Merry Christmas!

This year was a white Christmas for our little family – a white sand BEACH Christmas, that is!

Tony picked me up from school last Tuesday with the car already packed, and we went straight to the airport. EO was an absolute champ on the plane. He played with some of the Dollar Store toys we brought with us and loved looking out the windows at the planes, the clouds, the wing, etc. We had dinner on our layover in Nashville and got EO all ready for bed. It took a little while, but he finally fell asleep on Momma during that second flight. Once we landed in Ft. Lauderdale, Tony took the checked bags and I took the gate checked items and the no longer sleeping toddler to get the shuttle to the hotel. Arriving after midnight made for a long day, but it was all worth it to arrive at our adorable little condo in Naples by noon the next day.

We went straight to the beach for an hour, and EO loved playing in the sand!

Then the boys went grocery shopping while I had a surprise prenatal massage and pedicure (there may or may not have been a hormone induced breakdown on Sunday evening about not having time to get a pedicure before our trip) at the spa! Then it was dinner at the condo and an early night for all!

On Thursday we wore EO out in the morning at the beach! I don’t know what he loved more – digging in the sand, splashing with Daddy, or riding on the paddle board! We went back to the condo midday expecting EO’s typical 1.5 hour nap, but he slept for 3.5 hours! That afternoon we made it back to the beach for an hour or so for sunset before dinner at Steamers Seafood (incredible clam chowder!) and a drive downtown for ice cream. What a fun day!

Friday was our boat excursion day. We set sail on the Sweet Liberty Catamaran at 9:30. Leaving from Naples Bay, we rode past some of the most incredible homes you’ve ever seen at Port Royal. The Captain said one of those homes sold last year for $48 million. There were 6 dolphins hanging out in the bay, and they gave us quite a show, swimming right up to the boat over and over again.

After leaving the bay we pulled up onto the sand of Key Island and walked down the stairs straight onto the beach for some shore exploring time.

Then they put the sails up and we got to sail back to the bay. Tony and I were back in our happy place, and EO loved exploring the boat. Apparently the 3.5 hour nap was going to be one the norm for the little guy, so that evening we drove down the street to Clam Pass, a 3/4 mile boardwalk through the mangroves to the beach, where we played for a half hour and watched the sunset before dinner in. EO was enthralled with the sunset and loved learning a new word!

Saturday and Sunday were much the same in the most delightfully predictable ways: beach, SUP, and home for nap around noon. Tony stayed at the condo to read while baby slept and Momma went to the pool! Then a little more beach time and a beautiful sunset.

Sunday morning did bring quite a surprise though. The three of us were all out in the water when I noticed a fin pop out about 20 feet away. There were dolphins swimming right near us! Three of them rolled and flapped and played right around us for several minutes. Someone on the beach snapped a cellphone photo and sent it to me. The quality is terrible, but you can see all of us!

That brings us to today, Christmas Day! What better way to celebrate Jesus’ birthday than enjoying his splendid creation! A beautiful morning at the beach before loading up the car to travel home where our relatives will quite literally be awaiting our arrival! We will be glad to spend some time with them and to reunite with Charlie, whom we’ve missed very much!

I hope you all are having a joyous holiday season!

With Love,

Lindy, Tony, and EO

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Vinegar Stain on the Big Boy Bed

Have you ever stained something with vinegar? It’s got to be one of the strangest crafting experiences I’ve had, but I’m so pleased with how it turned out!

For Edmond’s new big boy bed, I decided to try this new-to-me wood finish. I wanted a stained look, specifically in a gray tone, but being five months pregnant, it probably wasn’t the best idea to use a regular stain. I’d seen posts on Pinterest about vinegar stain that were gorgeous, and the idea was very intriguing. So I popped a #0000 grade steel wool pad in a jar and mixed up a quart of apple cider vinegar based stain. It sat for two or three days before I tested it. The color was much more brown than I expected on my pine board, so I went back to Pinterest for a little more research. I mixed up another jar but to this one I added about half a cup of balsamic vinegar and let it sit for 6 hours. Then I tested again.

Here on this test strip you see 5 pretty distinct colors, but there are only two different stains in use here! I couldn’t believe what an impact the timing of the tea application had on the color. I really liked the gray tint that the Balsamic added to the Apple Cider Vinegar mix, but it didn’t sit long enough to develop a deep, rich color like my first batch of straight Apple Cider Vinegar stain. However, that color was a little more brown than I was going for.  In the end we decided to mix it all in together, and it’s a good thing too, or I probably would have run out of material.

Mom came over to help me with this project because she was so intrigued by the idea of a homemade stain. I mixed up 4 cups of black tea at double strength (8 regular tea bags left to steep for several hours) and we started painting it on with foam brushes. There was no change in the color of the wood at this point, but according to all the Pinterest posts, the tea adds tannins to the wood that are vital for the reaction that occurs during the vinegar step. I myself have no idea why it’s necessary, I just knew it was.

Then we immediately began brushing on the stain mixture with regular paint brushes. It was amazing to watch. With each brushstroke there was almost no color but within 30 seconds the color had shifted. It darkened further as it dried.

There were a couple times we commented on the wisdom (or lack thereof) of choosing such a large project for the first with a new finishing method, but I’m actually really happy with it! And bonus, everything cleaned up with simple soap and water!

A few notes about the process:

  • One blog I came across stressed the importance of letting the vinegar and steel wool steep with the lid off. I also made a batch of stain with white vinegar, and it got really rusty. I don’t know if it was a lid issue or just a fluke, but it’s worth noting, I think.
  • I recommend wearing rubber gloves for application. Even with the gloves my fingernail beds wound up stained black. It took about a week, but the color is gone from them now.
  • Most tutorials I found suggested removing the remains of the steel wool pad when the desired color has been reached. My understanding is if it’s left in the vinegar, it will break down further and the color will deepen.
  • A lot of posts talked about how bad the stain smells, but I didn’t find it offensive at all. The rusty smell bothered me more than the vinegar.

I still have to seal the wood, but I haven’t decided what to use. I’m leaning toward a wax of some sort. Why stop experimenting now?

We picked up two twin mattresses at Ikea (They come rolled flat like a giant sleeping bag. Isn’t that wierd?!) Right now we’re using our regular guest room bedding. I’ve picked out something different for EO, but I haven’t ordered it yet.  

With the trundle popped up, it’s nearly a king sized bed. It fills the entirety of this little room, but hopefully it will be comfortable for the 2 or 3 overnight guests we have each year!

EO won’t be moving in for a few months yet, but he seems pretty excited about this big bed! He loves using the stool to crawl up on top and throw his little body around!

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A Big Boy Bed

The small bedroom makeover is still in progress, and the next step is a new bed! Since this is the bedroom with the ensuite bathroom, it will be where overnight guests stay, so the new bed has the accomodate two adults. However, 99.5% of the time it will be occupied by one little boy (and someday in the not-too-distant-future, likely his very large dog) so I didn’t want it to take up the entire room. When I came across this picture on Pinterest, I knew it was exactly what I wanted – a day bed with a pop-up trundle.

This picture comes from the Ana White site. She’s pretty amazing and posts all her plans online for free. This particular bed, though, was a modification from another one of her projects, so there weren’t any detailed plans I could use. After a lot of thought and conversations with Tony, I set up my own plan and went to buy materials. All the wood is pine or common board, so I was able to keep materials at under $100!

Materials and Cut List:

1 8ft. 4×4 Untreated Pine board (Cut in half at 48in. each for back posts)

5 8ft. 2x4s (2 at 36 in. for front posts, 2 at 43in. 40.5in. for side rails, 1 at 77in. for headboard, 1 at 79.5in.  for the front rail support)

13 8ft. 1x6s (28 at 32in. each for headboard and side piece slats, 4 at 38.5in. 36in. to hold slats together horizontally)

I love 1 8ft. 1×8 (Cut to 77in. and decorative cut made with jigsaw)

Wood Glue

1 box 1 1/4in. Kreg Jig screws

1 box 2 1/2in. Kreg Jig screws

1 box 1 1/2in. Kreg Jig screws

1in. Finish nails I already had on hand

I was able to buy and cut the boards in one weekend, then it took about 3 hours to sand them all down. I had to break that up between two days – sanding is hard work! I was okay with some imperfection, so I only did one round of sanding with 120 grit sand paper, and I was cognizant of where the boards would be placed on the bed. For example, I only sanded one side of the boards that would make up the headboard, because the back would be against a wall, and I didn’t sand the 2x4s that would support the mattress.

Tony cut my decorative top piece with the jigsaw. I’m really good with the miter saw, but those freehand saws still freak me out a bit. 

Time to Build!

Step 1: Assemble headboard

I first attached the two 4×4 posts to the 2×4 mattress base and the 1×8 decorative piece. By propping the 1×8 up on some scrap wood, it was level with the thicker 2×4. I used 1.5in. Kreg Jig screws to attach the 1×8 (even though the holes were drilled at .75in.) and 2.5in. KJ screws for the 2×4. I also put some glue between boards before screwing them together. Tony assured me this would be helpful.

Next I laid out all the vertical slats. My boards were just over 5.5in., which meant they were longer than my headboard, so Tony used the circular saw to cut .5in. off the two end boards. Three pops with nail gun per top and bottom of each board made thus step a snap.

The top is my 2×4 sits at 14.75in. Since were putting the pop-up trundle underneath, we had to match the height as exactly as possible.

Step 2: Assemble sides

This is the area that I deviated most from the inspiration image. Why? Because this bed is a beast, and I needed to reduce its footprint as much as possible! That’s why I chose to use a 2×4 as the front posts instead of another 4×4. That reduced some of the decor elements, but it also bought me a few inches of overall width.

The most important step here was drilling the Kreg Jig holes in the right places so as to hide as many of them as possible! Here’s a pic from the inside:

Attaching the 2×4 front post to the 2×4 side rail in the the right spot was probably the most challenging task of the day! 

Then the slats were laid down and nail gunned on.

The outside does have 4 sets of holes that will attach the side to the headboard. I did this intentionally so that the whole thing can be taken apart and moved. We will leave this house someday, and I’d hate to have to leave the bed behind!

After completing the left side, it was time to mirror it for the right.  This was my really big mistake of the project. Every project has one. I knew I needed to mirror the first side. I changed directions on the run to help me remember, then I ended up building the exact same thing, and I only realized it as I was attaching the last slatTony talked me off the ledge, I fixed the error, and I was off to the next step. 

Step 3: Attach the side pieces and build the front rail

This step had to be done in the bedroom for a couple reasons: 1) This thing is flipping heavy. I definitely couldn’t lift it all assembled. 2) Have I mentioned it’s HUGE? No way would it get through our narrow hallway.

Attaching the sides was easy with 9 2.5in. KJ screws. The front rail is just a 2×4 (to support the mattress slats) masked by a 1×6. I chose to install the 2×4 horizontally to maximize the amount of space for the trundle to roll underneath. It has 5 sets of KJ holes to attach it to the 1×6 and 2 sets on each side to attach it to the side rails.

And here’s the somewhat completed bed!

The next step will be finishing, sealing, and adding the mattress support slats!

Oh, and don’t worry – we didn’t work ALL of Thanksgiving Break!

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Bedroom Remodel Part 1

So, we’ve done a few things with the small bedroom, like install the new bathroom and build the wardrobe. It was time, though, to update the room with some paint, since this little fella will be moving in there sometime soon! 

There was just one problem. The drywall in that room was terrible! Maybe it’s the fact that they left all the lathe behind it, or maybe they were just really crappy installers… I don’t know, but there were massive cracks along most of the seams between drywall sheets. And I just didn’t want to fix them! I knew taping and mudding would take a long time, and it would be messy, and I was 99.9% sure they would be back by next Christmas, since that’s what’s happened with most of the other cracks I’ve tried to fix.

As a result, I put off what should have been a simple project for months and months (years?). Then I had an epiphany – I would just cover the cracks! I’ve used board and batten in the guest bath off this room and in the bathroom downstairs, and using it here in this room would solve my problem with the cracks! 

For some reason I got the bright idea to start painting the week that school started. Mom came to help, and we got all the gray done (two coats), a coat on the ceiling, and two coats of the white where the board and batten would be. 

Then I got tired. Beginning of school AND first trimester pregnant tired!  Nothing happened for awhile. Once I got my energy back Tony helped me install the horizontal pieces so I could take measurements and cut the vertical ones. Each piece was a different length! Numbering them as I cut each piece, though, made install a snap. I was able to install and caulk almost all the pieces while the boys were watching the Packer game!   

I had every intention of going back in and taking a nice after picture with a clean floor, but Tony started ripping up the tile in the bathroom before I could do it. Now there’s a toilet in this corner. Guess you’ll just have to wait a few weeks! 

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Family Photos

My Mother’s Day gift was a Family Photo session, and we finally got around to having it in mid-September! Here are some highlights of the morning. Make sure you scroll all the way to the end!Tony (11 of 117)Tony (17 of 117)Tony (27 of 117)Tony (75 of 117)

We met Photographer Sarah at Loose Park early on a Sunday. She basically said let the kiddo do what he wants, and we’ll follow his lead. Three weeks later we had a flash drive with over 100 images! She included a lot of good ones, as well as quite a few “real” moments.

It was also a great opportunity for EO to share his big announcement!

Tony (79 of 117)Tony (112 of 117)

Baby Number 2 arrives April 2018!

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Another Kitchen Project

I finally completed another kitchen project that was long overdue. See that space between the wall and the stove? The perfect landing spot for my hot pads that fall off and onto the floor? Well it is no more!

That space is there because our gas line comes up through the floor a few inches away from the wall. Tony looked at moving it, but between the floor joists not lining up just right and the chimney behind the back wall, the gas line had to stay. Tony also said it needed to be accessible just in case we needed to turn off the gas, so whatever I did to box it in needed to be easily removed.

The solution was a simple one. We mounted a piece of 2 x 4 on the back wall, cut 1 x6s to match the angles of the walls, and joined them at the front with Craig jig screws and an L bracket. The top is finished with deep walnut stain and mineral oil, while the bottom matches the gray cabinet on the other side of the stove. And ideally the countertops would match, but who doesn’t want a kitchen with three different kinds of countertop? Actually, if you include the island, I guess you could say five different types since it’s butcher block with a granite inlay. Perhaps our kitchen could become a display area for different countertop styles! 

Anyway, while I was at it, I decided to go ahead and paint the wainscoting along that wall. I originally painted it the same brown as the rest of the room when there was a full kitchen remodel in the plan, and over time I have wondered about painting it to match rest of the trim. As I was painting, I thought that the right thing to do probably would have been to replace it, but who knows what the wall looks like back there. That’s not something I wanted to deal with!

In the grand scheme of our projects, this was a minuscule one, but since I use the stove every day, it has made a big difference. 

Look! That oven mitt didn’t fall to the ground!

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Road Tripping!

As summer wound down, it was time for a little Family Vaca: A few days visiting Tony’s parents in South Dakota and a few days hiking in the Black Hills, a part of the country I’d never seen. Before we could load up the car, though, there was work to do. We were taking Tony’s parents our old bed so they could trade out their guest bed. Four year ago, Tony and his buddies moved this Queen sized mattress and box spring into the house and up the stairs. Tony and I couldn’t for the life of us figure out how! Thank goodness for new windows. We ended up popping the glass panels out and sliding the boxspring down the ladder to the truck bed. 

A random couple drove by and asked if we needed help. That’s how comical this was! 

And thus, we were off on our trip with bed, baby, and dog for the 500 mile journey. We left EO with the grandparents for a few days of playing while we took Charlie to “The Hills” and Spearfish Canyon. 

Despite record breaking heat, the hiking was fantastic. Day 1 was an easy 2 mile trek along the creek to Roughlock Falls.

For Day 2 we were able to start early and kick it up a notch. The first stop was Community Caves, a short but challenging climb, according to the guide book. The best part, though, was the directions to find the trail: “You will need to find a way across the creek. Once across, you will see a bunch of rocks and small stream. Follow this up to the caves.” So we crossed the creek and didn’t see any pile of rocks, but we did see what looked like a trail. Tony even noticed that a tree branch was broken, so clearly people had been here recently.


When we got to the 15 foot tall rock wall with only tree roots to use to make our way up, we decided this could not possibly be right, and that there was no way Charlie would make it up here. Retracing our steps, we crossed the creek and turned further down stream, only to find these two signs that we were now heading the right direction: a make-shift bridge and a pile of rocks. 

Apparently my vision of a neat little pile to mark the trail head was a bit off.
It was a fun trail that led to a cool old cave.

By this point temps were approaching 95, so we decided to forgo our plan to hike to the rim of the canyon, and instead we opted for an easy walking trail to a great waterfall – Spearfish Falls.

For lunch we stopped at the Canyon Picnic grounds. Each spot had a private parking spot, table, and a grill. It was right by the creek, and there was even a boardwalk to walk along the water after we ate.

That afternoon, since it was so hot, we decided to do the water hike to Devil’s bathtub. It was a gorgeous hike along, and often through, Squaw Creek to a pool of icy cold water and a natural water slide. 

It was the most crowded trail we hiked all week, but it was gorgeous!

That afternoon we treated ourselves to homemade ice cream in downtown Spearfish!

For our last day of hiking, we gave Charlie the morning off. The ’76 Trail was named in honor of the path walked by gold miners in 1876 and it ascends 1,000 feet in ¾ of a mile. At the top we were rewarded with a beautiful aerial view of the canyon.

Our final hike was to Eleventh Hour Gulch, and this is literally the trail head:

You’d never see it from the road if you weren’t looking really hard. Once we walked through the trees, this is what we saw:

We couldn’t help reminiscing about one of our favorite Tortola experiences – The Ghut Hike. Apparently a Gulch is a Ghut! This one was complete with some very rickety looking ladders up some of the steeper rocks.

At the top we had a great view of Spearfish Creek.

What a fun day!

We missed our little man, but we were glad we didn’t have to worry about him in the heat. It was great to get away for a few days!

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Patio Progress – It’s Done!

It’s done!

So it’s been done since the 4th of July, but I’m behind on my blogging! 

Remember, it all started in April when I casually mentioned to Tony that perhaps it was time to sell the bricks we’d been storing in the driveway for three years. He disagreed. He dug a hole.

Then it rained. And rained. Then it rained some more. The hole filled with water. Several times.

Then he filled the hole with gravel and sand, and used a big machine to pound it all down, and laid the bricks, and used the big machine again. The last step was to build the steps. 

I added some landscaping and connected the paths to the patio. Charlie seemed to think we did it all for him. 

Then we added the furniture! 

It’s going to be great to sit by the fire in the evenings this fall!

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Back Porch Fun – Water Table

Now that we have a nice back porch we’ve been spending quite a bit of time back there! We put up a swing for our little man, and I built him a little water table. I love the look of those rustic wooden ones, but I wanted to be able to put a lid on top and didn’t want to refinish it each season. So, this is the PVC water table I ended up with. 

EO loves it! He mostly splashes himself and dumps cups of water on his chest and the floor. Occasionally he’s tried drinking from the cups… But I love seeing that grin as he pours another cup of water down his chest! He’s even figured out how to take the lid off by himself. 

There are directions all over Pinterest for how to build this water table, and it was a very simple project – A couple poles of PVC, a bunch of connectors, and a saw to cut the pipes. 

Tony went out for the evening with his coworkers, so I put the baby to bed and gathered my materials. The paper pictured above has my cut list, but I think every single measurment was wrong! Luckily, I had plenty of pipe, and the measurements were all too long, so it was easy to cut them down. 

Then it was just a matter of putting all the pieces together!  

Once it was all put together I used a leftover can of dark gray to paint the table and a partially full can of yellow for the lid of the plastic container, and just finished painting as it was getting dark. My spray can was running on fumes as I used my phone flashlight to see if I got everything! The paint has held really well on the PVC, but it hasn’t faired so well on the lid… I don’t know why. Anyway, it serves its purpose – keeps the mozzies and dust out! 

Here’s to more summer fun!

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Patio Progress – Porch Painting 

Progress on the patio was impeded significantly by the rains of May. You may remember that it looked like this in my last Patio Progress update: 

But it’s nearly done now! Between rains Tony added some guttering to the back porch roof to help divert some of the water. 

He also put down 3.5 tons of gravel, so there is was a lot less space to flood! He installed little borders to help hold the bricks in place, but before he could load up sand and lay bricks, we had to paint the back porch. We were intending to spray the paint on the spindles and didn’t want any overspray to ruin the newly laid bricks. So, we spent a weekend painting. Tony power washed and scraped away the loose paint. 

Whew, that looked bad!

Then we put up the umbrella and loaded the kiddo into the Pack’n’Play while we primed and painted all the railings. 

We had just finished the first coat of paint on the floor as the rain moved back in. It washed all the paint away – major sad face! So, after EO went to bed on Monday and Tuesday nights we finished the floor. 

Tony also made some modifications to the railing and overall layout. In the picture above, you can see he cut out a chunk of railing to create an opening to the backyard that wasn’t there before. He also extended the railing it to meet the house on the driveway side (that’s where I’m taking the picture from) and added a gate.The wood, though, is treated, so we’ll be rocking the two-tone look for awhile as it dries out. Oh well!

Once the paint was finished, Tony added 1.5 tons of sand to the hole and began laying bricks. The actual brick laying went much faster than expected! In just two days he had laid about 900 bricks.

Once all the bricks were down, he rented this loud machine to tamp the bricks down. It really helped make them even.

Then we swept more sand into the crevices between the bricks. We’ll probably have to do that a few more times as well. 

Just a few things left to do before the final reveal – Tony’s working on the brick steps up to the back porch tomorrow, and he’ll use some pavers to connect the patio with the path from the front porch and out the back gate. So, more pictures to come soon! 

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