December 20, 2013
A few years ago, I got this sparkly advent calendar for 3 dollars at a yard sale. It was really nice and doing it’s job, the only problem was that the compartments behind the doors were so tiny, that really nothing but a piece of chocolate or other unhealthy candy would fit in them. But what I really wanted to sweeten the wait for Christmas, were some small little gifts that wouldn’t disappear in one bite. Especially now that Milo is getting into Legos, the possibilities are endless to make each day of December special.
So I went on Pinterest for the usual inspiration and found this link. It also helped that my friend Kathleen did a similar one last year. Overall this was not a cheap and quick project, but it will hopefully last through Milo’s childhood and pay off in durability and joy. I probably paid about $40 total for all 25 boxes, paint, and decoration supplies. The project took about three evenings to complete = 6 hours. And here it goes.
First I laid out the 25 boxes on a board that I had left over from a different project so that they would spread out nicely and not repeat too much. Then I marked each one for which base color it was to receive, also making sure not to have too many of the same color in the same neighborhood.
The next step was to paint all boxes with craft paints. Milo actually helped with this step. We painted one at a time and then put it right back into its place on the board to keep everything in order.
The main idea of this project was to have Milo involved in decorating the boxes, so I bought a bunch of stickers for easy decorating. But after glueing on 3 stars, he was “getting tired of stickers”. So, most of the decorating was left to me. Lincoln jumped in to create the most elaborate box (guess which one), and I just free-styled all the other ones. I used some glittery scrapbook paper, felt snowflake stickers, star stickers, white puffy paint, and a glitter marker. To keep things cohesive it probably helps sticking to 4-5 colors. And I made sure to use at least two of those colors on each box and sticking with winter motives like snowflakes, pine trees, snowmen, stars, etc.
Next, I whitewashed the wooden board. Whitewashing or any color washing is soo easy I can’t believe I ever bought wood stain. Just water down any existing paint (I do around 1:1 ratio, but you can water it down further to have it more transparent) and then brush on the wood. It gives the wood a soft tint while still showing the grain. After it all dried, I sealed the board with Polycrylic – another recent discovery of mine. Somehow I always thought that Polyurethane is the number one top coat to use. But Polycrylic is much less smelly, dries faster, smoother, and cleans up easily with water. It also won’t yellow over time.
Finally, it was time to attach the boxes to the board. Because I have had some incidents with hot glue losing its power from one Christmas season to the next from being exposed to all sorts of temperatures while stored in the attic, I wanted to be safe and not only used hot glue, but also drilled one small screw through the back of each box. I screwed a string picture hook in the back and hung the final product out of Felix’s reach on a wall.
Next year, it’s Felix’s turn to get one of these.
November 21, 2013
Most ridiculous statement from the guy who never WANTS to eat: “I never get any food here!”
Linc: “Milo, you are smart.”
Milo: “No, I’m not.”
Linc: “Yes, you are. I know you’re smart because you are my son.”
Milo: “Are you kidding me?”
Nic: “What should Bobo (guy in a book) do to reach up to the door?”
Milo: “Jump real high like Ironman.”
Milo discovered Siri: “Call firetruck.”
Siri: Sorry, I can’t find a contact called Bye Chuck. Would you like me to search the web for it?”
Milo: “Please call firetruck, please, please.”
Nic: “Milo, do you want to play soccer?”
Milo jumping on the couch: “Not now. I’m playing the boring game. It’s called jumping is boring.”
Milo gives Nic a flower. Much later on: “You have to run when you play soccer. Not stand. If you don’t run, I’m gonna take your flower away.”
Nic to Milo sitting on the toilet: “Hurry up, I need to pee too.”
Milo: “Hold your penis so it doesn’t come out.”
Nic: “I don’t have a penis.”
Milo: “That’s because you are a girl. But my girls at school have penises, cause they are my friends.”
Some time close to Halloween.
Milo: “Mom, I know what’s inside of us. We have bones inside.”
Nic: “And what do the bones do?”
Milo:”They scare people.”
Milo farts and says: “Oh no! Now I’m gonna get small again like a balloon.”
Milo brings a bunch of superhero masks to Linc and Nic and says: “Come on guys, let’s hero up!”
September 24, 2013
Here it is – my latest project, my biggest pride, my baby, the reason for many sleepless nights. Seriously, the amount of nightmares and mind-spinning nights I had over greeNEWit’s office space is a little ridiculous. In case you haven’t noticed, I deeply identify with and care about my company. This has been my first and only job and I’ve been with the company almost since the very beginning. greeNEWit is more than a 9-5 gig, it’s my home during the day, where I can be with friends and do something meaningful. Therefore it was the greatest honor, but also most serious tasks for me to create a new home for greeNEWit.
In August we had to leave the residential home that we had slowly been taken over and grew out of over the past years. The guys found a really nice and bright space with lots of potential. You just had to see past all the tiny cave-style office rooms, divider walls, green marbled wall paper, cream trim, and brown carpet.
The place was terribly outdated and boring, but we were getting a completely free renovation with the lease. My dreams went wild with endless possibilities. Until I learned that my budget to furnish the new home was about as much as other companies spend on a good conference table alone. Nothing my thrifty DIY self can’t handle, but ugh, this meant way more labor and less bottomless shopping than hoped for.
First step on the agenda: tear down a bunch of walls and open up the dungeony dark center. This was the original floor plan of the entire third floor and the yellow lines mark the walls that are to crumble to dust forever. (Later we ripped out another room to let more light to the kitchen area)
And here you can see the southern portion of the floor that greeNEW is leasing and how all the walls had to go bye bye.
The goal was to create a bright, modern, cozy, and inspiring place. This was the idea, created with floorplanner.com. For a fully maneuverable 3D model, click here.
Because of the limited budget, I had to work with the pieced together furniture that we already had, but did not want to compromise on style again like we did over the past years. So, a lot of furniture makeovers were in order. Everything that didn’t have a matching wood finish (birch or bamboo), had to change its look.
Tables in various shades of brown were greeNEWified.
Our old black conference table got a new coat of black spray paint on the legs and a shiny new birch table top slapped on (made from a$50 piece of plywood).
In the meantime the contractors were hard at work tearing out walls, removing wallpaper, rewiring, patching, painting, and laying floors.
To make things even more challenging, I imposed a rule on myself to get only meaningful wall art instead of just pretty stuff. So of course, I had to make it myself. Here are just a few initial pieces to start out with. More to come over the next months.
greeNEWit signature wall. Bamboo installed by Richard Hammond Builders, sign by image360.
Icon wall tiles with representations of what we do and stand for. I used stock icons, printed them big, and glued on MDF squares.
Triptychon of our old greeNEWit home.
Super large wall decal for our Rec-room ordered from Coocoodecal on Etsy.
Together with two of my coworkers the kitchen got transformed from the orange old oak to a crisp white.
Now we just need a new dishwasher and maybe do something about the greenish marbled countertop some day.
After 3.5 weeks of renovations our new office was finally ready for move-in. The whole team pitched in to set everything up for working conditions within one day. I’ll probably do a separate post on direct comparisons of before and after pictures. So without further ado, here is a tour of our brand spanking new greeNEWit office. Just look past the mostly blank walls and a few unmatched pieces of furniture. We’ll get there by the end of the year.
September 23, 2013
I have been absent for over two months – just the usual craziness. Plus some extra on top. You know, working a full time job (I might not have updated my job status in a while, but at the beginning of this year I became responsible for building up a whole new business line for greeNEWit, which means tons of work to be completed only on my own and not being able to take much of a break), and being a full time mom with mostly sick kids. Seriously, every two weeks another type of sickness strikes. On top of working over time in two jobs, I also had to prepare for our trip to Germany, plan a bachelorette weekend and some wedding surprises for my friend Johanna. And then in August, greeNEWit suddenly had to move out of our old home office and find a new office space. Well, guess who gladly volunteered to take full charge of all interior design related tasks for the new office space and couldn’t bear to deliver a nothing but perfect space, therefore adding about another 20 hours per week to my work load for the past 5 weeks? Yep, that’s me.
But now, we are in vacation mode. As much vacation as is possible with two little kids, one of them called Felix the Destructor. But there are some additional helping hands here, more sleep, and almost no work to do. So, I’m gonna try to catch up on all blogging now. Now or never. Up first, the office space reveal – my biggest pride.
July 6, 2013
July 6, 2013
This year I was really determined to spend as much time outside as possible. Before I knew that it’s gonna be on of the wettest spring / summer in history. So instead of being trapped inside because of the cold, we are now banned from the outside by constant wetness. Rain, rain go away!
Nonetheless, our outdoor spaces got some nice small updates to make them family friendly should any day unexpectedly turn out rain free.
In the front yard we had that spiky ground cover bush going on that was really good for trash and leaves getting stuck in it, but not for hanging out front to watch our kids play.
One sunny day I went at it and just ripped it all out. It all originated in just 3 plants and the roots were all intertwined with the tree’s roots, so much sweat was shed. But all worth it afterwards. The home owners association sent the landscapers out to even things out and put down sod.
Just a few weeks later – thanks to the rain – everything was lush and green and all set for mini picnics. The flowers grew in almost too much, so I might transplant them to the backyard next year or extend the flowerbed a little.
In the backyard we took on a pain-in-the-butt project that was long needed. Previously the deck was all taken over by bikes, trash cans, and other stuff. Apparently it was not even picture worthy. So we decided to extend our patio by just a few square feet on each side of the deck stairs in order to tuck things away. For being such a small area, it was kind of a big project. Digging out dirt, hauling in gravel and sand and pavers, cutting wood borders, etc.
Daddy helped Milo do it and over the course of the following weeks I actually got around to cleaning up other junk that had accumulated around our deck, regraded the soil below our deck to prevent water damage in the basement, and painted the wooden border with leftover deck paint.
Now this whole area is just way more functional and neat without spending a fortune.
The bikes and trash cans have space on the new paved corners and make room on the original patio to even grow three big planters full of veggies.
And then it was time to do something about our deck. I mean, it was all nicely renovated and painted, but came out a little too neutral / brown / blah.
With the help of some paint on the herb pots and new pillows …
… as well as a red solar lantern, and rope lights that I wrapped all around our deck, it’s now a lot more cheerful and moody to spend summer evenings.
And who would have thought – by the time I finally get to finish this post, the summer actually has made an appearance and I am typing this as I am sipping a glass of wine on the deck. Happiness.
June 10, 2013
Some days I feel completely overwhelmed by the workload of a full time job, taking care of kids, and running a household. Other days I am full of energy and everything feels like a piece of cake. One day I will look at back at this post and wonder how we managed to make a living, have a homemade meal on the table every day, and keep the kids entertained. The truth is, we can’t always fulfill all needs and wants. But we are doing our best. This is what a typical day in our life in April 2013 looks like:
5 AM: Felix wakes up, but I just give him a bottle, change his diapers, and turn the lights off again. He better learn early on that I am not to be disturbed before a certain time and he can tend to himself if he really needs to be up before the birds. Usually he just chills in his bed or falls back asleep for another hour or two.
6 AM: Felix wakes up for real now, if he wasn’t already awake at 5. Time for his milk, diaper change, and getting him into some clothes. This is his and my hour before everybody Milo wakes up. I might take a shower while Felix watches the water drip down. Then I make lunch for Milo and Felix and I play for a little bit.
7 AM: Milo wakes up. Like clock work. Because of his Gro Clock. Still the best kids related purchase ever. I can’t wait for Felix to be old enough to follow it. Sometimes I hear Milo up before 7, but he just goes potty by himself and then goes back to bed until the sun shows. “Mami, Sonne is da!” is my cue to bring him his milk. It usually takes him about half an hour to really want to get up and get going, so Felix and Milo and me hang out in his room together an chat about the upcoming day.
7:30 AM: Milo is ready to climb my back and ride downstairs. All kids and me have breakfast together. Sometimes I have to actively feed all three people, because Milo is too distracted or unmotivated to eat.
8 AM: Milo plays by himself, while I pack up my stuff, clean up the kitchen, and finish packing his school bag.
8:30 AM: Felix is either ready for a nap or I hand him over to Lincoln. Either way it’s time for Daddy to wake up. Milo and I leave for the day.
9 AM: Milo’s preschool starts, Mama goes to work, Daddy and Felix stay at home. Felix usually takes one nap in the morning and (unless he is sick) is pretty happy chewing on something or jumping in his bouncer, so that Lincoln can get about two hours worth of work done.
12:30 PM: Lincoln packs up Felix and they pick up Milo from school, which ends at 1PM. They all go to Lincoln’s parents house, where Milo takes a long nap and Felix is being cared for by the grandparents or auntie Rosie. Usually he takes another nap. Then the kids play for the rest of the afternoon.
5 PM: I get home and seize my golden hour before the rest of the family gets home. Now is the time to prepare a quick dinner, pick up stuff around the house or finish some home decor projects. Ideally, dinner was prepared the night before and is already cooking in the crockpot, but that only happens about once a week. Usually I try to make quick stuff like stews, pasta, or burgers and we make enough for two days so that less cooking is required. This is the most productive hour of my day.
6 PM: Lincoln and the kids come home. Felix is usually tired enough to go to bed right away, so I give him his bottle, change into PJs, and put him to bed. If he had a late nap, he might stay up for dinner with us. We all try to eat together, although Milo sometimes already comes home fully fed.
6:30 PM: Play time. This is really the one hour of the day where I try not to worry about getting stuff done and Lincoln and I play with Milo. Usually lots of wrestling, playing some sort of ball sport, or running around is involved.
7:30 PM: Time to get ready for bed. On bath nights we go upstairs closer to 7:15. While I wash Milo, brush his teeth, and read a book with him, Lincoln takes a nap on the couch.
8 PM: Kids free time begins! For Lincoln that usually means getting back to the computer to work, but depending on how much he got done during the day he might also tend to computer games, watch hockey, or work out in the basement. My idea of a good time is working on home decor projects or working on home decor projects. Once or twice a week we hang out together and watch ER or do what couples do. Somehow however, around 4 out of 7 evenings end up being used for errands. The list of things to do is endless: do laundry, pay bills, do financial planning, write blog posts, prepare my lunches for the week, go grocery shopping, stay in touch with people, research kids activities, etc.
10 PM: Is my average bed time. Sometimes it’s half an hour earlier, sometimes later, but you bet that I regret that the next day. Lincoln keeps working / enjoying quiet time much later.
2 AM: Lincoln goes to bed. All lights go out. The house sleeps.