Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tricky Quatrefoil Lamps

Last time my parents were in town, I let Vinny go with my stepdad to Lowe's Home Improvements. (Yes I have to say Lowe's home improvements because ours happens to be next door to a Lowe's foods...very confusing.  We call them them the Loweses)  This is a big deal because Vinny never comes back with exactly what he went in for.  Sometimes that a good thing and sometimes not so much.  This particular time, he came in with new lampshades for our bedroom.



This was particularly thoughtful because he knows how much I love the quatrefoil pattern, and this particular color. (I present as evidence this post where I made quatrefoil patterned curtains)  It took about 3 days before I realized that they weren't actually quatrefoils.  DUH.

It's actually the other pattern I considered when making the curtains, I call it firenze or a trellis pattern. (Here is the post where I talk about deciding between the 2 patterns for the curtains)  In the end, no big deal because I obviously loved both patterns.

The jury is still out on whether or not they'll stay in our bedroom though.  The new shade is a bit smaller than the old one, but I got used to that really quick.  The problem is that we're working on painting in there now (I hope to show that off soon), and I'm not convinced they still look right with the new color on the wall.

So did you notice it wasn't a quatrefoil before I admitted it, or did it fool you too?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bombs over Stella

Our home is situated about 30 minutes from 2 Marine bases.  The one to our north is primarily flight related and the one to our south, where Vinny works, is gigantic (over 100,000 acres) and includes and air station.  I thought with us living so far away we would be sort of insulated from all the military activity.  On the contrary, we're privy to flight exercises from both bases.  Resulting in this being a common sight:

And for some perspective on how far away these were:

They aren't always so far away though.  The day before, they did their turn basically in the back yard.  I was on the back porch and actually felt the wind from the helicopter blades.  Crazy!

The past few days, they've been doing some sort of bombing or artillery practice.  Sometimes it even makes the house shake.  Provides some pretty unique opportunities for sure.  So far, it hasn't been enough to bother us, just enough to be really interesting.

Have you ever been to an air show?  Have you seen the crazy airplanes with helicopter blades on the top?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Doughnut Cake

I ran across this picture from my birthday and figured I would share my birthday cake (at least a picture of it).  It looks like a giant doughnut to me.  It was a funfetti cake that Vinny made in a bunt pan (ours is a springform pan from Pampered Chef and it's pretty flat on top) iced with rainbow chip icing.

Bella and I ate half of it and then, in mourning recognition of my old age I sent the other half with Vinny to work so I wouldn't polish it off to share with his coworkers.

Anyone else want cake now?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Backyard - 1 month later

So, I hinted in my earlier post about the backyard (see it here) that we had a lot going on in the backyard.  There have been an immense number of man-hours put into cleaning up both the front and the back of the house.  My family hauled away 4 trailer loads of debris and it's perhaps about halfway finished.  I thought I would share the progress.

Panoramic Before:

Panoramic After:

The sunset wasn't quite as magnificent, and my angle was a bit off, but I think the progress is pretty clear.  Here are some single shots of the main planting area there in the center of the yard by the water:



There was poison ivy in that madness that was (no kidding) 6 inches across on the vine.  There is still some poison ivy in there, but we're trying to kill it with spray instead of pulling.  Luckily, so far I've only managed a small area of it.  The downside was that small area happened to be on my face.  Oh well, can't win them all.

Have you ever faced down poison ivy?  Any tips, besides don't burn it, or touch it...or take a hot bath after contact with it?

Friday, July 22, 2011


My stepfather bought me a hummingbird feeder for my birthday after noticing hummingbirds feeding on some flowers in our yard.  We filled it and hung it outside where we can see it both from the porch and our bedroom and we've been thrilled to watch a little hummingbird couple start making good use of it.  They make this funny little chirping sound when they come to eat that almost sounds like a squeaky hinge, so even if I'm reading a book, I usually hear them come to the feeder and am able to look up and watch them.  Even more interesting is watching them eat and then go perch in a nearby tree.  They move so quickly and are so tiny, that I have never seen (or noticed at least) one perched before.  I managed to sneak a shot of one late in the afternoon.

I look forward to trying to get more shots of these little ones.  Wish me luck!

Have you ever seen a hummingbird perch?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New family photos are here!

I finally got around to photoshopping and going through all the family photos we took with the Howell family before we left.  And by that, I mean I took photos of their family and then Stefanie took photos of our family.  Yay free photography shoot!

It was before I got my hair chopped off for Locks of Love (that post is here), so they already seem a bit outdated, but we hadn't done family photos for almost a year and a half, so we were due.  So here is what we ended up with:

You know how I love to photoshop heads and faces (see my post about that here).  Can you guess which photos here I did that to?

Oh, and of course one super sweet photo of Bella and Xander, her BFF, on their way to the shoot.

How often do yo u get family photos done?  What are your favorite places to take photos of your family?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nature Table - Cicadas

Rather than create a nature tray for Bella, I'm letting ours evolve naturally.

It all started when I found a few cicada exoskeletons in the bushes.  For those of you who live where these guys aren't native, they shed their exoskeletons in the summer and it leaves behind a perfect little model of what the bug used to look like.  They also make crazy loud noises in their mate search.

It surprised me that Bella wasn't squeamish about touching them once she saw me do it.  Here's the video of her seeing them for the first time:

And for those of you who don't want to do video, here are some stills:

Though from time to time she squeezes a bit too hard and a piece breaks off and she gets a little worried.

How were you with bugs when you were a kid?  Did you love em or hate them or did it depend on what it was?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dear Xander.1

Bella wanted to do a little video letter to her best buddy, Xander, in Rhode Island, who sent her a really sweet package of gifts the other day, including a photo album and some additions to our object boxes.

Bella: That's me!
Mommy: That's you and who?
Bella: Xander!
Mommy: Xander?  Is Xander your best friend?
Bella: Yeah.
Thank you for the presents.
I miss you Xander.
Xander's my best friend.
Aww, how cute!
Aww, how cute!
Aww, how cute!
Thank you for the photo album!
Come see us soon!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dangers of the Deep...and Shallow

As much as we love living on the water, the river has proven to be a formidable adversary.  While it's wide, it's pretty shallow, even at hide tide.  You can go out as far as the end of a dock and still only be chest high (and I'm short, so that's saying something).  It isn't fresh water, and it isn't salt water.  The word that gets thrown around a lot is 'brackish' - meaning sorta salty and sorta fresh.  So that means we get the best and worst of both worlds.

The first enemy we encountered was the oysters.  Yeah, they seem all innocuous, but those shells are sharp!  Vinny cut his foot really badly the first time he went out because he wasn't wearing water shoes.  So we got him water shoes, and an oyster managed to cut through the sole of the shoe, through the insole and cut him anyway.  So we have to try to get some better water shoes.  Bella has the nice Keen sandals, so she hasn't gotten any cuts on the bottoms of her feet, but she's gotten cut on her ankle above the shoe (the oyster clump in groups so they are sometimes a few inches high) and on her hand when she fell in the water.  So we're hoping to get a clam rake to start clearing them out a bit so we can go out a little more.

My brothers have seen crabs and stingrays in the water.  I haven't seen the stingrays but I believe it.  So I shuffle when I walk.  The crabs are pretty scared and run away, so not too much trouble out of them unless you corner them.

The storms here roll in really fast and hard.  It can go from clear skies to huge thunderstorm in a matter of 15 minutes.  It hasn't really been a problem for us except when we were moving in (see a bit about that here), but  our neighbors had their boat sink a few nights ago.  It's a small fishing boat, so I think the rain and waves just overtook it.  It was tied to the dock, so they were able to bail it out and get it floating again, but the motor has to be cleared of water before it goes anywhere again.

As a continuation of that, let's go with the dangers of shifting sand and corrosive salt water.  The neighbors asked to use our boat ramp to pull their waterlogged boat out of the water to take it to the shop.  There is a small  (ok, probably 6 inch) dip between the end of the boat ramp and the bottom of the river.  We got the boat loaded onto the trailer, and as it pulled out of the water, we watched in slow motion as the trailer literally fell apart.  The axle came off, the struts snapped (they were rusty from the salt water, which is quite corrosive) and the trailer was officially defunct.  Vinny helped them a few days later literally strap the axle onto the frame with rope and drive it slowly and carefully to into town to be worked on.  It was like watching a train wreck.  Crazy-cakes.

And now we come to our most recent realization of danger: jellyfish.  It seems that it's sort of hit or miss as to what's out in the water, but this weekend, Bella unfortunately discovered jellyfish.  After she got stung by the jellyfish, I got her in, poured vinegar on the stings, got her washed with cool water and then hit the stings with neosporin spray (that had a numbing ingredient) and then with a steroid cream (like hydrocortisone).  They looked awful:
right foot, immediately after a jellfish sting

Right thigh, immediately after a jellyfish sting

right hand, immediately after jellyfish sting

I gave her some tylenol and put her down for a nap right after to give the medicine some time to kick in and the stings time to die down.  She was much better after an hour, though I'm sure they still stung a bit.  Today they don't seem to bother her at all.  She's just asked about the marks.

right thigh, the day after a jellyfish sting

right foot, the day after a jellyfish sting
In an act of retribution, we caught one of the jellyfish and made it pay for her pain in a bucket in the hot sun.  Not very big of us, but nobodything hurts our baby and gets away with it.

Vinny and a few other people visiting also got stung, but the stings seemed to affect each person a bit differently.  Vinny didn't even get red where they stung.

Not quite sure when we'll venture out again.  Our luck, we'll run across sharks! Da-dum...da-dum...dadum dadum dadum dadum...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Twinkle Twinkle Little Starfish

One of the decorative things I have always loved in waterfront homes is the use of finger starfish.  And I found the perfect place in this home for a row of starfish.  Here is the finished product (read on to see how I made it):

I started with a run to Lowes.  I got the board there ( it was 1" x 8" x 4' and I had them cut it down there to 36" so it was about the same width as a door) and the paint (Olympic's 'Spa' color which is a nice low VOC paint).  The starfish are not actual starfish but decorative replicas that I picked up at Michaels for around $3 each.

I took the board out to the porch and placed it on newspaper to catch any paint:

I wanted to make sure there were no rough edges so I used some fine grit sandpaper to sand all the edges then I wiped down the whole board with a wet newspaper to get off any dust:

Then it was time to paint!  I just got a little sample container of the color (which is also the color I want to paint our kitchen hopefully this will be a nice color tie in) which I shook before opening:

Then I painted the first coat on trying to do it evenly and with long strokes.  I also painted all the edges:

Here is the board drying after the first coat:

I let that dry and then added a second coat of paint.  Here it is after the second coat:

After it dried, the board was stuck to the newspaper with paint (oops). So I had to take an exacto knife (one made by Martha Stewart that I got at Michaels that Vinny affectionately calls 'the shank') around the edge to free it up and clean up the edges.  We screwed a picture hanger to the back of the board for hanging.  Then I measured to make sure the center starfish was centered on the board and I hot glued the starfish into place.  Up went a hook, and it was done!

Here it is in the daylight and at night. 

 I love it.  And I'm loving the color too.  Makes me want to go start ripping off wallpaper!  

What other decorations do you think of when you think of a beach house?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

House Tour: Guest Bedroom

So you guessed it, here is the new guest bedroom!  (To see more of our home, check out our other rooms.  The master bedroom is here, the entryway is here, Bella's bedroom is here, and the classroom is here.)

Here is the room we now use as a guest bedroom before, when we were househunting:

And here is a similar shot later in the day on 7/7/11:

We love the view we're able to offer guests of the river, and the silk curtains can be closed, which makes the room really comfy for taking a nap midday (I'm looking at you Nanny and Papa!) or for sleeping in.

Here are a few more shots of the room.

The big dachshund print was nice to take up some space on that huge empty wall, but hopefully we'll eventually find something more appropriate.

We also took some time to put a bunch of travel sized shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and oral hygiene supplies in separate little cloth containers in the linen closet with the towels in case one of our guests forgets something.  Plus, it's nice to feel that hoarding all those little bottles will actually seem classy at some point.

So there is the guest bedroom, who's coming to visit next?  How many little bottles of shampoo and such do you have hoarded away?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my 30th birthday.  I haven't quite figured out how I feel about this yet, so until I do, I'm going to think birthday=awesome.

I already blogged about my birthday present from Vinny (read about that here) and I've been using it a lot.

My family came last weekend and got me an ice cream maker that we've been putting to good use.  They also helped me do a TON of yardwork and get the yard looking good.  I promise I'll post about that soon, I'm just still tinkering a bit out there.  We had an awesome lunch with all of my favorite foods from childhood and we took a walk down memory lane looking through old photos.

But my favorite thing so far has been this:

Bella apparently thought the candles on the cake (rice pudding actually) were also edible.  The little teeth marks crack me up.

How did you take your 30th birthday?  Or, if you haven't hit it yet, are you dreading it or looking forward to it?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Overheard.5 - Officer not in charge

Monday morning was Vinny's first official 'check in' with the Navy for his duty.  So he was up early to get his uniform on and to make sure everything was perfect.

Bella: Oooooh...what's that? (pointing to his uniform)
Vinny: It's my uniform.  Do I look like an officer now?
Bella: No, you look like a Daddy.

Guess we all know who the real officer is in our house :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Master bedroom

Moving on to the master bedroom now... (There is more to tour!  To see our classroom, click here.  To see our entryway, click here. To see our guest bedroom, click here)

Here's a shot of the downstairs master bedroom before we moved in:
And here is the same angle on 7/7/11 (a little later at night):

Nice and cozy feeling, right?

And again, a before from the other side of the room:

And a few shots from that side on 7/7/11:

We're still thinking that we'll paint that room a nice soft blue, but it already feels like home with just a few of our photos and our furniture.

OK, now a before shot of one of the 2 identical closets:

And now my closet and then Vinny's closet. 

It's official that I have too many shoes and formal dresses, and the shot of Vinny's really makes it sink in that he's in the military

Now a before of the big master jacuzzi (surrounded by crazy amounts of mirrors):

And now the tub with all of our blue glass around it...magnified by the mirrors:

I'm thinking we'll maybe use temporary tile decals to cover all that pink sometime soon.

And this is the supply shelves in the bathroom, which were an utter mess once I put all of our stuff on them.

So I added a tension rod with one of our extra curtains to cover it all up and give it some glam.

So that's where the current master suite sits now.  What do you think?