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Friday, May 16, 2014

A Mother's Day Tea Party

I'm an adult.
So giving my mom a construction paper card or something with my handprint on it is not appreciated as much anymore. Not even on Mother's Day. And I was trying to figure out what in the world to get my mom. She gets lots of flowers from her husband. And she doesn't need anymore 'stuff'. In fact she is currently in a season of life where she is trying to down-size the amount of 'stuff' in her house and life. So I decided it would be much better to give my mom an 'experience' instead of another 'stuff'. I decided to throw a tea party.
It was the right choice. A tea party with some of our best girlfriends was exactly what we all needed in our life and yet had previously been unaware of.
Here are the details:

I tried to keep things simple and elegant... this was a tea party, not a luncheon. So I reigned myself in and tried not to go overboard on the food. I am finding simplicity is valuable in many areas of my life... including entertaining. Less definitely can mean more... but that's a topic for another day. I found these lovely Strawberry Meringue Roses and they were not only pretty on my pink table, but a sweet crispy complement along side our tea. Perfect.
Also used this photo as inspiration to make tea cookies using this cream cheese sugar cookie recipe, then dipped them in dark chocolate. They were pretty heavenly. :) The tags on the 'teabags' served as place cards, with each guest's initials. There were also dark chocolate dipped strawberries... because... yum.
I served two kinds of tea, a White Ayurvedic Chai blend and an Herbal Citrus Lavender Sage, both from Teavana. Both lovely and delicious! Tea was served from a teapot that belonged to my grandma, and another that I found at a thrift store. I spent a few weeks collecting tea cups from thrift stores, yard sales, and HomeGoods. As well as borrowing from mine and my mother's (which was my grandmother's) china set. I had seven unique and beautiful teacups to set a beautifully eclectic table for tea.


As for the guest list, I invited 6 ladies, all of them mothers and good friends of both my Mom and I. I sent out formal invites about a week in advance. They were very simple, white with a pink rose (the rose was a picture I took two years ago on Memorial day touring a rose garden with my mom! So I had fond 'Mama Memories' even in the detail of designing a simple invite. I don't know if my Mama even knew that... I should tell her.) And the invite set the tone for the rest of the 'decor' which I kept very simple... white linens, white china, pink flowers. Oh... and some pearls and a cow.
I don't have a sugar bowl and creamer in my china set, but I do have a white sugar bowl, and this little white cow. My mom told me I couldn't put a cow on the table for formal tea, but I thought he was quirky and fun... I dressed him up with a little ribbon, and thought he looked quite dashing for formal tea. :) Everyone else agreed... or kept their opinions to themselves. One of the two!

The day before the party I ran by walmart and grabbed $30 worth of lousy bouquets. You know the kind they have smashed in mass into bins that are stupid cheap and not very appealing? But all you have to work with if you are on a small budget like me... 2 dozen roses and a dozen tulips. I came home and snipped boxwood, hosta leaves, and purple salvia from my landscaping... and put together tiny little bouquets for teacups for a centerpiece, and a corsage for each lady at the party.
The corsages were an extra fun touch-- and a special surprise that especially the older ladies enjoyed-- it was very nostalgic. (Why are corsages for mothers a thing of nostalgia? We need to bring that back! Lets all make a pact to dress up for our moms for mother's day, and get her a corsage, yes?) Most of the ladies held onto the corsage and wore it to church the next day as well... which is kind of what I was hoping would happen!
It turned out to be a simple, beautiful, relaxed morning of chatting with ladies, sipping tea, and feeling fancy! (And, you know, taking a million pictures of ourselves doing so!) Which is just what a mom needs, am I right? It was a great "experience" gift for my mama, and judging from the response... one that will hopefully become an annual event!
Happy Mother's Day, Mama. I hope you enjoyed your tea party and felt relaxed, loved, and celebrated! I love you so very much!
And Happy (late) Mother's day to each of you reading this! It is a day to celebrate Mamas, Moms to be, step moms, mother figures, want to be moms, foster moms, God-mothers, grandmas, aunts, daughters, new mamas, empty nest mamas, fill-in moms, dog moms, and anyone who has ever had a mom. Love to each of you on this special day of counting your blessings!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wesley's Birth Story Part 3: Happy Labor Day

(Continued from Part 1, and Part 2. Disclaimer: this is the labor and delivery part of the story, and while I have attempted to edit out the most gruesome details-- it's still a birth story. And childbirth is not pretty. So while I don't feel like this includes explicit details inappropriate for the public or even those with weak stomachs.. read at your own risk. Thanks!)

So here I was sitting in the hospital bed. They had hooked me up to the monitors. Baby was great, heart rate great, nice strong contractions coming about 3 minutes apart. They were not at all pleasant, but I was dealing. Concentration. Deep breaths. Focus on the end, Valerie. This is what you wanted.
This IS what I wanted. My husband looked at me like I was growing a third hand out of my forehead when I tried to explain it to him-- but even though I wasn't looking forward to the pain, and no one enjoys the pain, I wanted to experience the pain of labor. I wanted to experience my body doing labor on it's own-- because I didn't get to last time. And it was! It was doing labor splendidly on it's own!
As soon as the nurse saw contractions were that close together, she went ahead and checked my cervix. She told me an 8 or a 9 and 100% effaced. We were close.
An 8? or a 9? Last night I was crying because I was a three and not budging. Everything was going so quickly! She told me I was doing splendidly. She even complimented my calm as I slowly talked through contractions giving her all the info she needed to officially check me into the hospital. She went to put my IV in, and I asked her to wait until the contraction had passed, and she just kind of chuckled because she wouldn't have known I was having a contraction if I hadn't stopped her.
Don't get me wrong-- I wasn't breezing through those suckers. They hurt. They hurt like crap. They hurt like bad words I was screaming in my head that wouldn't be prudent to share on this family friendly blog. But I was in the zone. I was focused and feeling every second of this labor and feeling very in control of the situation-- which is funny because labor is pretty explicitly involuntary-- nonetheless. I was doing it. I was there.
Shortly after we got settled in Z asked do you want them to get your epidural? And I said-- no. I want to do this for a while. And the nurse kind of made a face-- "I don't think you have a while to do this. You are pretty much at your decision time, hun. Epidural now or not at all."
"I-- I want to do this for a while. I don't want the epidural right now, I'll tell you later when I am ready for it." And then I was in the zone for another contraction, and Zachary reluctantly repeated to the nurse who was shaking her head, "I guess she'll let you know when she is ready for it."
Now here's where things started getting fun.
If you read Sam's Birth Story you remember that I got all pukey when the pain got too intense at the end. I thought that was just a fluke and a reaction to the pitocin, but nope. Apparently, I'm a puker. You know what I hate? Puking. You know whats even worse? Puking with an audience.
All of a sudden the pain got intense and I yelled at Z, "I'm gonna puke! I need a thing!"
And he looked around for a 'thing' but came up with nothing, and grabbed a trashcan off the floor at the last possible moment before I started puking up that oatmeal. Mmmmm... oatmeal.
And then there were contractions, and puking, and more contractions and more puking and I was no longer in control of anything and I was crying and apologizing for crying and puking on everyone and the nurse came back in the room... oh boy.
She got me a clean gown and some clean sheets. Checked me again, 9 and 100% but my water had not broken, so I could still have an epidural, but once that water broke it was go-time.
"I'll let you know."
I got up to go to the bathroom, and a contraction hit and I couldn't stand or sit and I remember wanting to cry and wanting to scream and knowing that I was in so much pain neither was possible. I walked out of the bathroom and leaned on the bed, and said, "Okay, get me the epidural. I have felt all that I need to." And she said, okay, and hooked up my IV.
It was about 11:30. They finally got the epidural and I was trying to find a comfortable position when the back labor hit and I started puking again and contractions right on top of one another and why wasn't the epidural working for goodness sake??? Then a little alarm went off on the IV drip... and I was all, "Oh my gosh I'm dying! That's the heart rate saying I'm flatlining, my heart has stopped I'm dead I'm dead I'm dead." I was perhaps a little foggy and dramatic from the pain at this point, and the nurse came in and assured me I was in fact not dead at all, and my heart was fine, and that the epidural line was pinched in the case. She freed it and...
AHHHHHHHH! It was like choirs of baby angels singing to me as the instant, warm, tingling relief rushed down my legs. Then she got me some anti-puking meds, and more angels. Then I sat back in my bed and smiled. "Look how great this is going!" I giggled to my husband, who just rocked in his chair and shook his head at me.
About noon the Doctor came in and checked me. She said I was like a 9.5... there was just a little ledge up under the bulging bag that wasn't quite ready. She decided to break my water, then would come back in about a half hour and we would start pushing. Yay! Then she left.
"Wait-- wasn't she going to break my water?" I asked
"SHE DID" Z said. And the nurse laughed at me because I was completely unaware I was sitting on a soaked bed. Oh, HAY Epidural! Thanks for your services. My water breaking was the single most disturbing part of Sam's delivery. Didn't even know it had happened this go around.
Big brother Sam and Grandpa killing time in the waiting room.
We waited the half hour and the doctor did not come back. After 45 mins the nurse checked me. Still not there. I needed to labor down for a while. Okay. I listened to some christmas music. I chatted with my husband. (I think he answered about 15 texts from my mom-- is he here yet? is he here yet? is he here yet?) I looked around facebook for a while. I was getting bored and anxious. I knew we were close, I was ready for my baby!

A little after 2:00 the nurse came in and checked me one last time. It's a 10!!! Time to push!
We did a few 'practice pushes', and she was all, oh yeah, this kid is going to get here soon. Rest a few contractions. Don't mind if I do, thanks.
And then the room started filling up, the L&D nurse, the doctor's assistant, the intern that popped in for the show, the nursery nurses.
"Hey it's a party!" I said. And they all looked at me like I was a loon. "A birthday party? Because my son is about to be born?" (crickets...) Tough crowd. Anyway...
The nurses from the nursery did take that moment to come over and view how ginormous my belly was, and make bets about the size of the kid inside. Oh, I see, you are comfortable gambling in my delivery room, but not laughing at the laboring woman's jokes.
And then we were pushing and pushing and everything is going great, and there's the head, it's halfway here, "Oh, crap, stop pushing, the Doctor is not here yet."
Cruelest thing ever. Do they do that to every woman or just me? Because it's happened twice now. And we were waiting waiting waiting for the doctor. She's on her way...
TELL. HER. TO. RUN.
I think it was about 3 minutes but it felt like at least an hour laying there wanting to push waiting for the doctor. I'm not really a screamer in delivery, not even a crier. But sitting there waiting for the doctor at the very most intense part of the delivery process was everything I could do to keep it together. I looked at my husband and said-- "This is not fun anymore." But my voice broke--betraying my attempt at light heartedness, and he just squeezed my hand, tried to be encouraging. I don't remember if he said anything in response, but I remember being overwhelmingly grateful he was there. My amazing husband. My strong, calm, patient, ROCK.
When the doctor slipped into the room, she barely got her gloves on and I was back in business one good push and BAM. There was his head. And push for the body and...
Baby cries!
Beautiful beautiful baby sounds. And my sweet, rolly, baby boy was laying on my chest and everyone gathered around us oohing and ahhing. Someone grabbed my camera and snapped this picture of Z cutting the cord.
Z cuts the cord
(See he's still in his work uniform? Classy!)
Then they wiped him off, and he snuggled down into my chest. His little cries ceased, and he snuggled into his mama whimpering like a little puppy dog. It was a beautiful and joyous moment. Pure perfection. A rush of adrenaline, joy, satisfaction, completeness.

It was 2:35. Just 7 hours after I woke with the first contraction that morning.

(Stay tuned for more details and pictures from Wesley's Birthday in part 4!)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wesley's Birth Story, Part 2: Get me to the Church-- er, Hospital on time!

(continued from Part 1, This is a little text heavy, and maybe not all that exciting recount of the day's events... Just so you know. I warned you in advance, you are not going into this blind.)

I woke up Wednesday morning with a sharp pain in my abdomen. I shifted position, and glanced at the clock 7:20. Sam wasn't awake yet, I could probably sleep a little longer. I wasn't too excited yet, because I'd been having contractions for weeks, but these were kinda intense. I couldn't find a comfortable position to lay in anymore so I got up to take a shower. Might as well. But before I did I grabbed my stopwatch. A little under 10 mins apart. I felt like this could be it, so I went ahead and sent my husband a text, just as a heads up, I figured it'd be a few hours before we knew anything for sure.

I went and hopped in the shower. The contractions were really uncomfortable, but the hot shower felt good. I just stood there in the shower, letting it run over me. It relaxed me. I don't know how long I was in the shower, but when I got out, I grabbed my stopwatch again, because I was certain they were coming regularly now. 7 mins apart. This was moving too fast, so I must be wrong. I kept my watch with me and shook my head because each contraction came faster than the last. This can't be right. I've got hours to labor still.
I went and got Sam up. Usually we eat breakfast in our jammies but I went ahead and got him dressed. Contractions were making me really grumpy, but I knew I still had hours to labor before I should call anyone. I decided when I could no longer take care of Sam I would call my mom to come watch him while I labored at home. I was not going to call my husband and have everyone rush to the hospital just to spend all day waiting, or worse-- be sent home. I took him downstairs and started to make us oatmeal. Felt like I should carb up, and oatmeal was that perfect combination of bland and filling that made me think I wouldn't puke it up when things got serious. (spoiler alert: I was wrong.)
Two bowls of oatmeal in the microwave and me trying to push the kitchen counter through the wall with every contraction.  5 mins apart. Sam was patting my leg and saying, "It's okay mama." "Mama you hurt?" He was so sweet and concerned and I was gritting my teeth and clenching my fists trying not to smack his little hands away as he patted my leg. "Honey, go wait for your oatmeal on the couch."
It was 9:00. I couldn't deal with Sam anymore. I picked up the phone, and dialed my mom's school.
"Middle school office!" The chipper secretary answered.
"Hello, This is Valerie Pogemiller, I need to talk to my mother Judy S immediately."
"Okay... Oh! Okay! Oh my goodness, I'll patch you right through!" You could hear the excitement in her voice as she realized what this call was about. My mom had everyone in the school on high alert for weeks, just for this very call.
The phone rang in my mom's classroom, but the other teacher in the room answered, "Hello?" and I was thrown off.
"Um-- uh, hello."
(awkward silence)
"Is this Valerie?"
"Uh huh"
"OH MY GOSH! Is IT time?"
(And... another contraction hits)
"I think so..."
"Ohmygosh I'm so excited!"
"...I'm glad one of us is."
"Oh I'll go get your mom! Yay!" And I hear her all sing-songy in the background, "Juuuuudy! It's your daauuuughter!" and a few seconds later my mother's voice, "Hellloo?" (With that inflection you use when you answer the phone anticipating good news)
"Mama, I think I need you now!"
"I'm leaving now!"
And she was gone. She told me later that I had called during an all girls class, and she bounded out of the room to many cheers and squeals at a pitch only middle school girls can achieve.

Contraction having passed, I put down my phone, and decided I was going to go up and curl my hair. If I was going to feel terrible today I certainly wasnt going to look terrible. I left Sam watching a movie and munching some dry cereal (I forgot about the oatmeal I had made.)
I pulled some clean yoga pants out of the dryer and turned on my curling iron. Breathed through another contraction (Has it already been 5 mins???) And started curling my hair.
My mom must have sped all the way to my house, she burst through the door, "I'm here! Are you ready to go?"
Go? No, we've got plenty of time. I haven't even put on earrings yet. I can't find socks. I havn't eaten my oatmeal. My oatmeal! I forgot to eat breakfast. I need to sit down and eat some breakfast, then I'll get my bag packed and we'll head out in a little while--
CRAP another contraction.
My mom is watching me concerned as I lean my head against the wall and aggressively tap my foot untill it passes. "How far apart are they?"
"like... 7? or, um, 5 mins?" (lies. They were 4.5 mins apart) "I don't know, I am trying to keep my mind off of it." I think I was trying to fold some laundry or something at this point.
"Is Z on his way to the hospital?"
"No, I haven't called him yet."
"I think it's time to call him." She said firmly. And she was right, I was just putting it off because I wanted to make sure this was the real deal.
I remember standing at the top of the stairs dialing my husband when another contraction hit and I was crying because I was in pain, and excited that this was it, and scared that I had waited too long, and trying to remain calm because I didn't want anyone to panic or know I was panicking because then I would just NOT. Be Able. To Deal.
I don't remember much of the conversation with Z, surprisingly. Probably because it was all through the cloud of another contraction. I think he asked if he should come home and I told him to meet us at the hospital, and he told me it was perfect timing because he was just leaving the station... a few minutes later and it would have been a mess to get to him. I hung up the phone, resolved that it was time to leave for the hospital. My mom was a little frantic and had crammed Sam in his coat and they were waiting by the front door and bless her heart I think she probably wanted to smack me but we were finally loading into the car, a little after 10:00. And heading to the hospital.

This is when I went... maybe I should take pictures today? This is the only one I have.
Precious memories.
I had grabbed my oatmeal off the counter and was sitting cross legged in the passenger seat of her car timing contractions (4 mins or less), eating oatmeal, and chugging bottles of water. I was kind of manic nervous-laughing. She was shockingly calm, and alternately concerned mother and elated anxious grandma.
Z beat us to the hospital. He was waiting at the emergency room entrance when we got there. They took me to registration, and the lady asked if I was in labor. I nodded through a contraction. She asked how far apart, and I told her 5. (Lies, 3.5 mins) She told me to have a seat, and I told her I was more comfortable standing as contractions were easier to deal with that way. She started typing some things in her computer and watched me skeptically as another contraction hit, then called up to L&D, and sent Z to get a wheel chair to get me up there.
When we got up to the 6th floor and into a room, they had me change and hooked me up to a monitor. it was about 10:30.
"Oh, yes! You are definitely in labor." The nurse said. (3 mins apart)
YOU DON'T SAY?!

Part 3 coming soon!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wesley's Birth Story Part 1: Now We Wait

On Tuesday night I was sitting on the couch crying and exhausted.
I was 40.5 weeks pregnant, but the doctor had led me to believe that my child would have arrived weeks ago. Though I am generally on the petite side, and I had gained only a reasonable and healthy amount of weight this pregnancy all I had heard for the past month from strangers and friends was how monstrously huge I was... how far past due I must be... and was I sure I wasn't having twins? I'd been 'ready to pop' for months, and miserable my entire third trimester. As soon as we reached 36 weeks, I started walking.
33 weeks pregnant

Literally, walking MILES every day trying to get that kid out. I bounced on an excercise ball for hours. I ate two whole pineapples, but only succeeded at burning my tongue from the acid. I started involved projects that needed to be finished in a timely manner hoping to tempt fate into not letting me finish. Nothing, nothing, and nothing. I would have BH contractions every night. They'd start around 7:00 and taper off around midnight, and I would punch my pillow in frustration. I was dilated to a 2 and 70% effaced. At 38 weeks, it was 3 and 70%. At 39 weeks, 3+ and 80. So I was making progress... but baby could still be weeks away. And despite my Doctor's prediction that this kid was large and ready to go at any time (at 36 weeks!) my due date came and went without any indication that he was planning to budge.

37 weeks pregnant
At the doctor past my due date the doctor asked if I wanted to set an induction or if I just wanted to wait it out. I told him, well, I wanted to let this kid do it on his own-- but I DO NOT want to be 49 weeks pregnant. He laughed at me and assured me he would not let that happen, but I was discouraged and exhausted from all the running around like a crazy lady and miles I'd been logging trying to make a kid move. He went ahead scheduled an induction for the following thursday-- I'd be 41 weeks pregnant. And I went home to continue my labor-inducing olympics.

Sam and his 'hosta-pital' bag.
So Tuesday night found me sitting on my couch crying to my husband. I had just gotten back from the doctor-- oh don't be excited for me, it wasn't because I was experiencing any signs of labor. I had  UTI. Could the world be any more cruel to this over-sized over-due pregnant woman? While I was there the doctor checked me and still 3 and 80. No progress for almost 2 weeks now. I was angry and exhausted. I had given up hope. I told my husband that I was just done. I didn't want to be induced, but that seemed to be the way this was going down. I told him the following day-- wednesday-- I was going to do nothing. Just relax to prepare for labor on Thursday. I was so disappointed. Z tried to console me, but I just wanted to wallow. I went to bed early. I slept through the night. This was pretty monumental because at this point I was so huge and uncomfortable I was barely sleeping at all... in between the 5 or 24 times a night I got up to pee. I woke up briefly when Z left for work. I rolled over and kept sleeping.

39 weeks, and way too pregnant to be photographed.
I got nervous every day that my husband went to work. We'd been running through everything for weeks... every possible scenario how it might go down. Z works for FedEx as a courier so he is out on the road all day. He told me that when 'it was time' I needed to give him plenty of advance warning because he would have to come in off the road and he could reasonably be an hour or more away. This stressed me out, because who knows if I would have an hour? Who knows if i called him to the hospital and had hours and hours that everyone had to wait. I didn't know. I was worried.
I also had my mother on call. She works at a school just accross town and would be the caretaker for Sam when this baby thing went down. She had alerted all the secretaries and various people at her school to patch my call through no matter what... but I was just nervous about that. What if it happened in the middle of the day when my mom was at work and zachary was at work and I couldn't get ahold of everyone? Or what if I called everyone for a false alarm? Or what if... I didn't know when to call? Every day when Z left for work I felt a little stressed, and I breathed a sigh of relief every day when he got home. Immediate access to my husband-- my cool, calm, and collected ROCK-- was comforting. I couldn't imagine being in labor and going through some or all of it without him. Could. Not. Do it.
40 weeks pregnant
So even though for several weeks I woke up to worry for a bit when my husband left early in the morning for work... this Wednesday I kept right on sleeping.
In the 'nursery'.
Everything all ready, now all there is to do is wait.






(Part II coming soon!)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Folding


Took a little break from blogging to... survive real life for a bit?
And taking a little break from our outdoor transformation to bring you this indoor tidbit.

I folded my clothes the way my mom taught me until I was in college. It was that standard way they fold t-shirts in the store... you know so they stack nicely, or fit nicely in a shirt box? Shirt box folding, that's how I folded my clothes. And it has worked for millions of people for centuries, and if that's your method and it thrills your soul or fits your style, please, carry on. But I got to college and suddenly had less drawer space, as well as less time for folding my laundry.
The beautiful shirt box folding I had been taught was no longer working for me. I didn't have enough room in my drawers for all my clothes, not to mention, pulling out the shirt that you want (inevitably the one at the bottom of the stack) messed up the entire stack, and then you either had to re-fold/re-stack, or take the more traditional college method, and just shove the wadded shirts back in the drawer and slam it closed.
I needed a better method.
So here's how I started folding my shirts:
1. Lay your t-shirt out flat, face up. Smooth wrinkles.
2. fold t-shirt in half lengthwise.
3. Fold sleeves back over to create a long skinny rectangle.
4. Fold in half, the collar down to the hem.
5. Fold in half again, top fold down to collar/hem

And that's it! You have a nice, compact little rectangle t-shirt. Continue with your pile of t-shirts, and stack them all with the fold on the same side.

Now, when you go to put them in your drawer, stack them with that fold side up... (almost like a file cabinet?) like so:
See how nicely they fit in there? And how many shirts you can fit in a drawer? There are twice as many t-shirts as would fit shirt-box fold style. Plus, having the t-shirts in the drawer 'file-drawer style' means you can easily access the ones at the front or back without messing up the rest of the folded shirts. And this is just my husband's white undershirt drawer (yes, he has an unnatural amount of white t-shirts) but when you have other shirts, colors, and designs it's easy to view which shirts are in your drawer with little digging/messing up already folded clothes!

And see how nice this looks? Simple and organized and plenty of room to hold all of them.
But this doesn't just work for t-shirts. I use the same folding and 'file-drawer style' for my shirts, camisoles, night gowns, baby clothes and onesies, and...
Yep, those are my husband's underpants. (A slight variation, rolling instead of folding, but same basic premise... and look how many you can fit in one drawer!) (Yes, my husband also has a CRAZY amount of underpants.) (No my husband doesn't read my blog, so will likely never know I put pictures of his underpants on here-- it's our little secret... shhhhhh...)
You can even fold shorts and pants to fit upright in your drawer in the same file drawer manner. You will be amazed at the amount of space you save, or the amount of clothes you can fit into one drawer now!

Some other thoughts on this method:
*It's very similar to how you may be instructed to pack, rolling clothes to get more things in a suitcase or small space. So if you do start folding your clothes in this manner on a regular basis, hey, you just cut out a step when you pack for a trip! Yay.
*If you smooth your wrinkles as you fold, I find that this method is just as effective as any for eliminating wrinkles in clothing as any other folding method
*This is not a great method for dress dress shirts, those still do best pressed and hung in the closet.

So there you have it! Maybe this is not anything life changing or new for you, but it changed my wardrobe, and eventually my mama caught onto my method as well... and it revolutionized her laundry, folding, and clothing storage methods. And... my mama is an organizational guru, so with her stamp of approval I plow onward. :)

What about you, what kind of laundry, folding, or clothes storage hacks have you adopted that changed your life???

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tan on Tan on Tan (And Baby Ferns)

Guys. I have a tan house. With tan trim. And a tan door. That's a lot of tan.

Especially when you consider that we were working with a dirt lot with little vegetation to be found? Sad, colorless, monochromatic house. I mean, it's really a lovely house, and I still pinch myself as I drive up to it... I live here! This is my home! But all the tan hurt my brain a little bit. I wanted something that looked welcoming and cheerful...
Obviously a bright color door was just the wink that our house needed, don't you think?

So I told my husband I was going to paint our front door something cheerful, and his response was, of course, what? Why? Whats wrong with the color it is?
But I plowed ahead, undeterred. I polled my friends, I gathered swatches, I taped stuff to the door and stared at it for days... And I decided on a really nice plum color that I was quite excited about, then I made the mistake of asking my husband what he thought of my color choice and he just sighed and said, Please don't paint my door purple.
Okay, first of all, it's plum, not purple. And it's a LOVELY color!     ...but I decided to go with something a little less bold, because in the grand scheme of things a door color is not a HUGE life commitment. So I thought I'll ease the hubs into it, and then we'll punch the color up a notch next year if I need more...
So I selected a lovely green called "Baby Fern" that was somewhere between an apple green and a muted ferny color. I put on the first coat... oh man, it looked tinkerbell city. But I remembered advice of some of my fav DIY bloggers, Young House Love, when they say the middle always looks crazy. This was not the end of the vision... this was the start with only one coat of paint. So I didn't panic yet.
It took three even coats for full coverage. I painted slowly and carefully and made sure to allow adequate drying time between each coat because I wanted the door to look smooth and streak/brush stroke free. Once it was done...
(Oh, Hai Charlie!) I was pleased with the result! Much happier.
But remember the crazy in the middle part? This is still the middle. Yes the green door is happy and brighter, but just the green door on the tan house with the dirt yard was honestly not a HUGE improvement. This still the middle... it's coming, it's coming, it's coming! And the more finished the yard became, the more the door makeover made sense-- Even to the husband and my father who weren't believers in the Baby Fern magic.
Oh, but also, while I was in the business of painting doors and distributing magic, I decided the back of the house needed love too...
Because this guy didn't even have any trim to boast! Saaaaaaad. But not to fear, a few hours and a few coats of paint later....
...and he was boasting a brighter outlook on life as well. Actually, ignore the bottom right corner of that pic where there's a sneak peak of beauty to come. (this pic was actually taken a few weeks later, oops.) But I was happy all the way around with what a quart of Baby Fern exterior paint did to perk up my house.
A few weeks later I was chatting with one of our neighbors, and she commented on what a transformation the exterior of our house had been through. She specifically mentioned how much she loved the happy green door, it made her smile!
It makes me smile too!
But this isn't the last you will see of that front door... more magic to come! What about you? Anyone else painting their door this fall???

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fencey McFencerson

Let me put a disclaimer, these next couple posts are going to feel a little incomplete... we were working on quite a few projects that I want to talk about separately, but they were all going on at the same time. So I am going to delay some finished product photos til the end... and also being very involved in all of this stuff myself, I don't have a whole lot of process pictures or tutorials for you (I was busy workin' kid!) so the next few posts might leave you hangin' just a bit. But you'll see it all come together in the end, and it will be worth it. Yay.
There is a lot going on outside our window these days!

So we are putting in a fence.
I know fences aren't for everyone, but we wanted/needed one for a couple of reasons:
    While we have a nice size lot, we are still in a residential area/neighborhood. Our lot backs up to someone else's back yard, we have a neighbor's yard on one side and empty lots on the other, which will eventually have construction. We wanted a little bit of privacy from all that closeness. We like having neighbors, we like our neighbors... we just... needed a bit of back yard privacy.
    We have a dog and kiddos* (*will have plural kiddos in december, and don't know if we will be done with two... who knows???) and wanted a safe contained area for them to play unrestricted. Also we have utility boxes in the back corner of our lot, and didn't really want kiddos playing in that area.
So us, a fence `was the right choice. However, it's not only functional, but we just happen to think a nice cedar fence looks really pretty and raises your property value... and we needed to put in a yard, and so first, we needed to put in the fence.

Before you build a fence there are plenty of paperwork things you have to deal with-- drawing out plans, taking them to the city, getting a building permit, getting utilities marked, etc. Those are important code and safety issues, if you are DIYing your fence, make sure you do all your city requires first. You don't want any surprises or accidents later.

The project started by ripping out the neighbors fence. It was a 4 ft fence that was a little rickety and gross looking. We talked to our neighbor before starting, and actually ended up replacing not just the shared portion of the fence, but his entire fence as well. (He paid the boys for it... so it was a profit that we set aside for another project). They knocked out the panels and pulled the posts, and then we freecycled the fence parts... and it actually was claimed by some friends of our about a block away. Reuse, recycle, and giggle everytime you drive by and see that old fence on someone else's property, guys!

After getting that knocked over they rented a hole digger and started carefully digging around the perimeter. I say carefully because there were quite a few utility lines they were working around.

Oh, there are the utility boxes we were boxing out... heh
Once they had the holes dug, they started putting posts and the frame in place. Carefully, slowly pieceing it together, leveling, digging, leveling again... until it was all setting just so... and then they concreted the posts in and nailed the 2x4 frame to it. For the frame they used pressure treated posts and 2x4s.
Everyone say Hi to my dad!
My Brother in law and our friend James working hard!
Once the frame was solid, the boys got to work putting up the slats. These are cedar slats. They look pretty and smell awesome while you work-- just a nice bonus there. We decided to use a nail gun instead of screws for two reasons, cost and time! Even the the best way would probably be to screw every last slat on, the fencing screws do not come cheap. For the amount we needed, it was going to run us about $400. For screws. Crazy. The nails in the air pressure gun, however were about $50, and we were able to borrow the gun from a friend, and... boy is it fast! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! in each post and you are done, as opposed to four screws, even with a power drill we'd have been there for days.
So the boys threw up the slats... okay not so much threw as carefully placed and leveled, while my dad started assembling gates.
They worked from early early that morning, until late that night. You can see that it's getting dark in these pics... but my boys are hardcore, they were going to get it done!
Hey look, they are still smiling! Actually I think they are smiling because this is the last board in my husbands hands... and look what they let me do!
The golden spike! I got to nail in the very last board in the back corner that hooked the two sides of the fence together! Woot!
And... here's that part that I warned you about at the beginning. I'm going to leave you hanging. There were several projects going on at the same time here, and so I don't have a finished project pic of anything without giving away everything, and thats no fun. But we finished the fence that weekend... and it is really beautiful and there are more beautiful things to come! Are you excited? I'm excited.
Okay.