weekend haps

basement stairsI’m so excited to say that we’ve now completed our basement stair beautification project…at least that’s what I’m going to call it. The red oak wood stain on the treads and Benjamin Moore super white paint really made a big difference; I’d say they have come a long way from this to this and this. I was so happy about it, when we finished painting yesterday, that I kept saying we had “sexy stairs”. Now, hopefully in the next couple months, we can finish having work done to our basement, get all the walls painted white, and say goodbye to the mint chocolate chip green color that’s currently in the space. We managed to make it to the Art Fair last weekend, picked our first four ripe tomatoes from the garden, and I cut some hosta leaves and hydrangea from our yard as well to enjoy inside – enjoying the summer weather and our summer garden/yard! (bowl and vase by Abigail Murray) first 4 ripe garden tomatoes of the season (bowl by @abigailmurraystudio)!

hosta & hydrangea from our yard & vase by @abigailmurraystudio

garden goodies & vase/bowl by @abigailmurraystudio

by Valerie | 07.20.15 | Around our home, For Funsies, Garden | No Comments »

summer sun

yellooo!We’ve had a fairly rainy, cool summer so far – which is why, when it turned out to be such a beautiful weekend with sunshine and temperatures in the 80s, we took advantage of the sunny weather by enjoying dinner and drinks outside and taking a walk around downtown. Enjoying a sunny, summer patio is a thing of beauty! Sunny Saturday

It was good that we enjoyed a bit of the outdoors on Friday and Saturday as we spent just about all day Sunday working on our house; Ryan managed to get 4 coats of paint on the underside of the basement stairs, as well as one more coat of clear poly on the treads, so that’s done – now we just need to paint the risers and the stringers and we can check that project off our list.

We were happy to see tomatoes and peppers growing in our garden too; I’m looking forward to enjoying them later in the season when they’re ready to pick – we’ve already been able to use some of our herbs and lettuce from the garden and Melody always enjoys time outside on the patio. It’s hard to believe that we’re already in mid-July and summer will be over before we know it; here’s to many more warm summer days and firefly-lit summer nights.

Melody

by Valerie | 07.13.15 | Around our home, Around town, For Funsies, Garden, Princess Puppy Pants | No Comments »

fun on the 4th & weekend haps

Happy 4th!

We enjoyed a fun holiday weekend at home this year – complete with the wonderful company of friends on the 4th, a game of Horse at our neighborhood park, bag toss in the yard, hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, apple pie, and sparklers!

arrangement 7/3/15

Melody was ready for the holiday in her red and white striped collar and 4th of July bandana – and I like to think that the hot dog cookie we gave her tasted extra special because she ate it on the 4th. After all the excitement, she was a ready for a nap. I hope you had a fun and relaxing holiday weekend!

Happy 4th of July!

Melody

On Sunday, rather than taking a bike ride or heading to the park for some paddleboat fun, we decided to start working on our basement stairs; the old and ugly green carpet is gone and the treads are all sanded now, next step will be to stain, seal, and paint…more to come on that.

by Valerie | 07.06.15 | Around our home, For Funsies, Holidaze, Princess Puppy Pants | No Comments »

Rainy days and Mondays

Rainy days & Mondays

We had quite a bit of rain here on Sunday and some more on Monday (did I mention how happy we’ll be to have a waterproofing system installed in our basement over the summer – ugh?!?), but I think we’ll have a little time to dry out today and hopefully a chance to mow our lawn which is now looking a bit out of control. But the flowers and plants and gardens must be happy to have received all the rain!

Rainy days & Mondays

These aren’t from my garden, but they are lovely aren’t they?

Fresh cut

Peonies

by Valerie | 06.16.15 | Around our home, For Funsies | No Comments »

weekend haps

Melody

Guess what we did on Friday afternoon last weekend? A whole lot of nothing, that’s what, and it was wonderful – we just sat out on our patio and enjoyed it; although Melody seemed skeptical about us removing her little patch of grass in this area, I think she’s coming around and warming up to it.

We got plenty of rain on Saturday afternoon and a bit on Sunday as well and in between rain storms we managed to pick up and put out most of our 17 bags of mulch, the rest of which we’ll surely get to this week. I also took the opportunity to cut some of our garden roses and put them in vases around the house; they smell pretty amazing!

Garden roses

Garden roses

And the award for cutest fist bump last week goes to little E – super baby fist bump power!

Little E has fist bump power

by Valerie | 06.01.15 | Around our home, For Funsies, Garden, Princess Puppy Pants | No Comments »

Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day weekend yard improvement

We had a very busy, very productive Memorial Day weekend full of outdoor cleanup and improvements; we planted all four of our garden boxes (variety of peppers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, herbs, and some marigolds too), replaced small section of grass in our backyard with concrete pavers and pea gravel, weeded and trimmed bushes, and we cleaned up the bed around our birch tree in the front yard and placed stones underneath the bird feeders as the ivy never grew in there correctly – all of which, I think, made a huge improvement and we will most certainly enjoy throughout the summer.

For comparison, here’s the backyard before (complete with awkward, little patch of grass)…

Before

And after (you may remember when we put in pea gravel and planter boxes a couple years ago in place of the empty garden – I mean weed – bed)…

Memorial Day weekend yard improvement

Memorial Day weekend yard improvement

Memorial Day weekend yard improvement

And the front yard, before…

Before

And after…

After

After a long day of hard work, it can be really relaxing to enjoy a walk in the evening light and watch the last rays of the day’s sun glisten off a field of dandelions – they almost looked like stars shining in the night sky in the light of the setting sun.

Magic hour

Magic hour

by Valerie | 05.25.15 | Around our home, For Funsies, Garden, Holidaze | No Comments »

how does our garden grow?

backyard beauty

We did our first big plant purchase for the season over the weekend and it always make me so happy! We’re starting with lots of flowers in pots and hanging baskets: a rose bush (in honor of my Granddaddy), some really pretty pink dahlias, yellow lantana, a variety of geraniums, coleus, sweet potato vine, and various other trailing greens to fill in and spill down the pots. We also picked up a couple orange mint plants and a spearmint plant for our garden box; we’ll wait until later this month to plant the rest of our herb and vegetable garden. It’s lovely to be able to sit in the backyard and feel as though you’re in your own private oasis; Ann Arbor really is stunning this time of year – the trees are flowering and everything is so beautiful and green…and my lilacs are blooming! Want to see more photos of flowers and plants and/or our garden?

backyard beauty (roses, dahlia, & mosquito plant)

backyard beauty

We also got started on a really cool DIY outdoor coffee table project we’ve been dreaming up and planning for since last fall; I think we my have it all finished and ready to enjoy by this weekend – stay tuned for more on that…

We had the pleasure of chatting with our mothers on Sunday too – hope you gave your Mom some love in honor of Mother’s Day; here’s a fun throwback photo of me and my brother with our Mom (those are some sweet glasses and awesome hot air balloon shirt, Mom)!

Family15

by Valerie | 05.11.15 | Around our home, For Funsies, Garden, Holidaze | No Comments »

sunshine and pretty, pink peonies

peony power

It actually snowed here this last week, but my dear friend Jennifer Reedy had this to say and it’s so beautiful and so quotable that I wanted to pass it along: “It was such a soft April snow. So vulnerable that most of it would collapse and dissolve into the earth almost immediately, so fragile it would be obliterated instantly upon contact with warm skin. So delicate and so very fleeting, I thought it beautiful and poignant. These clusters of snowflakes cascading down from the clouds that bore them, with only that brief journey through the atmosphere to exist within. It seemed a little sad, but also peaceful. No part of me felt anything at all akin to “ugh” while watching it. Things begin and things end, and we are at that crossroad in a season of change. So don’t fret Val, spring cannot be stopped now. Vibrant colors have burst forth by way of flowers blooming and the buds are growing every day on the trees and shrubs, as you know.”

Unrelated, but this had me laughing – it’s important to remember…things could always be worse…you could be dead on Mars.

It’s wonderful to witness the change in seasons – with the arrival of spring blooms and signs of growth all around, the sunshine seems somehow extra special this time of year. Our forsythia is blooming, and I see that our lilacs will bloom soon too which I find myself looking forward to each spring. They even had some beautiful pink peonies, which I was happy to take home with me, at the grocery store this week; I’m hoping the peony we planted last spring will come back this year (fingers crossed).

peony power

Even my purple shamrock is blooming…

Soaking up some sunshine

by Valerie | 04.26.15 | Around our home, For Funsies | No Comments »

Spring!

Lenten Rose

While Ann Arbor, MI still has the potential for frost through early-mid May (meaning we won’t be planting anything outdoors until mid-May at the earliest), it is definitely looking/feeling like spring and the change is weather is much welcomed! Last Friday and Saturday were perfection – sunshine and highs in the 70’s. We took advantage of the weather by cleaning out our garage, placing out (and buying some new) our patio furniture, doing some outdoor chores on our home, and firing up the grill for the first time this year. I was so excited to see the forsythia in our yard in full bloom as of last Friday and my Lenten rose plants are looking lovely as well; it’s so nice to be able to cut flowers and plants from our yard and enjoy them in vases inside the house this time of year and throughout the spring/summer. We’re already starting to plan for and think about all the wonderful things we’ll be planting in our garden boxes soon.

Lenten Rose

Lenten Rose

Forsythia

As we were waiting in line to purchase our new patio furniture, we conveniently had a place to sit while we waited – here’s Ryan enjoying one of our new chairs; coming soon, a DIY table in the making…

found some patio chairs we like - bonus is that while waiting in checkout line there's conveniently a place to sit

by Valerie | 04.20.15 | Around our home, For Funsies | No Comments »

ch-ch-changes

my home improvement hero!

It’s been quite an eventful week or so… Some friends of ours welcomed a new baby boy (congrats!), other friends/colleagues of ours announced they will be moving for other job opportunities out of state (you know who you are and you will be missed!), and…Ryan was able to successfully install a new garbage disposal on our kitchen sink – while this may not seem nearly as exciting or important compared to the other items in my list, it was a big deal to us (even the nice lady at the hardware store commented that plumbing jobs always take at least two trips – but ours only took one)! Change can be hard, it can be good, and it is definitely inevitable. And just look at these daffodils… How could you look at these cheery, yellow blooms and not smile?

coffee table tray 4/11/15

Untitled

Last Saturday was National Pet Day and Melody spent it lounging around the house, getting pets, and laying in the sunshine as much as possible…which reminds me that it’s about time for us to switch out our glass insert for the screen insert on the door to the patio – looking forward to enjoying lots of sunshine, some fresh air, and open windows and doors again!

#mywestelm happy national pet day

sunning

by Valerie | 04.14.15 | Around our home, For Funsies, Princess Puppy Pants | No Comments »

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