Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Brighter Kitchen!

I can't remember how much I've mentioned on this blog about how dark our apartment is, especially after coming from our old house, which was always filled with natural light.  The room I had the most difficulty in handling the darkness was the kitchen.  Our old kitchen was always flooded with morning sun and I LOVED IT.  If I had my way, I would live by only natural light until the sun goes down in the evening.  Overhead lights are just way too bright and fake for me in the morning, especially before a cup or two of coffee. 

Living by natural morning light is not the case here.  There is one window, but it's not really a window.  It's covered in grass clippings.  We cleaned it when we first moved in to help "spruce it up", but then the grass was cut a few days later and we realized that was a colossal waste of time.  And the lone window looks into a window well.  Some natural light comes in through it, but its minimal.  And the view is a metal retaining wall.  It's beautiful, just beautiful.  You can take my word on that.

Anyways, I'm sounding much more negative than I getting back on track.  I hated the kitchen.  Almost no natural light, dark paneling, wood cabinets, grey dingy get the picture.  Dark. 

Here a few pictures from last year around this time:


And just for reference, this is what I mean by a grey ceiling - not helping the room appear brighter in the least bit.
Well, I can't add windows.  And I'm not paying to replace paneling, cabinets, or counter tops.  But I am a big believer in paint equity.  Sanity in a can some may say.
So, I spent hours upon hours painting every possible part of the kitchen this summer.  I still have my areas of complaint (because I'm a perfectionist) - I'm not a fan of the hardware on cabinets and the floor is trifling/troubling/falling apart, but I have to remember we are only renters and this place is CHEAP - but overall, I could not be happier with the results.  It was worth every dollar spent on paint and every minute spent painting.


Now the question I tackle painting the living room next?  See how dark it looks in there now that the kitchen is brighter?  Might have to kick the hubby out for a weekend so I can "surprise" him with the results....

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's not much...unless you know what we started with!

Our bathroom "fix-up" is finally complete.  And trust me, it's nothing fancy, unless I share with you just how nasty it was when we moved in.  So, to fill you in on our "starting point", check these out!
This was an image taken by the previous owner.  I know I have an insane eye for detail, so in case you don't notice it like I do, please note the nasty, black all along the crack where the tub and floor meet.  This is no mistake, that is straight mold/mildew/nasty build-up.
Yes, all the darkness in the cracks is a combination of missing grout and mold.

Why yes, there is water leaking through the missing grout cracks, down the back wall of the shower, and causing the drywall next to the tub to mold, mildew, and deteriorate....and the baseboard also.

And yes, the mirror is rusty. 

Even on the inside.  Hell if I'm putting my toothbrush on that!

So, first we removed the moldy drywall.  I let the kids help me cut it out.  They thought that was awesome.  A chunk of the baseplate for the interior wall was rotten to the point of crumbling.  I cleaned up all of that and sprayed all the wood with a sealing primer.  And yes, I let the landlord know what I found when I cut away the drywall. 

Clearly this leak is not anything new.
So that's the before.  And I wouldn't say I'm high maintenance, but this girl has standards.  Cleanliness and not broken, moldy, or rusty standards.
Here are the after pictures.
I took down the cabinet, sanded off the rust, and spray painted it with an appliance epoxy paint.  I lined the inside shelves with cute, red damask rubber cabinet liner.

The walls are light blue and I added a red shelf.  I have a real love for red and light blue.  Sometimes I add red zinnias from the garden in the white milk glass vase on the shelf....but they die quickly.

Ohh look!  No moldy caulk anymore!

And no moldy wall either!

It's all clean now...and I've scrubbed the grout on the floor as best I can.  It's never going to be white.

No more dark and missing grout!  I re-grouted the entire shower.  It was a first time project for me and I did it while Justin was working out of town.  I thought it was fun!

I like things that are white and clean.  Really, really, like them.

I even painted the doors/trim white to help lighten up the whole room.  I don't like wood trim/doors.  In a place this small and dark, I prefer to keep things as white and light as possible.

Truth be told, we do have to keep this dehumidifier in the bathroom to help with moisture and air circulation.  It's not ideal to move around it, but whatever keeps the mold from growing!
So, that's our bathroom!  All clean and mold free!  And no more leaks in the shower!  I had to paint the walls twice to find the right color and I couldn't be more glad that I did.  The color is light, cheery, and exactly what I had in mind. 
Next time I get around to cleaning our kitchen, I'll share with you all the work I did in there this summer!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Letting Go

Well, clearly I never got over being tired this summer.  I haven't posted in nearly two months.  I fully believe our life is beautiful, but this summer was not the greatest or most enjoyable "phase" of our marriage and family life.  Trust be told, I adore my husband.  He's helpful, caring, smart, good lookin', and overall it's a real advantage in life to have him around.  Only seeing him on the weekends just doesn't cut it for the kids and me.  We love him.

BUT, tomorrow he's back for good.  Wow.  We survived and grew and stretched ourselves in new ways.  And I suppose those are all good things.  But I still firmly believe families are better off together than apart and I'm glad we go back to being together tomorrow.

I'm going to try to put a positive spin on a more trying phase of life though - one thing this summer taught me personally was when to let go.  I get really up tight about a lot of things - nutrition, education, media, parenting, etc.  This summer I was forced to simplify life down to what really matters.  We ate a few more boxes of Annie's Mac and Cheese.  The kids watched a little more TV (thank God for Netflix - Daniel Tiger whenever we need it saved my sanity on a few occasions).  Our kids are now registered to attend a solid preschool later this month.  I yelled more than I would have liked, but we also snuggled more than usual.  I spent more time on facebook in an attempt to feel like there was at least some form of adult interaction in my life on a daily basis.

And you know what, life is just fine.  So I might not always bake all of our bread from scratch.  And I might get tired and reach for the easy dinner.  And sometimes I might rely on a TV show to allow me to shower and blow-dry my hair in peace.  And I may not end up homeschooling the kids.  And I might waste entire evenings online (while also painting about half of our apartment though!).  And when it all comes down to it, I might realize I'm even farther from perfect than I originally hoped. 

But my kids are sweet and loving and helpful.  And we all know how deeply we love one another.  And our family will be back together again full time starting tomorrow evening. 

And that right there is all we really need to hold on to in life.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I've had every intent to share bits and pieces of our life multiple times each week over the past few weeks...but by the end of the day when I am able to find the time to sit and write, my inspiration is gone.  I'm just tired.  Oh, so tired.

I've debated sharing the details of our summer on here, since it is public space, but in the end I've decided I am a fan of transparency. 

This summer is wonderful and beautiful and filled with joyous moments...but this summer is also the hardest one our family has known.  Hubby is working out of town all summer - meaning it's just the kids and myself on our own all week, every week.  I know I shouldn't complain.  Military families do long separations (much longer than ours and without weekends) all the time.  Single parents balance life with kids and no other adult around to help.  And still other families are all to familiar with having one parent work out of town for extended periods of time.

But this is completely new for us.  And things that are new, tend to be hard. 

Hubby and I have never done "long distance".  Even when we were dating, the only summer we didn't live in the same town was the first summer we were dating.  At that point we were so early in the game that it wasn't that big of a deal.  We just do togetherness, everyday, all year long.  And we like it that way.  I like having him around to help with the kids, share my life with, and even to piss me off.

So, here we are, several weeks into a long, tiresome but still good summer.  I'm in the midst of a major painting project (which I will share when it is complete, but until then I just want to share that I am over it and ready to spend my evenings sipping wine and watching TV).  The kids are needier than ever - the "watch me!" requests that used to be fulfilled by two parents are now all falling on me, while at the same time everything else is on me too.  I cannot fall asleep by myself.  Basically, I just suck at sleeping by myself.  What I would give to fall asleep before midnight.  And even though I spend this past weekend at Sunbridge Institute learning all kinds of inspiring, insightful things about Waldorf education....all I can muster up to share in this space tonight is I'm tired.  Oh, so tired.

So instead of writing about urban foraging, learning how to ride a two wheeler, exploring the many, many natural areas around us, or sharing about our garden, I'll leave you with a few photos that capture some of our best days thus far.  Because no matter how difficult come aspects of life can seem, this journey that we are on is still so beautiful.


Friday, June 13, 2014

{ this moment }

I have precious pictures of my children from the past few weeks, but the moment I want to cherish the most was not caught on camera.  It's a moment I want to record in this space, so that I can come back to it years from now and savor this beautiful fragment of a forgotten about, tiresome week.

Today I sat on a chair in my parents' yard and watched the kids climb their young oak tree for over thirty minutes.  Thirty minutes of climbing up and down the tree, memorizing the best pathways up and then down, climbing higher and higher with each successive trip.  The look of pure joy and accomplishment on their faces at what they could now do all on their own.  After one of the most exhausting weeks of my life, it was so refreshing to sit and give my children an audience for awhile - something they have been begging for all week.
And it occurred to me how important moments like these are for children and how climbing trees is not only good for their physical well being, but for their cognitive development.  As I watched them I could see how easy it is to find a link between self esteem, ability to think critically, ability to problem solve, and knowledge of your own personal limits to slightly risky outdoor experiences in childhood.  I have to let them take risks and I have to trust that they know their physical limits far better than anyone else ever will, including myself.  Yes, as a mother, it put butterflies in my stomach to see my wild three year old daughter climb well above the height her brother was willing to climb.  But she did it.  And she did it all on her own.  And they both did it amazingly well - feeling out each maneuver, sometimes trying one way, and then backing up to find a better way.  Cautious at first, but faster and more confident as they went.
And I was able to slow down and be there, in that moment with both of them.  And for that, I am so grateful.

Friday, June 6, 2014

{ this moment }

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by Soule Mama

Friday, May 23, 2014

{ this moment }

{this moment}
A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
The reality is this past week held more "moments" than I could have imagined - just not ones I remembered to capture with my camera.  I have been blessed enough to cut back the number of days I have to work each week to only one or two!  Having the entire day at home with Mannchen and Töchterchen has filled my heart with more love, light, and joy than I anticipated.  The more I work and the busier my commitments, the more I take my stress out on my children.  It's a very unfair thing to do, but I struggle at times to keep my stress under control.  Comparatively, even our "busy" schedule pales in comparison to many other families' and the American cultural norms, but I each family is different and we all have our own limits and ideals.  Seeing how peaceful our life has become again has been complete confirmation to me that putting the commitments of my family ahead of any other commitments is our best way to live.  Besides, these two precious children of mine and their sweet Daddy really are what life is all about.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by Soule Mama

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Little Leftover Eyelet

Back in 1983 my parents were married and my mama made her own wedding dress. 

Check out those cute kids back in the day!

When I was born a little over a year later, my mom used the bottom portion of her dress to make a crib skirt for my crib.  All that remained of her dress was some of the eyelet material she used for the bodice and skirt of her dress. 

Personally, I'm not one to want to save a wedding dress.  Let's be honest, you're never going to wear it.  It seems so much more practical to use the material for other things that you need.  Or in my own case, to sell it on Craigslist so you can buy your first child a car seat!

Anyways, getting back to the eyelet material.  My mom has been holding onto it for years in her craft supplies.  In the fall she was downsizing and I took it.  I just love the delicate simplicity of white eyelet fabric.  In my usual fashion, I had nothing in mind for it when I took it, but the pieces were large and it's pretty.  Actually, the fact that it's pretty was all I needed to hang onto it. 

Recently ideas started coming to me for ways to use it in our daily lives.  First up was an old leather ottoman cushion from Egypt that has been sitting around our living room.  It's pretty neat looking, but was coming apart at the seams and was duct taped together.  I don't know about you, but duct tape isn't really a design statement I like to make permanent in my living room decor.  After staring at the ottoman all winter and staring at my fabric stash, I finally realized what needed to be done. 

I don't have any pictures of the ottoman by itself - here is it under our coffee table.

And another shot with a glimpse of the duct tape that eventually had to be wound all the way around the poor old cushion.

So, one evening I found a larger scrap of red upholstery fabric left over from covering a chair nearly a decade ago.  I used the red fabric to cover the sides and wrap underneath the cushion, which is tied on the bottom with a drawstring ribbon.  On the top, I quilted together two pieces of eyelet fabric, using another leftover scrap of quilt batting - I just love to save and use up the scraps!

I can't speak for the rest of you, but in my opinion this is MUCH better looking.

Quilted top.

It's pretty and it's practical - as always in our house, this cover slips off for easy washing!

The ottoman didn't use up all of the fabric, so thankfully when Töchterchen started asking for more summer nightgowns last week, I knew just what to reach for.  There was enough eyelet left to make her two.  After she heard the fabric was from her Oma's wedding dress, she was in love the idea.  Like her mother, she is quite the romantic at heart already.

So thrilled.

Ballerina pose - her favorite these days.

Did you know all dresses/nightgowns have to pass the twirl test before being fully approved?
There's only a small piece of the eyelet fabric left now.  Hmm...I wonder if it's enough to make another play skirt for Töchterchen....