Happy Birthday Daddy!

So the writing could use a little work but the toddler-inspired goldfish were fun to draw. He has an upcoming fishing trip with his guys and we got him fishing supplies for gifts...going for a theme here. And did I mention that he requested lemon cake with almond whipped cream filling and almond buttercream icing? Y.U.M.

This is Grayson's "enough with the pictures, give me some cake" pose.


The happy birthday song has also been sung a record number of times this week for her daddy.
Posted by Picasa

I love a man in an apron...

an apron with his own initials i might add. He's handy around the house with a toolbox and he loves to be in the kitchen. I'm not sure it gets any better! He's wanted in on the action with every cake I've made this year. So here was his chance...his own birthday cake. Yes, that's right, he iced his own cake (after much pleading with me). And then he said, "I mean, you don't really need to decorate it, just write my name or something". Yeah right. I was uber impressed with his first how-smooth-can-i-get-this-base-coat attempt.

Posted by Picasa


Funny Girl

Two days ago I slept in until Grayson woke up because I was so tired. I went into her room to get her up, leaned over her crib, and yawned. She looked up at me, took her thumb out of her mouth, and said "You sleepy mama?"

I'm getting Christmas shopping done ahead of time with baby sister's upcoming arrival. Today we shopped for our Samaritan's Purse shoebox together. I think I must have said "this is not for Grayson, this is a gift for somebody else" about twenty times as she was saying "this Grayson's ball!...rabbit!...crayons!". The concept must have somewhat sunk in. She's trying to fall asleep for her nap and I hear her singing "happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday to somebody else". Ha.


Attic Makeover: FINISHED!

(if you are just tuning in, this is post number EIGHT in a series that documents this rennovation. scroll down to start at the beginning!)

This picture below is what it's all about. Shoes off, snuggled under a blanket, drawing "ferris wheels" and "kangaroos" on the magna doodle. Every time we come up here, it's so refreshing. We're so thankful that the funds and time and people came together to pull it off, that we didn't encounter any major obstacles, and that we now get to enjoy this space together as a family. To be able to have all of my sewing gear in one place, in the SAME room where Grayson can play, and Justin can chill on the couch or check email is actually sort of unbelievable. "I go upstairs?" is a phrase we hear from Grayson quite frequently now. And personally, I can't wait for the front dormer window view of the lighted Christmas balls hanging in the pecan tree in just over a month!

Posted by Picasa

Attic Makeover Part 7

(It's a bit tricky to capture photographs up here with the light and the angles)

The staircase is a bit on the narrow side, and we quickly realized that no craigs-list furniture was going to fit up here unless it came apart. So we took a family day trip to Ikea and found this couch and chair. It came ready to assemble in boxes, which fit perfectly up the stairs. The rest of the furniture either fit or had to be taken apart and then put back together. And actually, the couch and chair were the only new items we had to purchase...the rest either came from family, was bought at yard sales, or was already in the office downstairs and just got moved up here.

So towards the front of the house is the living room space/play room space.

And towards the back of the house is the office and sewing and closet areas. Justin's closet doors are the last project on the books aside from hanging pictures.

This is the front dormer and that little pile of black fur is Maggie with her head tucked behind the pillows. What can I say, the dog adores this spot. The carpet, the window, the pillows, it doesn't get much better. Oh yeah, and Grayson loves it too with the toys on the bookcase and the "pi-yohws" to jump on.

This is a minor detail but I just had to show my new fabric storage. Sorry if the picture is a little blurry. After an hour of blogging this rennovation I'm losing steam. This already-painted-red-and-only-needing-a-little-door-repair unit was only $5 at a yard sale, no haggling involved!
Posted by Picasa

Attic Makeover Part 6

And here were are today...finally, the big reveal...

Staircase leading from our bedroom.

Looking up.

Looking down.

We've carried this family-picture-black-frame-collection around since we've been married. This will be the third room where they have been displayed, each room with a different set-up. We've still got some to add here, we're just trying to figure out how much of this wall space is needed for little hands and parents-holding-babies coming up and down the stairs.
Posted by Picasa

Attic Makeover Part 5

Almost finished! This was the day they came to install the carpet. In the picture below, Grayson is sitting in front of the dormer window, and I asked her to show me how excited she was about the new attic space. Which, by the way, we now call the "upstairs" and the "attic" is where all of our stuff is. I'm still getting used to it.

New mini-split (ductless) HVAC system on the wall above the closet doors. Just to brag on my handy-dandy husband...he installed it. He told me he wanted to and I was skeptical, even knowing how handy he is. Then he said it would save us $1000 and I said yes, please (HVAC was one of our larger costs). A few hours over one weekend and he was done. This thing works like a champ and is perfect for this space. It's controlled by a remote in the room and it runs outside to a compressor like a regular HVAC unit.
Posted by Picasa

Attic Makeover Part 4

(it's definitely recommended to scroll down to read these in order!)

This was only a couple of weeks after the last pictures. New lighting, new sheetrock on the kneewalls (I learned all kinds of new terms during this process), and new beadboard on the angles and ceilings! This is where I started getting giddy. It was actually happening! We decided to cover up the old beadboard instead of trying to salvage it or rip it down. It was one of our best decisions (thanks goes to Jon for providing a convincing argument for sheetrock; we love it). I also forgot to mention that on either side of the front dormer here in the pic below, there are spaces behind those walls that go over our front porch and Grayson's new room. Justin installed new ceiling fans in both spots before we closed up those walls for good.

New banister, at a much taller height for us. New wall with new attic access door on the left and new closet cut out for Justin's clothes on the right.

Front dormer. The windows still need some work but the beadboard ceiling!

This is a shot of the entire room sitting in front of the window in the front dormer. It's about 300 square feet as a rectangle; about 400 square feet if you include the dormer spaces. It's crazy; we had talked about rennovating this since we moved in four years ago. We're so thankful we finally did it before it was time to move out!
Posted by Picasa

Attic Makeover Part 3

Fast forward to July. Uncle Jon and cousin Jeremy come to the rescue! Although Justin is about as handy as it gets, he also has a full time job and we realize after months of dreaming that him doing most of the work was not feasible. I'm not sure that we'll ever be able to thank Jon and Jeremy enough for all of the work they did up here. I didn't capture a ton of "in process" shots, but they worked hard and fast to get the space finished up for us. These angles were beastly to work with. And I think I forgot to mention that there was no HVAC up here and in the summer the space acts like an oven. Eek.

We raised the ceiling a decent amount to give more head room. We could both stand up before, but with lighting, it was going to be a little close.

The "old closet" wall is gone to make room for the new. You can see a peek of the new flooring and where we store our stuff now.

Banister removed. It was about as rickety and wobbly as it got, and not nearly tall enough for us living in the land of the giants over here.
Posted by Picasa

Attic Makeover Part 2

(scroll down for the beginning of the post series)

These shots are taken standing sort of in the middle of the room, hitting all "four" sides.

One dormer to the right at the top of the stairs (the dormers are not symmetrical, actually nothing is straight or symmetrical in our house really, let alone in this crazy space).

The front dormer (that window faces the street). We looked into having this beam reworked but again, outside of the budget.

The narrow dormer.

Straight ahead in this shot below was the old "closet". We decided to knock it out and build behind that space instead to give us some more square footage. If you look closely, to the left of the hanging bags, you'll see the old "access" door. Basically our first step in all of this was for Justin to build flooring back there where there was only beams (see the silver piping). There is a lot more space back there, which falls over our bathroom, bedroom, and nursery. So he built flooring, we purged about half of this stuff, and then moved it all back into the new "attic" space. And yes, for inquiring minds, those are stacks of Christmas lights on the left. It comes with the territory in being a part of the Smith family.
Posted by Picasa

Attic Makeover

It makes me slightly giddy to look back at these before pictures knowing what this space has now become. There will be a series of posts here, so stay tuned if you're one of those people who keeps up via blog readers (which, as a side note, an apology to those who roll old school and actually click on our blog..our sidebars and such are seriously out of date). It's so much faster to blog from Picassa but it only lets you upload 4 pictures at once and a photo collage will just not do this project justice. There will also probably be a lot of chatter text, so if you're just interested in the basics, please skim. This is the biggest rennovation we've done on this house, so I wanted to be sure to capture what I could recall. So here we go...

Permanent stairs that lead up to the attic. The door is located on the back of our house off of our bedroom. You'd think it was a closet door since there are no closet doors in our bedroom, but alas, it's a staircase. One of the reasons we rennovated this space was to give Justin a closet. I work out of a wardrobe, we share a dresser, and his old closet was in Grayson's now-new-toddler-room. An architect said it was basically impossible within our (very limited) budget to turn the staircase into the hallway so the goal for the rennovation was to make a new closet space, a sewing/office space, and a living room/playroom space.

Let me just say that these before pictures were taken in February of 2009, when we started seriously talking through this. I can't believe how much brain space has been freed up inside of my head in the last 2 weeks since this project has been (basically) finished. I can now drive by a yard sale or take a trip to Hobby Lobby or Lowes without dreaming about what this new space would become. I know that some people are really into home rennovations, and from my giddyness mentioned above I can sort of (no I can't) see why. It sure was nice to be able to close that attic door and at least not see the mess, even if we were thinking about it all the time.

Ceiling shot from the stairs. Notice the old 100+ year old beadboard everywhere....

Top of the stairs (readers are about to get up close and personal with all of our attic junk)...

Pic of the front side of the room, standing at the top of the stairs. Please ignore the junk and focus on the walls, ceiling, floors, etc! With virtually no closet space in this house downstairs, having this floored walk up attic was/is a huge blessing, even though it was an organizers nightmare when all of our stuff was just sitting up here. It about gave me a panic attack whenever I ventured up. As Justin always says, a fish grows to the size of its tank. If we ran across something, I'd just say "awe, just throw it up in the attic and I'll deal wtih it later". Yeah right.
Posted by Picasa


First Trip to the State Fair

Justin's birthday is next week, so we decided last minute to celebrate early with a mid-week trip to the state fair. Justin and I both loved the fair from our Raleigh days, so we were excited to share it with Grayson.


food: country ham biscuits (my fav), polish sausages with peppers and onions (Justin's fav) and NCSU strawberry icecream (all of our favs). we skipped the fried fest this time, but click on the picture above to englarge it to check out the newest fried food offerings. i also forgot to upload the sign for "pig lickers", which apparently were bacon dipped chocolate pieces. ewe.

games and rides: actually didn't play any or ride any this year. rides there have always sort of freaked me out anyways and the games are just a good way to spend some money. we asked grayson if she wanted to ride the carousel or play "go fishin" but she replied no both times. "more animals" she said.

animals: she loved it. cows, chickens, sheep, holding the baby chicks and ducks, the petting zoo...when we told her that we were going to the fair, she started naming off animals we might see. she was fixed on "maybe camels?" for some reason and thankfully, there were two at the petting zoo. along with the capabaras, aka giant rats. what?

sights: half of the fun of the fair is just looking at all of the people and rides and prizes and signs. her little pointer finger was in full service as we strolled her through the crowds (which, by the way, were MUCH more manageable at 10am on a tuesday!)

overall rating: five stars. it also helped that the weather was just about as perfect as it could get. happy early birthday daddy!
Posted by Picasa


The Details...

Clockwise starting top left in photo collage:

Patchwork pillow: my scrap fabric attempt to blend in the red with all of the pink in this room. Red is sort of our 'house color'...it appears in every room, not entirely on purpose, I think we just like it. We already had some red accessories (chair, baskets, bins, etc) so I was hoping to just blend it in with the new colors. I know, I know, red and pink is sort of a 'no-no' but I'm still trying to pull it off. As Justin says, I'm still working out the "flair" (aka ribbon, accessories, fabric) in this room.

Bookcase: stayed basically the same as before, now with books and toys.

Dress up corner: my favorite new playspace! Hooks are where she can reach them, although we are working on teaching her how to actually lift things up and off the hook. Girl LOVES to see herself in any mirror, so the curvy mirror is a big hit here. Mirror and lampshade are from Ikea (love that store), pompoms and paper lanterns are from Wal-mart (Martha Stewart party supply clearance a while ago), flower hooks are Hobby Lobby, circle rugs are samples from Capel Rug Outlet.

Blank wall: this is a non-working fireplace that's been boarded up since we moved in. We've never dared to undo the boards fearing what might be hiding, so we figured now wasn't the time either with a toddler moving in. Good spot for the new dollhouse and maybe the future home of a mural behind it. Above the mantle on the blank wall will be her GWS letters that Aunt Ali painted when she was born. They still hang in her "old room" because she's still sleeping in there for now and we didn't want to take every last item out of there quite yet.

New curtains: plain white cheap panels from Target, lined with blackout material from Joann Fabrics (how did I not know about this fabric before?), flared with coasters-then-hole-punched-then-strung-on-ribbon from the same clearance party supplies at Wal-Mart.

Artwork display: Pink rope from Lowes, more coasters hot glued over screws, clothespins. Easy easy.

New dresser: Old dresser picked up off the side of the road by my sweet husband who has learned from me the great value in slowing the car down to check out other people's trash. New coat of white paint. Ribbon pulls for the top drawers instead of the old school fancy metal ones. I'm still working out the bottom drawer storage because those drawers were missing. I might sew a curtain here to cover it all, but we're rockin' it open for now.

One of my favorite conversations when working in this room:
Me to Justin: "do you think this mixmatching ribbon on the drawer pulls is too funky?"
Justin: "Um, we're not really lacking funky in this room". (ha)

So far, girl is totally loving the new space. She asks to "play in new room" and will promptly ask anyone she can find in the vicinity to "sit down right here".
Posted by Picasa