August 2012

Flashback Friday: Family Room

Welcome to another installment of Flashback Friday. If you would like to read more about all the sprucing up we did upon purchasing this home you can check out our kitchen progress, the bathroom spruce up, the living room/dining room updates, and the upstairs bedrooms.

The family room needed very little work when we moved in. The floors, crown molding, paint, and fire place mantel had all just been replaced right before we purchased this house. The bathroom on this level was also recently remodeled. The only change that was made is the wall behind the bar was painted from blood red, to the same sage green that we used in the upstairs bathroom.

Here are a few before pictures.




This room is where we spend most of our time. The kids toys are here, the TV is here, and the comfier couches are here. Because this room is usually a mess of toys and Brian and I’s projects stacked up on the bar, we are just happy that it happens to be sort of clean right now (just keeping it real). Here is what our family room looks like now.


Remember I said sort of clean. This is the toy area, the kids got to it right before I took photos (oh well, just keeping it real).




Short but Sweet: Master Bedroom Updates

Last week, as a part of Flashback Friday, I showed off the bedrooms. I realized that I had made a few updates to the Master Bedroom a few days before those pictures were taken. A few weeks ago our bedroom looked like this.


Not horrible, but could be better. I rearranged some furniture and did a couple projects that were on my to do list.

The first project was I FINALLY finished the bedside tables that I had spray painted awhile back. I just added some fabric that I had found at JoAnn Fabrics on clearance. I cut it to size and placed under glass on the top of one of the tables. Then for the other, I spray painted the hardware with a brushed nickel spray paint. Here are the finished products.



Then, a LONG time ago I made an upholstered headboard for our room. I wasn’t crazy about the fabric anymore because I preferred a pure white. So, I did a quick update by replacing the fabric ($4 a yard), and adding some fabric covered buttons with a button kit.


It is amazing what crossing some things off your to do list can do. Here is another before picture.


Ahhh, that’s better.
Anyone else out there make some small changes in a short amount of time, that had a sweet impact?

Favorite Summer Memory: Truck Show

We were recently talking about how Autumn is almost here, and all of the things we had done this summer. The boys mentioned that other than going on their first boat ride and  going to soccer camp, attending the Truck Show was their favorite.

This is a FREE event that is about a half hour from our house. All the neighboring communities and businesses park their trucks and let little kids sit on them. What little kid wouldn’t love to pretend to be a real fire fighter or truck driver? Not to mention, they had free little cars and monster trucks to give away to the kids. We’ve already decided we will be back next year.

They went crazy for the cement mixer.


And of course, the emergency vehicles were a big hit.



A REAL ice cream truck?!?! This was my favorite.

Then it was time for lunch. We found the perfect shady spot.

While I’m a little sad that our care free summer days are over, I cannot wait for the pumpkin patch, cool nights with bon fires, hot cocoa, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Linking up at Serenity Now.

Movie Night: Pizza Puffs and Salad on a Stick

About once a month, Brian and I will do an impromptu movie night with the kids. We rent a new kids flick, and I set up our family room with a picnic dinner. I like to serve finger foods and a huge bowl of popcorn.

I finally tried a recipe that I pinned FOREVER ago. It is a Rachael Ray recipe for pepperoni pizza puffs. I served them with my kids favorite cut up raw veggies on skewers with ranch dressing.



The last time we did a movie night, we watched Dolphin Tale. The kids loved it, and I must say, Brian and I liked it too. I don’t know if I was in a mood or what, but I turned into a blubbering mess at the end of the movie. Needless to say, I think next time we should watch Cars.




Getting Down to Business: Front Hall Closet Organization

This project has been a long time coming. With three little kids who are pretty active, and who are now about to start pre-school, I was starting to stress about an area for them to put backpacks, lunch pails, shoes, coats, not to mention soccer cleats, shin guards, swim goggles, and all the other crap stuff that kids come home with. This is what our dumping ground looked like last week.


Martha Stewart would be appalled. I’m appalled, and honestly cannot believe I’m sharing this photo.

Anyway, the first step was to find a place for mail, keys, and papers. I painted an old dresser for all of those things, which you can read about here.

Then, I decided we should have a place for everything else that comes in the door. Since my kids are too little to do the hanger thing, I decided on hooks for coats and backpacks, and plenty of baskets for shoes, hats, and other gear. I also thought it would be nice to have a place to sit and put on shoes or set things down. So, I made our closet into a mini mudroom.

I bought three Ikea Lack tables for $8 each, and put them in the closet to create a bench with a place for baskets and boots. Then, I added some shelving which I turned sideways to create cubbies for more storage. Next, I removed the hanger bar, and added lots of hooks.



Now, the kids are ready for school. We all have places for our things, and we have extra hooks and space for guests.





I think I would like to make some cushions for the top of the bench, but I am just happy we are organized.

I am so happy to be linking up with Honey We’re Home. There is a home organization link up party going on there now. This is one of my favorite places for ideas!

I am also linking up with I Heart Organzing. Today is a link party sharing everyone’s back to school organizing ideas. I think I’m going to be on a Pin frenzy today!


Flashback Friday: Upstairs

When we purchased this house, we knew that the upstairs would need a huge overhaul. The reason for this being, the previous owners had 3 dogs, and carpet. For people with allergies, this is a HORRIBLE combination. We all suffer from allergies, so Brian and I asked my Mom if we could bunk up with her a little longer, and do some projects to get the house livable for the kids.

So, in all three bedrooms, we removed carpeting, baseboards, and doors. We also painted all the trim around the doors and windows as well as painted all the bedrooms, ceilings, closets, and hallway. We also switched out all the light fixtures as well as all the HVAC registers and returns (we had replaced the HVAC system, and had the ducts cleaned so we decided to replace all the registers and returns because they were all gunked up with dust and fur…ew). We had help with all of these jobs. Friends and family pitched in, and since this was before Brian was handy with a miter saw, we asked a contractor to install the flooring for us.

Keep in mind, I didn’t know we would have a blog about our home, so I don’t have too many before shots. The upstairs had different color bur bur carpeting in every room, dark walnut trim and doors (except for my daughter’s room) and muddy colored walls.

Without further ado.


Here are what the bedrooms look like now. There are still some things we would like to do, like hang some art.
Check out our other updates: kitchen, upstairs bathroom, living room/dining room
P.S. Today I am linking up at Serenity Now. You can check out all the amazing projects people are up to, and even get some Ideas for your own home.

Garden Harvest

A few weeks ago, I wrote about our first ever vegetable garden here and here. Some people have been asking for updates, so I decided to show you the fruits…er vegetables of our labor.


We have had a really hot summer as well as very little rain. Also, I think some animals were eating some of my veggies, especially the corn. However, for our first attempt at this, I think we did pretty well. Here are some of the pretty vegetables we have harvested thus far.








So far, my favorite has been the tomatoes. They are so sweet. The kids LOVED the peas, and Brian has liked the zucchini because it means two of his favorite things, zucchini bread and zucchini frittata.

I am definitely looking forward to next year!

The End of Babies: Zoo Trips

This is post is dedicated to our great family friends, you know who you are.
Today was one of those days that I swore would never happen. I swore I would never be one of “those Moms” that embarrassed her children with sobbing tears over every milestone of her kids’ lives.
I found out today, I cannot help it. It is what it is. I AM going to be one of “those Moms” and get emotional, and people are just going to have to get over it. Mainly myself.
Today marked a milestone for me and my Mommy friend, Colleen. We took our kids to the zoo, which was probably the MILLIONTH time we have done it (and I’m sure there is a million more visits to come), but today was different.
Let’s start at the beginning. Colleen and I started having babies in 2007 and didn’t stop until 2011. In four years, between the two of us, we had six kids. We were there for each other for every bout of morning sickness, every birth, every Baptism, birthday, and everything in between. We’ve talked about every possible baby topic at least a thousand times. From cloth diapering to teething. From homemade baby food to discipline. We’ve seen each other through baby blues, husbands working long hours, moving to new neighborhoods, and kids’ phases (like picky eaters).
In addition to our mommy relationship, our kids have have become so close, that they treat each other like family. They have learned to share, take turns, and help each other. They have spent hours holding hands and following each other everywhere. They have taught each other lessons. They have shared meals, moments, and tears. They have shared their babyhoods together.
A lot of this all comes back to the zoo. The zoo is a place we started going when Colleen’s oldest was about 9 months old and mine was about 4 months old. It was a weekly gathering spot. As we would have more children, we would just pack more food and get bigger strollers.
I remember the first time we brought all six of the kids to the zoo, and we felt like “SUPERMOMS.” We thought we could take on the world. Most people around us looked at us, and thought we were crazy, but we didn’t care. The zoo was/is our place. Our kids can play, learn, and talk with each other. Colleen and I could catch our breath and talk about things that only we could appreciate (like how we just figured out the perfect system for organizing toys in our house).
Today is different because the kids are growing up.
We blinked.
School is starting. Our time is not our own. We cannot call each other and say, “it’s gorgeous outside, we’re going to the zoo.” or “Our kids needs a playdate, let’s head to the zoo.” or “I’m going to go insane if I don’t get out of this house, let’s go to the zoo.”
To our kids nothing changes. We WILL, of course, still meet up at the zoo. If it were up to our kids a pair of them will get married some day, and probably want to have their wedding reception there. But, Colleen and I realized something today. Our babies our growing up. Zoo trips will have to be scheduled around school, soccer and ballet (watery eyes). And as years’ pass, we will probably trying to coordinate a trip before everyone leaves for college (tears).
It kind of seems like an end of an era. Soon, no more strollers, no more sippy cups, no more diapers. Conversations will turn to drivers’ licenses, boy/girl parties, and college.
While we were both a little (and by a little, I really mean VERY) emotional today. I have to say some of my tears were happy. We have created a bond for our kids and with each other that will hopefully last a lifetime. Maybe someday they will be meeting at the zoo with their own kids (sob).Looking forward to what’s ahead. Are you?

Happy Birthday, Big Guy: Triple Chocolate Layer Cake

Brian’s birthday is in August, however, this also marks the busiest time for Brian at work. He spends long hours away from home, and when he comes home he spends a lot of time at his computer. Because of this, we typically wait to celebrate his Birthday with our extended family well into September. However, I always make his favorite dinner and a special dessert on his actual birthday.

Brian’s Favorite Dinner is grilled filet mignon, homemade smashed potatoes, and fresh steamed green beans.


This is not really what this post is about though. It is ALL about the dessert. Brian loves all things chocolate. Basically, to Brian, if there isn’t chocolate involved, it isn’t dessert. So, I decided to combine three types of chocolate to make a Triple Chocolate Cake. Apparently, it was so good some people couldn’t wait until after dinner to try it. We are still trying to find the culprit. My guess is one of the boys (as in Brian).
This cake has a three parts to it, but overall is not that hard to make.
The first was I used a simple Betty Crocker boxed cake mix (Chocolate Fudge), and made it in two 9 inch round cake pans.


Then, I made a simple chocolate buttercream frosting.

2 sticks unsalted butter softened
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In a mixer with paddle attachment or large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer, mix all ingredients until well incorporated and set aside.


Then, I made simple dark chocolate ganache.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
In a large bowl put over simmering water, heat cream. Then slowly add chocolate chips and vanilla. Whisk together until chocolate is completely melted and remove from heat.


Then, comes time for assembly. Once the cakes are completely cool, place one of the cake rounds on a cake plate and frost the top with a thick layer of the chocolate buttercream. Next, layer the second cake round on top of the buttercream, and frost the sides and top of the cake. Finally, using a ladle, spoon the ganache over the entire cake and let fall down the sides.
Once the cake was complete, I went to grab my camera, and this is what I found.


Fingerprints! I literally turned my back for two seconds. I guess when there is this much chocolate involved, some people just cannot resist.
The kids and I were happy to make something so special for Brian, and I know with how hard he has been working lately, he appreciated it.


Oops: Painting a Dresser

I don’t know if you could tell yet, but I like hand me down furniture. We do have a lot of new furniture in our home, but I do like to collect old pieces and give them some new life. So far, our house has become a hodge podge of the old and new, and I thought this would bother me, but I like how nothing in our house is too matchy.

My sister gave me my nephew’s old dresser, which actually belonged to my brother-in-law as a kid. I originally thought it might be nice as some extra storage in the boys’ room, but then I realized I needed some extra storage in our living room. For awhile, it acted as  place for all of my table and kitchen linens, but now it serves as a drop zone near the front door.


The original color was a medium toned, very shiny, stain. I knew eventually I would want to paint it, but I could not decide on the color. I knew I wanted something different, and perhaps a stand out color. So, I went to my home away from home. Home Depot. I decided that rather than make the difficult decision myself, I would look at the Oops paint section. I found a gallon of this Glidden light yellow color in semi-gloss (which is my favorite finish for painting furniture) for $3. For three measly bucks, I found my new paint color, and there wasn’t a lot of thinking involved.

I have painted a lot of furniture using a few different techniques, but for this project I used the same plan as the dining room chairs. (I didn’t have to strip paint like the bookcase, nor did I use spray paint like my new bedside tables).

After removing the drawers and hardware, I just did a little sanding, priming, and painting.




Then, while I was waiting for the second coat of paint to dry, I spray painted the hardware using some Krylon Metallic Spray Paint in Brushed Nickel.


Once everything was dry, I put everything back together, and plopped by the front hall. We drop our mail in the tray and put our keys in the stone urn that was used for floral arrangements at our wedding. The drawers hold all kinds of things that we need to grab as we are heading out the door.



For three dollars of oops paint and some spray paint I already had on hand, I am happy with the results.