Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Backyard Reno...VanOort Style

So here's the deal.  I've painted, repainted, renovated, primped, plumped, and refinished EVERY. ROOM. IN. MY. HOUSE over the last ten years.  Realistically, it's time to start over. (Don't read that part Levi)  I want to change paint colors, room arrangements, etc...but it's summer and in summer we should go outside.

After ten years, we thought it was time to do SOMETHING outdoors.  Last year we built the Little House, which is adorable and maybe someday I'll write a post about it...maybe not.  I don't like to blog anymore....but I'm doing this for my mom and dad, so they can see what we've been up to! :-)  We've built raised beds in our garden and those work out fabulously.  BUT NOW....NOW we are undertaking our "backyard oasis" as our ten year old calls it.

Up there I was standing in the pool.  Okay, not IN the pool, but in the pool spot.  That was last year in September.  My advice if you're considering buying a backyard pool, do it in September or October.  Now you'll have to possess super human patience, since you'll now have to wait approximately ten thousand years eight months to use the blessed thing, but the price difference is staggering....and affordable.

In September 2013 this beauty came to live in our backyard.  Lovely, yes?  We love it, the kids love it, the birds love it, leaves love it...everybody wins.  HOWEVER, it sort of looked like it was dropped from outer space into our yard. Plunk.  It's not especially easy to find a spot where a 27' circle can fit in your yard, that goes over no electrical wires, gas lines, cable lines, water lines, ant get the idea.  This is where our 27' circle would fit.  
As soon as the pool was installed I started to think about how we could landscape to make it shed it's "plunked from outer space" status.

And that's where Rich enters the picture.  The famous Rich who remodeled our bathroom to vintage perfection, drywalled our kitchen ceiling to perfection (without sanding...I know, right?  Is that a thing?  It is.)  Anyway, I got my ideas all pulled together, sent those off to Rich so he could digest them all ideas tend to give Rich the longer the better.  
We decided on a set of stairs for the pool with a platform at the full on deck...just a place to do cannonballs from.  Priorities people, priorities.  That doesn't seem so bad, right?
We won't discuss what happened when Rich dug the post holes.  It will give you nightmares.  It gave me nightmares....serious, no our entire Subaru with all of us in it could have disappeared and no one would ever have known where we disappeared to.    Alas, Rich handled it and we moved on.  The "post hole problem who shall not be named" is forever a closed case.

We moved on.  And the magic started to happen.

Platform!  We love this platform.  See how he laid the boards around the outside first, then laid the others there are no cut edges exposed from the front?  Such nice work.  Rich and my dad are a lot alike.  Think, think, think, then build to perfection.  

 The bird's eye view from the upstairs window....lovely steps nearly complete AND the big load arrives from the lumberyard.  That truck pulled into our yard at 7:45am...apparently they don't believe in beauty sleep.

 And then.  Then the big, honkin' beauty of our backyard begins.  Pergola City...that's the new name of our backyard.

 Up go the posts.  These posts are no joke.  Like, they each took a whole tree to produce those suckers.  Honkin'.

Standing tall and proud!  Concrete drying, drying, drying.  I'm trying hard to be patient.

 In the meantime let's take a look at these lovely pool steps.  Aren't they lovely?  Railings and risers will be white, treads and deck will be stained.

 Since I don't possess SuperMan strength to lift crazy heavy beams in the air I made myself useful by beginning the landscaping around the back side(non construction zone end) of the pool.  My lovely friend Todd wants to rid his entire yard of anything green besides I've been digging like a crazy woman...hostas galore!!

 Last night this was the scene in the backyard.  I'm so excited I can barely stand it.

Before Rich left for golf afternoon today we got to this point!  Aren't the end details lovely?  And the hole...that was Rich's idea.  Isn't he a smart fella?  For hanging baskets, windchimes, twinkle lights, you name it.   Smart.

That's it for now.  I'll post more later Dad!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How Project Life Rocked My World

So....Pinterest.  It gets us all in in, I want to learn 3897 new crafts....before tomorrow....because I saw it on Pinterest.  HOWEVER, this time Pinterest did not lead me led me to the scrapbooking promised land.   I was scrolling Pinterest...because that's what I do when I'm sleepy.  It's like warm milk for my brain.  THEN, a friend had posted a pic of a Project Life layout.   My brain stood up, shook off the warm milk and was hooked!  I googled Project Life, I hashtag searched, I YouTubed Project Life videos during my morning treadmill can see it's developed into a *smidgen* of an obsession new hobby interest.

Let me begin by saying, I am not a scrapbooker.  I tried once, bought three sheets of coordinating paper, and a folder thingy to hold those three sheets of paper.....and they sat there for...hmm....I think I only had one child at that time....that's been a while.  I just couldn't commit.  I have lots of friends who scrapbook and create amazing layouts...but I just couldn't do it.

Project Life is super different...tiny little pockets, to fill with lots of beautiful paper, little snippets of our week, day to day photos....maybe that's what hooked me.  I revel in our day to day.  The adorable things our kids say, funny Instagram photos, all the poop jokes that seem to pop up at the dinner table (I live with three men)'s all awesome and makes up the entirety of our life.  It's basically scrapbooking for life, rather than occasional special events.  I. LOVE. IT.

Oh, and it indulges my penchant for squirreling away every little bit of paper/ticket stub/business card.....

The first week of 2014 lasted for...I'm pretty sure....eleven years.  I was so excited to get my first photos from the year developed and jump into my first layout!! I've decided to do a two page spread for each week (unless we have a super boring, everyone slept all week, kinda week)  One layout= one week, for the entirety of the year.

 That grapefruit photo = Love.  One of those things I would probably forget Marshall ever said....but now I have it captured.  I just keep my journal with me, laying on the table, in my purse, whatever, and just jot down quick tidbits of the day....then at the end of the week I go through my dslr, my Instagram pics and the journal and pull out the good stuff.  No staging, no fancy stuff, just our real life.

My folks are gonna be all over this.  Can't wait to show it to you Mom and Dad!!  Now if I can wrangle in "artist" Jen and let the layout come to rest rather than fiddling it to death and we'll be all set!!  I'll post a pic of the finished layout when it settles in!

love and light,

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Listening From Inside

I love Christmas.

I love preparing for Christmas. I love thinking about Christmas. I love Christmas music.  I love decorating for Christmas.  I love buying "the perfect" gifts.  I love food.  I love cookies.  I love spending time with family.  I love Christmas movies.  I love snow.  I love being a Capricorn.
I love you man.

Basically when the kids threw off their Halloween costumes, the holiday season began at our house.  For real.  I bought gifts early, wrapped gifts early, felt super prepared.   The "festive" level at our house was at Def-Con 5.  

Then the real world happened.
I worried, I fretted, I obsessed about something (that will remain nameless to protect folks' privacy).
As I read the other day, I "borrowed trouble".  Why do we do that?  Worry about the unknown?  It's's unknown!  Isn't that stupid?  Worrying is like rocking in a rocking chair. It's something to do to pass the time, but it's not going to get you anywhere.

The festive went on, I stayed pretty festive.  But the worry would creep back over me, like a fog.

And then.
I had a dream.  Do you believe in the power of dreams?  I mean...not like I wished for a unicorn before I went to sleep and then woke up riding one....not that kind.

Do you believe you can receive messages when you're not so darn busy worrying about stupid things?
I do.

At least I do, until I let the worry creep on me again.  I'm naughty like that...human I guess.
This dream, which was very warm and full of yellow and orange, if that makes any sense, told me everything is all right.  Everything is going to be all right.

I've received messages in dreams before...but I shant go into those right now, for fear you already think I'm fit to be shipped off to the looney bin.

Believe your inner voice, friends.  It won't lead you astray.

The holiday season went on......AND message came true, I was filled with joy and laughter and giggles and remembered why we shouldn't borrow trouble.  It takes away from today.

Oh, and I let my kids play video games until they fell over in exhaustion.  Don't worry, this one reads more in his free time than you, me and the rest of the free world put together.  It's okay to break rules sometimes.

And listen to the messages that lead us to lives of happiness.

love and light, 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Patch Weekend

Fall has arrived in Iowa....okay it arrived a long time ago, who am I kidding.  While I have my eye set on the holiday season, my kids are firmly planted in the idea that Halloween is the biggest deal since sliced bread.  I remember....the candy, the costumes, the parties at's a big deal in kid land.  

Our traditional trip to the pumpkin patch was wonderful.  We are lucky to have several REALLY great pumpkin patches nearby, but our newest favorite is at Bass Farms across the road from Palisades Kepler State Park.  Bass Farms is a CSA during the summer months, and roadside vegetable vendor...they rock.  They don't use any chemical spray, grow organically and well, they basically just rock.  We're always happy to hand over our pumpkin dinero.  

The kids searched high, the kids searched low, Daddy filmed the whole thing.  You HAVE to check out the video...the VanOort rendition of "What the Fox Says" at the end = Classic.  

And as if the day could get any better, the delightful owner of Bass Farms offered my kids each a sack to cram as many tiny gourds into as they could, on the house.  Two little kids, with two sacks, and a GIANT box of tiny gourds....they were thrilled.

Keeping the tiny gourds in the sack long enough to get to the car...that was a challenge all on its own.

Pumpkin carving tonight!

love and light, 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

So Whatcha Been Up To?

Ten months, shmem months.  What's a year between friends, right? I will admit, I have fallen into the netherregions of bloggerdom. 
BUT!  While I've been non-blogging, we've been having a marvelous time!  Onion Grove Mercantile, the business end of this fun parade has gone wild...thanks to so many of you!!!

Making a living doing something you love is AH-MAY-ZING.  It's truly a blessing.  This business has taken me in so many unexpected directions!  Onion Grove Mercantile now has an Etsy shop and website, which is now in transition to a new hang with me there while it's updating! You can take a peak if you would like to!  The first time someone called me a "signpainter" I thought, wow, that's cool!  A business that sprang from a side project for a dear friend and into something that I can be so proud of!  

ANYWAY, I'll try to be more bloggy....I've sworn off Facebook (sorry Facebook friends), so this shall once again be my outlet for family/home/lifey type tidbits....mostly because my Dad asked me to.  Love you Dad! ;-)

Love and light friends!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Snow Day

Happy Snow Day friends!  We woke up to a snowy wonderland this morning, and how better to celebrate a day off school than blueberry muffins and The Devil Makes Three on Sonos.  Don't even get me started on Sonos.  I love that thing.  Life changing, for reals.

The second best thing about days off school?  KIDDOS!!!!  When I was a young mama, many moons ago, I thought, oh won't life be easier when the kids are in school.  Well, it's different, but I miss those little turkeys!  We played and played and played outside.
The birds need to shovel their front stoop!  Oh, and yes, my kids sled down the porch steps!  
You gotta do what you gotta do folks.

Such characters.

The most delicious way to top off a snowy, fun filled day....homemade bread and vegetable soup.  
Precious day with precious kiddos.

love and light,

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

All Time Faves

Do you guys ever check that "stats" thingy on your blog page?  I just discovered that thingy with my Onion Grove Mercantile blog.  It's kinda cool to see which posts folks think are better than sliced bread.  I'm not going to go crazy and say any of my posts are equivalent to segmented bakery goods, but there are a few that have more than three visits.  Three is my high water mark.  I decided to check out the stat thingy over here at Notes From the Heartland too...just for kicks.  I mean it's cold, it's dark at 2pm and I have some time on my hands in between NetFlix episodes of Sons of Anarchy.  Okay, don't even pretend you can't get behind a long haired tattooed biker with a big heart.  Okay, okay, I'm NOT a fan of the gratuitous violence (I cover my eyes) but the bikers, yeah I kinda like the bikers.  There should really be a girly version of that show.  Long haired cute bikers minus the yucky blood and guts. Like, maybe they run a pet shelter and fight for the rights of pets everywhere.

I actually married a tattooed biker....wanna see?


 So I digress, back to the stat thingy.  

I thought it would be fun to review my top 5 stat thingy posts. they are.  On to to the statistical fun.

 The garden markers made from.....can you guess?  Of course you can.  Can...can....get it?  Can?  Orange juice can lids!  These are a fave.  

The dry erase project made for one of my besties.  She has five kids...and runs a cafe....and basically volunteers for everything she's ever been asked to do.  Please don't ask her to join your group, I like to go dancing with her once in a while. ;-)

This one surprised me a tad...I like these the message they deliver, but still a little surprised.  I think these puppies rode the subway sign wave that went crazy a year or two ago.

The Wallpaper potion. This will change your life. Swear.  Well, I guess it can only change your life if you have wallpaper.  Okay, I guess maybe not everyone has wallpaper anymore.  If you live in a 100 year old house like us, you'll want to send me chocolates.  For reals.

AND......I know you've been holding your breath through all that other junk.....I PRESENT NUMBER ONE!!!!  Crockpot Mongolian Beef. There.  Done.  Now I have to say, while this stuff is pretty good, I don't know that it warranted 107,679 visits.  Really, people?   Thus is the magic known as Magic Mike...heheheh...that really just made me laugh out loud.  My internet bestie (someday real life....I'm going to photobomb his upcoming trip to the just watch Michael...I'm gonna be there;-) Michael of Inspired by Charm is magical.  Michael has the Midas touch when it comes to Pinterest.
 If he pins you, you'd better be prepared.  FYI.

This Mongolian Beef post is probably ready for a Caribbean vacation.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour through my stat thingy!  

love and light,
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