Life Lately

You know life is good when there is just no time to sit down and blog.  A special little someone turned one earlier this week.  We were in Cozumel, Mexico for Vivian’s actual birthday, but celebrated her birthday with friends and family with a backyard barbecue before we left.

Her first birthday was a bittersweet one.  It made me realize just how fast this last year went by, and it hit me like a ton of bricks that she’s growing up and won’t stay little forever.  It’s easy to get caught up in the early baby stages with all the spit up and night time feedings, and when it’s all over you think back and remember how tender and sweet those moments really were.  Vivian was born preemie at 34 weeks and weighed only 3lbs 13oz and stayed in the NICU for 2 1/2 weeks.  In a way I’m grateful for that because she stayed “little” for what seemed a little longer than most babies since preemies take longer to catch up.

I don’t want this post to become a sappy one so I will end it here, with a few pictures of Mexico and her birthday.

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The staff at the resort were the best, they made her a “birthday cake” and sang the traditional mañanitas to her.

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Day trip to a small village El Cedral in Cozumel.

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Beautiful Playa del Carmen.  Why can’t I live here?

The TV, a tree and some frames

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I’m revisiting the bare wall behind the TV.  When you’ve lived with something for so long, it’s easy to dismiss the fact that you need to “finish” it, and if you’re like me you put projects on the back burner…way back.  I had first talked about the TV wall here.  I’ve drawn up a little sketch trying to show you what I’m thinking about doing and also for my own sake because i’m still not sure what will look good up there.  So far this is what I’ve come up with.  I already have a gallery wall in the room adjacent to the living room, so although I would love to do another one here, frankly, I think it would be overkill.  To add texture, height and greenery I would bring in a large houseplant and add a couple of matching frames that I already bought from Homegoods.  Right now I’m just searching for the perfect plant for the little nook there.

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Curvy Brick Border

Progress is being made in the backyard.  You can read more about where we started here.  At the end of last summer, we installed a vinyl fence in the backyard which you can see in the picture below.  I love the privacy that it provides.  So much better.

Chicago weather was on our side last weekend, so we took full advantage and tackled a couple of projects in the backyard.

The previous owners had installed a faux brick border around the edge of the garden bed.  We pulled that out and added a real brick border to the garden bed.  This ended up being an entire day’s worth of work, but it’s one of those projects that make you smile when you’re done because you feel like you accomplished something. A great feeling indeed.  Backyard

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I also pulled up the flower bulbs that run next to the brick wall and moved them to the other garden bed.  The flowers never flourished there, so we’ll see how they like their new home.  To fill up the newly empty space, I picked up 5 baby size boxwood bushes at Home Depot in hopes that they will provide a fullness and depth this garden bed is missing.  It will be at least 2 years until we can see the results and fullness of the bushes.  With gardening you learn to be patient, among many other things.  Can you spot my little helper?

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Links to Love

As we head into, Memorial Day weekend, aka the official beginning of Summer, I leave you with some links I loved this week.029

tiny cottage with not so tiny style

My mouth is watering as I type, definitely making this to take to a BBQ/cookout this summer

In love with Teil’s Duncan and her beautiful artwork

Growing up with a “bully breed” myself, this post hit home and I couldn’t be more excited to see what Kim and Scott will come up with

Image via here

The Backyard

Three summers into this house (already?! how is that possible?) and the backyard is still nowhere near what I envision it to be.  We have definitely made progress but I still feel like there’s a lot to be done.  Vivian’s first birthday is next month and we decided to have her party in our backyard.  Nothing like a deadline to light a fire under your ass and cross things of the ol’ to-do list.  To recap, here’s what the garden and backyard looked like when we first moved in.

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Pretty sad looking, yellow grass.  Speaking of the grass, I have no idea what kind of grass this is, but it takes FOREVER to turn green in the spring.  I’m thinking next year we will lay down some new sod.

So the first thing we did was change the shape of the garden bed.  Everything was feeling too boxy, and I wanted more fluidity so we added some curves.

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I also painted the window frames, same color except no more chipping paint (we painted both windows, btw)!  We also cleaned up the bed and just kept those two plants in the center.  I am no gardening goddess, far from it actually.  Therefore, when choosing plants to fill the garden bed, low maintenance was on top of the list.  Hostas already line the alley between our house and that of our neighbors and they are beautiful.  The easiest would be to continue with the  hostas and call it a day.  I also want to add a garden border, I’m thinking brick border.

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The hostas in full bloom along the alley between our house and the neighbors.

The Dining Room-for now

We have been in our house for a little over 2 years now.  Where does the time go?  Sometimes it’s good to see those drab before pictures to really appreciate how far you’ve come, because sometimes it seems as though you’re not making any progress.  Below is the dining room piled high with unpacked boxes and the original yellow walls and then pictures of what the dining room looks like now.

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We recently purchased a chandelier for the dining room, making this room “finished” for now.  The chandelier is this one from West Elm.  One of the biggest driving and deciding factors was cost.  We bought the fixture on super sale, I think we paid $175 for it.

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The gallery wall is probably my favorite thing in this room.  I love that guests always walk up to it and comment on the pictures.  One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give to get that “collected over time” look and feel, is to literally collect and purchase the frames as you go.  Don’t go out buying 10-15 frames all at once.  Your gallery wall will end up looking “forced.”  Take the time to buy frames you really love and of varying sizes.  I have always been a picture frame hoarder and had amassed quite the collection over the years.  When I started working on the gallery wall, I laid out all the frames; weeded out the ones that didn’t suit the look I was going for and those that were looking a little bit dated.  From there, I bought a couple more frames here and there until finally deciding to put them up on the wall.DiningRoom2