Monday, October 31, 2016

Pumpkins



As the children get older, Halloween has become less and less of a whole "season."  It seems to be more about the actual night of trick or treating instead of lots of build up, parades or parties.  Or maybe it's just this year because we are still a bit unsettled in the house.  I'm hesitant to decorate because it just feels like adding more clutter to a house already cluttered with boxes and loose items that haven't found their home.



I have a tendency to let this unsettled feeling stop me from doing things, but I'm thankful that the children don't feel that way.  They asked me when we were decorating pumpkins, and I realized that we couldn't let that go as it's a tradition that they look forward to!


Grace decorated a Snoopy and a Stranger Things (she loves that show!) pumpkin while Harris made a face for his Grandma and a pumpkin with the Apple logo.  While we no longer have a front porch to put the pumpkins on, we do have a pretty great stone wall!




Thursday, October 27, 2016

Framed Costumes



Years and years ago, the children were a Princess and a Frog for Halloween.  They were my favorite costumes and, in fact, a picture of them in the costumes has been the header for this blog since the very, very beginning.  For years I've wanted to frame them, but I never had a wall large enough for them both.  That is not the case in this house and I knew right away that I wanted them near the children's bedrooms on a large, blank wall that was made in the hallway renovation.



The new hallway makes a bit of a L here leading to Harris' bathroom and includes the new linen closet.  The door to Harris' room used to be on this wall but is now on the new hallway making room for the costumes!


I think of these costumes as art made by my Mom!


I had them framed in identical frames but different colorways.  The silver and and white compliments the purple and silver in Grace's dress and the gold and black brings out those same colors in the frog costume.


I had a moment of fear that they were going to be too big for the wall but they actually work perfectly!  I just love how they turned out.



Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The New Hallway

So it turns out that I'm not a great interior photographer!  This is an interior hallway and I couldn't seem to get the light right!  We love the hallway and these pictures don't at all do it justice!


Upstairs, in order to get to the children's bedrooms you must walk down a short stairway.  Originally, at the bottom of the stairs, you dead ended into a closet with doors to two bedrooms on either side of that closet.  In order to get to the bedroom at the far end of the house, you had to go through the bedroom on the right side. That's not confusing, right?

Before


After

Once they took the walls of the bedrooms down, it was like there was always meant to be a hallway there and, in fact, I'm not convinced that there wasn't one at some point.  In this picture you can see the original framing and how it already formed a natural hallway.  At the end is the stone that had to be cut out to form the doorway to Grace's room.



The cut stone!  Through the hallway, you can see the several stairs that lead up to our master bedroom.  The door on the left is the original doorway to the bedroom (now Harris's room) you had to walk through to get to this room.  We closed off that doorway.



The newly framed hallway.  We were able to add just a couple of inches to the hallway.  I was very worried it was going to feel very narrow but it doesn't at all.


We also added access to the attic above this section of house.



We also added a small closet to the hallway.  We thought it would add some quirkiness - which old houses are always full of - and functionality at the same time.  We put an outlet in the closet and it's where we keep our plug in small vacuum.  We reused the door after taking it out of one of the bedrooms (more on that later). 


Of all the things we hope and plan to do to the house, I believe that putting in this hallway was the best thing we will do.  It completely changed the way the house lives!  Now, the end bedroom feels like a part of the house.  I can stand in the middle of the upstairs and see all the rooms, which makes me so happy!



Monday, October 24, 2016

Getting Started


When we first looked at the house at Frog's Hollow, I loved it right away.  I also knew exactly what bedroom Grace would want because it had the cutest, tiniest bathroom attached to it.  However, the only way to get to that bedroom was to go through another bedroom (this is fairly common in old homes) or up the narrow, windy back staircase.    It also so happens this room is on the very end of the house so it was very disconnected from the rest of the upstairs.  While I wouldn't consider this house grand, I'm fairly sure that at some point this bedroom was a room for the help.

On the second, or maybe third visit, I noticed that all the closets were lined up down the middle, between two of the bedrooms.  I wondered if we might could make a hallway!  I knew that it wouldn't be easy as we would have to break through 18 inches of stone, but thought it could really be a game changer.

We worked with an architect to come up with a plan to make a hallway and realized that while we were at it we could enlarge the laundry and add a linen closet.  This would help us to "clean up" this area of the house, which was a bit of a mess and pretty awkward.  The house was built in several sections (we call it Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear) with the children's bedrooms in the original part of the house. This section was confusing with lots of odd closets in addition to being a dead end when you came down a few stairs to get to this part of the house.

This summer, while we were on our trip, we had the work done to the house.  In some ways this was great (no inconvenience, no living in a mess) but in others it was hard (we had to have everything decided before we left, we weren't here when issues arose, we didn't get to see the whole process).  The best part was that when we got home it was almost move in ready!

I originally intended for this post to have all the before and after pictures but I now realize that that would be just too long of a post so this is just going to serve as the introduction!  The interesting part will be up next!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Weekend



We did it!  30 miles, lots and lots of laughter, a few tears, some very ugly blisters and much gratitude for dear friends.  I feel so privileged to have been able to be a part of this incredible experience with Candace, who is just finishing up her year long fight with breast cancer.  It felt really good to be a part of something so big and that is doing so much good.




30 miles of walking was hard!  Fortunately, that left us with lots of time for chatting, which is something we are very good at.  Also, I now feel like I know Atlanta in a way that I didn't before! We walked by landmarks and beautiful neighborhoods which I had never been in and it was a treat to see them.




The crew for the walk was fantastic.  They were cheering you on every step of the way and there outfits were so fun to see!



At the end of the first day, there was a dinner where everyone came in their pajamas.  Julie got us all cute pajama bottoms and shirts.




The first day we walked 20 miles and the second day was 10.  We finished up in front of the capital building with a beautiful ceremony celebrating those who are survivors and those who are still fighting the fight.  Let's pray that they soon find a cure.




Thursday, October 13, 2016

Breast Cancer Walk


I'm flying down to Atlanta tomorrow to participate in the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer.  I'm walking with, and in honor of, my dear friend, Candace.  She just finished up her last radiation treatment and I couldn't be more proud of her and the way she has handled this horrible disease with courage and grace.

the ladies I'm walking with (Candace is right beside me)

I want to share her story with you in the hopes that it might help just one person...


In December of 2015, I got quite a shock. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I've had many people ask me how it was discovered, so I thought I would share my story if it could possibly make a difference for even one woman.

I did feel something, but it was not the typical lump that you would think of. From things I had read and heard, it felt like fibroid tissue so I didn't really do much. Then a week or so later, I started to have shooting pains in my breast. I tried to stay off the internet, but eventually I did start to look things up. And much to my relief, I was finding that breast pain isn't usually associated with breast cancer. But fortunately it bothered me enough that I went ahead and called the doctor to schedule a mammogram. I had to have a physical exam first though to get the mammogram referral. The dr. was not my regular doctor. My doctor was out on personal leave, but I needed to be eased so I chose not to wait. I went in for my appt feeling stressed and fearful and after a very SHORT exam, the doctor tried to ease my worries, and said to me, "Don't worry. You don't have cancer." Now this is where I want everyone to take note. I could have easily skipped the mammogram at this point after hearing FROM THE DOCTOR THAT I DON'T HAVE CANCER. But THANKFULLY I went ahead and had the mammogram. And the rest is history.

I was called in several more times, and on December 23rd, the day before our first Christmas celebration, sitting in a shopping center parking lot, my breast surgeon called me at 6:30 that evening to let me know it was cancer. The lump they discovered was in fairly deep tissue and was not noticeable by a physical exam. And I was told that the pain I was experiencing had nothing to do with it. So I don't know why or what, but I decided that the pain was a divine intervention to get me to go have a mammogram. So if I can give any advice through all of this, I would say Just go. Don't ignore. Even if it's scary. Even if you think it's probably nothing. I can't imagine what would have been my news or fate had I waited.
So it's definitely been a journey. I had a lumpectomy in February, 4 rounds of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of radiation. My last radiation treatment is next week. It wasn't always easy, but overall I felt blessed that my body seemed to handle everything fairly well. I even continued to work and go about our life as much as I was able to. I am so appreciative for that and for all of the support along the way. From Jeff and the kids' unconditional love, to my parents coming up for every round of chemo, for my extended family regularly sending me texts and cards, to Facebook friends constantly sending me love and support through my posts, and to my friends and neighbors that fed and cared for us for several months. I'm indebted to you all.
Back in March, a few of my closest friends told me they would do this 2 day walk with me. At the time, I did not know that I would be doing chemo. And I also didn't know that I wouldn't finish things up until less than 2 weeks before the event. But I decided to still try and go through with it. It's something that I've actually wanted to do for years. Except now we would be walking for me. 
So I thank you in advance for any support you can give me and my team to participate in this walk. I feel that it will be the best way to wrap this year up and look to the future with hope and love for myself and many other women.


I met Candace through a group of women that I've mentioned many times here on the blog.  We named our group of girlfriends "Baby Club" and that name has stuck all these years.  So naturally we named our walking team, Booby Club!  I hate asking for money, and I've certainly never done anything like that on the blog, but if anyone wants to support our team here is the link.  We haven't met our goal quite yet but I have confidence we will!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to those that have already supported us!  


Monday, October 10, 2016

Planting Peonies


There is so much to do here at Frog's Hollow that it sometimes is hard to know where to start, but I know that one can never go wrong with flowers and so that is where we have found ourselves working... in the garden.  Or what will eventually be the garden.



Peonies can take several years to really get going and so I knew that I wanted to get them in the ground in our very first season here.  Fall is the optimum time to get them planted as they do best being planted bare root.


Last spring, before we left for the trip, I ordered 25 peonies and then promptly forgot about them.  So I couldn't have been more surprised when they showed up on my doorstep two weeks ago!  Clearly, when I ordered them I thought that I would have been further along than I am.  Or perhaps I thought I'd need a big kick in the behind.  Either way, these peonies had to get in the ground and quickly.

We have a lot of shale so we had to get creative in our digging!

I plan on having a rather large combined flower and vegetable garden.  I already had a pretty clear idea of the garden layout, but Bryce and I spent a fair amount of time planning, marking and discussing the garden (a story for a later post).  Once we had the layout, we were able to mark it off and begin prepping the peony beds.  We have four long peony beds with 6 peonies each.


After planting, peonies do well being left alone, but properly preparing the area where they are planted can go along way in giving them the best start possible.  We made sure to dig at least 18 inches down and out, fill the hole with manure, and load nice, loose soil on top of the manure (the roots shouldn't go on top of manure directly) before putting the roots in with the eyes about two inches under the top of the soil.  We had a pretty handy and handsome helper.


Several years ago, my sister gave me the book, Peonies, The Imperial Flower by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall.  I love it as it is filled with everything to know about peonies; including the history of peonies, art through the ages concerning peonies, lists of fine specimens and advice on growing them! It was this book that I used fairly heavily when deciding what peonies to plant.  I ordered my peonies online from these sources: Klehms Song Sparrow, Adelman Peony Gardens and Hollingsworth Peonies.  I've used Klehms Song Sparrow before and have had great success, but they didn't have all the varieties I was looking for this year.


 
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