Month: April 2015


Adding Vinyl Railing to a Deck


Installing Vinyl Railing

Our new house has great vinyl railing on the front porch.  Unfortunately, the back deck didn’t have railing and it was a bit of a hazard, especially for Harrison.

Back Deck Before Back Deck Before Railing

We decided we wanted the railing to match the front of the house, even though it is pricey.  We waited until it was on sale and then about $600 later had a great looking back deck too.  The installation was incredibly quick and easy (much better than installing a wood railing with all of those spindles).

We started with a corner post and screwed it right into the deck.  We had to beef up the support under the deck so that we had wood to screw into, but that was as simple as adding a block of 4×4 to the support that was already in place.

Vinyl Railing Installation

The railing went together really easy but needed to be cut to length in a few sections.  It was as easy as using a hacksaw, even for the steel inserts.

Cutting Vinyl Railing to Size

The most difficult part was climbing into these thorny bushes to screw in the extra support.  (Guess who was lucky enough to get that job?)

Railing Installation in Landscaping

We had the option of putting an extra post next to the house or using a pre-cut plate to fit the vinyl siding.  We chose the plate and saved an extra $60 in posts.  What can I say?  We’re cheap and it looks good.  They are not completely centered because they are already fitted to the siding, but the color matches out trim and it is barely noticeable.

Vinyl Railing Attached to Vinyl Siding

It took us 2 evenings after work to complete the job for a fairly large deck and we love the results!

Deck with Vinyl Railing' Deck with Vinyl Railing Vinyl Railing Finished

I would definitely recommend the vinyl railing if it is in your budget.  It looks great and is so easy to install.  Here is the before and after from the backyard:

Back Deck Before and After

The after picture was taken later in the evening, hence the color differences.  The deck actually feels bigger now that the space is defined, and it is safe for Harrison too!  We are also working on several other outdoor projects at the moment.  Thanks for reading and check back soon for more updates!

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Harrison’s Nursery Reveal


We have been in the new house for 3 months today and we are finally getting settled.  It takes a long time to get things in order and organized, get things hung up on the walls, etc.  Most of you will recall Harrison’s nursery in our first house was bright yellow with a woodland animals theme.  Before Harrison was born, we didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl. Once we moved, we were able to give him a more masculine nursery.

Baby Boy Nursery

I painted an orange stripe on the wall and hung his name up too.  Most of the furniture came from his old nursery including the recliner I made a slipcover for when I was 8 months pregnant.  The newest addition is this teal teepee I bought from Amazon for an early birthday present.  Harrison climbed right in and loved it!  He has a really neat reading nook now.

Reading Nook

We kept the woodland animal theme for the most part and hung up the same things he had in his old nursery, including the bird house night light.

Baby Boy Nursery Reveal

I also kept the rug and curtains from his first room.  I made those no-sew curtains and you can see the tutorial here.

Orange and Blue Nursery

I’m sure the room isn’t complete yet.  I always seem to find more projects, but for now he is all set.  In this house Harrison has more than twice the space he had in his first room.  Kids have a lot of stuff, so it is filling up fast!  Luckily, he also has a walk in closet to store all of this extra clothes and toys.  We are blessed with a lot of space in this house!

I have more updates on our exterior projects coming soon!  We have installed a railing on the back deck and it looks great! Check back soon for more updates and as always, thanks for reading!

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Go Green, Save Green!


Going Green to Save Green

Happy Earth Day! I’m proud to say that this year Ryan and I have made a lot of changes to decease our environmental impact. Once we decided to cloth diaper we realized how much of the rest of our lives seem disposable.  Everything around us is individually packaged or made to be thrown out after one use.  While we still have a long way to go, I would love to share with you some of the ways we are not only going green, but how we are saving money doing it as well.

1. Cloth Diapering: I will start here since this motivated us to make the switch.  A disposable diaper takes about 500 years to decompose in a landfill.  The EPA reports that 20 billion diapers or 3.5 million tons of diaper waste is dumped in landfills each year. By switching to cloth diapers, you can save over $2,000 per child and another $500 if you choose cloth wipes as well. They are also adorably cute. See more details here.

Flip Diaper Cover

 

Cloth Diaper

 

2.  Unpaper Towels: This has been a big money saver for us. We received several white dishcloths as a present. Now we grab those whenever we would normally use paper towels.  We have not bought paper towels yet this year.  We do keep some on hand for pet messes, but we are lucky that those are pretty rare.  The initial cost of switching to cloth is minimal and it can be washed with your regular laundry.

3. Cloth Napkins: Similar to paper towels, you can invest in some cheap cloth napkins and save bundles on buying paper.  It seems much nicer to use cloth anyways and it looks great when you set the table.

4. Reusable Grocery Bags: I received these for Christmas and it has saved so many plastic bags from making it into a landfill.  We keep them in our car so that we have them when we make a last minute trip to the store.  I have these grocery bags and these produce bags.  Our grocery store also gives you $.05 for every bag you bring in, which is a nice bonus too. The initial cost of these bags is very reasonable.

5. Reusable Sandwich Bags: Ryan travels for work and takes a lunch with him.  We have switched to reusable sandwich and snack bags. These are food safe and come in many prints and colors.  You can purchase them here.  I can’t remember the last time I bought ziplock bags! Nicki’s Diapers often adds these to your order for free, so we have only purchased a few ourselves.

Reusable Sandwich Bags

6. Compost: Depending on if you pay for garbage pick up, composting can save you a ton of money. We feed most of our vegetable scraps to the chickens, but you can compost so many things! The EPA estimates that Americans  create 14 million tons of food waste each year. 4% is composted.  Check out this page for more info and a great explanation of what can be composted.

7. Gardening: You can save so much money by growing your own food.  Even if you are limited on yard space, you can start a container garden! If you can’t garden in your space, be sure to check out your local farmers market.  When you buy local produce or grow your own you are saving the earth by reducing pollution caused by transportation.  Don’t buy your produce from Mexico, buy it from your neighbor!

Starting Seeds

8. Keep Chickens: It’s no secret that I love chickens.  We raise them for eggs and meat each year.  After the initial start up cost, it is relatively inexpensive to keep chickens and they keep us in eggs and meat.  The meat birds are only a 6-8 week commitment and feed us all year long.  Chickens do not require a lot of space or time.  If you have ever considered keeping chickens, take the plunge this year!  You won’t regret it.

Whoopi

9. Reduce Weekly Waste: Americans make more than 200 million tons of garbage each year according to the EPA. We have decided to challenge ourselves to see how much we can reduce our waste.  When shopping, choose items that are not individually packaged. It is so easy to buy the yogurt that comes individually packaged, but how is it any difference than the tub?  The larger container is often cheaper and creates less waste.

10. Don’t Buy Bottled Water: This is a big problem for me.  In the past we have always bought things in bottles and cans.  We recycle, but it would be much better to buy larger containers and drink from the faucet instead.  I hope this will be our biggest change this year!

I hope this has inspired you to take the plunge and make a change this year!  Happy Earth Day!

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Harrison is 11 Months!


The countdown begins to Harrison’s first birthday!

11 Months

Our happy kiddo is growing so much and is starting to look more like a toddler than my little baby.

11 Month Statistics

Harrison got his very first haircut this month and looks like he is ready for another one already!  This kid’s hair is crazy.  He is cruising all over the place, but not interested in walking yet.  He has found out that he can get everywhere fast if he crawls, so he doesn’t army crawl anymore.

Harrison loves to clap and play pat-a-cake, but his favorite is to watch the chickens in the yard and cluck back at them.  He is really good at mimicking noises.

Harrison 11 Months

Harrison eats everything and anything but especially loves carrots.  He also goes crazy for green beans, chicken, and bananas.  It’s pretty hard to find a food he won’t eat.  He still only has 2 teeth, but they seem to get the job done!

Of course, we have some more pictures with Tigger this month.

11 Month Tigger 11 Months Old Harrison 11 Month

Next month we will have the final of his monthly pictures!  Our baby is growing up!

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Spring Cleanup


House Exterior Spring 2015

We are finally starting to see a bit of Spring in Wisconsin.  Yesterday it was even in the 60s.  We spent quite a bit of time outside yesterday assessing what needed to get done.  Because our house was a foreclosure, a lot of the yard work was neglected for a while.  The house has gorgeous landscaping, but it is full of leaves from fall of last year.  It is really fun to see what plants and flowers will come up this spring.  There is also the issue of the Christmas lights on the house.  They all need to come down, but some of them are quite a ways up there!

House Exterior Back Spring Flowers

We also have an issue with gravel in the lawn.  When they plowed out the driveway when the house was for sale, they didn’t know where the driveway stopped, which resulted in piles of gravel in our lawn and on the sidewalk.

Gravel in Yard

The previous owners didn’t use the entire backyard.  They kept one part of it mowed and let the rest of it grow.  A lot of it is overgrown at the moment.  This wouldn’t be a big problem if we didn’t have rambunctious dogs that would be full of ticks in no time and a chicken coop we needed to build in that space.

Back Yard Spring 2015

Our biggest project will be putting a railing on the back deck.  It is definitely not safe for Harrison at the moment, but it will be nice when it has vinyl railing to match the rest of the house.  We have the railing purchased and just need to install it when we find a free moment.

Back Deck Spring 2015 Back Deck without Railing

I am very thankful that this yard doesn’t look like our first house when we moved in.  We had much more work to do when we closed on that house.  I will never forget the piles of dirty diapers we dug out of that yard…yuck!

Speaking of our first house, many people have asked what we are going to do with it.  At the moment we are working on it on the weekends and trying to get as much trim done as possible.  We are really hoping to list it for sale in June.  We love that house and put in a lot of work, so it is hard to think about letting it go, but I hope we can find a family that can really love and appreciate the work we put in. I hope to update with some pictures once the weather gets nicer and the lawn greens up a bit.  As always, thanks for reading!

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Fresh Eggs Come in All Sizes


We are always excited to see what we get when we look for eggs. They come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. We have gotten several double yolk eggs, but today we got the tiniest egg ever.

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When I put on the scale, it didn’t even register.

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(Compare this to Pearls eggs that max out the scale.)

Here it is next to a large and extra large egg also collected today.

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I had to crack the egg to see if there was a yolk inside. I cracked it into a 1/4c measuring cup.

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It filled about 1/3 of the cup. The real mystery remains…who laid the egg?

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I’ll keep you updated, but we may never find out.

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Easter


This Easter has been a very special one! Ryan has been working very hard throughout the last year in an RCIA class (Right of Christian Initiation of Adults). Last night at the Easter Vigil mass, Ryan and 2 others were baptized, confirmed, and recieved their first Holy Communion. What a wonderful time of year to celebrate! He is risen!

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Harrison made it through the entire mass with only a few hiccups, and he slept in on Sunday. When he woke up his first basket was waiting.

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I am so lucky to have these boys! Happy Easter everyone!

Family Picture

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