Dakota: Four Years Old!

The photo was just a month late. ha. The interview only just happened this week though…

What is your favorite color? Pink, ย purple, and orange

What is your favorite animal? Bunny rabbits

What is your favorite book? Elmo

What is your favorite TV show? Masha and the Bear

What is your favorite movie? Frozen [still some prompting required to explain the difference between a TV show and a movie]

What is your favorite song? “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

What is your favorite food? Mint chocolate chip ice cream

What is your favorite drink? Chocolate milkshake

What is your favorite clothes? Shark dress [she was wearing it when I asked, may have answered differently if she was dressed differently]

What is your favorite game? Sago Mini Pet Cafe [a mobile app that she just downloaded a few days ago]

What is your favorite toy? Unicorn stuffy

Who is your best friend? ย Aria and Kimberly

What is your favorite thing to do? Playing pretend

What is your favorite thing to do outside? Playing basketball

What is your favorite holiday? Valentine’s Day

Where is your favorite place to go? Swim class

What do you want to be when you grow up? An astronaut

What did you do on your birthday? Eat cake

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Dakota helped decorate the shirt this time. ๐Ÿ™‚ Past years:

3 years

2 year

1 year

Mal: One Year Old!

And now to execute my new master plan of keeping the kid progress photos going entirely on my phone. No more fancy camera and downloading and editing on my computer and all that jazz. So here we are! Of course the photo was taken 3 weeks late and it’s been several more months since then, but whatever! Keep the dream alive! ๐Ÿ™‚


(Link to Dakota at one year.)

Mal’s Monthly Photos Combined

I went back through Mal’s photos and redid the cropping so that they were all the same size. It was much easier compared to Dakota’s since the background blanket had a repeating pattern on it. If I ever do this again I’m just going to throw a yardstick in the photos, that’ll make it super simple. ๐Ÿ™‚

mal 1 year combined

Here’s Dakota’s:

Combined Photos

And here’s Mal’s 1 month and 12 month next to each other. Spoiler alert: He got bigger!!

mal 1 month 049Mal 12 months 019

Mal: Twelve Months Old

Woo-hoo I managed all 12 months! This last one was actually taken just 3 days late, but then it took me another 3 months to get it off my camera. Sigh.

Mal 12 months

(previous even months)

Mal 10 monthsMal 8 monthsmal 6 monthsMal 4 monthsmal 2 months

(Here’s the link to Dakota at 12 months)

The Garden Report

I’m way overdue for some birthday posts, but we spent today puttering around the garden and the yard in general, so I snapped a bunch of pics and will just talk about that instead. 

I tend to be pretty optimistic on my seedling starting dates, so unfortunately my basil and tomatoes are more than ready to go in the ground… but we have some predicted overnight lows of 45*F this week, so I’m trying to hold off on transplanting for now. My system of leaving the tomato pots out during the day and tossing my PVC pipe coldframe on them at night has been working quite well though. Here are the 16 plants that fit in the cold frame, they’re in 1 gallon pots, and the coldframe is sitting in the background, where I generally leave it during the day:


The wire fencing was an impromptu barrier against a rampaging toddler. 

The rest of my seedlings mostly stay on this little “greenhouse shelf”:

Because the basil plants are still in 4″ pots I worry about them not retaining enough heat at night so I’ve been bringing them in pretty much every night that’s supposed to get under 50*. I’m getting pretty sick of it though, so I think I’ll go ahead and stick them in the ground on the warmest looking night this week and hope for the best. I do have a bunch of individual plastic cloches, so I’m thinking I’ll cover them for the first few nights, but after that I think I’ll just wish them good luck and call it done. 

I’m trying again with peppers despite last year’s failure, but this year I’m going to be much more serious about keeping them warm, so I’ll be babying them along in individual pots for quite awhile. I may not put them into the ground until June. I had them on the greenhouse shelf with the basil, but it’s been cold enough I finally decided to bring them back into the garage with the warminb mat underneath and the grow light on top:


It feels so silly to have them under grow lights when it’s so nice and spring-like outside, but it’s not supposed to even get up to 70* for the next week. Bah. 

Moving back outside, here are some new things I’m trying this year… potatoes (foreground box) and snap peas (background box):


I planted them both in February, but they spent a  lot of time doing nothing and then finally went to town once it stopped raining. I used the hoop over the potatoes to throw plastic over them and keep the rain off so they wouldn’t get too waterlogged. Once they’re done I’m going to refill the box with soil and put green beans in on a trellis. The trellis that’s currently holding the peas in the other box will get spaghetti squash in a month or so. 

Here’s my garlic (going great) and broccoli (why can’t I grow straight broccoli? Sad face):


Oh and I have volunteer cilantro all over the place. ๐Ÿ™‚

And here’s some spinach that’s kinda growing. And non-existent carrots. (I sowed seeds and saw some growth but it’s gone now.) And kale that seems to have survived being transplanted:


Perhaps the spinach would grow better if the toddler didn’t sit on it? Anyway, this is the “partially shaded” box, but it’s a lot less shady now because we just had the tree people in to lop the top off our elderberry:


Okay, that photo isn’t terribly illuminating, but just take my word for it that it’s a lot shorter now. ๐Ÿ™‚

Moving along, I got more bare root strawberries this year, and they’re already a lot bigger than when I tried to plant them last year. Good job, self. Here they are, in the foreground and along the left side:

The two new strawberry boxes, the ones in the foreground, should get some afternoon shade, so I’m hoping the plants won’t fry the way they did last year. 

One last picture… a friend gave me some calendula seeds last year, which I just tossed around near the back corner of the yard and then ignored. They’ve been happily growing and reseeding themselves ever since:


I really should do a post about that chicken run thing at some point. Ah well. ๐Ÿ™‚

Full-Sized Loft Bed DIY

We’ve just had a full-sized mattress on the floor of our kid’s bedroom (really it’s just the playroom, shhhh) from the start. But I’m all about maximizing space, oh and I had a loft bed growing up so I’m sold on their fun-value. Thus the whirlwind decision to completely custom build a loft bed frame. And here it is completed!!

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The room is pretty small, so I knew I wanted to save as much space as possible, with two sides bolted into the wall rather than freestanding on 4 legs. On the flip side I loved the idea of a hidey-hole and some different areas for playing and hanging out. Thus the idea to have stairs leading up to a platform, and then just a short ladder going the rest of the way to the bed.

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The stairs have storage cubbies underneath of course.

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And under the platform is the hidey-hole. I got some glow-in-the-dark stars for us to eventually add in there, and it could probably use some oversized floor pillows, but for now it’s just a blank slate.

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I scoured the internet and Pinterest for ideas on how to construct the whole thing. I got some great inspiration, but in the end I pretty much made it up as I went along. Here are a few progress shots on the construction, but honestly even contemplating writing up a full how-to is overwhelming, so I’ll pass on that for now.

The initial bed platform:

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Adding legs:

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Bed and lower platform each bolted to the wall:

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Adding trim to the stair cubbies:

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The room already had yellow stripes on the ceiling, but Dakota loves purple. That back wall used to be a dark gray, but it was in need of some major touch ups before we started this project. So we decided to keep it dark but repainted it purple instead of gray, and then worked the yellow, purple, and white in for a super-colorful piece of construction!

I just plopped the road rug and some existing toy bins down for now, I guess we’ll see how this space evolves over time. Maybe some shelves or a small art table? The one thing for sure that needs to happen is some new lighting. I’ve already bought a flush mount ceiling light to replace the current drum shade, and we’ll probably get some sort of tube or twinkle lights for under the bed and inside the hidey hole.

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And we’re contemplating some sort of covering/guardrail for the window, probably not too surprising considering the platform location and height. Also I need to give the closet area on the opposite wall a makeover; I’m leaning toward painting the trim white and the interior purple, kinda mirroring the stairs. Also, since I ditched the clunky closet doors, maybe I could add a curtain of some sort to hide the mess when we want to pretend to be tidy people. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Bonus: the big green rug that’s been in there forever doesn’t fit anymore (it’s probably for the best because despite being very high quality, it really didn’t match the yellow and purple) so we’re trying it out in the living room. I’m expecting it to be ruined in short order like all our other living room rugs, but who knows? For now it looks great.

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2017 Garden Planning

Last year was my most successful year ever in the veggie garden, which means I actually harvested something! So the bar is not set terribly high for me to do even better this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

Spaghetti Squash: this was my big winner, I think I ended up with about 10 squashes off of 2 plants, out of the 4 that I initially planted. Here’s how they looked midway through last season:

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My biggest learning there was to make sure I put something over the newly planted seeds and then the new seedlings until they get established. My first attempt I think a squirrel came through and dug everything up, so my second attempt I put overturned buckets over the newly planted spots. But then I don’t think the trellises I had were big enough for 4 full-sized plants anyway, so I’ll have to up my trellis game this year. We do spaghetti squash basically once a week all fall and winter, so I need more!

Tomatoes: similarly, I got 4 good-sized seedlings transplanted, but 2 thrived and 2 limped along until I finally pulled them. I thought I got them in pretty early but they took a loonnnggggg time to finally really start setting lots of fruit. Possibly the soil mix wasn’t very good, Or I planted them too deep and they spent all their energy making new roots? At any rate, I was finally harvesting lots of fruit and many more green ones were forming when it finally got too cold back in early November-ish. I was super happy with the trellises we made out of trellis netting and electrical conduit for a frame. Here’s how it looked early in the season (I don’t seem to have a photo from the end of the season, but the plants were almost to the top!):

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The problem is I don’t really have all that much raised bed space, especially if I want to actually, you know, rotate my crops each season. So I’m going to be brave and plant them… gasp… in the ground this year! There’s a big spot, about 4 feet wide by 24 feet long, on the side of the house, that up to this point I’ve just used to stash random yard stuff and junk intended for the landfill. I haven’t been deliberately amending the soil, but I’ve been throwing layers of cardboard and mulch there ever since we moved in to keep the weeds at bay. So the top 6 inches or so look pretty nice, then it gets dense and clay-like. So for now I’ll throw a bunch of compost on top. And in April I’ll dig big holes and add fun amendments and stuff in with my tomato seedlings and hope for the best! Here’s how the space look right now:

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Other stuff: I’m putting hoops on one of my raised beds, I’m hoping to use row cover to keep it shady and a little cooler, maybe it’ll help the broccoli, spinach, and cilantro when things get hot in the summer?ย  I’ve ordered more bare-root strawberries, and I might try putting row cover over them in the summer too. I’m going to try some peas on last year’s tomato trellis this spring. And I’m going to try filling one of my 3’x3′ beds with potatoes. Potatoes! Crazy!

I’ve also ordered some bare-root blueberries, but the spot I have picked out for them is on the other side of the yard, and I’m going to build a new raised bed to hopefully keep the soil appropriately acidic and keep the bermuda grass out. I think that will kinda be a separate project from the rest of the garden, we’ll see.

Gardeningย  things are happening!

Mal: Eleven Months Old

Hurray! This pic was only 6 days late. I might even be on a trajectory of taking his 1 year photo on is actual birthday! (Ha. Ha. Suuuurreee.)

Mal 11 months

(Previous odd months)

Mal 9 months

mal 7 months

mal 5 months

mal 3 months

mal 1 month

(Dakota at 11 months)

Mal: Ten Months Old

Almost caught up. Here’s Mal at “10 months” (Taken on 12/21, so 19 days late. Still got it done though!):

Mal 10 months
(Previous even months)

Mal 8 months

mal 6 months

Mal 4 months

mal 2 months

(Here’s the link for Dakota at 10 months.)

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Mal: Nine Months Old

Still playing catch-up. Here he is at 9 months (taken on 11/18, so 16 days late, yeesh):

Mal 9 months
(Previous odd months)

mal 7 months

mal 5 months

mal 3 months

mal 1 month

(Dakota at 9 months)