The Backyard

When we bought our house one of the key selling points was the yard.  Now I recall as a child pleasant memories of playing in the front yard with the neighbors, helping to water the garden in the back, and the triumphant day when our tether ball was installed. I was clearly not paying attention to the countless hours of upkeep and constant trips to the home improvement store that made this wonderland possible.

We have a good yard but it is not in great shape. When we bought our house we devoted our efforts to the inside and it’s major renovation. I had intended to blog the entire transformation but honestly I was too tired at the end of the day and mostly forgot to take pictures as I was crying about another issue or cursing the house for being a money pit. So no several years in we are starting to focus on the front and back yard. I am going to attempt to chronicle this, fingers crossed, transformation.

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Rewarding Great Behavior

My sister received these cards as a wonderful and creative gift for her kids and I loved the idea so much I made them myself. These would be great for rewarding wonderful behavior or for a great report card. It is a just a fun way to reward your kids!

I ordered Avery Business Cards and scratch off stickers to create the reward cards. There are several size options for the scratch off stickers. I created a template on my computer using the label size. You will need to rotate the text on the template to allow the cards to print correctly. You can choose the text you want to add to the card to personalize it for your family. Based on the size of the scratch off sticker you may need to scale down the rewards type to fit under the sticker. I printed a test run to ensure that the text was aligned with the cards.

I opted to do small rewards that I know are well received in our house, like movie night, trip to the park, and ice cream. I also did a few cards with the option for projects and a free day to choose what they want to do.

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Once the cards are assembled wait for the good behavior to roll in.
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Dinner is Served

I really enjoy cooking. I find it to be cathartic. In an ideal world I would comb magazine and cookbooks and do something new for dinner each night. Then I remember that I have a job and a family and that we have Taco Tuesday to keep up.

I want to be adventurous with our meals but I find myself defaulting to the same dishes every other week because I can make them on cruise control. Cooking dinner becomes a multitasking adventure when I am also devoting brain space to helping with homework, going through the mail, rebooting lunch boxes and prepping for the next day. And really who doesn’t love Taco Tuesdays every week.

So when my sister-in-law sent us a box of pre-packed meals I was very excited. The box came from Blue Apron and included all the ingredients that you needed, a recipe card, and an insane amount of cold packs. We opted for the family meal which was enough to serve four people. This left a small amount for leftovers the next day.

It is a very clever idea and was great to try something new. All the ingredients come packed according to what you need per recipe, so we got two half full boxes of cherry tomatoes since both recipes called for tomatoes. This leads to a bit of over packaging in my  opinion and there were things that I consider staples like butter and red wine vinegar that are provided in the kits in small amounts.

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Making a new recipe takes more time since you are not as familiar with the process and I found a few of the instructions slightly off, like toasting bread at 475 degrees in the oven (that burned by the way). But overall the food was good. Below is a shrimp and grits dish which was really good with the addition of the vegetables. IMG_3279

I have to say that I do not typically plate dinner like this for Taco Tuesday but it was nice to have something different. IMG_3280

Overall it was fun to try something new but the cost can be a bit high for the ingredients but you are really paying for the convenience. I would do it again in a pinch. In the mean time I am going to try a new recipe every week to change it up a bit. But Taco Tuesday will stay for now.

Being on time

Being prompt is something that I value. It shows planning and forethought, two things I love.

I grew up in a house where we were always on time. We always left having carefully calculated how long it would take to arrive at said party, doctor’s appointment, or special event. When I married my husband I inherited part of his timing issues. His was similarly cultivated over time starting in his childhood. If his family was due to leave at 8, that meant in the car at 7:55 and ready to go, no exceptions. It bled through into his adult life and subsequently mine. He has a thing about travel. And I mean a THING. We have to be there early for flights, even before that was a thing. When we didn’t have kids that meant more time for magazines and a pre-flight cocktail but with the advent of kids that became a necessity.

Throw that out the window. Kids prepare you for the unexpected.

By a miracle you are ready early to leave for school that day…..”what do you mean you spilled pomegranate juice all over yourself, the dog and the floor”.

Walking out the door to Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma’s house…why would you color on your face with Sharpie?

Kids are the true equalizer with time. I have had to get used to being late on occasion. I still try to get there with time to spare but that happens less and less. It is more common place to call the (insert appointment name) to say we are running 10 minutes behind or apologize for being the last one to the family gathering. It takes time and planning to move more than yourself. As soon as I think we are ready to leave the unexpected happens. I have had to learn to let go. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn. Things are not always in my control and even when they are the best laid plans are just that, plans.

So here’s to late mornings and all the pending adventures that will further delay me.  Continue reading

Summer possibilities

We have finished field day, the final awards have been handed out, and the bulletin boards are all empty. Summer break is upon us.

The last day of school holds so many possibilities.

As a kid it meant countless days playing outside till it got dark, waiting for your one friend who had a pool to invite you over to avoid the blistering heat, and endless trips to Sonic.

I have a unique opportunity this summer to be off work and I can’t be more excited. I find myself with that same feeling again, the promise of three months of adventures. I am looking forward to spending way too long in the pool and sneaking away for mid-afternoon treats.

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Making of a Fangirl

I admire a child’s devotion. When they are into something, they are all in.

They are not interested in a subject matter. They devote every waking hour and every moment of conversation to a singularly focused topic.

My daughter’s newest devotion is My Little Pony. Yes, you heard me right my childhood has come back to haunt me once again but this time they have bigger doey eyes.

She is a true fangirl and I love it.

I get tested on my knowledge of ponies on a daily basis. Our daily conversations are littered with references to what Rainbow Dash said or how Twlight Sparkle handled a situation. It is breathtaking to watch. The sheer amount of discussion on the subject in my household dominates any other topic and sneaks into everything we do. On a recent business trip I was assigned a pony to bring along as a travel buddy. I was happy to share the locations of my trip in ‘pony’ form with her. She got such a kick out of seeing her pony travel without her.

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I know she will have varied interested over the course of her life but there is something special about this first one. Her devotion will take her far in life, even if now it mostly take her to Ponyville.

Demo Day – Weekend Edition

We did demolition on the whole rest of the house a few weekends ago. Thank goodness for the long weekend, as we needed every moment of it. I wanted it to be like HGTV, where you pause and blink on the demo and you are on to picking the backsplash. I was missing the cast of thousands they have working on the demo for that to happen, I had my loving husband and my devoted mother-in-law and I have to say we did an amazing job.

The kitchen we are replacing was original for the 1960’s that was ‘updated’ by the sellers with some eggplant purple rustoleum spray paint and a very uneven backsplash. What we found was priceless.

Now I have never the opportunity to remove a kitchen nor do I know anything about what that entails.  “How hard can it be to take something out?”, me at 8 AM. 6PM me had a few other choice words.

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There were gas lines, water to disconnect, nails to step on and a serious amount of concrete and chicken wire to deal with. We started with what seemed like the best idea, remove the doors.

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The rest of the demo was not as easy as the doors. We have been clever enough to hire a professional for such simple tasks as relocating gas lines and properly venting the oven through the roof. Basically, things we know nothing about nor are interested in reading the code about. Now there was no actual plan for how to take this down so here it goes in pictures.

 

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Remarked on how lovely the wallpaper from the 1960’s was.

DSC_0438Cleaned out the gross stuff the old owners left. This made my husband super happy about our purchase.DSC_0444Removed the wall oven. This was a special discovery as it is was just vented through the cabinet to what had been the refrigerator. Luckily, our contractor had stopped by and was able to confirm that was not up to code and help us safely remove the gas line while we all agreed it was luck the house was still standing. DSC_0460Removed the water filter, which they had running from a line in the garage and just drilled through the floor to get it into the kitchen. Also up to code.

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The air chisel made a re-appearance for this project but was not as effective as we wanted so we went to my favorite the sledge-hammer. It was cheaper than therapy and a better workout. DSC_0470

 

After lunch we went after the cabinets, again with no plan. I am sure there are teams of people with crack plans on how to take out kitchen who get it done in like an hour. We were decidedly winging it. The chisel and hammer seemed to work best for us.DSC_0485At this point I was mad. Mad about the kitchen, mad about the process of getting the house and the mess it was. This was supposed to be my dream house. So I did what every self-respecting girl from the mid-west would do. I told my husband to stand back and channeled by angst out on some 1960 tile. It was amazing.

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I ended up taking the cabinets out below the counter and brought it down from the top. It felt good. It felt really good.

Things I had not thought through. All these items needed to be moved outside the kitchen and would need to be disposed of. My observations, concrete is heavy even in small amounts and chicken wire it very sharp. Will get that corrected the next time I renovate a kitchen.

The last piece.
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9 hours later victory and a very empty kitchen was ours.DSC_0516

 

Now onto weeks without a kitchen. Happy PB&J Tuesdays.

Here we go.

Demo Day – Part 1

Taking ownership of the house was a challenge to say the least. I have chosen not to dwell on unpleasant things, instead we all decided to have some family therapy and tear some stuff apart.

Our new place had several “features” including a faux rock wall in the entry and 10 foot tall floor to ceiling mirrors in the living room. Now I know what you are thinking, with such architectural details as these why would I make a change?

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Now my Father in Law, had an amazing idea and without him we would have taken a sledge-hammer to this all day. He came up with a great idea at 4 in the morning. I present an Air Chisel. It is an attachment to the massive air compressor he owns and it worked liked a charm. Masks, glasses and respirators at the ready!

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The wall consisted of lava rocks, concrete and chicken wire. It sprayed a fine layer of dust EVERYWHERE in the house. I will be cleaning that up until December but it felt good to get it down.IMG_2111

 

It will now be sheet rocked and brought back to paint ready. Stand by for next week.DSC_0424

 

The mirror walls were a bit more play it by ear. I did what any person who knows nothing about removing large sheets of glass from a dining room, I watched a you tube video on it. The video said that we duct tape the mirror so when it shatters it breaks into manageable pieces.  I would get eh mirror off by taking a crowbar and then separating the adhesive from the wall a piece at a time. Sounds easy enough.

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The first mirror took my husband and I an hour to detach. When the final piece of adhesive broke free, the problem presented itself. What the hell do you do with a 10 foot tall mirror being held up by me on a ladder? Panic ever so slightly at first and then have the remaining family members rush into the room to help us tip it back and then gently take it to the floor and it didn’t break! Mark that into the win category.

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After all the panels were removed we found some fun markings from the original design of the house. Little window to the 1960’s. DSC_0410

 

We all celebrated the day by putting our feet into the cold cold pool. Next step demo for the kitchen.

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We bought a house….

Pause for dramatic effect.

I will say all the pleasant things you say when you have bought the type of house we acquired.

It has good bones.

It is in the best neighborhood.

It has so much possibility.

The first week has been challenging to say the least. The reality has now settled in. It needs A LOT of work. Not the little we painted this weekend, rather the we need a dumpster and something called an air chisel to get this kicked off.

So for the few people who follow this blog you are about to embark upon, what I am projecting, as a 2 year experiment. Everyone grab your work gloves and safety goggles, we bought a house.

 

Like someone else lives here

I intended this blog to be about adventures and crafts but it has been none of these lately. My excuse.

Moving.

That dreaded word I have been avoiding for years.

It seemed like a good idea. A golden opportunity to clean thing out and finally get rid of the boxes we never unpacked when we last moved. I woefully underestimated this adventure.

I have purged the house of anything that bares a striking resemblance to us as a family. And much to my daughters dismay stored 90% of her toys. I have to say it looks really nice, like someone else lives here. It reminds me of the feeling you get the last week of school, as all the bulletin boards come down and there is a kind of hollow feeling. I know this is temporary but it still is a bit unsettling.

So cheers to the next steps.

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