Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Homemade Water Table to Open Summer

So this year we had a super laid-back Memorial Day.  Usually on Sunday night we have a party and invite a bunch of people, get drunk, and hang out until the wee hours of the morning.  When we were asked if we were doing it again this year, I realized that I was just not feeling it.  Apparently what I am feeling is like an old person.  We did decide to have a small group of people over, just to hang out around the fire pit/bowl/burnable garbage depository and drink a few beers.  It was a bit awkward for whatever reason, actually, but I think all involved just don't do that kind of thing a lot.  Better get used to it, though, because we're all getting old and having kids and this is gonna be the new norm.

We always make food for our gatherings, but with so having so many fewer people over, I didn't want to make a whole lot.  This kind of fell on deaf ears when it came to hubs though, so we wound up with a ton of leftovers.  They were delicious though, so I was ok with that.  I'm sure you're dying to know what we had.  Jed made what I call his tea sandwiches (but they're open-faced): mini-rye bread, butter, salami, cucumber, in that order, open-faced.  Weird combination, but yummy.  And Jed is ridiculous, he actually cut the salami into squares to fit the bread.  We also had Spinach-Artichoke dip, veggies (let's call it crudite and pretend we're fancy) and this Oreo Layer Dessert (holy crap was that stuff good.  Super rich).  I also made this Sarasota Lemonade for myself - it was so good, but seemed super sweet to me and I could only drink a little bit of it.  I think it was because I'm not used to drinking pop and really sweet drinks like the pink lemonade that is in it.  And of course I found all of these recipes through Pinterest.  Except the veggies, duh.

Anyway, the next day we just hung around the house since it seemed nobody was really doing anything or had other plans.  It was nice to just laze about.  However, during Romy's nap I did assemble the water table that I put together.  I really wanted to get one for her after seeing my friends pictures of theirs, I knew that she would have a lot of fun with one.  However, they are kind of expensive, especially the one I wanted because come on it's a pirate ship!  Anyway I looked around and decided that I was going to put one together myself on the cheap.  I saw one made out of an under-bed storage tub and I just happened to have one hanging out in my car doing nothing useful.  A water wheel and cheap bag of sand toys ($6 each at Toys R US), a $1 bag of marbles and a cheap pack of sponges later, we were set.  The sponges I just cut into strips, but I did take 4 of them and a rubber band and make this:

Hey, it works.
Her favorite part was the marbles, though, just feeling them in the water, taking them in and out of things, etc.  Yes, she was supervised, all that jazz, and yes she had them taken from her after she discovered (after an hour) that she could put them in her mouth.  This whole setup still kept her entertained for over an hour, so much so that she almost completely ignored the kiddie pool that I'd set up next to it.

Yes our setup is a little janky but IT WORKS.

Jed came out and grilled some chicken (with this Peanut-Ginger Marinade, so good!) with some broccoli and cauliflower, we sat around, we were lazy.  It was good times.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ramona's 1st Birthday Party - With Rainbows!

So yes, I know that this post is a bit...late.  Six months or so.  Let's just pretend it was yesterday, ok?  Sounds good.  Anyway, Romy's birthday party wasn't a huge to-do or anything, just some friends and family, a good time overall.

When I was looking for a theme, I wanted to pick something simple that I thought would interest her, as much as you can at that age, anyway.  I didn't want to pick some random character, because really she couldn't care less about them.  I've never personally known a one-year-old to get super excited about an Elmo party or whatever.  But hey, maybe your kid was, and that's cool too!  At the time the only show she ever watched on TV was Yo Gabba Gabba, but that still didn't really mean all that much to her.  I decided to just go with rainbows, I figured we could have some fun with the decor and she would like the bright colors.

For the decor I kept it rather simple.  From the dollar stores I got streamers, balloons, plates, napkins, and cups in a variety of colors.  I let most of the balloons just float around the floor because I knew that's where the kids would be able to enjoy them.  My favorite thing was the bunting that we made out of felt and ribbon, and it was fairly easy.  We decided how big we wanted the flags to be (smaller for "Happy Birthday", larger for "Ramona!") chose a font and size that would fit (basically by  holding a flag up to the monitor) and traced the letters onto white felt.  A little glue, a little scissor-work, add some ribbon...done!  Plus, I'm planning on hanging the bunting in Ramona's room as soon as I figure out the best way to get it up on the plaster walls.

Awkwardly cropped photo.  I sacrificed the exclamation point so you wouldn't see my forehead.
When I say we: I was very lucky in that I got a TON of help from my mother- and sister-in law.  They helped make the decorations and bake everything.  I couldn't have done it on time without them.  We had cake pops, cupcakes, white-chocolate dipped pretzels and oreos, fruits, veggies, crock-pot meatballs, dip, and of course a little rainbow cake for the birthday girl.  We used rainbow sprinkles, silver dragees and purple sparkly glitter to decorate the sweets.  It was a life-changing revelation when I found out about edible glitter.  I decided that it needed to be sprinkled on all of my food forever (I did not follow through with that).

There may or may not be a Brobee and/or leftover Halloween decor in this photo.
So let me tell you right off the bat- making the rainbow cake and cupcakes, and the cake pops...that was a bitch.  I decided that I wanted to go the swirl route (rather than the different colored tiers), so that wasn't too bad, but trying to split up all the different colors evenly and get them in a muffin tin - headache.  You see people who do these things and they're all like "Omg, it was so easy!"  Well, good for you.  Then there were the cake pops.  Yes, this was our first foray into the world of little tiny edible balls of amazingness, but I still have no idea how these people manage to get these nice round perfectly smooth little creatures.  Mine looked like I tossed them toward the bowl from across the kitchen and hoped for the best.  Then there was the matter of getting them to stay on the stick.  I'm pretty sure they were just trying to escape.  Lumpy, see-through...but delicious.  Once I got them decorated, they were much cuter, though.  And the fact that they tasted great is what counts, right?  And whatever, they were MADE WITH LOVE.  And they were color-swirled too!

I'm still in love with the mini-bunting on here.  Also, no idea how MIL got a ghost "1" on there.
I wasn't sure how we were going to display them, but I remembered that I had a ton of those Target $1 metal pails hanging around in various colors and patterns.  We filled them with sand, covered it with foil, poked the sticks through, and then poured in m&m's and sour gummy worms to cover the foil and add to the color.  They may have been easier ways to do this, but hey, it worked!

Ramona wasn't feeling the greatest, but she still seemed to have a good time.  You could tell that when we did presents and the cake, she was rather confused about everybody standing around and watching her!  She definitely had some trepidation about the smash cake that we gave her, as she didn't get that kind of thing very often.  She got into in the end, as long as she avoided the frosting, which she wasn't a big fan of.  She really didn't make that much of a mess of herself, she was pretty neat and tidy!

We had lots of fun, but I was glad when it was over!  Just like my wedding, I had a good time getting there, but the next day - what a relief.  It's totally possible that I left some of the decor up for a while afterward...I couldn't let all that work go to waste so quickly!

Ramona is almost 19 months old now...guess I better get started planning the next one!

FYI- The first two pics were taken by my BFF Brett, the rest were taken by my good friend Laura of Torn Paper Studios.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Thunderstorm and a Ninja Mom Fail

So let me tell you, I know that we got very lucky in the sleeping baby lottery.  I know this.  So when someone is up in the middle of the night when I'm used to sleeping, yeah I'm not used to that.

We had a pretty epic thunderstorm last night, and for the first time ever, it woke Ramona up, enough that I needed to go upstairs and try to get her back down.  And back down I got her.  Three times.  Each time I would try to sneak out of her room, and each time when I was almost out she'd sit bolt upright (out of her SLEEP) and starting babbling in that tone and with that look that just said "Uh...WTF?  Sit down."

Trying to sneak out of her room is no easy feat, though.  Our house is old and has the original hardwood, so every single step comes with a squeal or a squeak or a groan.  This is especially true of the middle of the room, so by the third time I had enough sense to at least attempt to snake around the perimeter of the room like ninja cat (look up the video for a visual).  Didn't work.  I eventually had to gently let her know the storm was over and mommy was going back downstairs.  She cried for a couple of minutes but settled herself back down (this is a major reason we've never co-slept, ever since she was tiny, 90% of the time she will not fall asleep if someone's holding her, in her room, if she's not in her own bed, etc).  Yes, of course the storm was over by then, I wasn't leaving her alone with the big bad thunder, geez.

What's somewhat ridiculous about this is that the other night, in a panic about having enough summer clothes for her, I went in her room and seriously moved furniture and rifled through her drawers while she slept and didn't make a peep.  She gets that from her dad, who of course slept through this whole thing.

I'll tell you though, I totally reveled in the "I want my mommy" neediness.  I love it.  Two large iced coffees today, thank you.

Look how cute she is when she's sleeping.  Look.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Eighteen Months

18 months now.  I meant to write a post to you at twelve, but so much was going on that like everything else, I just kept putting it off.  18 months, and so much has changed since the last time I wrote to you, at six.  It's like you're a whole different person, and in a way, you are.

You're a full-blown toddler now, and so big in your 3T's already.  You're almost as big as your friends who are two and three already, strangers can't believe you're as young as you are.  You talk so much, so many words, starting to put together two-word sentences, and still babbling to yourself in the language you made up for yourself.

My favorite time to hear you talk is when you read from a book.  Your voice ranges high and low, going up in excitement, mimicking the way you're read to.  And you do love your books, they're not really toys, but they're definitely your favorite thing to play with.  Your favorites are always the Bright Baby books, right now it's First 100 Words because you love to point and repeat the names of objects.  But at night, you still let me read to you, as long as afterward you can read back to me.  I can't wait until you're a little bit older and I can start reading chapter books to you, but right now I'll gladly settle for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  And you still let me read Goodnight Moon, although our copy is much more beat-up now.

I'm working now, and I hate not seeing you as much.  It was so hard going from being with you all day almost every day, to only seeing you for a couple hours at night and on the weekends.  I worry that you're going to have some sort of disconnect from me.  I especially feel sad those times that you seem to prefer your grandma over me, but I know it's because you spend so much time with her.  I worry that I can't do all the things with you that I want, but I'll always make time for you when I can.  I worry about ever having another baby, because how will it be fair for me to take even more time from you?

You get so easily excited about things.  You say Hi and Bye to everybody, over and over again, even cars passing in the street.  You love to pick flowers.  Bubbles are another favorite, you cannot get enough of them, and you're getting good at blowing them on your own.  You get nervous and giggly around dogs, and yell in excitement when the cat (CAT-TUH!) decides to make an appearance in your presence.  You've got your papa wrapped around your finger.  You're just so...old.  You haven't taken a bottle or a pacifier in I don't even know how long.  You have almost a whole mouthful of teeth, you get put in time-outs already when you forget that hitting is not nice, you already have a potty that you like to sit on but haven't used yet for it's intended purpose.

You carry your sippy cup and especially Baby Monkey around with you everywhere.  I love when you hug and kiss him, but you're mean to him sometimes too.  That's ok though, even a toddler has to get her frustrations out.  You take my hand and lead me around when you're ready to go somewhere, or when you want me to sit down here, lay down here, read, watch a video.  You can be very demanding, but I'm ok with that right now.  You freely give hugs and kisses.  You've learned how much I love your kisses and use them to stall at night, asking for a million in a row, knowing that I'll stay a couple extra minutes to make up for all the kisses I miss during the day.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Project for March

So as I believe I've noted before, I'm not the best at taking photos.  One of the ways that I've decided to try to improve my lot is 31 Days to a Better Photo from My 3 Boybarians (found through Pinterest, duh).  I've had the tab open in my browser forever now, and of course I almost forgot about it since it didn't really sink in that it was actually the 1st of March until this afternoon, time flying and all that.

I haven't read through the all of the posts, but I do see that this is more for those with a DSLR camera.  I'm not lucky enough to have one of those, but I figure that it can't hurt to use what I've got, right?  What I've got, actually, is a beat-up Fujifilm Finepix S700 7.1MP.  My husband, however, did get a Nikon COOLPIX S9100 12.1 MP to use as a "company camera" (for better quality before/after pics) so hopefully I can steal that a bit.

The first post in the series is a welcome post that has a very important lesson: don't hesitate to take pictures!  I tend to do this, thinking that I'll wait until I have some perfect moment, but in reality you never know when that moment will be.  As someone's who a fan of candid photography, you'd think I'd know that by now.

Anyway, I hope you'll check back to see how I'm doing, hopefully having some sort of accountability will actually keep me on task!

P.S. Bam, two posts in one week.  Look at me go, right?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Look! I Made Something!

I need to get better about this blogging business.  Some sort of consistency, schedule, etc.  I've been told that I should keep it up, but I think part of my issue is a lack of feedback.  I mean, my husband doesn't really count, ya know? 

So anyway, this post is just for me show off the fact that a couple of months ago I actually had the motivation to do a project that I found on Pinterest and bring it into my real life, instead of just mind-numbingly pinning a ton of "Oooh look at that" things.  Unfortunately, I only took a picture of the finished project, no in-progress shots.  I did have a couple of badly lit phone shots, but they were lost when my subpar SD card decided that she just couldn't take anymore, Cap'n!*

However, I can direct you to the blog post that I followed to make the wreath, it can be found HERE- the steps are super easy to follow!  Here's my finished project:

Please ignore the unfinished paint job behind it.  It will soon be PURPLE anyway!

Obviously I made some changes in the way that I did mine - I used three different types of yarn (which made this project take for-ev-er) and I used two different colors of felt in in some of the larger flowers just to see if I could.  I was pretty stoked about how it turned out.  I chose the colors that I did so I could have this up in the winter without it being a "Christmas wreath".  After we pick out the new door color I'll probably be making a more spring-like style, maybe find/make some sort of bird(s) for it.** 

What I do need to figure out is what I can use to sort of "seal" the yarn after it's done.  After being outside for a couple months, it's starting to get fuzzy and I'm worried that it won't hold up.  Hopefully soon I'll find something and get started on the next one!

*Sorry, geek attack
**Apparently I need to watch Portlandia, I keep hearing about "put a bird on it" and yeah, that's just me.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dining Room Update

  So we pretty much worked on pretty-ing up (totally a word) the dining room at the same time we were doing the kitchen.  Truth be told we were having one of our first shindigs in the house and wanted things looking better by the time a decent-sized group of people saw the house.  The only thing that we've really done so far is paint and hang some stuff, but it made a huge difference.  Here's a shoddy picture of a corner of the room from our original house tour:

The room isn't big at all, I'm standing pretty much in the back corner.  This used to be the eat-in kitchen!  That, by the way, accounts for the strange outlet placement (all but one are on the upper part of the wall).  What you can't see is the other area on the linoleum where the previous owners apparently used some heavy-duty carpet tape to hold down small rugs, and the peeling painted fruit border.  Ugh.  And don't you just love builder's grade brass light fixtures?  I know I don't!

Well here's the view from the opening into the kitchen:

I'm not a huge fan of the light fixture in here, I'd like to get something that fits the room better.  Jed loves it, though, and there's not really anywhere else that it can go right now.  If we can't afford a new one, I thought about tackling the brass one that was in here with some spray-paint and seeing what I can make of it. 

The frames in the back are from various places; Hobby Lobby, Garden Ridge, mostly Goodwill.  All but the long skinny mirror had to be spray-painted either black or silver.  I hope to eventually get more as I find them and fill the wall up a little more, I think it looks a bit sparse.  I did try to get a bit crafty with a couple of them, which went both good and bad.  On the bad spectrum, you have the oval shaped frame, which is is desperate need of something real to go inside of it.  I'm not going to post a close-up of what's in there now because it's just a mess.  Let's just say that DIY stenciling with spray-paint did not go well.  On the good end, I wound up with this:

The ceramic bowl in the middle is our ring bowl, that we used in lieu of a pillow for our wedding ceremony.  Super-fancy frame, spray paint, scrap-book paper, some jimmying, and there you have it.  I love it, it's my favorite thing in the room.

And from the other side:

The sideboard from Ikea was an awesome find, got it in the as-is section for $140!  It was a nice splurge.  Right now it's holding our "wedding china" (from Target) and fancy glasses.  I want to change up some of the stuff that's on top,  as the French-themed stuff in the front isn't my favorite anymore, it's just what I was able to dig up out of the basement.  I also feel like maybe there's too much going on, but I have a need to fill up every space with stuff, just stuff everywhere.  Not good in a small house, but dammit I love my knick-knacks and random crap. 

I also feel like something needs to go above it, as there's just a big block of space.  I did think about waiting for a bit, then hanging some empty frames to hold random bits of future toddler artwork as seen all over the internet.

I'm realizing now that it's hard to tell the color of the lower walls here, but it's a deep plum, like the color of...
These pants.  Like that.
 There's still obviously stuff to be done: I'm still deciding whether or not I want curtains in there, and it's yet another room that needs the flooring completely ripped up and redone.  Still, it's in way better shape than it was!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Updating the Kitchen

So it's been slow going over here when it comes to our house updates.  I say update rather than renovation because really we haven't much in regards to "tear it down, put it back up".  It's all been about paint jobs and cleaning up so far, plus there's all that time and especially money that's needed.

Our kitchen wasn't really horrible, I mean, it was completely functional once we put some appliances in.  But seriously, that countertop?  The sponge-stenciling?  No thanks.

This probably looked great in 1987.
It's a bit of a strange kitchen, I guess.  The kitchen in this house used to be in the dining room, which when you see that you'll understand why they put this in!  It used to be a breezeway, the door behind Jed there is actually the garage door.  Here's a look at what it looked like when we first saw the house:

I did not have a pic without Jed wandering around looking surly.

They did some things that we would have done differently, such as moving the sink underneath the big back window.  Plus, the location of the dishwasher means that you can't be in front of the sink when you're loading it, which is kind of a pain.  It's also freezing in there!  We had to put a space heater in this winter to keep it somewhat comfortable.  But, we do have awesome brick walls in there, and vaulted ceilings, so there's that.  Also, those stencils above that little cupboard in the back?  Cats and fish.  They had to go.  So one paint job and a new countertop later:

You can probably tell that these are not the most recent pictures, as it's a nice sunny day outside but really it's January and we just got 3 inches of ice or something (also, I needed pictures of my kitchen looking tidier than it does today).  Hopefully I'll be able to get some better ones too when we do something else to the room.

I'm kind of going for a funky-retro vibe.  I buy accessories in bright colors like hot pink, lime green and orange to complement the colors.  The countertop is laminate, but it's black and textured (and thanks to a former work connection of hubs', free!), so I don't knock it.  We also removed the cabinet that was above the microwave.  It was just completely useless, I actually had to sit on the countertop to get in there, and I'm pretty tall.  We still have plenty to do, the main things being replacing the lighting (ceiling fan and track lights), painting the cabinets (white), adding shelving (above the sink, where the cabinet used to be, and maybe above the "cat corner") and replacing the flooring.

Another big project that I've decided I want to do in there is to add a built-in kitchen bench in the corner where the small table is now.  We would need to take measurements to make sure it fits, but I really think that it's feasible and might help with resale when the time comes for that.  Damn you Pinterest, you fill my brain with too many ideas!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Trying To Ignore the Shiny Objects

So, apparently I'm not very good at this blogging thing.  I obviously haven't posted in a bit, for a myriad of reasons.  I get anxious about what to write about, about whether it sounds right, about whether it's something that people will want to read at all (all like, 2 of you).  And I'm just lazy.

Maybe lazy isn't the right word.  I think it's more like completely unmotivated, which unfortunately seems applicable to many facets of my life.  So, with that, it's January and with the new year comes a slew of goals that are normally abandoned before anyone even starts wondering whether or not it's a leap year.  The majority of my goals are family goals, though, something Hubs and I both want to work on to generally improve our lives.  It's kind of sad how basic they are:

-Keep the house clean
     I hate cleaning.  A lot.  A lot lot.  But we've started making an effort to actually do the dishes at night (what?!)  and pick up the toys (I know!), even do a load of laundry and put it away (shocking!).  As for the rest, Jed's sister is on our cell phone plan, needs a way to help pay for it, and does cleaning on the side- win win, right?

-Eat healthier
    We know how to eat healthier, we just don't do it.  I want to try making some freezer meals, using my crockpot more, etc.  This is my goal before I get to working out, I know that if I try to radically change something all at once I will quickly give up.  And we have to stop eating out so much!  Which leads to...

-Fix our money
     Pay bills.  Don't spend it on stupid shit.  Should be easy enough, right?

-Grow the business
     Jed basically took over his dad's remodeling company after he lost his job last year.  Things weren't working out when he used to work for him, but he's really motivated to make something more out of it this year.

So those are the basics.  We really want to turn things around this year, at least get started on a good path (

-I tried to come up with some yellow brick road analogy, but that particular road just led to a discovery of lies and "Oh, I had it all along," but guess what, I don't have a pile of cash and carrots and Mary Poppins hiding anywhere.  Great movie, though.