And then they…

the things we do to live a better life.

Archive for the category “House”

Easter Photos

It’s so much fun having a daughter who is old enough to understand Easter this year.  She is starting to get the whole Jesus thing, but she totally got the Easter Bunny.

We had a great day at church, and egg hunting, and eating with friends and family.

I was fun to start a new tradition of making the girls’ Easter dresses.  These got to serve double duty as dresses for Harriet’s Baptism.

And Then They - Easter TraditionsAnd Then They - Easter Chair and BasketsAnd Then They - PeepsAnd Then They - Walking to Rory's With PapaAnd Then They - RoryAnd Then They - EggAnd Then They - RunningAnd Then They - Going for a DriveAnd Then They - Harriet was there too

Sarah Guthu – a new painting

I had a friend in high school who was extremely talented, even back then. We spent hours in the theater at school creating sets, listening to music, and painting.  My most favorite memory of Sarah is when we were doing Once Upon a Mattress and she was tasked with painting a huge sheet of plywood, that was supposed to look like a constellation of a dragon, that would be hung in the wizard’s chambers.  I ended up helping her on it quite a bit, and it was amazing.  It ended up being almost a pointillism style dragon.  Sadly, for some reason (maybe she remembers), the director didn’t use it in the staging.  It should have been used.  I still remember the hours spent making little dots on a huge black board, having great conversations with a great friend.

Since graduation I’m not sure if I’ve even seen her, but I’ve kept up with her on Facebook, and on her beautiful blog.  Sarah is the kind of person who, I’m convinced, has more than 24 hours in her day.  She is always posting about her creative endeavors, culinary adventures, academic pursuits, and so much more.  I don’t know how she does so much, but however she does it, and whatever she does, it is sure to be inspiring.  A couple years ago she posted about making sugar plums, and I commented that I didn’t know they were actual things (I thought they were just fairy/ballet related ideas), and she generously and graciously sent me a box to try.  That’s just the kind of person she is – the best kind of person.

I have been eying her paintings for years.  She has a really interesting, original style.  Just a couple months ago, she started selling prints of her paintings on Society6.   I decided that I needed a print, and luckily she posted one of my favorites right around my birthday.Screenshot (2)

“Breath” has always intrigued me.  I love the motion in the girl’s pose.  I love the colors.  I love the mystery.  Since I hung it in my house, I’ve been trying to figure out the story in the painting.  It’s a little creepy, but really, truly beautiful.  When I asked Alma who the girl was, she said, “Mommy.”  I love this, because part of why I chose this painting is because it reminded me of how I picture both of my daughters looking someday.  The girl in the painting looks like she’s on an adventure, and I hope for many adventures for my girls.

And Then They - Breath by Sarah Guthu

We hung it over our front table, in the living room.  I love that, while a print, it is also a great piece of art.  Not just a poster or something.  Having real art makes me feel fancy (this is making me think that I should do posts about all our art, because looking around the house, I’m realizing that we actually have a lot of original, beautiful artwork!).

Breath Closeup

(the weird spots are glares from the glass in the frame, not part of the painting…)

So, if you’re looking for some creative inspiration, check out Sarah’s blog.  And if you’re looking for some beautiful art for your home, check out her Society6 shop.  AND, if you’re looking for an original, one-of-a-kind dress for a little lady in your life, look for her soon to come Etsy shop of literary inspired children clothes (areyoukiddingme?).

Thanks, Sarah, for your wonderful art, your incredible spirit, your constant inspiration, and for the memories.

Novruz 2014, Toddler Style

And Then They - 01 NovruzHappy Novruz, everyone!  It’s spring!  I love spring so much.  The flowers, sunshine, the green.  It’s my second favorite time of year, but every year at this time, it’s my favorite time of year.

And Then They - 02 DyeingThis year we had our playgroup over for a Novruz celebration.  We started by dyeing eggs, which was a wonderfully frantic (and surprisingly mess-free) dash.  We had nine two-year-olds, and various aged babies along for the ride. 

Jesse explained the meaning of Novruz – the toddlers listened very attentively – all the earth, wind, fire, water, rebirth, newness.  Then, we went outside to jump over the fire!

And Then They - 04 Hattie And Then They - 05 AlmaI love this ritual of leaving all our troubles, and worries, and problems in the fire.  I’m always one for a fresh, clean start – especially when spring is springing.

It was an amazingly beautiful day, so we all went to the backyard to play with all of Alma’s bikes, and her slide.  It was perfect.  I love how our kids are old enough to pretty much just play.  We don’t have to hover and help like we did last year at this time.  It gives us grown-ups time to chat and catch up. 

And Then They - 06 PlayingWe are so blessed to be a part of this great group of families.  We all (pretty much) met through the Birth Center, where most of us had our first babies.  After getting to know each other at the weekly Baby Clinics, the idea was born to have a monthly playgroup.  Not only do we all have two-year-olds, but most of us are on the second round these days, too.  It’s wonderful.

After playing for a while, we had to play the egg game.  I think Alma’s friend Beatrix won this year.

And Then They - 07 Egg GameWe were also really lucky to have our authentic Azerbaijani friend, Elvin up for the celebration.  It’s fun having him so close this year (he’s studying in Long Beach, California).  He’s a great dost, and both our girls truly love him.  So do we.

And Then They - Azeri

Happy Novruz!


And Then They - 03 Samani and Eggs

Spring is Coming

Spring is on its way.  The extra hour of daylight has been a beautiful thing in our house.  We are spending time in the backyard.  The flower trees in town are amazing.  I love this time of year.

And Then The - 01 Outside And Then They - 02 Chicken And Then They - 03 Hattie Outside And Then They - 04 H and E And Then They - 05  Tending the Garden

Our Azerbaijani friend, Elvin, came up so celebrate Novruz with us.  Look for posts about our toddler Novruz party later this week!

Birthday Sunshine

My birthday is in February.  I’m sure you’re thinking it’s usually dreary and sad outside.  For some reason, most of my birthdays are sunny and warm!  We usually get some really beautiful weather in the end of February, and I’m lucky enough to get to enjoy it on my birthday most years.  I think it snowed a couple years ago, which is also fun. 

The girls and I took advantage of the beautiful day to play in the backyard.  I even got some yard work done.  Alma helped, obviously.

IMG_9818aIMG_9836aIMG_9826a IMG_9893a IMG_9892a IMG_9877a IMG_9882a IMG_9809a IMG_9819a


And Then They - Happy BirthdayToday I turn 33.  The flowers are starting to poke through the dark dirt.  The sky is brightening.  My early mornings aren’t feeling so early, now that the sun is joining us for more of our days.

Thirty-three is going to be an exciting, life changing year.  I have plans and ideas.  Hopes and dreams.  This is my year, with my family standing with me, cheering me on.


Sewing – How I Got Started, Part 1

If you are thinking about starting a project, perhaps your first one, here’s a piece of advice.  You won’t be able to screw it up as much as you think you will.  Before my first project, I was terrified that if I mess it up, it would be utterly ruined and a waste of money and time.  I quickly learned that, yes, I would screw up.  Again and again, but it is actually very easy to fix mistakes when sewing.  Just tear about the seams, and start again.

Before I was pregnant with Alma, I had never really sewn anything.  As a child, I played around and made a few little thingies, then in home-ec in middle school I made and awesome lip shaped pillow.  Other than that, I had never used a sewing machine.

The summer before I had Alma, the nesting kicked in and I wanted to make her a quilt.  I didn’t really know how to start, but I wanted to do something easy.  I came up with the idea of doing a gradient rainbow quilt, so I went to the fabric store and bought 16 pieces of fabric in a rainbow of colors.

Then I did some math and figured out how big I wanted the quilt to be.  I wanted the sizes of each strip to vary, so I just cut out 1, 2, and 3 inch pieces of each color.  Once I had all the pieces cut out, I lined them up on my floor and arranged it so the colors would overlap horizontally through the quilt.

I then sewed 12 vertical strips with one piece of each color in each strip. This seemed pretty easy, because the pieces were only 4 inches wide, leaving not a lot of room to mess up.

Then I got scared.  I had to attach each strip to the next, which meant I would be sewing two long strips together using a continuous stitch.  This felt like a lot of ways I could mess up.  As a beginning sew-er I felt like something would go wrong for sure and everything would be ruined.  I didn’t think I’d be able to sew a straight line for such a long distance.  I probably left the strips sitting for a couple weeks before I built up the courage to attempt my long lines.

I finally got brave and sewed two strips together.  It was quick, and easy!  I was amazed!  I kept going, and soon I had a complete quilt top, and I was really happy!

Then came the next scary part – the actual quilting.  I got my backing, my batting and my quilt, sandwiched it all together and found some good tutorials online.  I thought I would do a straight line down the middle of each strip, but quickly found that a wavy line would be much easier, and actually kind of cute.  I did 12 wavy lines and all of a sudden, I had a quilt!

Then the scary task of adding a binding!  I found this wonderful tutorial and basically did what it said.  The only thing I did differently was machine sewing it on, instead of hand binding the front.  Since it was for a baby, I knew it would be washed a lot, so I wanted it to be really secure.

Holy cow, I had just made a quilt!  I was basically a super hero in my mind.  I had come up with an idea, done math, sewn a bunch (192!) of pieces of fabric together, and – poof! – heirloom!

And Then They - My first quilt - a great beginner pattern and tutorialI basically took it (and still take all my sewing projects) one step at a time.  I gave myself permission to make mistakes.  I took breaks, short and long, along the way.

What are some projects you’ve been wanting to try, but have been too scared to take the first step?

More Ice Photos

And Then They - Moss

And Then They - Lavender

And Then They - Hydrangea 4

And Then They - Chicken Fence

And Then They - Burning Bush

And Then They - Burning Branch

And Then They - Beauty Berry 4

Another Winter Storm

Here in the Willamette Valley, we don’t usually get much snow.  Maybe a dusting a couple times a year.  Somethings none at all.  We already had a big snow storm that hung around for a few days back in December. (Photos of this here and here)  This week brought another winter storm system.

We woke up on Thursday morning to a couple inches of snow on the ground.  It kept on dumping snow all day and we ended up with about 5 inches.  Alma, unfortunately, was sick, so we didn’t get to go play in the snow this time.  By the end of Friday, we had 8 inches!  Luckily, Alma was feeling better by the time Jesse got home from work, so we went for a quick walk in the snow.

While we were walking, the snow turned into freezing rain.  The freezing rain kept up all night.  We could hear it pattering on our window.  In the morning there was a quarter inch of ice covering everything.  The freezing rain is still falling, and coating everything with a thick layer of ice.  Outside, you can hear tree branches creaking and cracking.  I’ve heard stories of fallen trees and power outages all over town.

The freezing rain can cause some spooky things, but it’s also really beautiful.  I have gone out a couple times already to take some photos.

Here’s our weeping cherry tree at 8:00 am:

And Then They - Cherry 8amAnd again at 11:

And Then They - Cherry 11am

And Then They - Maple Tree

And Then They - Maple Tree Close Up

And Then They - Hydrangea


And Then They - Beauty Berry

More Baby Gear… Stroller Dilemas

You know what they say about hindsight.  Well, when it came to picking a stroller, we didn’t make the right decision for our family.  As with everything else, I did a ton of research, got people’s opinions, test drove strollers, basically did everything right.  We ended up with a Baby Jogger City Mini.  And we loved it.  I mean, really, really loved it.  I would totally recommend it to anyone.  It’s lightweight, folds up beautifully, the steering was lovely.

And Then They - City Mini with Baby AlmaBUT, it’s a single stroller.  We knew we were planning on having more kids someday soon, but we still bought a single stroller.  I think we just decided to figure out the double stroller if, and when, it became necessary.

Here’s the deal.  This totally wouldn’t be a problem if you space your kids out further than we did.  With only 19 months between Alma and Harriet, I knew we would need a double stroller.  I have friends who have added a standing board for their older kids, or just had them walk.  Not an option for Alma.  And we also like to use the stroller to go on long walks.  I can’t expect Alma to walk the whole way, or want to strap a big baby or toddler to my body.  This isn’t just for the grocery store or the mall.  I basically have two babies to push around.  Double stroller necessary.

What I wish I had known the first time around:  There are stroller options that convert from single to double!  What?!  Ha!  After doing lots more research, asking, test driving this time around, we came to the Baby Jogger City Select.

And Then They - City SelectThis stroller is ah-mazing.  It can be configured a gazillion different ways.  I’ll, again, refer you to the website so you can see all the beautiful things this stroller can do.  I love that both kids can see out when they are both front facing.  Since we go on walks, I like to use that time to show them the world.  Especially when we’re down by the river, or downtown.  I also love that they can face each other.  I think they love that, too.  I also really love that it can also be a single.  This is good for quick trips, when I just need to have Alma contained, and can carry Harriet in my Ergo.  The fact that it can be a single will extend the life, too, since we can keep using it when Alma has outgrown strollering.

The down side is that it comes with a pretty hefty price-tag.  We were able to get it when they were offering a deal where you got the second seat for free.  We were also able to sell our City Mini (Baby Jogger strollers hold their value really well!), so that helped a lot.  I *wish* we had just bought the City Select single when we had Alma, then we would have just had to buy the second seat when Harriet came around.  That would have stretched the life of the stroller for us.

Well, that’s my opinion, for whatever it’s worth.  Nobody paid me anything to write this.  I didn’t get any free strollers or anything.  I just love the products, and wanted to share!

If you missed my run-down of other baby gear, be sure to check it out here.

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