Winter fun

So I haven’t posted any pictures of winter around these parts. Somehow that seems like a December/January thing. However it is March, snowing outside, and it appears that winter is not going anywhere soon. So lets embrace our reality. Here are some outside pictures of the goings on around here.

We are lucky to have a hill on the side of our property, so that provides a lot of easy to access fun.

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The kids built a big fort about a month ago,  in the half circle by our driveway.  It has several rooms and lots of tunnels. Since February was so cold, it’s still there.

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Although this winter seems to never ending, I am glad that my kids are making great memories of the fun they’re having in the snow.

How has your winter been?

~ Lora

Posted in child's play, family, kids, nature, seasons | 3 Comments

Lists

Scott has been gone on business for a few days. I woke up the other morning to find this list on the counter:

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Taylor is following in his father’s footsteps; both in helpfulness and the need to write lists. Scott is a list man. If it gets on the list it will get done (eventually). But if it’s not on the list, the task doesn’t exist.  This works well for him, and Taylor has discovered that it’s the best method for him to keep organized.

I, on the other hand, rarely write lists. I have some general goals for the week, and long term goals way back in my mind, besides the regular stuff that needs to get done. (Laundry anyone?) I have any appointments written on my calendar, and that’s how I work. I know some people feel like they’ve accomplished something when they cross off their list.  I guess I just see all the uncompleted tasks rather than the ones crossed off.  Lists feel like a form of tyranny.  You must do such and such today!!! Which reminds me of that great Frog and Toad story where Toad writes a list of what he will do for the day, but when he loses it, he is immobilized.

But I digress. Lists never get completely crossed off when you’re a SAHM, you can just keep adding. With little kids, it’s hard to predict when I’ll accomplish something so I grab my opportunities when they arise. I also need to feel motivated. Writing that I must clean the bathrooms on Tuesday morning pretty much guarantees that I won’t do it then. What will happen is that while the youngest are in the tub, I’ll wipe a counter, then get a pail and cloth, and before you know it the bathroom has been cleaned and it did not feel like a CHORE that I had to do.

One caveat on the topic of lists, is that I do use lists to remember things.  My aging brain needs reminders to pick up a child from school late, or run all the errands I need to do in an afternoon.  And I definitely use a grocery list… items listed in order of where they are located in the store.  Ok… so I’m not totally anti-list. I’m just against bossy lists. Shopping lists are good.

What is your relationship with lists?  Good, bad or indifferent?

~ Lora

Posted in about me, handy household tips, organization | Tagged | 7 Comments

Master bath before and after

So at the beginning of this year I said that I might even get around to posting some before and after pictures of various projects in our house.  This project has been completed for a little less than two years maybe??  I just never got around to taking pictures of it.  Well the other morning I woke up and the sun was shining so beautifully into our master bath (that warm glow you can get at sunrise or sunset) that I had to grab my camera and take some pictures.  Fortunately I had just cleaned the bathroom the real dutch way.  (That means pail and rags, not just disinfectant wipes ;) ) Unfortunately, by the time I grabbed my camera the sun had waned into that sad, pale semblance of sunlight you get in the winter.  Oh well… here are the pics anyway.  Btw, I hope you don’t think it’s odd to show pictures of a bathroom.  I like looking at bathroom redos but just skip this post if it isn’t your thing.  Also, I never want to give the impression that having a picture perfect house is a terribly important thing in the scheme of life. And it rarely happens.. and that is fine.  We live life in our homes. OK end of sermon.

It’s always more effective to start with befores isn’t it?   I must tell you that this project began before 2010.  Yup… it took over two years to build and finish a master bathroom.  We did have a house fire detour, and when we finally moved back in, in November 2011, there were a lot of things on the to-do list.  I actually didn’t care if I had my own bathroom or not.  I mean, it’s nice of course, but not essential.  So it wasn’t high on our priority list.  We had a space put aside for it when we reorganized all the rooms upstairs, and a tub and two vanities stashed away, but that was it for a few years.  Anyway, here are the construction pics while it was being built.

View into our bathroom from the bedroom.  Yes there is a french door in our bathroom.

View into our bathroom from the bedroom. Yes there is a french door in our bathroom.

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We picked up two of these sinks as floor models from Lowes several years before we began the project. $100 for two!

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Self explanatory

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Scott does all the plumbing himself. Hence the tidy glue job.

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This tub floated around our bedroom for ages. The story is that I was hoping for a Victorian type tub. Scott said only if we found a deal and it had to be a shorter one (5 feet long instead of 6). A few weeks later he found one on clearance at Lowes… a special order that someone returned. Yes, I was pleased. :)

Bead board going up.  Lots of painting ahead.

Bead board going up. Lots of painting ahead.

OK, so now lets share the afters:

Warm, bright sunlight peaking into our room through the bathroom door.

Warm, bright sunlight peaking into our room through the bathroom door.

Entering the bathroom from the bedroom.  The door leads to a second (almost third) floor balcony.  That was my dh's special request.

Entering the bathroom from the bedroom. The french door ahead leads to a second (almost third) floor balcony. That was my husband’s special request. He got a balcony to check out the weather in the morning, I got the tub. 

Tub, shower to the left.  We never purchased glass doors for the shower, simply because I don't want to clean them.  It's a lot easier to wash a shower curtain than keep glass spot free!

Shower to the right. We never purchased glass doors for the shower, simply because I don’t want to clean them. It’s a lot easier to wash a shower curtain than keep glass spot free! The little table is a metal tray table from IKEA.  The towel bar is from Pottery Barn purchased about 12 years ago.  We moved it with us to this house.

We went with a preformed fiberglass shower, just to make things more simple.  We probably would not do that again.  It has all kinds of curves and bends which makes it hard to dry off with the squeegee after showering. On the other hand, there's no grout to clean.  Can you see a theme here?  I go for easy to clean :)

We went with a preformed fiberglass shower, just to make things more simple. We probably would not do that again. It has all kinds of curves and bends which makes it hard to dry off with the squeegee after showering. On the other hand, there’s little grout to clean. Can you see a theme here? I go for easy to clean :)

Looking in the opposite direction.  Two vanities picked up for a song.  Middle cabinet picked up at HomeGoods to store extra towels.  I thought I might miss the storage of larger vanities, but between the medicine cabinets and the little drawer at the bottom we have plenty of storage.

Looking in the opposite direction. Two floor model vanities picked up for a song. Middle cabinet purchased at HomeGoods to store extra towels. I thought I might miss the storage of larger vanities, but between the medicine cabinets and the little drawer at the bottom we have plenty of storage. Btw, the flooring is tile that looks like wood planks.  We picked it because it went well with the tub and bead board walls.  Bathrooms would have had wooden floors in the “olden” days.  These floors have not disappointed us. They always fool people.  Tile “wood” floors have come a long way.

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Does it bother you that the hand soap on the left is green? I got over it. I used to have aqua hand soap and then BJ’s switched to green and my dh does the shopping there.. And I should have removed the clashy tooth paste but hey… this isn’t BHG, it’s real life, right?

Some cute containers to corral the beauty products.

Some cute containers to corral the beauty products.

Yes we have a toilet, it's down the little hall.  Having a "toilet room" is seriously one of the best parts of having a master bath.  I would pick that over two sinks and a tub.
Yes we have a toilet, it’s down the little hall. It’s also a floor model.  Funny story is how after buying it for $5, we found out the tank lid was caulked to the tank.  We eventually pried it off.  Having a “toilet room” is seriously one of the best parts of having a master bath. I would pick that over two sinks and a tub. And yes, that is a painting I have balanced on a basket.  I never remember to take up a hammer and nail to the bathroom.  Our closet is just to the left when you enter the little hall.  So this works out great when one of us (read Scott) gets up early and can do all the morning stuff without disturbing his wife, (who actually wouldn’t care since she can sleep through anything in the morning). ;)

So that’s the end of the tour.  We had to work within some interesting parameters when we designed the bathroom and we are happy with how it all turned out.

~Lora

Posted in before and after, do-it-yourself, renovations | 10 Comments

Morning mischief

When the cat’s away the mice play… or in my case, when I’m “away” reading the paper the little kiddies play.

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Dental floss makes a great clothes line!

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Like her fancy clothes?  Her choice today.  And then it was off to find out where the littlest monkey went.  Just follow the trail….

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Fun times! :) (for real!)

~Lora

 

Posted in child's play, family, kids, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Pasta Primevera

I found a great recipe last week for pasta primevera and tweaked it to suit my tastes and what I had in the house. It was creamy, interesting and had a lot of vegetables in it without tasting like it had a lot of vegetables in it (if you get my drift) Important when you’re cooking for kids. :) The original recipe had cauliflower and zucchini which I nixed for sun dried tomatoes and a red pepper. So you could always try the other version if that’s what you like or have in the house.

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Here is the recipe:

In a large deep skillet, heat 1/2 cup butter. Saute 1 large yellow onion (chopped), 2 cloves garlic (minced), until softened, about three minutes.  Mix in 8 0z sliced mushrooms, 6-10 pieces of sun dried tomato (or 1 cup) sliced small, 1 red pepper (diced), I large carrot (cut in little strips – julienne). Increase heat to high.  Add 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream, 1/2 cup chicken stock, and 2 tsp dried basil and allow the mixture to boil until the liquid is slightly reduced, about three minutes.

Stir in 1 cup frozen petite peas, 8 oz cooked ham (cubed) or a lesser amount of prosciutto and cook for one more minute.  Stir in 1 lb cooked, shelled, medium shrimp, salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 lb cooked pasta (linguine, bow tie…) and toss with 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, tossing until thoroughly combined and pasta is heated.  Serve immediately.

Bon Appetit

~ Lora

Posted in cooking, recipes | Tagged | 3 Comments

Of blogging and such

So at the end of the year WordPress sends out a report sharing various statistics about one’s blog. It confirmed for me what I knew already.  This past year I have not been very active compared to the previous years. Life interrupts, babies take precedent and often I was too tired to post anything.

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This leads me to think about why I blog, and what I blog about. I am always having conversations in my head about all sorts of topics. Some of them make it onto this blog, most do not. Often because I forget what I had thought about earlier, and other times it’s because I don’t want to have to defend (even to myself ;) ) my thoughts if I were to get negative reactions to my ideas. So most gets edited out or forgotten. I don’t think I have the emotional energy and time to engage in a “meatier” blog.

The other main reason I blog is to share snippets of our life with my family and friends. I live far apart from many of them and I want them to feel like they have a little window into what life is like for me (us) over here. I also like to share recipes and ideas and hopefully inspire someone (and get inspired myself) to try something new. I am very interested in design, but I figured out early, that I could never have one of those decorating/design blogs because you have to put out real content all of the time, which means I would need to be continually working on projects. Which of course is not how I want to live my life; I don’t want to become a slave to my blog.

So what conclusion have I come to after all this rambling? I’m going to try and blog more frequently, I might dip my toes in the water of opinion more often, but mostly I want this to be a way for me to have a snapshot of life at Brightwood Cottage. And of course, as projects progress, I will post about them. Just know that they are progressing much more slowly these days (basement bathroom being a case in point). I might also catch you up on other things that have been completed but never photographed (because that means I have to have a perfectly clean room :P ) One thing about house stuff I do want to get across is that just because you can take pretty pictures of a room, doesn’t mean that’s real life…. Ask anyone who pops in here, or stays over for a couple days.

So welcome to Brightwood Cottage… I hope you enjoy your stay.  Feel free to comment, in fact I love dialog!

~ Lora

Posted in about me, reflection, relationships | 5 Comments

Matching

“You don’t match, Mommy” I was informed by Annika. I glanced down at my outfit and thought I didn’t realize there was a rule that you had to match your four year old. “Why don’t I match?”, I asked.  “Well you don’t match our family.  All the kids and Daddy have blue eyes and you have green eyes.”  She then proceeded to list everyone in our family.  As she reached the end of the list, her face brightened.  “But you do match, Mommy!  You match Reesey!” (our cat)

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Phew!  It was awfully good to know that I fit in with the rest of us! ;)

~ Lora

Posted in about me, child's play, family, kids, parenting, pets | 1 Comment