Thursday, November 29, 2012

Family Fun During the Christmas Season

Christmas List - Moms Gonna Snap

Is it too early to be thinking about Christmas? Not for me!

There have been so many variations of lists like this popping up all over the place and I thought a Christmas version would be fun.

Here’s what I started with:

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Yup, that’s my Dad! Somehow I ended up with some old framed pictures of my Dad and I happened to have two identical old frames with the this photo. I needed a frame for this project, so sorry Dad, your photo has been displaced. That doesn’t make me love the picture any less!

A couple of quick coats of spray paint later, and the frame was ready to go.  I just added some scrapbook paper, used my Silhouette to cut out the words “Jingle Bell's'” and put together a list of things to do this holiday season.

Since it’s behind glass, we can cross things off the list as we go, using the frame like a dry erase board!

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Plus, I painted the frame with chalkboard paint, so once the holiday season is done, I can find another fun use for it!

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Let the holiday fun begin!

Linking to: Organizing Made Fun, The Shabby Nest, Sugar Bee Crafts, Hi Sugarplum!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Operation Hometown Gratitude

Tonight Anthony joined some other Cub Scouts to participate in Operation Hometown Gratitude.

Operation Hometown Gratitude was started by a group of students to support local troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The operation sends care packages with necessary supplies and everyday home items to troops and also provides support for families of troops. Since August of 2005, they have sent over 6000 care packages! The local VFW granted the operation some money to get started and has paid for the postage of many of the packages that have been sent.

We purchased a few things for Anthony to add to the other supplies that were donated:

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Anthony was able to help put together a couple of boxes that will be sent to our local troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Here he is with one of his 1st grade Cub Scout friends (face blurred for privacy):


What a great opportunity for Anthony to learn about giving and supporting our troops!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tiling the “Basement Entry”

Since we have a “walk-out” basement with a sliding door, we decided that having a tile entry would be a good idea. A quick trip to Lowe’s (love getting 5% off with our Lowe’s card!) and we had picked out the Jackson Ridge tile to go by the sliding door.

Planning and prepping before starting to lay the tile - the tile is cut and ready to go!

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This photo shows the most accurate color of the tile:

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Somehow this is the only “after” picture I have taken that shows the tile…

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Except for this funky colored one, that was taken with my iPhone.  The wood trim really is not red (it is currently unfinished wood) and will soon be painted white like the windows.


It’s official, the tile is all “in” – most of it is still waiting for grout though… Any volunteers to help?? 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for…


Over the last week I read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I finished it earlier this week, and wow, I have been thinking about it ever since. This week when I heard about some struggling youth, I thought of this book. When I saw homeless people on the street corners asking for money, I thought of this book. As I read an email about an upcoming event for the homeless population in our community, I thought of this book. I keep imagining the life Jeannette experienced all around me.  If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.

So many people have been sharing what they are thankful for this month and after reading The Glass Castle, I have decided that I am thankful for everything. Earlier this week when I asked Anthony what he was thankful for, his response was everything too! Later that day when I asked him again, he decided that he was thankful for Ninjago…

Today, as we all give thanks, here are just a few of the things I am thankful for…family, our health, our home, children, friends, education, adoption (even though we continue to wait), our kitties, laughter, teachers, summer days, books (they fill me up), cameras (for capturing our moments), technology, the opportunity to give (so we can share with others), camping, having cars with full tanks of gas, the ability and resources to finish our basement, etc., etc., etc.  I could go on and on and on.  Today, I am thankful for everything.

Wherever you are, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Basement “To do’s”

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Here’s the barn beam that will soon become our fireplace mantel! If you follow me on Instagram,
you know we are working on making stain decisions…

Last April, I wrote a list of everything that we still need to do in the basement before it could officially be called “finished”.  Somehow, it seems like that list is multiplying!  The notes in red below are additions to the list (and I haven’t even peaked at the list hubby is keeping).

Here is the original list as of last April with the completed tasks crossed out:

    • Electrical/Plumbing/Framing Inspection
    • Re-insulate and put up vapor barrier
    • Vapor barrier inspection
    • Hang Drywall
    • Mud and tape drywall
    • Sand walls
    • Knockdown ceilings
    • Paint (family, hall, bathroom, bedroom, closets)
    • Trim (paint, cut and install)
    • Hang doors (6 doors) 1 door left to hang
    • Wire one last wall sconce at top of stairs
    • Pick out Carpet, install
    • Install light fixtures and outlets  bathroom sconces need installed
    • Build bathroom vanity
    • Tile by patio door
    • Tile bathroom floor
    • Grout tile (bathroom floor, shower floor, shower walls, by patio door)
    • Frame shower niche
    • Tile shower
    • Install toilet
    • Install shower hardware
    • Install bathroom sink and faucet
    • Build lower and upper wet bar cabinets, stain and install
    • Build the TV cabinet, paint and install
    • Build the bookshelf, paint and install
    • Pick out, buy and install cabinet hardware
    • Install under cabinet lights
    • Stone on the fireplace
    • Build and install fireplace hearth
    • Build and install fireplace mantle
    • Fireplace guys return to complete fireplace set-up
    • Build and install stairway railing and stairway trim
    • Pick out and buy mini fridge
    • Pick out and buy mini microwave
    • Pick out and buy bar sink and faucet – install
    • Pick out and buy TV
    • Start saving $$$ to buy furniture and d├ęcor for the basement because we will be out of $$$….

Wow, that list is still incredibly overwhelming.  Any guesses on when the basement will FINALLY be usable (have carpet)??? 

When I think about where we started, we have made AMAZING progress over the last 10 months, but we sure have a long way to go!

*** Basement photo updates coming soon!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Keith West Magic Show

Last night we attended a magic show put by Keith West.  It was a Las Vegas style show and super family friendly. At different times he came out into the crowd and picked kids to help with his show. One of those times he picked Anthony! 

Anthony was THRILLED to be on stage!  He had been waving his arm wildly to be chosen!

It was really tricky to take photos from where we were sitting, but we sure tried !

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The magician had this yellow box…  (and check out that showgirl!)

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He took one of Anthony’s smelly shoes and put it in the box to “wash” it…

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They turned the machine on to wash the shoe…

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The machine smoked and smoked and Anthony’s shoe came out as just a rubber sole.

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Then the magician had this bag, did a little magic, and was able to put Anthony’s shoe back together.

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Here’s a video that hubby took with his iPhone!


It was a FUN night!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tiling the Shower

Well, we did it! Mostly anyways. Together we spent hour after hour this past weekend tiling the walls of the shower. Overall, it went pretty smoothly, it just took WAY longer than we thought it would. (Just like our last round of tile...) That seems to be the story of finishing the basement… When is it going to be done?!?

Here is the shower right before we started tiling. We used the wood boards as a level line and began tiling from that point up. You can see the lines drawn on the wall to show where the mosaic stripe will go. That red stuff is called RedGard – it’s a waterproofing sealer to ensure there is no water leakage.

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Hubby mixing the thinset. This batch was MUCH better than the last one!

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Here’s hubby trying to look tough right before we started – there may have been a little trickery going on (if you can’t tell from the grin)!

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Here goes… the first tile is on the wall! Notice he’s wearing his wedding ring – it has been covered in thinset and grout multiples times over the last 10 days or so…

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Sconni had to come check things out. Sota wouldn’t come into the basement – the tile saw freaked her out.

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Here’s the shower after our first afternoon of tiling. We quickly discovered that we couldn’t continue on tiling above the mosaic because the weight was too much pressure and the mosaic tiles were starting to buckle. Glad we figured that out when we were only two rows in!

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Here’s the same view the next morning without the spacers – looks much better!

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The mosaic tile is my favorite part!

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The bottom tiles are almost all installed (each tile is taped to the tile above to keep them from sliding down). The tile on the front ledge of the shower is also installed.

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Here’s hubby making the final cuts. Believe it or not, I did at least half of the tile cuts for the shower! I tried to help as much as I could.

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Here’s the bathroom and shower at the end of the night Sunday. (The tape and spacers came down on Monday morning)

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All in all, great progress was made on the basement again this past weekend!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Time for SNOW in Minnesota

Here’s the view out our front door this morning…. UGH.  It is really looking like winter.

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I am SO not ready for this.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tiling the Shower Floor

Last weekend we tiled the bathroom floor and did some prep work for the shower floor.  Having never done any tiling before, it was a little tricky getting the hang of it.  Had we known the issues we would have with the shower floor, handy hubby would probably say that the bathroom floor was a piece of cake!

Gray tiles (from Lowes) ready for the shower floor -

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When we set up to work on the shower floor, we thought it would be quick and easy, especially compared to the entire bathroom floor.  Maybe it would have been quick if the thinset had mixed properly. What a mess. In an attempt to mix half the bag and half the liquid, something went wrong. Too much liquid, not enough mix. This was our first attempt to mix our own thinset, so we didn’t know how bad it really was until after we got started.

Here is the floor ready for tile – you can see where we have been attempting to “dry fit” the tiles after cutting on the wet saw.

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As we set the tiles in (each “tile” had 36 little tiles) they started to SINK in the thinset. At this point, we knew we were in trouble. There are no photos, because we were just at a loss. The floor was covered in thinset, that was so “thin” that it wouldn’t hold the grooves from the trowel. We felt we were committed since the floor was already covered though, so we waited and waited to give the thinset some time to set. It gradually started to set, so we went for it. In all honestly, we probably should have just scraped it out and started over. The tiles would probably have layed much easier and smoother.

Here is the floor right after we finished laying the tiles -

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That ledge at the edge of the shower will eventually be covered in the gray tiles.  Oh, and the ledge really does not curve. Let’s call that a camera trick…

Here is the bathroom floor (with grout!) and the newly installed shower floor (without grout) -

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We learned some tiling tricks through the process. One suggestion, make sure you don’t set the drain too high… Oops.  Another suggestion, buy 2 bags of the little wedges. They were just as handy as the little circle spacers.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know we have been tiling more in the shower this weekend!

More tiling updates to come!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Waiting for the Bus {the simple things}

At the beginning of this school year I started working half-time. Changing my work schedule has allowed me to focus more on our family. I have also been spending more time in the kitchen, which my hubby loves (thanks Pinterest for the great new recipes!) and I am truly loving the extra time with Anthony. 

Working less has definitely allowed me to slow down. I am noticing more of the simple things and I’m able to spend so much more time “in the moment”. One of my surprises is how much I enjoy seeing Anthony get on the bus in the morning and being home when he gets off the bus.

In previous years I would maybe drop-off/pick-up Anthony one time per week. Yes, one. I have serious mom-guilt about this. Sometimes it was due to location (daycare was right next to hubby’s work and 10-15 minutes from mine), other times this was just due to the long hours I was working. Now I am available about seven times per week for the drop-off/pick-up times. Making up for lost time??

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Playing Ninjago while waiting for the bus.

Each morning Anthony says, “I love you mom!” as he runs out the door and he always turns to make sure I’m watching and gives the sweetest little wave. Melts my heart.

The afternoon is much the same. Some days he comes home just energized and on top of the world. He knows he has to get his homework done right away (the math and reading homework is a piece of cake – the poetry homework is tricky…) and then he can have some fun before dinner.  It’s during those first few minutes after he walks in the door that I get to hear the little treasures from his day at school. Last year, when I picked him up from after school care, too much time had passed after school (1-1.5 hours) and the excitement about the school day was gone.  All he wanted to do was play.  As an educator, it’s fun to see his energy related to school and learning this year.

I am thankful for this time I have been given to just “be” with my family and I am really trying to notice all of the simple things.

Monday, November 5, 2012

DIY Dry Erase Board {Window Edition}

There’s a funny story about this window. It all started in northern Minnesota near hubby’s family lake property. We were there over Labor Day in 2011, and in a ditch on their nearly private road was a pile of old and broken windows. Among the broken ones, there were a few with the glass still in tact. I took many walks that weekend, some with hubby, some without and just knew that one of those windows HAD to come home with me. After LOTS of convincing, he pulled over (in the rain) on Labor Day as we were pulling out to head home, and let me climb down into the ditch to pick my treasure. I grabbed this one and as I slid it into our camper for the 5 hour drive home, I realized how dirty, gross and SMELLY it really was. What was I thinking? We made a deal that day. He gave me one year to turn it into something or he was going to throw it away. We couldn’t have something like this dirty, old window taking up precious space in our garage. 

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I procrastinated until my year was almost up. Not a tough project, but I haven’t tried painting old wood like this before and I’m interested in learning about using different types of paints/waxes to finish furniture. My plan was to make this my “test project”. In the end I set research aside and finally just went for it – time was running out!

I purchased a small test pot of blue paint (Jamaican Sea by Behr) and then Labor Day weekend I removed the hardware and used an oil-based primer (recommended by Cassie of Primitive & Proper to kill the smell – thanks for the suggestion!) and painted the window blue. Then life took over and the project was set aside until recently.

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I picked up the fabric on sale for $2.49 at Hancock Fabrics.

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Yes, Mom, I even ironed the fabric, although odds almost won out. I had to search (yes, search) for my iron, before finding it in a cabinet that I had already looked in. Twice. True story. I do NOT like to iron and do so as little as possible. Plus, I couldn’t figure out how to keep the iron from turning off on me. Ugh. Oh, and to add to the fun, I (finally) ironed hubby’s pile of shirts that had been waiting and waiting and waiting to be ironed. When do you think he will notice?

I sanded the window to give it a more distressed look.

Then I used some oil rubbed bronze spray paint on the hardware – it was extremely chippy which would be okay if I knew it wasn’t lead paint. I brushed off some of the old paint and just painted over it.

You may have noticed I’m way over my one year timeline – I’m thankful my husband allowed a grace period before just tossing this window into the trash (which was his plan!)

This is going to look so fun in my office at work!

Linking to: Thrifty Decor Chick, Sugar Bee Crafts, The Thrifty Home, House of Hepworths, The Shabby Nest, Uncommom Designs

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Just a little TILE!

Tile? That’s right, tile! Handy hubby’s motivation to work on the basement has returned! The next projects that really should be completed are the built-ins around the fireplace and the installation of the mantel. Then we could put the stone on the fireplace and have the fireplace guys come back to finish the installation, which would allow us to pay them. They are getting a wee bit anxious about getting the rest of their money – rightfully so – they installed the fireplace last April!

Construction on the built-in cabinets began a couple weeks ago, but was then stalled while we waited for the router bit that is needed to make the panels for the sides of the cabinets. So, while I was out of town last week, hubby installed the cement board in the shower and started prepping the shower floor for tile.

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Then the router bit arrived and hubby decided to continue on with the bathroom. I did what every good wife does when motivation strikes her husband – encourage it!

The shower floor now has cement and is ready for tile too!

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And then there was tile!

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This next picture shows the truest color of the tile, but it’s still not quite right. In all the photos it looks beige, but in real life it looks more like white stone than beige tile.

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This was the first time handy hubby had installed tile, so we felt pretty good that he installed the bathroom floor in just four hours. There was a lot of tile cutting to be done. He did great!

It’s nice to see progress in the basement again!