Spring Break!

In the middle of some Midwest snow, we jetted off to southern California for our spring break.  The thought of taking an almost two year old  on an airplane for 4 hours gave us hives, but the call of sunshine and grandparents was too much to overcome. 

In the end, the plane ride turned into 6 hours because of the airline computers completely crashing.  And he was a champ.  Whew. 

Things Carter loved about our vacation-

1) We discovered Carter’s love of picking fruit courtesy of my in-laws citrus trees.  He may have a future as a farmer.  Who picks things one at at time and then throws it at the recipient.Spring Break 13

Spring Break 13

2) Disneyland.  Specifically rides at Disneyland that had continuously moving lines.  Such as It’s a Small World.    Spring Break 13

The teacups were also amazing…but the pain and suffering of waiting in a line that stopped and did not move for an eternity, at least in toddler minutes, was almost not worth it. 

OK the video of the joy on his face while we spun would make anything worth it.  But at that moment, there may have been threatening of us leaving.Spring Break 13

And honestly he would have been happy riding the train all.day.long.

Spring Break 13

3) The beach.  Spring Break 13

Oh the sand.  And the shells. 

Spring Break 13

And the wine. 

Spring Break 13

4)Travel Town.  Lots of trains-no further explanation needed. He takes his train riding very seriously.

Spring Break 13Spring Break 13

5) Swimming in his grandparents’ pool.  Oh the joy.

Spring Break 13

6) Meeting Big Nonna.  And spending time with family. 

Spring Break 13

That one is going on the mantel.

7)Goofing off and just playing.

Spring Break 13

Spring Break 13

Spring Break 13

Things Carter did not like about vacation:


Spring Break 13Sigh.  His expression in this picture is deceptively pleasant.  The whining and throwing of every toy (and phone) we gave him for entertainment was not captured.  And we thought we were raising him right to respect IKEA time.

My favorite part about vacation?  The sun.  And toddler naptimes by the pool without any guilt about what I should be doing. 

I was accidentally unplugged all week by way of forgetting my phone on the bathroom counter at home and remembering it halfway to the airport. After a mini freak out, I decided it would be nice to be free of it all week. And it was.  Even though I missed posting pictures on Instagram of the fun in the sun.

We all had a great time in the sun and with family.  All of anxiety about time changes and lack of naps was for nothing as he rolled with it. Carter did get very sick right after we got home. While it was snowing and my sunburn was fading under sweaters. 

Natural consequences of licking carousel horses at Disneyland.

Merry New Year

Christmas is so much more fun with a child.  Or baby.  Or toddler now I guess.  And while last year was great with him being 5 months old, this year was even better.

I am sure I will say the same thing next year.

All the planning and wrapping and shopping and cooking and decorating is worth it again to see him on Christmas loving every minute of the festivities.

Christmas 2012

We were fortunate that we did not have to travel, but we hosted two large groups of family within a couple of days of each other.  And we still have one more Christmas this weekend to go with another set of grandparents.

He is one lucky dude.

Christmas 2012

Notice how everyone else’s present pile pales in comparison. 

Christmas 2012

We saw the train exhibit on Union Station which was a huge hit.

Christmas 2012

And in typical 17 month old style resulted in a Category 4 temper tantrum when we left.  I look forward to being able to bribe him.  Because screams sound awesome in marble halls.

Christmas 2012

The card table playhouse was a success in that he went in it a couple of times.

Christmas 2012

As was the new kitchen from Santa.

Christmas 2012

But the best part was spending time with family.

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012Christmas 2012

And we even had some snow.

Christmas 2012

Not on Christmas.  But close enough.

So all in all we had a very merry Christmas and enjoyed it thoroughly.  We are blessed. I hope you all had a great holiday season and a happy new year.  Bring on 2013!

Lessons from the Garden

So I have been a bad blogger….again.  I am not going to bore everyone with details but May was probably the most stressful month for us in a long time.  Some of the stress was positive like seeing friends and family many times as a result of great baby showers.  And some of it not so positive.  But it all worked out in the end and we are ready for June and bringing the blog back to life as I have so many things to share.  Note to baby: you better stay put the next five weeks because I have a lot to catch up on.  Got it? Good.

The blog was not the only thing that was neglected….my garden was looking very…..well overgrown and unkempt.  And not planted.

I am normally the person that people are looking at funny because I am trying to buy plants before the last frost date.  And I am feeding and weeding and planting and giving all the plants tender loving care on a nightly basis.

This year I did not even step outside to look at the plants that were coming back until the end of May.  Major garden guilt.   Another thing I was sucking at this spring to add to the list.

When I finally got the nerve to wade through the weeds to see what I was working with however I was pleasantly surprised.  Here is my advanced visual representation of the state of the garden.  Green =weeds.  Very high and thick weeds.


We had strawberries…without me doing anything.


And roses with no pruning or feeding…



And the beginnings of grapes and raspberries…


A good lesson about things surviving in spite of you and a lack of control is sometimes a good thing. 

Another lesson in giving up control was that Derek planted the vegetable garden this year…while I was not home.  Gardening is not his thing at all and we agreed to scale it back this year with the upcoming arrival of the baby.  And I knew I needed his help lifting and tilling. But he surprised me with this….


For a before picture, please refer to above.

Did he pick all the plants I would of?  No.  Or put them in the location determined by seasonally rotating varieties? No.  But it was weeded and composted and planted.  And done. And I learned another lesson about giving up control and things turning out OK. 

On a semi-related note of not doing things when I planned, I wanted to update you on my painted outdoor pots.  When I first posted the tutorial last year, someone wondered how they would last.

I had planned on moving them into the garage for the winter.  Really. But then the whole morning sickness thing happened and they sat outside all winter and I did nothing (see the theme of the post?) to prep them.

I think they held up incredibly well (the specks on the bottom are dirt).


However in the interest of full disclosure we did have one crack/chip that I noticed.


So if you are thinking or painting pots but are hesitant on their wear….don’t worry about it and you can even do nothing like me!

Has your garden taught any needed lessons this year?

Spring Break!

Even though my flight was delayed three hours, I was 10 seconds from being embarrassingly airsick and it rained the entire time, my Spring Break Trip to D.C. to visit my college roomie was spectacular because…..

IMG_0719Isn’t she the cutest baby ever? 

Just in case you can’t decide here is some more pics…IMG_0667(1)

And with her beautiful mommy…IMG_0724

In case you still can’t decide…email me.  I have over 100 more pictures to make my case.  I was so busy snapping pics of baby that I somehow missed getting a picture of Katie and I.  Ouch.

I also brought with me her first birthday present, a new fun quilt.IMG_0676(1)

This was by far the most difficult pattern I have attempted thus far.  And I am happy with the results, but it is not perfect.  I titled it appropriately “Learning Experience.”

I used the free Off the Grid  pattern on Moda Bake Shop with Hunky Dory Fabrics by Chez Moi.  I thought the fun prints and colors were perfect for a little girl.

And the back-


And the best pictures of a quilt…being loved by a baby-IMG_0664

Oh the leggings…IMG_0670


And let me share this insanely creative idea for making incredibly cute big blocks inexpensively for babys that Katie came up with.  Use shoeboxes and cover them with scrapbook/wrapping paper and clear packing tape. Genius!


I am not up on my baby crafts, but I thought that was so creative and thrifty.  She was always the crafty one of the two of us.

Of course we did some home decor and fabric shopping during the visit.  I gave Katie her first sewing lesson….and let’s just say we chose a project that was a little tough for her teeny tiny sewing machine.  I was forbidden from taking pics of this and hopefully we can try again next time

Derek is happy to report that since I had to get back on a plane I was not able to buy anything of substance on our escapades.  But Katie scored this amazing mid century modern screen that she plans on using as a headboard from a store called Modernicus.  And it was only $125.  If you are in the DC area and love authentic mid century modern pieces, you will love this store. 

And they helped us wrestle into her Camry in the rain….double score.

And now for your parting gift….IMG_0773



Is Resolution-Making Supposed to Be This Difficult?

IMG_0205It is a brand new year and I am already behind.  Here it is January 3rd and still no resolutions or yearly recap post. I am really off to a great start:).

I had so much fun reading everyone else’s resolutions and goals in the blogosphere and yet I am struggling with my own.

Maybe it is because I am not a big new year’s resolution maker.  I honestly have no idea what my resolution was last year but I am assuming that it had something with exercising more (because it usually was).  But since I started this blog I am going to be accountable for it…..so no pressure.

It surprises me a little that I am anti-resolution.  I mean a huge part of my job is reviewing and writing annual goals for kids that are struggling….on a legal document that helps accountability.  And everyone knows that junior high students loves talking about their future goals ….especially with a school psychologist…. when they are struggling….and when I asking them to change their current behavior.

So after reflecting on this I have come to the conclusion that there is a reason I normally do not make New Year’s resolutions- I am just too hard on the goals.  Is it measurable (i.e. how do I define exercising “more”? a certain number of days a week? for how many months?  is there a weight loss component in there?  what about diet? but then how do I measure that? should I make myself a contract with a reinforcement menu? etc….).  Then there is data collection which could start an entire other stream of consciousness… which I will spare you from.

So now you can see why it now January 3rd  and I still have lots of neurotic thoughts nothing.

I thing I do like about the new year is reflection on the past year.

2009 was a great year for us.  I started the blog which has allowed me to “meet” so many creative and fun people.  I took up running and did so much better than I thought I ever would. Even though I did not make the half-marathon goal because of a stress fracture (and now tendonitis in my ankle).  I increased my sewing skills greatly even though I am still a beginner. And we got a lot done on the house…..the outside landscaping, the vegetable garden, guest bath, the craft room, as well as started on the master bedroom and the laundry room.

So for next year I am give myself a break and make some general goals that do not meet criteria for measurability or data collection and I am still going to be OK with it.  Really.

-continue with the exercise regimen and run at least a 10K if my ankle lets me.  If I can’t run because of injuries, cross-train and not let injuries get me down mentally like I did in 2009.

-continue doing more and more sewing/quilting projects to further along my skills.  Maybe even complete a pattern that does not have the word “easy” written on it.

-make the vegetable garden an even bigger success and be have ideas about how to preserve it BEFORE tons of it is sitting on the counter

-finish up small home projects in every room

-develop more family traditions and a way of preserving memories.  I take some pictures, but as of right now that is all we do.  I struggle with remembering what exactly we did last Christmas and I don’t want to be the case.  The blog helps, but a lot personal stuff is not on here and I want to make sure it is remembered.


Whew that was tough…..

While I am recuperating I will leave you with a couple of pictures of our New Year’s.  We played it pretty low key because we have family in town staying with us.  Not to mention is it bitterly cold with tons of snow and ice on the ground that will not be melting anytime soon.  I don’t know how people in Minnesota do this all winter.

Anyway the champagne that started the beginning of the night transformed into mimosas….with lots of board games next to the fire.  And me with my new camera trying to capture it…..




Four Years of Wedded Bliss

Today is the big 4 year anniversary. It is hard to believe that we have already been married four years. In some ways wedding planning was so much fun, but I am glad all the stress is long over. Then I was too busy searching for flower and centerpiece inspiration pics that that I did not have time to worry about house ones.

Every year Derek gets me something off the anniversary list which is a really sweet tradition. This year appliances are on the modern list and flowers are on the traditional list. Since we just bought a new washer and dryer two weeks ago I have a feeling a new fridge will not be waiting for me today. Derek is still trying to convince me that a TV is considered an appliance. Oh well....flowers are nice too. We probably won't do anything spectacular tonight to celebrate since it is Thursday but hopefully this weekend we will do something fun. Our other anniversary tradition is watching the wedding video together so that can be squeezed in tonight. Since we are reliving the day and I cannot upload the whole video (I know you are sad about that) here are some pictures to share of our big day 4 years ago. (all photos from Nordmann Photography)

Hellooo Summer

Again I have been a bad blogger....but I have an excuse. The last week was crazy at work and I was trying to make progress on the laundry room reno. But after taking the weekend to relax (and make more progress on projects) I am ready to go again.

One of the things I love the most about working in education? May. There is nothing more exciting than the last day of school and I am lucky enough to get to experience it over and over again. Take last Friday, the final bell rings and an euphoric yell rises into the hallways. You thought I was going to say June/July/August didn't you? Well I sadly do not have all that time off so I am going to stick to May. I also love that when everyone comes back (kids and staff) in August that things also look brighter and happier because it is a brand new year. It's like a new years resolution every August....with that new crayon smell to boot.

One of my summer resolutions is to get to the pool more often. When we bought the house last year, a neighborhood pool was on my must-haves list. I was not willing to compromise on it and was so excited when the pool opened last year. Know how many times I went? Zip. I blame it on the kitchen renovation. And the impact the kitchen renovation had on my waistline- too much eating out did not inspire me to want to put on a swimsuit. Since we are (unfortunately) not doing any big renovation this summer I am going to get to the pool....I hope.

Derek got a new smoker for his birthday and spent a large part of the weekend experimenting with it. So we were eating BBQ every day and I will say even though he is a newbie at the smoker thing it turned out quite good.

When we had friends over on Friday I found a new recipe that I wanted to share-Strawberry-Goat Cheese Bruschetta (from Better Homes and Gardens). It was delicious, easy, and the best part looked a lot more complicated than it was. I can't wait to make it again.

Here is the recipe (too lazy to re-copy it)

It is not the healthiest or most economical recipe but I think I will be making it many times this summer.

Hope your Memorial Day Weekend was great! Mine left me with the question of why all weekends can't last three days?

The List.....

I honestly don't remember where I first got the idea for the 101 things in 1001 days. A blog? The Nest? Another random website? The idea came back up when Derek and I were having one of those "so when do we want to have kids" talks. We talked about all the little (and big things) we wanted to do before that time came. But instead of just talking about it, I decided we should each make a list so we had a better chance and actually doing it. So I googled "101 things in 1001 days" to get some ideas. There this actually an entire website dedicated to these lists here. Basically you make a list of specific measurable tasks to be completed in the next 1001 days. So Derek and I made our lists while driving to St. Louis at Christmas to visit family. When we got back I typed my up in a pretty font and have been diligently checking things off since then. (Derek has yet to type his but oh well.) But I have noticed that I have been slacking off in my checkmarks recently so I thought this blog would be the perfect place to make me accountable and document progress. Also it is a little sad how long my "house" category is so most of the things I would be posting about anyway.

I did not actually reach 101 things, but I have been adding things and whatever my number is, that is how many days I will give myself. Since I started 1/1/09 it will be easy to figure it out.

Also there are some things that are on the list that for personal reasons I don't want everyone in the world to know.

So here is my ultimate to do list- current completion date: about 1/1/11


1. Finish living room drapes

2. Finish sewing kitchen drapes

3. Paint master bedroom

4. New light fixture in foyer

5. Landscape front

6. Landscape side yard

7. Landscape back yard

8. Redo craft room

9. Redo guest bath

1o. Redo basement bath

11. Finish touch up paint

12. Paint master French doors

13. 100% finish kitchen

14. New photos in frames on photo wall

15. Get flower picture reframed

16. Put house pics on rate my space


17. Rip CDs in Itunes

18. Organize linen closet

19. Organize spice rack

20. Organize recipes

21. Backup pictures on computer

22. Organize coupons

23. Organize receipts

24. Organize magazines

25. Organize bedroom closets


26. Work out 5 out of 7 days a week for a month

27. Complete 30 day Shred

28. Complete 30 minute HIIT on bike

29. Ride bike on entire Indian Creek Trail

30. Run a 5K

31. Bike on Katy Trail

32. 2 bottles of water a day/month

33. Get a massage


34. Be able to walk Jack and Winter together with no pulling

35. Master drop it command

36. Master leave it command

37. Master stay command

38. Take pups on family vacation


39. Visit World War I museum

40. Go to Art museum together again

41. Visit farmer's market on a regular basis

42. Host large party

43. Get and learn how to use digital SLR

44. Take an Art class

45. Take a second enrichment class at community college

46. Start a vegetable garden

47. Start a new rose garden

48. Go apple picking

49. Do marriage workbook

50. private

51. private

52. Go to a new piano bar

53. Get library card

54. Go to library one a month for 6 months

55. Join some sort of club (book, gardening)

56. Learn to crochet

57. Learn to knit

58. Take a sewing class

59. Volunteer

60. Do a rotating new recipe night 5 times


61. Private

62. Set up automatic transfers to savings

63. Use cash system for 6 months


64. Start a blog

65. Put before pics of house in album

66. Organize inspiration pics on computer

67. Use Quicken consistently for 6 months

68. Sew four pieces of clothing

69. Read 75 books

70. Develop new storage system for jewelry

71. Finish living room throw pillows

72. New light fixture in guest room

73. Refinish bedroom set

74. Learn how to paint (oil/acrylic/watercolor)

Allow me to Introduce Myself

Hello there! I’m Jenny.

I love pretty creative things.

Like DIY. And home decor. And modern quilting. And gardening. And kid's stuff. And sewing. And wine.

Not necessarily in that order.

I love to come up with grand ideas.  And I love to start projects but seem to lack in the area of  actually finishing them.  That is where my husband Derek comes in.  He gets to help execute all those visions and keep me on track in the unfinished project category.  Sometimes he does a better job than others.

Together we have been renovating our house one room on a time. On a budget.

We are the poster couple for learning as you go. We both have day jobs in totally unrelated fields and try to cram projects in on nights and weekends. And around naptime.

When we bought our first house we became DIYers by default of being penniless graduate students and only being able to afford a place that had feng shui symbols painted on the hardwoods and a kitchen floor completed by someone who watched way too much Trading Spaces. You know after it got crazy. Armed with no budget and not knowing how to hold a paintbrush, we got to work.

Luckily we loved it. And we didn’t kill ourselves or each other in the process.

We are have now moved on to house number two. This time it was pink countertops, honey oak and lots of shiny fake brass. And don’t forget the nasty wallpaper. Because we had way too much fun DIYing the first time, we thought that this was a grand idea.

Along the DIY journey, I developed a love of sewing.  And modern quilting.  And fabric purchasing.  All three have become some of my favorite hobbies and these creative endeavors also are a subject of posts while I try to figure out what the heck I am doing and try not to embarrass myself.  Well at least the first two.  I try not to bore you with pictures of piles of fabric in shopping bags.  (That is what Instagram is for, right?).

Our son, Carter, has joined the party and we have embraced nursery decor, baby proofing and playrooms in addition to keeping our eye on all the other projects that are still waiting. We are raising him to love hardware stores and Homegoods just as much as we do.

Grab a glass of wine, put your feet up and stay awhile. If you want to see where we have come from and determine that people who designed homes in the early 90’s in midwest surburbia need their head examined, check out the House Tour link up top with lots of good before and afters. If you want to get your hands dirty with a DIY project, head on up to the DIY Tutorials. Feeling crafty? Those tutorials are up above too.  Finally, the small collection of my quilts that I like to think of as modern, can be found in the cleverly titled Quilts tab.

I little note- please do not use my photos without my permission (but feel free to pin away!). If you complete a project using one of our tutorials I would love to hear about it (and see it), but I ask if you blog about it to please credit me with a link back.

Welcome to Anything Pretty!

about me_edited-1

Here goes nothing......

So I have been contemplating joining the blog world for a couple of months now and have decided to take the leap. Why you ask?

Why finally join the blog world when I can barely take enough time to ever update my status on facebook? Why blog since spelling/grammar/proofreading is not necessarily my strongest area? Why take the time to write posts that only my mother will take the time to read? Do I even have anything interesting to write about?

At least these were the questions I was asking myself......

I have decided to take the plunge is a couple of reasons. First, I enjoy being creative and currently do not have any outlet to share this with the world. I am a school psychologist by day that job does not satisfy my addiction to design, gardening, and DIY projects. I spend so much time researching DIY projects, inspiration photos and how-tos online that I hope adding my personal experience could be helpful to someone else. Also since I suck at phone calls and facebook, I hope that this will give me an opportunity to provide family and friends updates on our life. My friend Sarah has also been urging me and I finally gave into the peer pressure (so maybe she will actually read it too).

When I tried to think of a clever title I had lots that did not make the cut (or were taken by someone more clever and faster than me). Most of my interests involved the house but titles involving DIY projects and home design were too narrow since I also love other things like gardening and crafts. Although DIY-Manic almost made the cut-get it like dynamic but has DIY and Manic involved since I love those types of projects and I am a psychologist-not funny to anyone else but me and possibly insulting to people with Bipolar disorder so it was crossed off the list. When I thought about the common characteristics of all my interests (at least the ones I plan to blog about-I will spare everyone with my weird interests like watching COPS) they all involved something that was pretty/beautiful/creative. So I finally settled on the title of "anything pretty" since that will encompass everything I plan on writing about.

So here is my vision for my blog-lots of before and after pictures since we are currently updating our house room by room after finishing our previous house, detailed how-tos from projects we have completed and will be doing, inspiration pictures, gardening successes and failures, life updates, craft projects etc. Hopefully it will helpful and somewhat entertaining. Thanks for reading!