Monday, October 28, 2013

Church Halloween Party

I didn't take any photos myself, but these came from a friend...sorry Isaac, none of you (or me for that matter--but I wasn't in much of a costume). I'll get some of Isaac on Halloween.

(Brent's peace sign is dangerously close to an obscene gesture!)

 "Three Amigos" Sumo Wrestlers - Ethan, Tyler & Cole

Julia (cat), Morgan, Taylor & Maddie - Ninja Babies (obviously, right?). 

Pumpkin Carving 2013

Somehow the entire summer slipped by without a single blog post. Instagram has taken over. I need to go through my phone and back date a few posts. Tonight was pumpkin carving night and that is always a night worth documenting around here. We found some great inspiration photos a few weeks ago so we were excited get carving. I'm hoping they don't rot before Thursday! Ethan's was the baby-eater, Isaac's was the baby-pumpkin eater, mine was the toothy grin, and Brent's was the scary sharp-tooth guy. ...and Morgan's? Morgan had homework to do and couldn't break away to join in (this high school thing is a lot busier than Middle School). Maybe tomorrow we'll update with one from her.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Finally Feels like Summer is Coming

Ethan's soccer team had a tournament in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. After shivering at games last weekend, we lucked out with a beautiful 70+ degree day. We took advantage and celebrated my 41st with Potbelly Sandwiches for dinner at the lake after the games. Perfect night! I love the beach! 

Sand people, sand stunts, and skipping rocks

May 2013 - growing up way to fast!
July 2009 - One of my favorite photos of 2009 :-)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day to Me

Brent had to jet off to Europe on Saturday night for work, but never fear the boys took over with breakfast in bed. This was their first ever attempt at pancakes (from scratch no less). They made me a beautiful perfect pancake. It tasted great too (even despite the lack of butter or syrup :-). Brent did a good job of letting his friends know I'd be home alone. I think maybe he offered to pay them or something because three different nice friends invited the kids and I over for dinner. We ended up at our friends, the Walker's, home (thanks Melissa, Paul & Uncle Troy). I'm a lucky mom. So grateful for my job with this great crew.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Magic of a Mudroom!

Before Photo--photo taken during our home inspection :-)

I say magic, because yes, it really is that (in my mind anyway). Our last home had no place for coats and shoes and bags. Everything ended up in a heap at the backdoor that we then tried to contain by dumping in a huge basket. It was a constant battle--and tripping hazard. The new house didn't have a mud room either. Right inside the garage door was a very small cramped laundry room--or laundry hall. Not really even a room in my mind. When we bought the house we wanted to figure out how to incorporate a mud room into the laundry hall. We wrestled with many ideas and designs but nothing felt quite right. Finally my brilliant mom hit upon the idea of moving the laundry room upstairs. We had space with a wide hall, linen closet and large walk-in closet on the other side. It sounded expensive and messy at first, but over time the idea really just made sense. With the laundry room conveniently re-located upstairs (where the laundry is anyway--so much more convenient!), we had a fantastic space for a nice mudroom.

This room really is magic because it keeps all the clutter magically contained in one space. Each kid has their own dumping station. And it's easy to ask them each to clean up their own locker space when it's chore time. Yes, shoes and coats still overflow at times, but it's contained and that makes me very happy.

We started by drawing out our own plans with helpful advice from That's My Letter and Ana White. Ours looked like this.

We purchased sheets of plywood from the hardware store and had them cut them down into strips at the store. We used one sheet of oak for the bench top and a second sheet of birch for the painted pieces (we painted the remaining oak and used it too in less conspicuous areas). The two top sections are built like any cube type shelf and stacked on top of one another. The lower two sections are the same thing without bottoms. The back wall was covered in bead board before we started building the cubbies, the cubbies are backless and the beadboard shows through. It took a weekend to put it all together. A lot of bang for a weekend project!

The baskets are Smith and Hawkin from Target ($25 each). I made the mistake of taking Brent with me to purchase the baskets. After building the cubbies for about $200 he couldn't believe we were going to spend $200 on baskets. When I suggested we could build and paint wooden bins instead (like That's My Letter used), he quickly agreed that $200 in finished and ready to use baskets sounded great.

We knew we wanted some type of wash station in the mud room. But, were concerned that a typical laundry washtub would block off our small closet used to store mops and brooms and extra toilet paper. After much deliberation we decided to make the closet into a little shower station. It's been fantastic! We don't have a dog, but we do have little boys who often find themselves with muddy feet. They walk  (acutally, I usually make them crawl so they don't leave footprints :-) straight to the shower and rinse off. It was also wonderful during the winter to hang all the wet snowpants to drip dry--and the boots conveniently drained off on the floor. The shower seemed a little unconventional, but we love it. We don't have a dog, but I imagine we'd love it even more if we did. (I didn't take a photo, but the closet goes back about 2 feet to the right--where brooms and mops still hang on the wall and high shelves still hold storage items)

I settled on slate for the floor. I was never a big fan of slate, but I once heard Candice Olsen on HGTV say that slate was the perfect mud room floor. I hemmed and hawed and looked for other options because I didn't think I'd like it. Finally I decided to go with Candice's recommendation (because let's be honest when does Candice ever fail to deliver?). I'm so glad I did. The slate is great. It hides everything and never looks dirty. We chose a very (I mean VERY) inexpensive variety from Lowes. It was a bit of a pain to instal (crumbled easily when cutting), but once installed, grouted, and sealed it's been great. I'd use slate again in a heartbeat. I read some reviews about slate flaking and being a pain to maintain, I'm happy to say I haven't had that problem (it's been almost a year). But, I did grout and seal it very thoroughly, so I think that has helped. 

The chevron stripe indoor/outdoor rug runner is from Ballard Designs, $49. The door paint is Martha Stewart, Gray Squirrel (mixed in Sherwin Williams ProClassic). The wall paint I can't remember--I think it was the lighter grey on the Martha Stewart Gray Squirrel paint chip from Home Depot, it is very similar to HGTV Collonade Gray from Sherwin Williams. The trim is Swiss Coffee in Sherwin Williams ProClassic.

Pantry Perfection!

It's high time I document some of the projects we've done around the house in the last year and a half. First off, the pantry. I was inspired by the pantry at House of Smith's blog. While most projects around here are my brainchild (um, well, with inspiration from Pinterest) and Brent's brawn, this one was actually executed by me entirely (Brent was busy using his brawn to instal hardwood floors at the time). I started off with wallpaper from Lowes. I love the taupe/champagne colors and the arabesque pattern. Although you can't see the wallpaper very well in the photos, it adds a great element and also protects the walls from scuff marks. 

I bought the wood at a local hardware store. I bought a plywood sheet and had the hardware store cut down into 12" deep strips. I laid out the boards and painted them before cutting down to size and installing. I placed my shelves about 12" apart. The spacing is good--works for everything I have.

After the shelves were installed Brent routed around the front edge that wraps around in a u-shape. Master carpenters might be aghast that we routed the edge of plywood and painted it. Yes, an extra trim piece would have been more professional, or paintable iron-on edging would have worked too. But, truthfully I think the routed edge looks just great.

The door--I love the door! I bought the door, hinges, and crystal knob from an architectural salvage shop located in Rockland, IL for $65 (plus gas to drive out there--about 1-1/2 hours from me). I found the shop on The shop is huge and has lots of great salvage stuff at much better prices than I saw in the Chicago salvage shops, they'll ship too - Frank 815-964-3785. I purchased the door before we finalized the dimensions of the pantry (we gutted the whole kitchen, so we had the luxury of determining the size of the pantry opening). I knew I wanted a narrow opening so I could have more wrap around shelf space. I also knew I wanted a door with a glass window. Frank sent me photos of the choices he had that met my requirements and low and behold we found one that worked perfectly (he had hundreds to choose from, two of which met my requirements). We finished the pantry opening to meet the dimensions of the door. I refinished the door myself and had frosted tempered glass installed from a glass shop in town for $65. 

I'm happy I went with a narrow door (23-1/2" wide) because a wider door opening would have elminated the wrap around shelving. The wrap around shelving literally doubles my storage space. What would have been a standard smallish pantry, actually has a lot of space because of the wrap around.

The glass jars came from Walmart (about $12 each for the glass lid variety, less for the metal lid variety), the chalkboard stickers and tags were a one-time deal from GroopDealz, but there are a lot of choices on Etsy (I'm also told there might be a Martha Stewart brand at Michaels--but I didn't see them online). The can racks on the lowest shelf are CanRack brand from Amazon ($20 each, I used 3). The baskets and bins were repurposed from other projects around the house.

So there it is! The pantry. Surprisingly it stays fairly well organized and doesn't require a lot of work to keep it looking pretty. Truly one of my favorite rooms in the house.

Kitchen wall color is Restoration Hardware Silver Sage (mixed in Sherwin Williams Superpaint), Cabinet color is Benjamin Moore Linen (with gray detail glaze), floors are Asian Walnut (Acacia), walnut color, from LW Mountain (purchased from Floormart in Lake in the Hills, IL), lights over the bar are from, cabinets are custom made by Heirloom Woodcraft in St Charles, IL, countertops are Bianca Romano from MSI via Newport Designs. 

Monday, February 18, 2013