Saturday, April 26, 2014

A New Year, a New Garden

It's that time of year again... when we pretend to have a green thumb. Last year we skipped the gardening. We had signed up for a full CSA share. And with being pregnant and all, we decided we didn't need the additional responsibility of taking care of a garden. But this year we've decided to give it a try. I'm not expecting too much success our first year, but we'll see how it goes. All I really want are fresh tomatoes. This year we've gone much bigger than we have in the past. We are no longer in a townhouse. And we no longer have cute garden boxes. We've gone much bigger.

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20x30 feet to be exact. This could either go really well. Or really bad.

The plan is to not go crazy this year. Again, all I really want are fresh tomatoes. With the abundance of stinkbugs in the areas, I'm not sure how successful we'll even be. Mike wants hot peppers, so we'll be planting a bunch of those. And herbs. Because I need fresh basil with the tomatoes. The rest of the stuff, I don't care as much about.

This was the original plan:

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I used this handy garden planner to help plan things out. Well we've already abandoned the plan and just started planting. :) The raspberries are no longer located in the garden because apparently they can get unruly. We are skipping spinach. We are skipping peas, but possibly doing beans. And everything is moving locations. We will see how much actually gets planted.

So far we have some nice broccoli plants in the ground.

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Zoom in? Sure.

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We bought broccoli plants from the store. We had started some seedlings but they haven't been doing so hot. And since it was time to start the cold weather plants we just decided to buy plants. We're not ashamed.

We've also planted some kale and spring onions. We planted those seeds directly just this week. So... time will tell.

The rest of the plants are still incubating in the house.

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The seedling got off to a bit of a rough start. We started seeds in egg cartons and they were doing great. Then we thought they'd need more space so we tried transplanting them and they did not like that at all. Only a few survived so we've basically started over. When it comes time to plant we may just end up buying more plants :)

Fingers crossed this goes well.




Friday, April 11, 2014

Baptism Cake

This post has been sitting as a draft for a couple of months now. We had a baptism for Baby G in February so yes, its been that long.

Much like this post, it took us a while to get things squared away for the baptism. At 6 months old, Baby G was looking sharp in his 12-18 month baptism outfit. Yes, that's right.... 12-18 month.

We invited mostly family to the baptism and I tried keeping the food pretty simple. Chicken salad sandwiches and pulled pork... from Costco, of course. However I really wanted to make the cake. I'm determined to get back into doing little crafty projects here and there. So I tasked myself with making a cake.

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As usual Pinterest had some good pictures for inspiration. Apparently baptism cakes can get pretty extravagant. Obviously, that's not what I was looking for. But here are some ideas I did like: here, here, and here. Basically anything that looked like it involved just placing a cross on the cake I was all about.

Since hours in the day seem pretty tight these days, I spaced out the cake making during one week. I baked and froze the cakes early in the week. And then made the fondant a couple days before I needed it. And actually, like the monkey cake I made, I saved some time by also buying a container of fondant. I bought some Fondarific fondant from Amazon and I must say, I'm a fan! So basically all the parts were prepared ahead of time and assembly happened the night before the baptism.

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My cake making skills are still far from perfect. But luckily more layers can be used to hide things.

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Dang. There's still a thumb print.

The white fondant covering the cake is my homemade stuff. And the blue is the store-bought.  I must say the store bought stuff rolls out much smoother. The consistency is very close to that of Play-doh. So its very fun to work with :)

Decorating basically involved three steps:

1) Wrapping a ribbon around the cake. I found this handy little tool in my toolbox.

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2) Adding a cross on top.

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3) Adding candy pearls around the cross and ribbon.

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Step 3 was definitely the most tedious. Every couple of minutes one or two of little pearls would fall on the floor and bounce around for a bit. But in the end it got done. And I even got to bed at a reasonable hour!




Saturday, February 8, 2014

Memory Box for Baby

So I had a baby..... almost 6 months ago. I just want to confirm that not much gets done when you have a baby. Okay, let me clarify. Not much gets done except for feeding the baby, taking care of the baby, playing with the baby, and loving the baby. You know... taking care of another human being. In my spare time now I'm generally running around the house like a mad woman trying to pick stuff up, throw in a load of laundry, or cook some sort of meal. I'm not complaining though. Really! But it's true what they say, that your life really changes after the baby comes. And it's really hard to comprehend until it actually happens! Before Baby G arrived I really worried that I wouldn't have the patience to take care of someone else. I really enjoyed my free time. But honestly, giving up most of my free time has been easy. Totally worth it :)

I do occasionally find some time for a little project. That painting I planned for the nursery? It's still a blank canvas. I might finish before Baby G is 18. But smaller projects happen here and there.

One of the first projects I did after Baby G's birth was create a memory box with all of his birth items. I got the idea from Pinterest. I obviously wanted to hold on to all of these things, so why not display them? I started by ordering a shadow box off of Amazon. (So much easier than taking a 2-month old to the store.)

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The shadow box arrived. It sat for awhile. And then one day during nap time I gathered everything I wanted to use. I am most proud that I managed to hold on to all 3 of our hospital bands. Go me.

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Ugh. I just realized I misspelled "hospital" not once, but twice. Ignore, please! I'm not fixing it.

Then came assembly. Basically I used the hospital blanket as a backdrop for everything else. This was my first go at it.

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It looks a little cramped, doesn't it? It hung on the wall like this for awhile until finally one day I cut the blanket up. Why I tried to stuff an entire blanket in that frame, I don't know. Here's how it ended up.

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Not bad.

Okay, off I go to start the day!




Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Nursery

The nursery is done. All we need is the baby.

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You may recall the argyle walls that were done a couple months ago. Aside from the argyle, I didn't really want any particular theme for the room. With no theme we'd be free to decorate with just about anything that was fun and/or cute.

Like this crazy thing...

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This was actually a Christmastime white elephant gift that came from Colombia. It's pretty entertaining. You can't see it in this picture but there is a toilet on the back, which makes it even better.


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Clearly I still have some work to do. One day there will be a painting on that blue wall.

Some of my favorite things:

The book wall, featuring books we've received as gifts. This kid better love to read.

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The mobile I made here:

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Meatball's twin:

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Baby soccer cleats. They aren't meant to be decor but somehow they've become a prominent display on the dresser:

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So sure, the baby might not be sleeping here immediately. But that's okay. In the meantime Meatball will continue hunting around looking for toys on the floor.




Friday, August 2, 2013

Paper Mobile

I've been consumed by baby things recently. Well baby things and kitchen things. Still finishing up the kitchen renovation! Going on three months now. I work on baby things to get my mind off of kitchen things.

Back when I was setting up my registry I discovered the Amazon registry system. I love the idea because in addition to registering for items on Amazon you can add items from pretty much any other website. This includes Etsy. I loved this.

So of course I browsed Etsy and found all sorts of cute baby items that were adorable but yet not exactly necessary. Things like baby moccasins. Who doesn't need a pair? The other things I really liked was this paper mobile. It's cute and simple. But at $40 it is also a bit pricey. And being simple I thought, "Hey I could do that." Probably not as well, but could certainly give it a whirl.

So I did.

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My supplies included:
  • Colored cardstock paper
  • X-Acto knife
  • Illusion Wire (a.k.a. clear string) from the jewelry section
  • Clear craft glue


I started out by buying some colored cardstock paper. Fade-RESISTANT cardstock paper! If I remember correctly the paper was $3-4 a sheet. So I was already coming out ahead in my investment.

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For just about every piece of the mobile I used the same process. I'd make a stencil. Then trace onto the colored paper.

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Stencil

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Trace

I kinda quit taking pictures around this point. Things got a little more hairy when I started the clouds. The clouds each consist of 3 identical pieces of paper, each in the shape of the cloud. I would then fold two of the clouds in half, and glue one to each side of the flat cloud. Make sense? The tricky part was getting everything to hold together until the glue could dry.

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Since I'm being honest, this mobile ended up taking me longer than I anticipated. I worked on it in pieces. Cutting little pieces of paper out with the X-acto knife gets old after awhile. And then there was the aforementioned frustration of gluing the pieces together. So $40.00? Perhaps it was fair price after all.

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However I finally got it done. And it is good enough for me. And good enough for future baby. I'll just never show him the Etsy version.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fireflies

I've been on a mission the last couple of nights to photograph the lightning bugs. Or fireflies... whichever you prefer. We've been noticing them on our walks in the evenings and they are present in large numbers.  Of course it also gets pretty dark out here so maybe we can just see them better.

I Googled "photographing fireflies" and turned up some pretty awesome results. See here and here. Now obviously I'm not this skilled but thought I'd give it a try anyways. So night #1 I set up my tripod and started messing with the settings. This is what I got:

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Not terrible. But not really amazing either. Part of my issue was that most of the tutorials I read discussed merging multiple photos together. And I could not figure out how to do this effectively.

Night #2: I did more reading. Then went back outside and setup my tripod. I also adjusted my settings slightly. I've been shooting in manual mode, which alone is new for me. Based on what I read, my settings were adjusted to somewhere around  f/5.6, ISO 3200, 8 seconds. This was the result:

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Much better. I should note that this is actually 8 different photos overlapped together. And the biggest difference from night #1 is that I learned how to overlap the photos properly. (Thank you Google.) I believe the proper term in Photoshop is "lighten blend mode."

It's this option here:

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See I learned something tonight :)





Monday, May 27, 2013

Starting the Nursery

Our kitchen renovation continues. I knew it would take awhile but I've been getting antsy. Not having a working kitchen sink will drive a person batty. So because I needed to see measurable progress somewhere, I decided to start the nursery.

Prepare yourself for lots of pictures of argyle. I don't necessarily want a theme for the nursery, but I thought argyle would add a nice touch to the room. My inspiration came from Pinterest. See here. So cute, right?

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First a quick "before"picture. When we moved in to the house this room was super colorful. Very rainbow-like. We ultimately painted it a light khaki color, ripped out the carpet and installed hardwood floors. It was a huge improvement!

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Fast forward back to today. We picked a neutral khaki color for the walls figuring that this room would one day be a nursery and khaki is gender neutral. Now that a boy is expected to occupy this space it was time to choose some accent colors. We decided on some safe blue and green, plus a small touch of orange.

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The first step was to paint an accent wall. I gave in to gender stereotypes and picked the blue.

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Next up was starting the argyle pattern. I decided to add the design to two of the walls. A lot of this design was really just an exercise in math and geometry. I pulled out a level, tape measure and pencil and started sketching out the design. Since our ceilings are 9' tall I went with a design of four diamonds, each two feet tall.

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After taping the outline of the diamonds it was time to add color. Things went pretty smoothly up to this point. And actually quite quickly too! Thank you Frog Tape.

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Then things got a little more tricky. It was time to paint the stitch pattern that overlaps the diamonds. I considered free-handing it but decided that it would look much cleaner if I taped it out. Talk about tedious. So more measuring and more taping. I used a lot Frog Tape for this step. A shameful amount actually.

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Thankfully, things got easy again once the taping was done. Just a few swipes of white paint. And as annoying as it was to tape everything out, I'm pretty sure this was the easiest way to do it. My semi-steady hand would not have produced such clean results without the tape.

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The white stitch definitely brought the whole design together. When it was just colored diamonds on the wall I was a little nervous. It was reminding me too much of a clown or circus theme. But argyle is so much more classy haha.

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I finished up the design on the second wall the next day. (I needed to regain my patience for the taping.)

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So now at least the painting portion of the nursery is done. Hooray for progress! There are still some things I want to do in the room, but this was a good start. And now back to the kitchen...

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