window seat...

one project i would like to work on soon is the bay window in our living room. eventually we will replace the windows in the bay, most likely with multi-paned ones. right now it over looks the driveway, which isn't great but they do help with the light in the room a lot (which isn't a ton). we have talked about moving the gate on that side of the house forward, keeping the driveway but essentially using it as more of a patio in that section (the driveway is huge so there is plenty of room without it but we don't want to lose that access to the back yard). right now i have a small desk in the bay window but i want to build in a window seat, hopefully with storage space. my puzzle has been window treatments. this whole room still feels so bare to me. i have a pretty grey color picked out for the walls... when i can get back to painting! the other window has the curtains i made that look like this...

i was originally thinking of shades in the window but after looking around pinterest i am really liking the way curtains look and wondering if i should use the same ones or something similar. we don't have a lot of space between the windows so i'm not sure if it would seem crowded? i like the idea of the windows being uncovered unless we want them closed, it would seem to help with the light. privacy isn't a huge issue so i think they would mostly be decorative, of course that might change if you were sitting in a window seat. they would add some visual interest, but pillows on the window seat would also do that and maybe more simple sheer shades or curtains would work. it is kind of crazy how thinking about one small project can equal so many decisions to make! check out my pinterest inspiration board for some ideas. here are a few i like...

mushroom farming...

a friend of mine gave us a mushroom growing kit for christmas this year. she bought them from a local farmer who sells them at the market. i've always been fascinated with mushrooms, and love to eat them (and make them).  i was a little unsure when she gave me the kit because i tend to kill off everything that grows in my house (plant wise i mean of course). of course she handed it to me i stuck it on a shelf and promptly forgot about it for a week. oops. i started watering it more regularly after that, and that is pretty much all it needs... plenty of air, soft light, moisture, and cool temperature. pretty much nature provided most of that, i just added the water. it is essentially a plastic bag filled with all the mushroom needs otherwise, mimicking it's natural environment. there are holes in the bag, like holes in bark that the mushrooms force themselves through... literally, it sounds like a loud pop! when it happens. they come through as white balls first but then started changing to this greenish grey color which i of course mistook for mold. luckily, they are suppose to look like that! they are silver oyster mushrooms and quite beautiful. i haven't eaten one yet. i'm not exactly sure when to harvest it? the one above is the biggest so far. i don't think i have ever cooked oyster mushrooms myself. any suggestions? maybe i should make one that looks like it too!


a big part of kid's schooling at home is participating in the responsibilities of taking care of the home. like most kids their age, i assume, they have various chores they must do on a daily and weekly basis. as they get older they take on more responsibilities... not always happily of course, but they are learning that chores are a part of life. i want them to be able to care for themselves (and those they choose to share their lives with) when the time comes for them to do so. some days are better than others when it comes to chores. i guess like adults they go through phases where they are very helpful and organized and then there times when it like pulling teeth to get them to help. i'm not sure if they do more chores than kids who attend school but they do more than they they did last year when they were in school full time and responsible for homework. of course,with them home there is more work to do and less free time for me to do it in, so i really do need their help.

you can see above we keep a list of chores in the kitchen (the numbers written by them are their suggestions for what they think they should be worth monetarily... ha!). our kids get a weekly allowance but it is not tied to chores, other than it is expected they participate in helping run the house. allowance is for the extra things they want to buy, pocket money. i have to say, generally it is easier to get them to do daily chores more than weekly ones. i don't know if routine makes it easier. my son has more responsibilities because he is older but personality wise he is harder to get motivated to clean up. he is naturally messier like me (something i've worked on my whole adult life to overcome because i don't like mess). he is really helpful when you ask him to help with your chores though. sidney is naturally neater but likes to do them when she feels like it not when asked. they both have to make their beds and pick up after themselves, clothes, toys, etc. i always have them hang up coats and put shoes away when we come in but it is not yet a habit for them. they clean their room and playroom once a week but still need me to do a good deep cleaning every once in a while as they aren't that thorough yet. jack henry has taken over most of the responsibilities for the chickens since the baby has been born and also walks the dog. he helps feed the dogs and cats as well. they help set the table and both have to empty the dishwasher everyday. some nights they clear the table and put everything in the dishwasher and i would like them to slowly do more of the clean up and food preparation. they often take out the garbage and recycling. they have just started taking responsibility for putting away their clothes and will start washing their own as well. sid seems to like this idea as her close friend does this.

one of the biggest ways they help is with the baby. this has gone on since she was born but they help more and more as she gets older (under a watchful eye). they both know how to hold her and change her (though they don't do it often). they are responsible for sitting and playing with her while i do things needed to be done. keeping her entertained in the car is super helpful because she hates car rides! my son likes to sing to her. pretty much anything i need help with the baby they are really open to doing. of course she pays well in smiles and hugs!  i think having younger siblings (or babysitting) has a profound effect on children's sense of responsibility (it did on mine) and i'm glad my children have this.

what do your children to around the house? did you start off young or wait until they were older? do your kids have any surprising chores? my friend's daughter is 8 and makes bread for the family every week nearly without help! my kids like to help bake but they are no where near that. did you grow up doing chores and felt you were ready to take care of yourself as an adult? or was it a big learning process (cooking certainly was for me!) what about your partner? i know this subject has been discussed endlessly but i still find it fascinating!

before and after...

1. before... trying to hide from getting his tooth pulled. he literally waits until they fall out on their own and has even swallowed one in his sleep. he hates it. sid is the opposite and will not leave a tooth alone until it is out.

2. after... papa decides it should be pulled as it is hanging by one thread and bleeding, plus he doesn't want him to swallow it again. in this picture he has already pulled out the tooth and holding it but jack henry doesn't realize it yet because he is screaming to much.

these photos look staged but believe me they are not. i forgot how many teeth kids lose. why did i think he was done and then all of a sudden teeth are falling out all over the place again?! what do your kids get from the tooth fairy? mine receive coins from her travels around the world. they have quite the collection from many different countries!

take a look here to see my post about his first missing tooth! what happened to that baby? he also got a haircut this weekend.

this week...

just a few moments from the week to share and remember. a baby clapping, lots of walks and trips outside in between caring for a sick boy and a girl feeling frustrated by life lately. a good week and a hard week. just a week, with moments to remember.

kitchen inspiration...

i'm going back to my dreaming about a kitchen remodel for a little bit here. i am constantly collecting ideas... ideas in the 'dream big' realm and ideas based more in reality. i recently saw this kitchen in the current issue of better homes and garden. i like the way it uses the large double doors instead of windows. i wish i could find the other image showing it from the outside that is in the magazine but not online. you would see how it opens on to stone steps and a patio, which is what we would like to do on the outside of ours... a wrap around stone patio actually. i like that you could potentially open all of the doors up when it is nice (with screen doors attached, it is the south after all). very pretty. i'm not sure if i would have a table there or an island. would an island be strange? would it make more sense to do that where a dining room would be? hmm. anyway, i do like this option. here are some of my other inspirational photos.

you can find the source for all of these, plus more of my favorites here.

cup of coffee...

1. anthropologie coffee mug with my initial and single cup cone coffee maker (i want to get a porcelain one to replace the plastic).
2. harrio coffee drip kettle, christmas gift from my husband, resting on a pot holder i made
3. beautiful handmade wooden spoon i got from the country living fair but i no longer remember the sellers name, i love it to stir my coffee with
4) capresso coffee bean grinder, you can choose the consistency based on the method of brewing
5) trader joe's spiced rooibus ruby red chai, i was totally addicted to this stuff when i was pregnant and couldn't drink coffee. i still drink it once or twice a day. it is really very good for you and contains no caffeine
6) vintage red rooster tray, from etsy. appropriately themed for morning wake up. it holds my canister of coffee beans, #4 coffee filters, sugar for guests (i only use half and half), and local honey from the farmer's market for tea

do you have a coffee/tea station in your home? it's funny but i didn't start drinking coffee until i was in my thirties and after my second child! i started mostly for social reasons. ha! that sounds funny but it's true. i always felt left out of the coffee culture world. in college my roommate kept a coffee maker on her desk and was always drinking it around the clock to get her through late nights. trips to meet friends at the coffee shop was a part of life through college and beyond. after i had kids and would host play dates at my house i had to learn how to use a coffee machine for the first time in my life! coffee was always so bitter to me and reminded me of the task of making instant coffee for my dad which i never liked doing. i remember tasting it once when i was making it as a kid and that bitter sip stuck with me. it wasn't until i started trying out fancy latte drinks at coffee shops that i sort of started to get used to it, and then once i discovered the rich flavor of cream in my coffee i was hooked. i am not a heavy drinker, too much and i literally get light headed! two cups a day are perfectly fine... sometimes one will do. i look forward to my cup of coffee each morning with breakfast. i'm a big breakfast eater, as is my son and most days i make a hot breakfast for us. i also like a cup in the afternoon, if i get a chance to sit down and enjoy it, not always easy with the baby. of course, i gave it up when i was pregnant (the smell alone made me sick so it was easy) but now i am back to enjoying my few cups a day.

we like to keep it pretty simple. we've tried various coffee makers and methods... from traditional electric ones to a french press. right now my favorite is the simple cone filter method. it is easy, costs very little and make a really good cup of coffee. i would like to get a chemex also for weekends because my husband drinks a lot more of it than i do (plus, it's pretty). how about you? any big coffee drinkers out there or do you prefer tea? what is your favorite way to make it. do you sit down to enjoy it like i do, or are you ok drinking on the run? i wish i could have you all over for a cup!

here are some ideas on pinterest for your own coffee/tea station!

* i have no affiliation with amazon or any of the products i share. i'm not getting any money from those links i just like to share my favorites.

ralph tells a story...

ralph tells a story is a very sweet book that was actually written by the woman who lived in my brooklyn apartment after we moved away! it's funny because abby and i met only once when she came to see the apartment but started emailing each other after i left brooklyn. she has two children who ended up going to the preschool my son attended, taught by a good friend of mine. she kindly kept us updated about the goings on around the neighborhood a bit (along with some juicy gossip:). i was surprised when i got an email about this book she had written, and curious, so i decided to order it. let me say it was a hit with my seven year old. abby has taught first grade in new york and understands how to appeal to this age. the story of ralph, a cute little boy who has trouble writing stories was obviously something sidney could relate to. children are naturally so imaginative but sometimes the idea of sitting down and writing a story can be daunting (for anyone, of any age). this book captures that feeling and helps children overcome their own fears about putting their stories into words. sidney loved it and had me read it many times until she could read/recite it herself. it inspired her to write some of her own stories and she liked that abby herself had to learn to draw in order to make this book happen. she was so cute talking about the book we made a little video just for fun.

* excuse the baby noises, because yes i am not only holding baby but nursing her while doing this. a mom's life.

then and now...

thinking about personal changes over the last four years... growing children, a very large move and change of lifestyle, a new member of the family to share history with. it is funny to look back with surprise and wonder about the years to come. i hope it is beautiful for us all.

oh baby...

this week seemed to be all about a rapidly changing baby. you can see the changes daily. she loves to sit and play with her toys. she is thinking about crawling... scooting around on her belly and bum, getting up on hands and knees, rocking back and forth with some sort of internal drive telling her to "go, go, go"! she also babbles constantly and started saying a few words consistently, especially "hi", which was her sister's first word too. she says hi to everyone and often accompanies it with a wave and of course a huge smile to let you know how glad she is to see you, even if it has only been a few minutes. she is eating solid foods.. sweet potato, avocado, and banana so far. she seems to enjoy it but not as much as nursing. her top teeth are trying to come in, which means very little napping is going on or really much of anything getting done. i look at her face and try to see the future that resides there. it is easy to see it looking back but such a mystery trying to imagine her future. so many changes will come so soon.

on the wall...

i have very large, very tall walls (over 11 feet). it is hard to fill up so much wall space, especially when i have very little money to spend as well. i try to be creative. someday i imagine big beautiful paintings hanging on the walls (i have a lot of favorites picked out in case anyone wealthy out there wants to contribute to my art fund:) in the meantime i enjoy collecting what i can, new and vintage, and making other things to fill up my walls and make them feel loved.

1) my ever present nature display box, if you follow my blog you've probably seen this before.
2) some vintage art from etsy
3) vintage bird art in a pretty frame, a gift from my mom
4) a framed calender page from the month my husband and i were married, mounted on linen
5) more vintage bird art, found at kudzu... i was sad i couldn't afford the pair and hated to break them up:(
6) a favorite small painting done by an artist friend, sam cotterill
7) beloved gift from my talented sister this past christmas
8) a wall hanging i made out of vintage woven fabric
9) feathers from my yard mounted on pretty fabric
10) a small painting from another favorite artist, michelle armas, given to my husband for christmas
11) a beautiful vintage framed farmhouse picture from my mom for christmas

*speaking of my mom, i'm thinking of her today as she gets her second knee replaced. she is very brave and i hope that she will be up and around better than she has been in a long time very soon.