Category Archives: Our Home

Renovation Journal: painted

As we were preparing to host our Vow Renewal at our home, there were a lot of little home improvement projects going on.  Not the thorough, detailed, complete make-over type, but the “agh, quick just cover up the worst of it!” type.

This wall below had been driving me crazy since we moved in.  All of those scuff marks and scratches?  They do not come off, not matter how much you scrub.  On the other hand, the paint itself does start to come off, if you scrub hard enough.

This is the first thing you see, once you’ve walked through the mud room, as you are entering our house.  It’s the view at the end of the hall.  When we moved in, there was this weird bracket/brace thing sticking out of the wall that we would often stand around regarding, wondering what on earth it could be supporting.  Turns out it was just a random thing, sticking out of a hole in the wall, for no apparent reason.  Which left us with an oh-so-appealing hole right at eye level.

This wall was not on the original to improve list.  But one day I woke up and decided I couldn’t live with it anymore.  The boys and I came up with a plan, if we timed it just right, we could have this little wall totally made-over before Steve got home from work and surprise him.

  One coat of primer and two coats of Yolo Imagine .04 later…

And I managed to hang a picture of the two of us, right where that hole had been, about 15 minutes before he walked in the door.  And…he didn’t notice.  Any of it.  And this my friends if why Steve does not get to pick paint colors…because what difference would it make to him?  After much laughter, all the kids drug him back and he finally realized why we were all laughing.  This isn’t how I intend to keep this wall long-term, but it’s much, much better for now!

Remember that litttle his and hers series I posted a while back?  There was also supposed to be a “theirs”, I just never got around to it.  The two big boys were looking for a way to earn some extra money, so I hired them to paint the hallway.

It started out this bright tangerine color.

When we were in the process of moving to this house and thinking, thinking, thinking on paint colors, dear Kyrie was also moving to a new home and in the process of picking out paint.  She was on this kick wanting to try something somewhat daring.  She was thinking of painting most of their space a sort of an antique gold color.  The color of beeswax was her inspiration.  At first I didn’t like the idea at all.  But here is the thing…Kyrie’s taste is impeccable.  She creates the warmest, most beautiful and homey spaces, without fail.  Because of that, I keep thinking about it and eventually I think I started obsessing about it.  And finally decided it was just what I was looking for to paint the hall.

I never actually picked out the exact color I was looking for.  When the paint we ordered for Galen’s room came, it wasn’t at all what we expected (another quirk of our monitor), but it was awfully close to my planned hall color.  So the Yolo Grain .03 moved to that hall and we ordered a fresh can of Grain .01 for his room.

The hall color has many different moods.  It’s generally kind of a honey brown.  At night under artificial lighting it looks like coffee ice cream (as seen in the photo above).  During the day, when the sun is shining bright it takes on a golden wheat hue.  I’ll have more photos in more areas and more types of light, as we finish the hallway more completely.  The trim in this space is also Imagine .04, an old-fashioned linen white.

We also replaced the dull recessed lighting with a fixture with a bit more character and (I think anyway) a bit of vintage charm.

On to the porch…

remember the porch?

Due to time constraints, we gave up on the idea of re-screening the whole thing and decided to concentrate on just cleaning it up, painting, replacing light fixtures, etc.  It’s a good thing that we opted to devote a considerable amount of time to this, as our garden ceremony was moved to the porch, at the very last minute, due to unexpected rain.

The ceiling is BEHR Premium Plus Ultra in “Vintage Linen”, further proof that paint color names totally work on me.  All the trim is the same brand in “Ultra White”
(Iain is Irish dancing us back down the aisle here, in case that wasn’t clear)

And the homeschooling room/reception space as shown below.  The walls were seriously mangled and the parts that weren’t striped bare were painted a bold yellow-green.  Since the ceiling and trim wasn’t in bad shape, I just painted the walls, a mellower color; “Soft Celery” by Mythic Paint.

In person it’s not quite as soft as it is in there pictures and it leans just a tiny bit more to mint then I’d like, but overall, I think it’s rather lovely.

All of the before/during pictures above are by me.

Most of the “after” pictures pictures are by Dawn Joseph.


around the garden ~ June into July







The roses are blooming, all lush and lovely.  The pale pink one is David Austin’s “Queen of Sweden”, the dark one is “Tess of the d’Urbervilles”.  One of these days I really must set up an arbor for Tess to climb.

We’re eating a lot from the garden these days, lots of salads and cooking greens, baby beets.  We just finished up the last of the garlic scapes and we gather around a quart of peas, snow and snap, every morning to eat with whatever we happen to be having for breakfast.  So far the strawberries have been a disappointment.  It’s exciting when we can each get one in a day, instead of having to cut them up to share.  You would think there would be more to show from over a hundred plants.  I blame the rain.  The raspberries are running amok and a new bed is underway for all of the canes showing up in between rows of parsnips and in the middle of paths.

We’ve heard that the seed pods from radishes make a tasty snack.  Has anyone ever tried them?  We have two small patches that we’ve let go to seed.  I’ll let you know how the experiment goes!

The weather…ugh.  We’ve had rain, rain and more rain.  I can’t even remember the last time we watered.  It was fine for a while, but now I find myself getting grumpy when I make my plans in the evening for working in the garden, only to wake up to a torrential downpour.  The wood chip path through the center of the kitchen garden has been washed into a big heap at the end.  Part of a bed flooded and washed away and there are now little kale and lettuce plants going, lemming like, over a cliff.  Even so it wasn’t all that bad, until there were several days in a row when we couldn’t go out at all.  We finally emerged to find vast quantities of over-whelming weeds and an insane number of mosquitoes.  We’re outdoorsy people, used to living in the woods.  People come to visit us and go home cranky because they got “bit to death”, and we don’t even notice.  But this?  This is unbearable.  I’ll run outside for approximately 2 minute intervals.  My last time out I ran the side of a hand trowel through the earth in a straight line, dropped in a handful of turnip seed, covered it up and grabbed a handful of peas, far fewer then a meant to, before I just. could. not. take. it. any. more.  I’m not sure I want to go see fireworks tomorrow night.  I think I might rather stay inside where there are only a couple hundred mosquitoes.  They are so thick outside that we bring them in with us on our clothes and in our hair.  I think this might be the first year ever that we watch the display from the car.  bah. ick. pah.


around the garden ~ at the summer solstice


the kitchen garden:

new beds in progress:

the herb garden:


The peonies are flopping their big, bushy, showy heads every which way because I didn’t place any supports around them and it’s been very rainy this year (confession: I never do.  Though next year I might try making something like this).  The foxgloves are starting to open…one of Steve’s favorite flowers.  We had a whole bed of nothing but foxgloves, that we started from seed, in the tiny backyard of our first apartment together.  Watching them bloom always reminds me  of those days.  The roses have buds now, but nothing more.

I’m very pleased with how productive the flower garden has been.  It’s not a large space and we really don’t have a lot of plants, but over time I’m trying to make it so that there is some beautiful element to it in every season.  So far, in this season of blooms, there haven’t been any lulls.  There is always something adding color and fragrance, even while we wait for other things to bloom.  And they are all the lovely, romantic, old-fashioned flowers that I like best.

In the kitchen garden so much is changing.  Every year I want to make a point of adding some bit of structure or “backbone” to the garden.  Either by building new paths, beds, arbors and the like or planting trees, bushes and perennials that will provide for us for many years to come.  New this year: 2 apple trees, 3 additional high bush blueberries, a patch of horseradish and 8 cranberry plants.

That pesky groundhog seems to have fled the premises (hallelujah!)  and the pea plants are thriving again; growing tall and blossoming and just starting to sprout peas.

There are many new beds in progress.  Galen built one shaped like a baseball.  More later on the ones that we’re working on.

The herb garden is coming along.  There is still much to be done, but it’s starting to take shape and look like something.

I think we should have fruit this year. fingers crossed.  The raspberry plants are spreading everywhere.  So far we’ve each had one strawberry.  Nothing to write home about.  Not quite ripe actually, but the kids just couldn’t wait a moment longer!  Am I the only one that finds tiny, fuzzy baby peaches just adorable?


father’s day

We built a fire pit.

It’s quite large.

For the Daddy:

Top Ten Reasons that You are Loved

by Galen

1) he drives us places
2) he works so hard for us
3) he hugs us lots
4) he plays lots of games with me
5) and reads lots of stories
6) because he helped make me
7) and he loves me a ton
8) and he takes so good care of me
9) he can be funny
10) and he likes planting with me



Over the winter I got antsy, better enough to want to improve the home I was stuck in all season, but not yet well enough to actually do much of anything about it.  I obsessively paged through stacks of decorating and renovation books from the library.  I think I was driving Steve crazy, coming to him with all of these little projects I wanted us to do.  He’s of the opinion that we should finish up the 3 or 4 very large projects that we’ve stalled out in the middle of before starting any additional projects, big or small.  Very reasonable and rational, but I think we all know that when it comes to projects, that’s just not the way I roll.  It got to the point where his response would just be a look.  Not quite the look, but a look for sure.

But spring is here now and I am well again.  After a few false starts, where all I managed was putting on my painting clothes and wearing them around the house for a while, I finally got back up on the ladder again.  Figuratively and literally.  As any petite home improver will tell you, the ladder is your most valuable tool.  Especially when your 5′ self is trying to paint an 11′ wall.



A little home improvement series for you…

Many changes happening here at the moment.  This is Steve’s current project.  When you live in an area where the warm season is short and very buggy, a screened in porch is a wonderful asset.  It’s one of the things that we really liked about this house when we first looked at it.  It’s a lovely feature, but in bad shape.  All of the paint is peeling.  All, all (!) of the screens have holes.  Many of them are just missing, as cleverly illustrated by our neighbor’s cat.  Some of the frames were somewhat intact.  Some were just completely missing, the pieces of some were gathered off of the lawn below.  All of the pictures here, with the exception of the last one, are from autumn, when we first went out to really assess what needed doing.  This is a big project.  There are around 30 screens that need refinishing, rebuilding or to be built from scratch.  I’m in charge of picking paint colors, subject to his approval and taping things off.  Otherwise this one has been pretty much all on him.


7th birthday gifts

General swing instructions here.

‘I Love You Raspberry Cheesecake-Mousse’ (raw, dairy free)- hers are ever so much prettier then mine!

Galen’s sweater pattern (shown in several pictures here both inside out and backwards).

Yarn for both Galen’s sweater and Teddy’s sweater (color: honey).

Teddy’s sweater and both sets of pants were improvised.

Fabric: random striped canvas found at a yard sale by my Mother-in-Law.


Birthday Crown


upstairs bath re-do, part I



This currently may well be my favorite space in the house.  Yes, the bathroom.  It’s just so calm and serene and (very important) everything is where it’s supposed to be.  No clutter.  Sun-shiny views of snow covered forests, offset by lush greenery inside.  Plus, unlike many of the other rooms in the house, it’s the right color.  While there may not be right and wrong colors in general, there are right and wrong colors for me and this one falls quite comfortably in the “right” category.

Paint Details:

Ceiling- Imagine .01

Doors and trim- Imagine .04

Walls- Water .02

All by Yolo Colorhouse.  The ceiling is a warm bright white.  The trim is a linen white that gives everything a classic, old-fashioned feel.  The wall color is extremely difficult to capture accurately, especially since it changes throughout the day, but it’s somewhere around the intersection of blue, green and grey; lovely and mellow and calm.

  The original exhaust fan in the bathroom was broken.  Since moisture and potential mold growth are a huge issue for us, replacing it was a high priority.  I finally settled on a Ventamatic NewVent light/vent combination fixture.  From their site; “The factory is 100 percent powered by wind generated power, 95 percent of all waste products are recycled and the packaging is of recycled cardboard.”  Sold.

Some other little fixes: we added in a towel bar and toilet paper holder.  I’m not really sure how the family of five living here before us didn’t have a towel bar, but there you go.  I didn’t want to spend the money to replace the light fixture above the sink, so I rigged it up to support a vintage tinted glass shade instead (a $6 investment).  A little basket from another part of the house corrals washcloths and hand towels.  Window wise I found the huge picture window, looking out over the woods, very peaceful, but the little one next to the sink faces the front yard and driveway.  I don’t even really think you can see into it from the outside.  But somehow from the inside, it felt less private then it should.  I liked the idea of these lacy window films, but worried about the safety of the materials used to make them and had no desire to pay $86 dollars to cover half of one small window.  One day I thought of some cotton lace I had leftover from another project.  With my tiny embroidery scissors I clipped the lace, following the edge of the pattern.  A little sewing, a bit of ribbon trim at the top (also from my stash) and a tension rod (less then $3), finished it off.  Much less expensive and perfectly safe.

  I’m still feeling a bit wish-washy about the plant holder.  I just made it a couple weekends ago and it doesn’t look quite how I pictured it, but I think it’s growing on me.

And what is that around our toilet you ask?  That, my friends, is our Squtty Potty.  Yeah, I actually typed those words together.  And I’m going to say more about it.  The way I see it, I have 3 young boys at home and a little girl who thinks that everything they say is brilliant, hysterical and well worth repeating.  In other words…I’m pretty much immune to any kind of embarrassment about potty talk.  And this is important, so someone has got to talk about it.  The theory goes, and this is supported by much scientific research, that human beings are meant to squat to eliminate.  It is amazing the number of problems that can be improved, prevented or cured with this one simple lifestyle modification.  Those of you who remember my Healing Home series, know that I am serious about creating a house the encourages health and wellness on all levels.  We have gut issues, there’s no getting around that.  Leaky gut, IBS, Celiac Disease, crazy food allergies, family history of stomach cancer, you name it.  I’m supposed to be going in for an assessment for possible Crohn’s Disease.  The combination of Elhers-Danlos and carrying/birthing lots of large babies means that I have all sorts of issues with prolapsed pelvic organs.  Not to mention the extra need to quickly and efficiently eliminate toxins from our bodies.  None of this is particularly pleasant to talk about, but there isn’t any way for other people to get help unless someone puts the information out there.  All of these things and more (hemorrhoids, anal fissures, constipation, colon cancer to name a few) can be helped or prevented with this one simple measure.  So, yeah, someone has got to say something because people are suffering and they don’t have to.  What’s more, we are raising generation after generation that are developing problems and in pain when they don’t have to be.  And I want more then that for my family.  Who knew I felt so passionately about such a thing?  Certainly not I.  Until I tried it.  And I can honestly say, it makes a big difference in our quality of life.  *Stepping off my strange soapbox now.*  For more information you can do your own searches on the web or check out the wealth of info on the Squatty Potty site.  For such a serious, yet taboo subject, those guys have quite the sense of humor.  Ours is the Squatty Tao Bamboo, which is actually on sale right now.  Call me crazy, but I actually like the way it looks in the room.  I think the bamboo adds an appealing, earthy element that breaks up all the white with a bit of warmth.  It’s a nice touch.  The kids all think it’s fabulous, as they no longer have to sit uncomfortably with dangling legs.  And it stays tucked out of the way, under the toilet for anyone who doesn’t wish to use it.

I think that about wraps up the bathroom tour.  Oh, except for Hector!  Hector the luna moth, named by Elijah (congrats to the .02% of you who actually got that joke).  That’s obviously an old picture, as we haven’t seen Hector in many months, but all summer long he took his daytime rest on our bathroom window.  I especially appreciated his efforts to color coordinate.

There is still a lot I want to do in this space.  A bit of custom built storage.  I might add some artwork, I might not.  There is still a vintage medicine cabinet up in the attic waiting to be fixed up and installed.  Steve wants to replace the floor some day but that is a long way down the line.  I’d love to replace the switch plates with something like this, but I’ve yet to find an excuse for spending nearly $30 on switch plates.  Steve is entirely convinced that there is no such excuse and so we live on with the plastic ones.  But it’s better.  Much better and time to move on to other more pressing projects.


let’s pretend…

~the view from my window this morning~

Let’s pretend that since I last posted that I just carried along with my semi-idyllic bed rest, reading to little ones and playing games and keeping spirits up.  Not that I ended up in two different hospitals with consultations with countless doctors at both and in between.  Let’s pretend that I’m not still recovering from the general anesthesia and  surgery for something other then the surgery that I am still, as of yet, trying to avoid.  Let’s pretend that I, who never so much as takes cough syrup aren’t on a barrage of medicines that when I’m not in too much pain, knock me out for hours on end or that I wake up crying, for reasons no one, including me understand, before falling back to sleep again.  That the vivid dreams I have during these times aren’t impossible to distinguish from reality.  Let’s pretend that I don’t have another consult for yet more potential surgeries.  Let’s pretend that there are actually days when I’m lucid enough to enjoy my family, that attempting to knit 1/4 of a row or lifting a hardbound book doesn’t exhaust me.  Let’s pretend that I haven’t lost 12 pounds in 2 weeks because between the pain and the pills I just can’t convince myself to eat.  Let’s pretend that on top of it all everyone else in the house, including the main caretaker aren’t in various stages of a nasty cold.  Let’s pretend that none of that is true because I’m having an ok-ish day.  I don’t want to tempt fate by declaring I feel nearly human, but I’ve managed to drop one pill from my regiment (for now) and this is the first day in a while that I’ve felt like my mind and my body are at least a little bit my own.  And so I want to think and talk of anything else…any pretty little everyday thing.

For Christmas this year we couldn’t really think of anything much that the kids needed or really anything that would enrich their lives.  At least nothing that couldn’t be used as stocking stuffers (i.e. art supplies).  And I am still very much on my not wanting to bring random stuff into the house for no reason kick.  So instead of several little gifts, we decided to give one big gift for everyone.  Steve built an ice rink in the front yard, and we updated ice skate for those who needed them.  Building an ice rink is a long, slow process, much more so then you might think, with layer upon layer added over the course of many days, but worth the effort I think.

These pictures are from just after Christmas.  It was really the first official time skating for the younger two, while the other two zoomed in circles around them.  Such a fun first.  I’m so glad I was able to be there.


Making Merry

1 & 2 There are paper snowflakes everywhere

3 why yes, that is a horseflake

4 & 5 gift making

6 & 7 and wrapping

8 late night knitting with coconut sugar cookies

9 sending off their first order

10 the kids had stamps out while I was addressing Christmas cards so I added some sweet little blue birds to the back of the envelopes

11 & 12 Golden Goose and Fairy trees seen while out and about.

13 nut butter caramel and red raspberry leaf and nettle chai

14 dreidel

15 late night knitting with orange

16 nativity by Iain

17 the enchanting Winter in White by Robert Sabuda

18 making music (why yes, those are more snowflakes on the floor behind him)

19 Crafts Through the Year

20 & 21 we made Swedish straw stars

22 & 23 while she made an empty yarn cone into a Christmas tree

24 We made a whole mobile of ballerina snowflakes.  They twirl and drift about gracefully and it’s like just before intermission at the Nutcracker. template here