Porch Finished (pretty much)

Short of a a few paint touch-ups, installing our new lighting, and adding the window treatments, our little porch project is complete! We really love the result and I know we’ll be spending a lot of time out here as a family. Having an enclosed front porch is so much fun. It’s temperate, bug-free, and yet it still feels like you are able to enjoy the outdoors. Plus, it’s so nice to have a place with carpet to let Parker worm around on (he’s getting dangerously close to crawling — yikes!).

So, here is the final project. When you come in the front storm door, this is what you will see to your right:

And then, to your left is this lovely little porch swing. Oh yeah, you can bet the kiddo loves it too!
(And remember these pillows? I also covered the cushion using the same method as found in the tutorial.) 

So, that’s the porch! Feel free to stop by for some snacks and a nice chat any time!*
 

*Unless you’re a stalker, then feel free to just stay away. Thanks! :-)

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A Little Gardening

Yesterday we finally took advantage of this beautiful weather to get a little gardening done. We have very high hopes for gardening this year, which is a little intimidating since we know very little about the great outdoors. Our to-do list is fairly extensive, so we’ll see what actually gets done this planting season.

We hope to plant two trees, demo a lot of icky bushes/trees, do a ton of weeding, add a brick pathway, and landscape our front yard. In the back, we are hoping to start a vegetable garden, keep up our compost pile, and do a little landscaping. I may not be able to keep something as low maintenance as a cactus alive, but that sure isn’t slowing us down!

Every one has to start somewhere, and I decided to start on the back deck. I love adding some little spots of color to our very green backyard. Woohoo Spring!

I love looking out my huge kitchen window and seeing this planter box full of colorful flowers. And I love pansies. So, if this is the only thing that gets planted this year, I’ll probably still be happy. I just like it that much!

We always had lots of flower pots when I was growing up and I just love them. My mom studied horticulture in college, so I suppose that had something to do with it! Anyway, the previous owners of our house left behind this lovely pot and I just couldn’t keep myself from putting it to some good use. I can’t wait for the bigger plant in the back to bloom.

OK, so this isn’t exactly planting, but it is deck related so it’ll fit in with this post! We got these great little candle holders at Crate & Barrel last weekend and I think they spruce up the umbrella nicely. (Please don’t pay any attention to that unmowed grass back there. Like I said, the to-do list is long!)

 And there is my favorite little gardening buddy! I’m so happy that we get to spend some time outside and I can’t wait for him to feel the grass and dirt between his toes.

So, what are you growing this spring? Any tips for a non-gardener?

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Why Cloth?

I’m sure by now it is pretty obvious that we cloth diaper our little munchkin. The most common response to this news is, “Why in the world would you cloth diaper?”

I get it, I really do.

I used to be the incredulous person asking that question. I mean, in this day of convenient disposable diapers and diaper genies, what could possibly persuade you to choose the antiquated, stinky, and gross task of cloth diapering.

The answer is simply: the reality of cloth diapering is nothing like  that! In fact, modern cloth diapering is simple, less-stinky than disposables, and anything but gross. Not to mention earth-friendly, wallet friendly, and baby-bum friendly!

It was exactly a year ago when I first heard that people still cloth diapered. My first response was “yuck”! I didn’t give it any more thought until several other of the blogs I regularly read starting posting on the subject. Every time I heard something new about it my original questions (and fears) were quickly answered and put to rest. After several months of research and talking with hubby, we decided that this was the way for us.

We started cloth diapering when Parker was 2 weeks old. Anyone who has had a baby knows the reason why (ahem, meconium!). Parker was an average size baby, but gained weight like a superstar. By 2 weeks, he was ready to fit in the One-Size fits all Happy Heiny’s with snaps with no problem. OK, so they look huge here. But that’s what cloth diapers look like on a newborn. Hello fluffy bum!

I bet these diapers look nothing like the image you have of cloth diapering. No pins, no waterproof pants or covers, no square (and un-baby-shaped) cloths. The new cloth diapering looks a lot like disposable diapering, without the waste. They are shaped like disposables and have snap or velcro closures. They are super adjustable–to size and absorbency. You stuff them with inserts that help hold in all the moisture.

Any parent knows that having a baby means dealing with mess. Regardless whether you choose disposables or cloth diapers, you will have to deal with the big “P” word. In my experience, blowouts and leaks have been way less with the cloth, so overall, you’re dealing with poop a lot less. That’s a plus!

All right, this is a little TMI in the baby department, but I just want to share my love for cloth diapering and hope you’ll consider it too!

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Upcycled Shirts

A few weeks ago when we were having all sorts of green discussions, I brought up the subject of upcycling. It just so happens, around that same time my husband was going through his clothes and getting rid of some old stuff. In order to practice what I preach, I’m taking on the project of upcycling some of these shirts into new shirts for Parker.

I found this tutorial on Made By Rae, which takes you step-by-step through how to convert a man’s shirt into a boy’s shirt. This will work perfectly on the style of shirts that Brian is getting rid of. Looks pretty promising, eh?

Since I have 5 shirts to try this out on, hopefully one of them will come out all right! I’m using the Simplicity Pattern 3856 for the pattern of the shirt. As you know, I’m not the expert in the clothing department, so things could get interesting.

As motivated as I am to work on this project, it is a little hard to get any sewing done when the weather is so beautiful. We had dinner out on the back deck last night, and it was just so stinkin’ lovely. Our crab-apple tree is in full bloom, the lilac trees have their gorgeous flowers, the trees are getting all green, and the weather is nice and warm. It’s just unbelievable that we’ve had such a lovely spring. We like it, a lot!

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The Scoop on Beans

I’ve never really been a bean person. BBQ baked beans are great with a hot-off-the-grill burger and re-fried beans are pretty spiffy covered in cheddar cheese with some tacos, but that has been the extent of my love for the legume.

Well, lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading up on nutritional value of different foods. And let me tell you, that bean is a little powerhouse. How could I have neglected it for so long? I’m trying to find more recipes the incorporate beans because they are just so darn good for you. Let’s take Kidney beans for example:

(taken from WHFoods)

Do you see all those vitamins and minerals? Jumpin’ frijoles! The website goes onto outline all the ways in which beans are good for anyone’s diet. They help with lowering cholesterol, are great for people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and help your body to detoxify. They are also well known for aiding in digestion, preventing *ahem* back-up issues, as well as more serious bowel issues. It also lowers your chances of getting a heart attack and improves overall heart health. They are full of iron, fiber, protein, thiamin, and have very little fat. How could you not love these little powerhouses?

All that to say, I’m eating more beans lately. And since I’m trying to get away from using canned products whenever possible, I’m also cooking beans a lot more lately. And guess what? It’s super easy. With a little planning ahead, cooking your own beans is just as simple as popping open a can of beans. Just without all the preservatives. Oh, and it is a heck of a lot cheaper! Yay!

So, all you have to do is give your dried beans a good rinse, and then soak them in water. You’re going to want about 2-3x’s as much water as you have beans. Just leave them there to soak for about 8 hours. Drain the water, and then put the beans in a pot with the same amount of water as before. Now you’ll just need to bring the water to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Let your beans cook until tender. Depending on the type of bean, this is probably somewhere between 1-2 hours. That’s it! Other than moving beans from the soaking area to the cooking area, there is very little hands on work you’ll need to do.

So, what are you waiting for? Why not give the lovely, healthful, frugal bean another chance? And even if you’re not a huge fan of the taste (like me), you can definitely incorporate them in recipes to reduce their overall flavor impact. Who knows, maybe someday I won’t have to disguise them at all!

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Resuming Our Regularly Scheduled Programming . . .

OK, guys, I’m back for reals now! I am feeling much more into the swing of things and am excited to share some new recipes, thoughts, and projects with you. I’ve missed posting and, of course,  your interaction with the posts. Starting on Monday I’ll be back to posting each weekday.

Until then, I hope this picture of my soon to be 8-month old boy will satisfy!

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Knock, knock? Anyone home?

Yes, I’m still here!

Sorry about the silence. The last two days of my trip were a bit crazy and I wasn’t able to post pictures because the power was out at my parents house when I finally got a chance to put them up! So, I hope you enjoyed what I shared when I had the chance. You can tell, we had a lot of time with family and friends which was super nice.

Also, Parker had his first beach experiences and is definitely a fan! Now I can’t wait to get to the lake this summer to see what he thinks about that.

I must confess I’ve been feeling a bit out-of-the-loop with homemaking. I’m still unpacking (5 days later!) and am generally having a hard time getting back into the swing of things. I do hope to get back to regular posting soon, but it might take me another few days. Thanks for being patient with me!

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Family, Wedding, and a Car Trip

Spending time with Aunt Nikki, Grandma and Grandpa Hall, and Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Rowley.

Parker’s first “money dance” with my friend (and beautiful bride!) Heidi.

Jammin’ to the tunes in my parents’ motorhome as we head home after a long day.
Little man got a little hot, so he was chillin’ shirtless and groovin’ to the music.

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