Thursday, July 24, 2014

Adventures with Ellen

Our Ellen is a tiny little thing so it is a constant shock to witness her strength. Lately she's been climbing. A lot.
In phone camera shot we find Miss Ellen sitting in the bathroom sink destroying the soap. She climbed from Rosie's step stool to the toilet seat to the toilet tank to the sink.

Hold on to your hats people, it only gets better!

Ellen later demonstrated her crazy strength in another bathroom related incident, of which I have not photos. Rosie was perched on the toilet while Kyle sat near by. (Don't get me started on the tribulations of toilet training and toddlers.)

Rosie must have been feeling silly because she proceed to put her underwear on her head.

Ellen found this irresistible and reached up to grab the underwear.

In doing so she manged to pull poor Rosie completely off the toilet and they both toppled onto the bathroom floor.

Tears and hilarity ensued.

Is this one of those stories that will embarrass my kids later? If so, I apologize to their future selves. It's just too funny not to share.

Here's to ants and to Ellen -- both of whom can lift object many times their own weight.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Be Our Guest, Be Our Guest

This weekend went far too quickly!  In addition to a super fun sewing day at a friend's house, where I half-completed two projects, and a lovely birthday party for a great one-year-old, Kyle knocked out some landscaping and I finished up a big project.

After two months since I started to get serious about getting our guest room under control, look at it now!

I spent much of last weekend wrangling screeching, perpetually hungry toddlers while Kyle built what I can only call a "unit." Check it out!

Is that not some serious storage?
I have a second-phase plan to divide some of the shelves to make room for the smaller boxes. A big goal of this project is to ensure nothing has to be stacked on top of anything else. Stacking causes profanity and eventually results in a major mess.

I'm also hoping to figure out a way to make everything match a bit better without buying all new storage boxes. (Becauase wow, is there a lot going on there right now!)  But for now I'm just glad to have a place for all of my fabric and the crayons and Rosie's 6,000 coloring pads and everything else...

One of the pitfalls of owning a 104-year-old house is the utter lack of closets. When I started this project we had both the closets and the closet annex jammed full of stuff and the space under the bed was overflowing.

After some massive and seemingly constant purging over the past two months, the closet has just two totes in it along with our winter coats.

The annex could still use some major organizing, but it is manageable. In fact the whole room still needs some deep organization, but I am celebrating the crazy fact that this might be the first time since we bought our house when this room is clean and we don't have a house guest arriving tomorrow.

Not only that I could reasonably use this room for a craft project. Somewhere in the house a toddler is laughing maniacally at the thought of me finishing a sewing project. Nonetheless, I have a reasonably creative space should the time to sew ever manifest.

This room is still wearing too many hats, but at least we're not asking it to store quite so much stuff and it looks so much better than it did two months ago. Seriously, go look.

Here's to sweet sweet organization.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rosie Chatter

I have good intentions to write an All About Rosie in honor of our girl's recent third birthday, and I will. In the meantime, here's the latest chatter. As her ability to converse has gotten stronger, she has become increasingly fun to hang out with. One of my favorite things lately is for the two of us to run errands together. There's never a quiet moment and it is so fun to hear her observations on the world and answer her questions.

She's an incredible kid!
While my friend Sarah and I were visiting Kyle took Rosie to another room.
Rosie: What are those girls doing?
Kyle: What girls? You and Ellen?
Rosie: No, Mama and her friend.
Kyle: They aren't girls, they're women.
Rosie: Oh yeah! What are those womans doing?

I can't remember the exact context ...
Rosie: Mama -- you aren't a girl. You're a woman! You're my woman!

Out of the blue while were were out for a drive ...
Rosie: Does Ellen like pumpkin creme brulee?

At Target ...
Cashier: Well, hello little lady, what's your name.
Rosie -- somberly: I am not a baby.
Cashier: Oh, no! I said little lady - not baby!
Rosie -- still somber: I am not little.
Cashier: Of course not! I'm so sorry.
(At this point I think the cashier just gave up and moved on to offering stickers.)

While sitting at the picnic table outside for dinner.
Rosie: I just read an interesting article.
Kyle: Oh yeah, what was it about?
Rosie: Wheels. It was about wheels.
Kyle: Oh? What kind of wheels?
Rosie: Grill wheels!
(The grill was sitting near the picnic table.)

Here's to our little chatterbox.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June Garden Update

Well, it seems we missed a few months in our annual garden log since our first update in March. Though we haven't found the time to post, the garden has most definitely continue reaching for the sun. We're eating tons of awesome produce grown in the front yard by this handsome gardener.
Doesn't he look cute with his harvest?

He also bakes delicious bread regularly, puts an incredible vegetarian meal on the table every night, makes the best iced coffee you've ever had, brews a tasty bottle of beer and keeps the house in order. Oh yeah, and in his free time he's raising our two kiddos to be the smartest, most confident, capable and happiest kids they can be.

I digress.

Back to the garden. Things have changed dramatically since we showed little seedlings in March. The peas are taller than we are!
 The west section has strawberries, peas, beans, lettuce, tomatoes and peppers in pots.
 Out in the boulevard we have onions, lettuce, potatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, artichokes and beets.

We also have a lot of weeds out there, but Kyle's been working hard to get them under control.
In the east section we have asparagus, blueberries, raspberries, shallots, cauliflower, radishes, herbs, winter squash and more pepper pots.
 We have a better side view this year, thanks to some extensive pruning last fall.
 The grapes are growing like crazy. We're looking forward to a big crop this year.
 We're getting lots of blueberries this year, despite a little pilfering by passers-by, squirrels and little Ellen, who recently figured out how to get under the bird net.
 This is our first year with a raspberry yield. I'm not a fan, but Kyle and the girls are enjoying them.
 We've been eating tons of cauliflower dishes lately. Kyle has harvested some truly impressive heads of cauliflower.
 The wild plums are coming on strong. We have a raccoon friend who has been pillaging the tree and dropping tons of green plums, which Ellen thinks are fabulous. Sigh.
 Hot peppers in pots. Lots of them. Last year Kyle made a bunch of salsa and his own sirracha sauce.
 Tomatoes are just blossoms now, but fruit surely won't be far behind.
In the far bed the beans are started to creep skyward. Right now we see a lot of string, but in a few weeks I expect that will be a solid wall of beans -- much like the peas look right now. In the foreground are the strawberry plants.
Many of our strawberry plants are in their first year, so we're not getting the 40-pound crop we got this year, but we have enough for the girls to enjoy a night snack of fresh strawberries. Kyle found a $20 flat of Oregon berries at a roadside stand yesterday, so we've already got a bunch of jam put up for the winter.
The apples look great. 
We also planted a cherry tree near the apple tree earlier this spring. We won't seen anything from that tree for a while, but we're sure looking forward to it! This is also the site of the next major garden expansion. So much space! So many possibilities. So much tasty food!

Here's to the first day of summer and all the summer garden-fresh dinners ahead.

Previous garden updates
March 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Project Build a Backyard

As promised, I'm sharing a few photos of our new fence. This project took up most of Memorial Day weekend as well as much of the following week and weekend. It is so worth it though!
The project started with some serious landscaping in the south west corner of the yard. Kyle rented a pole saw and took down an absolutely massive number of limbs from the yew trees on the border of our property and the empty lot next door. After hauling away three loads, we still have work more to remove!

This resulted in a much, much brighter yard. Ultimately this means we can expand the garden the full length of the front yard. (More to come on that.) It also gave us room to put in the fence.
We opted to go with prefabricated panels because they look super nice and they were faster to install. They did cost a bit more than nailing on the pickets ourselves, but we're okay with that trade-off. Plus, we can spy on the girls in the backyard while we're working in the garden.

We wanted the fence to run from the southwest corner of the house all the way to the west border of our property. This meant we had a gap between the new fence and the old fence. We did choose to fill in that gap with six foot pickets to match the fence along that side.
The section closest to the house was actually a few feet too long. We tried to buy a custom section, but alas -- we ended up hand sawing it. That took nearly as long as the installation of all the other panels!

The multi-year goal is to remove the snowball tree (sad!) to make way for garden and orchard in the grassy area.
Even though we'll be losing some grass in the front, we still have plenty of space to play in the back. We're planning to reseed, or re-sod the backyard. We've removed most of the broad leaf weeds by hand and that's left the yard pretty pock-marked.

We'll also focus on more ornamental gardening in the back. Eventually we'll install a concrete brick border between the fence and the grass. We have all the bricks, we just don't have the patience to make them level yet.
But, boy is it a fun place to play now! The girls love having all the extra space and freedom to run around. We've eaten dinner in the backyard all but two nights (boo, rain!) since the fence was installed. It really makes the space feel like an outdoor living area. This makes me wonder why we didn't think of it sooner!
The garden is so hearty right now, the fence can't be seen in our traditional "curb appeal" shot. More on this year's awesome garden another day.
Here's to the first big house project in too long. And to dinners outside!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Birthday for Dragons

Our Rosie is three today. The past year has been incredibly fun. Perhaps most fun of all was Rosie's dragon party.
Last summer, when I returned to work, we knew Kyle might have to lean on a small bit of television to help achieve a quiet house while getting Ellen down for a nap. He and Rosie started watching a dragon-centered cartoon which quickly spread into a larger love of dragons.  Sometimes Rosie will pretend to be characters from the show and will not respond unless we play along.

Given this, we really didn't have to think too much about what we'd highlight for her party. We also managed to sneak in a few of her other favorite things -- books/reading and coloring.
I drew the dragon image for her invitations and coloring book cover. The coloring books have several dragon images, plus blank pages. We also included a box of crayons and some dragon stickers for each kiddo. Rosie colored the "fire" for the thank you label.
So far we've hit the weather jackpot three years straight for Rosie's birthday. Thank goodness because there's no way we could fit the crowd of friends and family into our house. Plus our back yard recently got a lot cooler!
Yep, that's a new fence! We spent most of the previous two weekends putting it up and it has been completely awesome to have a dedicated family and play space. Now, the entire front yard can be garden (more on that another day). We created a few play areas in the yard with bubbles, chalk, a makeshift water table and a small obstacle course.

We also repeated the book exchange concept from Ellen's party.
We really can't rave about this idea enough. It adds a fun, inclusive element to the festivities and helps keep the day centered on having a good time with friends. 

And good times with friends require good food.
So, yeah, I forgot to snap a photo of the food before it got eaten up. It was a gorgeous and heavenly delicious spread. We had a few sides in addition to 10 thin-crust pizzas in six flavors. Kyle prepared everything from scratch (except the dragon scales).
We also had some pretty incredible cupcakes, courtesy of the house chef.
We had four dozen cupcakes all together -- half blue dragon berry and half chocolate. Mmmm!
We all had a great time. Little girl declares blueberry cupcakes to be her favorite part, but we know she also loved having so many good friends and loving family with her to celebrate her big day. A kid only turns thwee once!
Here's to partying the day away while sleeping dragons rest.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Recent Favorites

We've been busy lately with a variety of projects I'll try to share when I have a spare moment. In the meantime, here's a few scenes from the homestead.

Here's to the last few weeks of spring!