A Lottie to Love


My three year old is getting into the age of Barbies. I have a set of beautiful handmade Barbie furniture that my Granny made for me and with it I found two of my old Barbie dolls. They’re in bad shape…each is missing part of a limb from a puppy incident, each had an unfortunate haircut at some point and they were embarrassingly naked. I could have bought my daughter some new Barbies to go with the furniture but I did a little research and discovered these Lottie dolls are an affordable (comparable price to Barbie), funky, young-girl-friendly alternative.

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To quote the top reviewer on Amazon: “In a market flooded with weird looking dolls with impossibly enhanced female figures dressed inappropriately (to put it nicely) with faces painted with makeup, in comes Lottie.”

And straight from the Lottie website: “The key point of difference is that Lottie has a ‘childlike’ body – she doesn’t wear makeup, jewelry or high heels and she can stand on her own two feet (always a useful life skill for all girls, big and small).”

For Ali’s third birthday she got one Lottie doll from Grandma and one from us, along with an extra change of clothes. I plan to add to the set over time.


11th Anniversary Squirrel Buster


We celebrated BIG last anniversary with a trip to Naples and Key West for 10 days, including snorkeling in a coral reef—the highlight of the trip. Father’s Day, our anniversary, my (30th!) birthday all fall within 5 days of each other. Combine that with newborn baby induced sleep-depravation and schedule-juggling and… This year I ordered a bird feeder. To celebrate our 11 years of blissful matrimony, we have a Brome 1015 Squirrel Buster Classic hanging outside our living room window. (Using this bracket.) It really is a gift to both of us, our whole family, as we’ve already been seeing lots of birds frequenting the feeder and we can see it from the dining room table and from the living room (where I’ve been sitting a lot to feed Firefly.)

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It’s pretty cool how this works. It has a spring mechanism that closes up all the feed openings if a squirrel-weight animal clings to it. But for bird-weight animals, there are several openings for seeds. The birds are dropping a lot on the ground, though, so the squirrels are still happy.


Courtyard Deck and Built-in Bench


I gave a little sneak peek of this project on Friday. Jason recently constructed this bench and deck into our courtyard. This is the main entrance into our home, a private garden space that’s secluded from the street and neighbors. It’s a lovely space to sit and it just got better! We still need to add some cushions but we’re enjoying it already.

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Real Life


In an effort to keep up with writing more frequently, here’s a really random post. I’m practicing with my wide-angle lens on my DSLR and photoshop settings as I’m starting to get into real estate photography. Practicing with my own house was the obvious choice. The living room was pretty tidy but I made no effort to clean up the other rooms. I’ll spare you from Ali’s bathroom and our bedroom. Here’s a little real life peek into my house:

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Homestead (Not Child-Related) Happenings


We’re building a privacy fence in our backyard. It’ll be a modern wood fence very similar to our last house. I did an extensive tutorial on that fence three years ago, as well as the process of enclosing our courtyard at this house, so I will not be documenting our process this time. We managed to get all 23 posts set in the ground just before the great Flash Freeze of 2014. Now Jason’s touring schedule is rolling again so we’ll have to wait for some warmer days to line up with the days we’re both off work so we can start on the pickets.


We’re getting chickens! Two years ago Nashville passed a new law allowing backyard hens to be raised for eggs. Jason was interested right away but it took me a while to get on board. Now that we have the fence started and Jason got this new book for Christmas, I’m all in. I’m so excited. We’ll be getting our chicks in the next month or two to start raising them inside until we have the coop done and it’s warm enough for them to move into their new house. We’re allowed to have up to 6. We’re planning to start out with 3 or 4. We eat a ton of eggs around here (18-24/week) so I’m excited to start getting them fresh from our own backyard.

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The foster kids’ room (which I’m tempted to call the little girl’s room…or is it the little girls’ room…) is getting a mini makeover. We’re repainting the walls. We got some new art and moved art in from a different room and I’ve moved some furniture around. Bee is gone for 25 days and with the possibility of baby Trust coming, well, I guess I’m nesting. We decided to paint Sherwin Williams Ellie Gray just like the first foster kids’ bedroom at our last house, which ended up being Ali’s nursery. We were very happy with that color and we’re not so happy with the neon green I chose for this house.

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Our master bedroom has been slowly getting designed. We realized one day that it’s sad how neglected it’s been design-wise. Last June we celebrated 10 years of marriage and decided that it’s time for a properly designed room. I’ll share more about it when it’s finished. We started out with a dresser and curtains. We added some art. New bedding. A new bed frame and lamps. Still to go: paint and wall/headboard treatment. Rugs. More art.

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Ali’s room got a mini-makeover too. She mastered climbing out of a pack-n-play while we were staying at my brother’s house for a few days and quickly transferred her skills to her crib at home. She’s now in a big girl bed again (side off her crib for now…eventually that KURA bed in the foster kids’ room will be hers). I’ll post more about that transition later. It’s going so much better this time around. She got a new lamp, owl poster and hot pink dog-butt hooks for hanging her dress-up clothes from IKEA.

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Welcome, Karl


For the first time in the past seven years, we sold a vintage furniture item and replaced it with an IKEA item. Maybe it’s the modern house we live in now rather than a 1955 ranch. Or maybe it’s the practicality of IKEA with families and small children. It’s probably both… The other part of our couch decision was based on the layout of our living room. This long Karlstad couch with chaise utilizes the space in our living room better. After Ali went to bed on Friday night, Jason and I started to assemble it. He had to leave in less than 2 hours for bus call. We scrambled and got the room put back together just in time! We haven’t had a couch in our living room for two weeks so it was so nice to sit here and relax a few times over the weekend. When Ali got up on Saturday morning I told her we got a new couch. When she saw it she said, “New couch! I want to sit here,” as she climbed up onto the chaise. “I want to watch shows.” I put a show on for her—a DVD that is—I didn’t perform.


I think she’s a fan!


The gray pillows aren’t a good fit for the beige couch but they’re functional for now. I think only one end table is going to work with this set up so we have to find another home for the other table and switch some lamps around. We’re also working on some art ideas for the big blank white wall.

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Since Lucy keeps photobombing all my pictures, I figured I better just give her a proper portrait. Lucy the chocolate cocker spaniel at 8 years old:


Something is Missing


After Buzz went home and while Jason was gone to Europe, I went on a crazy reorganizing, cleaning, selling spree. While we had two energetic toddlers bouncing off of everything at our house, we decided that our vintage sofa was too precious for our home at this stage in our lives and foster parenting journey. Yes, the sofa we spent 80 hours last summer reupholstering. Gone! It now belongs to a young woman in Alabama where I’m sure it’s enjoying the single life and is no longer being jumped on by little pipsqueaks.

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We’ve decided to resort back to IKEA. When we got married in 2003, we were all about IKEA. We had a few second hand items and gradually replaced everything with the big box Scandinavian modern. In 2007 when we bought our 1955 ranch, we started replacing IKEA items with vintage items…usually could sell the IKEA furnishings for much more than the estate sale and thrift store treasures we were scrounging up. This may be a first step in the other direction for us… we’ve sold a vintage piece of furniture and replaced it with an IKEA piece of furniture.

For now we have a very empty living room but


hopefully by the end of this week we’ll be picking up one of these:


We’re still trying to sell these American By Martinsville tables. I thought I had a buyer but they backed out. If you or anyone you know is interested, please let me know. We’re happy to negotiate.