Sunday, July 29, 2012

Happiness Is...

What's been making YOU happy lately???  Comment below!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stenciling Tips and Progress

Along with doing more projects with Maddie Bear and planning our wedding, checking some house goals off the list has been a major theme for the summer.

A few weeks ago I actually went around the house and placed sticky notes on everything I want done in the near future.  Spoiler Alert:  There's a LOT of sticky notes.

Eric laughs at my system, but seeing a yellow Post-it that reads, "Paint me!"stuck to the kitchen wall is a constant reminder to stop watching so much Dawson's Creek and do something with my life!

I've been seeing amazing wallpaper options across the mighty Internets recently.  And I'm not talking your old Aunt Bessie's The Birth of Venus-themed wallpaper.  I'm talking beautiful, drool-worthy, modern prints.

However, wallpaper presents several challenges that I'm not able to forgive.  First, it's wicked expensive.    (I'm looking at you, Anthropologie!  You know what you've done.)  Second, it's too permanent a decision.  Once you wallpaper a wall, it's not so easy going back, especially not on our horse-hair plastered beauties.  Besides, wallpapering Maddie's dollhouse was a bit of a disaster.  Can you imagine?  Quell nightmare....snort.

So as much as I love all the wallpapering prettiness I'm seeing, it's not an option that will work well for us.  Here's where stenciling comes in...It's just as pretty, cheap, and can easily be undone with a new coat of paint!

Ever since I saw the stenciling job on Young House Love, I've wanted to do something similar in our house.  (Let's face it, by the time they're done with us, our entire world is going to look like John and Sherry's house.  I even have my eye on a ceramic Ibex head for our dining room.  It's a serious problem...)

After months of stalking Royal Design Studio's website, I finally bit the bullet and bought the small "Berry Romantic" allover stencil. (Young House Love has a discount code!)

I had intended on stenciling the entryway to the house, but Eric sighed and winced enough to convince me otherwise.  He's probably right since it would involve a very tall ladder, and I've got moves like a hippopotamus.

Not to be totally deterred, I turned my attention to the office.  (By the way, I feel lame saying  "office" like we have need for a room devoted to all the important Pinterest-gawking, Facebook-stalking, and Sporcle-quiz playing we do.)

Enough small talk, let's get right down to it, shall we?

  • Martha Stewart Stencil Brush Set
    •  I bought the brushes at Michael's.  The different sized brushes help me get into all the nooks and crannies of the stencils, and they've held up well as I've used and abused them.
  • Removable Spray Adhesive 
  • Painter's Tape
  • Paper towels, Q-Tips and a spray bottle for quick cleanups.  
  • Something to keep paint in...cups, trays, paper plates, etc.  


Quick Note:  If you are thinking of stenciling yourself, and are the kind of person who needs a solid plan, I highly recommend visiting Royal Design Studio's website where they offer some tutorials, and also checking out Sherry's tutorial on Young House Love.  Cause, brudda, I'm no expert.  (Since I'm not big on getting bogged down in directions, I just kinda slapped the stencil on the wall and started painting.)

  Here's what I've learned thus far:

  • I keep my paint in two Handy Paint Cups.  This way, I am able to securely hold the paint in one hand while keeping my stenciling brush in the other.  I swirl my brushes against the inner rim of the cups to remove any excess globs of paint every time I reload my brush.  
  • As per the package directions, I started in the middle, highest section of one wall and am working my way down and out from there.  This ensures that your pattern aligns properly.  
  • The spray adhesive and some painter's tape are more than enough to secure the stencil to the wall.  So far, I haven't had any problems with the patterns shifting or slipping while painting.  In fact, one good spray of adhesive will last through  a several removals and reapplications.  

  • My mother warned me that stenciling takes very little paint.  True story.  A few early tries yielded some blurry, blobby berries.  Nobody wants that.  You can always add a second or third thin layer of paint if needed, but there's no taking back the blob.      

  • When applying paint, you are supposed to swirl the brush in small circles.  I started off trying to dab the paint, which didn't work so hot.  Much like in Seinfeld, the swirl is the key.  Paint will get all over the stencil.  That's okay.  The windows in the stencil will take care of the pattern for you.  

  • I learned quickly to start with the lighter color.  Some parts of the pattern, particularly the twigs, are quite small, and it's nearly impossible to stop the paint from overlapping into other areas.  When I added the darker colors for the berries, I could easily cover up any lighter paint that wasn't supposed to be there.     

  • Every so often I use a level to make sure my pattern isn't getting crooked.  For the most part, lining up the pattern is pretty easy.  It has extra windows built in that help you align the stencil almost perfectly.  However, I did say "almost perfectly," which is why the level comes in handy to keep me on the path of righteousness.  

  • Easy except for corners....Corners suck, especially when there's moulding in the room.  The stencil is quite bendy, so you don't have to be afraid to really shove it into the creases.  Also, even though the stenciling in the corners is far from perfect, you'd never notice unless looking very closely. Those crafty stencil engineers design these things well.  

  • I do not stop to clean the paint off the stencil after every application.  Maybe I should, but I do not.  Don't worry, not enough paint creeps on to the back of the stencil to ruin the walls.  However, after a while the paint builds up, and I noticed my berries getting smaller and smaller and smaller.  My solution is to peel the dried paint off the stencil every so often.  It comes right off.  If you were the kid that used to cover your hand with Elmer's Glue just so you could peel it off, this step will be very satisfying for you.  It might even save a bundle on therapy.   

  • Finally, and most importantly, stenciling takes a LONG ASS TIME!  On my first day, I spent a full five hours painting, and I only got this much finished:  

Granted, I'm doing an entire room instead of just one wall or border, so this insanity is all of my own making.  As it is, after about a total of 20 hours working on this project, I only had a wall and a half complete.  I'm currently a little further along....maybe half way?

It's a slow process, but I'm very happy with the results so far!

Someday, maybe by Thanksgiving, when it is finished, I'll post pictures of the final product.

Have any stenciling tips for me?  Just finishing a project of your own?  Let me know!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Bagel Snatcher

Beware of the bagel snatcher! 
Don't let it enter her sight! 
For once she sees your bagel, 
She'll want a tasty bite. 
She'll smile, she'll wink, she'll beg and beguile, 
Be it onion, everything or egg. 
And before you know what hit you, 
All of your bagel is gone. It's gone. 
O!  All of your bagel is gone.  
So don't say I didn't warn you,
Hold on to your bagel tight!  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Madeline's First...


Can't see it?  Well, here it is!
So it begins, Madeline.  Only 2.6 million more till you catch up to your dear, old mum.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Morning Messes with Mumma and Maddie Bear

This week's project was either the best idea ever or the worst idea ever depending on who  you ask.

If you ask Eric, who has to live in the universe I slowly dismantle around him, he'd probably tell you it was the worst idea ever.  But if you ask a mess monster who loves to eat, sleep and breathe messes, he'd probably tell you it was the best idea ever.  Because boy?  Was. it. messy.

My stoke of genius actually began last week while we suffered through an intolerable wave of heat.  (I don't do heat.  That's why I live in Massachusetts, Mother Nature, thankyouverymuch!  Get with the program please!)

I decided Madeline needed to play with some ice.  Not just any old ice.  Fun, multi-colored ice!  So, I filled up our trusty ice cube tray with some water and......wait for coloring.  (See where this is headed, folks?)

 I must say, those ice cubes sure did look purdy.
But as dazzling as the ice cubes were, I knew it was a bad idea as soon as I emptied them into the bowl.  I suddenly remembered what food coloring does, which is ya know, to color stuff...including clothing, skin, and little babies named Madeline.  

Fortunately for the mess monster, once I get an idea in my head, I have a very difficult time letting it go.  So, even though I knew this would probably end badly, I decided to go through with my plan anyways.  

Therefore, I filled up some jars with water, let Madeline melt the colored ice in them, and she splashed around merrily.  

It was fun to watch the ice cubes slowly dissolve and release the dye into the water.  

Then it was fun watching Madeline mix the ice cubes around to create new colors....mainly, black.

It was slightly less fun watching bits and pieces of her body get stained with dye.  At least, I had the good sense to remove her clothing.  As you can see, I left the sparkle shoes in tact.

 Eventually all the water turned black, Madeline tried to dump the containers, and the project came to a swift and sudden end.

Not to worry, Madeline, you'll always have your purple hands to remember this project by!
 After numerous washings and scrubbings, I was left with the picture above.

I rolled my eyes at myself, and assured Eric that Madeline would not stay purple forever.  Oh well, so what if her hands were purple for the next few days....psssh.

  "Well, you better hope it comes off in time for the wedding," he cautioned.  I told him it would, but my heart sank into my stomach a little.  Surely, she wouldn't stay purple that long....or would she?

Luckily, the Internet Gods had the answer:  Shaving cream and water removes food coloring from skin!

"Come on, Madeline, Mumma's got a new game!"  I called from the porch.

This time, I filled up a large container with water, let Madeline watch me squirt my pink, lady-like shaving cream into it, and told her to have at it.  She splashed and splished and had just as much fun as the ice provided.  She was having so much fun, in fact, that the moment I turned my back to grab some paper towels, Madeline decided to dump the shaving-cream water all over the porch floor.  Cue sad trombone sounds!

At least most of the dye has been removed.

Weekend in Vermont

We drove up to Vermont on Friday to finalize some wedding plans.  (Can you believe we're getting married in less than three weeks?!  Eeep!)

We spent Friday afternoon in Burlington, VT.   We got some food from a street vendor and sat in the park nomming down.  I had french fries with gravy (or "Poutine" if you want to be fancy and make it sound like you're not really just a chubby lady eating french fries drenched in gravy.)  Madeline ate a hotdog bun.

Then we went to our cupcake tasting!!!  This was a great way to top of the gravy fries I ate for lunch.  So many cupcakes....

Obviously, we didn't like them one bit.

After eating the frosting off two cupcakes, Madeline went into a bit of a sugar induced high, so we brought her to a toy store to work off some energy.  
And I found her this amazing roller-derby jacket for 60 percent off.  HAD to have it.  
We topped off the afternoon with a narrated cruise of Lake Champlain aboard the Spirit of Ethan Allen.  We're hosting our rehearsal dinner on this boat, so Eric and I decided to scope out the sitch.
Madeline got pretty bored fast.  Apparently the fascinating history of Samuel de Champlain does not interest her.  She'd rather screech loudly and wait for people's reaction.  (Spoiler Alert:  it doesn't usually end well.)

Eric took her for a lot of walks around the boat to keep her amused.  I couldn't take her for any walks because I wore a skirt and it was windy, and nobody wants to see the thighs and underpants of a gravy-fry-eating lady.  
Me: Dress- Dorothy Perkins//Cardigan-Gap  Madeline: Shirt and Hat: Old Navy//Skirt-Polarn O Pyret gifted//Shoes- Payless

Saturday was spent up with Mimi and Bob in their cabin.  We met our Justice of the Peace, visited a farmer's market, ate A LOT of food, and hung out by the lake.
And flashed the flowers our belly....obviously...

I'm linking up with Steppin' Out Saturday!  Go check it out!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Happiness Is...

What's been making YOU happy lately???

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Baby Star Wars Geek in Training

See that book they're reading?

It's a copy of Star Wars:  The Empire Strikes Back Mix or Match Story Book.  It was Eric's when he was a kid.  His mom found it around the house and gave it to him this past weekend when we were visiting.

It's pretty awesome.

Even more awesome?  That Madeline now says "Yoda" and "Chewbacca" several times a day.   Starting her young!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

22 Months

Dear Madeline,

Tonight you gave Mumma three new gray hairs during dinner.  You are one headstrong little baby.

You're in a phase where you won't even try anything new to eat.  And if we so much as leave the dreaded food on the table in front of you, you scream "Nooo!" while trying to toss it away.  Basically?  You've been eating a lot of hot dogs, pasta, and cheese recently.

When I picked you up from daycare one day last week, you were in the middle of lunch.  You were eating chicken, brown rice, and veggies.  I wouldn't be able to get you to eat that at home unless I pried your mouth open with some salad tongs.  What gives?!  Don't like the cooking?

In the past few weeks, you language skills have really been blossoming.  You talk constantly!   This sometimes adds to the gray-hair factor since about 90 percent of the time you are uttering one of the following phrases: "No like it!" "It's mine!"  or "I want it!"

On the other hand, it's nice to be able to have conversations with you.  We can ask you about your day at school, and you do your best to fill us in.  Today you told us you painted on the wall and that you want to go to gymnastics tomorrow.

Every night we listen to you babble to the toys in your crib as you fall asleep.  Sometimes it sounds like you're reading them a story, which always begins, "One day, babble..."  Right now, I can hear you lecturing some poor stuffed animal, "No, no.  Don't do dat!"  Other times we can make out lyrics to "Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star" or "A, You're Adorable."

Sometimes you'll strike up a conversation with one of us about something that happened a week or more ago.  For example, you told me today that a friend of yours was, "Gonna take it away!  It's mine!  It's mine!  He take it!"  We haven't seen this boy in over a week, but the last time you saw him the two of you were, in fact, fighting over a toy.  Apparently, you're still worried he's going to come to our house and play with all your things.  It lead to a one-sided conversation about the concept of sharing.

Ownership is a huge issue with you.  You declare that everything is yours.  My car is yours.  The garden is yours.  The glass of milk is yours.  "Dat's mine!  Dat's mine!"  is a constant refrain.

Luckily, you seem to understand the concept of other people owning things too.  If you go after my cup of coffee, I can tell you, "No, Madeline, that's Mumma's coffee," and you'll nod and stop reaching for it.  "Mumma's coffee," you'll repeat.

While we were down in New York, you spotted some beach toys we were saving for later.  You pointed at them and declared, "Dat's mine!"

We said, "No, those are Nana's."

You repeated, "Nana's toys," paused for a moment as you eyed them carefully then added, "I hold it..." as if you were offering to do Nana a favor by holding her toys.

Meanwhile, you continue to be a lovey-dovey little girl.  You like to come sit right up against me in the mornings while you watch your cartoons.  In the afternoons, you'll suddenly exclaim, "My Mumma!  I need my Mumma!" before running over to snuggle.  When I put you in your crib for bed you roll over on your tummy and demand, "Rub my back, Mumma!"  so I rub your back gently for a few minutes before heading downstairs.

You get sad when Eric drops you off at daycare in the mornings now that you're used to being around us most of the week.  You cry for your Dada as he tries to slip out the door, and I'm glad that Eric's the one to shoulder that burden.

I can't believe that we'll be celebrating your second birthday soon, Maddie Bear.  You're such a little princess.


P.S.  I'm sorry this a few days late, but since we're on summer vacation, I've sorta lost track of dates.  Oops.

Montauk 2012

We spent the better part of last week visiting Eric's parents in Montauk, NY.

The big news of this trip to the beach was that Madeline got to ride on her Pop's boat for the first time.  She climbed right on without hesitation, we zipped her up waist to chin in her life jacket, and waited for her reaction.  Her reaction was to fall asleep almost immediately.

As soon as the motor started humming, and the waves started rocking, it was lights out for little Madeline.  So both times we brought her on the boat she didn't see much....but at least she got in a good snooze.  Can't say I blame her.  It is pretty peaceful out on the water.

Also?  I took about ten million and one pictures.  For your viewing pleasure...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happiness Is...

What's been making you happy this week?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Maddie Bear Says...

"Oh, dat shirt!  I love it!  I wear it!"
While walking through Macy's.

"I fell down.  I fell down.  I fell down.  I fell down.  I fell down."
And repeat, repeat, repeat in the saddest voice ever until you acknowledge that she fell down....five days ago.

"I love dat book!"
While in the adult fiction section of the library.  

"Self!  Self!.....Mumma self."
While trying to put her shoes on, realizing she can't do it herself, and passing the task off to me.  

"Dat's mine!"
To everything she sees.  

"Oh my goodness!  Be careful!"
While staking ribbons spools on the couch.

"Baby!  Baby in da tollo!"
 Pointing at a baby in a stroller.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Concerts on the Common

Eric plays in a community band on the local town common several nights throughout the summer.

Sadly, the past two years the weather gods have gotten together and decided the nights of the concerts were the nights to rain because, more often than not, it got cancelled due to bad weather.

Last night, however, was perfect weather.  It wasn't hot, it wasn't was just right.  So, I called up my parents and Amy and asked them to meet Madeline and I there to listen to some jazz.

We sat on some blankets on the grass, ate some brownies, drank some iced tea and just relaxed.  Madeline really likes seeing Eric's concerts.  She kept saying, "Dat's Dada up there!"  And when it was over she joined in the clapping and yelled, "Yay, Dada!"

She stayed up way past her bedtime, but she behaved well.  She spent her time either cuddling with Mimi or running laps around Amy and I.

I thought she'd fall asleep the moment we got in the car, but she didn't.  Instead, she spent the entire ride home telling me, "Da lights are off!  Nap time!"

And I'd reply, "Yes, it's dark out because it's night time.  It's time for night-nights."

And she's say, "Yeah!" as if she was comprehending what I was saying with awe.  Then she'd pause, think to herself and say again, "Da lights are off! Nap time!"

And I'd say, "Yes, you're right.  The lights are off.  The sun went away and the moon is coming out."

"Yeah!  The moon is out!"

And repeat all the way home, where she finally did fall asleep.