Monday, November 25, 2013

Adventures with Mod Podge

How did I miss the Mod Podge era in the 90's?  I was steadily crafting thru my teens, but I guess I was more focused on sewing and stamping.  At any rate, I have now discovered the medium that is Mod Podge, and John is going to have to hold me back from covering everything in the house with this amazing shellac.  So how did I introduce myself to this miracle stuff?

Over the summer, I finally painted the stairs, remember?


And with painting the stairs came painting the bathroom, and upstairs and downstairs hallways.

Downstairs "hallway" may be a bit of an exaggeration.  It's really just the tiny 4' x 6' space you enter when you walk into our house, with the stairway just in front of you.  The kitchen is off to the right, and living room to the left.  When I see a feature for "Organize Your Tiny Entryway!" in my home improvement magazines, I always flip eagerly to the article, hoping that they have the magical solution to my non-room . . .

And I'm always disappointed.  The options are quite limited when your 24 square foot space has three doorways and a staircase coming off of it.

When we moved into our house there was a  tiny little shelf with a couple hooks on it hanging on the wall.  Shortly after we moved in, someone overestimated the previous homeowners fix-it prowess and hung their large purse on one of the hooks.

Goodbye tiny shelf, hello giant holes in our horsehair plaster walls.

Fastforward four years to a blank canvas of entry walls painted with Benjamin Moore's White Dove, holes fixed and all.  Now when you walked in the front door, you were greeted by beautiful ombre effect stairs, and not much else.

Then I remembered that I had a medium-sized shelf with a mirror and hooks in the basement that I had been meaning to make over (for a few years) to replace the tiny one.  It had a cherry finish, and I am just not a big fan of cherry for our house, so what color to paint it?  With so many shades on the stairs, I wanted to keep the shelf pretty basic, so painted it gray and hung it up.


It was so boring I never even took a picture.

But it was something to (sort-of) dress up the hallway, and more importantly I didn't feel like filling holes, so it stayed up.

And annoyed me every time I walked past it.  Which was frequently, as it is the only way to get upstairs.

So in the midst of finishing paying off student loans, making a bajillion bags, and then sewing curtains for the living room and dining room, I thought (obsessed?) about how to fix the entryway boredom.

I thought about painting stripes.  Or some other geometric pattern.  Or covering it with cool wallpaper.  Or . . . you get the picture.

All the while in the back of my mind was this amazing entryway/hallway over at The Inspired Room.  I love her use of the maps as wallpaper, but as our entry merges into the stairway, it would be too much for my small space.

But wait . . . I had a map of the world that had been sitting in my craft room, just begging to be used.  A quick stop by Walmart for some Mod Podge and I was ready to go.

Talk about easy! and quick! and fun!

So without further ado, here is my updated shelf before-and-after and entryway . . .


(See how blah?!)


No more blah!


Now my entryway makes me smile!  And while I don't plan to make it a complete catch-all, it will be a great place to toss our keys when running in and out.  Just don't go hanging any heavy purses . . .

Off to find my next Mod Podge project!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Hunt

Life with a  two-year old is kind of a wild ride.  Every day we see new little spurts of independence develop . . . Jude wants to put on his own shoes, climb in and out of the tub by himself, and sit up on a stool for meals with "Sissa" instead of in his high chair.


And then there is the naked issue.

Just like his sister, Jude much prefers to be naked over being clothed.  I have two tiny little nudists on my hands.  "Fine, but you have to put on some clothes if you want to go outside."

Choose your battles, right?

Saturday morning I sent Jude outside to play with his cousins (fully dressed), and of course he came in soaking wet from playing in our teensy kiddy pool full of rain water.  Next favorite thing besides being naked?  Playing in water.  Any water, anywhere, anytime.

No biggie, I stripped Jude down to his skivvies (translation: diaper) and headed upstairs to grab him some new clothes.  Figured I'd use the bathroom while I was up there, and a scant 60 seconds or so later I was back downstairs.

Let me tell you, a LOT can happen in 60 seconds.

I walked back into the kitchen to find Jude exactly where I left him, except naked.  And . . . sniff, sniff . . . smelling slightly foul.


Turned Jude around and noted that his naked bum is covered.  And not by a diaper.  THAT'S what the smell was!  But where is his diaper?

And that's when I saw the poop plop in the next room on the dining room carpet.  My mind whirled as I tried to figure out what my first step should be . . .

"Ok, clean up Jude . . . in the sink?  Gross!  But if there is poop in the dining room, who knows where else it is.  Best not to move too far.  Guess I can clean the sink up later.  Sophia is coming downstairs.  Don't come downstairs!  POOP EVERYWHERE!  There is only one thing to do . . . "


The loud cry of the poop-overwhelmed mom who doesn't know where to start.  Standing in place and yelling to the skies seemed like the only viable option.  Not yelling at Jude, although that was how he took it.  No, more of a battle cry.  An I-will-not-be-destroyed-by-random-poop-everywhere-on-this-beautiful-Saturday-morning! kind of yell.  Which, I'll be honest, does sound a lot like an I'm-mad-at-you kind of yell.

Sorry, Jude.

Practical (slightly grossed out) ICU nurse mom finally got her stuff together and swung into action.

Poopy shoes (how did he still have his shoes on?!) off, dishes emptied into the other side of the sink, Jude slathered with Palmolive and sprayed down.  Naked boy diapered and clothed, plopped into the high chair so as to immobilize, and chocolate animal crackers doled out.

By this point Sophia had come downstairs, and was pointing out the various piles of poop between gags.

"Oh, Mama!  There's poop on the floor!  *gag, gag*  Gross!  There's more!  Why did Jude poop on the floor?!"

Why, indeed.

In an attempt to make the whole thing more fun and less gag-gy, I told Sophia:

"Time to go on a Poop Scavenger Hunt!  What is the prize?  What more do you need than the thrill of the chase?!  But be careful where you walk . . . and tell Mama if you see any, I don't want you to try to clean it!"

Off we went, me armed with wet wipes, rags, and some good ole' all purpose cleaner.

You know that comic "The Family Circle" where that annoying Billy goes on these ridiculous adventures and you have to follow the dotted line (oh, ha ha, he went over the gate and thru the kitchen and under the car . . .)?  I have always figured those for fillers when the comic writer ran out of real material.  But it turns out, Billy's antics are a remarkably accurate depiction of what went on with diaper-less Jude.

Jude is nothing if not thorough.

It seems that Jude started in the kitchen before scampering into the dining room and making a full circuit of the dinner table.  He then moved on to the living room, trying on one of Sophia's shoes (on his already shod foot), taking a climb onto his little indoor bike, and then taking a reading break.  Bored with his book, he did another full circuit, this time around the living room recliner with a pause on the standing floor lamp, and then back into the kitchen.  Once more in the kitchen, he decided it was time to get that bum covered, and pulled the diaper bag out of the closet, dumped out the entire contents, and attempted to put a diaper on.  And that is when I found him.

Just call me Sherlock Holmes.

I may have the events slightly out of order, but can tell you based on the evidence left behind, that my scenario is pretty much right on.

I can also tell you that Sophia is a Mighty Huntress.  Because she found the book, lamp, bike, and shoe, all of which I might have missed without her little eagle eyes.  To give me credit, I did discover all of the floor spots and the recliner.  So there's that.

All the while that Sophia and I were on our hunt, Jude was sitting in his high chair calling "Poo-oop!  Where are you?!"  Best Poop Scavenger Hunt soundtrack ever.

To his credit, I truly believe that Jude was trying to find the potty, as he has been making noises about wanting to potty train lately.  I have mostly been ignoring said noises, as I tried to potty train Sophia far too early and it was a miserable process.  But perhaps Jude really is as ready as he says he is . . .

The most ridiculous part of the whole thing is that I had just been giving myself a little mental pat on the back a few days before for not having one of those paint-the-poop-on-the-wall-during-nap kids.  Let me tell you, at least the wall is contained.  You know what they say about pride, right?

Just about the time that I cleaned up the very last plop, John walked thru the door, home from his invigorating run.  And right about that time was when I boogied it out the door to go flea marketing BY MYSELF.  It seems that finding an awesome old school metal breadbox for $6 (talked down from $7.50!) is just about the only thing that can erase the memory of the grossest scavenger hunt ever.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The stairs, the stairs!!!

For the past week, but especially over the weekend, I have been preoccupied with my latest project . . . sailboat cabin cushions!  Newly cut four-inch foam cushions that fit together like a puzzle to form a couch that transforms into bed with the lowering of a table.  And they needed covers.  So I set to work, and learned a lot along the way.  Most importantly, that some Sunbrella fabric will shred if you just look at it cross-eyed, never mind cutting into and sewing it.  Thank God for my serger!

Now the cushions are done, and today has been a day of catching up.  Namely with my children.  John is a rock star husband and father, and took charge of both house and kids this weekend so that I could work, but I missed my kidlets.

Without further ado, one pile 'o cushions!


Yes, I know.  It's kind of lame that I took a picture of a pile of cushions, but I don't think anyone except the boat owner would care for individual shots.  Pile it is.

Now for the real reveal!

I have been talking about how much I hate my stairs for an eon.  Or four years anyway, which is how long we have been living in our house.  When we moved in we had a horrible big box store stock carpet runner on the stairs that I despised.  But I didn't have $400 to put in the fabulous runner that I would rather have, so the carpet stayed.



Then one spring morning last year I decided I had had enough and couldn't deal with the runner for one more day.  So out it came, bajillion staples and all.  It couldn't be any worse to have plain wood with a white back, right?



Plain wood tread with a white back, my eye.  The previous homeowners (or whoever did all the fabulous DIY home improvements we have been fixing for four years) had done their usual thorough job on the stairs, meaning they looked super crappy.  And I couldn't put the runner back in, because in order to get the carpet runner out with the bajillion staples holding it down I had to hack it to bits.

Now I had (still) super-creaky stairs that were even louder than ever thanks to no carpet, and worse naked than with the runner.  Or maybe if you squint they looked kind of vintage-y?

Not so much.

What I wanted to do was paint the stairs, but I was paralyzed with indecision.  There are too many cool stair ideas out there!  And with only one flight of stairs leading to the second floor, this was not a project I wanted to have to re-do.  So I did nothing.

For more than a year.

Finally, after having naked stairs for 15 months, John and I decided we wanted to have our house in more of a done place.  Which meant I had to tackle the stairs.

Hmmm.  I had the idea that I wanted to do some sort of ombre effect, but couldn't decide on a color.  And then I saw this picture in Real Simple!  They used five colors, and I knew I wanted a little more gradual change in color.  I  chose to use all seven colors* on one color sample strip. Off I went to pick up my sample-sized Benjamin Moore paint pots, along with a new paint brush and a pot of matte polyurethane.  (I already had primer from my many previous paint projects.)

This being the only staircase, I had to leave every other riser blank while I painted the rest with primer, 2 coats of paint, and three coats of poly.  I anticipated the whole project taking at least two weeks, which is what intimidated me in the first place, and was pleasantly surprised to be done in a week.  Yay for fast drying paint and poly!  Because it is NOT fun to carry your kids up and down every other stair for a week.

And now for the finished product . . . voila!


$60 later I LOVE my finished stairs, and realize now that it was not the daunting project that I thought it would be.  Great when the projects turn out to be shorter than you estimated instead of longer . . .


Need help with a decorating or storage dilemma?  Give Inspired Interiors a call at 207.632.7619, or check us out online at

*Paint colors: 2050-10 thru 2050-70 (Salamander, Dollar Bill Green, Newport Green, Florida Keys Blue, Waterfall, Arctic Blue, Blue Bonnet)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Embracing normal

"normal is regular.
normal is safe.
warm and comfortable. . .
but normal isn't great.
normal isn't fantastic.
normal can never be amazing."
          ~Mini-Cooper ad, 2013

I beg to differ.  I think normal can be amazing.

I've been a runner for 14 years.  Over those years I have slowly improved, my running tempered by life . . . getting married, having injuries, two pregnancies, weird night work schedules . . .

These days I am running stronger and faster and more consistently than ever before.  So it goes to figure that I should be able to break my all-time 5K PR of 22:08, right?

Last summer and this I have been pushing and fighting and training hard, with the goal of making it to 21:59 and beyond.  With a mile time of 6:35 it doesn't seem like a stretch.  But with each race I have fallen short, my best this year being 22:37.  And with each race I have looked forward to the next with more and more angsty anticipation, dreading it more than I've looked forward to the chance to run.

Last weekend I ran the Shipyard Half-Marathon in Portland, and due to the heat and humidity and burned feet ran my worst half ever.  I wanted to stop from the moment I started, and hated every step.  And not just because it was hot but because I had in my head that I had to run a certain pace, and that if I didn't, then I had failed.

And I did it for a while.  I held an eight-minute pace for seven miles, and then just couldn't do it anymore.  The only positive things I can say about that race is that I ran every step, and didn't end up hospitalized, as some people did.  I have never HATED running as much as I did during that race.

So when it came to Emily's Run this weekend, I decided it was time for a running re-boot.

Time to have fun.

Time to forget about time.

Time to encourage others.

Time to be normal.

So I did.

I ran comfortably hard.  I enjoyed myself.  I cheered people on when they passed me instead of mentally cursing them out.  I said "thanks" when spectators sprayed water.  I smiled and waved as people cheered.  When I looked up and saw a giant hill looming, I was thankful to be strong enough to power up it.  I ran across the finish line happy with what I had accomplished.  I ran 23 minutes flat, good enough for 3rd in my age group, and enjoyed it.

At some point I will break 22 minutes.  One of these days all my hard work will pay off with a monster PR.  My training, the weather, my sleep, pre-race banana, legs, and lungs will all be just right, and I'll crush it.  And then keep moving on to the next goal.

But right now I am going to enjoy my normal life, my normal running, my normal (sometimes bratty) kids, my normal house, and my (above average) normal husband.

I don't think embracing normal is giving up on an extraordinary life.  But the extraordinary can be found in everyday life, and I caught a glimpse on Emily's Run.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A little Jude

Pretty sure that the last time I wrote a post dedicated solely to Jude it was his birth story.  John and I have joked that Jude gets all the leftovers, but it is kind of true.  I got pregnant with Jude just as Sophia was very sick and eventually diagnosed with asthma, all of which ended up taking the priority while I was pregnant. Then ever since he was born Sophia has still tended to abscond with the lion's share of energy expended in the Libby household.

But the Judester is almost two now, and this little guy is coming into his own!  And I have realized anew that I am just not really fond of the baby stage, but love the baby-transforming-into-toddler stage. Jude is a walking-talking marvel that makes me laugh everyday, and just as often surprises me with his new antics.


The kid has always been a babbler, but now the babble is morphing into actual language.  I'm not big on counting words, but he is moving into that place of having new words every day.  "Bushhh" has turned into a coherent "please," and he says that as well as "bye" and "(good) night" on his own.  He asks for his water when he wants it, and has been making it abundantly clear that he understands everything I say . . . though obedience is a little more hit and miss.  Fun to see his little brain working away to come up with the right words!

Jude's latest obsession cracks me up.  He is all about unloading the dishwasher.  We have our routine down . . . Sophia pulls a chair up to the silverware drawer, Jude grabs a few utensils at a time and trundles them to "Sisa" to put away, while I race to put away anything breakable before Jude finishes silverware and moves onto dishes.  The tricky part is loading the dishwasher, because Jude just wants to empty it.  So I have learned to quietly speed-load when he is not in the room, otherwise he gets all the dirty dishes back out as I put them in . . . heaven forbid I make any noise, or he will dash into the room to "help."


The Cuddler is aptly nicknamed.  These days our bedtime routine includes a little "cuddow" time while we read Bible stories.  Jude insists on blankets pulled up over him and Sisa, tucking them in just so.  In go the two fingers he has sucked on since birth, and he lies there with a big satisfied grin on his face.  During the day I am never surprised when I walk into the living room and see Jude snuggled up on the floor or couch with a blanket half pulled up over him, fingers in place and a big proud "Look what I did!" grin in place when I find him.

Of course, as much as he loves to cuddle with his sister or by himself, having Mama or Dada there is an extra bonus that sends Jude running for the bookshelf.  We have to read FAST to get the whole book in, as Jude's attention span for each page is about two seconds long.  And there is no point in trying to pick out a book yourself, because he is all about reading what he wants, when he wants, period.


Even if I wanted to push Sophia's bedtime back and let her stay up a little later than Jude (and I don't), I couldn't.  Jude hangs onto the side rails of his crib hollering for "SISA!" while she finishes getting ready for bed.  No shutting the bedroom door without his beloved Sophia in the room, unless we are looking for an epic meltdown.  She dotes on him in return, letting him borrow from her stash of stuffed animals each night.  "I think Jude wants to borrow Tinker Bell/Clifford/Teddy tonight."

I have finally put the rest of the baby toys (rattles and teethers and such) in a bag in the basement, because Jude has clearly moved on.  If Sophia is coloring or playing with play dough, so is Buddy Boy.  We could change that song's lyrics to "Anything you can do I can do . . . with you," instead of ". . . better."


Sophia is all about dress ups, so of course Jude is too.  He insists on wearing the pink puppy dog hat along with his man-bling, with a tutu added in for good measure.  Seriously need to get this kid some manly dress ups.  Maybe it's time to find a brown blanket to make a puppy dog costume out of . . .

Jude is much more adventuresome with his eating than his sister.  Which honestly doesn't mean much, because she is so picky, but unlike her he will do spicy.  A couple weeks ago I made a spicy lentil soup with a jalapeno pepper, and Jude ate two huge servings, all the while writhing, crying, and attempting to climb out of his seat.  I tried taking his bowl away, but then he melted down so I gave it back, at which point he continued to shovel the soup in, writhing away after each spicy bite.  I laughed the whole time, which Sophia thought was mean, but I couldn't help it.  He would literally put a bite in his mouth, and then turn around backward, shaking his head and trying to stand up while chewing. Swallow, repeat.  Two bowlfulls!  Every few bites I told him to drink some milk or eat some bread, and he would grab his zippy cup and chug like his life depended on it, then dive back into the soup.


Jude's other big obsession is shoes.  When he knows we are headed out, he grabs me my shoes, and if they aren't the ones I wanted to wear he puts them back in the front hall and gets the right ones. "Cinderella shoes, buddy."  "Oh . . . " Back he comes with my clear plastic jellies!  He can pull his crocs on by himself, and is never happy in the morning until he has a pair of shoes on.  If he puts then on the wrong feet I just have to tell him "Wrong feet, buddy" and he switches them right away.

I guess Jude has a few things he is pretty crazy about, because at the same time he is searching for his shoes in the morning, he is usually shouting "ou-side!" and going for the door.  The poor kid cries like I've kicked his dog when I have to tell him no.  "Jude, it is 7 a.m. and we need to have breakfast.  We can't go outside yet."  "WAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  OU-SIDE! OU-SIDE!"  About then Sophia pipes up, "Jude's having a hard time."


There are so many people I know who have just had babies, and I guess that is the litmus test for if we will have a number three . . . every time I hold one of those cute little guys I find myself being SO GLAD to be out of the baby stage (all of them are so cute and adorable and lovely and I'm thrilled for you, and I enjoy the holding and handing back of said babies!) . . . grateful that we survived it in one piece, and so much more truly enjoying now with my Cuddler and Snuggler!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mistaken identity

Today the kids and I were playing outside when Jude noticed a tan car parked across the road, with a man sitting in the driver's seat.


"No buddy, that isn't Dada.  Dada is at work."

Can't convince that kid, though, when he thinks he is right.  As the man continued to sit in his car, shooting occasional glances across the street over the next half hour, Jude persisted to insist that it was Dada.  And it was his insistence that made me realize that the dude really had been sitting there for a while.  In a neighborhood full of kids.  Right when the school buses come thru.  Sketchy much?

We finally went inside to make lunch, and I shot glances out the window to see if sketchy dude was still there.  Yup.

So I called my sister.

"If there was a guy sitting in his car kitty-corner from your house shooting glances across the street every so often for over half an hour what would you do?"

Option A: Call the cops

Option B: Go ask sketchy dude what business he has in your 'hood.

I decided to go with Option B.  Auburn cops are overworked enough.

Out the door I marched, across the street, and up to the car.

Once within a few feet, I could see what I hadn't been able to see because of the sun glare on the glass . . . two elderly ladies in the car with sketchy dude.  Suddenly the dude seemed a little less sketchy.

"Excuse me, I don't want to be rude, but do you have a reason to be sitting out here in your car?  We have a lot of kids in this neighborhood, so I just have to ask."

Not-so-sketchy dude smiled pleasantly as he replied, "We are Jehovah's Witnesses, just waiting for our friend Martha who's talking to your neighbor."

Sure enough, Little Old Lady #3 was sitting over on my neighbor's steps, deep in discussion.

Seeing as there were six hungry children inside my house waiting for lunch, I thanked them for putting up with my questioning and skedaddled.

Mistaking the neighborhood Jehovah's Witness for a crazed kidnapper was not my first mistaken identity of the week.  Nor was it the most embarrassing.  No, that award goes to yesterday's run-in at Marden's.

Sophia, Jude, and I were at Marden's to pick up fabric for a few projects, and as soon as we passed the bathroom Sophia decided she had to go RIGHT NOW!  Jude decided he needed to as well, and started hollering "POOP!  POOP!" at the top of his lungs every few seconds.

We diverted into the bathroom, where Jude continued his very loud exclamations, and Sophia took care of business.

Upon exiting the stall, we saw a very scruffy unshaven Latino man wearing work jeans and a plaid shirt walk into the bathroom.

The ladies bathroom.

"Excuse me," I said, "but this is the ladies room."

The man ignored me and continued into the stall.

I stood there for a minute, unsure of what to do.  Say something else?  Do nothing?  Tell a Marden's employee?  Perhaps he doesn't speak English?

"Sir, the men's room is right next door, this is the women's bathroom."

At that the "man" popped the stall door open, grabbed his plaid shirt covered boobs, and shook them at me.  Then darted back into his/her stall.

While I stood there gaping.

When I finally came to I  threw Sophia back in the cart, said "Oh . . . ok," and dashed out the door, hoping that she/he was not headed to the fabric section.

In my defense, anyone in my shoes would have thought it was a man.  I'm not talking five o'clock shadow . . . . more like 5 day growth.  Add in the baseball cap, jeans, little potbelly, and plaid shirt . . . it all screamed man to me.  Was the boob shaking really necessary?

It's probably a good thing I got called off work tonight.  With my current track record I might ask someone about their due date when they aren't really pregnant, or dig another hole in an equally embarrassing fashion.  I'm not superstitious, but these things do come in threes, right?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

'Lil fashion plate

Ever since Sophia has easy access to her now low-hanging clothes in the closet, she has relished the opportunity to choose her own clothes each day.  Every morning she stands before the open closet, hemming and hawing over just what outfit she should wear that day.  I love to see the combinations she comes up with, and can finally see why "that kid" at Walmart is dressed in crazy stripes and plaids . . . not worth the battle!

A week in the life of Sophia's clothing choices . . .




Yes, pajama pants.  Eh, it was Saturday.


This was one of my favorites . . . shirt tied around the waist, with a twist!


Love the backward skirt!



The most fun part of chronicling Sophia's wardrobe choices was how she got into the photo shoot as the week went on.  Tough to pare down the selection as she had so many great moves!  "Work it, Sophia!"  Today (the last photos with the pink sweatshirt) she was dancing her way thru the shoot . . . what fun to do this with her!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Another first!

Lots of firsts have made their way onto my blog . . . first steps, first food, first birthday . . . but this first has nothing to do with my kids.  What first might this be?

My first slipcover!

I finished it last Thursday evening, and couldn't be more pleased with the final result.


My goal was for the cover to look more upholstery than slipcover, and it does have a nice snug fitted look. 

What's next?!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Teeth and ladybugs

I think I need to start seeing things thru Sophia's eyes.


Like the stupid fake ladybugs that invade the house every year, those little miniature springtime stinkbombs.  Sophia loves them.

As I try to discreetly vacuum or crush them, she ooo's and ahhh's over each one she finds.  She yells at her brother and cries when he gleefully mashes them, mourning the loss of each little critter like it was her best friend.


"Look at this little one! Isn't he so cute?!"


"Come on, little guy.  Oh, look, he's coming to me!"


Last month Sophia fell and hit her mouth on the kitchen floor (slipped on a Cinderella dress!) and had to go to the dentist for an x-ray.

She was so excited it was hard to keep her calm.  She cried when I told her she had to wait a couple hours, and then kept asking me if it was time to go.  "Firsts" are fun, you know!

"Will I get a surprise?"

We came home with a good report and a full goodie bag, and one very happy little girl.


I am just not feeling so excited about the dentist these days.  Having to pay for not one, but now TWO root canals and crowns in one month (John and I apparently have to do everything together) . . . unhappy surprises.

In the spirit of being grateful, here's what is good about two root canals:

1.  Weird bonding experience for John and I.  (Remember when we both flooded the bathroom within the same week?  The living room ceiling sure does!)

2.  We have access to a good dentist, and can actually have said root canal unlike a fairly large percentage of the world's population.

3.  Similar to #2, we don't exactly have the money for multiple root canals, but I have a job where I can work a little extra to pay for them.  Being a nurse does come in handy.

4.  Ok, there really isn't a fourth, but three seemed so bare.  Ooo, I know!  The goody bag!  I'll come home with a new toothbrush, the fancy floss, and expired coupons for expensive mouth stuff.  Hmmm, maybe I should ask for the kid bag . . .

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring has sprung!

I can't remember ever craving spring so badly in all my life.  This past six months seemed to stretch on for years . . . years of being cooped up in the house with two kids who were not-so-slowly going stir-crazy.  Not to mention I was feeling pretty stir-crazy as well!

All winter long Sophia and Jude both wanted to go outside every day.  Sophia loves the snow, though, while Jude only likes the idea of being out in the snow, and not the reality of it.  So we mostly stayed inside, peering out every morning to see if the snow had magically disappeared overnight.

But now spring is here!  And the kids and I are soaking it in, walking to the park a few times a week and spending hours a day outside.  No amount of outside time is enough for Jude . . . pretty sure that kid would prefer a hammock strung up between trees to his crib inside.

In keeping with the book I have been reading of late "1000 Gifts," I was thinking about what I am grateful for on the car ride home from a friend's house today, and realized it could pretty much be summed up as "SPRING."  But here goes anyway . . .

1.  Light . . . Light in the morning as I run, and light in the evening after we've put the kids to bed.  No more gloom!  This is a biggie, because I can feel each new light-filled day chasing away the last of the winter doldrums.

2.  Warmth . . . I am sooooo thrilled that we don't need to fill up our oil tank again, just in time to pay for my upcoming root canal.  We have even been able to keep our door open a couple times in mid-afternoon to welcome a blast of fresh air into our home.  So thankful for the return to moderate temperatures!  Nothing like running in one layer instead of three.

3.  Picnics . . . The kids and I seem to be making a habit of taking our lunch outside, which has the added bonus of minimizing cleanup.  I just put lunch on a platter, and the kids grab sandwiches and fruit off as they finish what is in hand.  Big outside appetites!

4.  The park . . . Both Jude and Sophia are huge fans of the park.  They both love to walk there, despite Jude always managing to get hurt.  Our first outing we had to turn right back around to come home when Jude fell in a puddle upon our arrival.  The next time he fell and hit just above the bridge of his nose on the slide steps and got black eyes.  A typical almost two-year old boy, he has no sense of self-preservation.  But we love the park, despite any accidents, and I forsee a few walks down the hill this week!

5.  Tiny Crocs on tiny feet . . . Neither John nor I are big fans of Crocs.  We think they look weird, and neither of us have ever worn them.  Never say never, though, because we put our kids in them every year!  Two years ago I bought Sophia her first pair of bubble gum pink Crocs, and started a summer tradition.  Last year she helped pick hers out, a hot pink mary jane pair.  This year Jude is finally getting in on the action, and has the cutest little pair of navy blue Crocs you ever saw!  He looks like a little man in his big boy shorts-tee-and-crocs.  Sigh.

6.  Rhubarb . . . I have black thumbs.  Or whatever the opposite of a green thumb may be.  So last year I finally decided it was time to pull out the haphazard arrangement of whatever bulb flowers those are in the bed next to our house, and put in rhubarb.  From what I have heard, it's pretty indestructible.  Plus it's crazy yummy (strawberry-rhubarb pie, anyone?!), and the combo of useful and indestructible works for me.  Out with the flowers, in with the rhubarb.  And I am now happy to report that the roots planted last fall took, and I already have shoots, or whatever, growing up out of the ground!

7.  Green . . . Grass, leaves, plants, green is everywhere!  Still mixed with brown for the most part, but full-on green is coming.

8.  $2.99 Ben and Jerry's at Shaws . . . Ok, this one has nothing to do with spring, but last week B&J's was $2.99 a pint.  I won't say how much I ate, just that it was a good week to be increasing my running mileage.  Chubby Hubby = best ever!

Hooray for spring, and for so many things to be grateful for that I couldn't possibly list them all.  I'll be back soon with some projects . . . including my first slipcover!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tea for two . . . or three or four

In the midst of a crazy (and sometimes downright unpleasant . . . root canal, anyone?!) month, John and I have been trying to be mindful of, and grateful for, the quiet little moments of joy.  I have finally been reading the book "A Thousand Gifts" that a friend loaned me several years ago . . . oh to have read it sooner!  Cultivating a life of gratitude requires more purposefulness than I might have thought . . .


Last week I sat down for half an hour to have a tea party with the kids.  I'll be honest . . . I'm not a huge "tea party with the kids" kind of mama.  It's more a sacrifice out of love when I sit down for a tea party . . .  I've been enjoying these kinds of activities more as Sophia has gotten a bit older and we have actual conversations, but still not always #1 on my list of top ways to spend my time.  She loves it, though, and I found to my surprise that this time I did too. 


I enjoyed watching Sophia pour tea with a minimum of spillage (when did she get so good at that?!), and help Bunny "eat."



Jude thought having a tea party was the best thing since sliced bread . . . a big boy cup?!  Wow, what fun!  He was soooo proud of himself.


It was gratifying, and a little humbling, to watch Sophia serve her little brother, making sure he had plenty of tea and milk, and wiping up any spills he had.


A wonderful way to spend a few minutes in a week that started off with such chaos.  I'm thinking we may have to plan for more frequent picnics this spring and summer . . . I think that will probably be right up their alley!

Monday, April 22, 2013

A little hallway fun

What a crazy couple of weeks it has been . . . broken car, new car, broken car sold, Boston Marathon medical tent at mile 19, new phone, sick kids . . . the crazy doesn't stop around here, it seems.

I don't have a lot to say about the marathon.  No big soul baring blog post.  I guess I found out where I draw the line on sharing via my blog.

But I do have some fun for you!  My upstairs hallway!

When I started my hallway/bathroom renovation, I decided to turn the large wall in the upstairs hallway into a gallery of sorts.  Mostly family pics, reminiscent of the photo wall that I put up in the living room, back in the purple days.  The gallery has yet to happen, as there will be lots of spray painting involved and I have finally learned my "no spray paint inside!" lesson.

I knew I wanted to have some sort of design on the wall behind the photos, but couldn't decide what that might be until I found a nifty tutorial for a focal wall.  I love the idea of a wallpaper focal wall, but hate the idea of all the work and semi-permanence.  Anyone who has seen my house knows that I am a big fan of a fun geometric.  So a geometric-design focal wall using Sharpie paint markers?  Yes, please!

I pulled up the carpet runner going up my stairs some time ago, in a fit of "must do it now!" and have yet to paint them, so here's the view up the stairs:


Before . . .


And now.  Kinda ugh, I know.  But I am revving myself up for a big paint-half-the-stairway-every-other-step-all-week project, and I think those stairs are going to be getting a makeover pretty soon.   

In the meantime, now I have a BEAUTIFUL upstairs hallway that makes me smile every time I walk up the stairs.  Which is pretty often with two kids and only one (upstairs) bathroom!


Before . . .

(Thanks, previous homeowners, for letting your cat use the bannister as a scratching post.)




I am not usually a huge gold fan, but I fell in love with this idea, and our hallway instantly felt warmer with this design drawn on.  It couldn't possibly be easier to do, you just need a good straight ruler, level, and the WATER-BASED Sharpie paint markers.  DO NOT get the oil-based markers, or you will have a heck of a time painting over it when you move on to a new idea.

Next project on my list . . . finish the drop cloth curtains for the kids room.  They are all sewn up, time to stencil on some color!

Looking for some fun (budget-friendly!) spring ideas for your home?  Check out or give us a call at 207.632.7619 to schedule your consultation.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Growing up mish-mash


My kids are crazy with personality.

Just like your kids are crazy with personality.

Every time I am positive that they have maxed out the amount of personality that could possibly be contained in one tiny little body, they prove me wrong.

Of course, this is especially in reference to Sophia.  Jude surprises me, too, but I have vague memories of Sophia exploding with personality at his age . . . but Sophia now?

Surprises everyday.

I'm pretty sure she is smarter than me already.  

I was shocked when she figured out how to use her camera before I did . . . I don't know why when I see her figuring new things out everyday.

Her current obsession?  Princesses.

And Prince Charming.

And if I didn't have a teensy bit of basic psychology sticking around from my college days, I might have been shocked by recent conversations.

Said as though condescending to give me a great gift . . . "Mama, you can marry somebody else.  Someday when I grow up, when I marry Daddy.  I'm going to marry him when I grow up."


Yesterday, when Sophia's marriage plans came up again, I carefully explained that Daddy was already married to me.

"But we will find you someone who is just as perfect for you as Daddy is for me . . . when you are all grown up."

"Like Juders?"

"Well, no.  You can't marry your brother.  We'll have to find him someone wonderful, too."

"I can marry Prince Charming."

"I'm sure you will think he is like Prince Charming when he comes along."


The little things surprise me.

Picking out clothes for herself and Buddy Boy in the morning.  

"That shirt won't keep you warm today, better pick out a long-sleeve.  I'll hang that one back up for you."

Double-take as she puts it back on the hanger, back into the closet.  When did she figure that out?  

I guess it's all about the clothes with my kids.

As soon as Jude knows we are headed out the door, he starts getting us all ready.  He goes into the closet and reaches for our coats.  Then time to get shoes for everyone.  

"Thanks, Buddy Boy, but I think I will wear my Birkenstocks today instead of my princess shoes."

He heads back to the hall with said princess shoes, and comes back with Birks in hand.


Jude's vocabulary is hard to judge at this point.  I can make out a word here and there, and he is pretty good at making his needs known, but it still mostly sounds like "Blurbity blurg ugrth grrrrrrr grrrrrrr (lion impression) bluthhhh grrrrrrr banana."

Sophia is fun to talk to in her own (older) way.

Listening to classical music in the car, some sort of Blue Danube . . . "This music is lovely, Mama."

"It is lovely, isn't it, darlin'?"

"Very lovely."


The other day Jude was having one temper tantrum after another.  I was attempting to pay bills and do various other chores involving some level of concentration.  Impossible with the screaming toddler clinging to my legs.  Finally I gave up on accomplishing anything and told him "Story time!"

Jude took off running, chortling happily as he dashed for the bookshelf.  We settled onto the couch to read "Murray's First Words" as the Judester wiggled and laughed at every other word I read.  

Not hard to judge his love languages . . . touch and quality time, all the way.

Sophia slid onto the couch on my other side, slipping her arm around me.  

"How cozy we are cuddling up!" I said.

"Just like you cuddle with your husband, right?" said Sophia, as she hugged me with her arm around my shoulders.

"Just like . . . so cozy!"


Sophia has mastered the art of opening the fridge and getting herself a snack.  I decided I might as well capitalize on this, and told her she can get fruit out for her and Jude.  Previously she had decided she didn't like clementines anymore, but now that she gets to pick out and peel hers it's a different story.

"Can I go get a snack, Mama?"

"You can get some fruit out for you and Jude."

"An apple or a clementine or grapes or pineapple or dried cranberries or raisins or banana, right?"


Allowing fridge access is me trying to take the first steps toward not being a helicopter mom as these kids grow up.  Because inwardly I am cringing as I see sticky fingers on my stainless steel fridge.  Time to get over it!

They're growing up.  Quickly.  Just like all the old Walmart ladies say.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Closet re-do on a budget


I loaned my camera out over the weekend, so had to make do with Sophia's camera for my closet "before" picture.  I think the photo gives you enough blurry detail to see the dysfunctionalness of the kid's closet!  Pretty clear why this got on my spring list 'o projects.  The whole dresser-in-the-closet thing worked well when there was one kid with tiny clothes, but now that there are two kids with not-so-tiny clothes, we need a real closet.

When I was reading thru my January issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I came across an adjustable-height, adjustable-length second rod for the closet.  Exactly what I needed, but at $20 I thought I could do better.

Then I shopped around locally, and found that there were no rods around that fit what I needed . . . time to make one!

Little note here, as this is a project for the kid's closet, and will not be on display (outside of this blog post), I didn't put too much energy into making it look awesome.  Function was primary here, as you will see!  Not apologizing, just sayin'.

Shopping list:

  • 4 foot, 1 1/4 inch diameter dowel
  • 2 small S-hooks
  • 2 smallish eye screws
  • Two 2 1/2 foot lengths of chain (I bought it by the foot, and had them
  • Wire
Total price: Just under $10!


Drill two pilot holes at opposite ends of the dowel, on top.  (Cut the dowel down in size first, unless you plan to use the whole length, as I did.)  Be sure that your pilot holes are level with each other, or you will end up with a wonky clothes rod!  Screw in the eye-screws.  Make sure your pilot holes are not too big, or the screws will not be stable enough to hold anything up!

Attach one end of your chain to each eye-screw using sturdy wire.  I used jewlery wire because I seem to have lost my mechanic's wire and was too cheap and lazy to go get anything from store.


Now make a loop around the upper rod, loose enough to be able to move around, and place your S-hook in it.  Attach chain at whatever height you want, adjust at will.



Now Jude's clothes fit as well as Sophia's.  I still have their pants, underclothing, and shoes in dressers. And yes, their clothes are organized by sleeve length and color.  It helps me function.  Don't knock it till you've tried it . . .


I used half of an adjustable wire rack that was already in the closet (to the right of the dresser, if you can believe it!) to store Sophia's pared down sweaters and sweatshirts.


Jude's one-piece outfits fit well on the strange little cross rod the previous owners put in . . .


Push the clothes to the left and you can see that there is plenty of room on the right to store a couple things we aren't currently using.


And a little extra room on the shelf next to the sweaters for toys being stored away until later!  (Toy rotation, I'll pull them out in a few months and it'll be like they're brand new.)


Sophia is enjoying having a newly organized closet.  She pulls out clothes for her and Jude each morning, so if you see her wearing crazy outfits (today was a short sleeved Elmo shirt under a purple summer dress and hoodie sweatshirt with purple fleece pants), now you know why.

Have an organizational need?  Inspired Interiors would be happy to help you out!  Check us out at, or give us a call at 207.632.7619.

Happy organizing!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...