Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Claire's New Room: After Pictures

...and here is Claire's new room! (See previous post for before pictures). She loves it and adjusted very well to the move.

Nick painted the walls, and my mom hemmed the curtains and covered the little table shown here.

All of the furniture in the room was free: hand-me-downs from our wonderful family and friends!

The desk was Nick's childhood desk, built by his grandfather.

My mom transformed a thrift store CD storage container into a super-cute dollhouse.

Nick's talented sister, Danielle, made these collages featuring old pictures of Nick's grandmother.

A close-up of one of Danielle's pieces. I bought several mismatched wooden frames from Goodwill and painted them yellow (another project my mom helped with!).

Nick's other sister, Elise, created this piece of art. We're lucky to have such a talented family!

Claire's New Room: Before Pictures

The layout of our house is funny: two bedrooms upstairs, and two bedrooms downstairs. It makes sense to keep the new baby's nursery upstairs, next to the master bedroom, and move Claire into one of the downstairs bedrooms. Here's the problem: we do not have any kind of basement or storage room, and we park two cars in our two-car garage (yes, I'm being generous calling Nick's '69 Jeep project a "car"), so where do we store our random junk?

Until recently, it was all piled in "The Room We Do Not Speak Of". We kept the door closed.

Random tools and Goodwill donation piles...

A graveyard of broken computer parts...

College textbooks, empty boxes...

This is not even the room at its worst! You're seeing pictures taken after we sold a foosball table and exercise bike (thank you Craigslist!).

You know, one of the things that I love about Nick is his interest in a wide variety of hobbies and talents. Unfortunately, he tends to choose activities that require a lot of stuff: model airplanes, scuba diving, woodworking, building computers, etc. We managed to keep all of the things that were important to him in other, more organized, areas of our home, while donating, selling, and trashing a whole bunch of other stuff.

Stay tuned for the AFTER pictures!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vegetable Garden 2010

It's that time again! I thought I'd share monthly updates on our veggie garden again this year for you local gardeners. With our high altitude, short growing season and (usually) clay soil, gardening in Colorado Springs is not easy, so please, any advice would be welcome in the comments!

Our vegetable garden is located in a fenced enclosure that was used as a dog run by previous owners. I thought it would be helpful for keeping pests out, but it's been more useful this year keeping toddlers out :).

I'll start by listing our edible perennials real quick, just for fun:
  • Raspberries: These guys are sneaky! There are new shoots coming up all over the place, whether they're welcome or not. Hopefully we get enough fruit to keep Claire happy again this summer.
  • Rhubarb: I planted one plant at the end of last season and intend to let it grow as big as it can this year (rather than eating it), then divide it so that I can have several rhubarb plants next year. I already have tons of strawberry-rhubarb jam left over from last summer anyway!
Is rhubarb supposed to flower like that?
  • Herbs: Just tarragon, mint, chives, and lavender, and they're all looking promising. Maybe I'll preserve some mint jelly if we get enough.
  • Asparagus: I was excited to plant some asparagus bulbs (would they be called bulbs?) in early April, but I'm concerned...nothing has come out of the ground yet. They probably croaked. I accidentally bought some asparagus seeds as well, so I may just plant those this week and see what happens. I wouldn't get anything edible for a couple years anyway.
  • Fruit Tree(s): Our cherry tree is still a bit scrawny this year, and we intend to plant a plum tree in the fall.
Now, on to the annuals. All of the seedlings mentioned were started indoors a couple months ago in newspaper pots:
  • Sugar Snap Peas: I think I planted these guys too early this year (on St. Patrick's Day). The first batch never came up, so I replanted several weeks later and have about a dozen little seedlings coming up, about two inches tall at this point. These are not pictured because I REALLY need to weed their garden bed.
  • Tomatoes (cherry, roma, and regular round): As usual, I went a little crazy with the tomato seedlings, especially for a household where I am the only person who likes them (I'm really working on Claire, though!). The thing is, I can't imagine anything better than a fresh summer tomato, so I will probably have no trouble eating from all 9 plants! If not, I can always preserve salsa, tomato sauce, sweet and sour sauce, roasted tomatoes (frozen), or this incredible pesto torte (frozen).
  • Purple Bell Peppers: Oops. I wanted to get all of my seedlings in the ground one evening after Claire went to bed, so I was still working outside after it grew dark. Once everything was planted, I thought, "Didn't I start some bell peppers? Where are they?". I think I got them mixed up with my broccoli and zinnias, so there are probably a couple plants in odd places in the garden. "By their fruits ye shall know them", I suppose.
  • Broccoli: This is a new one for me this year. I have 4 seedlings in the ground.
Broccoli or Bell Pepper?
  • Lettuce and Mesclun: I started a window box of these two several weeks ago to keep right outside my kitchen door, hopefully encouraging me to make quick, healthy salads for lunch. An additional 4 rows went into the ground on May 21, and I'll plant again in the fall.
  • Cucumber (3), Zucchini (2), Purple Beans (8) (they turn green when cooked), Basil (4 rows), Shallots (1 row), Carrots (4 rows), and Radishes (4 rows): Aside from one cucumber seedling started indoors, I planted all of these seeds directly in the ground on May 21.
Cucumber with some tomatoes in the background.

My soil is so beautiful this year, thanks to our homemade compost. I could have kissed all the juicy worms I found while planting. I guess it goes to show that you don't have to build a raised garden bed and buy imported soil to have a healthy garden. I took my sister-in-law, Elise's, advice and kept weeds under control by hoeing once a week as the weather warmed up instead of spending an entire Saturday plucking them by hand, as I usually do.

I decided to use straw as mulch (last year I used pine needles) to keep the ground moist and discourage weed growth. I actually bought a straw bale last fall for decoration, displaying a few pumpkins, and then stored it under our back porch all winter.

I'll keep you posted on the garden's progress. I just hope I can keep up with it after the new baby arrives!

Friday, May 14, 2010


At Claire's 9 month well-baby checkup, her pediatrician, whose advice I absolutely respect, suggested that it was the perfect time to get rid of her pacifier. At that time, she was a 24-hour-a-day addict, and I was well accustomed to a full night's sleep and daily nap, so the thought of taking away this sleeping crutch terrified me. We decided to compromise and keep "sassy" (we call it a "paci", Claire calls it "sassy") in bed. She was far from getting teeth so it seemed like a perfectly harmless plan.

Fast forward to the present day, and Claire was a two-year-old with a serious sassy addiction. She never used it during the daytime (except when she was sick), but all we had to do at bedtime was say "Claire, do you want to go to bed? Sassy's in there!" and she would go running upstairs. She came down with a mystery fever last week, so I took her (and sassy) to the pediatrician to check for an ear infection. Her ears were OK, but her doctor gave me a hard time about the paci. He said he would like to see it gone by her 2-year-old checkup...already scheduled two weeks later!

I took the advice of a friend and cut off the very tip of her paci so that it did not provide the same sensation when she put it in her mouth. I felt quite guilty destroying Claire's favorite possession! At bedtime that night, Claire took one look at her paci and started crying "Sassy broken!". The poor girl cried for 45 minutes before falling asleep. I was worried that we were in for a long night. Surprisingly, she didn't wake again until morning!

The next day, she carried sassy around and often talked about how it was broken, but she never tried to put it in her mouth. Her naps were rough for a couple days but she's been sleeping well at night, and today she took a nap too.

I think it helped that she could still hold onto and play with sassy, even though she's lost the desire to put it in her mouth. I thought I'd share our experience for other mommies with paci addicts! Good luck :).