STL250 cake hunting challenge complete!


I’ve been meaning to update you on our STL250 cake hunting adventure. Short story: we finished!

We went to more than 250 different locations in the greater St. Louis area. We logged hours of driving, both to tourist attractions and the middle of nowhere. It took us to places we never knew existed and places we’d always meant to go to. We saw things we will never see again and places we’d like to revisit. We walked across the Mississippi River. It was a nine-month-long adventure in local sightseeing we will likely never repeat.

142-Grants 180-Compton 186-Lafayette 188-Eads

We visited our 250th cake the day after Thanksgiving. But on New Years Eve, we went to see a collection of cakes assembled for New Year’s festivities. It was the perfect cap to our adventure.



Second child catch-up: US map blanket

USA map blanket for kids

The problem with making something for your kid, is that when you have a second kid, you have to make them one too.

I am slowly starting to make amends to Etta, who’s nearly two. Her baby book is empty. We have nearly no framed photos of her on display in the house. I’ve made her things here and there, but there’s a lot of catching up to do. We really do love you, Ettie! Mama just needs to figure out how to add a couple of extra hours to the day.

USA map blanket for kids

Anyway. I made a map blanket for Elise way back in 2011 around the same age that Etta is now, and we’re prepping for a road trip coming soon. Here we go!

I’ve made several of these simple map blankets over the years. They are like a quilt without any quilting: that is, a layer of fabric, a layer of batting, another layer of fabric and then bias tape around the edges. They go together in 1-2 hours. A satisfying little project.

(This is a good step-by-step tutorial, if you are interested in the details.)

Simple pieced quilt backing

I pieced the backing because I am trying to use what I have instead of buying more fabric. It’s taking a while to work through the stash because I don’t sew all that often anymore, but the pile is shrinking!

Want to retrace my map blanket adventures?
Round  1 >>
Round 2 >>

Kids map blanket

Declutter 2015: The Bedroom

Declutter 2015: The Bedroom

Challenge: I am tasking myself with going through my entire house and getting rid of everything that we don’t need anymore. I’m also taking this opportunity to repair things that are broken, eliminate annoyances, develop new systems, and just streamline as much as possible. I’m going to tackle one area/room at a time and won’t move on until that spot is completely done.


I asked my husband which room I should do first, and he suggested our bedroom. Wasn’t my first thought, but he was totally right. So much junk. So many extra clothes. A giant rocking chair from those newborn days piled with clothes. There’s no leeway for unused furniture in a 12×12 room. Out it goes.

Years of pregnancy and nursing put my wardrobe into a state of flux that made it hard to know what was worth keeping, so I just kept it all and the result was a bulging closet.

I tried on every piece of clothing and if it didn’t fit or flatter: gone. Things that needed mending got mended. I found pieces I hadn’t worn in a long time that I should be wearing all the time. All in all, I was able to reduce my wardrobe by 36 pieces and two mate-less socks. Dan got rid of 19 items, and  I also gathered a box full of odds and ends for the trash and donation. I emptied an entire drawer!

Turn hangers backward, then forward after you've worn something

I turned all the hangers backward, and when I wear something (and it’s washed and returned to the closet), I’ll turn the hanger the normal way. Not my trick, but it’s handy for knowing if you’ve worn something recently. If it’s a long-sleeved shirt and I haven’t worn it by July 1, it’s out. And short-sleeved shirts, they have until next January 1. I am also going to try a one-in/one-out system, though I am not really a shopper, so there shouldn’t be much turnover.

Our closet is small by modern standards, but there’s nothing on the floor and nothing on the top shelf either. And I’m going to try to keep it that way, at least for a while.

I had a large bin full of photos and photo albums stuffed in the corner for a long time. (Like maybe nearly two years?!) So I relocated those to the living room to live with other photo albums in this buffet. Some of the photos need to be put in albums, but I will tackle that project when I declutter that room.


One minor annoyance fixed: We have a clothes hamper with a divided liner, and while we use the hamper all the time, we don’t use the divider to sort clothes or anything. Instead, the clothes get thrown on top of the divider, and then the bin is soon overflowing. We’ve been dealing with this stupid issue for years. So finally, I took a pair of scissors and just cut out the divider. Talk about a forehead smacking moment. Now everything is wonderful.

Decluttering the bedroom

Honestly, it usually wasn’t this bad, but after not being able to find something to wear one day, chaos ensued.


Decluttering the bedroom

Ah, much better. And we might give that whole “closing the closet door” thing a try.


One more thing that isn’t quite finished yet: I’m using this opportunity to add some photos of Etta to our family photo gallery wall. Nearly two years old and no photos on the wall. Poor second child. I have some great photos. I have frames. I’m giving myself until the end of February. No excuses.

I have to say that tackling one room at a time has already produced great results. When we were about 80% done, I felt the pull to tear into another room and get rid of junk that was easier to deal with. I really didn’t want to do the annoying stuff like sew buttons, list things on eBay, or find a place to donate odd items. But I pushed through and stuck with it. And now I can really say that room is actually done.

Next up: The dining room. Because hidden junk is often the worst type of junk.

See more bedroom posts >>

Decluttering the bedroom
Declutter 2015: The bedroom
Declutter 2015: The bedroom

Upstairs bathroom renovation update


We are making great progress on our upstairs bathroom renovation. Lots to talk about. I don’t think I ever posted the empty shell of a room. No matter because now, we have framed out walls!

Old, old, very clean photo of what once was

Old, old, very clean photo of what once was

We brought the wall separating the bathroom and the bedroom further into the bedroom about six inches. This gives us the space to put in a 42″ shower (rather than a 36″ shower), which makes all the difference in the world inside the shower, and not all that much difference in the bedroom. Sort of a no-brainer.

The old wall was improperly built anyway, and wasn’t even attached to the ceiling. Once the old shower was gone, you could wiggle it back and forth like a loose tooth. Our house is so awesome.


Oh, and we have a door now! The previous incarnation of this bathroom did not have a door at all. Who does that? Open concept bathrooms should not be a thing that exists.

I chose a two-panel door (from Menards) very similar to the closet doors up here. They aren’t an exact match, as the new one is a shaker-style door and the closet doors have a more traditional tiered inset, but it was the best I could do without investigating expensive options. And I think it’s close enough. I am going to try to match the old brass knobs and that will help to fool the eye even more.



I also finally chose a vanity with a granite top. Sorry for the mess. The entire upstairs is an odd jumble of toys, tools, and trash. I didn’t need granite, but I wanted widespread faucet handles, and that feature apparently is not all that common on pre-made vanities.

Now I just need to figure out what I’m doing about a backsplash since this didn’t come with one. (Should I tile the whole wall, or what?) Also on the decision docket: sconces, floor tile, more shower tile, medicine cabinet or mirror, and probably other things I am not yet aware of.


Reclaimed wood art for my daughters

Art made with reclaimed wood trims, rulers, and other leftovers.

I did not make very many gifts for the holidays this year, but I did manage to squeak in a couple of special pieces for my daughters. Last year, I got caught up in making these works from broken picture frames, wood scraps, old rulers, etc. So naturally, I made a couple of special ones just for them. They fit together as two halves of a whole. A lot of the materials came from the workshops of Dan’s grandpa and my grandpa, but I filled in with scraps of trim. I had been saving those flowers (vintage push-pins maybe?) for a project such as this. Elise loves red, so hers is on the left.

Art made with salvaged wood trims, rulers, and other leftovers.

Art made with salvaged wood trims, rulers, and other upcycled leftovers.

Art made with reclaimed wood trims, rulers, and other leftovers.