Thursday, December 31, 2009


Happy New Year!!!!!!

I'm skipping a bunch of posts that I will eventually go back to (Rosemary's second birthday, Christmas, and other fun things we've been up to in December) because I realized tonight that it is not only a new year, but a new DECADE as well! (edit: I stand corrected. Technically, the next decade doesn't begin until next year. Alas, I am treating this as a new decade. I've entered a new decade in my life, and I could use the change so why not?) The last time it was a new decade was also a new millenium. There was all that Y2K hype and people were stock piling canned goods in the event there was a major crisis. Obviously there was no global crisis (though the State Library of Florida's av system did experience a minor malfunction that was since corrected). Here are my highlights (and there are many) from the past decade:

- Celebrated New Years 2000 in Jackson Square in New Orleans!!!! I had the most awesome gold and black dress. It was bitchin!
- Southwest Odyssey Road Trip. I can't believe it's been 10 years. I'm still scrapbooking this trip! We drove from Jacksonville, Florida to New Mexico. It was the most amazing trip of our lives (and we've since traveled all over Europe as well). We saw the mystery lights of Marfa, Texas, Smoky the Bear's home, had a conversation about the subtelties of French cuisine with a truck driver and a true local Texan, saw the sunset over the Grand Canyon, hiked into the Grand Canyon, saw so many amazing sights and met so many amazing people.
- First career as a library technical assistant. I think I should have gotten my MLS. Perhaps one day....
- Got married. That was a biggie!
- Between Joe and I, we received 4 college degrees.
- Moved to Tampa.
- Traveled to the Czech Republic. Words cannot explain how beautiful this country is. We WILL return!
- Traveled to Europe (12 countries in 14 days). Awe-inspiring.
- Spent Christmas in London.
- Got my masters in elementary education and worked in an inner-city school, and for the first time in my life, my optimism turned to heartache, which turned to anger. It's been 2 years and I'm just now coming out of my shock at how the atrocity that living in poverty can affect children. And still looking for a way of making it all better. I will find a way. Though perhaps it will be behindd a library desk ;)
- A couple cruises, road trips, and many miscellaneous vacations (including a baby moon in Duck, NC).
- Bought a house.
- Added a baby to our family. Rosemary is the best thing ever to happen to us!
- I became a stay-at-home mom. I love my job.

Joe and I had a brief discussion tonight and decided that there is NO way to top the decade we've had. But we both agree, the most wonderful thing is that we've shared it together. We are blessed to have each other. And if the next decade holds less stamps in our passport and less mileage on our cars, at least it will hold more memories of our family, which is the most important thing.

My New Year's Resolutions:

Personal Improvement:
- Get more exercise, sleep, and improve posture.
- Do a better job at reaching out to people I care about.
- Remain positive no matter what challenges I may face.

- Learn some new cooking techniques and recipes.
- Continue improving the organization in my house.
- Paint the living room.
- Add curb appeal by figuring out what to do with the front beds.

I don't know what the new year (or new decade!) holds for me and my family, but I am sure whatever it is, it will be wonderful. I am truly blessed. I always thought if I ever wrote an autobiography, it would be called "Lucky." If the past year has taught me anything, it is that you need to let the people close to you know how you feel. So, anyone who took the time to read this- Thank You, whoever you are.

West Virginia

I have tons to catch up on and thankfully I'm ending the year with a working camera so I can do it all in pictures! First up, West Virginia!

It was a looooong car ride. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving we loaded up my parents mini-van with luggage and Christmas gifts and headed up to West Virginia. Luckily there were enough people to split the driving time so my dad and Joe alternated. We also decided to make the drive over two days, eight hours a day, rather than one long stretch. We did get pretty cozy in the good old Honda Odyssey. Here's a pic of Romy playing with the phone:

That night we stayed at an awesome new Marriott outside Charlotte, NC. They had a game room complete with a Wii and a poker table. After a few hands of poker, my parents volunteered to put Rosemary to sleep while Joe and I played some mean games of tennis, bowling and bowling. He kicked my butt, but he was gentlemanly enough to let me win a time or two.
The next day we finally made it to Berkeley Springs. Here's a picture of the stream you have to cross to get to my sister's little chalet on Sleepy Creek Mountain. Her house is absolutely amazing. I don't have any good pictures of it so you'll just have to take my word. It's a little log cabin on 5 acres that she has transformed with her nursery and gardens into a little wonderland.

While my sister and brother-in-law are reason enough to make the drive, the real star of the trip was little Malachite Sky. What a sweet baby boy! While he may not look so happy in this picture of the happy grandparents with their grandkids, this was one of the few times he cried during our two days up there. He is a little dream.
I'm not the only one who feels that way. We dressed them up in matching Christmas pjs and Rosemary did not stop kissing him long enough to get a picture of both of their faces! I think she's a little smitten with her cousin! Could that be a sign to me and Joe that perhaps she's ready for a sibling?
Aunt Terra has a trampoline on her land so we had a little family-time on it. This is one of my favorite pictures from this year and it made it onto our Christmas card.
This is the only picture I got of my sister and I with our babies. I think it's kind of cute!
We did Christmas that night. Terra got Rosemary and I a YogaKids dvd that I really wanted! Now that we're home, I put it in and we do a little yoga after breakfast each morning.
Rosemary really loves her yoga. She set up the teddy bear my brother-in-laws family got her and her Sleeping Beauty doll my mom gave her into downward dog position and then climbed up on the table and joined them. She's a little hoot! But if you tell her that, she'll say "I'm not a hoot, I'm a baby."

We had an incredible time in West Virginia. Berkeley Springs can only be described as a place right out of a Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas movie. A small art and spa town, history is everywhere! George Washington was one of the original surveyers. The small downtown area is adorable. The mountains are majestic. It even has a castle. Joe and I fell in love with it and have been fighting the urge to pack up and move the family ever since we got back. But, alas, timing is everything, and for some reason something is keeping us in Tampa for now. Perhaps that something could be a good job and a house. That whole responsibility thing is kind of a drag. At least we have a reason (or two or three) to go back. I hope it won't be too long before we can see Malachite again. He is precious!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rosemary update

I know, I still haven't updated with pics of our West Virginia adventure. But I just had to share my happy news!

Rosemary had her 2 year checkup today. My baby that once lost so much weight that we were freaking out and having weight checks several times a week is now in the 75th-90th percentile! All that hard work paid off! I'm so happy to have a healthy, happy big girl! I couldn't be a happier mom after that news!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


We finally got home from our Thanksgiving in Jax with my parents and in-laws and our early-Christmas celebration in West Virginia with my sister and family. I just finished downloading 155 pictures. There's no way I'd be able to put up all the pictures so I chose just a few from Thanksgiving for now. It was a really nice Thanksgiving. As always my mom went all out with the dinner. This year, however, she had some help. Here's a picture of Rosemary rolling out the pie crust.

While the food was cooking, my mom, mother-in-law, and I made Rosemary a candy cane tutu! I've been wanting to get one made for this year. Rosemary loved it! Here she is spinning! Oh- and we had enough tulle leftover so we made her a bow for her hair, too.

My mom, the genius that she is, also made us these adorable turkey aprons. She didn't use a pattern, she just made them up herself. I think she needs to sell them next year.
We all ate WAY too much food, watched lots of Lifetime Christmas movies, and did nothing but relax. Rosemary loved the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade- she started clapping when Santa came on!
After the Thanksgiving celebration settled down, Joe, Rosemary, my mom, my dad, and I all made ourselves very comfortable in their minivan and drove up to West Virginia to meet Malachite. Pictures from that adventure will come next. I need to go rest!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A family weekend

Beginning in June, this ended up being the busiest year ever in the Bailey household! Summer vacations, weddings, weekend getaways, camping trips, and lots of time with friends and family have made this a very blessed year. This trend isn't ending with the holidays coming upon us. In two days we're heading to Jacksonville to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, in-laws, and hopefully see some extended family and friends while up there. Then we're leaving straight from there to West Virginia to celebrate an early Christmas with my sister, brother-in-law, and my brand-new nephew! A couple days after getting home, we're celebrating Rosemary's second birthday and before we know it, it'll be Christmas!

We've also been making the most of our down-time. After almost two years of searching, I finally found a baby hiking backpack on craigslist for only $15! I didn't want to buy a new one because I figured we'd only use it a few times and couldn't justify the price, but I've been aching to get back on the trails (Joe and I were occasional day-hikers before embarking on our parenthood journey and our recent camping trip has made me all the more determined to get back out there!). We picked it up yesterday and tested it with a couple walks around the block. Rosemary loved it. No, you don't understand. She LOVED it. She repeated "I love it" over and over and over as we were walking and refused to get out when we got home! So we decided not to waste any time trying it out. We found a local 1.5 mile trail (it might take some practice carrying a 27 pound child around and we didn't want to risk going on anything longer) and headed out to Brooker Creek Preserve in nearby Tarpon Springs. I didn't check the weather forecast before leaving the house and noticed some clouds on our drive up there. Joe said, "Yeah, it's probably going to rain. I checked this morning." Um, given our track record (our last hike found us huddled on a picnic table surrounded by very threatening-looking owls and critters in a booming, earth-shaking thunderstorm while at Hillsborough River State Park. It made for a great story for my 4th graders at the time, but is not something I want to relive, especially with an almost-2-year-old in tow) I was a little miffed that he had not shared this bit of research with me. But all was well and it didn't rain a drop and we enjoyed an easy hike- well, easy for me, Joe had the backpack with the little one on!- in a beautiful, peaceful setting.

The trail starts with a nice boardwalk leading to an education center (which was closed on Sundays, but don't worry, we'll be back!). There are interpretive signs describing the Tarpon Springs watershed and some of the local flora and fauna, and really cool artwork. My favorite had symbols adorning a half-arch. My interpretation was that it showed the relationship between humans and nature. There were symbols showing humans (a fingerprint), animals (one that looked like a fish scale to represent aquatic animals, and one that looked like a wing), plants (symbol that looked like branches), and one to represent the sun (a series of circles). I'll have to take a better picture next time. It was really cool. We headed out to the trail- the trailhead starts where the boardwalk ends. We chose to go on the 1.5 mile Wilderness Trail, though there were both shorter and longer trails to choose from (actually, the longer trail was currently closed due to flooding). The trail we went on wound through several ecosystems and there were some interpretive signs explaining the differences. Rosemary kept asking "What's that?" so we made a game of pointing out and counting pine cones. That little girl has a good eye! She found pine cones hidden underneath brush that Joe and I could barely see! After finishing our hike, we headed to the picnic tables to eat some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and apples before heading home. Rosemary did so well that she got a lollipop. And we learned that she takes after her father and doesn't like butterscotch, so mommy actually ate the lollipop! It was a gorgeous day for a hike (one of the benefits of living in Florida is that it's the end of November and it was in the high 70s- if you can make it through the nasty, humid summers, it's actually pretty nice this time of year!). Here are some pictures to enjoy if you've sat through all this!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The big 3-0

I did it! I made it to 30! I wanted to spend the day doing my two favorite things: spend time with my family and travel the world. We saved on airfare and lodging by making the hour and a half drive to Orlando to spend the day at EPCOT. The first (and luckily only) mishap that occured as soon as we walked through the gates was my camera unfortunately broke. Yes, the second camera I bought in the past couple weeks. So I wasn't able to get too many pictures. Joe got more than I did but he's back to work so it might take a while before they're downloaded and I can steal them to post all the funny pictures of me in crazy hats and standing in every country we visited.

Let me backup. We started the day with an uber-healthy breakfast of red velvet birthday cake made my amazing friend and cake-maker extroidinaire, Kara (thank you again!).
When we finally made it to Epcot we started at the new Nemo exhibit for Rosemary's sake. Joe and I ended up loving it! After a boat ride trying to "Find Nemo", we checked out Disney's awesome aquarium that includes a dolphin and a manatee rescue tank. By then we were all ready for lunch so we started to begin "traveling the world" as we told Rosemary who repeated it every time we left from one country to another! We made our way to Paris to eat lunch in the Boulangerie Patisserie. I had a ham tartine (fancy word for pizza), Joe had some quiche, and we all shared a creme brulee. We then spent the day wandering the shops in Japan, scouring Italy for Pocket Coffee (a tasty treat we picked up when we were actually in Italy that we have been unable to find anywhere in the States, and unfortuntaly had no luck at Epcot, either), taking a river boat cruise through Old Mexico, and awed by the amazing Relfections of China panorama film. I was able to replace my Notre Dame keychain that I bought in the real Paris 4 years ago and that has since broken with an Eiffel Tower keychain (that broke today at the bank ;(). I don't have much luck with cameras or keychains. I also bought myself a Murano glass necklace. I always regretted not getting on when we were in Venice and I think I paid twice as much getting it at Epcot, but at least I now have it! It was a wonderful day. We stayed until after the fireworks show, which as a perfect ending to our perfect day. It did whet my appetite for a real European trip, but I think it was an adequate substitute. Rosemary did a great job in the car and I can't guarantee that she would do as well in a trans-Atlantic flight. Oh, and that whole cost of a plane ticket thing is a bit of a deterent as well ;). I wish I had more pictures, but I'll update when Joe gets his uploaded. For now here's one of France I was able to get out of my malfunctioning camera:
I was really tired when I wrote this last night and I forgot about the most fun part! We ate dinner at the Biergarten Restaurant in Germany. All the reviews I found said they had nothing for kids, but Rosemary proved them wrong!!!! It was a gastronomic joyfest for her! She ate a roasted chicken leg, pickled herring, sauerkraut, sausage, dumplings, pot roast, salmon with a dill sauce, and various other German delicacies. I don't know any other almost-2-year-old who will eat all of that! The only thing she wouldn't eat was lettuce from the salad! They also had live music and she loved dancing to it. Our waiter brought me a birthday card and a gingerbread man cookie. It was family style and we were seated with a family from Alabama. It made for a fun and interesting meal that we will most definitely do again!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Happy Campers!

I'm happy to report that the Bailey family is full of happy campers! So happy, in fact, that we decided to make it a semi-annual event!

We arrived at St. George Island State Park just before the sunset and set up camp.

Then the amazing Jesse and Tammy cooked the best camp food I have ever had. Our dinner was grilled salmon, green beans, and rice. It was ah-mazing!!!!

It was pretty chilly that night so we warmed ourselves by the campfire and roasted some marshmallows.

We also decided to walk down to the beach to check out the view. And it was worth it! The moonlight shimmering on the ocean was pretty darn amazing.

We did eventually head back to camp and get some sleep while the raccoons invaded our camp and sprinkled our trash all about. I heard them in our camp and I swear there was one crawling up our tent. Joe woke up bright and early and cleaned up what he could.

Rosemary, of course, insisted on her morning yoga routine.

After breakfast (another delicious meal of cheese grits, bagels, bacon, and eggs by Tammy and Jesse) we walked to the beach again. It was pretty chilly and we were having a great time until Rosemary decided to jump in the water! It was way too cold to leave her in her wet clothes so Joe ran back to camp to get a change while Tammy wrapped her up in the blanket. She ended up falling asleep like that with Jesse holding her. It was right at that moment that my brand new camera died! Tammy came to my rescue and let me borrow her camera for the rest of the trip and I did replace it once we got back home.

We somehow lucked out and found out this was butterfly migration season. I'm talking about thousands of butterflies! It was amazing (I seem to be using this word a lot lately!). We walked to the playground that connects to a hiking trail and they were everywhere. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven! All that effort I've been putting into attracting butterflies into my yard for the past two years and here they all seem to be in one place created by Mother Nature! Just amazing. There was also wild rosemary everywhere you looked. I tried getting a picture of my Wild Rosemary next to the wild rosemary, but the best I could do was getting her smelling it.

We went back to camp after this and I took a nap while the troops played what I found out was an epic football game that Rosemary is still talking about! I liked my nap, though.

After another great dinner of mac n cheese, Jesse's ridiculously good habanero chicken, and corn on the cob, we all piled into the Perkin's tent, which is actually big enough that I think I could actually live in it for an extended length of time, and played Scattergories. Thanks Alina for bringing that! Rosemary got a little tired so Joe put her down and we moved the party back to the campfire to roast some marshmallows. The raccoon family from the previous night made an appearance. They certainly weren't shy. One got uncomfortably close to me. If it weren't for the mesh on the beach chairs we brought with us I think I would have run! After some more marshmallows and conversation Joe and I retired to the tent to join our sleeping beauty.

This was the gorgeous site I woke up to the next morning. Rosemary is in the habit of always having something to say right when she wakes up in the morning. That morning I was greeted with "I like to camp. Where's my other sock? [one sock slipped off during the night] Maybe under the bag? Where are my friends?" So I took my cutie patootie to the campfire that was already roaring and had yet another cheese grits, eggs, bacon, and egg breakfast before packing up and heading home. It was the best camping trip we have ever had. I was nervous about how Rosemary would handle it, but she was a trooper. More than a trooper. She loved it! I can't wait for our next camping trip!!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

New camera

In honor of the big upcoming 3-0, I got myself an early birthday present. Actually, it's going to be a gift from my parents but I bought it a little early so I could have it for our camping trip. A new camera! I ended up getting a Fuji Finepix J38. Rosemary and I took it out for a test drive today. Here's my little cutie patootie on the playground in our neighborhood, playing with the mulch.

I couldn't have gotten it at a better time. November just ended up jam-packed with plans almost every day! This weekend is our camping trip, next week Joe's going to California so I'm going to spend a few days in Jax, next Friday we're entertaining some friends, we're spending my birthday at Epcot (I'll get to spend my 30th in Paris after all ;)), parents and in-laws for Thanksgiving, and then we're going up to West Virginia to meet my little nephew Malachite!!! Yay!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The many adventures of the Bailey family

Joe and I were avid travelers before embarking on this fascinating journey called "Parenthood." While we traded touring castles in the Bohemian countryside for exploring the kid's museums in our own backyard and wine tasting in St. Goar for milk shopping trips to Super Target, that doesn't mean we can't occasionally venture out and explore the great outdoors for a super awesome family vacation! We don't even need to leave the country this time! We're heading up north to St. George, near our former dwelling place in Tallahassee, for a camping trip extroidinaire! We're packing up one tent, three sleeping bags (including one really cool Popple sleeping bag for Miss Romy on loan from our good friend Nikki), and a truckful of miscellaneous camping supplies and caravaning it up on Friday with four friends in tow. Hopefully I'll be updating soon with details of our trip, maybe complete with some pictures (still don't have that new camera, but my birthday is coming up). I haven't been this excited about anything in so long!!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An apology

I mentioned in my last post that I am on a constant journey of self-improvement. One thing I've done since I graduated from college that is so rude is interrupt people when they're talking. I realized I was doing it over 7 years ago and have been working on it ever since, but still I find myself constantly talking over people. Believe me, I don't think what I have to say is more important than anyone else and I certainly don't think what you have to say is any less important. It is a very rude habit that it very hard to break! I just have a lot to say! It's like I have an internal voice box that never stops and when I'm around other people it gets on stage and has it's moment to shine. I've been trying to be a better listener. I'm continuing to work on it. Maybe one day you'll have a conversation with me and I will let you get a whole thought in. I sincerely apologize to everyone I come across. Lately I've started writing again (both on public forums such as this blog and in my private journal) and I think it has helped a lot. Getting my thoughts out of my head and onto paper (or a keyboard) tones down that urgent need to shout every thought I have across the rooftops! So, please bare with me as I continue to improve. And if you have something you really want to say, I won't be terribly offended if you just say, "Wait, wait, let me finish!"

edit: I have been consciously working on this and I do think I'm getting better! I still do it, but I catch myself a lot more now and stop it when I see myself doing it. I'll keep working on it!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Making a home

I've gone without a digital camera with working flash for the majority of the summer. I didn't mind so much in the beginning because I figured I could still take pictures outside and we had Joe's super duper Nikon to take the good shots. But then today I was looking at pictures of my beautiful Rosemary that were taken in the past couple weeks and realizing how much I'm missing! She's almost 21 months old now and every day she seems to leave the baby stages behind a little more and embrace her ladyhood. So I'm prioritizing our spending and have decided the time has come to invest in a new camera. This will also mean more pics on here of all the lovely little things I'm doing around the house. In the past couple weeks I rearranged the guest/craft room, cleared off clutter from the entertainment unit in the living room and added some picture frames and other clutter-free decor, rearranged furniture, and in general have made the house more liveable. I've also decided that this blog should be about more than just the house. I found so many inspiring blogs about people clearing clutter from their lives and homes and pushing aside the materialism that our society is so consumed with to focus on the important things- most importantly, family. So this blog will be about all the little ways that I'm making my house a home.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Instead of decorating....

I usually like to get one thing for around the house or garden each paycheck. But sometimes you just see something you HAVE to have. We've been planning on building Rosemary a sandbox in the shape of a sailboat for months. We figured once fall came around and it wasn't so sweltering we'd get started on it. But a couple days ago we were at BJs and saw this on clearance for half price and knew we wouldn't be able to make it for cheaper (after the cost of lumber, tools, and all the little things that go into it). So now we have a Big Top Sandbox hiding out in our garage until December for Rosemary's birthday present this year. We bought a swing a few months ago that we're going to build a frame for, and make her a whole backyard play area! Can't wait!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Slipcovered Chair

I couldn't find a before picture that showed the entire chair, but this at least gives you an idea of what it looked like before slipcovered. And I can't get over how tiny little Rosemary is in this picture! She must have been about 3 months old! (I'm not sure what happened to the picture that was here. It think it was eaten by the blogspot monster.)And here is the after! I hate that the print doesn't show up well in pictures. It's such a beautiful fabric!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bedroom Redo

When we moved into the house, we didn't have a lot of time to get our master bedroom set up. We pretty much just threw the bed in, stuffed the closet full of clothes and shoes, and used the rest of the room as storage space for furniture and "stuff" that had no other place. I finally decided it was time to make it a more relaxing space where we could escape the chaos of the rest of the house which has been pretty much taken over by baby toys. When I asked Joe what he wanted when it came to redecorating the house he said "zen." I'm trying to accomplish this in the bedroom by adding as much feng shui as possible. We started by clearing out any clutter that didn't belong. I gave an old two-seater to my mother-in-law and was able to find homes for other miscellaneous "stuff" either under the bed or in the guest room (which I will have to tackle eventually because it's becoming the new storage space). Then we replaced the bright blue walls from the previous owners a relaxing gray. We got new bedding and nightstands from IKEA (thanks to my in-laws!). We were looking at beds and after much deliberation I decided to make a headboard instead of buying one. I love the upholstered headboards but didn't love the price. I also love anything that gives me a project or a way of personalizing my space and I thought making an upholstered headboard would be a lot of fun. Then I moved a bookshelf from our guest room into the bedroom and repainted it the same gray as the walls to give it a built-in look so it didn't distract from the rest of the room. My mom and I also created a sitting corner by slipcovering an old recliner using the same fabric as the headboard.

Here are some pics of the results thus far:

After. This was a special project for my mom and me. We used a $5.99 piece of plywood from Lowe's. Layered it with foam (2 yards of 1/2 inch foam for $19.98 at Joann, but we had a coupon so it was about $12), batting (about $3 on sale at Joann), and after searching for hours at Joann for fabric I liked, I eventually found a sheet at Ross that spoke to me for $7.99! So the entire cost of the headboard (including the screws and hooks to hang it, which were about $10 total) was about $40! Our goal was $25, but I think we still did pretty good!

We slipcovered the chair in the same fabric (we searched at several Ross's before giving up and finally found the same sheets so we had enough to slipcover the chair!). I don't have pics of it, but hopefully I'll get some soon.

Here's a view of the back wall. The screen came from Hobby Lobby. My mom found it for about $50, which is a steal! It's hiding Rock Band instruments that have no other place to go. I think it adds a perfect zen, feng shui'd element to the room! The bookshelf on the other side of the wall is the one we painted. I'm thinking of getting a vase with some orange flowers for the top. The red curtain went with our former bedding set. I'm searching for black and white curtains to replace it with, but haven't seen any I like, so we're just going to live with it for a while. It's a blackout curtain, so at least it keeps the room dark! I wish I had a picture of my sitting corner!

Some things we still need to do in the bedroom:
-new curtain rods and curtains
-wall art

Kitchen Window Seat

I was super lucky this week to have my parents in town to help me with some of my ideas for projects around the house. We accomplished a few huge things in the kitchen and bedroom!

My number one biggest complaint about our house is the lack of storage. I have utilized every inch of space- from under my bed to the attic- and still have trouble finding places to store my kitchen gadgets, platters, and miscellaneous "stuff." Every couple months I got through my kitchen cabinets and drawers and reorganize so that I can access the things I use most often- like the platters I've used when entertaining this summer- and put other things that don't get used as often- such as my Christmas serving trays- out of the way. About a week ago I decided that a storage bench under the windows in my kitchen would really help out. All I had to do was mention it and within minutes my dad had the measuring tape out and rough plans drawn up and the bench was started! Here is my kitchen before, with basically wasted space under the windows:

Here are some work in progress shots. I think Rosemary really likes it!

The first picture above shows my dad in the assembly phase. Don't worry, I didn't just stand there and take pictures. I helped. I got to apply the glue and even used the drill to add the lid and hinges! We put it under the windows before painting it to take some last measurements before adding the trims. Rosemary immediately lifted her arms and said "baby sit?" We put her up here and opened the blinds and she had a whole new view of the world! I think this is going to be her favorite spot!

Here is the masterpiece after a few coats of paint and trim added. The details aren't very clear in the picture, but it looks so good. There is a decorative trim added to the lid and the moulding around the bottom matches the baseboards in the kitchen. We also took this opportunity to strip and repaint most of the baseboard in the kitchen before making the bench a permanent built-in structure. I wish I took better before and after pictures (thanks to my dad who let me borrow his camera!) because this window bench makes the whole kitchen feel so much bigger! I was afraid it would have the opposite effect, but I absolutely love it! It's already full of things that were taking up space in other places and I was even able to clear a spot off the shelves in my bedroom closet that had been holding platters and gravy bowls!

Some work we have left to do in the kitchen:
-make cushions for the top of the box
-raise the curtains
-eventually repaint and redo the theme of the kitchen, but for now I'm enjoying my yellow whimsical rooster theme!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Home and Garden

You may be thinking, why start another blog, Wendy? You have a facebook, a myspace, a twitter, a blog for your shop (Rosemary's Closet), and several now-defunct blogs where you post random thoughts that really only appeal to you. Do you really need yet another venue for expressing yourself? Well, actually, yes I do. But thanks for asking!

So, you say you need another blog. Why, exactly? Well, I'll tell you. My husband of 7 years and I bought our first house almost exactly two years ago (I believe we actually closed on the house July 22 or something close to that, 2007.) A couple months later we had our first baby. We learned very quickly that going from childless and renting a rather spacious, maintenance-free townhouse to parents and homeowners of a very tiny house with a very big yard at the exact same time was a BIG undertaking that we were not at all prepared for. We were blessed with a gorgeous baby girl plagued with colic for the first several months of her life- meaning no sleep, no rest, very grumpy mommy and daddy who didn't have two minutes to even think about the house or yard. In the first year we managed to kill the yard, cultivate several species of weeds, and paint the inside of the house in colors that are so dark they made our already scarce 1400 square feet of living space feel like the walls were closing in on us. We didn't even get to unpacking roomfuls of boxes that were now forced to take up residence in the garage and guest room/office/craft room/gym. That colicy baby is now a year and a half old and we are pleased to report that she is now a happy, beautiful toddler that every once in a while allows mommy and daddy a few minutes to devote to homemaking- that is, when she isn't doing something stinkingly cute.

Ok, so you bought a house that was too small for you, a yard that was too big, and have a baby. So why the blog? Two reasons. First, I've recently discovered the wonderful world of home decorating blogs. They've given me so much inspiration, and possibly by starting my own blog I can inspire someone else. Second, I'd like a way of documenting the progress made on the house. We've already put a lot of work into it and it would be nice of having a way of looking back at all we've done. I could have a scrapbook or photo album, but part of having a small space is finding ways of downsizing. Rather than having albums that require storage space, a blog takes up no room and can be brought out any time. Heck, my parents in Ponte Vedra can check out our progress from their own living room! And it cuts down on the time and mess it takes to scrapbook and the cost of having pictures printed. So I'm saving money as well as space by blogging.

Why would you need to save money? Are you living in the same economy I'm living in? My current home improvement budget is about $100 a month. That's not a lot of money. Obviously we aren't going to be doing any major renovations. We also time our home improvements according to the seasons. In the spring and summer (even these hot and humid Tampa summers) we focus on the outside. In the fall and winter we focus mostly on the inside. This is not carved in stone. We did just recently paint the bedroom and I'm sure we'll be doing some pruning in December, but overall we've learned that garden equipment and plants are readily available at certain times of year so it just makes sense to focus on the yard during those months.
Trying to make my house a home on such a small budget has many restrictions, but also forces the creative juices to flow and thinking outside the box.

What is your design philosophy? I like a mix of styles. My ideal house would be a seaside, Nantucket, forest cottage in the Bohemian countryside with a relaxing, contemporary, zen vibe where a Hobbit would feel at home. Simply Wendy.