Let there be light!


Since the day we moved in, I thought it was so weird that our garage didn’t have lights flanking it. I love the polished look lights can give next to a garage, I knew it was just a matter of time before we added some of our own. Not only did I want lights for the aesthetic, we desperately needed more outdoor lighting.IMG_1666

After a little convincing Mike agreed we needed to add some lights. He was brave sweet enough to tackle this project by himself, while watching both kids. IMG_1833First he had to cut holes in the house for the new lights. He also had to run new wires for them. I have no idea how to do electrical work, so I won’t even try to explain. In a nutshell he ran the new wires to an outlet on the garage ceiling. The lights have sensors that turn them on and off so it’s no big deal for them to be plugged in all the time.


After a days work we now have two, new, beautiful, lights flanking our garage.IMG_2049IMG_2051IMG_2052IMG_2054They’ve only been up for a few days, but we are already loving the amount of light it gives off. It adds the perfect glow to make our home more inviting. Plus it offers some much needed light for those evenings we spend outside playing with our girls. It’s win, win if you ask me.

DIY Christmas Card Photoshoot


Recently, as in yesterday, I attended a photography workshop to learn how to REALLY use my camera. Because let’s be honest, I have no idea what I’m doing and my pictures reflect that. I was anxious to try out my newly acquired skills so I dressed my girls up and we had ourselves a little photo shoot.


I had all sorts of grand visions for pictures, but decided to start with the simplest in case it was an epic failure. I didn’t want to put a ton of effort into the background if it was going to be a total flop. I decided to have the girls sit on Anna’s bench in their Christmas jammies. I added some felt ball garland, some pillows, a throw, and a string of lights. As you can see, my skills aren’t quite up to par to capture those lights the way I’d want them captured, so we decided to ditch those. We also ditched the throw half way through.

IMG_1860Next I had Anna sit on the bench so I could get my settings right with the lighting. (I was obviously more concerned about lighting here than I was focusing. It’s a work in process…)

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With Daddy keeping the girls laughing, I captured some adorable moments.


We settled on these two photos as our favorites. I’m leaning towards the last one because I love a good, candid, closeup, but Mike likes the first. I prefer the gold lettering on the first, but the price difference is significant, so I have a feeling the latter one will be our winner.

If you live in the Gilbert/Chandler AZ area you should check out Jessica Downey Photo for information on attending a workshop.

Message Board Upgrade

We’ve always had a message board in our house. I like things organized and for everything to have it’s place. The one we’ve had did the job, but now that Anna’s in school, and we have papers out the wazoo, it was time to upgrade. Meet our new message board!IMG_1656

SO much better than…



It was too small, too cluttered, no room to write anything… We had officially out grown this little message board (that was actually once a menu board).

Here’s how we got from “small and insufficient” to “new and improved with storage”:


I found this gem of a message board at Home Goods in the clearance section. As you can see, it had some damage to the chalk board, and it wasn’t magnetic.

IMG_1588I thought, “I can fix this. NO problem!”. Originally my plan was to buy some sheet metal, cut it to size, and paint it with chalk paint. Well, the sheet metal that was in stock, in the size I needed, was more expensive than I wanted to pay. I was going to keep up the search, but this particular day I had to run more errands. I ran to Walmart for this, and that, and came across this magnetic calendar. It was the right size, magnetic, and it was $7. YEP! That was going to be my sheet metal. One less place to stop!


First I had to rip off the cheap metal frame around the calendar. Once I got it started, it literally fell off.


I scrounged up some sandpaper from my mouse sander (best sander ever by the way) and roughed up the surface of the calendar so the chalk paint would stick.


Next I painted it with chalkpaint. Nothing to special here other than this: I painted the first coat all in one direction. The next coat I painted in the OPPOSITE direction, and so forth. It took 3 coats to cover completely.


Once it was dry I used hot glue to attach it to the frame.


If you’ve used chalkpaint before, you know you have to “prime” the board before writing on it. All you do is place a piece of chalk on it’s side and rub it all over the board, then you wipe it off (with something dry), and you’re ready to write with either regular old chalk or a chalk marker (which is erasable. It just has to be wet. I use baby wipes).


I added a clip to the side of the basket to hold Anna’s sight words. I could easily add hooks to the frame, but I think they would make everything look too crowded. IMG_1658

The basket was the perfect size to hold papers, a.k.a. Anna’s homework packet, and a mason jar to hold the chalkboard marker and pens/pencils. IMG_1655 IMG_1649


This was just the upgrade we needed!

Living Room

Let’s talk about Anna’s bench one more time. Shall we?

IMG_1431After Anna’s window bench was built, it was time to dress it with a cushion and some adorable pillows.

(See the bench tutorial here, and see where I purchased everything for Anna’s room here.)

For the cushion I bought some 2 1/2 inch foam from JoAnn’s so the bench would be nice and comfy. That stuff is pricy so make sure you have a coupon, and be ready to “splurge”. I covered it with a simple linen. The cute ladies at JoAnn’s cut the foam with an electric carving knife, but since I don’t have one of those, I used my fabric scissors (probably did some serious damage to them in the process. Time will tell.). Once the foam was cut into shape, I cut 2 pieces of fabric 1/2″ wider than the foam all the way around to allow for the seams. I also cut a 3″ strip (1/2″ extra for the seams) to go around the edge of the cushion. I essentially sewed it like a pillow case. If you only have a basic knowledge of sewing don’t worry! You could sew this. Straight lines the whole way!

IMG_1415Even though everything was measured perfectly, the linen seemed really loose and wrinkly. I decided to add some buttons to make it tufted (Ellie has since pulled off 3 buttons!!! Kids!!).


I bought these buttons at JoAnn’s and covered then with some scrap fabric.


I decided where I wanted each button to be and placed a pin there so I didn’t have to measure 100 times.

IMG_1419To add strength to the tufting, I first placed multiple stitches at each marked spot. I made sure to pull it as tightly as possible. I actually used crochet thread because I was worried regular thread couldn’t handle the job. Once that was done, I sewed the buttons in place.

IMG_1422Voila! Just like that, a tufted bench cushion was born. I added those adorable pillows, and we’ve been ooing and awwing over that bench ever since. I still haven’t figured out the window dressing in there. Still working on that one…I’ll keep you posted!