Saturday, December 29, 2012

Knock, Knock - Who's There??

Do you remember how we practiced trick-or-treating with Anna on Halloween? And how we practiced the process of ringing the doorbell, saying hello and then thank you and bye-bye? Well...let's just say that lesson stuck. And it stuck well.

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We play the doorbell game every day after we check the mail. Anna will play this game for over 30 minutes if I'd let her. It drives Kingsley up the wall, as you can imagine!!

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 She rings the doorbell, or knocks. I'm waiting just inside and when I open the door, she says, "Hewwooooo!" and then laughs, and then follows it with "bye bye!!!" and then pulls the door closed. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat at least two dozen times. It's pretty hilarious to see how tickled she gets by this game!!

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Funny girl!  Bye bye!!

Stevo's Surprise Project

Having finished some pretty major repairs and renovations to the house this year, Steve and I were chatting about our house plans for next year and I started to feel some wifely guilt. See, when we were originally house hunting, Steve's only house requirement was space for a bar. And when he agreed to pass over the up-to-date, already-fenced-in, very-little-work-needed house next door in order to buy our ramshackle, out-dated but very beautiful house because his crazy wife loved it so much, his only requirement was that we build a bar to house his homebrew beer. And here we were, four years later and no bar. So I proposed that Steve maybe take a look at what he would need to build himself a bar, and to come up with a budget for it.

Well, Steve didn't need too much prodding. He had been looking for a new project ever since finishing Anna's big girl room, and this was definitely one that he could get excited about!!

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He was brilliant and figured that he could use the big entertainment center that was in our master bedroom, and convert that into a bar. I admit that I had my doubts. I thought he was going to ruin a perfectly good piece of furniture, waste a ton of time and money, and be unhappy with the bar and want to redo it all in a couple of years.

Boy did he prove me wrong!! The bar looks AMAZING, and now houses two beer towers (so four beers on tap), a wine fridge for our homemade white wine, and enough liquors to make pretty much any drink we or our guests could want.

Converting the entertainment center took quite a bit of work. He had to raise the two side cabinets at least 6 inches in order to create a level, even surface for the bar counter and to make it high enough to be above the kegerators and wine fridge, so he sawed off the bottoms, built a frame out of 2x8s, and then nailed crown molding along the bottoms to make it blend with the rest of the cabinetry. The bases were painted with black paint matched by Home Depot and it all looked like it had been part of the original cabinet!

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For the middle section, Steve sawed the top part of the counter off, and then discarded the bottom shelves. He raised the counter top several inches, enough to be waist height, and enough to fit two small refrigerators (which he converted to kegerators) and the wine fridge underneath.

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Steve also drilled two holes in the counter top to accommodate the beer towers. He also decided to install a small fan behind the bar to help ventilate the area and protect the fridges from overheating. And last but not least, he installed lights on all the shelves in order to spotlight the glassware and liquors.

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Steve also built small shelves in the middle of the bar counter to house his most frequently used liquors. We were happy to find a new home for that mirror - it had previously been in our farm guest room, which is now Anna's room.

The finished bar, complete with all his Christmas present accessories:


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Current beers on tap: Obama's honey ale, a hard cider, a pumpkin ale,  and a dark IPA beer.
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The wine fridge is stocked with the pinot grigio that Steve and I made. I am happy to report that it is quite good!
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Those familiar with our house will have noticed that we ended up switching the dining room to the front room, which was formerly an unused sitting room. We don't have much furniture in the new bar room yet, but we look forward to decorating it as we get extra time and money. This arrangement served several purposes - I was firm on the point that I did not want people staring at a bar as soon as they walked in my front door...arranged this way, you can't see it as you come in. It also helps eliminate the clutter that tended to accumulate in our dining room. And it is also very nice having the bar next to the kitchen so we can get ice and water easily, while at the same time we can keep the door closed and the kids away. I love having all three of these rooms next to each other, because if we have people over for dinner, they can relax in the bar and then move straight into the dining room, while being separated from the kitchen mess and meal preparations.

This was a fun project and obviously Steve is thrilled to finally get this one crossed off the to-do list! Now I think we just need to have a cocktail party to dedicate the bar in style!

Friday, December 28, 2012

DIY Chalkboard Art Wall

It didn't get done quite in time for Christmas Day, but the day after Christmas we unveiled Anna's other big present. It was something that I had mentioned to Steve a couple of months ago, and happily, he was on board to make it.

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I told Steve that I would LOVE to have an art wall for Anna, something that would let her draw with her beloved chalk but indoors, in a safe environment without direct supervision, and that would let me be comfortable with Maddie while Anna colored. And I was adamant that it be on the wall and not taking up precious floor space in the play room. Well, my wonderful handy husband delivered, and it has been a massive success. We have all had fun drawing pictures and Anna loves being able to "chalk" whenever she wants!

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The project cost us very little except for Steve's time, because we had a lot of the components already from Steve's other big project this winter (coming up next!). We used a big board for the back, chalkboard paint, and crown molding to frame it. Steve also bought a wider, thicker piece of molding to use as a ledge for Anna's chalk and eraser.  He bolted and nailed it very securely into the wall once all the pieces were painted.

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The board was also painted with a magnetic primer but unfortunately it wasn't strong enough to hold magnets underneath the chalk paint. I did, however, go ahead with my plan for the magnets. Anna had a duplicate farm animal puzzle and also an animal sounds puzzle that had a few pieces missing. I glued round magnets to the back of all the pieces, and they now reside on our fridge. I plan to make some kind of magnet board down the road for the play room but for now, Anna enjoys them in the kitchen while I cook.

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I also took the opportunity to clean out and reorganize the play room - a project that was several weeks overdue. I set up a much bigger play mat for Maddie and put all of her new toys on it, and she has loved having more space to roll around and play. I put several of the bigger toys in the closet to rotate out, and I also filled up a Goodwill box of things that are ready for a new home - a definite necessity sometimes!

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This art wall has been a wonderful addition to the play room, and Anna is actually happily drawing away as I type this post! Merry Christmas, Sweetheart and happy chalking!

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Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Oh what a wonderful Christmas! We stayed home this year and ended up turning the Christmas celebration into a week of fun-filled coziness. We were fortunate to have Steve home with us all this week, so we snuggled up by the fire, ate way too much good food, and played with fun new toys and treats.

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Christmas Eve was kicked off with a brunch with my sister and her family. The little ones didn't handle our Thanksgiving dinner too well, so we figured a morning brunch would be easier. I made Steve's favorite breakfast strata, and had lots of fruit, croissants, and mimosas on hand. The gentlemen even enjoyed a cup of eggnog, although my sister and I stuck to orange juice!!

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My sister made these reindeer cookies, aren't they too cute?

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We gave Daniel a gift that Anna has always loved, and luckily it passed the taste test!
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The tissue paper was an even bigger hit, until the mean mommies took it away from him.

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 Anna went down for her nap way earlier than normal, in case you were wondering where she is for this wonderful brunch!

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Anna and Maddie got their ornaments for this year. Banana Bean got her very own Mary Poppins ornament, found at the last minute thanks to inspiration from my friend Amy. She is more than a little obsessed with her ornament and we had to stick it up on the mantel because she kept wanting to play with it! Maddie got a sweet little rocking horse ornament to start her collection.

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Christmas Eve night was spent doing all of Santa's dirty work - putting together Anna's new toys!! We watched one of our favorite Christmas movies (Love Actually) and I got a few of the dishes for Christmas dinner and for Christmas morning's breakfast prepped and in the fridge. We went to bed tired and waaaay excited to see Anna's face in the morning!

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There should be a video right here but it's only showing up on Internet browsers. I have no idea why but if you can't see this on your phone or Google Reader, open it on the Internet browser and watch it there!
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Christmas morning came bright and early with Anna knocking on our bedroom door, and Steve quickly ran downstairs to get the tree lit up and the coffee going. When Anna made her way into the living room, her eyes immediately spotted her big present this year - her very own car! We weren't totally confident that this year was the right year for the Power Wheels, but Anna seemed to love it. She spent quite a bit of time opening the doors, climbing in, getting Minnie situated next to her, fiddling with the radio, and then climbing back out again. Steve showed her how to press the pedal to drive the car, and the smile on her face was worth a million bucks!

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Finally we convinced her to take a break from the car and to focus on the other presents. She had quite the pile this year between us, Auntie Ally, and Poppy and SuSu!!

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Steve got a bunch of stuff for his big project this year...more on that in the next post or two :-).

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I got several wonderful presents, a few new gadgets for the kitchen, cozy new slippers and pretty pajamas. And even a Mary Poppins coffee cup, haha.

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Anna was infatuated with the miniature whisk and wooden spoon that was included with one of the Williams Sonoma gift boxes.

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Maddie got several new toys, a couple of cute new outfits, and we also added a bunch of new books to both the girls' bookcases, including some of Anna's favorites from our various story times around town.

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And of course, Captain K got some new treats too!

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We enjoyed a French toast casserole for breakfast, followed by a second breakfast of cinnamon rolls.

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The weather was FREEZING so we only had a short session outside to test-drive Anna's car (she calls it her truck, haha) but we've gone out almost every day to play with it!

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We also tried out her new chalk.

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Her new skirt is a little big!

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Maddie and Daddy reading their new books together.

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Having a picnic.

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Anna is currently going through a naked stage, so it's a struggle sometimes to get her to keep her clothes on!! Regardless, she loves her new camera.

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I kept trying to get a picture of Maddie on her tummy and she'd roll over before I could take one, the little stinker! Look at that face though, what a sweetheart!

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The extendable fork even made a reappearance, much to Anna's immediate delight.

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We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, and are all looking forward to a happy new year!