Monday, August 29, 2016


On Friday, August 12th (Shane's 16th birthday) Evie and I flew into Phoenix for a quick weekend visit to my grandparents.
Not coincidentally, Mom and Shane were there for a visit too.

Mom makes traveling with any of the kids so easy. She picked us up from the airport, had a car seat for Evie, and had brought down kiddie pool toys for her to play with.


{grandpa's grapefruit trees, they produce the best grapefruits in the winter}

While there I was poking around some old stuff grandma has in a display case.
She has a newspaper from New York at the time of the civil war {!}
She says that her mother was visiting her grandmother and noticed that they were being used as tinder for starting fires...needless to say she confiscated any remaining and here we have it.

Grandma's house holds some of my strongest childhood memories.
Her house just has this good smell, and the scent of the pool water on the surrounding concrete, and the neighborhood desert plant smells, and the sound of the cooing doves.
And grandma's yummy food and her stocked ice cream freezer and soda fridge. 
And grandpa's loud belly laugh and the card game trash talking.
Some things I love intensely.

Sunday morning I made everyone sit for some pictures.

{four generations}

{Mom and Shane}

 {Grandma and Grandpa}

I flew home Sunday afternoon thankful for the time I got to spend there.
Curt had held down the fort admirably.
He took the boys to a wedding reception, a high school football game, the neighborhood pool, and had wrangled them at church (and still played the organ). 
Superman right there.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

piano room update

I haven't done a house tour post in over a year, and this still isn't one, but I figured I needed to show the significant change that has happened in our piano room/library.

First off though, this room has been through many iterations, and I thought a nostalgic review might be appropriate.

Ah, empty shell pre move in.

A moment of silence for the 90s topiary murals, orange wood, and white dining room carpet.

First attempt at sticking furniture in the room just to have it somewhere.

A slightly more put together attempt.

Overall it had many problems.
-dirty paint that looked yellow in some light (I don't like yellow)
-too busy
books, I am obviously in love with books, but books if not bought specifically for decorative purposes do not match and are not cohesive.
That, in addition to the black/yellow/black/yellow pattern going on with the furniture and walls was just too much.

So I hatched a plan. A bold plan. 
One that made family members say "you're going to do what?" when told the plan.
Luckily Curt lets me do my thing and I feel it panned out in a big way.
I painted the whole room glossy black, trim and all.

There are several reasons why I think this works:
-the rest of the downstairs is a very light color, so the house could stand one room of dark.
-the bookshelves, piano, and some of the large scale art now blend to give your eye a rest.
-dark can be cozy, and cozy libraries are classic.
-maybe opposite of intuition, including the baseboards and crown molding in the black emphasized our taller ceiling height instead of making the room feel squat.

I'm to the point where I want decor that is really meaningful to me, and not something that just looks nice. It will take time for the whole house to be done that way, but this room makes me so happy.

I bought prints of paintings that move me from one of my favorite artists, J. Kirk Richards, ordered custom frames, then put them up in this gallery format.
Custom framing can be cost prohibitive, but I picked a style that was on major clearance (all of these frames totaled around $80), chose not to have glass, and did the work myself to fit and attach the canvases in the frames and to add the hanging hardware/wire (I used linen art tape for the canvases and the hardware came with the frames).

I love family history work and I wanted a way for my children to see their roots.
I ordered this beautiful nine generation chart (only $10) and spent hours filling it in.
I put our children in the center so Curt's family is half of the chart and mine the other half.
I'm always working in to find more of our ancestors. It's getting easier and I'm going farther back as they complete historical document indexing projects and gain more access to documents through partnerships. Check them out, it's free and fascinating.
I just bought a poster sized frame from Target, painted the backing black, and mounted the chart.
I didn't put the plexiglass in because I didn't like the shine plus I wanted to be able to add more family names as I find them.

The color on the upper portion of the foyer has changed a couple of times.
It used to be the same yellowish color that I've gotten rid of in the kitchen, family room, and piano room.
Then I painted it (and thus the entire upstairs hallway) the cream trim color.
I hardly ever have to repaint things, but I realized pretty quickly that that color didn't really work.
But it was such a pain in the rear end to do that it stayed for a while.
Then I got up the energy to do it right. 
It's now the Sherwin Williams color Neutral Ground.

We bought a bench from a friend who was getting rid of it for $100 and I painted it black.
We then brought our table and chairs into the dining room and can keep our leaf in it all the time.
That led to us getting a new, smaller table for our eat-in area of our kitchen, but I haven't found the right chairs yet, so I'll hold off showing it.
If you remember, the art pieces in the dining room are framed doilies my grandma crocheted, so they definitely fit into my goal of having art that means something to me.

So that's where we are at.
Eventually I'd like to find a nice picture lamp to hang over the generation chart, but I really am enjoying seeing this room every day.

 We'll end with a shot of my adorable photography assistant.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Back in the middle of July we went to England.
I was excited but then as it drew closer I was pretty scared at how the long flights were going to work out with the kids.
Luckily they were about as good as I could ask for on the planes.

{my cute seat mate}

{flying over the beautiful English countryside}

We had taken an overnight flight out so we took it easy the first day, just settled into our airbnb apartment and checked out Big Ben and a playground.
Big Ben turned out to be our kids favorite thing about England, probably because they thought of it as 'Big Bentley' from the movie Cars 2.

This building, the Houses of Parliment or Westminster Palace, is so neat and pretty.

We found a playground nearby and played for a long while.
Our trip can maybe also be appropriately called a 'tour de London parks' as we visited at least one new one a day to let the kids get their play on and their wiggles out.

Our second day was Curt's birthday and we visited the Buckingham Palace area.

{in front of Buckingham Palace}

{on the bridge over the lake in St. James Park}

{Regent Street, love the Union Jack flags}

{a playground we went to multiple times because it was right next to our apartment in Southwark}

The next morning we figured out the buses to head to Battersea Park to meet up with a high school friend of Curt's and her little family.
The buses were a game changer for the rest of the trip, much easier to navigate with a stroller than the tube and they went everywhere.
Carrie, her boyfriend, and her daughter had just moved to London from Paris.
I loved spending time with them and Battersea Park had some amazing playgrounds and green spaces.

 From there we took the train and headed back to the airport to pick up mom, who was joining us from Salt Lake. So glad she was able to come explore with us.
We wandered around the Trafalgar Square/Covent Garden area and that evening Curt, mom, and the kiddos visited Big Ben and a playground while I took a nap.

The next morning we went to the British Museum.
I would really love the time to look at and read about everything in here, but that is not the season of life we are in with little kids. 
Curt took the kids to where we thought there was a kids area so mom and I could get a little bit of focused looking at stuff in, but then we couldn't find each other and I stressed out (seriously, we rely on cell phones so much these days, and I felt so handicapped not having an international phone plan). And then we found each other and just had to leave because I was done.
I'm not a fan of crowds, which doesn't really mix well with touristy things.

But we got ice cream outside and all was well.
The first couple of days we needed jackets, but the last couple days got really warm.

We went to a playground in Regents Park then took a bus back to the apartment.

The next day we went on an all day bus tour through the Cotswolds, a beautiful part of the English countryside.
This was probably my favorite day.

First stop was Bibury.

We then drove to Bourton-on-the-Water for lunch.

{this was a yummy meat pie and chips for lunch, Curt got the fish (cod, I think) and chips and it was good too. I don't usually even like fish}

Then we drove to Bampton, which is where they filmed many of the outdoor and town scenes for Downton Abbey.

Lastly, we went to Blenheim Palace, a place I had never heard of but it turned out to be a spectacular estate.

{that lake was man made, crazy}

{this was a large tree on the palace grounds, but I wanted to note that there were many old and gigantic trees throughout the parks in London. Hard to capture the awesome scale in pictures.}

The next day mom gave a fabulous gift and watched the kids while Curt and I went on a date.
It was super fun and probably my second favorite part of the trip.

We stopped by Borough Market to get some food and then headed to St. Paul's Cathedral.

{one of my favorite things in London, all of the flower box adorned corner pubs}

{all the young professionals on their lunch break, out to get some sun}

We climbed the many hundreds of stairs to go to the top and my legs felt like jelly the rest of the day.

That night we walked around some more.

{this is mom's 'why are you making me take a picture?' face}

{the baby was obsessed with all of the birds he saw everywhere, but sometimes he called them 'puppies'}

Our last day there we had reservations to go up to the Sky Garden, a public garden with views over the city.
The kids were really done traveling by this time and were a bit grumpy. 

{yeah, are you done yet mom so we can go?}

We then walked towards the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. I made sure to swing us by this place called St. Dunstan in the East.
It was a church that got damaged in the war, but instead of rebuilding they made it into a garden.
It was very beautiful and peaceful.

{Tower of London}

{Tower Bridge}

Then we just vegged around the apartment and packed up. 

{one last visit to the next door playground}

In the morning we rode the train to airport and flew home.
All of us flew into Philadelphia, mom flew to Salt Lake from there and we went to Atlanta.
 The kids were good all day for the flights, I am so so thankful.
Evie then Des completely lost it when we got in our vehicle to drive home from the airport, so we had almost an hour of screaming, but I can't blame them one bit because it was a super long day.

I'm really grateful to have been able to go.
I was really grateful to get home.  

One thing I appreciate more now is the bounteous space we have.
No sharing walls, we have a big a yard to play in, a washer and dryer {!}, and just space to spread out into.
Some people thrive on city life, I've found that I'm not one of them.
But I can appreciate a little dose of one.

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