Blog a la Cart

Category: Home Improvement

This. Is. 32.


If James and I are to consider the purchase of the new Prius our anniversary gift to ourselves (I feel like such an adult with two fully functional vehicles produced within the past three years), then these window shades are James’ birthday gift.

We are officially grown-ups, with the installation of black out shades and dependable vehicle ownership as the hallmarks of this new phase of our lives. We’d installed first in the girls’ redesigned bedroom, and then in the Closest-Slash-Office-Turned-Nursery (as we prepare our compact living accommodations for Cart Baby #3). The final step was to complete installation in all bedrooms, so both the guest room and our bedroom received new shades for “James’ Birthday.” This has actually revolutionized sleeping in both bedrooms, as these rooms have skylights, and given that our bed sits directly under one of these skylights, we’d become accustomed to rising with the sun (or just being disturbed with the sun and then grumbling at the morning light). To be able to turn the rooms into cozy darkness any time of day (especially with my fierce 1st trimester nap needs) is remarkable. James and I have both been sleeping so much better, and these shades are insulated, so they helped keep the heat out during the last heat wave, and will keep our house much warmer this winter. And they look pretty darn great in each room.

Winning all around.





And the animal print guest room (unsure how that theme arose, but apparently we had plenty of animal print on hand with which to decorate).




Purchased from We used the top down/bottom up, cordless, black out shades in CANVAS in our bedroom with the skylight shade in CANVAS as well. And we used the color LATTE in the guest room.

Girls’ Bedroom // diy


Since purchasing our home in March of 2012, Sunny’s bedroom has been a functional space, but one without any kind of design perspective or thought to decor. She lived with the blue walls and red curtains we inherited, patches of plaster on the wall from where walls of shelving had been removed when we moved in, replaced with hangers of dresses and bureaus of clothing. It was quite a hodgepodge, as demonstrated from the above snap circa January 2013 (and I’m not just referring to her outfit!). She was making use of Auntie Kimmy’s double bed, as Kimmy, up until recently, had been living in furnished apartments/housing. We figured that when Kimmy finally claimed her bed, we’d give the room the attention it deserved. After nearly 2 and a half years, Kimmy finally did just that. So James and I got to work, with the intention of migrating the girls into one bedroom and then turning Courtland’s itty bitty “nursery/bedroom” into an office/closet.




^^The room post-bed removal, pre-redesign^^


^^Our upstairs exploded in furniture and clothing and odds and ends that found refuge in our guest room, bedroom floors, hallways, etc., while we worked on Sunny’s bedroom. We have a rather compact upstairs, and it was pushed to the max.^^


^^While I headed to Cape Cod with the kids a few weeks back, James and our friend got the room fully repainted in a fresh, clean white. It makes the room seem so much bigger and brighter. I’d been dreaming about doing this to the space since the day we moved in. It is so very satisfying to have it done!^^


^^The next step was finding a cozy rug to warm up the space, as it’s a northern exposure and can be quite cool in the winter months. Sunny and I visited a local carpet store and scooped up this remnant of plushy, purple rug for a steal and had it cut and bound to fit the room precisely. Sunny insisted on purple, and I have genuinely come to love the look, despite my initial urgings for a more muted grey.^^



^^Then James assembled the Ikea Kura Bed (it may have taken him three attempts to get the orientation correct for the bedroom, but he got there eventually.) To customize the look, we let the girls choose vinyl stickers for the bed, and given our choice of a purple rug, we went with a purple, pink, taupe theme. I am admittedly very impressed with the quality of the stickers and the impact that they had on the whole look. I highly recommend. We purchased them through PANYL (We used Violet, Bubblegum, Pewter and Thunder).^^

We finished the room with a pair of EcoSmart shades (a local Vermont company that manufactures shades to keep cold out in the winter, and heat out in the summer). For the bedroom, we decided upon the cellular black out shades in Oatmeal to blend with the taupe vinyl of the bunk bed. They are top down, bottom up shades, and truly finish the room and add that final touch of warmth that it needs as we head into these colder, darker days. I trust that this summer we’ll be grateful for them as well when we put the kids to bed and the sun is still bright in the sky.


^^A few touches here and there with artwork, and book shelves, and hooks for costumes, and the room was complete!^^




^^We hung both of the girls birth announcements in the room alongside two of my favorite photographs of our “farm fairies.”^^


^^This little bookshelf holds their favorite board books and their shoes.^^


^^I couldn’t resist the chance to showcase their gorgeous Ella Dynae costumes beneath our Rainbow Fairy on her 5th birthday.^^



^^And the eery Lilac Fairy photograph found its way above the bunk bed…^^



^^Growing up, my siblings and I had these nets to hold our stuffed animals. I picked one up on Amazon for $10 to contain the girls ever-growing array of plushes, and to disguise the utility box that holds all of our internet gear.^^


^^We used Garnet Hill horse sheets from last season in flannel for the beds. We have cotton horse sheets from Garnet Hill for the warmer months, too. That pattern is still in stock here.^^


^^A special shelf was reserved for all the handknit stuffed animals.^^


^^Except for these guys, whose magnetic capabilities made them perfect for the bunk bed stairs.^^


^^Bitty Baby and her wardrobe have a special place in the room alongside more books, a bin of tutus and dress up, and a bin of pajamas.^^


^^Gladdy certainly enjoys having easy access to both her kids at night – she loves sleeping in the middle of the rug, or right on top of Courtland on her floor bed. And most importantly of all, the girls love it. And I am breathing a sigh of relief that at least one room in our home is complete.^^

Proper Vermonters

I think that we can finally (finally!) start calling ourselves Vermonters.

The wood stove is in.

And glorious.

Granted, it broke our downstairs heating system, but details! Who knew that by running the stove ’round the clock, we’d cause the pipes for our heating system to freeze? The stove is really getting put to the test until those pipes thaw out on our next warm day, oh in, probably, April.



^^It was so nice to break in the stove with our Swedish guests! After our days skiing and sledding and playing in the snow, it could not have been more perfect to cozy up by the fire. Pardon the array of melting coats and snow pants strewn about the image above. Though it is quite representative of our home mid-winter.^^



^^The kids and dogs are equally thrilled by the addition. Sunny spent the majority of the weekend curled up in burrito baby fashion, dozing by the stove.^^


^^And how rad is that whale humidifier? So very rad. Thanks, Doda! James and I thrilled to finally put it to good use!^^

Saturday afternoon we installed the (hideous albeit necessary) safety gate around the stove so all dependents are out of harms way. At least in relation to the stove. We are so very pleased to have finally (how many time can I use that word to describe this occasion?) completed this project that’s been over a year in the making!

Home Improvement // Year 2


One of our projects before the New Year involved finally painting our (itty bitty) upstairs hallway the Sharky Gray color of our stairwell. This project has been on our To Do list since March of 2012. Yep, nearly 2 years.

The painting was motivated by my purchase of these FLOR carpet tiles to line the floor of the hallway. I love the rainbow array of colors that pulls together all the various schemes and patterns happening in the five rooms that open on to that hallway.



^^I love these prints by Story People that we’ve collected over the years – the original rainbow explosion in the hallway that is now complimented by the FLOR.^^


In photographing the new hallway, it dawned on me that I never shared the final result of our upstairs bathroom redo. We used hot pink FLOR tiles in the bathroom, and completely replaced the sink by making our own out of an old kitchen cabinet. We sourced the faucet and fixtures from Homeclick.

Here are prior posts about the project. Here’s our bathroom as it stands now (I’d say an improvement to the before).





Looking at these images made me realize how very much we need a different laundry hamper to finish off the room. Given my obsession with 3 Sprouts (Remember this post? Since then, we added the Whale trunk at Christmas to serve as the keeper of the girls’ costumes and dress-up clothes and the Fox bin as the holder of all winter accessories (hats, gloves, scarves, etc.)), I ordered one of their laundry hampers in the blue polar bear. It is clearly a kid-friendly bathroom, so why not adorn it further in childish awesome?


Hanna heartily approves of the new rug. She sleeps in the middle of the hallway to keep tabs on all of us. While it’s a wildly inconvenient and precarious place to rest, I don’t blame her. That rainbow calls to me, too. Now we desperately need to focus on redoing the downstairs bathroom, which namely needs an improved toilet. We have our eyes on this. Oh home ownership. How you have affected my priorities in strange (and at times depressing) ways.

House Painting

About a month ago, James embarked on the tedious task of painting the exterior of our house. The south side was chipping and peeling like crazy, and we knew that we needed to get it cleaned up before the winter to avoid having to do some real clean up and damage control come spring. We made the decision to change the house from a dark, khaki green to a warmer, purplish grey, with white accenting (and my bright yellow door!). You can see that our barn hex was our first project to test these colors, and given how much we adore that piece, our inspiration for the whole house. We realize that we’ll have a multi-colored house for awhile – but the hope is to tackle the other sides of the house in the spring/summer.

We used Benjamin Moore exterior paint in the colors above. And, this is what the house looked like before.

Then James scrapped and sanded and washed the side of the house, replacing two window sills and some rotted out siding in the process.

He swore by the Paint Eater to expedite the project.

He chaulked any gaps…

And then he got to priming. He applied two coats of primer before applying any paint.

And finally, the paint! Two coats of paint…

Plus a little helper…

You can see one of the window sills he had to replace in this photo… and Sunny’s expert painting skills.

They were quite the team.

AND FINALLY! After a whole month of hard work and rapidly falling temperatures (you can’t paint if it’s below 40 degrees) – he finished! And it looks amazing.

And now I’m itching to do the rest of the house… but we must first get through our inaugural winter in Vermont!

What do you think of the new look? Have you ever had to paint a house before? It sure is cost effective (we did the whole thing for under $500 – versus the thousands it would have cost to hire painters – plus we have left over supplies to do the other sides) – but it was also a ton of work and time. Totally worth it.

The Sink

<Opens up bathroom door>
Me: WHOA! Did you poop? Holy…
Him: No! Why?
Me: Uh, then something is horribly wrong because… well, come smell.
<Enters bathroom, takes a whiff>
Him: Ooooooh, yeah. Well, the plumbing for the sink is attached, but the water isn’t on, and so, since the fan was on, and the door was closed, the fan essentially sucked the lovely aroma of our septic straight into the bathroom.
Me: Dear God, our house is now awash in our poop fumes… I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so unclean.

The good news, folks, is that the sink is now functional, so no more living in a fart.

And let me tell you, it is one aggressive sink. The vanity is aggressively tall. The sink bowl aggressively large. The pop drain aggressively oversized. Even the water goes down the pipes aggressively.

Hey, we’re aggressively large people, so it’s only fitting. Pictures of the full project forthcoming…

Hot Pink FLOR

Remember this post? How I said that I intended to replace the bathroom floor with hot pink carpet? Well…

I told you that I wasn’t kidding.

We still have plenty of work to do in the bathroom, but we have a new floor and have restored toilet and shower function to the room, so I wanted to share how far we’ve come.

We started here. With cracked tiles.

Then my lack of impulse control catapulted us here.

Which meant we had to go here. And remove the toilet and sink that were impeding the tile removal.

Upon removing the toilet, we realized that we needed to install a new flange. That’s our WE’RE HAVING FUN face. Swear.

Ah the poop hole. The Trojan Horse of wasp invasion.

It seemed totally reasonable to store the toilet in the shower, the only shower in the entire house. That was of course until we became permanent residents of said house. Then suddenly we were as stinky as the wasp inhabited poop hole.

It was at this stage in the process, upon unveiling a moldy wall and piece of floor, that James called me and declared that we needed to hire a contractor. Fortunately, the contractor that we liked best from our inspection process came right over and talked James through next steps so as to avoid having to completely gut the room. Whew!

So James cut out the moldy piece of wall and floor and patched in new pieces.

Then, to help protect and seal the wood from water damage, we coated the floor in some hot pink goo (a perfect preview for the hot pink carpet). For those DIY readers out there, we used Red Guard, a water proof sealant most often used to seal concrete basements.

It dries red. Thus, the name.

As you can see, after sealing the floor, Kimmy and I took over and painted the deep purple walls white. If I was going to be using such a bold, loud color on the floor, I needed everything else to be clean and crisp and white. Also, I thought the white would expand the space and brighten it up. We went a bit slap happy painting. It took far far more coats than we’d anticipated. Ah the joys of painting white on a deeply saturated wall color.

Here is where I take a moment to justify my decision to use carpet. In a bathroom. Everyone has told me that I am totally and completely off my rocker. Which, hey, I already knew. But I promise, this decision is a very well researched and deliberate one. Thus, in this instance, off my rocker I am not.

You see, our house is horribly horribly HORRIBLY uneven. Which we knew when purchasing. If you were to check out our basement, or just put a marble to any floor surface, you’d see that our little farm house is aiming for its place as Vermont’s Leaning Tower of Pisa. A noble aspiration, but one that makes the use of materials such as slate and tile difficult. The reason that the floor was so cracked to begin with is because of all this sloping and slanting and uneveness. James and I intend to remedy the problem. But it will be quite the undertaking, so in the interim, there was no way I was going to take the time to lay down new tile, only to have it crack and crumble.

My options seemed to be linoleum, which, ugh. Or carpet. Having recently visited James’ grandparents who have an incredibly lush carpet in their guest bathroom, I noted how delightful and cozy it was to make a midnight run to the loo. I attribute this to the carpet. Absolutely.

James’ immediate reaction to my carpet proposal was absolute horror. Did I know how gross and moldy and gnarly that carpet was going to get? Not to mention, how much damage we’d do to the floor?

Yes, but…

It wouldn’t be as bad if we used a carpet made of synthetic material like nylon. Also, this was a temporary fix for the next couple years until we had leveled the foundation and had the money to truly gut the bathroom and start over (the dream!). Also, in reading about carpets in the bathroom, FLOR was a name that continually surfaced and came highly recommended. Why? Because they sell tiles. CARPET tiles.

If a part of the carpet was completely saturated with water or totally destroyed, we didn’t have to remove the entire floor. Just the offending tile(s).


Our friends had opted to use FLOR throughout their house, so we’d seen the carpet before and knew that they were a high quality product.

James was sold. Per FLOR’s recommendation, we opted for the RAKE ME OVER style. Slightly shaggy but made of recycled nylon so as to minimize the impact of water saturation. I went with my gut and initial vision and ordered the tiles in pink.

I could not have been more pleased when the box arrived. It was precisely what I had in mind.

Even better? The install was a breeze!

I mean, seriously. This was the fastest part of the process. It cut easily. James and I had to take some time fitting smaller pieces into the corners, given our less than square floor, but altogether, the FLOR was down and installed in under an hour.

The tiles are attached to one another, but not the actual floor of the room. It is truly a floating floor. And looks, feels, and IS exactly what I had envisioned for the room.

Courtland approves. Wholeheartedly!

Thank you, FLOR!

The next step was to get the toilet reinstalled. James put in a new flange. And then we YouTubed wax ring installs, and this happened.

Hey whatever works, because BOOM!

We put in a new shower head, and one of those curved shower curtain rods so that we don’t feel as though we are being smothered by the shower curtain every time we bathe. We’ve got a DIY sink cabinet and sink install in the works. And have some shelving and medicine cabinet decisions to make. We’re getting their folks.

The good news is that this was my view last night as I took my inaugural soak in the tub. Not too shabby.


FULL DISCLOSURE: The product(s) mentioned in the above post were provided to me by the stated brand or company for review and/or sponsorship purposes only. I was not paid to promote or endorse this product and all thoughts and ideas are truthful and reflect my opinion alone.