Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer 2013

       The mornings are getting brisk here. I know in other places 30-40 degrees is downright cold, but to us it's just brisk, and kind of refreshing actually. The cold mornings remind us that summer will very soon be gone, but luckily, we'll have fall to greet us. Before I say hello to autumn, I wanted to remember this summer. This summer has been one of the most full, runneth over with plans and activities, summers that we've had in many years. Having two kids makes the summer so full of life. Because of our kids we are outside in our neighborhood nightly, talking to everyone that lives nearby. Because of our kids we know the regular families at our community pool. And because of our kids, taking advantage of the late sunlight on our lawn in our backyard is both simple and fulfilling. I haven't popped in nearly enough the past couple of months with images of our life, so here's a glance at Summer 2013.
Our small town is full of awesome Americana traditions
on the Fourth of July.
Including a jam packed parade down the main street.
Red, White, Blue and...Green?
A popped collar screams Independence Day.

Nolan's birthday was very simple this year. 
We like things simple. 
He received lots of clothes,
and I just had to show his adorable face opening said clothes.
He thought it was the cats meow.

Quincy has been growing far to fast for this mama. 
She has us all wrapped around her fingers.
We all have such a soft spot for her.
Her sweetness is almost enough to make me ready for another one.
She just turned seven months this past Saturday.
That kills me.
I wish I could keep her at this exact age forever, and then some.
This past month, we introduced food. 
Apparently we had been starving her, 
because she could not get enough.

As usual, brother was not far away,
and hammed it up for us.
A couple of  weeks ago, Jon got the idea for him 
and Nolan to camp out in our backyard.
I have not seen Nolan so blissful and wired in a long time.
He was on cloud nine, running around and preparing
(that's a pirate ship he's carrying, an essential when you're 
sleeping in the great outdoors).
With the boys tucked in outside, 
I put Quincy down in her room and had a glass of wine in the quiet. 
The next morning, I had my coffee and took a shower in peace  before
the boys stormed the house.
I'd say I was just as  happy a camper as Nolan.
I'd say 5 out of 7 evenings a week, we take a walk. 
We walk from our house, to a nearby court 
so that Nolan can ride his bike and get out lots of energy. 
The court is usually bustling with kids,
and we've been growing great relationships with the kids and their parents.
 At nine this is the oldest of the group
(Nolan seems to be developing a crush on her four year old sister)
and she always wants to hold Quincy. 
Oddly enough, I'm pretty sure I looked JUST like her at that age.
We spent a lot of time at our neighborhood pool this year. 
Living in this neighborhood is worth it, for the pool alone.
The pool looks out over a pond and meadow
(that may or may not be my child in the lower right hand corner, 
relieving himself through the fence)
and it's totally awesome.
This is Nolan and one of his best friends
who lives two doors down from us. 
They were born twenty days apart.
I'm gathering pictures of them to play at their high school graduation. 
Here's another one of them I snapped. 
They were having a BYOT (Truck) play date.
Jon and I had our first date night in a very long time this month. 
We've had a few lunch outings on our own, 
but I think this was our first certifiable dinner date SINCE NOLAN WAS BORN. 
I know, that's ridiculous. 
It was so exciting to see other adults...in a restaurant...after dark...
and to eat sitting down...and not smell like spit up.
Yeah, I think we're going to make it a priority to get out a bit more
(and in case you're wondering...yes, we talked about our kids).
We've also taken advantage of our towns weekly Truckee Thursday's event. 
It's a farmers market, meets craft fair, meets street food, meets music, meets kid friendly activities event. 
Yeah, it's got something for everyone and it's popular.
Parking is at a premium every week, and you are bound to run into lots of friendly faces.
PLUS, it's right on the train tracks,
and a certain little boy I know is fascinated by the tracks.
And what better way to wind down our  summer then with a 
quintessential small town rodeo. Yep, our town has one of those too.
I actually went to this same rodeo with my family when I was a kid.
This year, our friends included us in their sponsor booth, 
which gave us the BEST seats in the house. 
We were about ten feet above the loading pens for the riders.

It's possible that I loved taking pictures of all of the cowboys. 
It's also possible that Quincy started crying several times
because Jon and I were yelling for the riders. 

         So yeah, it's been a rocking summer. I hate to admit that I'm open to falls arrival, but deep down, I know I am. I love a good pair of jeans and a scarf, and I can't wait to see how all of the aspens in our yard look as they begin to change color. Are you ready to say goodbye to summer?

Monday, August 19, 2013

I Love the Smell of Progress

      If you don't have curtains up in your bedroom, or anywhere in your home for that matter, stop what you're doing and buy some right now! And while you're at it, grab some bamboo roman blinds in a tone that you love and some hardware that floats your boat, and get it all up on your walls. It makes a world of difference.
        Let's start from the beginning, shall we. I knew I wanted to do a combination of bamboo roman blinds + floor length curtains on the windows in our master bedroom. I had long loved the look that I had seen over and over again, in images like this:
and this:
and this:
      The pairing of the two adds so much texture, but still reads so clean. Between hardware, bamboo, and fabric, you are able to bring in so many layers, and so much depth. Curtains are like the clothes on a room, and it was time to get mine dressed. So I began trolling the internet long ago for just the right option for us. Because I love print and pattern, I knew a solid color, even if textured, wasn't an option. What I settled on were these beauties: 
       They are West Elm (per usual), and they had a lot going for them. A large scale print. A nice, not too in your face, palette. I looked at them often while considering lots of other options and price points, but each time I saw them again, I liked them a little bit more then the time before. When my "like" or "love" sustains for a home good, then that's how I know its a great choice for us. Then it was just a matter of waiting for a great sale. Luckily, a sale came along, and they became mine (they were my birthday gift this year). Sure, I could have settled on a more inexpensive option (I definitely considered making my own, but drapery weight fabric is expensive in itself), but truth be told, I don't like settling for something so-so. I want something I will like for the long haul. 
       Then, sadly, they sat in waiting in our garage for a month and a half, while I hunted for the perfect bamboo mates for them. After comparison shopping at Lowe's, Home Depot, Target, etc. I finally located a good roman blind at a fare price, on Overstock.com.  I went with a medium tone, and they arrived on our door step shortly thereafter. Then they too sat in waiting until I could pick up some curtain rods.
       Finally, last weekend, the stars aligned for us. We both had the weekend off together (doesn't happen often) and we didn't have any plans (which can be refreshing) so we devoted most of our time to home projects. I made a trip to Target, where I was able to grab some curtain rods. I had originally planned on an oil rubbed bronze option, to give some needed dark contrast, but they didn't have any in stock, so I took a risk and went with a different finish and style. When I arrived back home, priority one was finally getting all of our window gear up. It took Jon some time, because he likes to ensure it's all done just right, but it was well worth the work, and pennies spent, if I do say so myself. You might remember the pretty bad before of our bedroom space:
Before we had moved in:
I swear the room reads much more narrow 
and cave-esque on camera. 
It's quite spacious in person.
How it's been looking since we moved in, in May.
Naked you might say?
And how it's looking today:
I'd say it's an upgrade, wouldn't you?

The large window opposite our bed also got the divine treatment.
       In case you want to do something similiar in your own home, we used the technique of hanging the curtains and hardware high and wide to give the illusion of taller and larger windows.  We mounted the bamboo blinds outside of the window and actually on the wall above the window,  about five inches from the ceiling (we left enough room for the white molding we'll be installing). This draws your eyes up, making the room appear taller, and because everything frames the windows, we're not losing out on any of the much needed natural light. I purchased curtains with the appropriate length, knowing that this would be our plan and I then pre-washed them prior to hanging. I thought they would need to be hemmed up a bit, but I'm so glad they don't. We'll be utilizing this same technique in our living room too, when the time comes.
Notice anything else different in the image above?
Yep, we didn't stop at window treatments, 
we finally upgraded our bedroom sconces. 
These two outdated, builder boring choices had been
flanking each wall since we moved in,
and we both despised them.
I hated looking at them day in and day out from our vantage point in bed.
       I had chosen an option from Crate & Barrel, but we don't have a store locally and they were on back order online until November. We planned on waiting until then (when we had saved up the needed cash anyways), but when I learned that my parents were coming to Tahoe for a visit and their local store had them in stock, we figured it might be time to get it done. We avoided the $30.00 shipping charge by having my parents pick them up for us (and you know Mama had a coupon too), so when they arrived with my parents, we couldn't wait to get them up on the wall. 
The moment we opened the box, we were in love. 
The scale was right. 
They were so fresh and the antique bronze finish was yummy.
(Our local hardware store is currently out of Edison bulbs, 
but use your imagination, they'll be in stock soon. And please imagine that 
I cleaned the fingerprints off the glass before I took this photo)
       We are far from done with this space (night stands with hardware and baskets are needed, molding on windows, board and batten on the lower half of the walls, lighting on the left side of the bed, an upholstered head and foot board, upper molding,  just to name a few....dozen), but we are so happy with the direction these curtains and the new sconces are taking us in. It's actually feeling a bit more like a real bedroom. It's actually feeling like US! And the icing on the cake is that Jon and I both like everything so far. I think it's also giving him a hint of confidence in my choices and plans (even though he may not admit it), which is an added bonus.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Spendy McSpenderson: A Stop Shop & Our Plan

       I'm currently under a self mandated Stop Shop. Maybe this isn't a household term in your home. I hope it's not, because it's not very fun. It means, simply, I can't shop. It means, we need to make progress and utilize everything I've already purchased, before I can buy ONE MORE THING. It means, I'm doing a lot of oogling and web-window shopping, but I'm not actually clicking "buy". 
       I have been collecting, gathering and acquiring lots of great things that we do actually need and that I actually love, in order to make this place look like a home. But, our pace of completing painting projects, building furniture, re-upholstering, etc. etc. isn't actually keeping up with my quick pace of buying. So, I'm not allowed to shop (unless it's supplies for said projects) until we catch up with ourselves a bit. But, it's making me be a bit more resourceful, and it's giving me time to think through decisions. 
       While on my stop spend, I was still able to get two Euro pillows that I've been wanting, with a random gift card that we had. Now I just need to find shams that I love to cover them (my sham hunt is heading into it's umteenth month).
And, while out making a return to Pottery Barn 
(which means putting money back in my pocket), 
I found this yellow lamp shade on clearance for $12.00 bucks, 
and it was pretty much exactly what I had in mind.
Oh, and with a birthday gift card that I had on hand, 
I just nabbed up two wire baskets at WestElm
that should fit perfectly on our nightstands open shelves
(on sale + 10% promo code + free shipping + gift card = score!). 
So what else have I been adding to my wish list?
These amazing canvas striped storage bins over at 
The Container Store have me obsessed.
I want four of them for our living room built in shelves. 
Hellloooooo cute storage.
Terrain is selling an amazing watermelon colored print quilt. 
I'm thinking it would make an awesome statement wall piece for Quincy's little room.
(I've changed my mind on the plans for her room at least a dozen times,
maybe this will actually get me back on track).
And I would L.U.V., to have one of these at the end of our
upholstered bed (also by Terrain)
After we actually get it upholstered, of course.
And can save up the 500+ bucks that it costs.
        Aside from doing lots of online window shopping (it's not the ONLY thing I do), Jon and I did make progress on formulating somewhat of a plan of attack on projects for the next few months. It's all subject to change, but it's certainly giving us the direction and focus that we need to feel like we are making change in our home happen. Our goal is to continue our focus on our master bedroom until November. It won't be complete by November, that we know, but it should be three-quarters of the way there (no room will be complete until we can afford to install new flooring). November may sound far off, but in reality, we know it's not. Once November hits, we hope to tackle the dreaded job of painting our open concept living room, dining room and kitchen and then devoting the winter months to progress on that main floor. We're talking new light fixtures, drapery, blinds, built ins, area rugs and art work. I can't wait to see that all start to come together.
       In more current news, I'm so happy to report that we've made some big progress in our Master, so I'll be back next to share a few images soon!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Something for the Grandkids

       We officially have a case of too much going on, limited time, the frustrations of home ownership and limited resources (moo-lah people, moo-lah). Such is home ownership, I'm quickly learning. No wonder people go years and years before actually making a place their own. This is proving to require a lot of determination and unfortunately, a lot of patience. Let me get you up to speed, because I know I've been quite the absentee blogger. A couple of weeks ago, we were hit with two surprises. One being that our home owners insurance policy is requiring that we do some work behind our pellet stove (that's the type of fireplace that we have) with firesafe shielding material. This is requiring some research on building codes in our area, figuring out exactly what we want to do with the space, looking for materials, etc. etc. Next up, we were hit with a crazy thunder and hail storm. That led to a waterfall weaving its way through our foundation and into our basement. Foundation issues are no-bueno (and have us wondering if we bought , so we're working on a resolution for that issue too.
       But back to our regularly scheduled program. We've been chipping away on master bedroom projects at a snails pace, but slow and steady wins the race, right? Last weekend we painted the walls, which I'll share more on in the next post. Something else that has been in the works, is two custom nightstands that will be flanking our bed.
Well hello paint can, which ended up being a color I don't love, 
which is a whole other post.
       At some point, night stands with open bottom shelves caught my attention. I liked the fact that you could use a basket or metal bin to add additional texture to the nightstands. To me they came across as a little bit country, which I like. I know, night stands are a bit of an odd feature to give too much thought, but once I become fixate on one idea, I have a hard time letting it go.
       So, in the name of doing-it-ourselves, we headed over to Ana-white.com, where there are tons of free project plans on how to build lots of different kinds of furniture. Immedietely, I found plans for the bedside tables that I had in mind.
       I don't love the way this one is stained and styled, but I like the overall design. So Jon headed to the lumber yard with a list of the wood he would need. This is where the story takes a sad turn. I wish I had a picture of that little pile of wood to show you. 

Jon: I bought the wood for the nightstands.
Me: You did! Where is it?
Jon: In the garage. Go look at it.
We trotted out to the garage to find a pile of, oh, 7 pieces of lumber.

Me: Nice, that's awesome babe.
Jon: That's just the wood for one of the nightstands. Guess how much it cost. 
Me: Ummmm...$60.00 bucks? (because the measly pile could not have been worth more then that).
Jon: Nope. Guess again.
From Jon's tone, I figured I was low, and unfortunately not high, on my guess.
Me: $90.00 bucks?
Jon: Nope...$160.00 bucks.
Me: What!!! For one table? Ummmm....I could have bought one for less then that. And that doesn't include staining, hardware, and our precious time. Crap. 

       When I proposed the idea of returning the lumber to the lumber yard, and just buying a couple that I liked, Jon was not on board with the idea. Apparently it would be a major blow to his ego to walk into the lumber yard with a few pieces to return. So, we decided to take the price tag with a grain of salt, make the best of it, and to love that little pile of lumber, despite it's pricey cost. 
       Jon got to work on constructing the first bedside table. We customized ours to the measurements of our space, as well as one usable drawer, instead of two tiny, frustrating drawers. Jon says that any project takes sixty times longer to do if you have two kids. So changing a light bulb- usually a one minute project- will actually take sixty minutes to get completed. You might know where I'm going with this.  Yeah, it took him a while, finding time after I got home from work (letting two kids run around a workshop with power tools isn't the best idea), on the weekends, or during nap time.  Because wood glue needed to dry between various steps, that added to the slow pace.
Oh wow, here he is now, working away in his 
man cave/workshop/likes to hide in here/
still not completed space.
      They aren't even complete yet so this is a midway progress report, as opposed to a Ta-Da! report. Here's how Ms. Cost Us a Fortune in Lumber is looking so far:
       She's spacious. She's roomy.  She's really simple, but I kinda love her. So I'm on to picking stains and shopping for the I-can't-live-without-it hardware. The good thing about Jon and I, is that we have one area where we really balance out. I am not a perfectionist. I don't have the patience. I'd rather have things be done and crossed off my list. But Jon. Good old Jon. He does things right. He takes his time. He waits and waits and waits... until the glue is perfectly dry and it's time to begin the next step (I can guarantee I would be drilling away with the glue still wet and  things would be sliding all over the place. We'd definitely end up with a drawer that didn't function and a crooked shelf.) In the end, the money we spent, doesn't seem all that bad. Because we're hoping they'll live on in a future guest room, and we'll hand them down to our kids when they have no furniture in a place of their own, and maybe, just maybe, even our grandkids will hold on to them. 
       So, I'm scouring the world wide web for pulls. At first I loved these from WestElm. They speak to my love for all things nautical and I've got a gift card burning a hole in my pocket. 
But then, this finish kinda got me thinking.
I'm still very undecided on the pulls. 
And the baskets.
My gosh the baskets. 
There are so many options to think of. 
Weaved, round, rectangular, metal, printed canvas. The list goes on.
I could shop for baskets as a full time career I think.
Both from container store
       Jon and I better hurry it on up with the nightstands, because our next project is already sitting in waiting. That's right, Meg-does-Craigslist strikes again! This morning we picked up the bases for what will be our desk in the master bedroom.
       Sure, they may look hideous now, but they were $25 bucks for the pair, we picked them up in town, and I actually kinda like the hardware. Imagine them sanded, painted, a face lift on the door fronts, and they'll be looking fab. I guarantee it. Or at least, I hope it. We also have light fixtures for the master in the mail at the moment, AND I just had an amazingly rejuvenating and successful trip to Reno where I gathered lots of needed goods (with little money spent).
       As an aside, I want to mention that I wish I could blog every day. I wish I had the energy and time. Trust me, I think about blogging every day, but many days, the kids, work, a glass of wine, a book on my kindle, or a conversation with Jon win out. Some evenings, I actually do have a bit of time, but I'm moody from a long hard day, so the posts that I write don't come out right. Most days, I just can't find the time. So now that I'm back to working full time, my posts will probably be more sporadic, but I still plan to share our progress and projects, as we tackle them. Please continue to follow along, as I'll share everything I can, when I find the precious time!