Tuesday, August 28, 2018

colleen's mae-cation

Last week, Colleen came to visit for a short Mae-cation!

On Wednesday morning, I dressed Mae in a cute outfit from GranE and gave her two curly little pigtails. She was desperate to show them off to someone, but fell asleep in the car on the way to pick up Colleen at the airport. When we arrived, Colleen got in the car, and I gently woke Mae by saying, "Look who's here now!" She looked up groggily, spotted Colleen, and yelled, "AAH! AAH! Aunt Colleen!... I have cute ponytails!" Then she screeched with excitement for 30 seconds. What a welcome!

We had lots of fun with Colleen during her visit. One of Mae's favorite things to do is play with Snapchat filters on Colleen's phone. She especially liked the one that made her look like a bunny or that one that made her look "like Moana" with a flower in her hair. She kept touching her face where the filter had added the whiskers/mustache/ears because she didn't understand that it was only in the picture on the phone, which was so funny and cute to watch.

On Thursday, I went to work but met Dan, Colleen, and Mae for lunch at a nearby park. We had a fun time, even though Mae was very... two... during lunch.

Friday morning, we walked to get coffee (my first iced chai, yum) and then went to the zoo. Here's Mae's recap: "I go zoo uh Mommy uh Aunt Colleen. I see uh turtle uh aardvark uh tiger uh giraaaffe uh ell-phant. See ell-phant biiiig poopy. I touch a snake. Not blue tongue, just pink tongue. Is kiiiinda bumpy." (Now repeat this 3 times in rapid succession at slightly elevated volume, and you will know exactly what it feels like to be Dan when he gets home from work.)

Thanks for coming to hang out with us, Aunt Colleen! We are glad you got to see those cute ponytails!

Monday, August 27, 2018

when pigs fly

I saw a fun craft project online to turn race bibs into coasters. It seemed like a fun and simple way to remember my marathon bib (and we actually need some more coasters) so I set to work. Coaster-sized tiles weren't readily available at the hardware store, so I bought this little set of 4 tiles from Michael's. I made a photocopy of my bib, cut the copy into 4 squares, and attached it to the tiles with Mod Podge. Lastly, I glued some craft felt to the bottom of each tile. Voila, new coasters!

cozy birdhouse | DIY race bib coasters

I'm not sure how well they will hold up, but they were a fun, inexpensive project. I used dishwasher-safe Mod Podge and let them sit for a couple weeks to cure, but they still want to stick to the bottom of our cups. So they'll either slowly lose their finish, they'll break as they fall from our cups to the floor, or I'll throw them all away in a fit of rage after they get stuck one too many times! Since I used a photocopy instead of my real bib, I can always make a new set. It's the only marathon bib I'll ever have, as long as I follow my own advice.

-- To be read by Future Caitlin, in the event that she considers training for another marathon --

Dear Future Caitlin,
Take it from me, you do NOT want to go through marathon training again. I'm not saying you can't, or that you should regret doing it once already... just that you should not do this again. Here's why:
1. It took up so, so much time. You gave up two full evenings and your Saturday morning every week for 6 months. By the end, you were sacrificing your entire Saturday to running plus recovery! You missed out on so much time for house projects and crafting, not to mention Mae play time. You missed that puppet show where she got to give blue Elmo a high-five!
2. It's expensive. Running is cheap (you just need shoes), but running a marathon gets kind of pricey with running groups fees, clothes, nutrition, and race fees!
3. It hurt your feet. Just admit you have old lady feet and probably did irreparable damage to them by training for a marathon once. Don't make it even worse.
4. It causes a lot of anxiety. What if you miss a long run? What if there are no bathrooms on your route?? What if you are sick or injured for race day after all the preparation??? You don't want to go through all that stress again.
5. Someone said, "If you cross the finish line and start thinking about all the things you could have done differently, then you will definitely sign up to run another one." But everything went so well... how can you possibly top that?!

If you want to train again, maybe try improving your 5K time. Even a half marathon seems pretty reasonable at this point. Just NO MORE MARATHONS!

See you soon. Love,

P.S. It was pretty awesome crossing that "Finish Swine" though.

Monday, August 20, 2018

zoo babies

Last Friday, Mom, Dad, Emily, Ollie, and Archie came for a short visit. Earlier in the summer, we briefly discussed a day trip to the zoo, and we finally made good on our plans just a few days before the end of Emily's maternity leave!

We had a great time at the zoo. I mentioned to Dan later that it's the place I feel the most relaxed with Mae. The animals provide hours of entertainment, and I don't have to watch her quite as closely as I do at the playground or on the sidewalks at our house. Ollie and Mae enjoyed exploring the animal exhibits and they both got to touch a snake!

Archie had a good time, also! He loved getting a big hug from his cousin!

Lastly, a quick story: A couple weeks ago, Mae randomly announced at dinner: "I saw all-breck!" I spent the next 5 minutes trying to decipher what all-breck is (... old brick? all broke?) before Mae got frustrated and gave up on me. She repeated this phrase every couple days, with both Dan and I trying to translate toddler-speak. Finally, just a couple days before our zoo trip, Mae decided to try it again, "I saw all-breck"... and a light bulb went on in my brain. I almost shouted at her, "AARDVARK! YOU SAW AN AARDVARK!?" She was thrilled, "Yah! I saw ALL-BRECK!" Needless to say, we had to make a visit to the all-brecks on Friday. They were sleeping.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

chambray cheyenne

I'm sick of the summer heat and verrrrry ready for some slightly cooler fall weather. This new shirt I just finished will be perfect when the temperatures drop a bit! The pattern is the Cheyenne Tunic by Hey June Handmade, and the fabric is a Robert Kaufman chambray. It's very lightweight, and I love the subtle herringbone pattern. I petted this fabric at my local shop several times before finally bringing home a couple yards and making this shirt.

cozy birdhouse | chambray cheyenne tunic

I made a size small of view B... popover, no collar, 3/4 sleeves with tabs. I omitted the front pockets. I had a bit of difficulty in catching the collar facing when topstitching around the collar, so I followed an online tip to fold under 3/8" instead of 1/4". (No, I don't really expect anyone to care about that detail... It's more for my benefit when I re-read this next time I crack open the Cheyenne pattern.)

cozy birdhouse | chambray cheyenne tunic

You know what's great about a tunic-length shirt? You can wear it with leggings and still have your tush covered. Also, I accidentally had my fly unzipped while taking these photos and you can't even tell. Win!

I've seen some really cute flannel versions of this pattern online. Maybe I'll be able to stomach the idea of a flannel shirt when it's not so darn hot!

Friday, August 3, 2018


Disclaimer: If you are expecting this post to end with a photo of an immaculate pantry with a fun-colored accent wall where all the food is stored in color-coordinated tins with cute, hand-lettered chalkboard labels and lit by a classy little chandelier, then you are in the WRONG PLACE! Nevertheless, I am super happy with how this project turned out and very grateful just to HAVE a pantry. Read on for a DIY shelving solution that is low-budget but high-function!

When we moved into this house, we were thrilled to finally have a pantry! We did find it a little silly that the kitchen had a sizable walk-in pantry, while our first-floor master bedroom, which shares a wall with the kitchen/pantry, only had one small reach-in closet. We decided to wall-off a section of the pantry and add a door from the bedroom side, creating a second closet off the bedroom and leaving a smaller pantry off the kitchen. We hired a contractor for that work, and they did a lovely job matching the new bedroom door and flooring. Now we have very reasonably sized his-and-hers bedroom closets and a perfectly adequate pantry!

We had to find shelving solutions for both our closets and our pantry. In the bedroom closets, we installed elfa systems from the Container Store. It's pricey, but it's really easy to install and by-far the most modular of any system I've found. We had it in Mae's closet in the old house and I was very pleased with it there.

It took us several weeks to work on the pantry shelving. Putting an elfa system in the pantry didn't seem like the most efficient use of our space or money, so we searched the internet for some DIY shelving tutorials. In the mean time, we re-purposed an old bookshelf and some empty boxes as a storage solution.

We decided to install melamine shelves resting on MDF 1x2s mounted to the wall studs. Dan bought all the supplies at Home Depot and had them make the cuts, so we wouldn't even have to get out the saw at home. We made sure to use a stud finder and only had to use wall anchors at one spot for each shelf.

Mae looks so young in that photo! That was actually taken back in January when I was working on her room before we moved in. She liked the beeping stud finder.

We screwed the 1x2s into the wall at the back and sides and then rested the melamine boards on top. The shelves are 12" deep, except for the top shelf which is 8". The heights vary from about 11" to 15" to accommodate different sized items. We ordered the hanging shelf baskets from Amazon to hold wraps and baggies.

We are loving our new shelves. It would be super easy to beautify this if we want something a bit more aesthetically pleasing in the future. We could easily patch some screw holes, add a couple little trim pieces to cover gaps, and touch up the brackets and walls with paint. However, with all the other projects I want to do in this house, I definitely don't see a "pretty pantry" making it to the top of my priority list for quite a while!