A few weeks ago somebody (Brian) left the leaky shower hose out of the tub in Claire and Bea's bathroom. We didn't discover the dripping problem until probably a whole day later and by then the whole bathroom carpet was a squishy puddle. So we tried to dry the carpet by pulling it up a little and running fans for a long time. That didn't work - and worse it spread a mildewy smell all over the house. Yuck. Brian decided, rather quickly, that the carpet was never going to dry and even if it did we were sick of that disgusting bathroom carpet. So he took it out in one fell swoop and put it at the side of the road for the trash man. Then we were left with the old, old black linoleum tile floor. It seems like it might be origional to the house. The tiles are popping up all over and there are splotches of paint here and there. I tried to scrub it down so we could live with it a bit, but it just turned my rag black.
So now we find ourselves in the middle of another renovation project. Really I'm not sad at all - I couldn't wait to get rid of that gross carpet. And since we moved in I have been dying to know if we could use the painted over tile in the bathrooms. The tile has all been painted in a creamy white and it doesn't look good. I've been crossing my fingers that we would discover the tile underneath is fine - it goes part way up the walls and it's nice thick old tile. As long as it is in pretty good shape I am willing to work with most any color. So far the tile seems to be in good shape. I've been working away at removing the paint so we can decide on a floor color and get moving with this project. The best way I found to remove the paint is by steaming it with the same machine that I used to remove the TV room wallpaper. I figure it will be easiest to get both upstairs bathrooms done at once.
In the girls' bathroom I revealed yellow tile - I'm fine with that. I'll use mostly white everywhere else in the room. We don't want it to end up looking like Ronald McDonald's bathroom so we'll replace the red sinks with white ones.
In my (and Brian's) bathroom I found turquois blue tile with black along the top and bottom. I'll never understand why the former owners painted the white tub a turquois color and changed the turquois walls to white - the color scheme is not that different from the original. It just looks like bad thick paint instead of shiney clear tiles. Again I think I'd like to make the walls and everything else white. As much as I like green, I don't want to keep the green toilet and the green sink. Nope.
So I origionally thought I wanted a gray tile for the new floors but after looking at a few and being swayed by low prices I think we'll go with basic small white mosaic tiles.
This type is the winner right now:
In the meantime our stairs are half sanded waiting to be painted and there are light fixtures sitting in the hall waiting to go up. Pretty much everything from the stairs up in our home looks bad right now. I hope to finish a project soon. And so it goes...
Happy Birthday honey - we love you. It's nice to be the same age as you for a few months so you can't tease me about my old age. Now let's talk about the cake (ha ha).
I tried a new recipe. Maybe you've heard of it, a chocolate icebox cake. It was the easiest cake ever. You have to get two boxes of Nabisco Chocolate Wafers (I found them at my grocery store) and you need some whip cream and that's it. After you layer the cookies and cream you put it in the fridge overnight so the cookies get soft and cake like. Bea said it was the best cake ever. We all loved it and it's the perfect cake for summer since you don't have to turn on the oven. Here's the recipe from Smitten Kitchen.
We were so lucky to escape to the mountains for the second time this summer. This time we were in Colorado and we were surrounded by family too.
We started out by spending a few days at Dave and Kim's house. We loved their firepit for roasting marshmallows and they have the most beautiful big green prairie area near their house. Claire would not be separated from sweet Maddie for the whole trip.
Then we drove to the mountains. We stayed in a house along Grand Lake on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. I got to spend lots of time reading on the house's peaceful deck while hummingbirds visited a feeder next to me. It was heaven. Grand Lake is the largest natural lake in Colorado which is surprising because it's little. The town of Grand Lake was sweet and had a kitchy western historical feel. The main street was lined with deck style wood sidewalks - it was fun to stroll along looking at touristy moose t-shirts in shop windows and stopping to buy ice cream.
Then we hit the trails - my favorite part.
Phillip and Bea hit it off and scurried down the hiking trail like little mountain goats.
It would not have been my first choice, but the older Chapman cousins convinced us all to ride go carts. The kids loved it. I just laughed and Claire kept reminding me that I was in last place.
The kids went swimming in Grand Lake - brrrrrrr.
The second hike was a long sunny trip to a waterfall. Grandma and I bailed out part way through, but I was really proud that all the kids did it because it was around seven miles. Claire had lots of help from Brian and Dave's shoulders.
On the last day of our trip Brian and Dave did the Triple Bypass. The Triple Bypass is a very difficult bike ride that goes over 3 mountain passes. Dave did the ride last year also. Here's the info from the website: The ride is 120 miles from Evergreen over Juniper Pass (11,140 ft.), Loveland Pass (11,990 ft.), Swan Mountain and Vail Pass (10,560 ft.), concluding in Avon. The ride has over 10,000 ft. of challenging elevation gain!
The rest of us played team car and met Brian and Dave a couple times along the route and then at the finish line. The mountains were so beautiful and we were all so proud to be cheering the dads on. I could tell Brian was really happy (and tired) when he finished - he just feels good when he's climbing mountains.
Wow - that was a lot of photos! We always have a great time with Dave and Kim and Sophie and Maddie and Ryan and Phillip - they are a big fun family (and Grandma too). Thanks guys!
We just returned home from a great trip to Colorado, but I had to run out and get some photos of my garden before I even looked at the vacation pictures. I couldn't wait to see how my beloved little garden was doing. It's doing great! I picked a whole big bowl of beans. And the row of bean seeds (succession planting) that we planted a couple days before we left had, shockingly, turned into a row of healthy little bean plants.
The tomatoes are coming along too - lots of green ones. I definitely need to do a better job with cages and stakes next year. But I'm having so much fun thinking of what I can change and try for the future.
We were also greeted with our purple coneflower blooms and the big hydrangea blooms. They are some of the good things that were here when we moved in last summer.
Every time I go to the vegetable gardens at the Chicago Botanic Garden I can't help but snap a hundred pictures. I just can't get enough of those beautiful vegetables and herbs!
I love this herb garden - it's the size of my whole vegetable garden.
Tomatoes for miles!
I want to try potatoes next year.
More of those big cabbages. The light was so pretty on them!
And here's some of my lettuce harvest.
After recovering from jet lag and finishing the mountain of laundry we are in full on Summer mode around here. We've been chasing lightning bugs, making lemonade, going to the pool, eating lots of ice cream cones and waking up late.
Last week the girls and I picked strawberries. They were really cute (the girls not the strawberries). I had to keep reminding Claire to pick just the good bright red ones. Bea was a great picker and at the end she got really excited when I said she could get another basket and fill it for her friend Mabel.
We enjoyed some yummy strawberry shortcake and I made some freezer jam. Mmmmmm.
Tonight we went over to the botanic garden. We had a relaxing evening walk and then we had a picnic while we listened to a concert. It was lovely and breezy out. We only missed Brian - who is traveling.
Well, Switzerland did not disapoint us. There were some things that I needed to be reminded of after a year. I was reminded how much I love the cheese. I was reminded how amazingly efficienct the Swiss are. I was reminded how tiring it is to travel internationally with kids. We had a great time!
The morning after we arrived someone would not get up for breakfast so Brian had some sent to the room. Everything was so lovely at our old hotel - right down to the shiney heavy coffee pots.
For the first chunk of our trip we stayed in Sils, a small town in the eastern mountainous area. The highlight was the great hiking we got to do.
This is a Larch tree blossom. The hotel china had a delicate pattern of larch tree branches and blossoms. The woods and the meadows were so pretty with early spring flowers blooming everywhere we looked.
Here's the veiw from our hotel room. Aaah - just gazing out the window put me in a relaxed mood.
For our biggest hiking day we walked all along the Silsersee (a lake next to the hotel) and then took a boat back.
See the milk pails below. Brian was charmed that he ate some delicious cheese for breakfast and then saw the very cows that the cheese came from on our hike... or was it goats (we saw both).
It was so nice that we could just step out the hotel door and have great hikes that the girls could handle. We stopped in a village for lunch.
I watched this sailboat zip around the lake for a long time. I was wishing I could be sailing too.
That's our hotel in the distance - the big white building.