{Lily's Big Girl Room} Ceiling Medallion

Before we started on Lily's room, Doug removed the ceiling fan and the ceiling medallion that was in place. I had given thought to painting it but after a trip through Lowe's, I saw this one that I loved a lot more. The other one was more ornate and just not our style. 

So here's the new one, painted and put in place with our existing fan. I'm loving it paired with the blue walls. There will be additional pink things in the room, this is just a baby step! 

This isn't the exact one from her room but I think it's the identical pattern, just painted differently (all from the previous homeowner). This one is in our dining room with the wallpapered ceiling (ugh!).

So here's the medallion before I painted it. 

And this might have been after one coat. I ended up painting it with two coats of Sexy Pink from Home Depot's Glidden line. I couldn't find a spray paint I liked and by buying a sample from HD, I now have paint I can use for other projects. I did light coats so that the lines wouldn't show. It was all good until some little blonde girl wanted to help me. There's one little area I didn't smooth out in time (she didn't want my help) but it's barely noticeable once it's on the 9 foot ceilings). 

Similar to a photo I put on Instagram. Follow me

 And an up close photo with the bright white, new ceiling (and a really clean fan thanks to Doug!). 

{Curb Appeal} Before Photos

A little back story for ya: Last summer my next door neighbor, their other neighbor, and two other houses on the other side of my house all got brand new sidewalks through our city. We found out, through our neighbor, that the city pays for 90% of the labor and the homeowner pays the rest. Needless to say, we wanted in! Our city sidewalk (parallel to the street) was old, cracked and needed to be replaced. But what was even worse was the sidewalk from the city sidewalk to our front porch. Sooo... after some investigation, we talked to an old coworker's husband who was one of the workers and asked if we could pay him extra to do our sidewalks.

Fast forward from last fall to now and we're finally getting it done! Here are some of the before and during shots.... 

You can see here that the construction in Lily's Room is still in full swing, but also focus on the weeds growing in all the cracks. Those weeds were actually holding our sidewalk together, so they stayed... yes, it was horrible. That rock with all the irises and lilies around it was one of our foundation stones. We had originally thought of painting our street address on it but then I planted the free (from my aunt) flowers and it hid the rock. The whole thing was surrounded by our free bricks and rocks but it all got removed (minus the gigantic rock, that thing isn't going anywhere!) 
Here's the after shot of the foundation stone after I removed the bricks, rocks and flowers. The flowers were transplanted with our other irises on the south side of our house (it's the most neglected area of our property but they bloom great there!). The rocks were moved to our front bed by the front porch where other rocks were. And the bricks are being held for now to make a new bed around this stone and to create another small flower garden once the sidewalk is complete.

Our house and it's desperate need for curb appeal. We're still in the middle of cleaning off the porch from the construction, my house plants need to go back to school next week (where they live August - May), and the other flowers need replaced after a bad heat spell killed them. Then there's my nemesis - the stupid holly bush. BUT there are some big plans for this small front yard... including the use of my dad's tractor to till it all up (there's a slight hole where an old tree was removed) and level it all out. We will then replace all the grass. The bottom step (right above the concrete sidewalk) was also torn out.. you can see how it's super unlevel in this photo.

More construction stuff. ;) Our giant bushes were removed and only their stumps are left. They will be killed off sooner or later.

This big guy removed our sidewalk so easily. It was so torn up that it wasn't hard, but that thing is beast! And of course, you can see more cracks!) 

An Instagram photo (follow me at thebrickbungalow) of the city sidewalk once the beast removed all the concrete.  

Our yard... or what's left of it. 

Here's a shot of our new sidewalk we asked him to do too. It connects the front porch to our driveway, which is also getting replaced (the bad parts anyway). 

This was our driveway...and in horrible shape. Some how I can't find my before photo of it, but imagine lots and lots of cracks. It looked like a piece of glass that had shattered, with lines going everywhere. It was bad. 

A view looking from the driveway to our front yard. The giant stone is behind the pile of dirt and the patch of grass/weeds on the right is the entrance to Lily's garden (lots of plans in my head right now!).

And speaking of Lily's Garden... Once the sidewalk is complete, we will add plants that go between it and our house. It'll then continue to wrap around the house, giving me lots of area to plant. You can see the sides of the arbor we bought that will be centered in the area (centered between the house and the driveway), giving some climbing area for a clematis or another climbing flower. We still have plans to fence in the whole area as well to add a visual border, a place for flowers to grow up on, and to divide the area below up to have some in front of the fence and some behind the fence.  

And just in case you wanted to know... we hired this project out. We have done concrete before. Doug spent a summer in college or high school working with a crew, my dad has built custom raised beds for his garden (I should post those here, they are cool!), and I helped with a few of the beds.. I'm good at leveling things out. However, my dad is busy and neither Doug or I really wanted to take on another project a week away from going back to work (we're both teachers). So, when the city program happened and we asked the guy to do the rest (normally not done with the city program), we were all excited to pay someone else. Plus, it's nice to be able to focus on other projects (like Lily's bedroom) while this gets worked on. AND it should be finished and hopefully completely cured by the time school starts next week (or at least the week after, I'm ok with parking in the street). 

{Lily's Big Girl Room} Closet and Color Combos

As we near the end of the long process that is Lily's Big Girl Room, I am finally able to start adding touches of other colors - mainly pink right now. In the photo below, the circle is the ceiling medallion to go with her ceiling fan and on the right is a bright pink glittery picture frame I picked up at Hobby Lobby. The wall color in the below photo goes a little gray for some reason. 

Here's the medallion with the board and batten. 

And the closet! There's a light in there, which is why it looks like the top is solid white (it's not). You can see that my dad installed a middle board (a 2x8") for support and to divide the space. This will work great as she ages and gets larger clothes. For now, I may put in one of our extra shelf units or just leave it so she can hide for fun. There will be doors installed once the painting is complete. 

We have almost finished painting the room blue and are working on the white too. Everything has been finished with the priming stage so it's just a matter of getting the energy to paint. I can't stand up for super long periods of time because Little Man likes to make my left thigh tingle then fall asleep by sitting on some nerve. It's been discussed with my doctor and all is fine and normal with it, but it still makes it hard to do a ton of painting. But Doug and I are taking turns, so it'll be done soon.

{Lily's Big Girl Room} Paint, Step 2

Blue! I'll be honest, it's a little more blue than I wanted. I wanted more aqua but I do love this bright blue. It matches some of the stuff we already own (for her room) and looks great with the teal hallway. I can't wait to decorate and move her in. I think it'll look really nice with both the teal hallway and the darker (more navy) blue for her brother's room. All three rooms are close together so it's nice that they go together. The bathroom will also eventually get a makeover and that might go some fun shade in the blue/teal/green family too. Who knows! 

Anyway... here it is after the ceiling was painted white and the walls the pretty blue. This photo actually makes the ceiling look slanted, but it's not. We have enough of that going on upstairs. 

Here's the big closet. This will be for all of her clothes. 

And the first round of trim.... Isn't it looking great? The original window trim had more detail but we're doing a special window covering that will stick out from the window (more of that to come later) and so the valence box my dad plans on making will possibly have some more detail on it, instead of the actual window. I promise that'll make more sense. And I'm sorry for the photo being dark. 

Here's the start of the trim on the big closet. The doors will be mirrors (I know a lot of people hate them but I think a certain 4 year old will LOVE them, not to mention they will make the room look larger).

The beginning of the board and batten. There's a fun edge that we've already told Lily will be good for some of her smaller collections (like Squinkies). I think it'll be great because it'll keep mouth size toys out of reach of Little Man once he becomes mobile. 

{Lily Lately} Pictures at the Park

We are blessed with a local flower garden park that is a beautiful back drop from photos. I have taken Lily there every year for her birthday and although this one is almost 2 months late, we finally got some done. I say some because the little girl had some tummy issues and had to cut the visit short. 

The "4" shirt is made by her grandmother every year. It's been a simple white shirt with a pink number with white polka dots. I don't know how much longer Lily will let me do this but this year we jazzed it up a bit with her bright pink, glittery skirt and her shiny cowgirl boots. The past three years were all with a form of jeans. This shows her personality more, so I like it. 

I LOVE the photo above. And yes, the pink scar on her head is still here (fading every day though) from her accident at daycare. 

Here are some pictures from the previous years: 
2010 - 1 year old and showing her mad walking skills. Just too cute not to pass up a photo of her from behind. 

2010 - Big, beautiful eyes. 

2011 - All about the odd facial expressions.

2011 - running away from momma

2012 - one of my all time favorite photos of her

2012 - running away again, this time with some speed

{Missouri} Lake Time 2013

In the middle of Lily's Big Girl Room remodel and our deck and everything else going on, we went on our yearly family vacation. We go to one of the local lakes for a few days, stay in a cabin, and enjoy my parents' pontoon. Some years there are more family, others less. This year it was just the 5 of us - my parents, Doug, myself and Lily. It was a lot of fun. We left on Sunday and came back Wednesday, giving us plenty of time on the water. Lily took swim lessons earlier this year and although she still needs more practice (who doesn't!?), it was a dramatic increase in last year's abilities. She could swim between people, her confidence was boosted a million times, and she was so much more comfortable in the water. She wore her life jacket the whole time without complaining (a big plus!) and was happy playing around with the four adults. 

So, here are some photos (minus the sunset shots that I'll show later) of the trip. For those curious, the red heart shape on Lily's forehead is the left over scar from when she fell at daycare a few weeks back. It's slowly getting smaller but it's taking its time!

{Lily Lately} Painting

Lily loves to paint. She loves art of all kinds but painting is her favorite. I can't blame her, it's mine too. 

Last week we kept her home from daycare after getting back from our lake vacation. My dad was over working on her room and I was trying to keep her busy so that he could work without a cute blonde asking 50 million questions. She really wanted to help him but he was working on the trim in her room and the nail gun was really loud, so I brought her upstairs with me to my office. 

After some coloring and playing with the random things in my office, she really wanted to paint. Luckily for her, I had a ton of empty canvases for her and so I let her go to town. It's the perk of having a mom who is an art school graduate and a current art teacher - tons of art supplies! 

I started by telling her the rules - gotta keep the paint on the canvas, not on my zebra rug. That was it. I did put down my giant clip board just in case. She then chose the colors - pink, purple and green. She later added a pale blue. She ended up painting three canvases and probably would have continued but I ran out. One is small, maybe 8x10, one is maybe 11x14 and the one shown in the picture is maybe 16x20. The largest one was her last one and she got really into it. I didn't say a thing to her, letting her figure it all out. She did a great job. 

A couple years ago, I let her paint for the first time. I knew it would be crazy so I picked two colors that went well together in case she mixed them. Of course she did, being less than 2 at the time. I chose blue and green, two of my favorite colors. The canvas is mostly teal now, which I love. It's funny to watch her paint and makes me want to work with pre-schoolers some days! Maybe a side job in the future... or I'll just stick with my own kiddos. 

I'm going to hang them up in her new room. She loves to display her own projects. I may end up doing something to them, but probably not. I will paint the edges of them though so that it cleans them up a little. She had trouble doing that and I think it'd be a nice touch. 

I also love this photo because it shows how she almost always works on something - her tongue out of her mouth. We call it the Pop Tongue, after my grandfather who did the same thing. Most of the family members on that side have something similar when they concentrate really hard. 

{Family} My Brother's Birthday

I've thought about this post for a few days now and finally decided to write it. It's not really for anyone but me, and maybe my family and friends (if they even read this).

Today would have been my brother's 34th birthday. He was taken from us 2 years ago this past May after a brief fight with cancer. I honestly still cannot believe it. I feel like it was yesterday when I got a call from him, telling me that he had cancer. I couldn't think straight. I couldn't believe that a 31 year old who was in great health could have cancer. Now I know many other stories of younger kids (some I know even in my town who continue to battle it) but then and there, I was shocked. I sat in my car, just have travelled the few miles from one student teaching position to another, talking to my brother about this fucked up disease.

There are a lot of details I won't go into on this blog. He wanted to keep things private and I granted him that wish as he fought his battle. I didn't even tell some of my friends. My whole family was devastated by this news. Our family has a bad history with cancer - it took my aunt who was maybe in her early 50's after just a few months fight, it took my grandmother, my grandfather (all on my dad's side). We all know people personally affected by cancer.

All I know is that we were robbed. We were robbed of my brother's life and how he should still be here with us, celebrating special events and holidays, spending time with Lily and our future little man, marrying his girlfriend, having his own kids, and doing what families do together. We were a close family, getting together often for dinners at my parents, my brother's house, our house, aunts and uncles. He'd have his friends over and would always invite Doug to play poker, watch a game on one of his big screens, or go out to a bar. He was on a softball team with Doug and his friends. He lead a very active, full life. He was my only brother, my only sibling. He was Lily's only uncle and she loved him dearly. He loved her too. They had so many similarities. She was almost two when he passed away and so it's hard for her to remember him but she knows his picture and still talks about him. It's hard to grasp the concept of death when you're that young and it's still hard for her now.

I know he's missed by many. His visitation was packed and the line went throughout the building and out the door. He had a huge group of friends, many he had known since elementary school. He made friends everywhere he went and worked. He was a great son, brother, uncle, boyfriend and so much more.

Take the time to tell your loved ones how you feel. Spend some extra time with them. Call them on the phone, text, email, whatever. Do it before its too late. Luckily, like I mentioned, we were close so we saw each other often, but I'd do anything to hear from him or be able to talk to him.

I miss you and love you, big brother.

(The picture above was taken Easter 2011, just a couple weeks before he passed away. I'm glad I take lots of photos. Lily was so happy, doing an Easter egg hunt at his house. He crouched down to be more on her level - he was 6'4" - and she copied him.)

{Food} Cheesecakes

Before we went on vacation, I made two desserts. I figured that since there'd be 15 of us, I'd make some cheesecakes. Somehow I had in my head that we needed a lot, so I ended up making three of them. We didn't even finish 2, but oh well. Two of the cheesecakes were from this recipe. And it was delicious!!! Extremely creamy, smooth, moist, everything.

The second cheesecake was from this recipe. My mousse messed up in the process so mine came out slightly different but it was delicious! What's not to like when you have a crust from Oreos, a layer of cheesecake, chocolate mousse, and chocolate ganache. I made too much ganache so it was super thick but that just means more chocolate, right?!?!

Below is the chocolate ganache on the right and the NY style (recipe above) on the right. Mine did crack but I don't think my family ever cares about that.

Plate lickin' good!


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