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!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Porch mini-makeover

For those of you who may not have been to my house, we have a teensy tiny entry way that measures 4' x 6', just big enough to take your shoes off and not much else.  Our shoe and coat storage is in a small kitchen closet, but there isn't any room for big shoes, like boots.  So our little entry ends up getting clogged with lots and lots of shoes and boots, until you can't open the door anymore.  Purge and repeat.

This week I decided enough was enough.  Both of the kids and I have awesome new rain boots from Mardens, but when you add those to the entry way pile it's just out of control.  What's a type A that hates to clean to do?

Time to claim some real estate on the front porch!  Our porch has been a pretty useless space the four years we have owned the house.  It ends up turning into a catchall for shovels and sacks of salt in the winter, and piles of bubbles and sidewalk chalk come summer.

See?  This is the winter catchall version.



I decided that I was okay with storing a few things outside, starting with our rain boots, because we were already dropping them at the door so as to not clutter the entry.  They were not expensive, so I would only be bummed and not devastated if they disappeared overnight sometime.  Okay, honestly I would be pissed if mine disappeared, I really love them, and have wanted cute rainboots pretty much my whole life.  But for the sake of sanity, outside they go.

Also to be stored outside .  . . the sidewalk chalk and bubbles, and our little cheapo umbrella stroller that was made for someone 4'11" or shorter.  Just storing those few items outside would cut down on clutter inside considerably.

Today Jude and I made a quick trip to Lowe's for some spray paint, and $8 later I had a new (useful) porch!


John and I have a plethora of apple crates lying around, so I spraypainted three of them dark blue and stacked them for storage.  There is a nice little niche for my boots and the stroller (no more tipped over stroller!).  I already had the bubbles stored in that bin, it was just in a super inconvenient location in a cabinet over the kitchen sink.

Big improvement over the stroller lying down on the floor, boots everywhere, and chalk and bubbles who-knows-where! 


Of course, we need somewhere to sit down and take off rainboots, so I pulled the bench off the back deck where it was pulling "coffee table" duty, and brought the runner up from the basement.  When the stores get in more of an assortment of outdoor rugs I'll pick up a small one, but for right now this will do.  I also have plans to sand and whitewash the bench, but that's a bit in the future . . . when it has had a chance to thoroughly dry out from being on the back deck all winter.  Whoops!


Hooray!  Not bad for $8 . . . a much more functional space.  Now Sophia can come get her chalk and bubbles anytime she wants while playing outside, and put them away easily on her way back inside.  Plus no more muddy boots inside . . . this mama had to vacuum various rooms four times this week, which is about three and a half times too many.  You all know how much I like to vacuum . . .

There are many more spring projects in the works, with many more blog posts of all the projects to come.  What projects are you getting going with these days?

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bring out the capris!

Spring in Maine is tricky . . . one day it's blue skies and balmy temps with melting snow, and the next is glowering clouds and frigidness again.  Fortunately, unlike the groundhog, I know the true test of spring.  Forget shadows and who might or might not be seeing them.  Just what is the real test of spring?

When you can wear running capris on a morning run and your calves don't loose feeling and fall off after a mile.

That said, I am pleased to report . . . spring has sprung!

I do have to admit, when I wore my capris on Monday, it was mostly because I couldn't find my running tights and didn't want to wear my running pants.  I know, there might be some confusion about the difference for you non-runners, but running tights and running pants are not the same thing.  And I am tired of wearing my baggy saggy running pants after many months of double layers.

So I capri'd it.

And it was good!  I felt light and free, and not at all cold.  I bounded over the Auburn sidewalks, past Walmart, and up the hill a mile from home.  I felt strong, with a nice running-capris-in-spring high.

Never mind that we had flurries yesterday.  And that the flower Sophia plucked from who knows where in our yard seems to have been the only one in existence.  And that today is (yet again) too cold to take the kids to the park.

Spring is here!

I have been feeling a little bit guilty for the past couple days, despite my optimistic proclamation of warmer things to come, and feel that I must confess.

I put the snow shovels and salt away in the shed out back.

I know, I know!  Murphy's Law and all that.  But my optimism extends to preparing for rain, not snow.  Now I have a couple little shelves set up on the porch to hold rain boots and bubbles and sidewalk chalk . . . the shovels didn't fit, and had to go.  Porch mini-makeover pics to come in a future (soon!) post.

Need further proof that spring is here?  We took our inaugural trip to the neighborhood park last week!  We pushed our luck a little bit by going again the next day, when it was a little cooler and Jude faceplanted in a puddle upon our arrival, cutting our trip VERY short.

But the first day was perfect!  And I am sooooo glad that Jude is finally of an age to enjoy the park, instead of sitting on his bum eating mulch.  Though I suppose he enjoyed eating mulch, it was just his mama that minded.









Happy spring!!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Family photo and a giveaway

A post about looking foolish is good for April Fools Day, right?


Every once in a while, I decide that it would be a nice idea to take a family photo.  This brainstorm usually coincides with a major holiday, when we tend to be looking our best, instead of generally disheveled.  Yesterday being Easter, I decided it was about that time again.  It had been just long enough (since Thanksgiving) to get a little amnesia about how picture time goes with 3 1/2 and (more importantly) 1 1/2 year old kids.


We gathered on my parent's couch, and my mom grabbed the teddy bear with which to entertain the kids.  She started up a little teddy ventriloquism act, and we started smiling as my dad started clicking away with the camera.  Or some of us started smiling.  Others were intermittently crying, climbing off my lap, and being generally unhappy about the process.  "Others" being Jude.  The kid is not all about having his picture taken.


Then, in trying to be helpful, John started talking back to the teddy bear . . . carrying on a conversation, in the vain attempt to cheer up the grouchy Jude.  Which worked ok, except then we have cheerful Jude and John's lips moving.  Oy.


Photo shoot over, I take a peek . . . . grrr!


The kids and I are all looking at the teddy bear, and John is looking at the camera!  Usually a good thing to look at the camera in a posed shot, right?  Any other time, yes.  Yesterday it equalled having to wrangle the kid again.  We got about two more shots before the Judemeister decided he was unequivocally done.


(Looking crazed much, Laurel?!)

So there you have it.  The semi-annual, whenever-we-get-around-to-it Libby family portrait.  Which of these would you choose to hang on your wall?!  Exactly.  Sticking with the candids.



And now, a giveaway!  For real, not April Fools.  Blue Garnet Designs, you have won a set of four cloth napkins made by yours truly!  Just let me know which color option you would like, and message me your address.  I will ship them out to you just as soon as I have access to a working car . . .

Want to be sure you are included in next month's giveaway?  You can follow my blog via your google account, or "like" Ad Libs on facebook.  If you do both you'll get two entries!


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