ALMOST SPRING!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We have had a few glimpses of spring and its so close we can taste it!  We have even been able to play outside a few times. That is HUGE for 3 kids age 2 and under.  At least it is for their momma.

I do love all of that, but I am also very excited about garden planning. I’m one of those people that plans the garden all year round. For Christmas, I got an awesome Moleskine garden journal (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/8866130168/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=1535523722&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=8862936230&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1XBD37NVSDE9XWVPPQEF) and was already utilizing it Christmas evening.

Here’s the general layout I think I’m going with:

garden pic

I’m thinking I’ll put the compost box in the middle, plant zinnias around it and around the perimeter between the yard & garden. The big squares are tiles or bricks for walking. That will be temporary this year since I don’t really know how its going to flow and want to make sure I’m sure before really laying it out.

And this is the lovely patch, waiting to be tilled and filled. 2014-03-12 10.56.35So far on my list to plant I have: zinnias (as the border), butternut squash, lettuce, garlic, spinach, beets, onions, radishes, bell peppers, jalepeno peppers, Fooled You peppers (my favorite), cherry, Roma, & slicer tomatoes, kale, carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and zucchini.

I started the peppers, beets, squashes, onions, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, and some slower starting herbs. You can find me most of the day coaching these cute little sprouts in the sunroom: 2014-03-12 10.55.38
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I am a big fan of the Jiffy seed starters. They work so slick!  I also used some eggshells for the smaller rooting guys, but they aren’t working out quite as well as the Jiffy strips.

This is my third summer in the house and my third year to make a new mistake in the garden. Every year I do something dumb. The first year I got too excited and planted when the garden was too rocky and wet.  The tomatoes and peppers did great, but the more delicate things like lettuce and spinach never made it.  Last year planting time was a true test of our marriage.  We planted around May 15, and I had the twins May 31.  I was HUGE. I tried and tried but really just couldn’t maneuver my body well enough to plant.  My go-to method was dropping the plant on the ground and trying a controlled forward fall onto my hand & knees.  It wasn’t pretty.  So I had to count on Seth to plant the 90% I didn’t make it to.  Unfortunately, garden planting coincides with the busiest time of the year for him (shocker).  One night around 10pm Seth and I were in the garden by the light of his truck headlight. Nobody was happy.  Last year I also had a HUGE rabbit problem.  They ate most of my beets, peppers, chard, squash, and broccoli.

This year we tore out the bushes and trees that took up half of the garden space so I’m planting way more than I ever have.  I’m hoping that by removing the bush that was basically a bunny colony we will reduce that problem a bit.  My dad is working on some ideas for a fence that will work better than what we’ve used in the past. Since we’ve always planned on expanding the garden we never got too serious about a fence. That changes this year.  Watch out bunnies- its on.

Anyone else planning gardens right now? Sometimes my favorite part of gardening is planning.  It’s certainly not the weeding.  I do love getting dirt under my fingernails though.

Gotta go, I hear my beets callin’.

Whiter shade of pale

Something big happened.  HUGE.

I painted the living room.  Well, I started painting the living room. Remember when I posted about hanging samples in there and how they’d been there a while and probably would be? That was a long time ago. But I bit the bullet and painted a few big swatches knowing it would drive me bonkers to have these big swatches and not just get the job done.  I am claiming temporary insanity when making that decision as I do not have time to paint an entire living room with TONS of trim work!  So the swatches stayed on my wall for much longer than I’d like to admit.  Then one day something hit me and I bought the gosh dang paint. And then it sat for a while.  You get the picture.

My living room was a dark gray. Sometimes I LOVED it.  Sometimes I hated it.  When I chose the color, I painted huge swatches on 3 different walls and lived with them for a while to see them in different sunlight and thought I had found the Perfect Gray (that’s not the name of what I used- but that is a name of a gray paint!) I blame it on the tassels (please sing that in the tune of “blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-al-co-hol” “Blame it on the ta-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ssels” Probably a combo anyway). I was so excited to get rid of that hot mess I didn’t think it through properly. I also blame it on thinking more than I should (like that’s a common problem for me). Usually when I choose a paint color I go completely on instinct and choose something immediately.  And I’ve never regretted a color. Until this time.  I labored over this decision, bought 6 different test pots, and asked anyone in a 3 mile radius of our house what they thought. However, gray is tough.  You maybe need to go through all these steps. But it didn’t work for me. So I’ve been wanting to change it for a while.

I’ve noticed I’ve been drawn to white walls a lot lately, and to be honest I always have been. I love the idea of a blank neutral canvas that you can add accents into using throw pillows and blankets, chairs, etc. Plus right now our house is littered with toys so its nice to  not have a colorful wall color to add to the chaos.

So I started swatching whites. I think I went through four or five of them? It’s tough! Some are too bright, some are too green, some are just plain blue. Seth did AWESOME through this process. Every time I asked him (every night) if he preferred the newest white I was trying or liked the last one or maybe the one from last week he so patiently responded “Yes.”

Look, dudes. I know you don’t get that one white is superior to other whites because of the beige undertones vs the yellow or blue undertones that bring out the grain and compliment the woodwork better (and I know there are plenty of dudes out there that do get it- I apologize for painting you all with a wide brush here but am speaking from personal experiences), but you definitely Get how long it took us to decide between Chalk, Cloud White, White, and Bone.  So even though you can’t appreciate the choice- just appreciate the work!

Rant over. Seth just really doesn’t care and doesn’t like me creating more work for myself.   It’s not a bad quality.

Paint question for ya. What brand do you love? I’ve always used Olympic Low/No VOC from Lowe’s.  Or something like that. But a while ago we had to hire someone to do painting (two story walls plus a staircase, no thank you- I’ve met me) and everyone we got a bid from used Sherwin Williams.  I know a few friends who swear by it too. So last time they had a 40% sale I splurged and got a few cans of it.  Now that I’m using it, I honestly don’t know what’s so great. Enlighten me please.  So far all I’ve done is the edging and it’s so thick that it makes edging without tape a bit rough.

So yeah, when painting, I very rarely use tape. I like to think I have a steady hand. When I start noticing that I’m making a lot of mistakes that’s a sign that it’s time to dry it up and put it away for the night. That’s great for me because otherwise I’d have a 24hr paint marathon and ignore all aspects of real life in order to get the painting complete.  And most likely at some point I’d pour a glass of wine… and we can all imagine how that would end up.  NOT speaking experience here.  Well maybe a time or two…

While we’re being completely random, I tried that rubber band deal where you slide it over the can and use that to wipe your brush off to keep the rim clean, you know what I mean? Pinterest anyone? Works awesome. Until it snaps and flings white paint across your living room.  Suddenly having a clean paint can isn’t quite so important.

Unfortunately, the only actual progress in the paint front is that I’ve primed the entire room and am about 70% done with the trim.  We have been out of town a lot and are starting to get really busy at work, so it’s been tough to take much time for side projects.  It’s on my 2014 list!  I hope it’s not too lofty to think I can paint one room in a year.

My Little Bugs

My friend Jessi is living the dream (my dream, that is).  She had a baby boy 6 months after Jackson was born and just had a little girl this past fall.  She was a teacher until deciding last year to stay at home with her babies and make a go at personalized and embroidered baby things.  Her business is called Little Bug Baby Designs (could that be any cuter?) and her website is here: http://www.snugbugbaby.com. You can find her bio, blog, and contact info there for onesies, lovies, blankets, bibs, and burp cloths. Then search for her Etsy shop by typing in “Little Bug Baby Designs” to see a ton of their work (and some quite adorable models, if I do say so myself).  These are the BEST gifts. So cute, so personal, and you know they’re made by someone who truly loves what she does.

One perk of having a bestie that does this is free merchandise.  In exchange for all these adorable onesies, burp cloths, bibs, blankies, and lovies all I have to do is take pictures of my babies wearing them.  Holla!  I mean, who needs another reason to photograph these little loves? Sign me up.

This past weekend in between sprinting with Jackson to the potty seat (that’s right, he’s potty trained y’all) I did a few photo shoots of the babies.  We did their 9 month shoot, a St Patrick’s Day session, and a stinking cute personalized whale gig too.

You can buy anything you see on Etsy, and make sure to contact Jessi if you want something personalized.  I also hear a rumor that Adel Quilting & Drygoods is going to carry some of these items in the near future… Not sayin’ that I have the inside scoop there or anything. But I do.  I have the inside scoop.  They’re going to carry them.  I’m not very good at being mysterious.

So without further ado, here are my Little Bugs in their Little Bug gear.

The little whales have “Livie” and “Cal” embroidered on them

DSC_0097I can hardly contain myself. 

Even if she weren’t one of the loves of my life, I would be thrilled to promote Little Bug Baby Designs.  I never thought I’d be the kind of mom that put these cutsie type things on my cool, hip children. But then I had babies. And saw how cute they are.  I said a lot of things before I had kids when I think about it…. My mom says that the best parents are the ones without kids. Isn’t that true!  OK, back on point here. Go visit Little Bug’s shop and find a perfect gift for someone you love.  I promise no matter how hip they think they are, they’ll love it. Because I’m pretty darn hip and I am completely smitten.

 

Norwegian Baby Probz

So our little Olivia has mad eczema. Like terrible, angry, uncomfortable, sad eczema.  Her little face is constantly on fire and her body is usually not far behind.  We have tried EVERYTHING to alleviate it and just can’t find the magic trick other than steroid cream (which is as scary as it sounds to put on a 15lb baby). We use fragrance free organic laundry detergent,  fabric reusable static sheets and laundry balls (instead of chemical-laden fabric sheets) run a humidifier constantly, use sensitive skin diapers or clothies, fragrance free organic soap, and more lotions than you can imagine. Off the top of my head, here’s a list. In alphabetical order, because, why not:

Aquaphor, Aquaphyllic Ointment, California Baby Eczema Lotion, Hydrocortisone, Lemongrass something or other, Vaseline Intense Cream, and prescription steroid cream. I know that last one wasn’t in alpha order, but it’s the only thing that works so it gets that spot. Don’t question my methods.

At best, these creams didn’t work. At worst, they made Olivia scream in pain. Or break out in full-on allergic reaction (swollen face, eyes swollen shut, couldn’t stop rubbing her face, etc.  Those were fun).

 

So my friend Jamie introduced me to her interweb friend Roo, author of Neon Fresh.  She started another blog at http://www.scratchorsniff.com that talks about raising kids with allergies, eczema, and asthma.  So far we have no reason to believe Olivia will have any issues with asthma, but she certainly is dealing with allergy and eczema problems.  From her site, I’ve learned that even though my laundry detergent says it’s free and clear, there are still some nasty ingredients in there. So I made my own the other morning while the twins napped and Jackson busied himself with some ice cubes, a pitcher, and a cup. Two-year-olds are awesome.

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I also learned that organic cotton jammies and clothes are helpful, so I’m on the hunt for some that don’t completely break the bank.  Hanna Anderssen sells some but they’re around $40 EACH.  Dang!  I’m watching Zulily for some good sales and have found some affordable onesies by Burt’s Bees that I’ve ordered.

As far as the food allergies, I know that one of the creams we used had a bunch of foods listed in the ingredients like mangoes, coconut, etc. Olivia’s doctor said most likely she is allergic to something or somethings in that list, so we are avoiding any of those foods until she’s 3. The doctor we saw for that allergic reaction (ours was out of town) said there is absolutely no link between eczema and food allergies. That’s crazy, right? To me it’s so clear that what she eats affects her skin.  Rubbing it on her face as a cream obviously wasn’t great, but I think that even if she ate those things we’d have a problem.

What do you think? Correlation between food allergies and eczema? To me they go hand-in-hand.   Anyone out there have any success treating either? I started the 7 day steroid treatment Thursday and would love to not ever do it again, but also would love to not have welts all over my baby’s body. Our chiropractor once said that there is a correlation between dairy and ear infections. That one seems a bit more out there, but after Jackson had 6 ear infections in 2 months I’d buy it! That’s where I am now with Livie and her skin.  Give me advice, I’ll try it!

Kicking (t)Ass(els) and taking names.

Our light fixtures are on the list of Things to De-Tassel in the House.  Here’s a shot of the foyer where you can see a few of the tassely beauts.

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And for the close-up so you can really see the intricate details:
2014-01-30 15.49.16Time to go, right? My friend picked up Hektar from IKEA for me on one of her trips up and I decided to tackle the tasseled beast.  There are tons of tutorials on how to do this, because its SO easy.  Seriously.  And you’re going to feel like a complete Bob Vila Superhero after you do it.

I’ve switched out a few fixtures in my day. When I say “I,” obviously I mean my dad and/or Jake have done them for me while I watched nervously.  I helped my dad one time but ended up with a slight concussion. Don’t ask.

This time I decided to do it myself. All by myself. Here are the professional steps I followed.

  1. Go home early from work and don’t tell your husband what you’re up to because he’ll freak out (I completely suggest telling someone when you’re dealing with anything electrical… that was silly).
  2. Get your supplies ready. You’ll need a ladder, screw driver, needle nosed pliers, and leather work gloves. Note: the gloves are completely unnecessary but I wore them like a dork until I was confident that I wasn’t really going to electrocute myself.
  3. TURN OFF THE POWER to that room. Some tutorials say the if the switch is off, that’s enough.  I say that’s silly.  Better safe than sorry  here.  After you switch that room’s power off, turn the lights off and on to make sure it’s really truly off. If you have a voltage detector that’s a huge bonus.
  4. Unscrew old fixture (from the ceiling) and unwind the wires by twisting the wire nut off from all 3 wires.  Then just make sure you separate all the wire ends so nothing has a chance of touching (even though the power is off, I’m a bit of nut here so just to be safe… keep ’em apart) and kiss the tassels goodbye. Your house doesn’t have tasseled light fixtures? Huh.  OK, then continue to the next step.
  5. There will be a plate connected to two screw holes on either side of the box in the ceiling. Check to see if that magically matches the new fixture. If yes, that’s great! If not, no big deal. Just remove it and install the one that comes with the new fixture (hopefully you’re able to use the same holes into the ceiling).DSC_0100
  6. Now it’s time to touch wires. Black to black, white to white, copper/green to copper/green. You want to make sure there’s about 3/4″ of wire at the end to twist together. Strip it off using the wire cutter part of your pliers. To twist them, put them together in the wire nut and twist until tight. IF there aren’t wires in the permanent part in the ceiling, there will  be screws.  Wrap the wires around the corresponding screws- black wire to gold screw, white wire to silver screw, and copper wire to green screw.Light Fixture
  7. OK so now your arms are getting tired, yes? Keep going.  This will add to your SuperBobVila feeling in a bit.  Now you just need to attach the fixture box/mounting plate. Your new fixture will have specific instructions how to do this part.DSC_0101
  8. Put a light bulb in, turn on the power, and see your glorious new light fixture in all its lovely lightness.  Oh, it didn’t work? Yeah. That happened to me too.  I de-attached the box and saw that my black wires had come untwined.  The wire was really short so I had to be careful about keeping those together.  Then, voila! Well, almost voila.  Mine was comically low to the ground so I had to shorten the chain but then… Voila!  For real this time. This picture doesn’t do it justice. I had to lay on the ground to get the light bulb in.  Needless to say I was a bit worried about my 6’7″ husband until I figured out how to shorten it.
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  9. Roar like Katy Perry, wave your arms around a bit (unless they’re dead weight by this time), and pat yourself on the back.2014-01-30 16.24.36 2014-01-30 16.17.00Cause I am the Champion…