On my birthday, I’m a “real” blogger

Some of the “real” blogs I read share a weekly list of favorite things, or things they’re into right now. One of the blogs I follow, Sarah, does a “Friday Favorites” post. Read one of her posts here. Sarah has great taste, and a beautiful blog that reads well and has some really great ideas.

I really enjoy these types of “favorite things” posts, and have thought about jumping on this bandwagon. But, I’m only a “real” blogger in my own mind. That’s kind of the thing about blogging though, right?! I have felt a little uncomfortable sometimes sharing my thoughts, ideas and projects because…who cares? I’m not trying to get humility points or anything, just hear me out.

 

Let’s say I’m at a party, and I start telling you about how I recovered my outdoor cushions. (shameless plug here) Whomever I’m talking to, would probably be as polite as possible while also sending a signal to their friend, or spouse across the room: “ Help. Me. Talking to the most boring person at this party. ”

 

You see what I mean?! Anyway, I’m not at all looking for compliments, in fact, everyone has been so very encouraging. All your comments on the blog, and on facebook and in person have only encouraged me to keep blogging and sharing what would be boring party fodder. 😉 All your sweet words and every single time you click on that link, makes me smile and feel so loved. Thank you so much. I really appreciate everytime you read.

 

So, I present to you, my special BIRTHDAY edition of my favorite things right now:

 

  1. Birkenstocks

 

I’m not really a shoe girl. I don’t think I ever have been. But, if shoe love is a thing, I have given my heart to my Birkenstocks. I am crazy about them. I wear them almost every day. Really. All I need is a pair or running shoes, and my Birkenstocks. They are super practical, super comfortable and stylish…well, stylish enough for me anyway. When Brian and I went to Round Top and my pedometer clocked us at 26 miles walked, I was wearing those Birkenstocks. They are my perfect shoe.

 

You can get a pair like mine for $95 here, on Amazon, or here, at Nordstrom.

 

2. Benefit Erase Paste

 

This stuff is magic. Real, actual magic. My under eye circles have been a thing since Johnathon Taylor Thomas was on magazine covers. Being pale, ya know. So since I’ve had kids, they’ve not improved. This little tub of magic is worth every penny. It makes me look alive and not like a zombie so yeah, it’s a favorite.

 

 

3. Boomchickapop Sweet and Salty popcorn

 

This popcorn is so.good. Mr. AL and I have been trying to cut back on our wine consumption, and this popcorn has been a sweet replacement. Instead of having a glass of wine after the kids go to bed, we are snacking on this stuff. When we try to cut down on kettle corn consumption, maybe we can replace it with sit-ups, or I don’t know, something productive.

 

 

I buy mine at Costco, or Sprouts, if I want a reasonable sized bag (why would I want that?!) but you can get it here, on Amazon.

 

4. Faux plants

 

I began an accidental faux plant collection before we moved out of our house in Cedar Park. I had this little window box on my back porch and had already killed multiple living plants that I bought to fill it.
One time after buying another living replacement for a plant I’de just killed, Brian said, “We’ll just put that purchase in the “entertainment” category.”
Oh ye of little faith. But he was right. That plant was DOA.
I found the most realistic, and most affordable faux plants at IKEA and put three of them in that window box. They looked great the whole time we lived there. 🙂 I use those plants, and some fake succulents, all over the house to add warmth and texture. I recently rearranged the mantel with them:
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I also use faux (and one REAL) plants in this old tool box on my sofa table:

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5. My new quilt/all the checkered things

We’ve been on the hunt for a while now for new bedding. More specifically, a quilt. Not a bedspread, not a duvet. a good old-fashioned quilt. Not too hot, but has good weight to it.

 

With that rug, which we bought for our first house and we thought cost a fortune, this room has a traditional and semi-formal look. I love how the big, fat, beautiful buffalo checks add some casual coziness. Also, B and I both picked this one so it was a winner.

I love using those checks in other parts of the house too:

 

Ok, you get the idea, and that’s not even all of them.
Thanks for humoring me on my birthday, and thanks for reading my, “I’m-a-real-blogger-today-because-its-my-birthday-edition-five-favorite things”. On your birthday, you do what you wanna do. Now, time for cake.
XO, Steph
*Photos other than my own, personal photos were taken from Amazon. I have attached the links to these products should you wish to purchase them. If you do decide to use my link to purchase one of my favorite things, I will receive a small portion of your sale. This is at no extra cost to you. Thank you!!

How the Cows Convinced us to put up a Fence

A few weeks ago, Brian came home and caught a cow red-hoofed (y’all. I actually laughed at that. Thank you for understanding) eating his grill cover. Just chewing that thing like it was meant for her.

Can we pause for a moment to recognize the irony of a cow chewing on a grill cover that probably tastes like what we’ve been grilling? Uh huh. Like hamburgers, and steaks. Watch yourself Bessie-you could be next.

Anyway, he “hey-ed!!” that heifer just so she could regurgitate it for him. Which was cute.

So besides the slobber, and stomach contents (*gag), it had a few holes.

That same week, a frisky little calf knocked a handmade pot off the front steps and broke it. The nerve.

(Dear Aunt Sara, need new pot. XO) As if that wasn’t enough, it had a real live plant it it….. that I had kept ALIVE no less. Oh, now it’s on.

When we first moved in, almost 6 months ago, putting up a fence was one of the top three things on our list. But, it kept getting bumped down the list for things that were more imminent, maybe easier…..and let’s just be honest here,  we had some apprehension about working with barb wire. BUT, now that we’ve got these cows acting like those two naughty Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp, we needed to get serious. I have enough trouble keeping my plants alive (Ok, it was a succulent), thank you.

First, we drew out some ideas of how we wanted to enclose the yard. We decided that the “fence of our dreams” looks something like this.

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Click picture for link 🙂

We have watched some videos and read some tutorials about how to make a fence like this. We are/want to be “do it yourself-ers” (read: gluttons for punishment) so all the plans we’ve made on the fence thus far are temporary. For now, they will keep the cows from trying to digest our property/kill themselves and buy us time to build our dream fence around the house weekend by weekend. Or maybe the kids and I can take a trip (ooooh. The beach maybe??) and  B can just tackle that fence while we’re gone (Like the deck). Just kidding. Unless you want to honey….

We technically have 10 acres, and we certainly didn’t want to fence out our whole section. So, we needed to decide what we considered our “yard”. Since we’ve lived here, we’ve referred to the cattle as our, “yard crew”.

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They kept the grass short for us and we haven’t spent a minute mowing. We took that into consideration when choosing the size of yard to fence in. Whatever is in the fence will be our job to keep mowed. We also didn’t want to take more grass than we had to for the cows, even though they are naughty.

We already fenced in our garden beds, also as a temporary solution, to rabbits, cows and deer, so we used that existing fence line to fence in the yard.

Using a t-post driver, we drove in the t-posts to create the fence line we planned out. (Read about how we drove the t-posts in my “Adventures in Fencing” post)

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Here are the materials we collected for the fence:

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All the how-tos we read about putting up barb-wire fences stressed the importance of planting a post firmly with cement to secure the line and keep it taut and straight. Like good little diy-ers, we ignored that advice.

Being a temporary solution, we didn’t want to permanently put in posts. Since we didn’t have as sturdy a corner brace as we should have, we decided not to use the wire stretcher contraption, pictured above. It’s purpose is the pull the wire as taut as possible. Which is great, except we knew that pulling it as taut as possible would lean our insufficiently supported corner posts too much.

We used our ranch muscles to pull that barb wire and attach it to the t-posts with the clips.

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The red box is it’s own project, which I’ll share with you later.


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We pulled three strands all the way around.

See that big roll of wire? We would unroll it, VERY carefully. One of us would unroll while the other went along the line, yes, VERY carefully, pulling it tight and taut. We would then use a clip to attach it to the post.

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Could we just call my lack of photography skills endearing? Thank you.

Oh, the clips. I struggled with those frickin’, frackin’, dadgum @$#!&!!…I mean things. Brian would say, “let’s race!” igniting my competitive spirit. He would clip his strand and I would clip….but really just struggle to…Oh it was no competition, my friends. It was only frustrating….for me. B would ask, like a sweet husband, “want me to do it?” to which I would snap, “no. Go away!” I was sure THIS time I would clip that stupid, stupid thing on. Ugh.

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But, we did it. It was two days of hard work, in the hot sun, but we can now say we put up our own barb wire fence. I don’t want to sound like I’m not proud, but it’s pretty obvious when you see it that we did it ourselves. But it does the job we need it to do, and it’s another skill experience we can add to our “Adventure Life Resume”.  Which isn’t a real thing, and pretty much just means this blog. 🙂

If you happened upon this post in hopes of finding a DIY how-to on how to string your own fence, I am SO happy you’re here. But friend, fellow fence builder, please google or pin another post. I am not trying to advise anyone on fencing…But come back soon okay?!

Thank you for reading!! I am working on a special birthday post for next week, so don’t miss it! Put your e-mail into the “Follow our Adventures by email” box so you never miss a post! You can consider it my birthday present. XO, Steph

Two Girls and a Gallery

Brian’s dad recently gave Carolynn a print of two kittens that always hung in his grandmother’s living room. She was over the stinkin’ moon. She hugged it, and exclaimed, “I love it! I’m going to put this in my gallery!”

Where could Carolynn, a 6 year old, have gotten the idea that she wanted a gallery you ask?

Maybe from our stairwell?

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Our hallway?

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The playroom?

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(ugh. That TV is so dirty. Who cleans this place??)

The “office” area?


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That’s not even all of them…When I started writing this, I counted SIX different areas in the house where we have hung pictures, signs, quotes, and treasures in the gallery style.

 Too much? Meh. Oh well.

 Here’s what we were working with in C’s room:

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There were a few character building (for both of us) discussions about listening to other’s ideas, and it’s ok to disagree with someone…..and not interrupting even if you think you don’t like the other person’s idea. Two first born children putting up a gallery wall here. The struggle.

She had a few things already hanging, so “we” (read above paragraph) decided to work on that wall to incorporate what was already on display.

 There were those conversations, building our characters, but we also had a sweet time together making a plan and getting it all put up.

The way I figure out a gallery, is by first laying everything out on the floor. I move this here, that there until it looks right to me. I try to stick to groupings of odd numbers. I also like to balance out one big picture with two smaller ones under/above/next to. Or an item (a wreath, a sign etc) with something less dimensional, like a photo or sign.

Here’s how C’s gallery turned out:

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There’s the kittens! C has done that needlepoint herself. She’s almost finished.

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It still needs some work, but as you can see, she’s pretty pleased with it and there’s room to add on more treasures.

I better get to my “addicted to gallery wall” group meeting! Thanks for reading!!

XO,

Steph

A Deck Built from Railroad Ties and Leftover Wood!

Last week, the kids and I went on a two night trip to visit my grandparents. We love to stay with them and always have such a good time.

I have mentioned before, but Mr. Adventure Life and I both are blessed with really super families. Spending time with our families only reminds us to spend more time with them. We genuinely respect, love and like them.

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Landon with Papa, and one of his “famous” Mickey Mouse pancakes ❤

 

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Playing on the back porch

 

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At the Abilene Zoo, feeding the giraffes


These trips make some really special memories for my kids.  

 So while the kids, mimi and I were playing cards and eating mema’s banana pudding, Brian was working hard at his job job and then coming home to work hard at the Yellow House. What a guy.

 In an attempt to use some leftover railroad ties, Brian came up with a plan using the railroad ties, and some leftover boards and screws from our build (those guys really throw away a lot of usable material) to build a deck for his grill.

 Before we get into it, I would like to mention that I tried to get him to write this post. He was, after all, the one that created, and built his deck……but it’s me, Stephanie. I’ll do my best to describe the process, although I really just want to brag. 🙂

 Using some Pinterest inspiration (Pinspiration, if you please), he came up with his plan to use what we had laying around to build it.

 

Here’s some of that Pinspiration for you:

 http://daisymaebelle.com/railroad-tie-and-concrete-block-deck/


Here’s the Yellow House version:

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Instead of using the concrete blocks like the above blogger suggested, Brian purchased 6 brackets for $1.50 (The TOTAL price of this deck!) which he attached to the ties and used to place the boards. He came up with that himself so that he could use the boards we had. Brains and beauty, people.  I am so impressed!

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I am so proud of this, and him. It was created by Brian, built in four hours (of hard work!), for a TOTAL of $1.50 (for those brackets). It is sturdy, and I think it looks so good. It’s rustic and suited to our house, but was also almost free. But, like many projects, it also provided another learning opportunity.

 “Brian, have you ever built a deck?”

 “Yes, I have. Using discarded scraps and screws actually.”

 Bam.

 *Special shout out to Brian’s dad, too! He also has a paying job, and helped out after work. Hard work runs in the family, I guess. 🙂

The Smiths vs. The Cedars

Remember a while back I mentioned that we were clearing cedar trees around the house? Of course you do, my loyal readers. 😉 In case that doesn’t ring a bell, let me refresh…Since we’ve moved in we have been pulling out and cutting down cedar trees that were clustered around our big, beautiful oak trees. Because of that clearing, we have been able to hang a swing, and make a play area for Miss C to have a tea party (Read about it here).

But, ever since we did all the clearing (cutting, dragging, piling) the trees have been in 9 huge piles around the house. Cute huh? To be honest, it actually didn’t bother me that much. We have had many visitors come stay, and surprisingly, I didn’t worry about having piles of downed trees around.

At my old house, I would have been stressing if I had people coming and there were piles of unraked leaves in the yard. But here, it’s life. If I decided not to have people out because I had unfinished or partially completed projects around, it would be YEARS. YEARS until we could share this place, our life, with our family and friends. So step over the downed trees, drive over the potholes, don’t step in that cow patty and get yerself over here, sweet guests!

Ok, back to the trees….B rented a shredder from a equipment rental company.

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The lesson we learned when we were pulling up and moving the trees is that you need to be completely covered. Long sleeves, pants, gloves. Brian even made himself a pair of wristbands from old socks. Those trees will slice you up. We added ear protection to this step because that sucker was LOUD.

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We would take a tree from the pile, put it in the shredder….oh. It doesn’t fit like that. Try this way. Ouch!  Look out for that giant spider….it was a nasty business, y’all. I received a mean right hook and an unexpected uppercut from some wily tree trunks spitting back out. We were toast. But, we took two days and tackled all 9 of our piles (above picture is of ONE pile) and also 2 piles from another spot on the ranch. We turned all those trees into 11 (surprisingly not that big) piles of mulch.

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While working those two days, the kids were such troopers. They played outside, they played inside, C even made lunch for the two of them.

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Painting on the porch

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Camping out in the back of the van.

This was a challenging project, but another thing that we’ve learned to do here at the ranch. Now we can add, “getting our booties kicked shredding cedar trees” to our adventure life resume.

We are blessed beyond for these opportunities. It is overwhelming, gratifying, exhausting, eye-opening, challenging and exactly what we want to be doing. Well, except for getting my bell rung by tree trunks. Could have done without that.

As always, I appreciate everyone reading and following along with all our adventures.

Adventure Awaits,

Steph