the interface and fabric. Sandy chose to use this cat image.

2. Sandwich the fusible interface between the dishtowel and the fabric, and iron them together until they are properly adhered.

3. Using a satin stitch (also called applique stitch, or tight zig-zag stitch), sew around the border of your shape. This will cover the raw edges of the fabric. I was surprised to note that Sandy kept the feed dog up, yet was able to move the fabric around with her fingers pretty easily.

4. After the border of the shape is done, use a pencil to draw the inner details to be “traced” by stitching. Sandy wanted to use a thinner satin stitch, so she adjusted the settings on her sewing machine and did a few tests before continuing.

5. Stitch over the pencil marks to add detail. Sandy noted that it is very helpful to always snip the loose threads as you go.

The finished designs!


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Living in a Tiny House

David and I love our little house, except that it is just so…little. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how we have an on-going conversation about building an addition. Recent events, however, are again pushing that idea onto the back burner. That is why I was so curious about this article which included the following video about Jay, a man who lives in a tiny house that is only 100 square feet (although that doesn’t include a sleeping loft). Can you imagine?! Also, check out the tiny dwellings at Tumbleweed Houses (shown above). To think, our house is just a hair bigger than the largest “small house” that they make!

Oh, and for all you modern house lovers like me, don’t miss the Z-house. It is so minimalist and cool, but what is with that rusty siding they chose?


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Ben Rose home for sale


Photos from the Sotheby’s web site, photographed by Robert Harshman

Remember the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Well, it turns out the 5300 square foot home (with movie-famous detached garage) is for sale through Sotheby’s. The modern steel and glass structure, built in 1953 by architects A. James Speyer and David Haid, is named after photographer Ben Rose, who once owned it. Only $2,300,000. Wow.


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Fallen


The uprooted hawthorne tree. The first and smallest to go.

A few weeks ago, on a morning I least expected it, our hawthorne tree uprooted and fell. The lightening crack of sound and following crash was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced (and hope never to again). It happened so fast, just long enough for me to pray that the baby sleeping in the bedroom would be unharmed.

Luckily, the tree fell sideways across the backyard, taking down our power line, cable internet and phone line, but damaging only little of our shed, raspberry patch, and house. I guess I can’t say it was a complete and utter surprise, although it looked healthy and still had white blooms and tiny spring leaves forming all around it. David had noticed that a bulge was forming on the ground around the back, and knew it could spell trouble. We just had no idea how soon. Nor do we know exactly what might have caused it.

Right after the hawthorne fell, we noticed that our large maple wasn’t leafing out with the other trees. We hoped it was just getting a late start this year, but no, it hadn’t survived the winter. Today, we had it removed, along with the large pine just a few feet away. The too close proximity caused the trunk to bow out dangerously over the house. The pine had the potential to do major damage, and we’ve talked about having it taken out since we moved in four years ago. We never guessed our hand would be forced.

Now, with the removal complete, the backyard looks naked. Three trees gone in a matter of weeks. Felled in what feels like too quick a manner for the many years it took them to grow.

I’ll miss them.

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