Monday, October 1, 2012

Wall Letters for the Girls

I am not much of a DIYer or even crafty, but I'm trying to be. I guess it is not that hard, but I am not really a patient person either. We have been trying to figure out some unique ideas for Bea and Olivia's walls, and I came across this lettering idea that sounded simple. It was, but now instead of just one letter (what I originally planned), Olivia wants her whole name - so that's 5 more letters. Let's hope that Bea doesn't want her complete name (8 letters!).

Anyway, total time for this took about an hour, and Olivia even helped me with yarn cutting, holding the letter upright, and cheering me on about how great it looked. See for yourself:

Here is all that I needed for the project:

Yarn: 2 - 3 different types, colors
Craft glue
Large letter (purchased from Michael's for $3.99)
Decorations (the blue flowers I got were $3.99 at Michaels, but there are a lot of options between using flowers, buttons, etc...)
Hot glue gone (optional)

And, here are the steps I took:

1. Figure out how your colors will lay.
2. Cut yarn in estimated length.
3. Add glue (in small segments, add as you go) to the front and back of the letter.
4. Start adding yarn, leaving a two inch piece hanging (trim later).
5. Continue wrapping until you are ready for your next yarn.
6. Repeat steps 2 - 6 until complete.

7. Wait for letter to dry (seems to take a long time, especially when you really want to add the decoration).
8. Trim extra yarn.
9. Add decorations, either with a hot glue gun or stickies attached to decorations that you chose.

Was that easy? I actually thought it was, but doing a ton of letters is a little daunting! If you do letters, send me the link so that I can see how yours turned out.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Perfect Jam Muffins

Our annual summer routine is berry picking, and this post should have been written at least a couple of months ago. This summer, we went olallieberry picking, and brought home a twenty dollar box of berries (picked ourselves!):

With the berries, we made about 12 jars of jam. Well, I didn't, but Josh did. He's an old pro in the kitchen. I came across a recipe that I wanted to try on Pinterest for olallieberry muffins. They were so delicious, they were pretty much gone that evening! I took the recipe and modified it just a little. The good thing about this particular recipe is that you can substitute any type of jam, homemade or not.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup jam

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add liners to your baking tin. Then, mix all of your dry ingredients together - flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In another bowl, mix most of the wet ingredients -  egg, vanilla, lemon juice, milk and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, but do not overmix. Gently mix in the jam, so that it appears in a swirl. Definitely do not overmix this part!
Here's what they looked like coming out of my oven:

Delicious!! Happy baking!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Pinch Me, With a Side of History!

If you don't know me personally, then you don't know that we had been living in a small house (722 square feet! Yes, really! A family of four!) prior to our move in May.

That house was purchased back in 2005 because we wanted to jump in to the housing market (but who knew it would be the wrong time?). We had planned to live there for a couple of years and then upgrade to something larger in size. We purchased the home when our first daughter was only four months old. A month after moving in, I was pregnant with our second daughter. We had outgrown the home before we moved in. Not quite the perfect living scenario, it was a struggle for all of us, but we knew there would be happier, larger living spaces for us in the years ahead.

A temporary living situation moved to a long term one. After over six years of:

1) having to go outside of the house then inside the garage to get laundry, in the cold, rain, heat - whatever, it was annoying
2) waiting in line to use the bathroom (but some of the younger ones would occasionally have an accident while having to wait their turn) and absolutely no privacy
3) a rat problem in our backyard caused by a neighbor who insisted on feeding birds (crows, even!) and other things and can't forget how the massive amounts of crows would hang out on the telephone wires and then poop on all of the cars
4) neighbors who lived across the street and parked all of their five or six cars on the street, leaving no room for others with just one car to park, and
5) absolutely no space for anything,

we found a place that we are so happy to call home. It took quite a bit of trying (bidding wars - yes, they still exist, at least in California), but I can't say how happy we are about our new home that we've been in for four months was well worth the wait!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Milestones and Mockeries

I'm taking a little side trip for this post since the last few weeks have been a whirlwind with the start of school and getting back into a routine, more home updates, going out of town for a few days, and focusing on "other" writing projects.

It's gotten to the point of where the word CHANGE will be used quite often between now and next October. I'll be hitting a milestone birthday next year and instead of approaching it in fear, I will be ringing it in my way. Sure, I say that right now, but next year at this time I could be singing a different tune, but I hope not. I'm getting my act together over here with body, mind, spirit, among many other things. The first being my hair.

I was completely overdue for the usual cut and highlights I normally get - about four months overdue, I think. For the last couple of weeks when I looked at myself in the mirror, I felt like I was looking outdated and becoming to look like someone you might see on a makeover show. Hair part down the middle with super long all-the-same-length locks, and mix in some highlight roots of about 2 1/2 inches, and there I stood. Did I care? Of course I did! It's a matter of time and actually getting to the hair salon that had been holding me back.

I wanted a change. I scanned images nightly hoping to come up with something that would look good with my face shape, why not being too drastic that no one would recognize me. I found two styles that I really liked. Upon arrival, my hair dresser was agreeable, but the final result was not what I had picked. mostly because I think there was curling involved. And, I was glad....I don't have a great shot of myself yet with the cut, but I can tell you that it does resemble one of the OC Housewives and looks pretty similar to this (but with highlights and not all over blonde):

Is this 70's or 80's? Husband says that I look like someone from the 80's, but updated. Someone at work asked if I got a perm. I have been curling much like you see in the pic, so I most definitely look different. However, there hasn't been one person at my workplace who hasn't noticed, and I quite like the reaction I have received. It has helped boost my spirits in these crazy times.

Next up on the change list: I think I need this change to sink in first!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Just Couldn't Get Enough

Once B's bedroom was pretty much complete, our other daughter, O, seemed to be asking every five minutes when we were going to paint her bedroom now - because we promised and all. I really just wanted a painting break, but the troops were not letting it go and anyone who knows her can attest to her not letting up. To try to appease her, I bought the paint color and then painted her name on the wall. That wasn't enough. Luckily, she got into her painting gear to help, which motivated us to get it done in a few short hours. Here is the newest painter in the family (you gotta start them early because, man, the family room is HUGE and I am not doing it alone):

The before shots of her room coming up next....

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The After: B's Bedroom

Today we got down to business and put the final touches on the painting of B's room with the trim and windowsill, but this in no way can describe the reaction of the finished product when she returned home from a camping trip late last Sunday. While Josh and the girls went camping, I stayed back and worked on her room, hence the agonizing last post on PAINTING. I just don't like doing things myself, but I tell you, it was just like seeing your baby smile for the first time when she walked into that room and exclaimed, "I LOVE IT! I JUST LOVE IT!!!" It made all those painting hours worth it.

It's not nearly complete, as things still need to go up on the wall, as well as the addition of curtains, blinds and a rug. Accent color is the turquoise in the bed spread, and I think it will take a little time to find what I need.

We are pretty happy with how it has turned out so far, but this mutt could care less about all the time we are spending trying to make things right ("TAKE ME FOR A WALK ALREADY. I WANNA CHASE SOME CATS AND SQUIRRELS!).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Start of House Project #1: B's Bedroom

It's been a long road to starting projects in the new house, purchased in May. When we moved in, I attempted to set a very simple timeline, planning to spend approximately one month on each room. Then, VOILA, we would have a completely redone home just the way we wanted in just about a year's time. Talk about unrealistic goals...

Little did I know that "projects" include getting things organized and up to standard before starting on "actual projects" (okay, I knew but gritted my teeth about it). The garage had to be organized first so that all tools and handyman types of things could be easily found and not searched for, causing multitudes of frustration on my part. Then, because it is summer and all, the sprinkler system was a bit faulty. We can't be "those neighbors" whose grass turns brown and plants die. That was fixed next. We additionally took advantage of our home warranty on other items like a dishwasher drainage problem and some hokey pipe backup that we just didn't want to deal with ourselves. Finally, the previous owner decided to take their outside gazebo (and, again, it's summer!), so we added some outdoor ambiance with a new pergola and dining set for our deck (pics on that one to come later, too, at some point). There's also a little thing called life - plans, playdates, errands, cleaning - all take up time, too.

Finally, it was time to get down to business. We already knew what the first project was going to be. The room that we put my daughter B in had a mystery going on in one wall area. It was peeled paint of some sort, but was it water damage or did the previous owner decide to paint over wallpaper? It definitely was not water damage, but anytime you can actually peel paint off of a wall in a huge chunk can't be good. Given this hurdle, it ended up being time consuming:

Peeling away the paint: Approximately 1 week
Patching the wall: 1 day
Priming the wall: 1 day
And patching the wall again (the next weekend): 1 day
And priming the wall again: 1 day

All in all, three weeks time for this portion.

Here is the before image of the room. Note that this was a shared room by two tween boys and did smell of such upon move in. It was hard to get someone to agree to take the "boy" room, and only then did B take it because I secretly told her it was bigger than the other option.

It's very boyish, and my girl wasn't having any part of it. In any case, lesson be learned, we should have primed the whole room since the color that was picked was a rosy pink and much lighter than the boy blues and greens in this room. Next came the prep work with the blue tape, which is a total yawn task. And removing outlet covers and nails, and then some patching.

The best part about painting is getting those first few strokes of paint on the wall and getting excited about how the room is going to be transformed. Every stroke after that is painful. And because we didn't prime the whole thing, this room had to have two coats. There is nothing like having to paint a room twice after the joy is gone, making it feel like just work (actually a workout - I was sore the next day!).

Painting: 10 days (over two weekends)

The "after" shots are yet to come, since I still don't have everything anything up on the walls yet. And, as you'll see, I am being somewhat picky (understatement) about this house and having everything the way we want it because I have a feeling we are going to be here for a long time to come...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Cliche First Post

I've never read a blog where the first post is something extraordinary. Just so you know, this post won't be any different from the others. Read on for the boring premise, or wait a few days and there will be something much more interesting.

I've done the blog thing before, but it's been a long time. I wrote about my kids in hopes to keep it for them as a journal (typical mom blog). I then got freaked out about my life being out there for all to see. I closed up shop. Now that my kids are a little older and I am hopefully a little wiser, I try not to sugar coat things and am more about realness.

I've never been able to do anything extremely well. Let me rephrase that to be anything that I've wanted to try, I have not been able to do it extremely well. In the last year, I have had more time to try new things and what I like to do is bake/cook. I also bought a house a few months ago, and it is all about remodeling. So, when I do have free time, I'm scouring Pinterest and finding remodeling ideas and new recipes to try, and hopefully they won't flop out.

Everything is trial and error, right? Even my life, so I will tell a little bit about that as well. This last year has been one of the hardest, but also one of the best. Since life feels like it is passing me by at greater pace, I want to be able to document it, even failures, in hopes to learn something more about myself.

...Boring first post now finished.