Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Kitchen

Our house is by no means "made over." We have made a huge dent in our winter to do list though. 
Please come in.

This post is going to be pretty direct - as in "this is this and that is that" kind of directness. Not a lot of flowery business as I have a pineapple waiting to be eaten. 

This is the view from our front door. We loved the high ceilings...also the fireplace (not necessarily the way the fireplace looks but just the fact that we have one.)
We loathed the wall in the center of the room (kitchen is behind there.) Plus, I'm not a fan of having a wall that doesn't actually go to the ceiling - I really don't see the point except like my mom said "people don't see your dirty dishes." That's when I answered "yes, but where's the transparency in that?" Anyhoo...It would coming down shortly after the before mentioned conversation. 
note to self : you are getting flowery

So then walking around the wall you have the dining room and a little doorway leading into the kitchen.

I've seen uglier chandeliers ... but I'm pretty sure as soon as I looked at this one my brain went through a slide show over every light fixture I've ever seen that I would prefer to this one. I love the window with it's view ... it's needs wide farmhouse trim around it (and I have a Pintrest Pin for that one ... and a man that likes to make me happy.)

And here's the kitchen. Honey oak cabinets, faux wood counter tops, and linoleum floors. What's not to love?

Notice the placement of the fridge - cuddling up to that wall that must come down. You two have had a good run but this is where you say goodbye. I'm pretty sure as soon as I stepped into this house my brain was screaming in Viking tones "we must conquer that wall!!!!" 

This is the far wall ... where I imagined the fridge being moved to with a snap and wink and a wiggle of my big nostriled nose.

The 6 week makeover begins ....
We took off all the cabinets and sanded them down , removed hardware ...

... and gave them a nice coating of this lovely blue. 
~Sherwin Williams Indigo Batik ~

My dream was to always have a few glass doors so I could see my pretty dishes. However, at the cost of cabinets compared to the cost of paint ... the budget won . Easy peasy lemon squeezy ... just removed the door. I like the way the dishes play of the blue , makes me happy. 

Then there was that light fixture to replace...
Before we even moved into the house I had this Rustic Wire Chandelier from World Market all picked out and my pennies saved. However, they ran out of stock online and in all of the Denver stores. Once again, the Springs to the rescue ... the World Market near (read that as TWO MILES from my house near) had one left in stock. Yah me.

And then... the wall came down.
 Unfortunately for us, as anyone who has ever done a house remodel or watched even one episode of HGTV anything, there was a rather large pipe off to the left side. Now, the one you are currently look at isn't that pipe. The other one was larger...and twisted at the top. Our plan was to make a big island in the center of the room ... plan was still on except now we would have to build ( "we" as "Zac" ) a decorative post around it. This is where flexibility is a very very good thing.
 For the actual base of our soon to be island we pieced together different cabinets and drawers sets we found at Habitat for Humanity. Buy used and save the difference. Or in our case, buy used and spend the difference...take your pick.

For the island top we ordered this bit of barn wood loveliness from a local craftsman. He makes them at his house and we chanced supporting local instead of taking our dollars to Ikea - I love it.

Then came the painting of the cabinets... this part still isn't quite finished even though we have it all set up in our house. We still need to do a second coat and then put the sealant over it (helps with all those little finger prints and pencil marks we found around here.)

It's coming together. Notice the post ? Yah, my man did that himself - I sometimes handed him a nail gun or what not ... at one point I was told to "squeeze the post as hard as I could." That was awkward. We still have to stain it but I rather love it - I have the perfect little basket waiting to be hung off the side to store cookbooks. 

Here's the view from the door ... notice the table full of stuff. Not having cabinets is a situation I've decided to never live through again.

And here's the kitchen up to now...
You will notice that there is some patchwork needed on that wall closest to us...or your computer screen...or the entry on the right side....
We still have to paint the edging on the island - Zac wrapped it in shiplap to give me a bit of the "Fixer Upper" look. There is one pendant light hanging and the other one will be installed in the next couple of weeks - we're waiting for a hole in the roof to be patched and textured before hanging it. 

We love the island top (at this point you will most likely note the unfinished wall in the background...we decided to take out a closet...more on the when's and why's and how's in a later post.) Oh...and side note ... how do you like the bar stools? Yah, we looked them up online and each one is selling for $80 - $120 EACH
Ridiculous ...but in our brains those were the kind that we wanted because :
1. They don't spin
2. You just have to wipe them off
3. We were tired of buying everything old and having to paint it
4. We really like some rustic modern flare

So I say to Zac "Why don't you look on Craigslist?"
 Bingo - a lady about 8 minutes from our house was selling a set of four for 95 bucks. 
Dear Readers...that is how the Divine Himself provides for us and grants even the small desires of our hearts. When we give Him our gratitude for even small things...a bar stool or a pretty window... He smiles and sometimes even gives you more. He loves gratitude and cheerful giving.

The fridge did indeed fit perfectly on the far wall. Zac found the upper cabinet at Habitat for Humanity and then built a little box around the fridge. The little cart that you see was given to us - still needs to be painted white.

I found a cute little light from Lowes for over the kitchen sink. The white quartz counters we bought of Craigslist and had them fit to the space (supposedly according to the fabricator this was a mistake and it made his job very hard ... I Guess buyina piece that had been previously cut wasn't good...we don't care.)
 I think my favorite part about the kitchen is having an under mount sink - clean up is so much easier. Zac had to install a garbage disposal and we are still waiting to do the floors. I think for now, we are going to wait on flooring. I know what I want but after all my research and looking at fumes and formaldehyde and prices ... we aren't ready to commit yet. I don't walk around everyday going "oh my goodness I love my house but these floors....." No, for the time being we are quite content.

Here's the view from the back door and you will see where the new pendant light is suppose to go ... so there will be two centered with the island. Zac took the doors off to paint them and then left to go to work today so I might try and tackle that job. I love how open the space is now. 

I actually found these pendants on Amazon and had them shipped Prime -  did the same with the Edison Bulbs. Amazon saves my bananas (I can't rightly say "bacon" anymore in good conscience.)

I found this thingy (for lack of a better word) at the antique store. I'm pretty sure it use to be for creaming corn? I love it's rusted bolts (that's not a sentence I ever thought I would type.)

I also got this platter/plate tray at the antique store. Miss Lori is a dear friend of my family and when I was in high school I remember walking into her house and seeing her platters all nestled in an old plate hanger and I loved it and planned on having one. I don't forget things easily.
This little nook on the other side of the fridge works perfectly as our coffee spot. Like I said, it still needs work - some paint and new hardware and I may also look for some hooks to hang a few coffee cups ... but it was pretty amazing that Zac and I looked and looked for a little table (for an entire day) and weren't comfortable spending the money on one - and the very next shift Zac went on, the fire department was going to throw this one out. Their trash, our treasure.

So, I guess that brings us to the view from the door .. since that's what I first showed you. I love how sunny this house is - makes being stuck inside on long days not really feel "stuck." 

We haven't done anything with the living room except paint the walls Sherwin Williams Agreeable Grey. It's a warm grey with brown undertones. Let me tell you about tones and greys and light ... I learned heaps and bounds by reading for an entire week. It was rather painful but I'm glad I did the homework because grey is not simply grey. It really will look different depending on the light in the room and at our other house...whatever grey they had on the walls literally depressed me. I now know it's because it was a cool grey with a lot of blue - like jumping into an icy lake at dusk. Not my favorite adventure to relive day in and day out. We still have to reface the fireplace...and like I said before...there's a pin for that and a man. 

My lovely boho/southwest rug. Make me feel like sitting in the sun and chewing on sugar snap peas.

Here's the dining room - and yes, I know those pictures looks too small on that wall. They are all I had though and I'm stilling getting use to the high ceilings. From one angle they look like little dollhouse photos and from another they fit the space perfectly. 

Here's the after...minus trim being put around the windows. 

...and the view of the front door from the dining room.

Last but not least, a rather fuzzy picture of the hardware I chose. I went with brass just because I think it really compliments the blue and the white counter tops. Of course I went into Lowes wanting the one style of fixture they don't carry ... so I had to order them and then later order more and so on and so forth. But I love them...and of course I had to order the 4 inch ones instead of the 3 inch because that extra length really "does something for me." So now Zac gets to spend his spare time filling in holes and I get to spend my spare time blogging about it. 

Sorry for the length of this post ... for those of you that just wanted to see pictures I'm afraid I did get "flowery" and for those of you that enjoy detail...this post is for you (Grandma)
Have a lovely weekend.
~Alyssa Spring

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Favoritas ~ Sunday Edition

Love #1

For some people this may sound like the most disgusting breakfast ever. 
For me, it is pure heaven. It's completely satisfying on every level.

It goes something like this ... brace yourselves for the complexity :
Toast some bread, smash a quarter of an avacado on each piece of bread.
Sprinkle with Himalayan sea salt.
Slice a cucumber.
Be filled.

Love #2

My cabinet color is speaking to me. When we moved into our house I had  my mind set on a white farmhouse kitchen. After inspecting our cabinets, realizing that we would need to paint them instead of replace them, and then noting the level of filth on our children's hands ... we came up with a new plan. Story Goes :
 I was browsing pinterest for inspiration - thinking maybe I should go the grey route ... and came across a navy kitchen with white quartz counter tops. I physically felt a  flip flop on my insides. My heart signaled my brain to take notice of what was beginning to become ... a blue love obsession. The two became united , heart and mind , and they never turned back. They were all in.
I chose Indigo Batik by Sherwin Williams ... and I think it's groovy.

Love #3

My little Bug is fascinating me ... for no particular reason.
I'm just obsessed with him.
Call it love.

Love # 4 

First let me say that I have always heard the marvels of Trader Joes. I have actually visited one two previous times ...once in Atlanta where all I can remember is a beehive sensation and feeling like I needed to run out of the building. My second experience was downtown Denver, a week after Joe came to town. This time I became part of a real life ant bed , it was me against the hipsters -  I did leave my buggy...almost my kids...and ran out. 
Then, one magical mystical Monday morning, my Brady Bunches and I made one last attempt at a Trader Joe's friendship ... and we were not disappointed. The parking lot was half empty ... I questioned the environmental safety of the place. My mind then went to the crappy produce...that must be why there weren't that many cars in the lot. With a deep breath, arm and arm...a reusable grocery bag in hand ... Brady and I crossed the threshold into affordable organic land. It was amazing - and for the 78th time since moving a month ago ... I knew we had found a pretty fantastic city ... or a naive one. Why weren't they all there...clustering about the dried mango and sprouted bread?
So Love # 4 really has two parts ... the first being Trader Joe himself, the second being these amazingly scrumptious voluptuous navel oranges - all sunny on the outside and juicy pink on the inside. They are delicious - I eat three a day.

Love # 5

I'm digging Brady in his Legends of Zelda attire. He is getting taller, meaning the green shirt is getting shorter and his white tights are stretched to max capacity. It brings such a happy brain laugh , a natural high , a moment of pure pleasure ... to see my little elfin kid sitting at the table studiously doing his math ... as if he were in a pair of jeans and a polo. It's perfection.

The botanical prints on the wall aren't half bad either if I do so say myself.

Love # 6 

Three words :
Antique Shopping Mall

Two Words :
Mason Jars

One Number :
3 bucks

I think that about covers it.

Love #7 

I happened upon a 90% off Christmas wares at World Market and came away with theses adorable plates and a felted fairy. I do love some woodland wonderland charm about the place.

Love #8 

It's really a freak think.

Eggplant Nacho sauce. I'm not joking.
So, I rarely crave cheese (look up rape cage in the dairy industry and it does a mind ill ... over time a body good) I do however love me some salty corn chips with dip. 
After a little investigation searching for a healthy creamy option that did NOT call for cashews (creaminess and soaked cashews are kind of a "couple" in vegan land )I came across this amazing recipe that uses eggplant. Intriguing.

My first attempt was partially successful ... I don't think I let the eggplant roast long enough and also I don't believe the recipe called for salt ... which is a mistake. I think I may have upped the nutritional yeast too.

My second attempt was perfect. It was delicious. I think it tastes pretty similar to nacho's but better because it's real food. 

Lastly... #9

... a regular train of applesauce bran muffins riding along my new barn wood counter top island ...
a match made in heaven.
Hungry kids welcome.

Do you have favorites from this past week?
Happy Sunday beloved friends.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Autism Update - Brady Bunch

I've been quiet this past week, thinking ... remembering a bit. 
It's been almost five years since we found out our oldest child has Aspergers Syndrome.
I remember my grandpa saying to me "well, sugar ... what do you do for it?" 
Yes ... what indeed.
I remember looking at my grandpa and saying "I guess love him and try to give him tools so that he can have a good life." I remember my Grandpa looking sad, not because Brady was any less, but because my life was going to look a lot different then anyone had imagined.

This is not a "poor me" post. This is simply an "Autism Today" post, in the life of our Brady Bunch. Sometimes when I'm feeling super silly I call Brayden "Brady bunch butt munch." It makes him laugh pretty hard - always music to my ears. That kid has a great laugh - it pierces every room of our house and every corner of my heart. 

Brady will always want to shake and dance at the most impromptu moments ... no matter if we are in a grocery store or in our living room. He won't care what other people think about it ... he doesn't care if it embarrasses his mother that's for sure ... so I've learned to embrace it and "get down" myself.
Brady will never truly care how someone else feels. He will enjoy creating happy expressions on people's faces though. He will continue to learn cues that can help like "boy, that person is sobbing right now, maybe I could pat their back instead of telling them they are dumb ." Crying makes him nervous so he calls people dumb ... take it or leave it.
 He will always come to me at 3 pm every day after his one hour rest time...get as close to me as humanly possible (as if I could miss a 60 pound boy standing next to me) and say "hello mom" as if he's been gone for days. He ALWAYS does this. I tried for awhile to explain to him that he doesn't need to greet me in the middle of the day, when we've been together all morning. For awhile it annoyed me. Now I just look at him with a smile and say "hi buddy, have a good rest?"
 I'm pretty sure there will be a day in my life that he won't be there, looking at me with nervous eyes after working up such courage to say hello - and I will miss him and wish my baby was little again.

I've seen Brady bite a table after bumping into it. He doesn't appreciate things bumping into him. Brady almost always has a meltdown when he loses at Monopoly. Brady always take a hour to chew about half a cup of rice ...even when I tell him he doesn't have to eat it he looks at me with a scrunched up nose, complete disgust in his eyes, sometime a bit of drool oozing out of the corners of his mouth and spits "what? I like it!'" I don't think he does ... but I think he wants me to recognize that he's big and that he can suck it up. The other day he put tomato on his sandwich and said to me "well, they certainly aren't my favorite but they are great nutrition." 

Brady's plans have changed a lot but he still is adamant that he will create a company someday that will make a lot of money and he will take me on trips. He says he will have a very beautiful wife and he will treat her nice. He says he will do some things that are romantic ... I told him she better be nice but even if she isn't , not to worry ... I'm good at being nice to people that aren't my favorite.

Brayden has a very hard time with do most children on the spectrum. Something that is always sure to cause a huge commotion in our house (not the nice kind) is when the other kids are playing a game with him and decide they are done. There generally is a lot of growling and not so nice words flying around. To be completely honest, it scares me to death. Just the other day I had finally relaxed a bit, was puttering around the kitchen and from the basement I hear this loud yelling noise and then my other child crying the "I'm hurt" cry (you know the one.) Well, thankfully no one was physically hurt but I'm pretty sure I lost a year of life with how fast I reacted trying to get down the stairs. I've given my other children advice on how to handle Brady where this won't happen .... not to make them give in to his needs but rather to give them tools to effectively communicate with their brother, and to help the general tone of our home. Brady needs a warning...even just a five minute one. "Well, why aren't you there monitoring their play?" you say. It's like this, I have what's called a "house." There are four hampers in my home that are always at least half full of dirty clothes at any given minute. There are 4 children with hungry bellies ... and oodles and oodles of dishes to be washed. I do like to make a cup of tea every now and then and sometimes I need to sit and have a good cry or even a laugh if possible. I try to monitor ... it just doesn't always work out so swell.

Tonight he and Trin were playing and after awhile he came skipping down the stairs. I asked him if he was done playing and he nodded yes. My heart stopped. Surely there was a crying squirrel girl somewhere. I was pretty sure that he and Trin has probably had some disagreement and so he said something rude and left...a pretty typical scene in the social life of my Brady boy. He says that ,no, that isn't what happened...but that Trin had given him a 15 minute warning and the game was over. My heart stopped ...where is my crying daughter?  I asked if he was kind to her when the game was over and he said that he was. I asked if he had growled or anything and he said no. I said "well, pal...were you upset?!" He said "yes, in my brain." I'm pretty sure that if ones jaw could actually flop to a floor then my would have. I almost felt panicked that things had turned out so well.
I congratulated him and told him it's okay to feel upset in our brains...everyone is sometimes...what's important is that we don't act out.
It felt like a HUGE victory for Brady ... and I'm not gonna lie...for me too.

Brady went on a long drive with Zac the other day. Today I found out that they had a conversation about visiting Yellowstone (somewhere that Brady has adamantly been opposed to seeing) and Zac was finally able to explain to Brayden about geysers and why when we visit nothing should explode on us. Now...just to be clear...we aren't planning a visit anytime soon. However, one wouldn't want to plan a trip, pack the notorious snack bag, weigh down the car with 5 suitcases, four kids, 3 devices and a partridge and a pear tree ... travel for 8 hours, reach the desired destination and their kid not get out of the car, as was our previous experience to Mount Rushmore last fall. Now tonight Brayden is all fired up about going because Yellowstone will be an excellent backdrop for his Star Wars movie he's filming. Who would have thought? 

As I'm writing, they just finished a game of monopoly. Trin won ... of course. She came to tell me proudly that Brady did a good job not yelling.

The kid can be peaches and cream. He can be a rainbow surprise. He can also be licorice (kind of addictive but one can never figure out why.) Brady takes everything out of me. At the end of everyday, many times the beginning, I feel completely spent emotionally. He's up and down all day - I never know from moment to moment if there is going to be a blow up, a dance party, a lecture on different breeds of cats, or a wall being karate chopped accidentally. I don't know if Spiderman or Charlie Chaplin is going to walk down my stairs ... I don't know if it's a "jersey drawing day" or a "I'm mad at the world" day ... not because he cares about the world but because the world in his head is so overwhelming. It's very conflicting and there's good reason that my grey hair count has grown exponentially the last couple of years. 

I have not been a perfect parent and probably never will be. If a kid almost as big as me growls and lunges at me I don't think I will ever think clearly enough to NOT push him away. Let me tell you about the guilt one feels when they have pushed their child and they fall on the ground, confused. I think when Brady gets that upset his mind just goes in a whirlwind, he doesn't rationally understand that he was going to hurt me, and now I'm the attacker. It makes me feel horrible. I generally have a long talk with him which he tunes out...not because he has an attitude but because his ADHD is so bad that he's thinking about when his favorite inventor died and not about his mom crying and feeling horrible about herself. All that to say, I wish that my first reaction would always be to put him in the special "hugging hold" but my mind won't go there. Later I flip myself off and say "duh, that's what I was suppose to do" but I'm learning that that isn't a good place to take up residence. Living in the "I was suppose to" doesn't help really anyone. Strangely enough though, even though Brady and I have had our ups and downs and all arounds ... we are pretty chummy and I think I'm his best friend. I say "I think" because he doesn't recognize what a best friend is necessarily ... but I'm it. I am his biggest and loudest and most fierce cheerleader. I am the one that tells him how it is so that he won't have to be hurt when he finds out later. I have given him every single tool that he has in his pocket - sometimes i had to stuff them in their repeatedly...but he's actually beginning to reach for them himself. I love him like no other person will ever love him. I'm a little upset that I might have to go sit with him through four years of college so that he can build his "mass company" but if it gets me to Italy someday then I'm all in. 

My Brady is doing fine.
Life is different ...and I understand my grandpa's sad look. Probably one of the biggest reasons I'm a preacher of gratitude is because I've found that's the only way to bring joy into a somewhat impossible journey. Brady brings a lot of joy. There have many times that tears have streamed down my face from happiness. It's a mess really ... hour to hour always feeling different ... never having anything consistent except for a 3 pm greeting.  But, my Brady is doing fine...he's growing and he's a wonderful person and I can see the wonderfulness ... and that's the ticket...seeing the gold instead of the grime. Thanks for listening dear readers and for caring about my Brady Bunches. When you see an Ireland flag or have a cup of tea...or look at the apple symbol...I would greatly appreciate a little prayer that goes something like this "Father ... help precious Brayden to learn to communicate with others, to delight in his life, and to have a calm brain today. Stop the noise." If you're extra generous and have the time you could also add "and let his mama lean on You for're the only that can help. her find a natural mood stabilizer"

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Oh lovely life,
still quiet mornings,
rude awakened mornings,
wet bed sheets and spilled cereal,
calm bird song and piping hot coffee ...
you are a gift.
The bad really isn't the bad, the good is always good. 

Busy afternoon,
books to pour through,
bills to pay,
thoughts to discard.
The sheets to wash, the dishes to wash, the faces to wash,
blankets to fold, a body to exercise, to strength so I can be my best,
food to prepare 
Each moment a simple yet so complex gift.
Body movement, hair flipping, eye's blinking

Salads to eat, water to drink 
toes to tickle.
Showers to take, mail to fetch, snow to shovel 
(not in that particular order)
I Thank You for these moments.
 I abide in You by loving this life, by seeing with eyes wide open
my heart wide open.

A used book ... with notes from the previous owner tucked inside
A gift ...insight , wisdom, dreams , vulnerability.
Books in themselves, amazing treasures.

Lavender, calming 

Today I'm taking time to smell the roses. 
Busy mothers aren't too busy to abide in love , to live with inner peace even when the world is tiring.
That's a gift. 
I'm taking it.

"Take the word staying and blanket it with heart warmth and and receptivity of the soul, and you end up with abiding."
- David Housholder

"There is a place for study. But the Creator of the universe does not call us into the stacks of libraries to find Him. "
- David Householder

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Favorite Things ~ Tuesday Edition

“After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” 
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Avonlea

I love beautiful spaces. I love beautiful products. I'm an art lover, a rock collector, a "branches all around me" type person. I love scents (sandalwood and cedar and old books.) I love light ... soft morning light, bright sunny lunch light, dim end of the day light. 
I love products that our nourishing, have pretty packaging and real ingredients. I love clothes with prints and textures and jewelry made with love. 
Here are a few of my favorites from this past week. 

... deer tracks in the snow
... little aspen tress

... a tiny moon sun catcher 
... our front window

... rainbows on walls.
... joyful children counting the multicolored "spots"
... free beauty

... a thrifted bowl
... pottery
... rough and smooth
... handmade

~ I'm loving the speckles and the rust , so earthy ~

... two dollar thrifted "Thinker"
~ maybe some of his thinking will rub off on me? Either way, I feel smarter just looking at him ~
He's a perfect keepsake for our "library"

... these GORGEOUS prints that I found on Amazon. I think they are about 5 dollars each and fit a poster frame perfectly ... I'm waiting until next month to get the sea plant print ... and then the bugs...and then the birds ... and then....

... this ninja face (not for sale, I have the only original.)
... pretend play (can I get an amen?)
... dimpled fingers and rosy cheeks.

... I'm loving the new Burt's Bees tinted lip balm, and learning to love the 
new lines around my mouth .

The color I'm trying is Zinnia. I'm not a lipstick girl ... I find that just a bit of this and some mascara is a great "go to the store" look for me. I appreciate being able to see my real face ... most days.

... earrings
... trees
I wanted to introduce my readers to a lovely little etsy shop. I've ordered from them at least 10 times, a couple things for myself but mostly gifts. Everyone that I've given earrings to have raved about them ... they are very lightweight weight and excellent quality. Also, when you buy handmade not only are you supporting small local business,you also are getting a one of a kind product. It's nice to be original. I love their fast shipping and cute packaging.

... textures
... little boys in sweaters
...thrifted pancho 
Is there anything better then long sleeves and hoods on a little boy? I think not.

... thrifted turtleneck sweater dress
... ponytails

... little ears rocking fantastic gems (same shop I shared)
shhhh - I really just took this picture to document the little fairy kiss on the inside of her ear. See it?

...A little woman that reads Little Women
... comfy couch
... big blue eyes full of light and dreaming

What are some of your favorites from the past week ... moments, treasures, people?
May you surround yourself with beauty...
Happy Tuesday Friends

P.S. Also, if you have time, this post has been circulating around Facebook. It touched my soul in a very big way. It is a great read.