Before You Know It…

Do you ever end up somewhere that you never meant to be?

Peter and I did recently.

Here’s what I mean…

This summer I decided to participate in our neighborhood garage sale.  “Hey, Mom, feel free to bring over anything you want me to sell,” I told her, “And if you want to grab any of my stuff that’s still sitting around your house, you could bring that over too.”

Turns out there were lots of things I had yet to claim from my parent’s house.  Also turns out that my mom had just been waiting for an opportunity to unload it all.  Two carloads of stuff later, our third garage stall was full of boxes.  Ooops!  Me and my big mouth!

That was June.  Fast forward to November, Peter was sick of having a mess in his parking spot and was worried that snow would start flying before he was able to get his car in the garage again.  We spent most of a weekend sorting through my pre-marriage treasures as well as everything else that had accumulated over the summer.  I tried to get rid of a lot, but it was cold and there was just so much stuff, so some of it (okay, many boxes full), ended up coming inside to our basement stairwell landing for further processing.

Although Peter could finally park in the garage again, for some reason, he didn’t seem to think this was exceptional progress:

Now to find a place for it all.  Naturally, our basement storage area came to mind, but I realized within two seconds of opening the door that nothing else was going in there without some serious decluttering:

So my to-do list went from, Clean Out Garage, to Clean Out Stairwell, to Organize Basement Storage Closet.

But wait, the chain doesn’t end there, so stay with me.  As Peter and I were discussing the best possible way to sort and store everything in the storage room and stairwell, we considered the fact that we have a whole section of empty cupboard space in his office.

At first I thought maybe I could get all my gift wrapping supplies into the cupboards, but as I tried to make sense of it, it became apparent that the cupboards weren’t wide enough for rolls of wrapping paper, there wasn’t a good way to organize gift bags, and I simply had too much wrapping stuff to make it work.  “If only they hadn’t built this little bump out wall, we’d be able to fit in some tall storage,” said Peter.

“Maybe if there isn’t any duct work or anything hiding in there, we should take it out someday,” I said.  Then it occurred to me, “so before we talk about what we should with all our stuff right now, maybe we need to figure out what our vision is for ‘someday’.  Then we’ll know what’s going into the storage room ‘for now’ and what will always be stored there.”

So that’s when we sat down and realized that in a few years, we’d like to have a family computer for the girls to use too.  When that happens, we want it to be in an open space that can be easily monitored, which means definitely not anywhere that can be behind a closed door.  So ideally, in half a dozen years, we’d have a homework area in the family room.  And since it makes little sense to have a kids homework area in our current already-a-little-crowded family room, when we have a big office with lots of storage and extra work space right next door, we decided… drum roll please… to knock down the wall between the two spaces and have one big family room/homework area/play space!

Someday, that is.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I know it will be expensive and will involve new flooring, paint (including ceilings), lighting, and well, basically everything will have to be replaced, but I’m so very excited about this!  I think one big space will be much more conducive to having a real family gathering area in our house.  And it’s so fun to dream.  I want a nice crafts/homework area and Peter has plans for a big TV and possibly a pool table.  We’ll see though…

Anyway, that’s how Peter and I started with cleaning out the garage and ended up deciding to knock down a wall in our family room!  Like I said, somewhere we totally didn’t mean to go.

Has anything like this ever happened to you?  It’s sort of habitual for me I think.  My projects are always more involved than they seem to be at first glance, although this may be the biggest snowball yet!

Grand Plans

Summer is over, fall is in full swing and the leaves are falling off the trees littering our yard, all of which means it’s time to start thinking about next year’s lawn and landscape projects.

So far Peter and I have agreed on definitely getting some sod to patch more bare spots.

There is a possibility that we’ll be putting the flagstone path in The Bean out front.

And we both think it would be great to get the fire pit finished out back.

I haven’t told Peter yet, but I think I’ll add one more thing to our to-do list:


Every little girl needs a play house, right?

Enjoying a Freshly Painted Room

Two coats of the perfect shade of gray paint went up on the walls of Alethea’s big girl room this weekend.  I absolutely love the color!  I think it looks so fresh now, but don’t take my word for it.  Here’s the before, just as a reminder:

And here is the room as of this morning:

Alethea really likes the storage cubes I got at Target (my first furniture purchase for the room).  They make a good bench:

Did you notice what she’s playing with?  Her favorite things – ‘Dee’ the puppy and random items from the kitchen cupboard.  She hardly notices her toys anymore.

Who knew a Nesquik container could look so cute…

Why Can’t I Capture It?

Three weekends ago Peter and I tackled a home improvement project that has been ‘in process’ for quite some time.  (‘Stalled out’ would be another way to put it.)  See, I found this cool idea online a while ago for how to make simple floating shelves using a hollow-core door.  Months before now, we bought the door, sawed it in half and then did nothing further.  At last I can say that after almost a year in our basement, the door halves have reappeared, been painted and are presently hanging as shelves in my piano studio/office.

Now that this last project has been completed, I am very pleased to announce that my office is finally done!  I have no further plans for improvements/decor, other than to someday replace the metal mini-blinds with something more attractive and maybe throw in a few more pictures or accessories (you didn’t honestly think I meant I was DONE done, did you?)

But since I am at least done for now, I thought I would mark this auspicious occasion by posting another before and after.  So, here is my office before we moved in:

And here is my office currently:

I am extremely pleased with how the room turned out, but I am very frustrated with my lack of ability to capture the room in a picture.  I think the room is well designed, cozy (it’s 10×10) and has a lot of visual interest, but after taking about 30 pictures, I still don’t have one that really feels like you’re in the room when you look at it.  How do you make a 2D image feel 3D?  I see it in magazines all the time, but I just can’t do it myself.  I’ve got some photography books on order from the library.  We’ll see if this problem is something a little ‘how-to’ help can fix.

Another Weekend Project

So this past weekend I had a depressing project to work on.  Not really super depressing, but sort of…

See, when we moved into our house, I was already pregnant with Alethea, so we knew one bedroom upstairs was going to be the nursery and one is of course our master bedroom.  The third upstairs bedroom was designated as the “When we have more than one child, the oldest will move into this room” room.

Since our house has an office (for Peter) and an office/studio (for me), plus a guest room in the basement, I told myself before we moved in, “There is no reason anything needs to be put in the extra room.  I vow that when it is time to turn it into a ‘big kid’ room, it will be empty, with no clearing out to do!”

I’m sure you can all see where this is going…

First it was the blankets: “After all, we don’t really have a linen closet,” I told myself, “I’ll just keep these here for the time being.”  Then it was the laundry drying rack: “There really isn’t another good place for it.”  Of course it wasn’t a stretch then to start a pile for mending next to the drying rack.  After that came a folding table so I could work on my scrapbooking, which was naturally followed by a pile of scrapbooking stuff.  And once we got that far, there didn’t seem to be any point in pretending to have an ’empty room’, so more papers and clothes and clutter followed.

Now we need a big kid room, now I regret not following through on my original plan, now I spent all of Saturday morning and most of the afternoon attempting to dig out of the mess I created and now I still have more cleaning to look forward to, because I couldn’t get through it all in one day.  Sigh…

The silver lining of it all is that while I was working on Alethea’s big girl room, Peter was cleaning out his office and between us, we managed to eliminate two paper grocery bags of paper from our home in one day.  Go us!

This Weekend’s Project

So this weekend we did a bean face-lift.  The weeds were starting to pop through the mulch and everything just looked a little tired, so we pulled the weeds and added 16 more bags of mulch (take that weeds!)…  Here’s how it turned out:

As you can see, we’ve added quite a few plants since the last time I posted bean photos.  Still, if you look at it and imagine a little flagstone path winding through, a nice cedar bench and a whole lot more plants, you’ll see what I try to imagine every time I look at it.  Baby steps, right?

I do love my flowers though.  This one is a Frans Hals daylily:

Several of the plants I bought this spring seem to be barely holding on (okay, okay, and a few of them are dead), but my Orchid Frost Dead Nettle ground cover plant is going like crazy.  I really like the leaves on this one:

And here is my favorite plant, my Endless Summer Hydrangea:

And if any of the neighborhood deer are reading this, please quit eating the shoots off the top of this plant.  My shrub is starting to look a little silly being so short and wide.

The Weekend Report


Peter and I went to our third and final Twins game of the week.  It was a fun game despite a certain unfortunate event that happened in the row in front of us.  I don’t want to go into too much detail, so let’s just say the boy sitting in front of us suddenly didn’t feel well and it’s a good thing the guy two rows up was wearing a rain jacket.  Ewwww…

Besides that though, the Twins played well, we sat next to some amusing people, and I got this cool picture of Peter:

And this cute picture of us:


This was our “All about yard work day”. We focused some time an energy on “The Bean” area in our front yard.  Here is the before pic (notice the distinct bean shape):

After raking, weeding, and covering it in mulch The Bean now looks like this:

The cutest moment of the day goes to Alethea (is anyone surprised?).  She watched me as I pulled weeds in The Bean and threw them into my big bucket.  Then she got down on her knees and started picking up leaves and twigs and putting them in her little pail.  I’ve never seen her imitate me that closely and it was very sweet to know that she wants to be like mommy.


The morning was church including a good sermon on the topic “hearing God’s voice when we feel outnumbered”.  We were challenged to consider the question “What is God asking me to do in my current situation to serve Him?” which is an especially challenging question to me since I feel like being a stay at home mom requires almost constant concentration just to keep Alethea fed and clean and clothed and out of trouble.  Sometimes I know all God gets is my sloppy seconds and a few minutes of my time when Alethea finally goes to bed at night.  So I guess I will have to give further thought to the question.

After church, the rest of the day was less remarkable, but not stressful, which is the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Don’t you think?

President’s Day Project

On Monday Peter and I cleaned out our Laundry/Mud Room and organized the closet.  Here’s the before pic:

And here is the closet post organization:

Sorry to everyone who reads this blog strictly for cute baby pictures, but I had to post about this because not only do I now have an ironing station, a place to put dirty kitchen towels and a spot for empty laundry baskets, but this is also the first time since we moved in that the entire first floor of our house has been clean and organized.  I am feeling tired, but triumphant!

It Looks Clean Until…

So when we were in Philly a few weeks ago, I realized that we only had pictures of our house when it was empty and we haven’t taken any photos of the improvements done along the way.  So yesterday I thought, “I’m going to take pictures of every room to show what we’ve done.”  It sounded simple enough, so I started with the living room.  I cleared out Alethea’s toys and started taking pictures, but it still seemed kind of messy, so I dusted.  Still not good, so then I straightened up a bit more.  Better, until I noticed the clutter on the kitchen counters in the background.  Yikes!  That had to go…

An hour later I was exhausted, had some good pictures of the very clean living room, but had not gotten to any other room in the house.  *Sigh*

I have concluded that if you’re ever wondering just how clean your house is, one way to tell is to take pictures that you plan to post on the internet and see if you like what you see.  It was a rather frightening experience for me, but I guess in the end, it got results.

Living Room Before:

Living Room After: