Slightly nervous.

But very excited to get our lights up so early! We are generally last second people. The kind of people our neighbors scoff at this time of year as our house sits alone & dark until the week of Christmas. I will post some photos of the finished product tonight… hopefully!


We’re really doin it Harry.

So excited! We are finally working on a big project again. We had put everything off for the summer since we were going to put up deck stairs and that was a pricey project, but whomp whomp it didn’t happen. SO, here we are- November- and starting something BIG. I mean big. OK, not really at all but it’s something and I’m pumped.

In our “family room,” a room right off the kitchen, we currently have a bunch of stuff from our old condo. It’s all stuff I still love, but it’s not totally functional and we don’t spend much time in there. The couches aren’t something I’d pick out, but they are wicked comfy. They have seen a LOT of naps. The desk is something that my grandparents had, and I love it- but again, not functional. Too small! And the printer has to hang out down the block on the new IKEA cabinets (before she was on a little desk I bought and refinished for J) and the TV is on a TV tray. Appropriate, right? Except that if you breathe on it, the whole thing will likely plummet (= not so safe for a 1 year old, so we have that exercise ball/desk chair jammed in there to keep him from it). We used to have a super cool big glass coffee table (that Jim & June passed to us!) but it was too menacing for a toddler, so it was replaced with the much safer and more functional upholstered storage ottoman. Oh, and those nutcrackers aren’t usually up there- I went all Christmas on the house a few nights ago. Seth’s grandparents gave him nutcrackers every year for Christmas when he was young, and although they weren’t the coolest back then (uh, I totally wanted a Gameboy Grandma, but thanks for the wooden doll!) we love the nostalgia they bring and I think they’re cool. Back on track.

I was inspired by Young House Love’s office space (shocker, right? Let’s get through a post without mentioning YHL…) here: However, my windows are only about 20″ off the ground, so we’d have to either bisect the window (boo) or make the whole desk 20″, and I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this but we are sort of giants in this family so mini desk was out. I decided to split the desks into two and connect them with a window seat. I do love a window seat. We looked at Craigslist for cabinets but they were pricey still and nothing that was really jumping out at me. In the end, we deicded to build cabinets to suit (plus one side of the window is something like 55″ and the other is 51″, so custom building cabinets 2 different sizes is going to work best. We were going to have cabinets on the outsides and then skinny open shelving on the inside (against the windows) but then I found those gray file cabinets at IKEA for $40 a pop and they were the perfect measurements. Done and done. My dad got as excited as me (I think, at least I’m going to pretend he did) and went to work making the cabinets. He brought them up almost done yesterday and we started hammering away to get them finished. And then an hour later Jackson woke up and I had to ditch Dad the rest of the morning since Seth was gone to the ISU football game and I was single-parenting. But I caught an action pic of him here (don’t tell him, he hates his picture being taken and would die if he knew it was on the interwebs) (Also, world’s tiniest picture. I don’t understand technology too good):

So then he did his magic for a few hours with breaks to eat and play with J Man, and left me with a product that was ready to start making pretty. I began by filling the nail holes with putty, then giving it a light sanding (I think this is before sanding, but it’s not that exciting so I’ll save you looking at both pics):

Next I primed! Yes! It’s so exciting!! Note: Normally I am against priming. I feel that it’s a waste of time and money. It’s not. It’s totally worth it, especially when you’re painting furniture. So do it. I used a small (4″ maybe?) foam roller. Oh, and before priming I used a cloth to clean up all the sawdust from sanding. I’ve heard people using a liquid de-glazer, but I had this sticky cloth thing from another refinishing project I did a while back and it works really well! But it grosses me out to touch.

We decided to just lacquer the shelves since painting them would most likely get scratched. We have big plans for those shelves. I don’t want to give anything away but it involves slide-outs and hanging file holders. Shiver.

The next step is to get the paint on there (A dark shiny gray that looks good with the lighter gray wall paint) and then install them! We are going to put a base on the cupboards and also the IKEA cabinets to make them look like they go together. Dad is also starting on the desk top- he’s going to use oak flooring stained to match our woodwork. I know I said there is too much wood in the house, but I think this will help us achieve the “built-in” look we’re going for here.

Down the road we’re going to add some shelving above the desks and build in the TV. I also need to decide what fabric to use for the window seat. I really hope I don’t just get a gray… don’t let me! It’s so easy to swap out, I might as well go nuts, right? We’ll see what nuts means to me. Probably beige. Ha. We will also need to re-configure the furniture in there. Both of those couches are too much, so we’ll need to repurpose those in another part of the house and find something smaller, perhaps a few club chairs? I smell a Redeker’s trip in my near future…

Young House Love & some light stalking

I attribute a lot of my ideas (more than a lot) to 2 people: my dad and John & Sherry Petersik. I guess that’s 3 technically, but you get my point. I “met” John & Sherry a few years ago through my cousin Kari as we planned our weddings (thanks Kari!!). I posted a while ago about that so I won’t bore you with more details. Anyway, their blog Young House Love and now their book (same title) are some of my favorite things to peruse. They are currently on their book tour so Kari, Jamie and I decided to head north to Minneapolis to meet them Wednesday. We also took the opportunity to hit up IKEA and the Salvation Army (aka Target Basement). Holy cow, that was a lot of intense shopping in less than 24 hours.

So let’s start at the beginning: IKEA. I ended up taking home 2 file cabinets that are perfect for part of the built-in desk my dad and I are working on. They are gray and industrial and very cool. I will post pics of those as we start tackling the desk! I also grabbed a hall tree/coat rack I have been eyeing for a while. Also metal (there is SO much wood detail in this house, I just can’t buy any accessories that are wood) (insert inappropriate joke here about too much wood). Those were the big things. Other than them… a few little guys like a truck for J, a duck puppet for one of the kids at Christmas and a trash can with a flip lid (due to the toddler and dog in the house these have become necessary).

On to the big hit: JOHN AND SHERRY! Seriously! We met them! We missed the RSVP cut off by a lot, but Jamie called West Elm and they encouraged us to come anyway. The event was from 6-8 and they said they’d stay until the last person got through the line, so we decided to get in line around 7:45. This ended up being genius. Other people waited up to 5 hours, and we only ended up waiting around 3! We were almost at the end of the line, and by the time we got through (about 10:45) I think everyone was a tad delirious. I know I was.

So here’s a creeper shot of the back of their heads as we waited outside:

At this point there were a lot of giddy exclamations like “OMG they’re real people!” and “they’re so much bigger than I expected” and “Sherry is so tiny, her feet don’t even reach the ground!”

Here’s a shot of Kari, Jamie and I with our Line Friend Daci (ummm never mind the guy in the back who thought he was in the pic too. He was probably really nice. And not at all creepy like this picture would suggest. I think it’s called a Photo Bomb?):

Daci recently moved to MN from Louisiana and didn’t have any friends with her so we adopted her into our group. Our friend Jenny couldn’t make it (brand new mama!) so we jokingly called her Jenny a lot. Did I mention it was a long wait and we were delirious? It was funny at the time. As were a lot of things we said and did that I’m not sure would still be today… but we had a great time and super liked our new friend Jenny. Er, Doci. We even did a little light stalking and Face Book Friended her, which led us to her blog which is hilarious. Seriously, check it out. She’s a funny chica. And I totally get the whole bath-tub thing.

Here’s a shot of the cute cookies- they were sparkly!

Jamie: “Is that a child bed?”:

I mentioned we were pretty delirious…. right?

And here… OMG! We met them! They were so super nice. They had to have met a million people that night without any breaks and were still, even after 3 hours, SO awesome to meet.

First group shot (notice my half-blinking eyes):

And second group shot with Sherry holding Jamie’s baggie book (notice my full blink…whomp whomp):

Maybe I can Photo Shop that a little… and give myself really awesome eyes while I’m at it. Like vampire eyes. Or puppy dog. After their signing we signed their yearbook (as Sherry screamed “sign my yearbook!!!!” awesomely). I drew a little state of Iowa (that only I will know what it is because I got SO nervous and totally crazied it up) and we all three signed by it.

OH! And the best part! I confessed my geek level love of maps and asked them to sign a map of the city I picked up at the hotel. John loved it. Studied it for a bit before signing. Now I love it. Here it is up close:

And here it is in the little random cluster I have it in. It’s in my sunroom (hence all the sunny glare), and all of the pictures there are travel relics… to his right is a map of Door County, WI I cut out and glued to the teal paper. To his right is 3 pictures I took while I was backpacking in Europe in college. Below the map is a drawing we bought on our honeymoon in Hawaii, and above the map is a blank shadow box. I have a few ideas for her but haven’t gotten there yet…

So there you have it. Some shopping, some stalking, and overall a great girls trip up to Minneapolis.


The last few months I have been trying to do a personal challenge that was both self-improving and also catchy. That’s how I work. My sister joined me as well. We did Savings September, Sober October, and planned on No-Spending November (as another savings month before the craziness of holiday shopping starts). Well, Day 6 is here and I have failed about 6 times. Also thought about making it a No-Texting-While-I-Drive-Vember but I have also failed at that (I KNOW, it’s awful and terrible and there is no excuse for it. I really rarely do it, but need to completely nix it). Well here we go, it’s time to get serious. I am putting it out there on the interwebs for all to see and judge me: officially declaring No-Spending (excessively) November!. Also going to have a go at No-Texting-While-I-Drive, but that’s more than a monthly challenge. And yes, I am keeping the “excessively” caveat in there. 1- It’s holiday season and I’m going to start buying gifts. And 2… OK, there shouldn’t be a 2. I will really really try to keep it just for gifts! Wish me luck.

What a week (or 2… or 3)!

I’m super frustrated because I’ve actually been wanting to update the blog but our internet has been super shady and every time I go to upload some new pics it quits in the middle. Well, it’s working for now so we’ll see how far I get here….

Here are some pics from the Pumpkin Patch last week (er, a few weeks ago?). We had a BLAST with Jackson’s cousins Liz and Mimi.

Here’s J in the Corn Pool. Seth: “I bet this was a much better idea when corn was $3/bushel!” Ha! Ah, farm humor.

And here’s a flying squirrel, er, Liz:

And here’s the 3 kiddos at the end of the day. Right before Liz & Mimi broke in to full Gangman Style. Seriously- they got the moves!

Now here’s the finished Army Guys meet organizational jars:

I channeled my 3rd grade self and divided crayons into their respectable color families and put them in jars together. It’s too bad that J still prefers to eat crayons rather than actually color with them.

Here’s Jackson and Paul after family photos- Jackson was especially spit-firey so we are extremely impressed that Paul was able to capture so many amazing shots! I’ll be back another day with some of those sneak-peeks, but they are absolutely on par with the rest of Paul’s work. He’s awesome. Have I mentioned that we really really like Paul?? ( (Also- my apologies for the awful pic, it was on Seth’s cell phone and zoomed way out)

We had to reschedule these picture about 6 times because every time we had it planned it rained! What the heck! We just had the driest summer in the history of the world (<– not a researched fact) but as soon as I want family photos it rains. Awesome. So anyway, then we finally land on the 30th and OF COURSE the day before J falls at daycare and puts his teeth through his top lip. Whatever. It's inevitable, right? Someone is going to either have some kind of awesome-looking face injury or spill red Gatorade on the way to the studio…

So that was Tuesday. We came straight home and changed J out of his fancy pants into his costume to greet the trick-or-treators. He. Loved. It. Loved seeing the kids come to the door, loved chasing his dino tail, just had a great night over all. Here he is with Seth. I was happy he let me get some shots as he had just spent an hour being chased with a camera, but he was a trooper! This costume is so cute- I found the hoodie at Old Navy and my mom made a tail and some extra dino-spikes that we pinned to the back of the hoodie. Thanks mom!

And then. Everything good was forgotten. We had to get little sleeping J up around 5:15AM on Wednesday to head to Ames and get tubes. It was a quick procedure and the staff at Mary Greeley was phenomenal as always. The worst part was that as he came off the meds and was confused and scared. He didn’t recognize us so we couldn’t comfort him at all. He just cried and cried and cried. Finally they told us we could just head home (probably in hopes that the rest of the OR recovering patients wouldn’t be so scared). Seth ran ahead to get the car and I carried an inconsolable 15 month old out of the hospital, getting all sorts of stares as we left. It was so sad, I’ve never seen him this upset. When we got in the car he gave me the BEST eye daggers the entire way home- I had to get a pic (again, on a cell phone- obviously not an iPhone!):

When we got home, I got some good snuggles while he ate a few packets and watched Sesame Street. Then he took a 4 hour (FOUR HOURS! He has never slept that long!!) nap and woke up ready to play! It’s amazing how quickly they bounce back.

And now, for the creme de la creme…. THIS beaut came in the mail today! Holy cow, I’m so friggin’ excited. I haven’t even cracked it yet, I’m so excited. I imagine doves and confetti and champagne are going to burst out of it when I do finally open it.

My plan was to take an entire day off and go get a pedi while reading it, but I don’t know if I can wait. We’ll see… Jamie and I are supposed to get pedis Wednesday but her copy came today too so I doubt either of us can really wait. For those who do not know the excitement that is Young House Love (shame on you!), it’s a DIY/life blog written by John & Sherry Petersik. My cousin Kari turned me on to them a few years ago while I was planning my wedding. They had just done an outdoor totally DIY wedding and had some awesome ideas. I stole their picture line idea here (we had shepherd’s hooks strung with rope and these pics that lined the path to the ceremony) (photo via the amazing Paul Taylor!):

Anyway- so I started following this blog and shouting on the rooftops for everyone else to read it too. They have some awesome ideas and are generally really great people (and sometimes I feel creepily close to them considering we’ve never met and they don’t know who I am but I talk about them sometimes like we are BFF). The blog is here- They used to be called “This Young House” which is even awesomer as we grew up idolizing Bob Vila via our father, so it’s a nice homage to those days, but younger and fresher and a bit more relatable.

OK, well that’s all for today- we are off to dinner with Seth’s cousins! Hopefully our interwebs will cooperate a little better in the following weeks so I don’t have to triple time it and overwhelm with all the exciting happenings in one blog. It’s too much to handle, I know.