outdoor entry way and shoe benches

The same friend that gifted us the daybed also gave us some RAST nightstands. They had stacked them on top of each other and were using them for shoe storage inside by their front door, so they were already a bit scuffed up when I got them. I’d been looking for an outdoor bench for some time now — I’d been scouring ana-white.com for the perfect plans to have Gavin modify to fit the space for some time now — and nothing had seemed quite right, and Gavin never seemed to have the time for this particular project.

Then the pre-loved RAST nightstands entered my life. They’d already been used for shoe storage, but the unfinished pine needed a bit of help before it could survive by our front door. Gavin said paint would protect them, so I took the boys to the local paint store — Sandy’s Paints in Sebastopol. Oliver wanted pink and Patrick wanted yellow, so they compromised and I got the color I wanted: fireball orange — to be fair, both pink and yellow went into the mix to make the orange.

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A coat of primer and two coats of fireball orange later (and appropriate drying time) they were put out by the front door. I love the “new” benches, they’re perfect for sitting groceries, bins of stuff, or packages while I find my keys. I can put muddy boots outside without them being a trip hazard, and it offers a place for small children to sit and wait out of the driveway.

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Labor Day Weekend

This Labor Day weekend has been busy and exciting. Patrick learned to climb out of his crib with dangerous consistency so he was upgraded to a “big boy” (toddler) bed.
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As Oliver put it, “baby no stay in his bed” so Oliver has taken to sleeping in the playroom/guest room until further notice…

And Oliver is BACK in the shared bedroom as of tonight. There were some tears, and co-tormenting, but they’re going to make it work.
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When the big boy bed make-over was done, we decided to go to HomeDepot to “price out” a new sink for the downstairs bathroom – it was rusted and generally nasty.

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And by “price out a new sink” I mean make replacing the sink our new project. We will hookup the water to the sink at/after 3pm (we have to let the caulk set for 24-hours).

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The new sink looks a lot like the old sink, only with less enamel damage, no rust and a nicer faucet (we replaced it too). New problem, the nice new sink, and cleaner-than-ever-before counter top make it painfully obvious how awful the (not pictured for a reason) light fixture is.

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I also made rosemary focaccia.

My Fantasy Playroom

Today one of my not-so-secret fantasies came true: I got a play room!!

No, not a “fifty shades red room of pain” room. Instead, I got something more practical: a room where I can stash most of the boys toys so I can have my living room back. The boys can play and at the end of the day instead of freaking out over the colossal mess, I can close the door and ignore it (at least that’s how the fantasy works in my head).

I’ve been dreaming of a play room since I found out that second child was going to be a boy. I was going to put both boys in bunk-beds in the smaller room, and turn the well-lit room with a lovely view into the play room/guest room. I figured Oliver would need to be at least four or five to be comfortable on the top bunk, so I shelved this fantasy for a later date.

This past Friday, Oliver announced he wanted to sleep in Pah-sah’s room. We made the twin bed cozy, put up his safety rail, and expected him to decide he wanted to move back into his own bed by Saturday morning. Saturday night Oliver again demanded to sleep in Pah-sah’s room, and then he started demanding his “tiny bed” be moved in as well. O continued to sleep in P’s room in the big twin Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights, all the while demanding his “tiny bed” be moved.

Today we complied with his request. Early this morning, while Gavin was teleconferencing with the W3C, the boys and I swapped the twin bed and Oliver’s bed, and moved his dresser.

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Mattress Madness II

Today we set about the ambitious task of visiting three mattress stores all in one day.

We started our morning at The Natural Mattress store in San Rafel where we spoke with Will (the owner) of the company. We had visited the Palo Alto showroom the weekend before and had liked their innerspring-latex mattresses. The San Rafel store had a larger selection of innerspring-latex mattresses and lots of space for the boys to explore.

Will was very helpful and answered all our questions, and we had a lot. The wool comes from sheep in Washington and Oregon, the steel springs are made in Georgia (the one in the US, not the one constantly under threat of invasion by Russia). The names of mattresses are selected by Will’s dad, and they are assembled locally (not far from the San Rafel store).

If you want an eco-friendly mattress and want to support a small (somewhat) local business I suggest visiting Will. His team is not paid on commission, so there are no high-pressure sales pitches (a very refreshing change from NYScott’s approach). Go early and park in the lot behind the store, all of San Rafel has parking meters so be sure to bring change.

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Mattress Madness

For the last three months we have been shopping for a new mattress.

We have tried innerspring mattresses, memory foam mattresses, latex mattresses, natural mattresses, organic mattresses, foam mattresses, and mattresses in any number of combinations of layers and configurations.

Gavin has spent countless hours on themattressunderground.com and we now know several sales people by name, namely the Scotts.

There is New York Scott, a high-pressure sales guy who knows all the latest gimmicky technology, and his opposite, Bored Scott, at the competing mattress store across the street from NY-Scott who is a wealth of information about mattresses and the mattress industry.

We have visited mattress show rooms in Sebastopol, Santa Rosa, and Palo Alto, tomorrow we visit mattress show rooms in San Rafel and Berkley.

What have we learned so far? Mattress shopping sucks. It is almost as bad as car shopping, and you get sympathetic looks when you haul the boys onto the mattress with you, we do this for maximum authenticity, after all, they join us most mornings, climb around, kick and generally make things less comfortable. Continue reading

Ship Building

About a month ago I discovered a really simple homemade play-dough recipe, and made two batches in Halloween orange. Once it cooled, it was an instant success. O enjoys rolling and cutting the dough, and it keeps him fairly occupied for about 20 minutes twice a day.

O also likes to build ships. These ships go through the air. They go “up-up-up” and “dum-dum-dum” and “zoom.” I asked him for clarification, they are not boats. Boats go in the wah-way (water), everyone knows that. Ships fie (fly).

Up-up-up! FIE!!!

O has a very creative imagination… and perhaps we watched a bit too much StarTrek when we had a round of Toddler Plague a few weeks back.

Weird-Tree Fruit Sauce

Once upon a time a Girl from Suburbia, Tx. got married and moved to the Urban outskirts of Boston. After a year of bustling City Life, she and her husband moved to Not-Quite-Rural California for job opportunities in last Slightly Urban outpost before the Pacific ocean.

After a year of life in West County they bought a house, which was blessed with Great Potential, and cursed with a Weird Tree* in the front yard.

They pruned the Weird Tree shortly after they took ownership of the house, and then Things Happened and the Tree became Seriously Neglected. Every year the Weird-Fruit Tree grew bigger. It sprouted Weird-Tree Fruit which hung heavily on the branches, occasionally ripping them off. The WTF also dropped into the jasmine below. It rotted, festered and stank.

After two summers of Rotting, Festering and Stinking WTF (and several large branches ripping off the Tree) the couple took action, did some serious pruning, and thinning of the WTF, filling the green bin (yard waste) to the brim.

The Girl from Suburbia looked at the buckets of WTF that had splatted wastefully into the asphalt. After almost four years in West County she had imbibed some of the Local Crazy (and seen the signs for canning materials at the local hardware store), and felt compelled to do something with the WTF.

She searched the internet and came across a recipe for WTF-butter that could be made in her crockpot (she’s got one so she may as well use it, right?)

Six-to-seven pounds of WTF hardly made a dent in the Tree’s bounty, but it was a starting point and what the recipe called for. After an afternoon of peeling and coring, she realized it would not all fit in the crockpot (per the recipes directions), so she ran it through her cuisinart food processor (she’s got one of those too!) and then filled the crockpot to the brim. She liberally modified the recipe, cut back on the sugar, omitted the water entirely (the WTF were quite juicy once they were grated), and switched out the spices for cinnamon and nutmeg (what she had on hand).

After a few hours bubbling away on high she ran it through the food processor again using a different blade, and then simmered it for a few hours in her large cast-iron enamel pot (using all the cool kitchen gadgets!) before ladling it into pints (leftover from a very failed persimmon chutney experiment), and finishing them off in a pot of boiling water.

She offered the pot scrapings to her toddler to sample, he refused. Her husband said he “needed to try it on something” and her babysitter said it was “tasty” and it “would go well over ice-cream” (but she’s also being paid, there might be some bias). She re-named the concoction WTF-Sauce, because the consistency was more like Apple Sauce than Apple Butter.

So tomorrow the Weird-Tree Fruit Sauce is going to go on top of waffles, and if all else fails, when the baby hits six months it will become a staple of his beginning-foods diet. WTF-Sauce and rice cereal.

*The tree is an Asian Pear Tree

CEO & Director of Daily Operations

I finally got around to updating my LinkedIn profile. I am the CEO & Manager of Daily Operations. I don’t think I’m giving myself too much credit for what I do, my previous jobs included a fair bit of organizing, managing, and developing.

Now I get to organize, multi-task, schedule, etc. from the convenience of my mobile command center (laptop), or company headquarters (upstairs home-office). Continue reading

AC some days I miss you

O is capable of opening our new back door (but thankfully not the screen) to let himself go “side!” so we decided to get an outdoor thermometer to have an idea of just how hot it was so we didn’t accidentally roast the little guy.

This morning at 11:30 the temperature outside was creeping past 90. I refuse to let the toddler out in that sort of heat.

Inside it was a comfortable 74 downstairs and 76 upstairs.

We don’t have an air conditioner.

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