Friday, November 21, 2014


the last time I blogged was in September?  That's just crazy, but I've been crazy busy with all kinds of life stuff.

First off, I decided to send Maria & Molly to our parish school.  Yep, that's right!  I'm officially not a homeschool mama anymore.  It's hard to believe that I'm not homeschooling, but for now it's all for the better.  Now the 3 oldest girls get on the bus at 7:10AM and ride over to the high school.  Monica gets dropped off and Maria and Molly take a transfer bus to St. Charles.  They love it!!!

The boys and Jane are still at the Spanish Immersion school.  That's working well.  Nick is in his last year of preschool so he'll hopefully be at the SI school with the others next year.

Next, the house was finished up.  I have pics of the unit that we had built for the mudroom.  It's AWESOME!!!!

Each kid has a small cubby that fits their backpack, library books, mittens, papers & anything else that I need them to remember to take to school.  The space for the coats has 12 hooks for all the coats so at least every kid gets one plus dad and me.  There is extra shelving at the top for Costco stuff, extra hats, baskets, dog stuff, etc.  The bottom has laundry baskets for now for extra shoes, sports shoes, and boots.  The extra long runner rug is from LLBean.  It's a waterhog mat that I love!!!  Those mats are the bomb!  

Mike, the builder of this project, added crown moulding at the top of the unit to make the simple design a little more jazzy.  He also made all the shelving adjustable and gave us a little room on every cubby space so that doors can be added later if we want to change the open look.  It's bare bones right now because we are super tight on our budget for the remodel.  He's coming back next Wednesday to add the desk/countertop over the dog's area that will replace the phone desk in the kitchen.  EXCITED!!!!

Next, I found a custom cabinet maker at the State Fair that I had to know more about.  I had Joe Otto of Joe Otto Enterprises come out and do a consult on my kitchen cupboards.  He suggested for starters adding two drawers under the cooktop.

These are faux drawer panels because the original cooktop was too deep for drawers.  And below are the TWO drawers I have in the kitchen for all our eating and cooking utensils.  They are stuffed to the gils!

Here's an overview of the kitchen.

This is Joe Otto.  He has a business in Ham Lake.  He makes custom cabinet inserts and sliders.  Here he has taken the panels off and is getting ready to add the hardware for the new drawers.

These are the boxes/drawers that he made in his shop in Ham Lake.

Drawers are going in!!!!!

And here they are with the panels glued and screwed to the faces of the drawers!!!

I moved in pretty quickly after......

It still looks a bit cluttered, but it's very nice.  I went from 2 drawers to 4 and every drawer feels spacious and roomy.  Things aren't super tight and jammed into spaces.  I love the outcome!!

Next, I have to keep working on the hallway walls going upstairs.  I crazily decided to peel the wallpaper off some months ago.  However, I have so much glue on the walls so I have to wet and scrape it off with a putty knife.  It's quite a job so I try to tackle it a bit at a time.  I can't wait until it's ready to prime and paint those walls.  It will be nice.

Upcoming jobs include:
  • Hallway walls: prep, prime, paint
  • Upgrade kitchen cupboards, make new boxes for broom closet, remove phone desk and upper cupboard
  • Kitchen upgrade....reconfigure layout to remove dividing upper cabinets above dishwasher
  • Brick over grill in family room
  • Add braces over brick in family room and build out shelves and a surround for mounting TV
For the family room, I'm thinking about something like this, but not in white:

Anyway, we're on the 10 year plan for all of these upgrades.  But for now, I'm super happy with all the changes.

I hope all is going well with everyone who usually pops in here to check up on us.  We're all doing well.  The baby is doing awesome.  I'm crocheting another winter hat for her, and I'm getting ready to thaw out the turkeys for Thanksgiving.  Really it's November?  Crazy!!!!  Oh, well, that's life in a big family, well in any family!  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Update on Remodel....End in Sight!

The rest of the siding was put on the front entryway, the front columns were decked out with cedar, and the service door was repainted finally after 3 years!!!  It's amazing how all these little things start to come together to really finish up the project.  My screen door was also installed so we now we get more light in the entryway.  I love the screen door.  It has an internal screen so no more changing out screens or removing glass to clean both sides!!!!  With one quick motion I just pull down the top glass and the screen is right there.  If I don't want the screen, I just push the top glass up and it retracts into the top frame of the door.  AWESOME!!!

I also took out my spirea bushes in front and started working on re-landscaping west of the sidewalk.  I scored sod off Craig's List last Saturday so Paul and I had a date night to pick that up.  I just have to make a little list of the things I've purchased from Craig's List for this remodel.....

  1. Ceramic Floor Tile....a guy had the amount we needed left over from his cabin project so I picked it up for more than 1/2 off retail
  2. Refrigerator....a french door Maytag bought from a retired couple that was downsizing
  3. Stackable Washer & Dryer....bought from a guy who was upgrading his set
  4. Landscape Plants....bought from 3 different people who were thinning out their gardens
  5. Patio set
  6. Sitting Bench....this guy repainted the iron and removed and restained the slats for the's beautiful!
  7. Padded bench for entryway....guy was selling it for his daughter.  It really jazzes up the entryway and gives people a place to sit while putting on or taking off shoes.
  8. Sod....a landscaper had 42 rolls left over from a project.  I picked it up for 50% off retail, and it's just what we needed for the front yard.
I think that's everything.  I'll go back and add things if I remember them!

I also purchased corbels for the decorative piece at the peak of the garage.  I decided to have the builder put 2 corbels at the entryway to match the ones over the garage.  I bought these from Architectural Depot through Amazon.  We went with this type of corbel:

I decided to stain the corbels and the trim around the columns with a cedar stain.  Here's the stain I chose:

The stain color I went with is Cinnamon.

I've also been having lot of fun with the fam....State Fair, Back to School, and a photo shoot.

Jane & Nick posing for a picture at Little Farm Hands.

First Grade

Third Grade

Fourth Grade
I was also contacted by a gal who writes for our local Catholic paper and a few other national publications.  I made cookies for her daughter's baptism probably 3 years ago.  She's doing a piece on Catholic artists for a publication from Couple to Couple League.  I had to fill out a questionnaire and submit photos of my cookies and my self.  Maria received the prestigious title of "family photographer" so she was given the task of photographing me.  I sent the following pic to Christina, and the article will be published in November for their December issue!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lotsa Gardening

We asked for an estimate from a landscaper because the mess left after the bobcat seemed too overwhelming at the time.  However, the estimate came back way over budget.  So I decided to take on the project with the kids.  Paul & I did most of the work, but the kids did help with inside jobs....laundry, cleaning, meals, baby duty, and childcare.  I like the agreements we can come to in order to get a job done.

The space for the front flower bed is 17.5'x7.5'.  That's a lot of square footage!  We removed 5 inches of clay and rock from that bed.

I had a truckload of black dirt delivered from D that place!  After we loaded the flower bed with enough dirt for planting, we worked on grading it.  Paul and I then went back to D Rock for stepping stones and mulch.  I also met with a friend to plan out my garden.  She gave me tips and suggestions on plants and placement.

Paul and I chose rough cut Flagstone for the stone path.

We used gravel trap to set the stones in the dirt.  Then we put poly barrier down to keep the weeds out of the garden.

These are the plants I decided to use:  hostas, peach daylilies, a transplanted hydrangea, lamium, salvia, perennial geraniums, black eyed susans, white daisies, blanket & coneflowers, karl foerster grass, cat mint, ajuga, coreopsis, moss rose, purple vinca, and anise hyssop.  All of these except the hydrangea came from Craig's List from people who were splitting off plants.  It cost way less than a garden center!

We decided on red cedar for the mulch.  I love the look of the red background with the green foliage.

And here's the finished product in the daytime.  We picked up the patio chairs and side table from Craig's List for $20.  I tossed the cushions they came with and decided to use my own.

Now we have to tackle the sidewalk edge.  Unfortunately, I got mastitis yesterday and still felt like crap today.  I spent most of the afternoon in bed and am taking an antibiotic for the infection.  The baby is still nursing like a champ, but boy does it hurt!  I tried to do some digging on the trench for the edging but I didn't get very far.  My legs were so sore, and with a fever you just can't do much.

Next, we have to remove these bushes.  I had an azalea planted between two of them, but I removed it and it's now sitting in a bucket waiting for a miracle to happen.

This dirt pile also has to be removed, the new border made, and shrubs/plants need to be planted.  I'm going to plant spirea and sedum with various ground covers on the edges.  Then we need to reseed the lawn.  The new border will only be 4' from the sidewalk which will give the kids more grass in the front yard.  I also need to do a bit of grading so the lawn is more level.  Like I said....Lotsa gardening!!

It's been a fun and busy summer, but it's coming to a close.  We'll be going to the fair on Friday and continue working on various projects....painting, gardening, landscaping, and moving in....over the weekend.  School starts back up on Tuesday, but everyone's ready for it!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Remodel Update!!!

I'm still trying to work out how to go from posting updates on Facebook with the pictures taken from my phone to posting updates here on my blog.  If I take pictures with my camera, it takes a bit longer to download and edit them.  Taking pics from my phone and immediately uploading them to FB is SO much easier.

I'm all about the quick fix around here so this is as good as I can do....a link to my remodel album on Facebook.  I'm told you don't need a FB account to view the pics.  So here's the link:

Remodel 2014

I also have a second album where I posted updates after Monica painted the entryway and mudroom.  Here's the link for that so you see the colors.  We used James River Gray in the entryway...

And we used Rockport Gray in the mudroom....

Here's the link to the second album I have posted on Facebook....

Thankfully, our siding came in this week so the workers have been putting it up, and it looks great!!!

side of the garage and entry door to garage....We have to put a second coat of paint on that door!

See all that landscaping that needs to be done?....ugh!

The 2 sides of the entryway were finished with siding yesterday.  The color is a perfect match!!!

This is the other side of the garage which was finished today.  The light fixtures on the garage and
entryway have a photo cell so they come on automatically when the sun goes down!  Too cool! More landscaping goes on this side of the house, too....ugh.
Well there you have it.  I'm so excited about the changes.  Yesterday we moved the refrigerator into the mudroom, and today the plumbers were connecting the water and venting to the washer and dryer that will be in the mudroom, too.  I'm also working on the plans for the storage unit with the cabinet maker.  I can't wait until it's all completed, but I have to be patient!

Thursday, August 14, 2014


It seems like summer has just flown by because there are only a few weeks left till school!  Yet, we try and savor every last bit of it by enjoying the Fourth of July, playing with the dog, finishing construction, and landscaping (yes, we decided that with all these big helpers around, who needs a landscaper?!)  So here's a little of what we've been up to.....

Jane posing for her picture at Central Park in St. Anthony 

Grandma Tina and Grandma Carol with Elizabeth

Elizabeth smiling in her sleep

Jane and Nick playing with the dog in the front yard.

We'll post more pics of the remodel and landscaping later.  For now, we're having technical difficulties getting the photos off the iPhone.:(

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