Keilana Kids Around Vol. 1

I’m trying to ease into my week, after the crazy two weeks we just had. We drove cross country because Lover’s grandpa passed away, and spent two weeks with family. We had an awesome time, but after 50 hours stuck in a van with three little ones, I am giving us all a couple days of grace to get back to normal life. I’m working on a couple of meatier posts, one about our travels over the Christmas break, and the other about some things God is teaching me, but they’re not quite ready yet.

So in the meantime, here are some of our favorite quips from our resident sass expert, Keilana. :)

“Mommy, I yike your arm.” 


“Mommy, take off my jacket. But not off my ‘nana (banana). My ‘nana no have a jacket!”


“Hooway! I found a coiny!”


Me: “KK, we have to go home now.”
Keilana: “But I want to see the monkeys!”
Me: I know, but it’s late, and mommy’s tired.”
Keilana: “Maybe we can go really fast, and just see one?”


Everybody clap your hands! Oh. On a cheeseburger.”


KK: “Mommy, can I get down?”
Me: “Peanut, can you drink some more milk first? You need to grow some more”
-drinks milk-
KK: “Me not bigger yet!”


To Poppa: “Ow! You have ouchy cheeks!”


Screaming hysterically: “Hep me tak off dis Javi jacket, so me won’t be a boy!”

Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment

Life Round These Here Parts 12.9.15

I keep beginning blog posts in my head, but I never seem to find the time to actually sit down and write them out. Life has been very full lately, not acually busy but just full. We are finding our rhythm as a family of five, working on some house projects, investing in our people here – it’s all good and right and fills our time.


My stateside brothers flew out to spend Thanksgiving with us. It was a fast and furious weekend filled with trips to the airport, many games of Catan, birthday celebrations and way, way too much food. We took my brother Jon, the hunter and animal lover to our favorite little hidden gem, the Arsenal Refuge, and saw some amazing bucks and got the closest we’ve ever been to the buffalo. Observe.

Jon’s birthday was the 28th, and then Javi turned four on the 29th. Here is where I am supposed to go off on a sappy diatribe of “how has it been four years, and why is my little baby growing up?” Instead, I’ll say that four years was a big milestone for me. Lover and I spent four years together kidless before we decided to take the leap of faith into parenthood, and with Javi turning four we’ve now spent as much time together as parents as we did as young marrieds. That milestone seems to have flipped a switch in my brain, and I am just feeling a lot more centered and calm about the whole parenthood thing.

He picked out the colors of his cake himself and was so excited to help make it and decorate it. When asked what he wanted for his birthday meal, he declared “Apples, cheeseburgers and Toritos.” So that is what we had. It was delicious. :) He is very happy to finally be 4, and is already talking about his next birthday when he will turn 5. In his words, he’s “almost 5.”

It really was great to see Dan and Jon and be all together. (Ben, Eva and Steph, we missed you guys!) I’m really proud of the men that my brothers have become, even if they do seem to have quite the affinity for Under Armour. I’m sad they live so far away, but it’s fun to go visit and have them fly in for special occasions!

These two have been into all sorts of shenanigans lately. There are pen marks all over my couch arms, unidentifiable substances on my windows, and everyone seems to have forgotten how to sleep at night. But – they are the best 4 yr old and 2 yr old a girl could ask for.  They seem to have come out of a particularly rough patch in their relationship and are now even more best of friends. Peanut is old enough to really play together and the creative, imaginative games they come up with make me smile on a daily basis.

My little guy is all sorts of sweetness, even when he is not sleeping because of teeth. He just turned 5 months and he is just a delight to be around. Happy, giggly, loves to snuggle – this boy is a keeper. He loves his big brother Javi like no one else. Lover and I often ask ourselves why Javi seems to be everyone’s favorite. Both Declan and Keilana love him to death. I guess that’s what happens when you have an awesome older brother.


Christmas is only a few weeks away, but I’m still not feeling the Christmas spirit. To be clear, I’m not feeling the endless to do lists, holiday craziness and overwhelming decorating. I seem to still be stuck in Thanksgiving. I woke up Thanksgiving morning just overcome with the ways that God has blessed me. A husband who loves me unconditionally, three beautiful, healthy, growing children who love their mama, warmth and safety and all of my needs, and most of my wants. A God who loves me fiercely, gives me the strength to face each day, and is transforming me from the inside out.

The hustle and bustle of the season is just not working for me this year so instead I am taking it slow, meditating on the amazing changes that happened when Christ was born as a baby, and trying to teach my kids a little bit about that. We’ll still set up our tree and open presents and all, but we’re taking it really slow. Because the Earth waited four thousand years for its Messiah, so why can’t I take a few extra days to contemplate His coming?

I’m not sure I’ll be back to post again before Christmas, so if I’m not, Merry Christmas!


P.S. A few people have mentioned problems viewing the images in my posts lately. I tried something different today, so will you let me know if you’re still having trouble seeing the pictures? Thanks!


Posted in 2015 | 3 Comments

Two Months Later

Surprising even myself, I am back in a timely manner to chat about the progress we’ve made thus far on the living room. The thing is, I suffer from a pretty severe condition called Project ADD, which basically means at any given time I have a thousand ideas for improving our home, and can be found working on between three and twenty seven of them at a time. For example, right now I’m itching to switch out the knobs on the kitchen cabinets, replace a light fixture in the hall, paint the ceiling in the basement and overhaul the bathroom in the basement. However, this causes me quite a bit of stress from the constant chaos in my brain as well as in my house, so I am really trying to get a handle on this.

Which means that currently I am working on projects only for the living room. Okay, and also painting the entry and hallway. But in my defense, those spaces are all open to each other, so once you start painting, you pretty much HAVE to keep painting or it looks stupid. So! The living room. So far we have installed a new ceiling fan, painted the walls, made curtains, made and hung two shelves and refinished the mantel. Actually, typing that, I’m pretty impressed with what we’ve accomplished in a couple of months. Go us! :) Last I showed you, the living room looked like this,

Here’s that same view (mostly) today.


It’s getting there, right? The cute kid makes it a lot more fun too :) First up, let’s chat about that ceiling fan. I found a guy selling a really nice Hunter ceiling fan on Craigslist for $20. It was in basically brand new condition, and he wanted next to nothing for it. The kicker? This fan hung from a much higher ceiling, so the down rod was about three feet long. When we held it up to the ceiling, the fan was just about even with that ottoman beneath it. So… no? I was confident we could purchase a really short down rod, which is why we bought the fan in the first place. But it turns out that you can only purchase 6″ or 12″ down rods from Home Depot (still too long) or you can also order a 2.5 inch rod from Hunter. The kicker is that they charge you $3o for the part. So my super thrifty but still awesome ceiling fan was now going to cost quite a bit more. And honestly, for $50 we could just find another used fan on CL without all the trouble of switching down rods and assembly and yada yada. But – I was thinking ahead when I married a genius nine years ago, because I knew that someday, I would buy a ceiling fan with this problem, and I would need a genius to come up with a better solution. And of course he did! Turns out those down rods are a standard pipe size, and lo and behold Home Depot sells them in 2.5 lengths with both ends threaded, for like $2. Assembling and installing the fan was kind of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without the box for reference, but, again, genius. I just stood there and handed him tools and a variety of screws. Voila!


We painted the walls in here with our neutral gray as with the rest of the house. It goes nicely with the tan brick on the fireplace, and is a nice simple background for everything else we’re adding into the room. I’ve found that this color looks a little cold and sterile on its own, but once it’s paired with nice bright white trim, some warm wood tones and some color of any kind it is perfect.

I hemmed and hawed about curtains in here, trying to find ones that I really liked that were somewhat interesting. Some simple white curtains would have looked nice in here, but I was trying to be a bit more creative, especially since I am leaning towards making that loveseat a lot more neutral. But I was also trying not to break the bank on curtains or fabric – which is easier to do than you might think. This is a super big window, and even though I didn’t plan on closing the curtains that often, I still wanted the ability to close them whenever I wanted.

Is anyone else liking Target’s Threshold line as much as I am? I feel like it is really channeling my style. Because clearly Target takes its style cues from little ol’ me. :) Anyways, I picked up two of these tablecloths for the express purpose of making them into curtains. They were $18.99 a piece, so that’s about $8.25/yard. In other words, a very nice price for that much fabric. It’s a nice heavyweight cotton too.

Sewing is not my favorite activity, but curtains are pretty much a no brainer – especially from tablecloths that are already hemmed! I folded one end down about two inches, ran a seam to hold it in place and bam! Curtains! It took longer to thread the curtain onto the rod than it did to run a seam. No joke.

The packaging was another piece of the fabric with a little button holding it all together. It makes a great tieback, or also works well as a crown if you are a little Princess Peanut.

Also, can we talk about curtain rods for a minute? Big ones that are not ugly are super expensive. When we lived at Wendhurst I came across a chunky, pretty curtain rod for our bedroom that extended to 120 inches for $10. I did not realize at the time what a steal that was. I went with an IKEA rod for now, because they cost next to nothing, while I decide if it’s worth trading our kid’s college savings for a curtain rod in a living room. It totally is, right? The finials are totes boring, so when I found some cool mercury glass ones at the thrift store, you know I was all over switching those out, right?


Better. I’ll talk about the shelves in a post of the their own, because they are actually quite fun to make. But for now, let’s admire the amazing styling that I did for all your viewing pleasure. Go ahead, I’ll wait while you pin it. You know you want to.


In all seriousness though, They’re looking really good, and they’re extremely handy. My thought it to use the shelves as a spot for library books, plants, remote controls and picture frames. So basically things that little fingers shouldn’t be touching. Then the side tables stay clear and childproofed. I’m still debating if that top shelf is hung too high, but I’m waiting to get the other two made and hung and then I’ll make a final decision.


The mantel got a facelift, and it looks soooo much better. I’ll do a post on that too to show the transformation, but let’s just say that I pretty much rock at refinishing stuff. How do you like the chalkboard art? I was going to draw something pretty, and then the kids joined me, and now it’s awesome.


So that’s what the living room looks like today. Actually, today it is significantly messier. :) We’ve made good progress, so now I just have to find the right fabric for that loveseat. It will totally be easy, right? :)


Posted in 2015 | 1 Comment

Exploring around Lompoc, CA

At the beginning of the month we went on our first vacation in over a year. Of course we traveled back home and to Spain for my brother’s wedding in May, but traveling 5,000 miles while 8 months pregnant is not exactly my idea of a relaxing vacation. So, instead, we thought we would take three kids 3 and under on a long weekend to explore California. #weareprobablycrazy It was totally relaxing.

In all seriousness, we had a really good time. My brother Dan moved to California a little over a year ago, and we’ve been trying to go visit him and scope out his new stomping grounds since then. But you know, we’ve been busy with moving cross country and buying a house and having a baby and finding time to sleep. :)

So – we purchased four tickets through Spirit Airlines for the first weekend in October. Lover worked a half day on Friday and then we caught a direct flight from Denver to LAX. The kids all did great on the flight – it really helped that everyone (minus Declan) had their own seat, plus we brought Peanut’s carseat on the plane. That really helped to cut down on her squirminess. She wasn’t thrilled about being contained, but the flight was only about two hours so it was fine. By far the most challenging part of the trip was the time between deplaning and picking up our rental. It involved finding all our luggage (which of course included our two bags, backpacks, three carseats and our stroller), tracking down the shuttle and loading everyone into our rental car. I would have taken a picture, but we had no hands free. :)

We drove up the Pacific Coast Highway from LAX to Lompoc. (Just south of Santa Maria) The drive was really pretty, but we got stuck in some traffic and Declan was HUNGRY, so that made the first 45 min of our trip a little sticky. At one point Declan was screaming his head off, we were stuck in traffic so we couldn’t pull over, and the other two kids started crying because Declan was so loud. We looked at each other and said “wow, I am SO glad that we went on vacation!” :) But, all was not lost, we found a place to pull over, fed the baby, handed out snacks to the big kids and were back on the road in no time. Or half an hour later. Same thing.

The drive was really pretty, and we had fun speculating just how much the homes in Malibu Beach cost. A quick Google search determined that a few were available for a mere 12 million dollars, so we’re thinking that will be our next real estate purchase. :)

We met up with my brother in Santa Barbara for a walk on the pier and some dinner. I wish we had more time to explore Santa Barbara, but we’ll have to save that for the next trip. :)

Saturday morning we puttered around the little town of Lompoc. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the trip, walking around the town, exploring the art murals and checking out the enormous stone pines. The kids had a blast finding the enormous pine cones and I walked and took pictures while Lover and Dan talked about topics way above my pay grade. Unfortunately, I seem to have deleted those pictures off my cards – which will teach me to never delete pictures EVER AGAIN. Here’s a google image so you can see what the trees look like. Super cool.

Saturday afternoon we took an awesome drive through the mountains to Jalama Beach. It’s fairly secluded and although there were quite a bit of campers, it was a windy day so the beach was pretty empty.


We walked for a long time down the beach, just enjoying the sun and playing chicken with the waves. Declan slept in the carrier, Peanut hung out on Lover’s shoulders and Javi discovered his new love – the ocean! He had a blast and ended up soaked by the end of our time there. And he slept like a rock that night!

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Sunday morning we headed into a little town called Solvang. It’s a little Dutch town that looks like it came straight out of a Hans Christian Anderson story. It was jam packed with tourists, but it was fun to snap pictures and duck into the little shops. There are lots of little courtyards and hidden alleys. Dan said there are great wine tastings in the little shops there, so someday we will have to go back without the kids and have more fun exploring.

IMG_0415 IMG_0416 IMG_0381 IMG_0392 IMG_0394 IMG_0403 IMG_0407 IMG_0411 IMG_0413 IMG_0418 We really packed a lot into three days! Sunday afternoon we drive up north a bit to check out the Guadalupe Sand Dunes. This is where they filmed Cecil D. Mills’ The Ten Commandments, so that was really cool. What wasn’t cool was the fact that some dumb bird is in danger of extinction, so the majority of the dunes (where we entered) were fenced off and you couldn’t climb on them. Still, it was a pretty walk through the dunes down to the ocean, and we saw pelicans and tons of pretty flowers and then of course checked out the ocean. Although once we got to the actual beach Declan decided he had seen enough of the ocean so I didn’t stay too long. All in all it was very pretty, but I would suggest driving a little further north (we entered at Oso Flaco) to see if you can walk around more on the actual dunes up there.

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Monday morning we just bummed around the hotel, did some laundry (because of all the ocean!) and basically rested up for our big tour that afternoon. Dan pulled some strings and arranged for a VIP tour for us of SpaceX, the awesome place where he works. That’s right, my brother is a rocket scientist. :) The launch pad is on Vandenburg Air Force base, and there’s no photography allowed, which is a shame because the base is actually really beautiful. Gorgeous views of the ocean from the hills, and there are all sorts of interesting vegetation. It killed me a little bit to follow the no photos rule. But – it was awesome to tour the facility and see where Dan works and understand more of what he does. :)

Tuesday morning we got up at oh-dark-thirty, loaded up the kids and drove back down the coast to catch our flight back to Denver. It was a fast and furious trip, but it was so much fun to see Dan, meet his coworkers, eat lots of awesome Thai food, and explore around Lompoc. We’ll definitely be back – there’s lots more of California to explore!


Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

Mountains in the Bedroom

That title makes me laugh, because currently I feel like everything is a mountain. We’ve been dealing with water issues in our house for a couple of days, and I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that WE WILL NEVER HAVE HOT WATER AGAIN. It’s astonishing how many things need water to be able to do them! Baths! Showers! Dishes! Cleaning! Filling water bottles. But wait, let me back up. Two Saturdays ago my sunshine boy came down with a nasty stomach bug. We tag teamed the bouts of vomiting, scrubbed the carpet, and survived the horribleness that is watching your 3 year old dry heave every twenty minutes for an entire night. Then, the next night, right after we put little peanut to bed, we started the whole cycle all over again. A two year old vomiting is a bit more difficult than an almost four year old, so I finally decided it was easier to just do the laundry than fight with her to aim at the bucket. Cue non stop laundry, fit in between non stop vomiting. I’m pretty sure the constant washing was what put our decrepit water heater out of commission.

Mercifully, the next night, we got to sleep. The fourth night we were only woken occasionally. Which brings us to Wednesday morning. We had already canceled Life group when the second one came down with the bug, so at least that was taken care of. We had also purchased a carpet steamer so I was maniacally steaming carpets trying to get that nasty virus out of the house. Both kids were about 90% better though, so there was lots of 2 year old drama which is basically the straw that broke the camel’s back when you are operating on 10 hours of sleep spread over four days and obsessively trying to clean your house. A friend made a benign comment and I nearly lost my irrational mind.

Thursday both kids were feeling better, so I did some laundry and started packing because, oh yeah, we were leaving for vacation on Friday morning! We were long overdue to visit my brother in California, and this was the first chance we had gotten to finally get on a plane and see him. When I went down to switch over the last load of laundry, I realized that the water heater was leaking all over the place. Leaking isn’t really the right word. Flowing was more accurate. Then I realized that I smelled gas too! I stood there for at least an entire minute trying to figure out what to do because we have only lived here for six months so I didn’t know where the water main was, didn’t know how to turn off the gas and basically was pretty sure we were all going to blow up. Thankfully, after a quick call to Lover, my brain functions returned and I located the valve to turn off the gas. He came home and shut off the water, and then we looked at each other and thought – now what?

We got a quote that night to replace the heater, while I finished up packing and wrangled the now healthy kids, and scheduled a few more quotes for Tuesday when we returned. Basically we just sucked it up and took a freezing cold shower in the morning and then got on the place. Seriously, I couldn’t feel my toes for a looong time. We shut off the water and asked the neighbor to keep an eye out for any issues and flew to the coast.

We had spent the weekend hemming and hawing, trying to decide between tankless and conventional tanked heaters. Ultimately we decided on tanked simply because tankless are like three times the price and we weren’t prepared to drop that kind of cash at this particular time. Someone recommended a plumber who was licensed, insured, about $600 cheaper than everyone else, and could be here first thing Wednesday morning. We toughed out a chilly house last night and he was here bright and early this morning.

Of course, to replace said heater, the water had to be shut off for most of the morning. But our plumber finished up around 11, said to give the heater an hour or so to fill, and we were good to go. We waited about an hour, and then turned everything on and… Niagara Falls people. Gushing, flooding…frustration.

Anyways. The plumber came back as soon as possible, and an hour or so later we finally have both water AND hot water. All that to say, today I am showing you a quick and fun project that the kids and I did in our room. With mountains. To remind us that the things that seem insurmountable are not really that bad!

SO. Mountains. In the kids’ shared room there is one wall that the closet is on that seemed like the prime candidate for a simple mural. See? Blank slate. It’s been freshly painted but that’s all.

I was inspired by a few different simple mountain murals I had seen on Pinterest, and I thought that the mountains, in fun bright colors, would be perfect in the kids’ room. We started by taping off the basic outlines to get an idea of where everything would go and how many mountains we wanted. The kids thought this part was hilarious because the tape kept unsticking and sliding off the wall when I stood back to deliberate. We settled on a design with four mountains, all slightly different heights.

I bought some sample color pots for this project to keep costs down and so that we didn’t have a lot of left over random paint. First we painted the two outside mountains a nice bright green. The paint didn’t have great coverage, so it took 2 coats plus touchups to get a really good color on the walls.






I used my trusty foam roller for most of the painting. The kids got to help one at a time, with a roller with very little paint on it and my eagle eyes watching the carpet below us. We did the painting spread out over a couple of days – I would paint a coat in the morning, shut the door and threaten them within an inch of their life if they went in there without me, we’d do another coat in an hour or two and it would be dry by naptime. 

We used some of the dark blue from our bedroom for the other large mountain, and it also needed several coats. The design changed a bit from day to day since the tape kept falling down and little hands kept peeling the tape off too. :) When the green was dry I just taped over the green so that the blue would be nice and crisp. Honestly I think the taping took longer than the painting did for this project.

The last mountain was a raspberry pink. For that one I had to tape off all four sides of the mountain to protect the green and blue, and form the peak up top. IMG_9999

And here is the finished product! I went in one day with a paper plate with a little bit of acrylic white paint and added the clouds. Javi supervised and told me where to put them. It’s super fun and happy, and I love how simple and graphic it looks. It went a long way towards making their room a fun and happy place to hang out. I’m toying with the idea of hanging a toy airplane from the ceiling, or maybe a hot air balloon too. But my kids are… let’s say rambunctious, and I could see that going poorly. I’ll have to think about that one. :) I could also add a bright yellow sun in there somewhere. I bought the yellow paint but for some reason I just couldn’t decide where it should go. Looking at the pictures though, I think it would make it even happier to have a yellow sun. I’ll let you know what I decide. So – there you go. Simple, fun, easy to do with the kids and it really packs a punch in the color department. Hurray!


Posted in 2015 | 1 Comment

The Living Room Befores

These days, when I am not nursing or wiping bums or doing endless laundry, I am trying to focus on the living room and the entryway. I was going to just work on the entryway, since it is a relatively small space and basically just needs paint and art. HOWEVER, it’s the only area in the house that has quite a bit of trim, which all needs some fresh white paint, and of course it requires three coats of paint and lots of taping off, and painting during nap times and basically it is just kicking my butt. So! I am working on another space as well for the sake of my sanity.

Which brings us to the living room. Now, I didn’t purposely take these pictures in a way that made them look really awful, it was just a dark, rainy day and this room doesn’t get the most light anyways, so things look a little more… dire than they really are. Here goes.


Our decision to paint the whole house with one shade of paint has really been pushing me to think of the house as one whole space. I find myself making decisions that work for each space, so that all of the pieces are mostly interchangeable. I’m trying to make design decisions that carry themes throughout the rooms, which for now is looking like soft neutrals, warm wood tones, dark wrought iron, and splashes of saturated color. So I am keeping all of that in mind as we work on this room.

We bought quite a bit of the furniture in here right away, so the foundation has been here for a couple of months which has allowed me to just think about all the nitty gritty little details. Let’s talk about the fireplace wall first. When you come in the front door, the left wall is the back of the living room fireplace. It’s a wall of brick.

And as you enter the  living room, the fireplace and hearth are basically one entire wall of the living room. I think the mantel was made by the previous owner. It’s sturdy and substantial. The plan is to strip off the existing finish and darken it up quite a bit. I’d like to try out a few different techniques to try and make the finish look more like weathered barn wood.


As far as what to put on the mantel, I’d love to hang a canvas of a family picture of the five of us up here. You know, once we actually get a picture of the five of us. Hehe. Maybe sometime this fall.

I love the color of the brick, don’t you? Such a nice soft tan, with the dark gray grout. It’s interesting and slightly different. The brick will be staying as is. It’s one of the few things that Lover is adamant about – no painted brick. :)

The fireplace is functional, as far as we know. That brass insert is so fancy, don’t you think? I think I am going to try and paint the insert with a high heat paint in flat black to make it fade away a little bit. Right now it’s a bit in your face.


The window wall is next. This wall looks out on the street, or rather, on the two big trees in the front yard. It lets in quite a bit of light and fresh air, and is really quite enormous. It’s taking me a while to find an affordable curtain rod that can span the 120 inches, and curtains that won’t break the bank. The curtains there currently are very nice quality and we’ve been living with them for several months now. They’re fine, I’m just looking for something that is more my style.  Oh, and I almost forgot, because we removed them in the first few days of living here, but this corner also held a corner shelf and shallow bookcase. It made this whole corner feel heavy and off balance.


Oh and how much do you like that little loveseat?We found it for $20 at our local thrift store. It’s super cute and comfy with great lines. Just needs a little reupholstering, and it will really shine. I can’t decide if I want to go bright and happy with it, like a sunny yellow, or muted and soft neutrals, or kind of a burnt orange/brown combo. I need to go spend some quality time in a fabric store. Darn. :)


The back wall is where we decided the couch should hang out. It’s kind of a cousin of the couch we had in the apartment – rolled arms, warm brown leather. We got it for ninety dollars from some family way up north in Arvada. It’s super comfy and I am loving how durable leather is with the kids. We are considering adding another big window centered on this wall over the couch. It will depend on cost and feasibility since we’ll be messing with exterior brick and such. I’ll keep you posted on that decision. :)

We are tossing around a few ideas for end tables, but we are pretty sure that we are also doing some really substantial shelves on either side of the couch. I drew up a very rudimentary sketch to show what direction we are thinking. Initially I was thinking a sofa table would work behind the couch, but Lover convinced me (rightly so) that this room is shallow enough without sticking that couch out even further into the room. So end tables and shelves it is.

The shelves will hold pretty things, like plants and pictures, and useful things like … all those little things that need to be kept out of the reach of sticky fingers. :) I’m planning to finish them the same way as the mantel – we will see how that works out.


A few more things of note – we found that super chunky coffee table at a yard sale. It has three deep drawers for storage and is the perfect height for building legos and making train tracks. But it’s a little oversized for this relatively small room, so that’s going in the bonus room. It will be replaced with an upholstered ottoman. We are also updating that ceiling fan to something a little less…ancient. And lastly, we settled on mounting the TV on that little wall between the bonus room doorway and the closet. It’s on a swing arm so that we can pull it out and see it from the couch comfortably. We’re in the process of switching that ridiculous useless light fixture behind the TV to an outlet, so the TV will plug in hidden behind the screen. The other cord is for the whole house antenna, which we only use when we are watching live TV. The rest of the time it’s unplugged and coiled up behind the screen as well for a seamless look.

So – new curtains, furniture tweaking, fresh paint and some refinished wood should help this room along quite a bit. We’re in the process of paint and curtains right now, so I should have an update on those soon. :) Or you know, in six months. You never know these days!


Posted in 2015, amherst | Leave a comment

Shelves and other updates

Having a whole new house to start from scratch with is simultaneously awesome and slightly overwhelming. That’s one of the reasons I pushed so hard to get the master bedroom to a place where it felt “done enough” to me, so that at least one room in the house didn’t prompt constant “should we move that? tweak that? paint that?” feelings every time I was in there. And it has totally been worth it.

The other rooms in the house? They are not quite as calming. But we are making progress little by little, and some things are just going to take time (like painting all the trim in the house with a fresh coat (or three) of white paint). I’m learning to enjoy the process and not rush things. Although I am sure our neighbors would appreciate if we “rushed” improving our yards a bit. :)

The last time we chatted about the kitchen (three months ago!) we had removed the cabinets and the soffit above them, and painted the walls. Since then, we’ve continued to work on little projects here and there. One of the projects that I am just wild about was adding some shelving to give us some storage (since we removed all the upper cabinets). Sometimes when I get the idea for a project, I can see it in my head, but the execution comes out less than stellar. This used to happen to me all the time when I drew a lot. I could see it in my head but could not make my fingers reproduce that on paper. But this project? It exceeded my expectations. Behold.

They’re cute, right? I knew, pretty much from the moment that we took out the cabinets, that we’d put up some shelving between the window and the door. All it took was two pine boards from Home Depot (or was it Lowes?), six brackets from IKEA, and some stain, poly and paint. And there you have a functional and pretty little addition to our kitchen. Here’s a picture from a little further back so you can see how it all plays together.

By the way, if anyone knows of a microwave that is cute to look at, I am all ears. I can’t figure out anywhere else to put the darn thing, but it’s just so… black and hulking. ANYWAYS. Redirect your attention to the cute shelves. One of my favorite details is the fact that I painted the bottoms of the shelves in a deep green. It was one of those off the cuff – hey let’s try this!- kind of things, but I really like how it’s slightly unexpected and brings in a bit of color.

So that is one completed project that I am loving. We have also, since May, replaced the seventies light with this classy and brassy chandelier.

It’s a huge improvement over what was there, for sure. When we went out one night to pick this up (for $20 off Craigslist – hurray!), we obviously had the kids with us. So Javi asked “mommy, why we buyed this light?” and I told him it was because I didn’t like the one that was hanging in the dining area. He thought about that for a long time, and then at lunchtime the next day we had the exact same conversation. He then proceeded to take me through the house and ask me if I liked every other light in the house. :)

Anyways, it’s a huge improvement. There still feels like something is a bit off with it, (too gold? too white? too… much?) but it’s so much better than what was there. And brighter too! I also hung up some curtains and found a really cool mirror at the thrift store so this side of the room is looking a bit fancier.

I really like the direction this room is heading – lots of visual interest from the brick wall, all the warm wood tones from the dining set and the shelves, and the deep greens and purples. Oh, and I also found these little hanging planters that are just like the ones my Grandma has hanging on either side of her sink. Although her plants are real, because her thumb is amazingly green. I have much less of a green thumb, and also three little babes to remember to take care of before I water plants, so my succulents are fake. :)

How much do you love my little herb tiles on the backsplash? They’re kinda charming. I just wish that rosemary wasn’t represented three times all within a foot of each other. But – cute. I’m searching for a new little light for over the sink to replace that fluorescent awesomeness. And I think some new knobs and hinges are in order for these cabinets, but I haven’t totally made up my mind about that. The next project we’ll be tackling in this space? Flooring. For reals. The carpet has seen better days and we have only lived here for four months. :)


Posted in 2015, amherst | 1 Comment

And baby makes 5



Declan Oliver Kodanko

Declan joined us on the 7th of July, just three short (or long, depending on how you look at it) weeks ago. He is the sweetest, snuggliest little guy, and we are all in love. He came into the world happy and healthy, and we are all adjusting to life as a family of five.

Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

Nightstands and Dressers and Jewelry… Oh My!

When we moved out here, we were determined to buy new, and not become Craigslist addicts again. The determination lasted us through three trips to big box furniture stores, after which we determined that we were still, in fact, going to use Craig and his list. Yes, there is time and money involved in making over our secondhand finds, but when compared to the cost of purchasing new… well, we just couldn’t do it. The time spent refinishing things is well worth the savings. So – you could say we are back to our old ways. :)

Throughout our months at the apartment, Lover and my nightstands consisted of a cardboard box and a rubbermaid tote. Although the aesthetics were lacking, they served the intended purpose just fine, and surprisingly reminded me a little of our newlywed days when we owned one nightstand, a janky dresser and a “couch” made out of twin mattress, six rubbermaid totes and a bunch of pillows. Ah, nostalgia.

Anyways, I was on a mission to get us some nightstands before the baby came, so when a set of two nightstands and a small dresser turned up on CL for $25, I was sold. We trekked out that night and loaded up the van with our finds, after making small talk for a few minutes with the gentleman who was selling the furniture. He wished us good luck with “that” with an awkward gesture towards my very pregnant belly, which kept us laughing all the way home.

So these nightstands are just a simple pressboard construction, nothing particularly fancy or special about them. Someone had previously slapped a coat of burgundy paint on them and, how do I say this nicely, they had done a … subpar job of it.

See how there is just one uneven, gloppy coat on there? Yeah. Not so special. So I set to work making these babies prettier. I wiped everything down with some hot water and vinegar, and then put a quick coat of primer on all of the surfaces. With primer your goal is not to get complete opaque coverage, but rather a consistent coat that will help your paint adhere to the previous surface. It looks weird, but it gets the job done.

Then I did two coats of gray paint (same stuff we used on our walls) with a third touchup coat in a few little spots. I purchased a small foam roller for this project and it worked really well, making the job go much faster and I got really smooth, even coverage with it.

Being in Colorado means that there is a lot less humidity, and so paint cures much quicker and harder than it did in Rochester. But I still waited several days after everything was dry to make sure the paint was really curing well before I brought them inside. There’s nothing I hate more than finishing a piece and bringing it in to use it, just for it to flake or chip or stick to something. So I exerted all my willpower and made myself wait – even though I was chomping at the bit to get them in the room.

Because there wasn’t really anything interesting about these nightstands, I went with a fun knob for the drawers. Hobby Lobby makes so many cool knobs for under $5 a piece – I think these were $3.99 each and were probably on sale for half off, since most of their store is usually on sale. :) These little chalkboard thought bubbles were fun and tied in the turquoise. I used a chalk marker to write “MR” on Lover’s side and MRS on mine.I still need to find a basket that fits better on my side since I don’t have a shelf like Lover does.

Then I turned my attention to finding a dresser for our room. I had a few criteria – long versus tall, light wood, and not requiring a ton of work, since I was about a month from my due date at this point.

After a few weeks of (im)patient searching, I found just the right thing. Long, light stain, and the price was right at $50. It looked to be in pretty good condition too. We drove down to pick it up, and the seller even let me have it for $40. Hurray! When I’m buying dressers secondhand, I’ve learned to look for a few things – solid wood wherever possible, since dressers take a lot of abuse, functioning drawers and overall condition. If it’s covered in stickers or goop or something, it’s probably not worth my time to fix it up, unless it’s dirt cheap. Thankfully this dresser was only slightly worn on the top, and after looking it over I determined that I could refinish the top pretty easily.

I purchased an orbital sander for this project, and oh my goodness, how did I not know what I was missing out on? This baby is awesome for a quick, even sanding. I loved it. I used various grits of sandpaper to take out all the stains and scuffs in the finish on the top of the dresser, and finished with a high grit to smooth everything back out. This probably took me about half an hour – simple and easy.

I ended up having to take the top back down to the bare wood to get all the stains out. Which meant I needed to whitewash the top to get it to match the finish on the rest of the dresser. I put about a tablespoon of white paint in a cup and mixed it with about a cup of water, and then brushed it over the top in long strokes. Because the paint is so transparent, any touch up strokes are really visible, so try to avoid that when possible.

The kids also worked hard here painting a scrap board we had on hand. They loved it and it kept them busy for quite a while. Here’s what the top looked like after the whitewash. Pretty darn close match, right?

I finished the process up with three coats of poly, sanding between coats to get a really smooth finish. Then Lover and a friend brought it upstairs to our room since apparently its not a good idea to carry super heavy furniture when you’re preggers.

Looking good, right? It fits really nicely on that wall, and gave us tons of room for clothes. A couple of the drawers are actually empty. :) As you can see, the dresser came with a big old heavy mirror which fills up that wall nicely. And lastly, I hung up all my jewelry on the wall. I love having it hung up as “art” and when it’s on display like this I tend to wear it all more.

So that’s the story of how we are living like grownups again with our clothes in dressers and nightstands next to our bed. :) Our bedroom feels comfortable and functional, and the rest (art, little personal touches, etc) will come with time. It’s a good start!


Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

The Beginnings of the Master

So, I just had a baby. Hurray for the end of pregnancy and a snuggly, perfect little baby! All those details to come, but for now we’re going to talk about the master bedroom. Where, ironically, we’ve been spending a lot of time recovering and snuggling and sometimes even sleeping. Although there has been very little sleeping. :)

I tend to wait to post pictures of rooms until I feel they are done, but I’m trying to change that with this house. I’m trying to share more of the process, the planning behind the scenes, and the evolution of the rooms as we figure out what works best in each case. So,, expect to see more posts here with lots of ideas and plans and inspiration, as we slowly figure out what this house wants to be. Overall, our approach is very different in this house. We’re trying to pace ourselves, not live the house, and tackle things one at a time. So far we’ve focused on making the kitchen work for us (and adding some pretty in there), making the downstairs guest friendly, and getting our master bedroom done enough that it was relaxing and clean and somewhere I wanted to spend time.

This is what we started with when we closed. The view from the hallway was the big window that overlooks the backyard, and some dingy white walls. Oh and a dated ceiling fan.

To the right is the big master closet – not a walk in but huge none the less. We’ve actually talked about adding a washer/dryer in this closet to have first floor laundry – it’s that big. Note the gor-ge-ous fabric decoupaged onto the closet doors. Seriously, it’s actually pretty cool fabric, with peacock feathers and butterflies. I’m not saying we’re keeping it long term, but I don’t hate it. Behind those lovely pink silk panels is another skinny window. (Both of the windows in this room really need to be replaced with modern, functional ones that don’t sound like an 18 wheeler is rumbling by when you want to close them)

And, if you stand right in that corner by the skinny window, this is the other view of the room. The doorway all the way on the right is the master bathroom – I love having a bathroom in our room. It’s super convenient (and definitely, definitely got our money’s worth out of it during the last months of pregnancy!) and someday we’ll freshen things up in there and make it all cute. Until then, everything works and that’s great.

So – while we were still in the apartment, I found a bedspread that I really, really loved. It’s gray and white and turquoise, and so pretty. And then we bought light turquoise curtains from IKEA that went so nicely with the bedspread.

and I already told you that when we moved into Amherst we bought the perfect neutral gray (Ralph Lauren’s Saltaire)  to paint all of the rooms with to start. So that is where we started – gray walls, pretty comforter and turquoise curtains. Then I decided that I wanted to experiment with some high contrast color in our room. At Wendhurst we pretty much went with light, neutral and classic colors throughout, so I’m really excited to try out some color and drama in this house. That’s when I started thinking about navy blue walls in the bedroom. I’ve seen pictures of rooms painted in Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy for years, and I’ve always loved the color.

So, I talked to Lover about it, and he was on board – sort of. He was concerned about the room being too dark if we did all the walls in the navy, so we settled on just two of them. Then we headed to Home Depot to get some paint! Of course, HD doesn’t sell Benjamin Moore paint, so we just looked for a deep true navy that would work well with our comforter. The closest we could find that we liked was a Behr Marquee paint called Mirage. It was a deep blue with some green undertones that played so nicely with the grays and turquoises. We went up to the counter to have it color matched (because Behr Marque paint is upwards of $50/gallon) and as it turns out, Behr puts some kind of magic in their marquee paint to make it impossible to color match it. Darn the bad luck! I was seriously irritated. At that point I was ready to scrap the whole “accent wall” idea, since it was turning into a headache, and we really wanted to get our bedroom and the kids room painted before moving in. But – in a stroke of divine providence, we walked past the “oops” paints, and lo and behold, a nice deep navy was on the rack for $9! The only catch – it was a semi-gloss finish. I always, always buy eggshell – it has the slightest bit of sheen to it and therefore is quite cleanable, but it is not shiny. BUT – this paint was only NINE DOLLARS, and would let us try out a new, crazy idea for not a lot of moolah. So, into the cart it went. And up on the walls it went. Ta da!

We decided to paint the two walls that do not have windows the dark blue, and leave the window walls gray.

Surprisingly, the semi gloss doesn’t bother me too much. I think I would still prefer it in either eggshell or even a flat finish, but the gloss adds a bit of reflection and sparkle that is pretty cool. In another post I will show you the other walls, along with some details about the nightstands and dresser I refinished for this room, but let’s talk about the bed wall for a minute. So – a few things I have been thinking about. This room seriously needs some personal art to make it ours. Our bed is from IKEA, and let me tell you why I love it. The mattress rests on the combination bed frame/boxspring/storage space, and that sits directly on the floor. We had the option to buy legs, but I didn’t because, and here is my stroke of genius, you never have to clean under the bed. It isn’t the place where lost socks go to die, or little newborn diapers roll underneath never to be heard from again… it’s amazing. I love it very, very much.

So, we need a headboard of some sort, and some awesome art above the bed. I think I have figured out what I want for the art, and now I need to sort out a headboard. I think the headboard needs to be white, to provide some contrast with the dark blue wall. This means that the headboard needs to somehow be washable – because I guarantee it will get dirty. I would also like it to be fairly deep, so that we can access the plug that is directly behind the center of the bed. That would be nice for plugging in lamps and our phones at night. Eventually we will need to pay for an electrician to rewire that plug, since it is currently on the wall switch and we are therefore unable to have a light on a switch and our phones charging overnight. #firstworldproblems

The other thing I keep seriously considering is painting the door trim and the door to the en suite bathroom the same blue color. On the one hand it sounds crazy, but on the other hand, I think it would make this wall feel bigger and less choppy. The doors are decently solid and nice, but are still just hollow core doors from the 70s. So I don’t think it would be a great loss to paint them. Or at least that one.

On this wall, there is still a whole lot of crazy going on. Ironically, the little “I love u” art I hung up kind of ties in with the colors of the fabric on those doors, which I still don’t hate. But, that fabric does clash with the rest of the room. I could paint the doors blue, recover the doors in a different fabric or, I don’t know, come up with something else brilliant for this wall. I like the I <3 u that I made, but I think it needs to go somewhere else, it’s too small for that wall. I think I want to hang a few pictures of Lover and I on this wall instead.

So – that is the story of how we painted a couple of walls really dark in the master bedroom. Hopefully you can see where I am going with this room- a little contrast, some pretty wood tones, a calm and relaxing place to retire to at the end of the day. Little by little we are getting there!


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Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment