the black thumb strikes again

We spent a lot of time and money on our backyard last summer. Our backyard isn't an easy place to encourage plant growth. It's very shady and several mature trees block quite a bit of rain. And while we've been working on adding in better soil and organic matter, it's still mostly clay.

On top of that, we have two very active dogs and standard city-sized (read: small) lot. From picking tomatoes to eating flowers to trampling hydrangeas to grazing on ornamental grasses, these two cuties are no help in the gardening department.

I think what I'm trying to say is that we've killed a lot of plants. And grass. Last year we headed out to our local nursery, bought plants with the appropriate sun requirements, fenced off the garden beds and organized all our receipts/plant tags/planting maps so we could take advantage of the 2 year warranty on perennials.

And then we had the most miserable winter imaginable and of the 9 daises we planted in the raised bed not a single one came up. Not one. I would have marched all 9 dead plants back to the nursery, but after 100 years in business they closed their doors in December. Go figure.

We're trying again with perennials, this year. We adjusted what we bought based on what we've learned about the sun in that particular garden. And since we're late to the planting game, we got some great deals at Home Depot. Once we had everything in the ground we realized we'll need a couple more plants, but at least it's a start! We also added about 6 bags of organic compost with manure to the soil, hoping that will help the plants survive.

In the sunny part of the garden, we have dahlias, white coneflowers and black eyed susans. As it gets shadier, we have heuchera and lamium. At the very end of the bed, we get very little sun (but just enough to kill ferns, ask me how I know) and almost no rain water. I planted some leftover impatiens there earlier in the Spring and they're doing well! We're filling in the rest of the area with ground cover and encouraging some morning glory plants to climb the fence.

We still need another plant or two and some mulch to finish it off, but it's nice to see life in the garden again. 

I'm really hopeful that we might see all these plants again next Spring! And if not, hopefully Home Depot will still be in business and I will most certainly take advantage of their 1 year guarantee.

Black thumbs unite; tell me all your stories about killing plants. It makes me feel better about my deadly habit. Or tell me how to keep these babies alive. That'd be helpful, too!



You guys. It's June. May felt a bit like a race to the finish and I'm honestly just thrilled we made it through the month with some level of sanity still intact. It was a month full of wonderful opportunities and travel and family and a new job (Nick) and I'm quite pleased that we came out with our heads above water.

June promises to be nearly as full and I'm ready for it. With a little sunshine and time outdoors it feels like I can take on anything. Which is good, because here are my goals for June:

Complete the MS150. For the second year in a row, Nick and I are riding the MS150. We bike 150 miles over the course of 2 days, all to raise funds and awareness for the MS Society. Last year we were so inspired by our teammates riding with MS and came back really wanting to stand with them and their fight against MS. The cause became even more personal when one of my dear college friends was diagnosed with MS this year. I'm riding with her on my heart. If you're interested, we would absolutely love your support with our fundraising efforts. This is something we're passionate about, because the research and programs funded through these events is changing the lives of people we love. (You can also pray it does not storm on Saturday. That would be equally appreciated!)

Read two books. I am loving this reading adventure. I'm definitely reading more this year than I have in years past and I have a little stack of books growing on my night stand. It feels really, really good. I've been bringing my books out onto the patio for early morning and late evening moments. I flip pages between tossing sticks for the dogs to chase. My favorite read last month was Getting to 50/50. If you are, or want to be, a dual career couple I cannot recommend that book enough.

Scrub one thing every day. We do a lot of surface cleaning 'round these parts. We vacuum almost every single day. We do a lot of dishes and wiping off counter tops and dusting the piano. We don't do a lot of deep cleaning or scrubbing and it's really starting to bug me. But, I haven't been able to dedicate any large chunk of time to a deep clean. So in June, my goal is to scrub one thing every day. So far, I've been scrubbing the dog. Spring showers equal muddy paws. And bellies. And tails.

Sell the stove. Oh look! Somehow this goal managed to make it on for 3 months running, and that doesn't even count the month I failed to write up any goals. It's time to sell this thing. Somebody hold me to it! Why am I so scared of Craigslist?? (Please don't answer that with links to scary articles, 'k?)

What's on your list for June? Anyone else just happy we made it through May?


march recap & april goals

Since I'm already a bit behind, let's just mash these into one post, shall we?

First, let's recap March and see how we did.

1. Shop around for insurance. In process. I did start getting quotes, and unfortunately, it appears we're paying a fair market rate. We're still weighing some pros and cons to decide if we'll stay with our current provider or switch, but there won't be any huge savings either way. Bummer. 

2. Set up our external hard drives. Also in process. The good news is that our drives work with the Mac without any reformatting work. The bad news is my camera battery keeps dying mid-download, so I'm still working on getting everything up to date. 

3. Read 2 books. Done! I finished Lean In (have I mentioned how much I loved this book?!), Who Moved the Cheese and Radical. 

4. Make 1 Craigslist sale. Nope. I'm blaming this one on the fact that Nick was 
gone for a chunk of the month (we firmly believe in 2 person Craigslist exchanges) and the ridiculously cold temperatures. I'm putting this one on the goal list for April because I really do want to make it happen!


1. Get outside. We survived the worst winter ever (we got 6" of snow last week. IN APRIL). With temperatures finally above freezing (mostly) I want to be outside as much as I possibly can. It's so good for me, and the dogs are loving it, too. I'm making an extra effort to get out there, even when there's a long to-do list inside. 

2. Brush the dogs. With the change of seasons comes dog hair. Even more dog hair than usual. I want to try brushing the dogs every(isn) day in April to see how much of an impact it has. Even if it's only for a couple minutes it'll be something. 

3. Be gentle with yourself. Spring is tough. I love it so much, because it feels like everything comes back to life, but it's also an insane time of year. I know I'm not the only one struggling to keep up! There's a lot of awesome going on, but there's just a lot going on. I need to give myself a little breathing room to be kind to me and keep me sane. Sometimes, that might mean I don't get as much done as I'd like, and that needs to be ok. 

4. Read a book. Just one. Just enough to keep me in the habit. I picked up a couple new ones at Half Price Books and I'm excited to tear into them. And then! Our new library opens at the beginning of May!! We'll have a library in our neighborhood instead of 15 minutes away. I'm really excited about that!

5. Make a sale on Craigslist. Since we weren't successful with this one last month it's showing up again here. We NEED to get our previous stove out of the garage! It's taking up previous space and stressing me out. (Anyone need an electric stainless steel range??) We also have a bike to sell. It's time!

There you have it. Nothing terribly exciting, but that's ok right now. I just needed to keep moving forward! What are your goals for April?



Ever since we started planning an office update, I've wanted to paint the walls a light, airy color. I was picturing something straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog.

The wall color is hardly visible in this photo, but pretend you can see it ok?!

Conveniently enough, we had a gallon (or two?) of Ralph Lauren's Creamstone left over from the living room ceiling, so we planned to use that.

While I was out a couple weeks ago, Nick painted the office. And neither of us liked it.

 He's obviously not painting in this picture, but that's the original color. Work with me. 
It was fine, but it wasn't great and it wasn't quite what I had pictured. Plus, since we decided to go with white woodwork, we felt like we could stand to darken up the walls.

So we did.

Side note: Life According to Cindy, chapter 7, always repaint a room if you don't love the color. 

We now have a navy office. And we love it. It's taking some getting used to, because the office is visible from most of the main level. I keep seeing the dark walls out of the corner of my eye and thinking there's something hanging in the doorway. There isn't. We just have navy walls.

I played around with the idea of gray, preferably something like Michelle's awesome new office walls or even our bedroom. But the living room and dining room are a greige (Ralph Lauren's Cobblestone, love that color!) and gray just wasn't going to work with the color palette.

So navy it is! I can't wait to get the board and batten up and painted and looking all fresh and white. I'm excited to see this space actually come together and be usable.

Oh, also. I have a highly refined paint picking technique. It's called, walk into Home Depot, wander around the Behr section and pick a color. I do not do test colors, I do not tape swatches to my walls, I do not check it in different lights. So far this method has actually worked out for me. Repeat at your own risk.

Ok, and that's not completely true. I go in knowing what color I want and what kind of that color I want. I knew what type of navy I wanted (slighted muted, "dusty" looking, really dark, etc). If I'm picking a brown I identify the color family before I want before I ever hit the store (red-brown? yellow-brown?). It's a work in progress.

How do you pick your paint colors? 

(Beemer says hi)


weekend things

I'm so thankful the snow is finally melting and it appears Spring might actually be around the corner. I know it started yesterday and all, but we're looking at highs in the 20s this weekend, so it's hard to call that Spring at this point. 

Still, any sort of warmer weather means more time outside for the dogs and that means much happier puppies (and puppy parents).

Melting snow also means our patio has made a re-appearance and I'm more excited to use it than ever! We still need to find the right patio furniture, but I did some scouting which you can see on my latest Houzz ideabook. Now, if only my budget were as big as my ideas…

In reality, I'm working on convincing Nick to build this table, thanks to Michelle at Decor and the Dog.   I'm still on the lookout for some chairs.

I'm mulling over my review of Lean In, but this one is so good I almost wonder why I'm trying to write one.

If you happen to find yourself looking for a grain-free chocolate chip cookie, this one knocks it out of the park. Seriously. So good.  

I hope your weekend is filled with time outside and cookies and that you make the time to hug someone you love. That's basically what our weekend looks like (plus some car repairs, because, you know, life). 


save the birds?

We finally made some real progress on the office over the weekend. Up until now it's been mostly mudding and sanding which is so messy and putzy and slow. While I was at the gym on Sunday Nick got a (tester) coat of paint on the top of the walls. We're debating paint color, but that's another story for another time.

Today, we need to talk about the fate of the birds. Remember these little guys?

They're hand painted at the top of each wall in the office. They were safely covered by wallpaper and we just found them when we tore all the wallpaper out over Christmas.

Nick really loves the history that comes with the paintings and isn't quite willing to paint over them. I appreciate the history but don't love the birds and am fine painting over them. But there is a little part of me that feels bad and would love to find a way to preserve the history of the house.

We've talked about using molding to frame the bird above the door between the office and living room. You would only see the bird when you're actually in the office and the rest of the wall would be painted. We would try to have the molding look like a picture frame, even though it's actually just framing a spot on the wall.

We've also talked about trying to cut out a chunk of the wall and frame it in a gallery frame. I would prefer that option, but we're not sure how well the little guy will come out (our walls are lathe and plaster).

What would you do? Any suggestions for us? Would you save the birds?


weekend things

After three weeks with lots of traveling (both of us in Charleston/Savannah, Nick in Alaska and me in Scottsdale), we're all going to be home this weekend. I can't wait. Although, Scottsdale was quite lovely, too. 

It's going to be a pretty low key weekend. Brunch with friends, a team meeting for an upcoming CrossFit competition, a judged workout and hopefully a little work on the office. Yeah. Remember when we started that project around Christmas? Yikes. 

With the snow around here finally melting, I'm ready to think about Spring. I'll be studying up on all of Kim's gardening posts, including this one about starting your garden from seeds (something I've yet to do successfully).

I stumbled across this blog and haven't been able to stop reading it. If you need some inspiration to truly live your life in the middle of incredibly challenging circumstances, you might want to check it out. While all her posts are inspiring, my favorite is the one titled "Timing." I encourage you to read the whole thing, but this single sentence speaks volumes.

It’s always the right time to live the life you want, 

and to want the life you live, 

regardless of whether it’s the life you imagined.

- Nora Purmort 

I hope your weekend is wonderful and well above zero. I also hope your puppies don't delight in muddy puddles as much as mine do. But if they do, Costco has giant tubs of Oxiclean on sale right now. I bought one.