Keilana’s Room {Little Girl’s Room}

Eleven months after little Peanut made us a family of four, I’m ready to say her room is done. I think it counts that I’m getting it done by her first birthday, right? Right? :) To be fair to me, we had family staying in her room right up until she was born, so although I did my best to shop ahead for the big stuff (rugs, bed, blackout shades) I really couldn’t get started on her room until after she was born. And then we all know that there isn’t exactly a whole lot of time to work on things like decorating and fluffing and floofing with a toddler and a newborn, am I right? So, although we got some big stuff done right off the bat like painting the walls and sewing curtains with my mom, the rest of the room evolved slowly with a lot of trial and error. But, eleven months later, we have a room that looks like this.

I kind of love it. It’s fun and bright and full of life, but still sophisticated enough for grownups. The bones of the room are neutral, (making it easy to swap rooms in the future should the need arise) but there are lots and lots of fun girly touches to make it appropriate for our little sweet pea. So let’s talk inspiration. I knew that I wanted a gray and white room with splashes of bright color. I was heavily inspired (can one be heavily inspired?) by this nursery from View Along the Way. I loved those patterned curtains and pops of color in an otherwise quiet and calming room. I also loved that chandelier, but unfortunately this room has no overhead lighting, nor does it have tall enough ceilings. Oh well.

Back when this room was a guest room, I painted the wall that the little butterflies are on three times – from white to lavender to a soft gray. (Valspar’s Urban Sunrise) It’s a beautiful gray, but like most grays it can be tricky, the color changes throughout the day and depending on what tones you pair it with. Then we painted the wall that the bright curtains are on in the same gray. And by we, I mean our friend Zachary painted it one sunny day in October when he was on break from college. Thanks Zachary! I took that opportunity to re spackle and sand some gouges on that wall that had been bugging me for a couple of years. While those walls will never be smooth unless skim coated, they’re much better than they were. Also, can we just stop for a minute and admire that beautiful bedroom door? With the tarnished brass doorknob. Glorious.The upstairs doors are one of my favorite things in the house. Okay. Back to the subject du jour. We had initially planned on just doing a floor bed for Keilana once she outgrew the swing, like we did for Javi. Keilana, however, thought that was a terrible and terrifying idea and lobbied hard for a crib to call her own. And we complied. You’re welcome, baby girl. It’s the Hensvik crib in white from IKEA, and so far we love it. It’s solid and beautiful and KK loves it too. I often come in to get her from her naps and find her with both legs through the bars, swinging away without a care in the world.

I tried a million and one things on that wall above the floor bed, and ultimately decided on these little paper butterfly cutouts in colors that show up in the curtains around the room. I may come up with a better idea at some point, but for now it gives that wall a little interest for very little moolah.

So one of my favorite ways to decorate a room is to find an inspiration fabric that I base all my other decisions off of. I knew I wanted a bright, colorful fabric that made this light filled room very cheery for the curtains. One day, when I was great with child, I made the trek to JoAnn fabrics (my least favorite store. truly.) and spent a good long while examining every fabric they had on the rack. Lover is my witness. We both liked this fabric, called Spring is in the Air, or something like that. I purchased five yards of it that day, and my mom helped me sew it into full, happy curtains for this one window. Then, a few weeks later, I went back to that accursed place to buy more for the other two windows, the little desk area, a few throw pillows and the back of the quilt that my mom was making for Keilana. And – there was no more of it. Whomp whomp. So I had bright and happy curtains, on ONE window, and could not for the life of me find a fabric that coordinated for the other stuff in the room. Argh. I’ll get back to that story in a minute.

Hanging in the corner next to the closet is a little birdcage I purchased at the Christmas Tree shops. My thought was to put little lights inside to make this a nightlight, but that turned out to be very distracting for Sweet Pea. So instead I was on the lookout for a fun little bird, and I found this orange beauty and his purple brother at a Goodwill in Schaumberg, IL. As far as I can tell they are Talavera pottery birds from Mexico. My mom brought back a very similar one for my grandma years ago when she took a missions trip there, and I’ve always loved that bird. So I was very excited to find my very own, albeit in Illinois! I found the chunky white curtain rod at a garage sale last summer for five dollars. Not too shabby!

That big white basket was a mislabeled Goodwill find (here in Rochester) that I only paid four dollars for. It’s awesomely huge and holds all of KK’s blankets. That Goodwill trip was one of those awesome thrifting adventures where you find absolute gold for pennies. My favorite kind of trip. The pink and white blanket was crocheted by my aunt for Keilana, and it’s beautiful. All of the blankets that my kids have, with the exception of three flannel blankets that I made when I was pregnant with Javi, have been gifts from someone. So sweet.

Let’s pop over to the other side of the room now.  I knew I wanted to do an eclectic little collection of frames and such on this wall from the beginning. Again, trial and error. I think I hung things three or four times, editing and switching and waiting for inspiration until I settled on this. Here’s a closer look.

It’s fun and girly, right? Also, apparently it was four o clock when I took these photos. Good to know. The canvas in the top left was one of the first things I made for this room. One evening, while I was nursing Keilana and rocking her to sleep, she was having a terrible bout of reflux and was fighting me something fierce. This Shakespeare quote came to mind “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” She had such a terrible time with silent reflux, but she is one of the most determined little babies I have ever seen. It took months to really kick the reflux, but once she did, girlfriend has been thriving. :0) So, the canvas. I painted it pink, traced the quote on and filled it in with silver sharpie, and dipped a pencil eraser in different paints to make the dots. Easy peasy.

The little rocking horse was mine as a kid, a craft that my mom and I did together. It used to be green, white and red, but I repainted into an “Appaloosa” when I was about ten. I found it up in a box in the attic when I was purging, and it goes perfectly here. The clock is from Target, just a pretty silver one they had for about six dollars I think.

My friend jen and I went thrifting when we visited her back in February, which is where I found the little butterflies. They were that brassy look that was so popular in the seventies? Sixties? But a little silver spray paint fixed that. And that awesome frame? Also from my epic trip where I found the big white basket and some other gems. You might be thinking that I painted those watercolor roses. And you’re… wrong! This was one of the cool things we found in the house, up in the attic. Apparently it was an art project and Michael got an A+ for his efforts! The painting was quite a bit bigger, but this was my favorite part, so I cut it up and framed this part. The frame is ridiculously heavy, so it’s held up on the wall with four screws thru some of those scrolly bits. Oh, and I’d really like to replace that light with something that works better in the room, but I’m holding out for something that I really love since this one is just fine, and SOO much better than the original monstrosity that we replaced when we made this room a guest room.

When you walk into the room, this is what you see; the closet/builtin dresser/window seat/desk area. That whole long wall is just one huge builtin. I love the function of it, but it does make placement of everything else in the room a little tricky. But – it’s great for storage! Let’s talk about the dresser first. Back in the day, this whole area was honey stained pine. I painted everything white except for the drawers which were black when we first redid the room. I loved the contrast.  But the black wasn’t working for a little girl’s room, so I repainted the drawers in the same gray as the walls, with one caveat. Our downstairs bathroom is the same color, but in a very durable kitchen and bath paint. I used that paint on these drawers, knowing they get a lot of wear and tear. I painted these about 10 months ago, and they’re holding up great.

The white painted top needs… something to keep everything from marking it up. I need to do some research on a protective top coat. Or maybe just keep repainting it every year or so. Anyways, the drawers are nice and deep, and hold lots of adorable baby clothes. I lined the drawers with some drawer liner paper that I found at Goodwill. Are you sensing a theme? I love Goodwill. The paper is lightly scented and I love the luxurious feel of lined drawers! :) I need to do my own!

So above the dresser there used to be two panels, one on either side of a large mirror, that were carpeted. Yes carpeted. We removed the carpet and painted the drywall behind it black for the guest room. But I knew I wanted something nicer this time, and so we tried to fill those spots in with wood. Long story short, that didn’t work out, and in the process we broke the mirror that was there. So – plan B, I covered the whole little nook in a white and silver wrapping paper and hung some little mirrors from the Christmas Tree Shops and some teal butterflies I bought at JoAnns (on one of my trips back there looking for more fabric).  The paper is just stuck up with scotch tape while I decide whether or not I like it. (I think I do, so I need to ModPodge it on permanently) I have a few more ideas for this little spot above the dresser, and I am watching for a much bigger, much more awesome mirror. I’ll know it when I find it. I painted that little pink basket (it was just an old one I had in the attic, and it holds all the random crap that always ends up in babies’ rooms. :) It’s nice to have a place to put everything.


The little turquoise basket on the left is thrifted, and full of tiny hats and shoes. I’ve always loved baby shoes, but tiny baby girl shoes? Oh.Em.Gee. LOVE. Peanut has had the same sized feet for eleven months now, so she’s barely been able to wear any of her adorable shoes. But, her feet are finally growing, so we’ve been debuting some of her other cuteness. Also? Peanut has serious opinions (at one year minus three days) on WHICH shoes she wants to wear at any given time. I feel unprepared for the ensuing years. :)

This blue vase was also in the guest room, but the pink flowers make it fit in. This little lion rattle is a current favorite of Keilana’s, she goes to sleep with it for almost every nap and bedtime. It’s the perfect size for her little hands, and was a sweet gift from our friends in Spain. From this angle you can see that the builtin lights over the dresser jut out almost as deep as the dresser itself. I have a few ideas to make that whole piece look prettier and more intentional and they *may* involve brackets. :) Don’t tell Lover.

Next up? Changing table and the door to the attic. This used to be a builtin desk (there was also one in Javi’s room) but the desktop was the perfect size for a changing pad, and those shelves were put to use for jewelry, headbands and butt cream. :) The K’s were a happy accident, KK is what we call Keilana on a regular basis, and I had planned to put one K up here and another on the little gallery wall, but then when I saw them together I realized they were perfect. :) They were purple, so I modpodged pink glitter paper onto them. The little animals are her favorite thing to play with and give kisses to during her many diaper changes, and the silver bucket (from Target’s Dollar spot a few years ago) holds headbands. She will often ask to wear one, and then looks at herself in the mirror and claps. Such a little princess.

When the previous owners redid this room, they apparently removed a wall that blocked off this whole little area, along with the door that accessed the attic. They moved the door perpendicular to where it had been, and painted it black. I painted it white a few months ago, and that and the mirror right there next to the window bounce so much light around this room. I love how bright and happy her room is. The only irony is that she still sleeps so much that the shades are usually drawn in here to make it darker! You can also see that I made (in Nester fashion, i.e. with safety pins) a skirt for the desk to hide dirty laundry, outgrown clothes, garbage and, in this picture, the diaper pail. Oh! And you can also see the rugs we used, they are the old version of the Laborg rug from IKEA. We used two for the floor space in here. I need to find a better way of keeping them from slipping all over the floor though!

OK, to the left of the dresser we have the window seat and the closet. When this was a guest room I made a cushion for this seat and the one in our room. But my toddler’s favorite thing to do was always pull those down and throw them on the floor, so I gave that up as a lost cause for the time being. The curtains were reused from the office turned nursery, and the pelmets are made from this tutorial. It’s SO easy, you buy foam board, cut it to size, wrap it in fabric attached whichever way you want, and hang. Half an hour tops for each one. The fabric.  Oh the fabric. I told you that when I went back to JoAnn’s I couldnt find more of that fabric. I asked at Customer Service and they told me “It’s out of stock. We have no plans to restock it. And there are no stores within a hundred miles that have any left.” To say I was annoyed would be an understatement. I brought home no less than three other fabric trying to find something to coordinate. Each one of them was truly awful. I was desolate and may or may not have cried tears of frustration. In the end, Lover came to my rescue and found me this Michael Miller Park fabric at fabric.com and saved the day. The colors are all in the same color family, and it even brings in the turquoise and purple that I wanted to incorporate. It goes really well, and because it is on an opposite wall, everything meshes without being matchy matchy. #winning

The closet is full of adorable dresses. And, can I say that, while dressing a girl is significantly more challenging than dressing a boy, the variety and cuteness of a girl’s wardrobe just kills me. Love it. If she wasn’t crawling through the mud and the muck every day this summer, I’d have her in dresses all the time. :-)

I knew all along that I wanted a pretty decent sized canavas on one wall that I would paint for Keilana. One of my deepest desires for her is that she grows up with a strong body image, that she feels and knows she is beautiful, and that she is not swayed by society’s twisted ideals of what a woman should look like. She is beautiful and she is beautiful to me. So I sing it to her at night, and I put it above her bed, in the hopes that she will grow up believing it.

I pulled the colors from the curtains, and copied some of the flowers to tie it all together. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, especially that blue flower. It’s my favorite. This was the painting I talked about back in this post! It took forever but it looks great now, and it goes so well with the rest of the room. And that’s it! The whole room! It’s taken a while but I’m really happy with how it has all come together in the end. We love our baby girl, and hopefully she’ll love her happy little room for years to come. :)

jenny

 

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Friday Favs Vol. 21

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Favorite Moment of the Week: We hit up some garage sales on Friday morning. At one of them I found a vintage Fisher Price house, complete with tractor and little people. Javi was completely enamored with it and played with it in his car seat throughout the morning. At one point he got stuck and couldn’t get the tractor out. He yelled out “Mommy, I need help!” I replied, “I’m driving right now Javi, I can’t help you. You can do it. Use your brain.” He paused to deliberate this for a long moment, and then replied “Mommy, I need a BRAIN!”

What Javi is doing: Finally, taking an interest in coloring. Sadly, this interest only applies to any surface EXCEPT paper. Using all sorts of new words and complex sentences. Continuing to mix up pronouns hilariously  - he routinely says “Mommy, I want to carry you!”

What Keilana is doing: Peanut started walking holding onto our hands this week! She also points to everything she wants and has a hysterical growl. She loves playing with the little stuffed animals during diaper changes, and pitches a fit if Daddy forgets to give her a good night kiss!

And some fun internet traveling:

* Some beautiful pictures of motherhood, showing just how little has changed over the last five decades.

* 20 encouraging scriptures for moms. Yes, please.

*We made this Grilled Marinated Chicken with Mom’s Barley Salad a few weeks ago, and I could NOT stop eating it. I’ve been obsessing over making it again. Can’t wait!

That’s all for now. Have a lovely weekend!

jenny

 

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Adding a HVAC vent in the Dining Room

OK, so this project is not terribly interesting. But I like to document the things we do to improve Wendhurst, and sometimes that is adding beauty, and sometimes that is adding function. This would fall under function.

Our dining room has not had a heat vent since we bought the house. It has a cold air return, but no heat. And although the kitchen directly adjacent does have a vent, it is blocked by the chimney that runs right through the middle of the house, thereby directing all the heat into the kitchen and none into the frigid dining room. And we live in Upstate NY, the land of freezing cold winters, and we frequently entertain. In the dining room. And it was cold. So yeah, this was kind of a necessary improvement.

Now the interesting thing to note here, is that this room previously had heat. How do we know this? Well there was a patched part of the floor, and a patched part of the duct directly beneath said floor. So we knew this would, potentially, be a very straightforward project. I say that with some trepidation, because all projects have the ability to morph into something insanely complex and frustrating. But (spoiler alert) this one was easy!

Basically, our process was as follows: measure the length of ducting we would need, and figure out how many elbows we would need as well (one). Make a trip to Home Depot to purchase said ducting, elbow, joint that would attach to the main duct and a heater vent.

Once home, remove the wood panel in the dining room, and cut out a hole that would fit a heating vent with a drill and a reciprocating saw. (A jigsaw would have been easier, but we don’t have one) Replace wood panel in floor, now with a hole. Then cuddle with the babies on the bed in the basement (thereby keeping them safe) while Lover assembles the ducting and attaches it. Marvel at the fact that this man can do anything he sets his mind to. Take a picture.

Install the vent in the floor in the dining room. By install, I mean, drop into place and make sure it lines up with the ducting beneath.

Hit the new ducting with a quick coat of white spray paint so that it blends in a bit with the painted basement ceiling. Make a mental note to add more coats of paint in the summer when we will not die of fumes. (Get on that Jenny!)

Breathe a sigh of relief, enjoy your toasty warm dining room, and invite guests over without fear of them contracting pneumonia while they eat. Blog about it. Easy peasy.

And yes, we did this project before we bought the new buffet. And I am just getting around to blogging about it. You’re welcome.

jenny

 

 

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The Van that Led to the Buffet that Led to the Shopping Spree…

So we found the perfect buffet for the dining room. Wait, let me back up. In February, in the dead of winter, when we thought the longest winter would never, ever, EVER end, we started browsing Craigslist looking for vans. We’ve debated owning a van for years, basically since owning Wendhurst Castle. Our constant DIY projects, and occasional large furniture purchases were always unecessarily complicated by the annoying “but how do we get it home?” question. And then we would have the endless debate – do we ask again to borrow a friend’s large vehicle? Rent a truck? Tie it precariously to the top of the Saturn?

Anyways, since no one else was willing to brave to cold to look at this van, we got a killer deal on a used Grand Caravan. And although I still hate a little the fact that I drive a van, since February we have driven over 4,500 miles, hauled home mattresses, dressers, a couch, plywood, countless 2x4s, a 20ft ladder, borrowed folding tables… In summary, we are getting every  penny’s worth out of our van.

OK, back on subject. One sunny, and cold day in April, I was browsing Craigslist, and saw this beauty.

We’ve gone back and forth for years on what would work best for this skinny little part of the dining room. It needed to have lots of storage and an ample top (that’s what he said) that would be used for all our entertaining. I wanted something that wouldn’t require a ton of work, since my life is not terribly conducive to taking on new projects these days. Not that I’m usually stopped by that reality, but on this particular day, I was slightly saner.

Anyways, I showed Lover, he loved it too, and at $125, the price was right. I emailed, and a very nice guy named Adam called me back almost immediately. He said we could come see it whenever. Then I was struck by what I’ve deemed “Craigslist Panic” Have you ever experienced it? It’s when you’ve found something so awesome that you must immediately go to purchase it, driven by the fear that someone else will beat you to it. So we loaded the kids in the van, and hightailed our way out to Hilton.

Luckily, no one else beat us out there, and the very friendly Adam told us that he had received this dresser from his in-laws who, apparently, live to makeover furniture found on the side of the road. Sadly for them, this dresser didn’t fit in either of their houses. Happily for me, he was willing to sell it to us! I asked him if he was flexible on the price (knowing that I’d pay full price if he wasn’t) I offered $120 and he agreed, and then proceeded to help Lover load it in the van.

When I went to pay him, he said, oh what the heck, how about just $115? Why sure, I’ll pay you less! :) Oh, and by the way, the base is painted with Miss Mustard Seed chalk paint, how great is that? The color is fantastic. Anyways, we paid him, grabbed the kids and made our way out to our very full van. As we loaded the kids in their carseats he came out to us again and said “I’m a terrible negotiator. Here’s another $5 back” :) So for $110 this practically perfect dresser was ours.

There are so many little details on here that I love. There is so much character! How darling are those little rosettes? The handles are spraypainted and are wearing off pretty quickly on the drawers we use a lot, so at some point they’ll need to be redone. Hurray for more spraypainting! :)

Anyways, it works much better storage and size wise than the little dresser we had there before. And it looks a lot better in the background of pictures too.

Oh and the drawers! HaveI mentioned how much I love drawers?? It has EIGHT drawers. #itsabeautifulthing And two of them are completely empty, and two others are not even half full. Sounds like this girl needs to go shopping! :) How lucky for me that I am writing this from New York City, shopping mecca of the world?? Homegoods, here I come!

jenny

 

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A Facelift (no not for me)

You know what’s really encouraging? To dig back through the pictures of our house circa 2009. It’s so easy to focus on all of the current projects and future plans for this little castle, and forget just how far it has come in just a few short years. A perfect example of what I am saying is our garage. Our property is long and narrow, with a little two car garage situated at the back right corner of the property. Our driveway is about 200 feet long from the curb to the garage doors.

Because of this fact, and the fact that we live in the Land of Snow, we don’t use the garage to park our cars. We tried that the first winter we lived here. After hours (literally!) of shoveling we realized the error of our ways and from that day forward we have always parked up by the house. The garage houses all of our outdoor stuff in the right bay, and there is a workshop in the left bay.  When we purchased the house, the garage was in pretty sad condition. Peeling paint, untreated paneling, missing windows. Yuck.

In this picture, in which you can also see my dad and youngest brother hard at work tearing out yet another strange garden bed, you can see that apparently  we parked the car in there at least once. If I remember correctly, my Intrepid fit in that garage by the skin of its chinny chin chin, and we abandoned the idea shortly thereafter.

Also! You can see the old front door propped up against the fence. So glad we replaced that door asap. That was a great project too.

So the first project was safety, i.e. replacing the broken window panes. The broken windows sure did come in handy if you forgot the garage door opener though. For the longest time (six months? a year?) we kept a stick leaning up against the garage and used that to reach in through the broken window to hit the garage door button. Truly. We were those rednecks.

I love that the garage has these big windows. It adds some interest to the big old panels. No, it may not be the safest, but I’ll take less safety over ugly blank doors any day. So, the window panes were replaced.

Now to do something about those ugly paint colors. What was it with these people and that horrid shade of orange, anyway? Prepare yourself for the power of paint. Ready?  Ta da! We went with the same trim color as on the house, and the same bright, happy yellow that graces the back deck and entryway on the house. I love it. Also, not pictured, we replaced the lower right hand side of the left bay with new paneling, since it was rotting away into nothingness. Some of the trim is still in pretty rough shape, but it’s looking so much better now with a few coats of paint.

Also, please pardon the pile of garden junk in these pictures. I guess I was too lazy to sweep that up? I think I was pregnant when I took these pictures last summer. Yeah, I’m sure that’s what it was. :) Anyways, the view from my kitchen window has improved substantially, thanks to a couple gallons of paint, two window panes and some new rot-free paneling. So.Much.Better.

But, lest you think that we are super people who have finished every possible project in this house, here’s the side of the garage that faces the neighbors.

That’s gonna need a lot more paint. :)

jenny

Posted in 2014, before and after, garage | Leave a comment

Spiffing up the Kitchen

Someday, we will totally renovate the kitchen. I think :) But that day is off in the very distant future, so in the meantime we’ve done some very affordable changes to improve the look and feel of the kitchen. I mean, we use this room many, many times a day, and its a hardworking part of our house. So it’s worth the money to make the room a little more aesthetically pleasing, fresh and comfortable in the meantime.

I tend to want to wait to share rooms until they are 100% done. Which means that I dont really share them, because I struggle with saying that a room is done. Even once we’ve fixed things up, painted, brought in furniture, etc, there are always things that I want to tweak, fix up, improve, etc. One of my favorite blogs is the The Nesting Place, and her mantra of “It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful” has really been speaking to me lately. So in the spirit of un-perfection, here’s what our kitchen looks like today. :)

Just kidding. That’s what it looked like when we bought the house. It’s so…woodsy, right? I’ve been slowly painting the cabinets, starting with all of the lower cabinets. My goal is to just get them painted, so I haven’t worried about using super duper durable paints. I’ve just used what I have on hand – Kilz Primer and some white semi gloss paint. They look a million times better, in my personal opinion.

A few weekends ago, we replaced the cracked, peeling and very, very stained linoleum floor in here. We found stick on vinyl tiles that were made in long strips to look a bit like hardwood floors. We banged out removing the old floor, cleaning and patching the linoleum underneath and laying the new floor in a weekend. I was so proud of us. Now we’re working on new baseboards, which, although only primed so far, are a significant improvement over the industrial vinyl “baseboards” that were there before.

Stick-on tiles aren’t the most durable long term solution, but I love how much they improved this room in the short term. And I love that Keilana (and Javi) can crawl around on a nice, clean, pretty floor. Hello beautiful!


I’ve painted all the trim in here, and its made a big difference. We also had that big window replaced last summer, which is some of the best money we’ve ever spent. Having a window that does not leak and opens completely, with a screen? Now that’s luxury living. :)

So obviously, next up is painting the upper cabinets. I’m excited to get that done, as it seems like each time that something gets painted, this room gets brighter and nicer. Still, even with only half the cabinets painted, I’m loving how much better everything looks.

We replaced the faucet last summer. It is the height of luxury: it’s high enough to fit big pots under, pulls out to fill up things on the counter or rinse out the sink, and has a sprayer which I just discovered works wonders for cleaning chunks of food off of little baby bibs. I love it. And yes, those are snowflake Christmas lights still hanging in the window. ;)

There isn’t a ton of counter space on this side of the kitchen, which is why I love the glass cooktop. It allows us just a little bit more space for cutting and prepping and chopping. Plus, it is hands down one of my favorite things to clean. I know, I’m weird. :)

This corner is quite cluttered right now. It’s a hardworking part of the kitchen (although just about every corner is in this little kitchen) but it’s also up out of reach of the kids, so those shelves and the top of the fridge get loaded with things that need to stay out of the reach of little fingers.

Most of our dry goods hang out on these shelves, along with the radio, some miscellaneous stuff, cook books, the sugary treats basket and a box of cereal that doesn’t fit in the cabinet. Randomness. :) I’ll address that all at some point. I think someday we are going to fill this wall with builtin shelves to maximize the storage on this side.

That crown molding is going to be a pain to paint. I actually asked Lover if it made sense to take it all down, and put up prepainted new crown. He assured me that it didn’t. :) Someday we want to take out that tall cabinet, and the chimney that runs behind it, and widen that doorway to almost twice the size. That will hopefully help with the bottleneck that a 24inch doorway into the kitchen always creates.

So that’s where we are with the kitchen. A new window and faucet, some clean, uncracked floors, and a lot of white paint. It’s a significant improvement, wouldn’t you agree?

jenny

Posted in 2014, kitchen | 1 Comment

This cake is the bomb {Tiramisu Layer Cake}

Do people still say “the bomb” anymore? Probably not. Oh well, I’ve never been trendy, and it’s too late to start now! :) Perhaps this week, as you plan out what you will do for Easter, you are thinking about what to serve for dessert. And if you are, let me humbly suggest this masterpiece of a cake.  I found it on allrecipes.com, where I’ve found most of my favorite recipes by searching through their five star ratings.

I first made this delight a few years ago for Mother’s Day, when tasked to bring “an amazing dessert”. This cake delivered. My mother-in-law talked about it for months afterwards!

This cake has all of the elements to be a blockbuster success: mascarpone cheese, coffee, Kahlua, heavy cream, more Kahlua… so very, very good. :)

I’m not a food blogger, so I didn’t do that cool step-by-step picture thing. I’ve tried that before, but I always forget after step 6 or 7, throw it all together, and then barely remember to take a photo of the final product. So. Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients: (don’t be scared by the long list. A lot of the items are repeated. Also? This is one of the recipes where you shouldn’t skimp or substitute. Go with the good stuff.)

CAKE:
1 (18.25 ounce) package moist white cake
1 tsp. instant coffee powder
1/4 c. brewed coffee (I use French vanilla coffee for this and it’s divine.)
1 Tbsp. Kahlua

FILLING:
1 (8oz) container of mascarpone cheese
1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp. Kahlua

FROSTING:
2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp. Kahlua

GARNISH:
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (1 oz)square of semi sweetened chocolate.

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Prepare your cake mix according to the directions. Divide 2/3 of the batter between 2 pans, and then stir the instant coffee into the remaining batter. Pour into last pan.
  3. Bake in oven for about 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on a wire rack until completely cool. Combine your brewed coffee and 1 Tbsp of the Kahlua, set aside.
  4. For the filling: In a small bowl, with mixer on low, combine mascarpone, 1/2 c. confec. sugar and 2 Tbsp. of Kahlua; beat just until it gets smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  5. For the Frosting: In a medium bowl, beat cream, 1/4 c. of confec. sugar and 2 Tbsp of Kahlua with mixer on med-high until stiff. This will take about 10 minutes. Fold 1/2 cup of this cream mixture into the filling.
  6. To assemble: Place one plain layer cake on a plate. Poke holes in cake with a skewer, about an inch apart. Pour one third of the reserved coffee mixture over cake, then spread with half the filling mixture. Top with coffee flavored cake, repeat holes and pour another third of the coffee mixture over this layer. Spread with remaining filling. Top with remaining cake layer, poke holes, pour rest of coffee mixture over the top. Spread top and sides of cake with frosting. Place cocoa in a sieve and lightly dust the top of the cake. Shave chocolate square into curls and garnish top of cake. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

I know it seems like a lot of work. It will take a while, but if you make the filling and the frosting while the cakes are baking, it really cuts down on the length of time. And because you can’t taste something through a computer screen, you’ll just have to trust me that it’s that good. Worth the time and the extra ingredients. I am now considering making this on Saturday for our family brunch. :)

jenny

 

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Friday Favs Vol. 20

Here’s a few of the things that have caught my eye or my heart this week. Hope you enjoy them too!

**This adaptation of I Corinthians 13 for mothers had me in tears almost instantly.

**I’m making this Thai Chicken Stir Fry tonight for my in-laws. It looks delicious, I’ll let you know if it turns out well!

**I’ve had Laura Story’s Blessings on repeat this week.

** I loved this interview that Erin did with her elderly neighbor on mothering in the 1950′s.

**And lastly, this Mother Theresa quote has been convicting me quite a bit lately.

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A Thousand Sleepless Nights

what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near? 


It’s been a long time since I have consistently slept through the night. I’m nearing a thousand nights, literally. Javi  is two and half, and there was a brief period of about six months between when he started sleeping through the night, and I got pregnant again, where I was actually getting a full, comfortable night’s sleep. Keilana teased a bit with a few full night’s sleep about a week ago, but has since had some really rough nights where she is up over and over and over. The kind of nights where she just wants her mama.

And it’s hard. I love sleep. I’ve always hated being woken up in the mornings, by anyone. When I was a teenager I bought myself an alarm clock because I would be furious with my dad every morning when he came in my room to wake me up. I absolutely adore that feeling of waking up slowly, to the morning light, in the quiet and stillness of the early hours.

But that’s pretty near impossible with two little ones. Most nights are a combination of intense work to get them to sleep, then several wake up calls from little Keilana, usually a bout of early morning insomnia (I’m so tired! Why aren’t I sleeping? The kids are sleeping!) and then desperate morning sleep up until I hear the banging or crying begin again.

 

I said all that to get to my point. When I get enough sleep, I find it easy to be a mama. I’m patient with my kids, consistent with discipline, willing to put the necessary work into the day. I have the mental space and the energy to listen to Lover’s work stories, and even to invest in my friends. I pretty much rock. Easy peasy. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the last three years, it’s that parenting is not supposed to be easy. Two years ago, almost to the day, I read this and posted it on Facebook:

Parenting is so difficult because God is making it purposefully impossible. Why??? So that it is always SLANTED TOWARD JESUS. Keeping us near Him. Keeping us in prayer and constantly crying out to Him. -Rare and Beautiful Treasures

This morning, driving home from Wegmans with the kiddos in the back, Laura Story’s Blessings came on the radio. (Which is not surprising, because it was K-Love. Sorry, inside joke) Every time I hear this song, it takes me to task. The idea that God allows trials, hard times, difficulties in our lives, because he wants to bless us.

Apparently, it takes at least a thousand sleepless nights for me to know that God is near. Parenting is so hard for me. I’ve never been a “kid person” I wasn’t the girl cuddling the babies, jumping at the chance to babysit for friends. I never had that “ache” to have kids. I love deep, meaningful talks with adults, a clean house and independence. Oh, and sleeping.

But as it turns out, God is a “kid person.” Jesus was always looking for the children, welcoming them to him, using them as illustrations. He talks about how they will inherit the kingdom of God. The Psalmist says that children are a heritage from the Lord. He says the parent who has many is…happy.

God forgive my prideful and arrogant ways, thinking that I wasn’t a “kid person”. Because if I truly want to be like you, and I do, then I need to love children the way you do. And if it takes a thousand more sleepless nights, then that’s what  I need.  Show me how to love them like you do, help me to see what you see.

Soften my hard and angry heart, resentful of yet another interruption, another night with little sleep. Show me how to be the mother you want me to be, regardless of the rest I’ve gotten. Open my eyes to the treasures that my children are, and how you have blessed me. Give me the patience and the strength for today and especially for tonight.

jenny

 

Posted in 2014 | 2 Comments

A Day in the Life {March 2014}

I thought it would be fun to document a typical day around here. I’m sure when I look back at this post in a year or two that I’ll love remembering what life was like with two little ones! So here’s our day, which was actually last Monday. 

7:00am I wake up slowly, a luxury that doesn’t happen often around here. The kids are magically still asleep, and Lover is breathing deeply next to me. I lay there in bed, pray a little, think through what we have on the docket for today, and snuggle with Lover. He goes to shower and I hang out in bed for a few more minutes, until I remember that I need to make Lover’s lunch today. So I throw on my robe and head downstairs.

7:30am Lover leaves for work and the kids are STILL asleep! I make myself a cup of tea and go over the plan for the week and work on dinner ideas and make a list for Walmart later this morning. I’m drinking in this unexpected quiet time.


7:55am I hear both kids stirring, so I head upstairs. I open Javi’s door, he’s curled up next to the heater vent by the door just like every morning. At least this morning he’s not banging his head on the wall. (A very common occurrence) We go into Keilana’s room, she’s just transitioning to her floor bed and has started sleeping through the night. Hallelujah! She’s hungry though, so I nurse her, then change and dress both kids and we head downstairs.

8:35am Breakfast is served, we’re keeping it simple with frosted shredded wheat, bananas and oatmeal for Keilana. I try mashing up bananas and mixing her oatmeal in with that, but still have no success getting her to eat her oatmeal. Oh well, we’ll keep trying.

With breakfast done and Javi playing happily with his toys, I see my chance for a shower. I put Keilana in the jumper and run upstairs for a short, all business shower. I’m very efficient, since my mantra these days is “a toddler left to himself brings his mother to tears.” Its amazing the amount of mess a 2yr old can get into in ten minutes by himself.

I’m clean and decent, so I go back downstairs, get KK who is now fussing, and bring her up with me while I do my makeup and hair. Javi joins us, and proceeds to climb into my bed (which I just made) and pretend sleep while I finish getting ready. He also tries to eat my chapstick. KK is still fussing, so I decide that she needs a nap before we go to Walmart today.

9:45am Keilana is down for a nap, and Javi pretends to sleep in his room (where he is allowed to have his binkies.) I convince him to come downstairs with me, and we spend some time reading and going over Brain Quest flashcards that my aunt bought for him. I try to do something intentional with Javi during Keilana’s morning nap, and these cards have been great. He loses interest after about fifteen minutes, and goes off to play while I clean up from breakfast and finish my grocery list.

10:25am Keilana is up early from her nap, so I pack everyone up and load us all into the van. Javi at first refuses his jacket, which I allow, but then decides he DOES want the jacket, and he wants it zipped up and with the hood on too. He runs out the door yelling “binkie in seat!” (he’s also allowed a binkie in the car)

10:45am We wander the aisles of Walmart for the dozen random things that we  need or are out of. Walmart takes way too long, as always. We stop at Wendy’s on our way home for cheeseburgers and scarf them down when we get home.

Noon We videochat with my parents almost every Monday once they get home. They email me that they’re home, so we log on and chat with them for a bit. The kids are ridiculously loud throughout the call, so we mostly talk in snippets here and there. Javi shows Yayo and Yaya his trains, talks on the phone with them, and licks the back of his chair. Pretty typical! Keilana fusses a little, pours on the charm for the camera, and then plays on the floor for most of the call. I change diapers, try to talk in coherent sentences, keep tabs on what Javi’s doing, oh, and try to eat some lunch while I’m at it.

12:50pm We say our goodbyes and Javi hangs up on my parents in the middle of a sentence. I grab Keilana and get Javi heading up the stairs for naptime. Keilana is more than ready since she had such a short nap this morning. She may be asleep before I’ve finished settling her in her swing. I change Javi’s diaper, read him Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and go over Quiet Time Rules before I leave his room. His struggle to hold up the right amount of fingers for rules 1, 2 and 3 always makes both of us laugh.

1:20pm The next two hours go by in a blur. They’re always my busiest hours of the day, but also my quietest. I spend some time reading and praying, then work on selecting pictures to print for family and notes for this post. My goal is to have time to work on a painting for Keilana’s room, so I work as efficiently as I can, although I do my best not to rush through my devotions.

3:30pm I’m done with devotions and the computer work that needed to happen today. I pull out the stuff for the painting and get started, getting in the zone but keeping an ear out for Keilana. Sure enough, she’s up within about fifteen minutes. I bring her downstairs and get her engaged in some toys, and try to work on the painting a little more. I really like how it’s coming out, but it’s taking a long time.

4:00pm Javi’s up, and comes downstairs. He sees me still painting, pulls a chair over and tries to “help.” I rescue the canvas and let him play with the paints still on the plates for a few minutes. Once everything is cleaned up we go back into the living room, where Javi watches Thomas the Train, Keilana practices crawling, and I start the first few chapters of Bossypants, a book I’ve been looking forward to reading for forever. It’s really vulgar though, so I don’t make it past the fourth chapter. That’s annoying.

5:00pm Its almost time for Lover to get home, so I make sure the house is somewhat picked up and we’re ready to head out. Our Sams Club membership expires today, and we’re buying two twin mattresses for a project in the basement. We’ll grab some pizza there too (and call it dinner :)


5:30pm We wander the aisles of Sam’s Club for a while, and Javi has a blast checking out one of the sheds that’s all set up in the club. Keilana takes everything in from her perch in the carseat, and once again refuses any food. We let her chew on a pizza crust which makes her super happy and Lover and I chat about our day so far. Javi is in seventh heaven when we let him ride on the cart with the mattresses, and “help” load them into the van. It takes a little finagling, but we manage to get both mattresses, both carseats and all four of us safely in the van to head home. Stow and Go seating rocks! We stop on the way home to pick up the photos I ordered earlier.


7:00pm Lover unloads the kids and the mattresses while I step outside to make a quick phone call about the workshop I’m teaching next weekend. Javi spots me and runs out with me, sans coat or shoes, and proceeds to have the time of his life. We run up and down the sidewalks and he throws snow at me and laughs hysterically.


7:45pm My neck and back have been aching and bothering me all day, so I draw a scalding hot bath with epsom salts and soak for about half an hour while Lover plays with the kids and they watch Doctor Who. I browse blogs, check my email and mostly just relax.

8:20pm I can hear KK crying and know that she’s ready for her nap/bedtime, so I finish up my bath and we round up the kids and head upstairs. I change and nurse KK and put her to sleep while Lover gets Javi into PJs and has him brush his teeth. I make it into Javi’s room in time for a Bible story and prayer time, and then it’s lights out for Javi.
8:45pm Lover and I head back downstairs, breathe a sigh of relief that both kids are in bed (although we hear Javi banging for a while), and cuddle up on the couch to watch some shows. I eat one of the cheese danishes we bought at Sams Club (Lover steals a few bites) while we watch one of our favorite shows, the Good Wife, and a new show called Crisis that has been very interesting so far.

10:00pm Keilana shows no signs of waking, so we head up to bed. I go in to Javi’s room and put him in bed, since he’s fallen asleep next to the heater vent, under the rug like it’s a blanket. Totally normal. I do a jigsaw puzzle on my tablet while I get ready, I just discovered this app and I love it. Once in bed we chat for a few more minutes, and then roll over to get some much needed shut eye. It’s been a great day with few tantrums and we got a lot done, so I’m pretty happy. I sleep like the dead until Keilana wakes up around 2am. Bummer for not sleeping through the night tonight!

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Posted in 2014 | 1 Comment