L'il Bill

I see nothing of myself when I look at Seamus.  He is all Bill.
 Love this boy!


Grown-up Furniture

For the first time in our lives, Bill and I have dressers that were actually picked out intentionally! We've been using a hodgepodge of mismatched dressers for years. I was pretty adamant that I didn't want to the whole matching bedroom furniture thing. I wanted everything to coordinate, but not be a set. I don't think Bill wanted wait though, and I don't blame him because we'd probably still be waiting. So, we sort of compromised.
We picked up the above three dressers from West Elm. They have a really nice mid century collection right now that they're all from. However, we did hold off on getting the matching bed and nightstands.

Bill uses the top one, I use the middle, and Bill also uses the last as his nightstand. They're working great for us so far, although I will note that we had to return a few of them a couple of times because every one we got home was scratched in some way. I can't tell you how many times we went back and forth to the store that day. Finally, we asked the associates to remove them from their boxes at the store so we could find a group that weren't scratched up before leaving the store again. To their credit, West Elm was really helpful and the manager even gave us a $25 gift card for all our trouble. It was a crazy day, but we finally have proper dressers. Yay!!


I mentioned here that the laundry room did not come with a washer and dryer. 
Our house in Wisconsin also did not come with a washer and dryer, so this was my second go-round purchasing these major appliances. Last time I was all about the front-loader washer. I had never had one before, but they seemed all fancy and the on-trend thing to buy.  

Guess what?

I hated it!

The wash cycle took forever (almost an hour), and in order to avoid odors you had to basically keep the door open all the time. It wasn't quite the sleek look I was expecting. Our laundry was in the basement, so it wasn't as big a deal, but I still was not happy with it.

So, this time around I was all about the top-loader. I checked all the major brands, and eventually settled on....

Besides the top-loader, the only other things I was looking for was a hand-wash cycle on the washer, and the steam option on the dryer. Samsung had both these things. Also, I've been very happy with both my Samsung TV's, so I was comfortable with the brand.

I've had them for a few weeks now, and so far so good. The wash cycle is much shorter and they are both very quiet. I actually didn't even think about that when shopping, but since they are located on the first floor I'm really glad for it.

Oh, and one other thing I was concerned about...I'm only 4'11", so I debated whether reaching the bottom of the 5.0 cu. ft. tub would be an issue for me. I really wanted the space though to wash bigger loads, so I went for it. I'm happy to report that if I go up on my very tippy toes I can just reach the bottom.

It's not quite like this, but close. #shortgirlproblems
Photo from here.
So, that's one big thing I can cross of the list.

Laundry Room
- Buy washer/dryer
- Paint room and trim
- Paint door to the garage with chalk board paint
- Install cabinets above washer/dryer
- Utilize space next to washer to maximize storage
- Install heavier hooks on wall opposite washer/dryer for coat/bag storage


Ready for her Close-up

Bill and Madeleine had an impromptu photo shoot in the backyard the other day. They went through quite the array of emotions.

Love this girl!!


Book Report - Outlander

I finished my first book of 2014.  It's actually one I've read before, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander.  I love it so much I try to reread it every couple of years (all 850 pages of it).

It's such a great book that crosses over so many genres - historical fiction, science-fiction, romance, and adventure.  It's insane how good it is.  The best part it is - it's a series.  I first read this book in high school - now here we are almost 20 years later and book number eight is about to come out.  I also mentioned here that Starz is turning it into a television series.  I'm so excited!!

The basic synopsis, if you're wondering, is this.  WWII nurse Claire is on honeymoon in Scotland with her new husband.  She stumbles upon some standing stones in the woods (think mini Stonehenge), touches them, and gets transported to 1740's Scotland.  Her circumstances force her to travel with a group of Scots who think she is most likely an English spy.  Tension is rising in the Highlands as the Jacobite rebellion is gearing up.  She tries to make her way back to the stones and return home, but she seems to continually find herself in trouble - English soldiers, witchcraft, rudimentary medicine, and of course a growing attraction to a certain Scotsman she can no longer ignore.

Sounds good, right?  Trust me, it is.  If you haven't read it yet, do so now.  And if you have read it, did you love it as much as I did?


Fan Girl - Jane Austen

I've always loved Jane Austen.  Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book of all time, and I try to read it annually.  So, when I saw that Austenland had come out on DVD, it immediately went to the top of my Netflix que.

I really loved this film.  It's super cute and funny (Jennifer Coolidge was hysterical), and I think truly captures what Austen fans are looking for in life and love.  We don't want to live in the past (okay, maybe a little), but would prefer it if a bit more manners and formality were infused back into the modern world.

So, if you're looking for a good romantic comedy that the husband won't hate (mine laughed out loud a few times - again thanks to Jennifer Coolidge), I highly recommend this one.


Dining Room Progress

You really can't have a dining room with out a dining table, and we now have one.  Yes!  We picked up the Parker Mid-Century Expandable Dining Table from West Elm recently, and I love it.

Photo from West Elm

We got the large size which fits six regularly, and can expand to seat up to eight. There's a separate leaf that you insert.  Here's a quick picture of it in the house.

We used two arm chairs that we already had for the heads, and picked up four teal stacking chairs from Target to fill the other spaces. All these chairs are just interim pieces until we can afford better ones - dining room chairs are so expensive!!

Dining Table - $559.20 ($699 originally, but we got it for 20% off)
Dining Chairs - $139.96 (4 chairs at $34.99 each)
Total - $699.16

It's small progress I know, but I'm so happy to have a place to eat when guests come over. Plus, it's exactly what I wanted. I love when I don't have to compromise.


You Can Share My Umbrella-ella-ella

I've been on the hunt for colorful and reasonably priced umbrellas for our pool area since we got here.  With our orange house I was thinking cobalt blue would be a nice splash of color, and since I needed three I was hoping to find them for around $50 a pop.  Do you know what I discovered?  That's a hard combination to find.  Most of the umbrellas I was seeing out there were in browns or aquas - maybe a yellow or green here or there.  Plus, they can be really expensive. I wasn't finding anything under $99, and most were in the $200 range.  Crazy, right?

So, imagine my surprise when I was at the grocery store of all places (Fry's for all you locals), and all above the frozen food aisle were tons of umbrellas in bright fun colors!!  They had a navy-ish blue that was very close to the cobalt I had been envisioning, but they also had royal purple.  When I saw that one my vision immediately changed.  Purple is my favorite color!!  Purple would look okay with our orange house.  There aren't a lot of places I can infuse purple into my home, but this could work.  The husband didn't seem to mind it either.  Purple, purple, purple!!!  I started to get really excited, but we still hadn't found the price yet. We were doing the happy dance when we discovered they were $49.99 each.  We ran home, dropped the kids off, and sent Bill back to pick up three umbrellas.

Tah-dah!!  Three pretty purple umbrellas now line our pool - just waiting for the season to officially begin.
I still can't believe this is my yard.  It's so different from what I always envisioned for our family, but I'm learning to love it more and more each day - rocks and all.


Touring Phoenix - Finally

We've been in Phoenix for two months now, so I thought it was time to start seeing some of the local sites. My parents were in town a few weeks ago and we spent the afternoon at the Desert Botanical Gardens here in town.  There is an exhibit going on now called "Chihuly in the Garden" showcasing the artist Dale Chihuly's famous glass art sculptures interspersed throughout the gardens.
I must confess I enjoyed the art more than the plants.  It was just so nice to see such great pops of color everywhere.
I was amazed at how large some of the sculptures were.
Some were as tall as the cacti.
Some just looked like cacti.
No sculpture here, but was amazed at how tall some of the Saguaro Cacti grow.  That's my dad in the picture for scale.  And yes, I can now identify quite a few different species of cacti.
Madeleine loved this piece (don't know if this was Chihuly too, or a different artist), she kept saying she loved the balloons.
Madeleine fake sleeping - she does this all over the place.  I could probably fill an album of fake sleeping pictures, but they always make me laugh.
Oh, and Seamus was with us too.  I just didn't snap too many pictures of him.  He enjoyed his stroll though.

I'm not sure if I would put the Desert Botanical Gardens on a Phoenix must see list, but I did enjoy myself. When you think desert you think barren, but there is actually a ton of different plant life here.  I did also learn the names of quite a few of the plants I see all over the place here, so that was cool.  If you're a Phoenix local let me know what other places we need to check out.  The zoo is on our list, and a few museums too.


Fan Girl - The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is my absolute favorite show on tv right now.  The Season 4 Midseason Premiere is this Sunday.  I can't wait!!  If you can handle a little gore I highly recommend this show - seriously, add it to your Netflix que right now.  You won't be dissappointed.

Do you watch this show?  I don't have cable, so I won't be able to watch it until Monday night.


First Haircut

Madeleine is three years old and had yet to get a haircut, so we figured it was high time for a little trim.  Of course we made it a family event and all headed to Cool Cuts 4 Kids, and signed her up for their First Haircut package.  She got to pick out a show to watch and sat in a firetruck.  Of course, Bill and I snapped pictures from every possible angle like crazy paparazzi parents while she pretty much ignored us totally zoned out on the hypnotic powers of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Here are the before and after shots.
I really didn't realize it had gotten so long.  I'll admit it is much easier to brush after her baths now - not nearly as many tangles.  When did you first cut your daughter's hair?  How about your son's?  Seamus has the cutest curls in back that just kill me. I don't want to cut them off just yet.


At Least the Bedding is Pretty

Madeleine's room has had the tiniest bit of progress.  Not much, but it's slightly better than the empty (and dirty) shell we started with.
We now have some furniture and bedding, but that's about as far as we've gotten.
The bed and dresser are actually my father's from when he was a kid. My older sister used the dresser growing up, and my cousins the bed. Eventually I wound up with the dresser, and when my aunt gave the bed back to my dad he gave it to me. Madeleine's room had to house a full sized bed for guests, so we decided to put the set in her room for now. She loves her big bed. The headboard is really cool, as it has three cubbies for books and such behind the pillows, as well as a ledge. Someday I'll style it pretty, but for now I just let Madeleine throw whatever she wants in there.
The bedding is the only thing new I purchased for the room so far.  The white sheets are from Bed, Bath, and Beyond (still available here).  The duvet and throw pillows are from PB Teen (duvet - here, striped pillow here, and similar needlepoint sayings pillow here).  I had mentioned here that I was going for a pink, orange, and mint green color scheme, so I kept the bedding pretty neutral because the drapes and walls will bring in a lot of color.

My original list for Madeleine's Room is below, but I've had to modify it a bit due to some budget issues. I've also added a few items.

Madeleine's Room
- Skim coat and paint the walls (I got some quotes for skim coating, and although I still want to do it, it's a bit more than we can spend right now)
- Remove chair rail (We tested removing the chair rail.  It's glued to the walls, so if we removed right now we'd have to fix the wall beneath.  Since they're textured, it would be too difficult to get a seamless look.  It's off the list until we can afford to skim coat)
- Paint the trim
- Replace ceiling fan
- Buy new curtain rod
- Hang drapes
- Replace broken blinds (or maybe just remove for good)
- Buy slats for the bed so I don't need the box spring
- Bring in lots of colorful art
- Buy and install small bookshelves for behind the door
- Add a small nightstand next to her bed

As far as how much I've spent so far - not too much.

Duvet -              $89.00
Striped Pillow -  $32.99 (Pillow Cover $18.99 + Pillow Insert $14.00)
Love Pillow -     $14.99
Total -              $136.98

My goal is to keep the whole room under $500.