Posts Tagged With: The “Kids”

Ring Around the Kitty

On Wednesday we got to celebrate Bristol’s first birthday! We had a tough time figuring out what to get him for his birthday because well, him and Bella are spoiled and if we get many more cat toys or treats we’re going to end up on an episode of Hoarders. We adopted Bristol last August and in September I was making a wreath that was going to be for the front door to Halloween. Bristol decided that instead, he wanted it. He really had us pegged from the beginning. They aren’t allowed on counters or the table, but they can pretty much do anything else they want to…including claiming the Halloween wreath

He loves to pick up his toys and put them under the wreath/bed/hiding spot and take a running start at them flipping it over. He loves sharpening his claws in the tulle or ripping it apart with his teeth. He also loves to curl up and sleep in it. But after all that playing, the wreath was looking a worse for wear. Also my Bubby is growing up, so as much as he tried he didn’t really fit in the Halloween wreath anymore

He seriously sleeps in this thing every single night while we’re sitting in the living room watching tv. I’m sure you can figure out what Bristol got for his birthday. In case you want to make one for front door…or for your cat, it’s super easy and inexpensive. I used the same foam insulation for this wreath as I did for the Halloween argyle one I made. It looks like this before it has tulle tied to it (this is Bristol helping me make that first one)

I’ve read a lot of people who have problems with wreath forms made like this. I’ve made quite a few of them and had some work and some not work. I’ve had consistently good results (no buckling or bending) when I do one thing. On this foam pipe insulation there is a cut and if I make sure that is on the outside of the ring and not the inside, it works fabulously! It’s also easy to add in extra pieces if I need to make a bigger wreath like I did for my one year old boy. All of our cats have seemed to have favorite colors. Yes, I realize this makes me appear a little crazy, but I’m okay with that. Beau’s was read, Bella’s is yellow, Brady’s was blue and Bristol’s is orange. So I picked up two yards of a peachy and two yards of bright orange tulle netting. I cut pieces to about 12 inches by 3 inches and tied them around the 3/4″ foam insulation and one episode of Revenge later Bristol had his wreath.

He settled right into it! I was even able to get a video of him playing with it and a balled up piece of paper.

He makes me laugh every day!

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Birdie Watching

I’ve shown you a few pictures of the outside of our house, but none of the back of our house. So here it is. This is what the back of our house looked like when we looked at it that first time


There was a lot of stuff to do here. Obviously some landscaping and clean up, but the door had to be replaced because it looked like this

The trim around the door was rotten too


There was rotted wood above the back door. Well, when the rain blew in from the south (the back of the house faces south), the rain would go right into our mudroom/laundry room. That, my friends, is a problem. One day, the hubs and I replaced that board there. You know when I say the hubs and I, I really mean that Michael did most of the work. I showed up to hold the board in place. Which is kind of a big deal because I hate ladders unless I’m painting…then the fear is outweighed by the love of painting. After we he did that, there was no more puddles in our laundry room! Woo hoo! We decided to replace the rest of the rotten wood there when we were up on the roof putting down ice and water barrier on the three seasons porch. Disclaimer: If you are doing this for a permanent fixture, you should definitely use treated wood or cedar which naturally resists rot. We did not use either of those because we had most of the wood in the rafters of our garage. We know that we will have to replace it again, but we’re okay with that since we don’t know what we want to do there. We’ll decide if we want cedar or painted when we paint the house. There’s still quite a bit of work to do, but that is done (for now).

I started off by adding bird feeders though. I found a suet feeder that had a copper “roof” on it so I got it and hung it up on the deck.

I was filling this thing all. the. time. So I decided to add another one

That drew more birds so I was just filling both of them all. the time.

The “kids” love to sit out on the three seasons porch spring through fall. I want to put a rain garden by the deck and possibly a butterfly garden on the back of the house. So I came up with the great idea to put bird feeders on the three seasons porch where they can watch the birds. Well, when they aren’t watching the neighbor kids ride their bikes in the alley by our house

I hung up two more suet feeders on the three seasons porch so Bella and Bristol could watch the birds fly around. I busted out the good ol’ Hitachi drill and put two plant hangers that I got at Menards for $2 each and put them on these two posts

It was great. I wasn’t filling the feeders near as much. I had finally gotten ahead of the birds! Then I realized that wasn’t it at all. The real reason was that no bird with a basic need for survival is going to eat at a bird feeder with this six inches away

It’s like sitting at a picnic table with a bear sitting there watching you

So, it didn’t take long and the birdfeeders made a move. Not too far so Bella & Bristol could still watch the birds from the three seasons porch.

They moved to the back of the deck…and I added another one. Yes I did miss a post. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I will need to get another one to even it out. I can’t wait to get a rain garden there with some native grasses and stuff. I guess the first order of business should be to clean out all the leaves though. One thing at a time.

In the meantime, we now have five bird feeders where the birds can entertain Bella & Bristol and, let’s face it, in our house that’s what really matters…keeping our kitties happy

This outside posts makes me thing I need to take you on a full tour of the outside of our house. Maybe that should be the next thing added to the “Tour Our House” page (find it at the top of the page).

Or do you have another request? What part of our house do you want to see?






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…And we’re back

Did you even know we were gone? We went out of town for Christmas this year to see Michael’s fam and had a grand ol’ time with them, but we had to get home sometime and yesterday was the day. The day before we left, both kids got baths so they would be fresh and clean for Christmas. Bristol hates bathtime, but he loves cuddle time with his mommy while he dries off…and so do I

Bella was helping pack our suitcases

We had to take down our Christmas tree before we left too. It was getting dry (I think because we use wood to heat our house) and we decided that we would rather take our tree down before Christmas than to come home to no house. So down it came. I was so sad. But, again, I’m glad we still have a house. After what seemed like forever to get packed, we were off. We packed up the the kids and headed south. Bella and Bristol sure did enjoy having a van to explore while we were traveling

Bella is completely fascinated by tractor trailers/semi trucks/18 wheelers. She would walk from the front to the back as we passed them, just watching. She loved it!

Nine hours later, we arrived. Our nephew Ranger was pretty jazzed to see us. I think he’s figured out that when Auntie Amy comes to visit, he gets treats. Even our canine nephew and feline niece get spoiled!

I know that’s a blurry picture, but most of the pictures I get of Ranger look more like this one so I called the above picture a win.

Bristol got to meet his cousin Cleo and they became the bestest of friends. Bristol would whine when we would take him away from Cleo at night to go to bed or if it was time for her to eat. I think Bella got a little jealous too. Cleo tends to stay in one room at Michael’s parents house aka her safe zone. Bristol was able to coax her out one day to do a little exploring. He stayed right by her side the whole time. What a good cousin!

We didn’t have a “Bella crawling in the vent on Christmas Eve” adventure this year!

Christmas Eve 2009

But my SIL did blow a tire on Christmas Eve and our nephew Ranger ended up sick on Christmas day. Sad face. But he’s better now and Meagan’s truck is fixed and no one had to crawl under the house. I call that a win. Christmas Day, Bella and Bristol decided to dress up and wish everyone a special Merry Christmas.

That was not an easy picture to get because my use of “Bella and Bristol decided” was maybe not the most accurate statement ever. You’re thinking I’ve totally lost it aren’t you? Let me plead my case…

Nope, you’re right. I have totally lost it. You win.

We actually got snow while we were down south and Bella and Bristol just sat on their Grandaddy’s desk and watched it fall outside

It was a good time visiting with family and we’re so glad we were able to go! The trip home was pretty uneventful. Bristol sacked out on Michael’s lap

We hit rush hour traffic in St. Louis which gave me plenty of time to snap a skyline picture that goes with my Starbucks mug from our trip in October.

We arrived home to a Baby Bickley in our yard…almost hit it pulling into the driveway. Some elves had brought us a load of wood and stacked it in our back yard (elves aka Mom and McDad). We also had Christmas cookies waiting by our back door from one of our neighbors. Cookies that proved to be a great breakfast food today! Ahhh, road trips. Anyone else travel over the holidays? How about snow? Any snow? Cause we have nothing but rain today.

I have a couple more Christmas posts for you. My goal – get them posted by the end of the year. Yeah, that’s tomorrow. Back to writing and picture taking I go!

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2,478 Miles Revisited

In yesterday’s post I told you about our trip down south to see Michael’s sister and brother-in-law. I also (perhaps cruelly) made you wait until today to find out some of the great treasures we got. Well, here’s the first thing I got for Michael

You guessed it. It was sitting outside our hotel so I snapped a picture for the hubs. Wait, you didn’t think I got him the actual car did you? Y’all know me better than that…I’d rather buy paint…and this cute car we saw one day (minus the Tink decals on the window)

Don’t worry, I’d buy Michael his 1970 Chevelle that he really wants too. Seriously? How did this turn into a post about cars. Let’s get back to the important things.

Like I said yesterday, we were living out of a hotel for a week that was 10 minutes from the hospital where Michele was at. The hospital had visiting hours (didn’t know that still happened) that were an hour long three times a day and 90 minutes for the last one of the day. In between were 2-3 hour breaks for us to sit and watch tv, eat or just plain worry and be bored. A few times when I couldn’t stand it anymore I went shopping and sometimes I drug Meagan with me. Michele knows I love a good deal, so it gave me something to talk to her about too…that and Bella getting stuck in walls…and drawers. Meagan and I took a little trip to Marshall’s one afternoon and spent about an hour there. She got some clothes and walking sticks for when her and Dennis go Geo-caching. I found a great deal for Ashley in the form of chevron

A full set of queen sheets for $5! I think she might try a little bit of Rit dye on them so they aren’t so peachy, but they are chevron! I got a bottle of water which doesn’t sound great, but it came in a blue bottle! One more for the tree! I also got some great little boxes that are going to go in our entry room. There are three of them, so smaller and one larger. Sorry, this is the best picture I have of them right now. Once they are in their permanent home, I promise a better picture

One day, I took a trip to Pier 1 – oh I love that place! I have some great inspiration for at least one project.

Looks a lot like some wreaths I’ve see on Pinterest. It’s circles of felt that have been folded and rolled and hot glued. I can do that!

Another night, between the 5pm-6pm visiting hour and the 8-9:30 visiting 90 minutes we found an Applebees to eat at. Turns out they were remodeling and selling pretty much everything in the place! The money went to St. Jude’s so it was really a win-win. Jeremi and Meagan bought pictures off the wall which was way cool. Michael and I didn’t want a picture, but we did have our eye on something else. Everything was being sold as “make an offer” so we bought a light. Do you know which ones I’m talking about? The Tiffany ones that hang over the tables! We bought one to haul all the way back to Iowa with us.

Who buys a big light in Alabama just to haul it back to Iowa? People who pay $10 for said light, that’s who. You read that right – I didn’t forget a 0. This light set us back only $10! I know it’s not some people’s jive, but we kinda love it. Our house is a traditional folk Victorian and we mix a little bit of classic style in with it and I can’t wait to get this hung in our dining room and get a little bit of Amy touch in that room. It was on a track so now the big dilemma is how we’re going to hang it in our house. Enter, stage left, my electronic guru husband.

After a week in Alabama, we had to make the decision to leave there and come home. With Michele still in the hospital, the decision was not an easy one. We went back to Mississippi for a night to pick up some stuff we had left there. Early the next morning while Bella and Bristol spent some quality time on the three seasons porch, I packed the car. Any champion packers out there? I was totally worried about not having enough room for the light and all of our stuff, but I tackled it like a puzzle. I love puzzles (Michael – not so much) so I’m the packer in our family. Here is the back seat. What you can find here:

  1. the glass part of our Tiffany light
  2. the snack bag
  3. my jacket
  4. my coupon binder -never leave home without it and never let it be too far away
  5. my purse
  6. bed for one of the kids to lay in
  7. lunch bag with an icepack
  8. my laptop

You’ll notice the back seat is down and that’s because it has to be. When we travel with the kids, we don’t put them in carriers and don’t want to stop for them to go to the bathroom. Instead we put their bathroom in the trunk and put the seat down so they can easily get to it if need be. It’s usually not a problem, but with Bristol, well I have no idea how so much stink comes out of such a sweet little boy so we did find ourselves pulling over a couple times to…well, you know. If you kids are not of the feline variety, I recommend that you not try this at home.

Then there is the trunk…are you ready for this list?

  1. cat’s bathroom
  2. my suitcase (it’s the pink one)
  3. Michael’s suitcase
  4. snack bag
  5. 9 picture frames from the garage sale Michele and I went to
  6. gift wrap bows and curly ribbons that I found for 18 cents
  7. pillow
  8. bathroom bag
  9. the other cat bed
  10. scratching post
  11. cat carrier – just in case we needed it
  12. kitty crinkle tunnel
  13. the structure of the Tiffany light – this part was wrought iron and barely fit
  14. our Halloween s’more treats – worked on those in downtime
  15. three bottles of Listerine because I got them for 65 cents each
  16. Ashley’s chevron sheets
  17. my blue bottle of water
  18. Michael’s bag o’ tools…just in case
  19. a little bitty air pump….just in case
  20. the three green boxes for the entry room
  21. two pairs of cute shoes
  22. Michael’s laptop
  23. an Amy’s coffee mug that I got at Caribou on the way down (how cute is this?)
  24. other stuff I know I’m forgetting!

That’s how you get the car packed. Gotta say, I felt like a superstar. One last picture and we said goodbye to Mississippi. There’s just something about pictures of the flag and I love this one because it’s on the house of our favorite military family

We decided to break up the trip home into two days so we stopped at Michael’s parents house. We stayed the night and took off the next morning but not before getting some BBQ to bring home with us. Bristol slept most of the way home…occasionally something like this

He makes us laugh, that’s for sure. Whenever we are traveling home, I love timing the trip so we are in Iowa when the sun sets. I have been a lot of places, but I completely adore an Iowa sunset. When I see the sky painted orange, yellow, blue and purple, I know I’m home. I’m an Iowa girl (forgive the blurred trees – it’s a Blackberry picture taken at 70 miles an hour)

Someday I will do a post for you all about Iowa sunsets. Trust me, it will be worth it!

Categories: It's Our Life, Let's shop!, Living Frugal | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Independent One, That’s Me

Go on a mission trip to Europe with 95 other people that I’ve never met for a whole summer? Sure, why not? Move to North Carolina to go to college when I’ve never been there or even visited? No problem. Move to Switzerland to be a nanny for a year(ish) and live with a family I don’t know? Bring it on. I’m an independent kind of gal. I mean really independent. Like, it’s-a-wonder-I-ever-got-married-because-I-didn’t-want-to-be-tied-down  independent. So can you imagine what one of my favorite holidays is? Independence Day!

Our holiday was quite low key this year. On Sunday night, we took Beau & Bella to watch the fireworks in a nearby small town. Crazy I know because they’re cats, but Beau loved Christmas lights when we took him, Bella & Brady around to look at them last year, so we thought he might like fireworks. Turns out that fireworks are Bella’s thing. She sat and stared at them for the entire show…Bella usually doesn’t sit still for any length of time, it’s not how she rolls. But evidently, she takes after me (yes, I still know she’s a cat) in her love for fireworks. Michael says that Bella and I watch fireworks with the same look on our faces.

Since I can’t take a weekend off without a DIY project or two, my mom came for a visit and to bring me a new hosta on Monday. One hosta closer to filling in a part of our yard with a garden! We also tackled a project that her and McDad had also tackled last year. Those trees just came back again

Behind those trees that keep popping up are some peonies and a few cone flowers too.

Obviously, we’re going to have to do a little planting there, but what to plant? All that work called for another one of my favorite summer traditions – sun tea

I’m starting to think that this is a Midwest thing to do. So my dear readers from anywhere else, do you make sun tea or is it really a Midwest thing? If you’ve never done it, you should definitely try it. Take 10 bags of tea and put them in a gallon of water and set it out in the sun for a few hours. It’s just that simple. Of course in our house, we also heat a couple cups of water on the stove, dissolve a cup of sugar in it and then add it to the tea once it’s done. We’re a sweet tea household ya’ll!

We broke in the new grillagain. Michael is trying his hand at a blog post tutorial on the grill for ya. I tried to eat my first hot dog in over 15 years. Yeah, I still can’t do it, but I gave it a try. My dad, Cora & my niece Mikayla came for a visit. Well, a visit and for Mikayla to feed Beau & Bella some treats

and for Dad and Michael to climb up on the roof and do some measuring

I so can’t wait to get started on that project and share with you the step by step of how to do your own roof…yikes.

But until then, I’ll share some of my other favorite scenes of summer and Independence day. My hydrangea all bloomed and pretty (see the before here)

My lilies that I planted last year waited to bloom until Independence Day – gorgeous!

My hosta called Patriot

Monday night we went to another small town and sat in the car and watched more fireworks. Actually, Bella and I watched the fireworks, Beau looked out the window at the lightning bugs flying around and Michael tried cleaning the the bugs off the windshield with napkins and sweet tea. Disclaimer: These fireworks pictures are not from this year. I just love these ones!

Most importantly the biggest and best symbol of our Independence

Hope ya’ll had a fabulous Independence Day, I know we did!

Categories: It's Our Life | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Let’s take a walk in a garden

It might not sound like fun to some people, but for this girl who comes from a gardening family, walking through gardens is among my favorite ways to spend a day. Last year I “drug” Michael to a garden walk…if you catch him at the right time, he might actually admit that he enjoyed it (see some of my favorite pictures here). For those who have never heard of a garden walk before, the short version is that you get to traipse through gardens of Master Gardeners who open their gardens to the public. We decided that we would take another outing to the 2011 Master Gardener’s walk last weekend. This year, it was cool enough out that we loaded up the kids in the car and went for a drive into town

I might be biased, but I do believe that these are the two most wonderful sweetest kitties. We made it to three fabulously inspiring gardens this year. I’m going to need to find a place for this saying and I think that my mom, my aunt Delta and my uncle Jim could use this for theirs

Michael and I both want to have a pond someday…not sure it will be to this extent, but this was beautiful!

This big blue flower towered over the waterfall & pond. Just one word can describe it: LOVE

My favorite color

I totally heart this froggy

We were looking for ideas for our Brady garden which will have blue and white flowers perhaps with a few orange ones thrown in, but for now, we’re looking at blue and white and any garden art that would remind us of Brady. I found this

The name of this hosta is Remember Me

A blue bottle tree? FYI, I’m looking for blue bottles now.

We will find a place for poppies…somewhere…anywhere. Any suggestions?

I’ll just add this one last one that reminds me of a my in-laws. When we make trips to visit them in Kentucky we usually end up working on puzzles. My MIL Melissa and SILs Meagan and Michele and I love doing puzzles. This picture reminds me of one that we would see on puzzle project…as long as it was 1,000 pieces or more.

There are so many more gorgeous pictures of this year and last year but I couldn’t fit them all in…so they’re on Facebook. Check out our page to see more fabulously inspiring pictures. Even if you don’t want to see the pictures, head over there and “Like” me. I’m starting to develop a complex over only having 7 fans.

Have you ever gone on a garden walk? How about botanical gardens? Is walking through a garden one of your favorite ways to spend a day

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Our pet zebra

Last weekend Bella and I spent some quality outside doing some yard work. Last year I planted hostas around two of our trees on the west side of the house. For those who are directionally challenged like me, that’s the right side of the house if you’re looking at it. Remember from this post that I want to make that entire side of the house a shade garden? Last year I bought quite a few varieties of hostas and planted them with some help from Beau & Bella. Well, Beau & Bella sat in their tent and watched me. That’s right, I said their tent. A few years ago Michael and I thought it would be a good idea to take Bella camping. (This was before we adopted Beau…or Brady.) We bought a play tent for her to chill in when we weren’t out and about or sleeping in the regular tent. We found it on clearance at Target and she still likes to go out in the yard and just chill in it. People drive by or walk by our house and slow down to marvel at it. I must say it is a little humorous. It’s our pet zebra – or rather Beau & Bella’s zebra

On Mother’s Day this year, my mom and McDad (commonly known as a step-dad, but we don’t go with conventional names in our family) came out to our house with a truck load of wood chips. I was thrilled! Now I just need to talk my brother or my dad to bring me a truck load of cow poo and I’ll have my own little distorted version of bliss. We spread the wood chips around the trees with hostas planted around them and along the deck where there are hostas and day lilies. But by last weekend those pesky weeds had found their way through the chips. It was time to show them who was boss. When I started planting hostas last year, my aunt Delta told me that I should create some sort of map so I know which one is where. Instead I just made plant markers and knew that would be okay. In case you’re keeping score it’s Delta – 1 and Amy – 0. Wooden plant stakes with Sharpie are evidently no match for an Iowa winter. So this summer begins the task of finding out what’s what on some of these and making a map. I also found these plant tags (thank you Pinterest) that I think will hold up a little better

You know that mine will have to be painted copper and I’ll put a coat of poly over them too. So who wants to send me their juice can lids? Or I’ll just have to find some juice coupons and we’ll become a juice drinking household. I could also use some help identifying some of my hostas. Anyone?


Carolina Sunshine

Lemon Lime?

In fairness to me, I never knew the names of these next ones. Who has a hostapedia and an extra few hours?

When we were done with the hostas, Bella and I went for a walk around the yard. The first time we took her for a walk was on that same camping trip where she got her zebra. She went to the zoo and the botanical gardens in Madison, Wisconsin like in this (sorry it’s not a bigger picture, this is uber cropped)

Yes, that is her cat carrier held into an umbrella stroller with bungee cords. You should have seen the looks we got. One lady stopped us and said “Good for you for spoiling her.” She actually went hiking by herself at Effigy Mounds, well on a leash. This is one of my favorite pictures of all time.

Now the “kids” have harnesses instead and they like to go out roaming in the yard…with supervision. When we were out wandering the yard, we found all these little Maple trees. I love our great big trees…these little things that I find everywhere, not so much.

We took a look at the Hydrangea bush out front that my mom and I thinned by about 50% last year (truly, the thing was massive). Imagine this twice as big…no exaggeration!

I can’t wait until it starts blooming again!!! We’re getting close

We checked out the new lights that Mom & McDad brought back from their trip to Canada…but I think these are from Minnesota

Oh how I heart them! And yes, they are solar. While we were sitting there picking Maple tree wannabes out of the front pots, I remembered that we didn’t have an after picture of the sidewalk to the east, so I quick snapped one of that. Sure the after is a year later, but it’s still a HUGE difference.

Sidewalk to the east – Before

Sidewalk to the East – After

See the other before and after sidewalks in this post. The best part was just spending time with my little Princess

I know we’ll have more outdoor adventures this year…plenty more!

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