Template 107

Hello there. I’m loving March so far. How about you? My daffodils are coming up and I can hardly wait!

I found some time to scrapbook today. Here’s my pages I made.

1 Jan pics

1 Jan pics b

I am really loving my monthly pages because I can sure get a lot of photos done in a short amount of time. Especially when they aren’t very exciting pictures. I’ll save more creative designs for vacations and amazing pictures that I want to high light. This way is so much easier and faster. I can’t help it. I know that it is really the lazy route to scrapbooking but that’s what is working for me right now. No fanciness here. Is it working for you? Don’t tell me if you think they’re boring. You can use them, I promise.

If you want this easy and fast scrapbooking template for your own photo albums download this template for free for a limited time by clicking here.

Template 107 preview -Mandagirl

Awesome, now on to playing in this early spring-ish weather.

A Cover Page Template just for you

Hi friends,

Do you ever feel completely and utterly bored? Do you stare at the walls of your house like it’s some sort of prison? Do you long for an errand to pop into your head? The phone to ring?

Is is really just me?

I have plenty of housework to do but nothing on the calendar today. I’m sure there are people that long for these sort of days but for me… they drive me crazy. I need to get out of the house at least once a day. If not… I go INSANE. You might think I’m joking or exaggerating but it’s true.

Ask my mom.

Yesterday was packed full of things to do. Boring days tend to follow right after busy ones. I wake up rearing to go but then I falter… There is nothing to rear for. (ok, I know that made no sense.)

I spent the morning on the computer but that drives Sammy mad. He must get bored like me. We are a terrible combination. He needed some entertainment too so I bucked up (what am I, a horse today?) and took the littles on a walk to the playground. We are enjoying a little bit of a warm snap. It’s one of those February days where you start singing that song As I Lay Me down to Sleep.

It felt like spring time
On this February morning
In the courtyard
Birds were singing your praise
I’m still recalling things you said
To make me feel alright
I carried them with me today
Now

As I lay me down to sleep
This I pray
That you will hold me dear
Though I’m far away
I’ll whisper your name
Into the sky
And I will wake up happy

I remember telling my mom once a long, long time ago that for once- I wanted to wake up happy.

Anyhoo, I’ve really strayed from my topic.

I’m feeling a little better now that I’ve been out and I’ve put Sam down for a nap. Finally I have some quiet time to enjoy.

Guess what that means…

Template time!

I’m ready to dive into my 2012 pictures. I really want to crank them out and make some major head way. I’m starting off with my very first page as a cover page. Is that what you call it? Opening page? Title page? Well either way, here it is.

smiths coverpage

My last name really isn’t Smith. Did I fool you? If you know it for reals keep it to yourself, Okay? I’m trying to fool those creepy internet stockers that haunt blogging dreams and make us want to put masks on all of our faces.

Moving on… would you like a template just like this. It’s your lucky day. Here you go. Download it here for a limited time.

Cover-Page-Preview--Mandag copy

All of the fonts are editable. In case you would like to use the exact same fonts I’ll tell you what and where they are. I’ve downloaded them all for free. Hurray for free.

OUR is Perpetus Titling MT
FAMILY is Archistico
ADVENTURES is Admiration Pains
all dingbats including THE and the banner are Bergamot Ornaments
SMITHS is Desdemona

Happy scrapbooking.

Finally Finished -2011 Scrapbook Album

Untitled

Hurray! I finally finished my 2011 album. I looovvee printing my pages!! and getting them tucked safely away in an album.

I’ved used these Pioneer books for a few years now.

Untitled

They aren’t my absolute favorites but I can get them cheap at Joann’s with a coupon. I like that they have expandable spines and can fit an unlimited number of pages. Ya never know how many pages a year will make.

Untitled

 

These albums have a 4×4 square on the front. I can take it or leave it, really, but since the square is there, I always whip up a little paper with the date on it to fill it in. I literally spend a couple minutes on it and just print it at home.

Untitled

It makes grabbing the right year easy enough although I’d prefer something on the spine. Ideally, I’d like to figure out a good way to put the year on each spine like I did with 2007 (see below.) The paper-ish spine cover on the Pioneers seem flimsy to me. I wish they were a bit more substantial. I think what I hate most is the adjustable holes on the spine cover. You can see them in the picture below. Tacky! if you ask me. Overall, they are fine books and get the job done.

e33a8150-2a68-4679-87fd-39c86ae7706a

The 2007 book is a Colorbok and I like it a bit more than the Pioneer. The green leather album holds our 2008 pages and is a We R Memory Keepers album but this link is for a 12×12 postbound. It doesn’t look like they make 8x8s postbound anymore. Boo. Their 8x8s are only 3 ring binders. My 2009 book, which is black doesn’t have a brand on it anywhere but it feels very much like the Colorbok and I like it. The blue and small black are Pioneers. Can you see the expandable post holes on the spine cover… yuck. There must be a better way.

I print 8×8 pages instead of 12×12 even though I scrap on the computer in 12×12. I just figure I don’t need HUGE books or HUGE pictures. I’m really happy with 8x8s and plan to stick with it.

Here are some of my favorite pages from the year. I tend to gravitate to neutral backgrounds, simple layouts and tons of pictures.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

When I can flip quickly through an album it’s easy to spot the highlights from that year.

From our beach trip…

Untitled

From our spring break…
Untitled

I even love the pages that I threw together super fast just to get photos quickly scrapbooked and done.

The month of December…

Untitled

At the end of my books I always stick in my christmas cards from that year. They are overlapped and not even stuck down but I still love having them there. I can flip through and see all my darling loved ones at a glance.

Untitled

So with 2011 done it’s time to get busy with 2012 photos. Are you caught up or behind just like me? Maybe you don’t scrapbook in order and just have fun doing what you want. Do you print out your pages? Do you stick them in an album or do you print a bound book? Do you have a favorite type of album?

Template 106 -A Year in Review

Hello Darlings,

Are you all ecstatic to see another post from me in such a short time? Heck yah! I am. And I even have a template to give away. Get excited! Whoot whoot!

I know January is coming to a close so I’m a month behind but I truly believe in the “better late than never” policy. I enjoy making Year in Review pages every year. I love putting them in my yearly scrapbooks and having that quick glance at what happened that past year and what I’ll find in that particular book.

Putting them together is pretty fun too. With my kids growing and changing so fast it is fun to compare January to December pictures. I alway exclaim “What! Look how they’ve grown!” When I start looking through pictures and picking my favs for the month I always feel like January was ages ago and December was yesterday. Oh wait. It pretty much was.

Here are my pages. Look at how they’ve grown!

2013 Year in Review

2013 Year in Review

I guess I’ve been doing these Year in Reviews for 4 years. I had to go look back at the other years I have made.

  • 2012- Here is the post for Template 98. It’s for sale in my shop here.
  • 2011- Template 83 is sold in a pack in my shop here.
  • 2010- Template 67 is found in a pack here.
  • 2009- My very first Year in Review Template 46 is found in a pack here. (I could find the original post for that one. It is a mystery.)

If you’d like to make your own Year in Review then you are in luck. I decided to make little Polaroid frames for my pictures and the square clipping masks worked perfect if I picked an Instagram to highlight that particular month.

Download Template 106 -2013 Year in Review here for a limited time.

2013 Year in Review

If you want to use it for a different year than go ahead and delete the year numbers and add your own (or don’t even use it for a Year in Review… it’s ok, I wont have my feelings hurt.)

Happy scrapbooking.

Technical Difficulties

Hello there. It’s me Mandagirl with renewed desire to salvage this tiny little blog.

IMG_20131101_175633_001

This winter season has really kicked me in the pants. I’ve just been battling one challenge after another.

snow day

In early December in the midst of Christmas card making, my motherboard died on my Asus laptop. I had a completely and totally dead computer. Useless. Luckily, I was able to pull off all my data and save pictures and files. Instead of buying a new computer, I’ve inherited an old laptop of my husbands. It’s leftover from past employment and it’s a MacBook. It’s has taken me a while to get use to the command key being in a different spot and the way folders and trash bins and everything else works. I know there is a whole slew of Mac fans out there… I’m not quite sure where I stand. I guess it will just take time to get use to things.

IMG_20131101_175951_948

I’ve also had a hard time getting use to the photoshop version on this Mac. It’s something like CS2. Ancient, I’m sure. I really miss my Elements… sigh! Again, I guess I’ll get use to it.

I’ve made a couple pages with this photoshop. No new templets yet. I’m still feeling my way around. The whole flow of creating feels different.

4pages

I tired my hand at the new craze of chalkboard font fun and loved the result. There are a slew of cool fonts and free chalkboard backgrounds on the interwebs. Which I’m sure you already knew. Google and Pinterest are my BFF’s.

baptismweb

New Years greeted me with a nasty cold virus that knocked me out for a solid week and it’s still lingering a bit in my chest. I had to skip all New Year celebrations due to the acute tonsillitis that was attacking me. I couldn’t swallow more than broth for 3 days. It was terrible. I can’t even describe the shooting pain in my head. My ear was screaming at me but wasn’t even infected. I’m one tough soul but this was miserable.

Technical difficulty? Yes!

lazy days

Another little technical difficulty I’ve had is my cell phone. I seem to be breaking those right and left. They’ve been swimming in my toilet and taking 30 foot drops off climbing crags.

My fault? Yes. I never said it wasn’t.

lds temple

My little motorola free phone I’ve had lately takes awful pictures. Junky colorcast images. I’ve lived with it even after I cracked up the screen but now the crack down the screen finally decided to kill the middle of the touch screen making it impossible to use. The home button and Y, G, T and M didn’t work. I just upgraded to a new shinny iphone 5c (because of a cheaper-than-I-was-paying-promotion) and I am terrified that I’ll break it in 3 months. I have to make it last for 18 mo.

Yikes, wish me luck. Especially with this little guy around.

practicing

During the switch, I forgot to get my crummy pictures off of the motorola. Problem was I couldn’t get the computer to connect to it so I could pull them off. Thanks to Dropbox I was able to save all the worthless pictures of December and half of January. Lucky you, I’m sharing them now… thus the random pictures.

date?

Next up, I’ve been off of Mandagirl for so long that when I finally was feeling inspired to write something I couldn’t log in. My WordPress dashboard was broken somehow. I wondered if it was because of the computer switch. It took me a couple weeks (with the help of my webhost) to discover a plugin or two that needed to be updated and was freezing everything.

So… now I’m back. In full force. I’m determined to keep this site up…. stop, I hear you all laughing.

Well, there is one fact… And that fact is that I still love digital scrapbooking and I definitely want/need to keep that up. I’m 2 years behind! If I’m going to keep scrapbooking then I think I can manage to keep this blog alive. Yes?

Fall Break in Capitol Reef National Park

IMG_20131018_182659_544

My kids had a couple day off for Fall break and I was itching to get away and have an adventure. After a little debate on where to go we settled on Capitol Reef National Park. None of us had been there and with the time restraint on us we realized it was the perfect spot. The drive was only a few hours from our house and because the nights were a wee bit too chilly for camping we booked an affordable motel in a small town outside of the park.

Wow, were we pleasantly surprised. The drive down was gorgeous, the motel nice and comfortable with an amazing view and the park absolutely breath taking.

We drove down Friday morning, had a quick lunch break and headed out on our first adventure. We went to hike Grand Wash. We drove down to the lower trail head on a dirt road and started getting super excited as the cliffs rose up around us. At one point the kids begged to get out of the car and explore the rocks because they looked so fun.

IMG_20131018_144323_909

IMG_20131018_143720_309

IMG_20131018_144719_359

We parked at the trail head and headed up the flat bottomed wash. I knew right away the kids were going to love it because they immediately ran up ahead and hid in some sandstone holes to surprise us.

Peek a boo!

IMG_20131018_151611_236

Sam wanted to get up there too.

The wash was so family friendly. It was just a couple miles from one end to the other and there are other variations if you have an older crowd. It was so mellow and pleasant. At the narrowest point the cliffs were about 15 feet apart. It kind of reminds me of the Narrows in Zions but without the river.

But the holes…

Oh the holes!!

IMG_20131018_160112_706

There was something around every corner to explore.

IMG_20131018_155959_401

And always something beautiful to look at.

IMG_20131018_155248_055

IMG_20131018_152411_543

Here is my little mountain goat that didn’t stop for one minute.

IMG_20131018_155649_754

Sam wanted to get off my back and hike like the big boys.

IMG_20131018_173029_009

We hiked out before the sun set and before it started to get cold. The opening picture at the very top of this post is along the road back to the motel at a look out point called Panorama Point. Pretty eh? We got a bite to eat in the cute little town of Torrey, hit the swimming pool and slept like babies.

The next day we enjoyed free breakfast, packed up and headed out for one more adventure. I had Sulphur Creek planned out but I was unsure how family friendly it was really going to be for my little ones. It was 5 miles (although the page I just linked to said 6.25 and my gps on the hike said 5.6) down a river that required a little bit of down climbing involving 3 waterfall features (but I counted 4) and lots of wading in ankle deep water. I wasn’t sure how my kids were going to hold up.

The first mile and 1/2 is down a dry wash. It felt boring, hot and long to the kids after all the fun holes from yesterday. I started to worry but when we reached the river smiles started popping back up. The trail follows the river down stream and you are forced to cross several times due to the cliffs on the sides.

IMG_20131019_125825_614

The kids wadded right in and did a great job. It was so beautiful and we had the whole place to ourselves. We stopped by a gorgeous yellow tree to let the kids climb and take some pictures.

IMG_20131019_132517_762

We caught up to a small family at the first waterfall. This was the first real feature that required down climbing. We were able to watch them climb down and it gave some peace knowing it wasn’t technical or anything.

IMG_20131019_134932_339

Once you get down on the ground you can tell how mild it was. From the top it’s hard to tell what’s down there. Nothing we couldn’t handle though.

IMG_20131019_135149_619

After the first waterfall, the canyon closes in and you feel like you are in a real slot canyon. At times there is no where to walk but right in the river. Way to go Emma!

IMG_20131019_153323_439

IMG_20131019_135420_496

 

Here is Isaac feeling really cool about himself. He really was a tough guy and hiked super well.

IMG_20131019_141830_445

Near the end the girls started getting cold and tired. Jeremy was a great and carried them when needed. I posted a couple pictures on instagram of my super hero.

IMG_20131019_141330_478

I packed Sam the whole way so I wasn’t much help. Despite the cold and the length of the hike I was so proud of my kids. They did an amazing job and complained very little.IMG_20131019_142831_470

At the end, Emma especially, was blown away at what we had done. She wanted to tell everyone she had just hike 5 miles and climbed down waterfalls all by herself. I told her that she can do hard things and it feels really good to accomplish something like that.

We made such great memories. Be sure and check out Capitol Reef if you are ever in the area.

Our October

I can hardly believe it but I have chosen, on this fine November day, to spend Sam’s afternoon nap at the computer. Crazy, huh! I have a precious 1 and 1/2 hour all to myself and I choose to spend it with you. Hah!

Nap times, as of late have been spent watching all the BBC TV mini-series I can on Netflix (like North and South (swoon)) or checking out new routes on Mountain Project or (do I dare admit it) wasting away my 5 lives on Candy Crush Saga. (Yes, I have no pride) But I can’t help it. That games goes on and and forever. Someone please stop me.

Today I will be more productive and clean up the photos on my phone. And lucky you, I’ll share and sum up the whole of my October…

I know, I know, many of you don’t care a snit of what I’ve been up to and are only hoping for more free digital scrapbooking pages to download (patience, my friends) but at the request of my sweet mother, who is demanding more pictures of my darling children to see, I will do it. I will update the world wide web with all my lovely nonsense.

***

To kick off the arrival of colder weather we decided to make a quick road trip to Idaho. You see, it’s incredibly freezing up there when the wind blows so we thought it would help us appreciate our more milder fall down in Utah. (I’m kidding, really. In truth, we just wanted to love and snuggle our dear family member and swap germs while we’re at it.) We spent a couple days just hanging out and building forts. My kids absolutely adore their cousins and beg for a better life at Aunt Jessie’s house. She can paint faces. That’s a sure win-over for kids.

IMG_20130928_131436_606

I tried to show how awesome of an aunt I could be a took the whole crew rock climbing.

IMG_20130927_163552_432

That’s my 12 year old nephew up there just pulling those tiny ledges like a champ.

But the wind blew and everyone began to freeze. Time to retreat to the safety of shelter.

IMG_20130927_165233_346

But first, Emma had to jump in to a bramble bush to catch a large slow moving snake.

IMG_20130927_170624_611

We spent an hour or so pulling the brambles from her hair.

IMG_20130927_170642_076

Back home in Utah, I made the most of the beautiful fall weather by taking hikes with Sam while the kids were at school. My goal was to do this once a week or so but it only worked out a couple times due to rain and snow coming in early and a runners knee problem. Ouch, am I getting to old for all of this?

IMG_20131001_102104_516

I would hike as high as I could until it was time to turn around for Leah’s preschool pick up. Talk about a stair stepping workout with my 30 pound Sam on my back.

IMG_20131001_102207_085

Still trying to make the most of the fall weather, I went on a picnic with my little sister and my darling red-headed niece.

IMG_20131002_125208_620

IMG_20131002_124131_381

We shivered in the shade but found a sunny spot by the river to bask in while Sammy threw rocks in the water.

IMG_20131002_124727_359

One day I stopped at a pumpkin patch in an effort to be a festive and fun mom and then quickly had to bee-line it out of there because Sam wouldn’t stop throwing pumpkins (even really big ones!) The last thing I wanted to do was pay for a bunch of damaged pumpkins. No cute pumpkin patch pictures year.

IMG_20131004_121358_667

We did a family hike or two to catch the last of the golden leaves in the mountains.

IMG_20131012_121325_777

IMG_20131012_130511_313

Too bad Jeremy is laying down behind Sam on this next one. It could have been a really cute pic.

IMG_20131012_134534_401

I got sick of all the ponytails and buns I was doing and chopped off all of my frizzy locks on a whim. I may or may not regret it.

IMG_20131015_155039_417

I went refrigerator shopping more than I would have liked to. Ours broke leaving us with soggy frozen vegetables and defrosting meat. I’m loving the new french door one, though.

I’ve rearranged my furniture, yet again. What I really need to do is knock out a wall.

We pulled off an amazing Fall Break trip to Capitol Reef National Park for a much needed getaway. (more pictures to come if you’re lucky)

IMG_20131018_144235_640

I spent a good week or two nursing sick kids. Big frowny face!!

IMG_20131029_104426_860

And because I’ll take all the time off I can get, I spent a beautifully warm Saturday with my good climbing friend, Janaan, at Maple Canyon pulling all the cobbles we could get our hands on to.

IMG_20131026_113948_254

We tried a couple multi-pitch climbs. They were so easy but super fun. At the top you can see the turkey farms down in the valley below and if the wind blew just right you could smell them too.

IMG_20131026_113852_963

This is the start of a full 60 meter pitch that was really, really fun!

IMG_20131026_134222_995

Me, hanging out on the ledge between pitches. You can’t really tell that there is a 190 foot drop below me. Shh, mom stop screaming.

IMG_20131026_141302_968

Oh! and we celebrated Halloween. I’m happy it’s over. Making costumes and eating way to much candy is not for me. Here’s a blurry picture of my four. I was lucky to get any kind of pic because the boys didn’t want to cooperate with me. Can you tell by Isaac’s dejected stance? I’m sure he’s not smiling.

IMG_20131031_173647_503

Whoo, what a month! On to November and feeling grateful.

A Much Needed Vacation

With such a busy renovation themed summer, we were really looking forward to a little family getaway before school started. We wanted to take the last week and go on the most relaxing but fun trip we could manage. Jeremy and I threw around ideas that consisted of each of the western states that were in driving range. I ruled out camping because that is too much work for me and Jeremy ruled out National Parks because that seemed like too much driving around for the kids.

So we decided on California.

We wanted to spend plenty of time at the beach and less time at theme parks. Less walking and more relaxing was our idea of a relaxing vacation. We purchased a Costco 3 for 1 Sea World pass that included the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

So we alternated- beach, Sea World, beach, Zoo, beach, Safari. I think we managed to keep everyone happy and had just the right amount of adventure and relaxing. It was the perfect way to spend our last week of summer.

Here are our highlights:

First stop- Laguna Beach Shaw’s Cove.

IMG_20130817_085458

We absolutely fell in love with this place.

photo(1)

This cove apparently was a little local secret that a friend let us in on. We took our snorkel gear and were so amazed at how good the snorkeling was. Apparently the waves are very small in California in August and so it’s the perfect time to snorkel.

We saw sea stars the size of dinner plates, leopard sharks, the cutest purple sea urchins and bright orange fish. It was a really cool life experience for the kids.

photo(3)

photo (2)

Next up- La Jolla

IMG_1079

La Jolla is to die for. It’s one of our favorite places to go because it is so amazing. But it’s no secret and so everyone else is there too. It felt a bit crowded after such a pleasant day at Shaw’s Cove but we still had an amazing time.

IMG_1037

IMG_1038

IMG_1070

Hermit crab.

IMG_1072

La Jolla has something special to offer… Seals! We were able to snorkel here too and although we didn’t sea any sea stars and sea urchins we saw lots of seals. We were able to swim right by them, listen to them bark and watch them swim around and play with each other. They didn’t mind people there at all. They’d go around or under you while swimming. It was super cool.

This particular seal in the picture below must have been king. He was huge! There were a whole bunch of people up on this rock playing around and he decided he wanted the rock for himself so he hopped up there and barked at everyone. Of course everyone took off and left him to bask in the sun and show off his impressive size.

IMG_1050

The kids always like to play in the funky trees there along the side walks.

IMG_1090

Outside of the cove the waves were bigger and even though we were headed home the kids had to stop and play in the waves as the the tide came in.

IMG_1101

IMG_1109

Next stop- Sea World

IMG_1118

Pet dolphins and sea rays, feed seals and get soaked by killer whales. What more could you ask for?

IMG_1155

IMG_1160

IMG_1164

IMG_1169

Relaxing on Sunday- San Diego Temple

When we are on a vacation that consists of a Sunday we always do our best to still honor the Sabbath day. So on this particular Sunday we attend the local LDS church and went to see the San Diego Temple.

IMG_1178

IMG_1188

Gorgeous.

IMG_1201

That night we went for a quiet walk along Mission Beach.

IMG_1206

Next adventure- San Diego Zoo and Coronado Island

IMG_1213

We had only planned to spend a half day at the Zoo. The kids had done enough walking around at Sea World and weren’t too excited about the zoo. We’d been there on a previous trip as well and so we thought we’d just do a quick loop and then head out. Who were we kidding? The animal lovers in my family couldn’t quit and so we spent more time there then planned. I didn’t take very many pictures at all but the one above of Leah I think it’s kinda sweet.

We took off from the zoo and headed to Coronado Island. After all the snorkeling we had done, Jeremy and Isaac were itching to find some waves for boogie boarding.

IMG_20130819_182230_276

We found some, although they were rather small.

IMG_20130819_182102_617

Last stop- San Diego Safari Park

We told the kids we were going to go on a safari type bus ride around the park. When we walked in a found out we had to do quite a bit of walking around the zoo before we got to any kind of safari, Isaac was very upset and put out. My solution… hand the kid my camera.

IMG_1265

As a result I have 400 blurry pictures of animals in cages. He loved it. Here is a collage of his best.

isaacs pics

Overall we had a good time. I think we were all a bit tired and hot. There were moments that we all wanted to melt into the sidewalk.

IMG_1290

We enjoyed the petting zoo.

IMG_1236

IMG_1244

IMG_1254

But was disappointed in the safari experience. Part of the problem was Sam. He was so tired and worn out that he cried for most of it. He made for a very uncomfortable bus ride. I swear the foreign family next to us was talking about us in their own language and laughing at us. Very uncomfortable.

IMG_1309

Emma rarely pulls her hair so I absolutely love these pictures with her hot enough for a pony tail.

IMG_1438

Well that’s a rap. After the safari park we started our journey home. A 9-10 hour car ride isn’t always fun but I made sure to check out plenty of dvds from the library. We also broke up the trip with a night in Vegas at a darling, darling friend of mine from the good ol’ college days. Look at how the two of us have reproduced!

IMG_20130821_125434_718

Renovation Craziness

IMG_20130727_152712_822

How do I put this… this is going to be a long post for me. But it’s something I’ve been wanting to write about. It kind of explains my absence here at Mandagirl all summer long…

About 2 year ago I discovered Pinterest. Heck, we all did. This discovery began an awareness of my lack of home decorating abilities. I began trying my hand at fixing things up as best as I could. I am happy to declare that my front room is finally done.

This is what I started with.

Photo0547

I think it is an improvement if I do say so myself. I love the addition of bright fresh colors. I obviously am not some famous DIY blogger or some super handy make cool things from nothing kind of person but I can do a thing or two.

So on to my summer…

When we first moved into this house 7 years ago there was carpet under the dinning room table. It’s not a nice separate formal dining room. It’s more like a great room where there the kitchen, dining room and sitting room are all squashed into one. So when we bought the house I told my husband that I wasn’t too happy about the carpet under the table. Super gross, right! We had 2 little ones and more would be coming. I just couldn’t imagine how the carpet would hold up with all the food and drink spills we would be having. We agreed that we would live with it for a while until we hammered it up enough to replace it.

IMG_20130624_172509_205

7 years later, the beige carpet had finally begun to turn an awful dirty grey around the table and kitchen that wouldn’t come clean with any amount of shampooing. I was actually surprised that it lasted as long as it did. But with the stains and the edges unraveling, the time to change it up had come.

The question was how to change it. I had spent most of those 7 years trying to figure out how to solve our little carpet problem. What would be best for this area? With all these rooms being connected where do we draw the line? We didn’t want to just replace the carpet with new carpet. (Ok, maybe the husband did.) We had a wood-looking laminate flooring in the kitchen that was holding up ok but I didn’t love it enough to try to try to match it and extend it under the table, although that would have been the quickest, cheapest option. We didn’t want to leave the kitchen laminate and replace the carpet with hardwood. That would leave an awkward seam. I guess we could tile the kitchen and hardwood the rest but I really prefer hardwood in the kitchen too so the answer had to be replace all the flooring with hardwood.

Because I always am so eager to get going on my projects I never take a good Before Picture to share. I tried to find a good one in my stash without spending to much time searching through 7 years of photos. Here is one of my great room to give you a little bit of an idea of what my space is like. It’s kinda a terrible shot though. Try to ignore the giant brown shinny leather couch and look at the carpet and then the tiny piece of laminate that you can see in the kitchen near tiny Leah who is celebrating her birthday in this picture.

IMG_0475

You can also note in this picture the wood flooring samples under my couch. It took me forever to decide on what kind of hardwood we wanted to get. That is a great big, gigantic topic for some other blog but let’s just say we did our homework. I know everything there is to know about all the different wood flooring options ranging from engineered flooring, pre-finished wood floors, to raw sand and finish floors.

Headache! I tell you.

IMG_2709

Once we decided on getting the real deal- sand and finish solid wood floors- we went back and forth, and back and forth again on what type of wood to get. Walnut? hickory? or oak? I was in love with look of walnut. It’s such a dark beautiful wood, but everyone on the planet told me that it was such a soft hard wood and that it dented the easiest and because it’s dark it will show all the dust in your house. That dream was out with my 4 kids and dog.

But then I happened upon this grey sample that was made out of white oak. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but it inspired me to head in a grey-wash sort of direction. After that I found all sorts of inspiring pictures on Pinterest and Houzz that confirmed my decision.

IMG_2712

I figured it was the answer to my problems. I thought it would go well with my current decor, match okay with my oak cabinets, fireplace and railing (despite the trend in white cabinets, there are no current plans to paint them) and balance out my dark furniture.

After a solid month of hardwood research and a number of different guys coming to our house to give us quotes we finally settled on some hardwood installers. In June, the week after school got out, the white oak floor boards were delivered for 2 weeks of acclimation (or was it 3?) I had a great big giant stack of wood in my front room and the excitement and fretting was in full force. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a very chaotic summer.

IMG_20130620_133607_453

I began demolition work of our flooring. I started ripping up carpet in our hall. I was very proud of myself until I realized it had taken me a whole day just to do the hallway. It turned out to be 3 days of very hard labor. Moving furniture, ripping out carpet, staples, and baseboards. The kitchen was a bit of a challenge too. The dishwasher, fridge and oven all had to come out. We removed our island so that we could lay the wood underneath it (in case we ever wanted to change the layout of our small kitchen.) We had to cut the laminate that was laid underneath the existing cabinets and that took us way into the wee hours of the night. I happen to remember that last night of demo with fondness nightmares.

At the last minute we decided that we weren’t going to put hardwood in the laundry room and half bathroom but would do tile instead. We still did the demo in there though because we were going to try to get the tiled laid at the same time or close to it. That meant the washer and dryer and toilet all came out too.

We were exhausted by the end of it.

Saving money by doing our own demo was not all it was cracked up to be.

IMG_20130625_173921_099

Boy, I was so glad when the men showed up to do the work of laying the wood floors. I was so excited to be having someone else do the work instead of me (someone who knew what they were doing.)

IMG_20130625_174313_963

With our kitchen all torn up and the men wanting us out of the house as much as possible, we moved everything we needed down to our basement. Luckily, we have a full kitchen down there so it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience. We did have to move dishes and food down there. The only problem was, when it came time to finishing the floor with stain and finish, we couldn’t walk up stairs at all. Hah hah! You see… we do not have a walk out basement.

So what did we do??

We crawled in and out of a basement window. Yes, we did. Dog, baby, husband, everyone. Friends coming over to play? Yes, everyone came in and out of the basement window. It was fun for a day. But when the men didn’t get the floor done that week and they said they’d be back on Monday to finish up… it wasn’t so much fun anymore. The baby was completely weirded out and was crying when passed out the window, the 60 lb dog couldn’t make the jump by himself and had to be lifted, nails scratching and groping for purchase. Nervous Nellie, I wanted to call him.

I was ready to be done with it all.

{insert picture of my backside hanging out of the window carrying baby Sam, a diaper bag, Leah’s shoes she forgot to put on and the ten other things that seem to always be in mother’s hands)

IMG_20130625_174108_716

The men finished by the 4th of July but we couldn’t walk on it for another day or two. By the time it was all finished it had been a solid two weeks of Crazy House! It was nice when we could start putting the house back together again.

IMG_20130727_125830_164

Here is a close up of our finished floor (and my new favorite orange rug.) The grey is really subtle. I wanted a clean updated look but still really classy with the beauty of the white oak wood showing through. I’m really happy with it.

IMG_20130727_152400_107

But wait, here is the catch. When you do your own demo you have to put more back together than you thought. When we were so eager to rip out the kitchen island we forgot to take measurements… We had no idea where it went back to. We had no idea how to hook the electrical back up. We had no idea how to hook the dishwasher back up. Were we missing a part? Why were the pipes under the sink leaking? The trim around the cabinets didn’t fit anymore because the wood floor was now higher then what the laminate had been. The baseboards need calking. The list seemed to drag on.

More late nights.

Oh!! we soon realized that the end wasn’t near at all.

Remember how we ripped up our laundry room also? Well, the whole tile process seemed to drag on. It took me longer than it should have to pick out tile. Our tile guys kept putting us off and before we knew it we’d gone 3 weeks without a washer and dryer. I was getting mighty tired of hauling my laundry to my moms. I even tried the laundromat thinking that would be quicker and smoother but 30 dollars later and a still wet clothes, I hauled my 7 baskets back home only to put my dryer back into my unfinished laundry room to finish drying my clothes.

But the end of that came, as well as the end of July, and I was so happy to have a washing machine back in my house. My stinky kitchen rags were thankful too.

IMG_1444

I sure wish I didn’t have mismatch washer and dryer but a girl can’t have everything, right?

In case we weren’t feeling crazy enough, we were kind of caught in a bit of snowball effect and decided that we might as well bite the bullet and get our laminate counter tops replace also. They had a little bit of water damage in the seams and had seen better days. So why not? I was dreaming a clean white quartz counter and under-mount sink with a beautiful new faucet. My jaw just about fell off my face when my husband agreed to replacing them though. I didn’t expect it. He must have caught some remodeling fever or something.

Much of August was spent deciding on a company to install the counter tops as well as picking the counters out. I had thought that the installation would be a lot less crazy then getting the floors redone but the counter tops had their own drama. When they brought the counter top in we realized that the island piece had been cut a little bit wrong. It was 4 inches too short and bit too wide. It was disappointing but we had to send it back to get a new one cut.

Untitled

They also had made a really wonky cut along the backside of the sink counter top. It was such a big gap that we were worried that the tile back splash (another snowball) wouldn’t cover it up and we’d be left with a big caulk line.

This meant they had to come back and fix it. This meant my plumber couldn’t come and install my sink. This meant that I had no sink in my kitchen. This meant that I had to haul all my dirty dishes down to the basement.

I’m not whining or anything. I’m super happy to have new counters and it was only for a few days but it was a little bit of a pain when we thought we were so close to being done. I was so happy when the counters were done and my sink was installed.

But…

the plumber. I’ll cut this one short but I’ll just say he tried to rip us off. He wanted to charge so much for what we needed. Luckily Jeremy talked him down about 50% but the plumber was not happy about it and told me so. He acted like we got such a good deal and was completely put out when Jeremy asked about a $25 coupon he’d found. The price we paid was very similar to another quote we’d got so we’re not quite sure what his deal was. We’ll never use him again. We had wanted some other odd plumbing jobs done around the house but due to his outrages prices we opted to only have him install the faucets. I ended up fixing a leaky toilet all by my little self and I’m quite proud of the fact that it only cost me $4 and he wanted to charge $250 to unnecessarily rebuild the whole toilet. (That is super summarized but seriously, how long can this post be?)

Silliness. Let’s move on.

Untitled

But I love, love, love my new deep one-bowl quartz sink!! and my MotionSense Moen faucet (which we got for free through Jeremy’s work) is pretty cool too if the kids would stop deactivating it.

Ok, are you dead tired of reading all this… Oh, you haven’t read it.. ok. Then I’ll continue for myself.

Lastly. Backsplash. I picked a white matte subway tile, with a warm grey grout. I’m in love with it. This job should have only taken about 3 hours but it took 3 days instead. First the tile guy ran out of tiles. Then he brought the wrong color of grout. Then 4 days later after trying to figure out what was wrong with our internet we realized the tile guy had cut our telephone wires.

Untitled

We had told him that we wanted to bury this ugly phone jack that we didn’t use but instead of shoving it back into the wall, he went snip, snip. It turned out it was the main phone jack so all the other jacks in the house wouldn’t work. We had to have the tile guy come back, pop off a couple tiles, fix the wires and install a new phone jack and repair the tiles.

Really? Does every little job have to be complicated? I guess it’s better to have the jack after all.

Here is the kitchen before we ripped out the old counter tops.

Kitchen before

And a shot or two with the quartz counters and subway tiles installed.

Untitled

IMG_1447

Obviously the top picture has natural light and the color of the cabinets look a lot better but my island counter is cluttery. Lovely. So I included a second picture with everything all cleaned up but the light is yellow and yuck. The counters and tile make the kitchen so bright and clean feeling despite the light. I might actually enjoy doing dishes.

Great big sigh of relief.

We have committed not to do any more home improvement projects for a while. (Although I have a secret list adding up in my head… those snowballs never stop rolling.) We’ve certainly learned a lot on our journey. We’ve made mistakes along the way but we are very happy with all of our decisions and the way everything turned out.

So here’s to the summer of 2013 and our renovation craziness! And here’s to you for making it through my post. :)