A New Kind of ABCs

You know your house is under constant renovation when your conversation with your four-year-old goes like this:

“Mommy, what does ‘tree’ start with?”

“‘Tree’ starts with the letter ‘T.'”

“Mommy, what does ‘grass’ start with?”

“The letter ‘G.'”

[long pause before] “Mommy, what does ‘power sander’ start with?”

Little questions like that make me LOVE having toddlers…even in a work-in-progress house!  🙂  God definitely understands that I need a good laugh like that to make it through sometimes!



IMG_1608Dave refinished the floors on the first level of The Big Brick House…and I LOVE THEM!!  We decided to go with a glossy polyurethane to finish, which was something we’d never used before.  We made the decision after reading some information that indicated the more glossy the finish, the stronger the scratch protection. 

So far so good!  The floors are so much better than they were!

It’s true…it’s all true!!!  I get really excited when a product actually does what it claims it will do, so I’m really loving my Off Powerpad Lamps on the deck and porch at The Big Brick House.  We’ve now used them several times, and I’ve not been disappointed.

I’m a part of a program called BzzAgent, which is a Word-of-Mouth marketing network where companies look for a certain demographic of BzzAgents, send us their product, and we “Bzz” about it…in this case, though, I can’t STOP the buzzing!  I have been truly and repeatedly impressed by this product!

I was actually familiar with the Off Powerpad Lamps, from back when they were first new on the market. 

Older Off Powerpad Lamp Design

Older Off Powerpad Lamp Design

I was helping give a party which featured an outdoor showing of a movie, and I was sent out on a quest for citronella candles.  As luck would have it, I found Off Powerpad Lamps on double-super clearance at K-Mart, and with those little peel-off coupons on them, I think I got paid to buy the lamps.  I ended up purchasing (I think) 16 of the lamps, and lined an area of about 50 yards square with them.

No one was bothered by bugs…and this was an area deep in corn country, with a lot of plantlife and brush around it!


The NEW Off Powerpad Lamps

New Off Powerpad Lamp Design

Flash forward six years to 2009, and I received the newest version of the Powerpad Lamps.  They are so stylish, with a Mission-style design, have virtually no odor, and look so nice on the patio…MUCH better than any stinky citronella!

The only downside to these lamps are that the refills only come in packs of three, and each refill lasts approximately four hours.  They’re great for a basic dinner outside, but for a marathon outdoor fun-fest, the lamps need to be refilled.  Given the fact that I have quite a collection of the lamps, I would love to see an economy pack of something like 15 refills, instead of just three.
These lamps received The Good Housekeeping Seal…and now The Big Brick House seal of approval, as well!  Happy backyard hosting!

I’m truly stunned.

I can’t believe that it’s been three months since I’ve posted.  When I sat down to think about why that is, I realized it was because we weren’t getting anything done.  And then a big flurry of activity caused me to not be able to sit down and type.  And then my dog ate my homework.  Basically, I have no excuse…but I’m sure I could come up with some whoppers if I really tried!  🙂

I’ve determined that a lot of this remodel is “hurry-up-and-wait.”  I’m really big into researching every part of a project.  I like to shop around, read articles online, and go to the library.  I’m definitely doing this even more with this house, simply because I want to make choices that will look like they BELONG in our home…and I don’t want to buy anything that isn’t good quality.

Even with that mindset, we’ve still managed to accomplish some things in these past few months. 

The biggest change in our home has been the new roof.  We had a professional roofer fall from the top of our house, all the way down to the ground (I’m told in National Lampoon style), and walk away only feeling sore.  The shingles aren’t turning to dust before our eyes anymore.  The ladybugs have been deprived of their free reign of the attic.  All in all, a decent project completed!

My favorite improvement these months has been the front porch.  Dave replaced the crumbling stucco ceiling with a fantastic tongue-in-groove plank ceiling, which he painted white.  We chose an edgy, but still traditional, outdoor ceiling fan by Hunter for the ceiling, and have now enjoyed several nights lounging on our new patio seating group.  It’s been really neat to sit and talk about what the street must have been like before people sat inside in front of their TVs…the porch definitely gives us an idea!

We’re also in the thick of swimming pool prep (again).  It seems to be much easier this year, but we’ve had a few oddities.  We were invaded by toads one week…I counted at least 18 one day, just from where I was standing.  They decided to…ahem…”get it on” in the water that had accumulated in the cover.  Next thing we knew, we had a busy toad pediatric unit in the backyard!  I now understand what the phrase “you can’t spit without hitting one” means…there were just so many!!!  I was thankful for our friends and their children, who came down and adopted some of the tadpoles and took huge buckets of them to school.  The rest we pumped out. 

The toads and frogs had the last laugh, though, because when we started the skimmer, it was clogged…with four dead frogs.  Touche’, Froggies…well played.

Color Me Gaucho


It’s been awhile since I’ve posted…because we haven’t done anything in The Big Brick House.  In all fairness, it’s because the mere thought of digging a snow tunnel to my van to go to Lowe’s for supplies makes little icicles form on the tips of my brain.

However, Dave really stepped up one weekend recently.  He painted both the dining room and the “extra” room (which will soon be L and H’s toy room).  I can’t believe the difference a little paint makes!  The rooms feel bigger, cleaner, and more like home.

I think that the feeling of “home” comes from our favorite wall color.  We’ve always been partial to neutrals in the majority of our homes.  We started with a simple off-white, just to make everything the same, then began the quest to find that perfect not-too-light-not-too-dark neutral.  We came up with a color called “Gaucho,” and it’s now on the entire first floor of The Big Brick House (except for the kitchen).

We’re in the final planning stages for the upstairs bathroom, and we’ve decided (almost for sure this time) that we’ll be keeping the same footprint, and reworking the space with new cabinets and surfaces and fixtures.  I’m looking forward to sharing what we choose as we make purchases!


So, I’ve no doubt that there are many, many versions of this same idea out there, but here are the ones that I made!  About a year ago, I was itching to make something, and I thought that L’s bows were just so pretty.  I hated to put them away where they couldn’t be enjoyed all the time (not to mention that they got squished more than once in a drawer or basket).  I did some sketches and designed the bow holders/little girls’ room art above. 

I removed the glass from two inexpensive Hobby Lobby frames, and used fabric and a little cotton batting to cover the back of the frame, and tacked on coordinating ribbons, leaving a little bit of “give” to allow room to clip the bows on.  It took a little “oomph” to squeeze the new back into the frame, but it’s definitely secure.  These are hanging up in L’s room right now (with MANY more bows on them), and I love them just as much as the day I made them.  I’m even thinking of doing a version for my jewelry…and I’m thinking that H needs her own set, now that she has hair.  🙂

Sad News for Country Home

Just this evening, I read this post from one of my favorite Bloggers, regarding the closing of Country Home magazine.  This has been one of my favorite magazines ever since I became a homeowner…so many inspirational ideas and well-written articles!  This is now two of my favorites that have stopped publishing (the other being Home magazine) in the last six months.

It’s not a good time to be in the magazine industry, friends.  Even though they’re feeding my addiction to glossy pictures and short, clever articles, my subscriptions are simply not enough to keep them afloat.  (sigh)