New Home Update


The plumbing has been started at our new house and the rough-in is complete. That means a new water line from the street to the house, a new sewer line from the house to the street, and all the plumbing under the house as been installed and led up through the walls so it’s ready for fixtures to be installed later. Not the most exciting pictures but, it is what it is. Progress!

Digging a trench for the sewer line

Trench for the water supply line to the house




Washing machine. Woohoo!

Kitchen plumbing for refrigerator

Master bathroom, plumbing for the sink.

How good is your imagination? We’re thinking something like this for the vanity, medicine cabinet and sconce lights.

Ali checking out the cold water line for the kitchen sink

Where Ali will be taking baths next year… The plumbers fill all the pipes and the tub with water to check for leaks.

I’m pretty excited about this. When our friends built their house, they added a hot water line to one of their outdoor faucets. Great for dog washing. Great for washing the car in cold weather. Great for filling up a kid’s pool (or water table or water balloons.) The plumber loved the idea so much he said he might install one at his own house.

So that’s the plumbing rough-in. Very interesting, right? Is anyone still reading? Chirp chirp. Chirp chirp.

Shower Heads


Exciting stuff going on around here! (Depending on what excites you, of course.) We selected our shower heads the other day. Somehow it ended up needing to be a really quick decision, as in: the plumber is coming tomorrow to rough in the plumbing and we need to have the shower fixtures. We would have been happy to make that decision weeks, months, ago. Good thing Jason and I like the same style and are good at making fast decisions. The plumber and contractor both recommended Delta so that narrowed down our options from 1,000,000 to 100,000. We settled on the Delta Vero line.

The T14243 for the master:

And the 14453 for the hall bathroom:

I’m a little weirded out by the small square shower head but otherwise I love everything about the design.

To avoid this happening again, we’re going to just start deciding on everything we can think of now, well before the contractors even ask us what we want. We prefer to find the best deals we can find online and allow time for shipping, rather than the “we need it tomorrow so it needs to be available locally” scramble.

DIY Play Kitchen


I’ve seen some great DIY play kitchens the past view years. (Here’s a round up from Ohdeedoh a few years ago.) There are also great options for sale, like the above modern wooden kitchen from Melissa & Doug, and of course the many plastic variations. A few months ago while I was yard sale hopping with my mom, I spotted this wooden play stove/oven. The only thing better than a DIY kitchen is someone else’s DIY kitchen. This stove was built by the sellers’ grandfather and I talked them down to $7, knowing it would need a lot of work to get it to a condition suitable for Ali to play with.

Jason is super handy and we often do DIY projects together but I decided this was my baby. I washed it all down and painted it with some leftover wall paint I found in my parents’ garage. I was thinking of refreshing the original white until I found the mint green paint—why not make it mint green like a retro stove? I painted over the black burners, handles and knobs with a pewter metallic craft paint.

I did commission Jason’s expertise for one part. I wanted to add casters to the bottom since this is fairly heavy. I imagine it will spend some time in the playroom, some time in Ali’s room and some time in the kitchen at our new house.

At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it being a stove and not a full kitchen. Then I started thinking up all the accessories that could be used with the oven—muffin tin, loaf pans, cookie sheets, cookie cutters, oven mitts—and with the stove—frying pan, spatula, sauce pan, spoons, tea pot—and I realized the possibilities are still endless. I found the pans and spoons second hand for a few dollars a piece. I spray painted all the pans blue to give them a unified look.

For Ali’s first birthday, Aunt Jess and Uncle Jeff got her a set of soft play food from IKEA. It’s the Swedish style breakfast set that I hinted to my sister about. We’re a quarter Swedish but I consider myself more Swedish than anything else. I love their typical breakfast fare: bread, cheese, sausage, bacon, eggs, fruit topped waffles, cheese, bread, and maybe a cookie for good measure. This set also comes with a cutting board, knife and a few veggies.

We gave Ali the stove on her adoption day. I realize she’s still a bit too small for it but she’ll be big enough eventually. I tried to make some kind of sentimental connection about her importance in our family and a kitchen’s importance in the home. Or something like that. Really, I just found a DIY project I couldn’t pass up and I had an occasion that called for a gift.

Ali seems particularly fond of the knife and likes to crawl around with it in her mouth. What the?!

Phone Photo Friday


On Adoption Day, the courthouse security took away my pocket tape measure. Apparently it’s a strangulation hazard. What?! More than a belt or shoe lace?? Of course, that was at the criminal courthouse that we accidentally went into first. Maybe at the circuit courthouse across the street they wouldn’t have thrown away my handy, purse-size furniture measuring tool. Oh well. I got a new one for less than $5.

Update: You can get one here. I’ve also seen them at JoAnn Fabrics for the same price.

Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d life!

Lessons from the Thrift: Settling for Relative Best


Jason and I had a pretty decent thrifting weekend. With minimal effort—a couple of yard sales and a brief stop at the Goodwill—we walked away with a pair of mid-century lamps, a tiny hairpin leg footstool and a pair of sneakers for Ali.

If you do much thrift store / yard sale shopping, you’ve probably had moments like I had Sunday evening where I look at one of my purchases and say, “What was I thinking?!”

As we were walking through the used shoe section of the store, Jason spotted a pair of brown leather, slightly-dressy sneakers. They were clean and classy-looking but too small for him. They fit me! I bought them for $6. Later, when I tried them on at home I realized not only are they too tight, they’re most certainly mens’ shoes and I’m not sure I even really like them that much.

What happened? Compared to all the dirty, beat-up, well-loved shoes surrounding them, these sneakers practically jumped off the rack. They were the best shoes—relative to the crap surrounding them. I’m pretty sure there’s a bigger lesson here.

Jason, a passionate guitarist for almost 20 years, has often said, “If you’re the best one in the room—get out!” Best in the room doesn’t automatically equate to greatness. If you surround yourself with mediocrity, you’re in danger of lowering your standards and settling for less than the best. That’s exactly what I did.

All that to say, I need to constantly check my filter to make sure what I’m seeing as good is truly excellence and not just the relative best.

Lights, Hairpins and Little Kicks


Jason and I did a little casual pickin’ this weekend. We stopped at a couple of yard sales on Saturday and at one of them scored a deal on a pair of vintage lamps and a small square footstool with hairpin legs. Jason may or may not have an addiction to buying mid-century lamps…

Sunday after church we swung by the Goodwill for a quick look. Nothing MCM but I did snag a pair of navy blue sneaks for the kid for 2 bills. She’s quite close to walking which means crawling all over the place and pulling up/cruising along anything. Which means very dirty feet if we’re out in the public. I know they’ll only fit for a couple of months so I’m happy to pay $1.99.

Thank You


I have said thank you innumerable times the past week and yet it doesn’t feel like enough. So many wonderful family members, friends, church members and co-workers have come around us this week to celebrate Ali’s adoption day with hugs, balloons, gifts, cards and encouraging words. Tthey’ve been cheering us on for the past 11 months. I’d be remiss to not also thank YOU: my blog readers.

I know a lot of you consider yourselves “lurkers” because you read but don’t comment. And that’s perfectly OK. I’m posting my thoughts all over the web and you’re welcome to hang out here—I’m honored that you even read what I write! Many of you do comment and I’m always delighted to see feedback from the handful of “regulars.” I’m thankful for those who have read along with our foster/adoption story, cared about us, supported us, prayed for us and celebrated with us.


From the bottom of my heart, Thank You! I wish I could send you all a card!