The Finished Patio

Well folks as promised, here is the completed patio. I’m sure I promised these pictures some time ago, but I hope by now you are familiar with the premise of the blog, painfully slow and under deliver at all opportunities.

The backyard has been a long time coming. We took the rotten deck down over the 2017 summer (it took us so long the City of Oakdale even noticed), paid someone to put in a patio in 2018, and finally got around to finishing the space in 2019.


I’d still like to add a small table up against the bench for a little alfresco dining. Now I don’t know if this is a point of confusion for anyone else, but alfresco – just means outside, not nude as Brett had supposed. Not sure if you can get a sense of how close the neighbors house is, and you might also notice they are up the hill from us. I mean I am totally on board with idea of elastic waistband pants for comfort while eating, but nude just takes it too far. So please, friends if we invite you for a patio dinner, do not be confused!


Not to toot our own horn, but the pergola turned out beautifully. When I was designing it I really loved the look of chunkier posts. These 6×6 cedar posts did the trick. I also really wanted a more clean line, modern looking pergola, versus the traditional pergola. Brett took a day off of work and his dad came down and spent a full day working on it. I was slightly worried at how things were progressing when at 1:00 in the afternoon they had only 4 posts in the ground. Now if you were to ask my father-in-law that was because some nimrod designed a pergola based off aesthetic and with zero thought to construction. There were some challenges to be sure. Nothing was square, he had some real beef about how the posts had to be the correct height and couldn’t just be lopped off. But, you know he loves you when he gripes and moans, all while doing it just how you wanted, while also worrying about tedious things like level, making things structurally sound, all the crap that I hate.

We were really stuck on how we were going to get the beams across the top stable. I actually found a picture on Instagram that had this kind of corner design and it ended up working out great. Now Brett and Dan might disagree because they had to lift these massive beams, up and down to make cuts with no real margin for error. They end up fitting in kind of like a puzzle piece and then they secured them with bolts from the top.img_20190626_200815.jpg

Brett and his dad put up the posts and the beams in a single day and then Brett and I finished the rest of it up over a couple weeks. We screwed in 2×4 from the top, spacing them 9 inches apart. We actually ordered these wingdings (knee brace might be the real term) from Amazon (is there anything you can’t get from there?). If you ever find yourself building a pergola and wondering on size, these are 3 inches wide. I originally thought we should get chunky ones to match the beams, but thank heavens we didn’t because it would have been a million more dollars and since nothing was square we had to cheat them quite a bit in a few spots.


We added 2 boards horizontally across the fence side to make it easier to weave the wisteria through. I don’t know why those vines bring me so much joy, but they do!

Hilariously, I think I said I was going to wait to take pictures until we had some grass. Well to be fair we do have some grass, it may only make up 10% of the weed field, but it used to be 0%, so there’s that. We debated doing sod and hydro seeding. We were sick of doing yard work and did not feel like ripping up the backyard. We did actually get 2 yards of compost that we spread back there, but lost pretty much all gusto after that. We loved the idea of hydro seeding, but no one would do a job with that little square feet. So then we decided to just buy a bag of seed and a timer for those hose and hope for the best. I will say though mowing makes a world of difference between weed jungle and subdued weed field. We were talking projects with one of Brett’s old friends and talking about how our backyard didn’t have any grass, he said if you are fancy enough to have a pergola, you don’t need grass. Guess it’s official then.


Here are a few of the pretty details. The wisteria of course and this cute little bell that Gideon managed to drop while pulling it out of the Target bag. This is a lesson best learned multiple times, I can’t have nice things. A little super glue did the trick  of piecing it back together and I’m sure you can just feel the charm oozing from it now.


I got this little faux stump from Target which adds a little warmth to the black and white furniture. And Trader Joe’s for the win with peonies. I have never bought peonies before, but they are really lovely. I am hoping to add some peonies to the back at some point, but for now these do the trick.


I wouldn’t necessarily recommend flame next to plants, but I essentially wanted to make sure I had the wisteria in every picture I took.

The chairs are from Ikea and pretty lazy people friendly, because they even have a drain hole, so they require zero maintenance.

IMG_20190626_201027We got the little couch from Target and I love it thus far. We’ve never had anywhere to sit in the backyard before and I am really loving it. (That’s not entirely true, we were notorious for leaving our camping chairs out, they’d always have pooling water in the seat, which slowly decreased the structural integrity to the point where my 8 year old nephew managed to fall through it, butt first-thighs-to-face-style. So maybe I should qualify with the first time we have had safe seating in the backyard.) I’ve been making Levi read a book every day this summer and this is the perfect spot for it..

The shed on the other hands is a bit beat up and could use some love. Behind the couch it has some see through sections. Unlike those fancy new fridges where it is meant as a feature to be able to see what is inside, it is slightly less useful in a shed. I’m toying with painting it the same dark blue green as the kid’s fort, Salamander, but it seems a little silly if we don’t repair it. It also used to have power to it, but doesn’t currently.

IMG_20190626_201334IMG_20190626_201214 And since I can’t just show you the pretty parts, here are the work in progress shots. I am hoping to add some peonies and other bushes this fall to line the retaining wall and go under that little wall. We have boxwood along the existing retaining wall which form a nice natural barrier. I planted a bunch of ground cover by the sunroom door. It is all supposed to spread and be able to handle light foot traffic. I’m going for a whimsical footpath.

I’ll leave you with a little magic in the form of twinkle lights.MVIMG_20190626_214755


The Joy of Stepping on Legos

Good heavens, it’s been awhile.

If you are wondering how the basement project is going, it isn’t.

The floors are still half concrete/half this amazing vinyl tile that is equal parts ugly to  asbestos (if I were a betting person, which I’m not really an all in kind of betting person, I’m more of a ranking of percentage confident kind of person. I once fought Brett hard that his best friend’s house had a pocket door for the main floor bathroom. A house I had been into once and a house Brett basically grew up in. I gave it a 95% confidence rating. Brett wanted to put him self as a 100% confident, but of course I told him you can’t be 100%. Turns out there wasn’t a pocket door. This is likely Brett’s greatest win of all time. I’m fairly sure the words “I was wrong” may have even slipped from my mouth. Now I don’t want you to get the wrong impression I am nearly always right especially when I give a high confidence rating).

There are a few bright sides to having the basement ripped up.

  1. We found some sewer thing that is smack dab in the middle of the basement. I mean you have to take your wins were you can. Just think if sewage were to back up in the future, now we know where the thing is, what a perk!
  2. My brothers were noting the weird placement of that and that our water shut off is also in the middle of the house. They think there was likely additions at some time. Now maybe this isn’t exactly a bright side, but I love the mystery of wondering what it used to be and how the house was originally laid out. It kinda made the whole two sets of stairs make sense. I may have to figure out how to find old plans or permits from the city to satisfy my curiosity.
  3. Now this is a bit of a stretch, but I am going to go with it. We let the kids scooter and bike inside ever since we ripped up the carpet. And then just a week ago we had a learn-how-to-bike-without-training-wheels-party with two of Levi’s friends and he totally did it. I’m sure it was all the confidence he built up and extra weeks of being on wheeled things in the basement that really made it a success! More likely it was the perfect kind of peer pressure. Ever since I’ve been dreaming up all kinds other kinds of parties, How-to-clean-up-after-yourself-party, eating-vegetables-is-fun-party, just-face-it-your-mom-is-always-right-party…


In the interim I bought a carpet remnant from Lowes and we put a few things back down in the basement. Trust me when I say having all the legos in the the kitchen is a max two week kind of solution. Apparently having wall to wall couches and a bed right inside your front door is a many months solution. I mean who am I kidding we had a toilet in our main living room just inside the front door for 9 short months when we renovated out master bath. We had friends over for a movie night and had to laugh when we said everyone come upstairs to our room and pick out a movie. Its this weird limbo of hopefully we can actually get things moving and fix the water issues, but also knowing nothings been happening yet. We don’t want to have to bring everything back up out of the basement again. So for now it looks like this except picture a million legos on the floor to surprise and delight your every step. Also picture clutter absolutely everywhere. Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep ugly clean or organized.


Brett and I have been talking about taking out that half wall between the office and playroom and a whole slew of other ideas. If you thought we were slow moving on projects we are excited about, you should just how slow we move on things we don’t feel like doing.

I forgot almost forgot perk #4

The kids absolutely love playing in what they affectionately refer to as the Crack. None of their friends have one. What is it you ask? The great fun of climbing on top of the queen mattress and box spring and then sliding down between them. They are held mostly in place by a couch. I’m pretty sure it was outlawed for a week or two, but who are we kidding, we can’t keep up that kind of vigilance. I mean they are only 5 feet off the ground with the potential of hitting at least one soft surface if they fall. When Levi was a baby people used to say we seemed pretty calm and cool for first time parents. Turns out if you start there, after you have a second kid you just slip right into negligence, and let me tell you the kids love it!IMG_20190405_171424618

In other news we have been doing exciting things outside! The wisteria is just about to bloom and we spread some grass seed last night, so hopefully in a week or two I’ll show you where we are at in the backyard! Here is a peek into the progress we made in early May.IMG_20190506_201351284.jpg

Until next time….


We have taken on a new project. I really thought we were going to take a little break from projects, but right in the middle of our vacation, Brett and I both agreed on some major changes in the basement.

We just could not get the idea out of our heads.

Why have finished space when you could instead have concrete? Just think it’s perfect for roller blades, bikes, scooters… What kid doesn’t get cooped up a bit in winter and need some space to mess around. The other thought was what about an indoor swimming pool? It wouldn’t have to be too deep, the kids are little and would still enjoy even a splash pool.

Usually after we get back from vacation, we like to relax, but instead we got right to work and ripped up the entire floor in the basement; the carpet, the wood floor in the bar and even the newly finished laundry room foam floor. There is nothing that I love more than taking apart freshly completed projects. I mean the laundry room was done nearly a whole week before we ripped up the floor.

In case you think we have gone mental, the entire basement flooded.

While we were on vacation.

From multiple directions.




Thankfully Brett’s brother Nick happened to stop by our house to check on a slow drip in the sunroom. The plan was to see if the bucket needed emptying. Well the sunroom ended up being fine, but the puddle emoji Nick had queued up to send as a joke, didn’t get sent once he walked in and saw all the water. He also walked into all carbon monoxide detectors going off.

If you were worried that flooding was the only fun happening in our house, don’t worry because the boiler also crapped out. Turns out the old gal was 50 years old. Which makes sense, considering every time it was negative outside, the house felt like a cool spring day inside.

So anyways Nick and my brother Josh were incredible and worked like crazy to save all of our furniture, getting it upstairs or on blocks. Nick also took care of calling the fire department and Xcel so no one took a long long sleep from the Carbon Monoxide.

We also have some of the most amazing friends and family who helped us rip out truly rank carpet, vacuum up water, remove cabinets, move crap and get off the baseboards. (Shout-out to Matt Lindstrom, Jared Porter, Andy Nordquist, Josh Lawson, Jon Lawson, and Christie Lawson). The silver lining in all the suck is feeling really loved and cared for by those around us.

So I’m not sure that I’ll do any more updates on the basement. Because we plan to leave it concrete for a while. We need to solve the leaking problems before we consider any kind of flooring. I am hoping to bring in some wheeled things for the kiddos so it feels like a fun adventure. I don’t think we will actually do any swimming in the crawl space, not that I have all that high of standards. I do remember taking turns swimming in my friend’s new trash bin when I was a kid. I mean it was way deeper that a traditional kiddie pool. I even remember questioning my mom why we never got to do that at our house!

I just might need to stop by Trader Joe’s and get myself some flowers. They really do have the best ones and for cheap. It just might do the trick and remind me I really do love spring!img_20190317_133954863627929585499619057018203705894617283973000492815703077529image

Laundry Reveal

The laundry room is officially done! Well there is still one thing on the list, which now that I write this, I worry we may never do, but alas it is done!

So what did we do to get to this point?

Let’s start with the new drywall ceilings. Big pain, but worthwhile. We ended up going with a flat ceiling because I like it best, though I will say it makes it significantly harder to make it not look janky. The laundry room is an odd space in that it has two separate areas that have a drywall ceiling and the rest is open/unfinished with all the house’s plumbing and wiring visible. Since we didn’t want to lose easy access to all that, plus we are in no way skilled enough to make unfinished into finished we only fixed the existing ceilings. Shown in blue.


We also changed out both of the existing lights. The one originally here was a boob light that we had to take the glass part off because it kept overheating and burning out the bulbs. It also was held together with tinfoil for whatever reason. I found this beauty at Menards, which has surprisingly decent light selection. It came with some cute super dim vintage bulbs which we changed out for some much brighter LED bulbs.


The other part about the ceiling that we were stumped on for a bit was how to not make it look so shoddy next to the wood plank walls. We ended up using quarter round not only for a more finished look, but also to cover a few largish cracks. And what the quarter round couldn’t bridge, nothing a little (or a healthy dose) of caulk couldn’t fix. I would highly recommend learning how to effectively caulk if you don’t know already. It is the great equalizer for all things wonky. Didn’t make a perfect cut- caulk will fix it. Square hole in the ceiling isn’t covered by the circle fixture- caulk it. See? If you are a the kind of person who says “good enough,” but still want it to look nice, this is a totally worthwhile skill. Two hot tips – 1) Under-do it initially, it will be less mess and you can always add more caulk. 2) Use baby wipes, especially for filling nail holes, it will wipe off the extra so you don’t have to go back and sand or paint over it.

Want a little glimpse into how Brett and I do projects together? This was our final to-do list. Not only can you see the one outstanding item, but look at number one. Crossed off no big deal. I tell Brett come check this out! (The subtext was that he was to check it out, say it looked awesome, say I was uniquely skilled, I was totally fine if he ad-libbed a bit, but I was pretty set on the messaging ) Brett instead heard ‘could you carefully critique the thing that I am so over and done with so that I could do it some more?’ Now I don’t know if you are a list person, but I am. And like any good list maker I love to cross things off. So when Brett said it looked okay, but not great… (now I don’t want you too nervous so I’ll give a spoiler- we are still happily married, even if the next parts sounds a bit hairy)…So while maintaining eye contact with my beloved husband I added number 9 to the list “Caulk light again to Brett’s satisfaction.” This time the subtext was if you want it a certain way have at it. And guess what folks? He got the subtext!


Here is the other light we added in. It was quite tricky to get a halfway decent picture of it. This one I bought at Ikea back in phase one of laundry room. The former light was just a bare bulb tucked part way into the wall. We kept the junction box in the same spot (minus the jutting into the wall part) and then added a hook so we could hang the pendant in the center of the little square of drywall. Another thing we did to improve this area was to take out some plywood and added wood to frame out the beam that cut through there. It allowed more light through the space, making it almost like a transom window. Please appreciate that Brett and I painted some of the cords running through there, but only enough to cover any orange.


The next massive undertaking was the floors. I know I left you in suspense from last time and now you had to read everything above here only to finally find out the solution we came up with….

Foam floor tiles! Yup, the kind people usually use for workout spaces or daycares. Now before you think I am crazy, listen to the perks: it’s basically like an anti fatigue mat covering the entire laundry room, easy installation, works over weird uneven floor, great for two wild kids to wrestle on… Am I selling you yet? Now I don’t know that people usually install it how we did, using a razor blade to make exact cuts and then finishing it with baseboard, but I have to say I am quite pleased. I think it helped that we found tiles that had a pretty gray print, making it feel less like a crossfit gym (not a place you want to find yourself typically- unless you are into that sort of thing, which don’t worry we already all know if that is you).


You can see the seams, but it doesn’t bug me in the slightest. We did make sure to have all the lines run the same direction (except of course on one of the trickiest cuts that we screwed up and didn’t notice until the next day). Also for about a 1$ a square foot, the price wasn’t bad. We got in the 3/8ths inch thickness which was plenty thick even for covering uneven vinyl tiles underneath. The only downside is the tiles are slightly more prone to curling up at the seams. We might add some carpet tape to secure them to the cement/vinyl down the road, but for now its pretty slight. I’d imagine the thicker 5/8th inch version would do less of that, but we wanted the 3/8ths because it matched the height of the neighboring bar floor (and lets be honest it was cheaper and who doesn’t love cheaper.)

Okay now that you’ve seen glimpses, here is the whole thing completed!


I finally got to hang my late aunt’s hand crank clothes wringer. I’ve had it for 10 years and to finally give it a home and to think of her while folding clothes gives me all kinds of joy. It is quite a burly piece, so I am hoping the hooks, which can hold 95 pounds a piece, and the pieces of wire, which can do 40 pounds a piece, are in it for the long haul. It adds some nice warm wood tones to the white walls.


Before we called it last winter we added an old left over rod and sprayed it black to crisp it up. Now we can hang our clothes straight out of the dryer, since goodness knows we rarely iron, except for job interviews, we always iron for those! We carried the floor under the washer and dryer too. It was a bit of a doozy, tilting and lifting and trying not to puncture the floor, but it was totally worthwhile. It feels so much cleaner and finished. The other unforeseen perk is they rattle and shake significantly less than when they were just on the concrete. The single black hook is from CB2.


The wall behind the washer and dryer remains cinder block with all kinds of pipes and cords running through, but it didn’t stop me from adding a few cute things. The old brass iron is from my aunt too. Under the stairs Brett built a perfect little shelf for storing detergent, lint and any money I make while doing the laundry. The detergent is the only orange I’ll allow now that we’ve finally gotten rid of the oppressively orange walls from before. I can’t and won’t put any of the original horrible orange laundry room in this post, but feel free to check out the before here.


Brett bought me this picture for Mother’s day last year (well I bought it, but around mother’s day, so same thing). It’s from Juniper’s Print Shop. I think it is called August, but it reminded me clothes in the washer and it was just so happy and bright. I had it printed from Snapfish in a 20×30, which ended up being pretty cheap, since they always have some kind of 50-60% off coupon. The frame was just a simple white frame from Michael’s since they always have coupons too. And the tulips, well I think every Minnesotan just needs some glimmer of hope that spring will come. Does anyone even like March? Maybe it is a decent month elsewhere, but nothing good happens until April…


Here is looking the other way towards the bar, not too much changed from before, except for the floor and ceiling. You might notice the missing threshold, the final thing left to do (that we both know may never get done).

And that is all folks. It’s a pretty happy space now. I’ve conveniently left out the unfinished ceiling parts, the angles toward the utilities, but I promise you there is not one lick of orange left on the walls and that gives me great satisfaction!

Our next big project is getting grass in the backyard and building a pergola. We are just 3 feet of snow melting away from that!

Laundry Room Reloaded

I don’t know if you remember but last spring we called it a wrap on the laundry room. It’s like throwing in the towel except literally you need to throw in the towels because we just couldn’t live without a functioning laundry room.

I’d like to say when we wrapped it was 1/2 done, but in reality we hadn’t touched the floors or the ceiling, so that would put us at about 1/3 done if we counted the walls as complete, except that a lot of the walls still need another coat of paint, so maybe we were a 1/4 done? Did I lose you with the fractions yet? Luckily I am not one to do math or any kind of realistic thinking before picking up a project.

So the plan was to finish up the laundry room this winter and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s felt an awful lot like winter lately. So I decided it must be time. It all started because one day I organized our junk drawer and it really didn’t take all that long. Then I got to thinking if I am the kind of person that can have an organized junk drawer, maybe I’ve got my whole life together. If you are thinking about tackling a junk drawer. Do it. But also watch out because you just might feel invincible just long enough to tear your whole laundry room apart…

Here’s a couple of tricks you can steal to successfully complete a project. The way I always jump into projects is do something that is annoying to undo. It should make you think that you might as well just do the work, because if you are anything like us, you’ll want to quit, so I always account for future laziness. In this case we moved out everything we store in the laundry room and set up camp with all the crap in the downstairs living room. Trick number 2: Always make the periphery around the project at the very least an eyesore, but preferably a hazard, or at least something the kids can get into and spread filth throughout the entire house. That way when you inevitably go nuts from all the mess and mayhem you will decide that you just have to suck it up and finish to regain some semblance of control.

You know what fun the kids found with this project? Hitting cardboard boxes with hockey sticks and smashing them into a million tiny pieces. I was recently a mystery reader at Levi’s school and after reading two stories the kids in the class got to ask questions about our family. Want to know what Levi’s favorite thing to do with his brother is? Wrestle. Want to know what they like to do for fun? Hit boxes with hockey sticks. Can you really play soccer in your house? Totally. Do we sound crazy, because I felt like maybe we’ve been running a mad house, but then again maybe that’s just how it is raising two boys in the winter and with parents who have really lowered their standards…

Whoops so I got a little side tracked. If you need a refresher on where we left off check out the laundry room wrap up. Though the real offenders that were left unfinished weren’t exactly front and center in that post. So for a more accurate portrayal here is what we started with:

IMG_20190119_124519787  IMG_20190119_143220505IMG_20190120_170112629

There was this awesome concrete chunk sticking up 2-3 inches from the rest of the floor in front of the dryer. We’ve had a thick mat doing the work of trying to make it less of a toe stubbing hazard. We also had two amazing sets of vinyl squares. The purplely one on top was deemed too fancy to be put everywhere, it could only be in the most visible places, it was that special. The dirty river pebble vinyl was more long suffering and likely asbestos. Cool. The ceiling was popcorn, that is except for the parts where it was instead comprised of miscellaneous holes. I mean there were only 6, so it’s not like it was terribly noticeable.

So yes all of these were just an absolute delight to tackle.

The concrete chunk was simple and by simple I mean only for me. Brett hacked at it with a crowbar and hammer. Sparks flew and the forearm that was doing the whacking swelled to 2x the size of his other. So while it sucked it only took 20 minutes or so and we’d been tripping on it for 6 years.

IMG_20190119_124854811   IMG_20190119_125834611

I stupidly decided I would get up the whole top layer of tile to have a more even surface, thinking then we would only have one smooth layer of vinyl covering the floor. Well after doing most of it I realized the bottom layer was cracked and crumbling in spots. It ended up really being a waste of time once we realized given the age of our house the bottom layer was likely asbestos. So what I really did was make our entire walking surface super sticky. We were kind of in a pickle for a bit on flooring because I really couldn’t figure out what would work. There was no way we were going to pay for asbestos removal. I didn’t really want to do another vinyl over all the unevenness. I though about actually tiling, but you can’t get good adhesion to vinyl and you can’t exactly attach concrete board to concrete. Don’t worry I came up with a killer solution but I am going to leave you hanging for now.


Look how happy I am wasting my time!

And finally for the ceiling, I decided I would first try to knock down the popcorn. But of course it had been painted so there was no chance it was coming down. Also there was the problem of the many holes, so we decided to drywall over the layer there. Does anyone like dry-walling? The problem with all of these projects were they were not only labor intensive, but they really blew. Do you love holding heavy things over your head? Do you love working with no overhead lighting, but instead a crazy hot work light beaming on you? Do you love sanding right into your eyeballs? Then you are just going to go nuts over the fun of dry-walling.

I don’t have any pictures of dry-walling the ceiling because even with conning Brett’s oldest friend into helping hang, it was not exactly easy. Though I’ll say, sanding is a million times worse than the hanging and mudding. Brett’s gotten pretty decent at mudding since our first attempt in the basement. (If you ever want to check it out just turn off all the lights in the downstairs living room. It looks kinda like a topographical map.) For sanding we took turns, but whether I wore safety glasses, swim goggles or ski googles I kept getting loads of crap in my eye. I finally just took my contacts out and hoped for the best!

That’s where I am going to leave you for tonight. We are just about nearly done, but don’t be too surprised because we started 2 months ago and are only now finishing… I’ll show you the 100% complete laundry room soon!

Levi’s Room: The Final Chapter

In some ways it seems silly to post the reveal photos, what with the basically 3D renderings I showed last time.

But alas we finished! It only took a little over a month, but his room was sleep-able all but 1 night while painting, and the hallway was only littered with miscellaneous stuff pushed out of his room, at perfect shin whacking height, for 2-3 weeks tops. So given all that, I’d call this a wild success.

Here is a look at the bed wall. If the antlers look slightly off centered, it’s because they are. The bed got moved out slightly when we were putting curtains up and it was not budging one tiny bit as a I attempted to repeatedly heave it back towards the window. The bed frame is a real bear. I shouldn’t complain because we found it free in our attic after a year or two of living here, but it is metal and has these amazing metal bars that poke out about 8 inches beyond the end of the bed. You can only imagine how Brett and I laugh and laugh as we’ve racked our shins on it over the years. But I digress, it looks pretty!


Over his little nightstand stool is a Harry Potter quote. “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” I found it on Etsy and got it despite the fact that Levi can’t read yet.

Here is another angle, facing the window. Funny story about the curtains. Target was having a 30% off sale on curtains and I was a bit undecided on what I wanted. So I bought a bazillion dollars worth of curtains, so I could make sure whatever I liked I bought on sale. Guess which curtain I could only buy one of because they were conveniently out of stock? This really isn’t that hard… it’s the one I ended up liking and choosing. (You saw that coming I hope.) So of course when it came back in stock the sale was only half as good, but the blow was softened by returning a crap tone of curtains and getting my money back.


I originally intended to paint the whole window white (not the glass, hopefully obliviously), but then Brett being the thinker he is, asked how I was going to do that in the winter. You see I never even considered that. I would likely have just painted the windows while closed, only to never haven them open again. So then I decided I’d just paint the trim around the window. It looks kinda dopey. I’m going to write here that in the spring I’ll paint the whole thing, but you and I both know I won’t. Chances are it will stay this way until we replace the window, which needs doing, but again likely won’t happen for some time. Do I think painting part of it white makes the whole thing look a bit ridiculous and it would have been better left all wood? Sure. But I had already gotten white paint all over the trim while painting the walls, so the hassle factor was definitely up there.


I found these adorable wood circle hooks from CB2 and hung his adventurer explorer stuff left over from his former room. I thought it added a bit of whimsy to what is now a pretty clean/slightly more sparse room. I wanted to incorporate some of the things he loves best of all in his room: Harry Potter, How to Train your Dragon, and Pokemon. Pokemon didn’t get any artwork, but Levi always leaves his decks of Pokemon cards littered all over the floor, so it seemed to be fairly represented.


Here is a hot tip for having your kid help you decorate his room. For picking out art, I treated it like having a toddler; show him all pre-approved options and then let him pick whatever one he wants! Levi mostly didn’t care, but liked being involved. Gideon on the other hand was very concerned and I quote: “Will Levi’s room be more beautiful than mine?” So I have solemnly sworn to make sure his room is equally beautiful.

This is Toothless from Dragon Riders, the Netflix show, based off the How to Train your Dragon Movies. Levis is stoked about the third movie coming out soon! I’ll bet you didn’t even notice the plant or dragon though, because you were so distracted by how beautifully caulked that chair rail is! Caulking is real bear, but I do think it helps make the room look more polished and complete. I did it for all the baseboards too which never had the nail holes filled in or the tops caulked. (I mostly just added that in because it took forever. I know full well you don’t care, but it’s my blog, so tough luck.)


To the left is Levi’s closet which we converted half of into a little reading nook. I got this great leather chair from World Market that I have been loving forever on a Black Friday sale. The bookcase is from my mom which really helped jump start the whole room change.


Behind the door we added back some hooks that had previously been in the closet. Levi owns exactly 2 clothes that requiring hanging up, so for now we will just hang them behind the door. Assuming he ever grows tired of exclusively wearing comfy pants and T-shirts we can adapt the closet to work.


I picked up this old mail sorter in Holland, Michigan a few years back. Levi and I just picked out a bunch of pictures of him and his friends and family, so he can display them on there. But for now just a few essentials. I know what you are thinking. I went on and on about having bricks in a kids room was a dumb idea. Yes a whip is significant more dumb. He got it from his grandpa and loves to set up traps with it. So far no injuries to report.


Levi was home sick with a fever the better part of this past week, meaning I finally got around to cleaning up and taking some pictures of the finished space on Thursday. Brett and I finished the closet shelves moments ago, but I didn’t feel like taking pictures again, so use your imagination and picture two more equal shelves built above the one shown. We used Lowe’s project boards and I stained the shelves using a natural stain, to keep them nice and light.  We have a laundry hamper on the floor, and then those wood crates you can get from Michael’s or wherever, holding too small or too big clothes. We will probably throw pillows up on very top shelf.


All together I am really happy with it. Levi wants the back of his door painted a fun color, but he is still waffling between yellow and turquoise. I’ll post a picture when he decides and I’ve painted it. The only other update down the road would be getting a trundle bed. I think it would work really nice for sleepovers and what not, but that may be a ways down the road!

Not sure what our next project will be, but don’t worry when I know, you’ll know.



Levi’s Room: The Continuing Story

I’m pretty sure I left off with: I was almost done painting… I lied.

Well really it was more of a hopeful truth that I was telling myself. But to no one’s surprise, but my own, the room took an awful lot of paint to cover that dreadful green. I am a chronic under-estimator of work and effort something will take, which leads me to be terribly ambitious and excited right out of the gate. It also leads to pretty quickly being annoyed at how long something takes or how annoying it is to do. But, luckily I seem to forget about the massive dose of reality that always comes part way through projects. It’s like having a baby, there is that terribly sucky part, the actual having of the baby, but then you get this beautiful creation and forget about all that other stuff. (Except that you really don’t forget completely, and doing house projects is pretty much nothing like having a baby, but I was trying to make the analogy work. Kids are > than finished spaces, except for when they ruin any nice thing you ever had, then it’s a bit of a toss up)

Back to painting. I decided I really wanted to do two different colors on the top and bottom of the wall and add in a chair rail to break up the two colors. I was originally thinking of doing some kind of board and batten on the bottom or maybe some type of picture moulding. Then I went down a rabbit trail of cool wall treatments. Here were a few of my favorites: 12, 3 (can’t find the actual link- just found on pinterest), 4

18 Ways to Make Wood Paneling Modern

Wall paneling in black | P | Matt Black Walls with Carrara Marble Desk - Joseph Dirand Farrow & Ball's 'Downpipe' is one of my favourite colours looks fabulous with bright colours and here with soft dusky tearose pinks.  Tiles designed by Ann Louise Roswald for the Cast Iron Bath Company

Of course they are mostly dark moody wall treatments and I was planning on painting the bottom half a warm white. I couldn’t quite figure out how to translate some of the whole wall looks into just a half wall. Ultimately I couldn’t decide what I wanted and since I wasn’t that committed to any of them, in addition to it seeming like a lot more work, we ended up just going with a chair rail.

pretty simple diy wainscotting using picture frame molding. already have these materials in the garage--would just need to measure and cut!We may still add some picture moulding down the road, like this one, but we wanted to get Levi’s room back together much quicker than our usual project timeline, so we landed on just the chair rail for now. I’m pretty sure that is the exact one we grabbed from Home Depot.

Funny thing about measurements. We usually have Brett do all the measuring. Something about accuracy…. But for whatever reason I measured how much chair rail we would need for the room and we cut the lengths at the store, plus a few spare inches here and there. When we were putting it up in the room and making the angle cuts, we were being so careful not to waste any and end up short on boards. Turns out I actually measured halfway decent, but didn’t do a great job marking inches versus feet. We thought we’d have only a few inches to spare, only to find ourselves on our last cut with a spare 7 feet. Whoops. At least we didn’t have to go back to buy more!

The bottom half of the wall we painted Alabaster, a warm white that we’ve used in both the laundry room and our master bathroom. It works really well in a space that doesn’t get lots of bright light. The big reason I went white for the bottom half of the room was because of all the dark wood furniture. I figured the white would brighten up the whole space and help the wood feel pretty and not just dark.

For the top half Levi and I agreed on a  pretty shade of blue/green: Benjamin Moore Newburg Green.

Here was the inspiration picture for the two colors. Ignore that it’s a bathroom, we don’t have any intention of tiling or adding a sink 😉

Boy Bathroom with Peacock Blue Wall Paint Color

I’ll say the color reads more of a navy in the space when it is dark out, but I like it all the same.

Here is the master plan for finishing out the space.


img_20181202_180933688.jpgI hope you weren’t expecting anything fancy. I’m not much for making things 3D (the chair likely won’t be suspended in air), but hopefully you get the gist. We are taking half the closet and making a little reading nook, right next to the bookcase I got from my mom. There was a crappy closet thing in there that had just about no function, so we will be building shelves similar to the ones we added in the laundry room on the left side of the closet.

Here are two of the other walls:


img_20181202_180947628.jpgI know you are sensing my art skills are out of your league. But trust me when I tell you, you need a pencil, paper and a non-existent art skill set.

The final wall not represented in the master plan has the bed against it and a window. I’m sorry if that is making it impossible to envision the room.

At this point we just have a few things to finish up and I’ll show you the finished space next!

Levi’s Room: The Origin Story

You know how all these movies are coming out with prequels or origin stories? To know this room you have to know where it came from. Who knows maybe I’ll even put these posts in perfectly random order like Star Wars. Who cares about sequence or being able to refer to them in any kind of way that makes sense. (Disclaimer I really know very little about Star Wars, so I am not sure why I led with this, but I swear origin story comes from that…)

Okay moving on.

When we bought the house this room was painted a truly awful shade of green. It was our guest bedroom and the place we stored stuff we didn’t really need or want, but were to lazy to do anything about, until I got pregnant with Gideon. Then it needed to get ready for Levi to move into.

So I decided to do what any half-brained person would do.

Make a chevron pattern.

I don’t know if you remember they were totally cool in 2014. That may not be entirely true, I think they were cool earlier and I was a little late to this chevron train, but don’t worry I hopped on.

You see I didn’t feel like going through the hassle of painting the whole room, so instead I decided to keep the horrible green and paint a terribly complicated chevron pattern. A pattern so fun that I used multiple rolls of painter’s tape and a cardboard template. (Geometry is hard and chevrons are not kind to the non-angle loving persons).

So here is the room on move in day. What a beaut. Did I mention the former homeowners painted all the trim white in the house, except in this room. You see they only had one kid, so alas they never got around to it.


Here it is after the chevron was added, that completely distracts from the green color (except for when it doesn’t because sometimes it won’t. I’m sad to say that bang ups and hangups can happen to you – You know Dr. Seuss’s  Oh The Places You’ll Go, perfect for any life moment). The picture above is much more representative of the true color.


Clearly the adorable two year distracts from the green, but I never thought for a single day that the green wasn’t at least a little vomit inducing.

So apart from the green color, there were other parts of the room I didn’t love. I originally had the bed in the middle of the room, not entirely sure why, but when we moved it next to the wall to allow for some play space, the antlers stayed hung weirdly over nothing..

Then I got a free giftcard and bought a shelf for no good reason and decided we should totally put it in Levi’s room. I dunno, it always seemed busy and heavy in an already dark room. He lucked into our nice dresser that didn’t fit anywhere in the master bedroom.

And yes I made Levi take a picture in every part of his new room. We were pitching it pretty hard- how fun it was going to be to get a brother and move to a new room!


Then there were a few parts of his room that while cute, were 100% not functional. There was a tee-pee that fell down everyday, mostly because I just tied some ropes together, draped a drop cloth over it and had no clue how to actually make it able to withstand even the slightest touch. It was a constant source of annoyance, paired with relative disinterest from the kiddos.

There was also this great small table I got from a garage sale for 3 bucks. It had a map that was probably originally modge-podged on that was coming off, but looked kind of cool. Here is where this also gets stupid. In order for it to work as a bookshelf, I would prop all the books up and then get them to stay upright with bricks because there were no sides to the shelf on the table. I painted the bricks to look like books (quite cost effective bookends really). I’m not sure what exactly I thought would happen, but my neat book display was vandalized nearly every day, but also there was the added bonus of my two year old trying to hurt himself with bricks that some crazy lady put in his room. Who puts bricks in their kid’s room and then hopes they don’t hurt themselves?! If you are considering this, I’d say kids come up with their own bad ideas with alarming frequency, no need to introduce any unnecessary danger in the name of bookends that double as weapons.


I don’t know about you, but whenever winter hits I always get this strong need to either re-do a room or rearrange some furniture. I am completely willing to live with a nonsensical furniture arrangement just for the sake of changing it up. Ask my poor roomie from college about when we slept head to head and ended up stealing each other’s pillows or when we had to crawl under a bed to get to the bathroom.

This project started very much the same. One afternoon, about a week ago, I was annoyed that our books were all over the place. So I called my mom to see if they had a bookcase they didn’t want anymore. Sure enough they did! It had books on it, but my mom said, no she really didn’t want it and she would clean them all off so I could pick it up that afternoon.

That of course snowballed into deciding I should really re-do the whole thing. So I cleared everything out into the hallway and started unscrewing things and patching holes. I figured in case I was feeling lazy in a few days the white Spackle on the wall would inspire me to paint.

It worked because we are just about done painting now. I’ll show you my plans and progress soon!



Outside Updates

Well folks it’s been awhile.

What have we been up to… well really what haven’t we been up to. We did not seed or sod the yard, by fall it was quite the jungle of weeds and rocks. And as no real surprise to anyone we did not build the pergola, at this point we are pretty committed to spring. Not sure if you noticed, but it snowed and that pretty much ends the whole outside project front.

We did finally tackle reattaching the fence post and gate they removed when putting in the patio, after seriously considering not. But, after having a friend’s dog stop by for a visit we realized we were only about 5 feet short of having an entirely fenced in backyard. We also already owned the needed fence portion and already had concrete in the shed to set the post. So despite a strong push for lazy we got around to putting it back. I don’t have any pictures of that, but imagine a fence post attached to a gate and it looking exactly like it did before. (Although, we did almost put the rotting post back in because we seriously didn’t want to venture to Home Depot, but alas we are trying to be the kind of people who we don’t hate a year later and bought a new post.)

We also worked on the kiddos fort a fair bit this summer/fall. We painted it a beautiful dark blue/green/black color. It’s a very sneaky color that changes with the light. I really wanted it to be dark so that it would blend into the bushes and be hardly noticeable as you approach the house. It totally worked because we had my old college roomie’s family come for a backyard dinner and they asked where the fort was because they completely missed it as they approached the house.

We let the kiddos help for approximately 8 seconds before they were bored, but not before they got paint all over themselves, accidentally dropped their paint cups and fussed about the mosquitoes. See how into they are, how closely they are paying attention to the work?

The color we landed on was Benjamin Moore Salamander and it is pretty magical. Now that the leaves have mostly fallen off, it is more visible of course, but she’s a beaut so I don’t mind one bit. It also looks good with our blue house, since they aren’t too far apart.

Image result for salamander benjamin moore

In this picture it reads more blue, but all the same, I love it! I also love how there is random crap strewn about. This is the only semi recent fort picture I have though so it will have to do.

We also finally painted the roof as the threat of winter loomed. We landed on this liquid rubber waterproof sealant . It can be used for ponding water, so we are hoping it holds up for our fort. We did two coats, I’m sure three or four would have been better, but we would have needed another can and neither of us really wanted to paint it anymore. Brett did the bulk of the roof while I did the bulk of the fort painting. I’m more or less prone to being unintentionally dangerous, so Brett was a more natural choice for the roof.

Gideon got some rock climbing holds for the steep side of the roof for his birthday. He spent the better part of the summer asking when we were going to put them on. We spent the better part of the summer not painting the roof and saying we needed to do that first. At this point even Gideon stopped asking so it must be hopeless until spring!

I still want to add some pretty molding details and some fun elements inside the fort next year. After that I will take some pretty pictures and share them with you and maybe we will actually call that project done.

So with that we are moving our projects inside. I am right in the thick of redoing Levi’s room right now. I’ll catch you up on what I am up to and where I am heading with it next!


Patio: Part 2

Whoops. Sorry to leave you on such a cliff hanger only to find my way back here slightly shy of a month later… I had mediocre intentions and then we went on a two week vacation and, well, we are living up to the promise of making things take forever. Even the part where other people did all the labor and I am just supposed to document it. Now I leave you with no doubts on just how long we can drag projects out.

As a side note if you are wondering if you should visit the Pacific Northwest:

I mean, I’d say if you hate all things pretty and the outdoors, I’d skip it. But, if that doesn’t describe you, you’ll probably love it.

Now back to the patio! If you completely forgot what the backyard looked like before, or what the first few days of work looked like you can check that out here.

Day 4 got us one more stone step and some more height on the retaining walls.


Day 5: We got our 5th and final stone step and the brick pavers made it into the backyard! A big part of the work done was grading our backyard so when it rains or someone dumps a kiddie pool out, the water doesn’t all rush into the sun room (sounds oddly specific… ). That is one of the major reasons we were happy to hire it out and make sure everything was done right.


For anyone local the company was Brandt Pavers. The guy that quoted us also does the work and was very approachable with anything we asked about. He had a main guy who worked with him and a handful of teenagers for manual labor. Teenagers are good for that kind of thing, just ask my brother Dave. When he was a strapping lad, all we had to do was say “Hey Dave, I bet you can’t_______” and Dave would jump all over it. Sometimes it was useful things like move that wicked heavy rock, other times it was just for pure enjoyment, telling him that his little brother just did some insane number of pull-ups and that we bet he couldn’t beat him. Dave would dig deep and nearly always managed to prove us wrong, though he must have known his little brother who wore husky pants and was adverse to most forms of activity would never have managed 20+ pull-ups, but, and I’m circling back to my point now, teenagers: lots of energy and a high need to prove themselves = excellent manual labor.

And circling all the way back, we would totally recommend the guy who did the patio. Our next door neighbors got a quote for a retaining wall in their backyard from them, while they were working on our backyard. Which was a fantastic turn of events, because it lead to my neighbor showing me all around her house. Does anyone else love a good house tour? There is something so fascinating to me about seeing inside people’s houses. I love to see the layout, how they decorate, how they may also hate cleaning… We have been neighbors for six years and have always been friendly, but never really much more than a “Hiya neighbor” or the occasional help with snow removal or them asking “did you really mean to leave your garage door open last night?”. It might be because they are our parent’s age, but regardless I was cheesed. I promised I’d show them around when our patio was done. Still need to get on that, kinda seems like it would require some cleaning…

Day 6/7: It was kinda rainy on what they had hoped would be the final day, so it got a touch muddy, but they laid most of the pavers and just had to finish a few brick edges and add the special sand on top that keeps everything in place on the final day.

And what does it look like now?

Here is the view from the sun room:


These two pictures below are of the largest part of the patio, where we will have some kind of seating and eventually build our pergola overhead. If you notice the holes, that is where the pergola will attach to the footings. My gem of a brother, pointed out to me that it is already not square, luckily for us, we knew we had no real shot at square, it just takes too much precision and want-to.


Here is a look at it from another angle. I know my father-in-law was concerned from my Paint rendering that there would be no grass in the backyard, despite my explanations that drawing to scale means nothing to me.




The funny thing is we can now sit on our patio and look out onto the great dirt flats. Except it is already turning into the great weed propagator flats. Weeds are tricky like that. No need to plant, they just arrive. Now if only I could convince the Japanese beetles to only eat the weeds…

We had some friends over for dinner last night and I was feeling inspired to make the space more usable and pretty in the interim. So I conned Brett into some twinkle lights and we pulled out the sawhorses, threw some plywood on top to make a functional table, and added some pretties.



Can’t complain at all.

I’ll walk you though next time our plans for finishing off the space. But for now our bank account needs a breather and let’s be honest we aren’t building that pergola anytime soon…