9/22/2014

The Day (Before) the Pool Went Away...



I've mentioned here before that we're planning a home addition that necessitates filling in our pool.  A good friend suggested letting the kids paint the pool once it was drained but before it was demo'd...and I thought it was a fabulous idea!  We let the kids dip balls in paint and roll them all along the pool.  When they tired of that they dipped their hands and feet in paint and continued "decorating" our pool.  It was so much fun, and one great last memory with our pool.  Lu even exclaimed it was 'the best moment of her entire life."  Haha!

Ready to see some awesome pictures from our fun day?

9/16/2014

Tips for Making a Waldorf-Style Doll


I mentioned a few weeks ago that my daughter's starting school made me realize that the time for making her a doll might be quickly passing.  Since soft doll making is something I'd always wanted to try, I made it a goal for myself to make something truly special for my girls in the near future...maybe Christmas?  Not sure.

I've made dolls for my kids before, but never anything that is "sculpted."  I've always been inspired by waldorf dolls, and I wanted to make something along that line....but I felt like I needed to practice some.  So this is my practice doll.  It's not made with all natural ingredients, but it's made with easily available materials.  Everything I found locally, and the only thing I paid for was the fabric (and a doll needle).

I've learned a lot during this process, and I'm happy to tell you what I learned and what I'll likely do differently when I make the girls next dolls.

Interested?  Keep reading for more details about how I made this doll...

9/08/2014

An Eric Carle Inspired Art Day


For the last year I have been extremely spoiled.  Extremely spoiled in a way only a parent really understands.  Every afternoon I had two children who napped regularly, at the same time, with minimal protests.  Let's just say that the last couple of weeks haven't been like that, leaving me struggling a bit to find my balance (and maybe my sanity!)...and maybe praying that this too is just a phase....

So what does this have to do with art?  Well it was 3 pm and after playing "catch the toddler who won't stay in her bedroom" for an hour and a half, I decided naptime was over.  We started reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and we started talking about how the pictures were made. 

Just like that, it became an afternoon of art for all of us. And it was amazing.  I can say it was the first time that the three of us worked side by side on an art project, each of us working independently.  Lu kept saying "This is so amazing!"  "This is the best art ever!"  We all had so much fun!

Want to see how these colorful little buildings came about?

9/03/2014

Designing a Home Addition, Part II:


In addition to building onto our house, there are big changes coming to our yard!  I mentioned that we'll be filling in our old pool.  We just don't use our pool enough to really make it worth it (it's cold here in the SF bay area!), plus it needs a lot of work.  We'd have to put a lot of money into the pool to heat it and repair it, and ultimately we just decided we'd rather live without it.  We'll be building on only a portion of the pool (what is now the steps to the shallow end).  The part of the pool that is being built on will have to be dealt with differently than the rest of the pool, which will be filled in just for landscaping. 

And that brings us to...landscaping. Yikes!  We thought it'd be useful to think of our landscaping needs in phases.  For now, we'll be doing the limited amount to make it functional, and then hope that in a few years we'll be able to finish it more like we'd like.  

Here's our phase I plan:

The area within the dotted lines is new grass that we're going to have to add grass.  (This is where the pool currently is.)  There will be a small landing and small patio off of the office that we'll be filling in with pavers of some sort.  (We can't decide if I'd like a more cobblestone type or traditional brick).

The whole backyard is going to have to be regraded, which means that it will slope backwards to the fence where there will be drains to bring the water out.  Currently the backyard slopes towards our house, which is totally no bueno. The drains will be a few feet from the fence.  Behind the drains will be a slightly raised area where we'll have grape vines or Espalier fruit trees.  Currently this area houses our planter boxes, but we've decided that we'll be moving them to the right side of the yard.

For phase 1 we'll keep most all of the trees currently in our yard:  the mature apple tree which will provide shade to the small patio off of the office, the lemon and nectarine trees which will flank the edges of the grass, and the huge Italian cyprus trees that edge the left side of our yard and provide lovely afternoon shade.

Eventually though, we hope to be able to  change the left part of the yard, putting in a pergola, grilling station, and patio table area.



Here's a closer look at our phase 2 plans.  I can't quite decide if  I'd like the solid surface to be filled in with pavers or instead something a bit simpler and more modern like this.  No need to decide on those details right now though, as it probably won't happen for a while.  It's good to have a phase 2 plan though, because it helps us think about details like designing the paths for our sprinklers.  The phase 2 patio will be covering an area that is currently lawn and covered with sprinklers.  In phase I, we'll work on making a sprinkler path that will cover the rest of grass area, but we'll leave the other area alone (so we can get rid of it when we decide to cover the area with a solid surface without disrupting the rest of our yard plan.)


What do you think?  Does it look like a good plan to you?  We feel like such novices here!

Finally, let's home addition talk numbers.  A few people have asked me how much something like this costs.  Since I had such a hard time getting concrete numbers, I thought I'd share in case this helps someone else.

We're looking at paying about $200/ sqft (This does not include flooring or painting.  We're opting to do the painting ourselves, and we haven't picked out our flooring yet.)  This is for a slab addition with absolutely no plumbing. In reality our project will be a lot more than though, because we'll be doing a lot of other things at the same time.

We'll be doing a complete re-pipe (changing our house's galvanized steel pipes to copper piping), eliminating a half wall between the family room and kitchen, and getting rid of a good piece of our fireplace.  We're also opting for a completely new composition shingle roof.  Originally the plan was to just go to a salvage yard and try to match our old shingles but ultimately we felt like it was worth springing for a new roof.  Our current tile roof is already brittle, plus tile has roof angle restrictions which made it difficult to get the roof line that we wanted.    A composition shingle roof also has lots of advantages one that it is much lighter--something that is important in our earthquake prone area. Then of course there is the pool fill in costs, followed by all of the landscaping that will be required as a result.

We have places in our budge where we can costs if need be (such as skylights and flooring choices), especially if we have "surprises" pop up during construction. I'm not going to be happy if we have to cut some of these "fun choices" but the hubby and I both view this as the beginning of making the house more of what we want for the long term.  There's lots of things that we may have to put off for now, but I'm hopeful that eventually, as time goes on, we'll be able to add them.  It just might mean we have concrete floors for a while ;-)

So I guess that's it for now.  I'll be updating every once in a while with some updates of our project, which we're hoping to start soon!

PS:  Did you miss my first post on designing a home addition?  You can find it here.

8/31/2014

Designing a Home Addition, Part I:


So I mentioned a few times recently that we're knee deep in planning a home addition.  

It's taken us a long time to figure out what is important to us, and how to design an addition that best meets our needs as a family.  My father in law is a structural and civil engineer and his company helped us out in a HUGE way by designing and drawing up the plans for our addition.  

Our house is small--around 1200 square feet (when you include our sunroom which will be removed in this addition).  As it is right now, our house works for us.  In fact, I really like living in a small house.  The hubby and I debated back and forth whether we should even decide to do a home addition for that reason, because it's really not like we feel like we need the space right now.  

In a lot of areas, it would make more sense to move to a new house rather than build onto the one we already have if we needed more space.  Here though, housing costs are really expensive.  We paid about $380 a sq ft for our house.  It's cheaper for us to build on than buy a new house, even if you don't consider the hefty real estate fees.  We bought our house for the neighborhood we are in too, so even if we were to move we'd be mostly looking to staying in our same neighborhood. 

Alright, ready for a long old post?  Keep reading below for all of the details:

8/27/2014

Transitions...


It's been a little while.  A lot has been going on around here.  The wonderful thing about having a blog is that is provides an outlet, a motivation to stop for a moment and save memories (because goodness knows my brain doesn't seem to hold them anymore!)

So when I sat down to blog this evening, I thought about all of the things I could write about.  I could write about Lu starting public school for the first time, and all the first day clothes I didn't make.  Or all of the Pinterest worthy "First day of school" chalkboard pictures that I didn't take.  Or maybe, the quick little "I love you" sketch that I drew on her napkin and squished into her lunch pail at the last minute, after feeling just a slight bit guilty that I didn't have more to mark her first day.

But that's life no?  There's always more that you wish you had time for, and that's ok.  This blog though is--in some ways--documenting these years of my life through what I've created (or maybe what I haven't...haha!) Lu starting school did get me thinking though.  My little girl is getting bigger and bigger, and I know that the day will come when she thinks that the creative things that make for her are just not that cool.  Right now though, she loves each and every one of my creations and I absolutely love seeing the fascination in her eyes as she watches me make things.... or the excitement when she runs out in the morning trying to sneak a peak at whatever it is I was working on the night before.

So, yeah, Lu's starting school actually inspired me to start a project.  A cloth doll making project.  I've always admired Waldorf dolls, and I always hoped to make a very special doll for my girls.  But I feel like a doll like that isn't something that I can just make without practice (or maybe with practice...hah!). Lu's starting school made me realize though that I'm not sure for how much longer Lu's going to want a doll I made over say, an American girl doll for example.  So I've been playing around, practicing, and learning.  I'm sure I'll be back here to tell you about all I've learned sometime soon, even if a really special doll doesn't get made anytime soon....

 The next few months are going to be interesting.  We're going to be taking on a big house project--a home addition--which I'm sure I'll write more about later on....and well, adjusting to changes in our family routines. I'm not exactly sure how my blog is going to change during this time, but I look forward to continuing sharing my life, one project at a time.  Thanks for sticking by and reading my little old blog!

8/17/2014

Party Decorations...On the Cheap!


Alright you all!  This is going to be my last rainbow tea party post.  (Are you doing a happy dance?  I am.  I'm partied out!)  The reason though that I decided to do this post though was when it hit me that we spent less than $5 on party decorations.  Like what?  When does that happen?  I didn't feel like we were skimping.  It just sort of happened that way.  What I realized though was that this party taught me a lot about how decorating can be inexpensive, and a lot of it comes down to that wonderful thing called tissue paper. 

1).  Use what you have.  I know this seems like a "duh" statement, but when I started to let got of the tea party "should" look like, things sort of just fell into place.  I realized that my regular dishes were rainbow colored, so instead of going and trying to collect china tea cups (I don't have any) we just decided to embrace the mismatched color scheme.  Suddenly everything I had "matched" the theme.  The more color, the better.  I used the butterfly placemats from Lu's bug party  and recycled a butterfly banner too.

2) Avoid "themed" plates" and napkins.  Barbie, Princess, etc.  cost more than just regular old colored paper plates from the dollar store.  Or better yet? Use regular plates and load them up into the dishwasher.

3)  The dollar store.  It's awesome ok?  I already had a few plastic tablecloths, so I bought a few more colors, draped them over a bookshelf and "tada" instant photo booth.  They'd be great for a backdrop for a buffet table too!

4)  Tissue paper-Tissue paper-tissue paper!  All the tissue paper decorations for the party were made using 1--that's right, one--tissue paper back from the dollar store.  That's a lot of bang for one buck! 

5)  Make your own flowers.  That's right.  It goes back to #4...but yeah, tissue paper flowers are cheaper than real flowers....and you can keep them after the party too.  Lu LOVED helping me make these.

Want to see how we made all the tissue paper decorations?  Keep reading below!

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