Wednesday, December 17, 2014


There was so much excitement in the last two weeks. Mr. JCrew completed his college degree and the joy was uncontainable.

Back in August, I announced to our friends that we would be throwing a party to celebrate this occasion. Back then, December felt so far away and I was chuckled at for planning so far ahead.

But that's what Mr. JCrew wanted. Throughout the years, he has said he wanted a big party to celebrate all the hard work. He has an outgoing personality and he loves a good party. It was hard for him not to hang out with his friends and to do homework.

The day finally came. Finals week was upon us and it didn't seem real. To see him walk across the stage was a dream! You couldn't wipe the smile off my face or his.

We brought our cowbells to the graduation and rang them loud and proud when they called his name. He heard us!

The first 45 minutes of the ceremony couldn't have been any longer. I was worried about the boys, if I felt that bored. Luckily, I brought cookies from my cookie exchange the day before, and Miss Julie was there to be a fresh face of entertainment.

Next up, the celebration! We invited everyone that had been apart of our lives during this time. Everyone knew that Mr. JCrew was in school. We wanted to thank everyone for their support and patience during the last five years. It's not fun having to say, "No" to fun events because school got in the way. Mr. JCrew is glad to have a social calendar again.

The night couldn't have been more perfect. Seeing the smile on Mr. JCrew's face made it all worth it. The stress was gone.

I was finally able to describe the feeling I was experiencing. The night of graduation, I couldn't sleep. It was like we won the lottery and paid off a huge debt. It is a fresh start. It's an amazing feeling.

Not only did Mr. JCrew graduate, but his sister and her husband graduated and our friends, the Pittman's graduated as well.

We can't thank our friends and family enough. So many were a part of the effort and provided support when we were at our weakest. THANK YOU! We couldn't have done it without you.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Winter Urns

The ice-breaker for Sunday School two weeks back, had us reflect on what our front porch would say about us. (This is because we were learning about the Mezuzah). I was not there for the ice-breaker, so Mr. JCrew used me for his answer. He said that if someone were to guess who we were by our front porch only, they would guess we were gardeners. It's true, I love plants and I love to be out in the yard. And while we are temporarily living with my mom, I've stocked her porches with plants.

The neighborhood we live in has a garden committee, and I participate. It is so much fun! We were given the task to come up with a Winter urn for the clubhouse. The urns would stay at the clubhouse and be rotated with seasonal flowers.

First we had to select a design. We had four designs to choose from.

We ended up choosing the one that was very Christmas-y (#3). Since we did not have urns, we had to procure some. The developer chose those, and I kept them at Mom's house. They weren't Mom's style and she couldn't wait to see them go.

I used spare rock from the construction site to fill the bottom, after I drilled a drainage hole.

The lip of the urn would have trailing pansies that will spill over the edge. Gold, red and purple are the colors of winter (I was told).

Now, for the centerpiece, we picked a Colorado Blue Spruce. It's pretty and smells awesome! And for the greenery, we cut some branches from juniper, holly and magnolia on the berm at the entrance of our neighborhood.

We spray-painted some of the magnolia pods silver for some flare, and we had some fake red berries to add.

When the greenery withers away, we will remove them and the pansies will be there to take the lead. We also planted some crocus bulbs in between the pansies that should come up in January.

It was a lot of fun to put them together and meet new friends. And the coloring/style may not have been my mom's, it is perfect at the clubhouse!

When it comes time to make the Spring arrangement, we'll remove the spruces and plant them in one of our vacant common areas. And someone had a great idea of using dogwoods for the centerpiece of our Spring arrangements. Then we'll plant those in a common area when we are through with them as well.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Our first Thanksgiving without Dad.

My sister from Florida came up to visit and brought her husband.

They also brought their pups. We had SEVEN dogs. Thank goodness they are small.

Anderson, Jackson, Colby, Hunter, Kates, Bosley, Charles

The house was full, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

We spent Thanksgiving with our friends. The kiddos had a great time at their own table.

Little JCrew even tried the cranberry sauce!

We didn't do any Black Friday shopping, but we did get out of the house. We went to Lowes! I really wanted to visit the subcontractors for the house, but they are good businesses and allowed their employees to have the day after Thanksgiving off. To satisfy the need to get something done, we went to Lowes. The boys liked cramming themselves into vanities.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with the Jenson side on Sunday. We walked in and were blown away with the setup.

It was perfect. Cole wrote out the name tags.

Mr. JCrew's sisters have the pictures with everyone sitting down. Grandpa J had all the kids at his end.

After dessert, we ended the night with Bunco! It was a fun game the kids enjoyed. It will now be a tradition.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. December is here and that's hard to believe!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Modified Greenhouse

The weather sure skipped over the Fall niceness, and went to sever cold a few weeks back. The weather continues to be hot / cold and it is messing with people's health and the plants just don't know what they should be doing.

When we left the old house, I took a lot of plants with me. I divided the lirope and daylilies to use in the new yard. I also took all of the iris Nana gave me.

During this time of living at Mom's place, I have acquired more plants. My co-worker is an extraordinary green-thumb and gives me all kinds of unique plants that only real gardiners have!

Dwarf Lamb's Ear

She introduces me to so many. One of those being a shade-loving Soloman's Seal. Such a cool name and plant.

Soloman's Seal

When her yard gets over-crowded, she divides them and shares them. I'm just one of the lucky recipients.

I didn't want to plant all of these in the ground and later have to move them, but they needed protection from the cold. I thought of using the garage, but it's a one car garage and the driveway only holds two cars, so we need the garage space.

I looked into buying a greenhouse, then making a green house, until I came to my final idea. The boys have a playhouse that they won't be using when it is cold. I can board up the windows and put all the plants in there.

In the treehouse, we put two plant stands we already owned to take advantage of vertical space.

I used visqueen as the plastic barrier to cover the windows. Two of the windows have shutters, but the others did not. I also made a flap for the door.

There is even a skylight in the playhouse to let light in.

So far, this has been a huge help for keeping the plants from burning in the frost. Some of my plants had new growth (from the crazy weather) and I didn't want them to be harmed.

The only downside is it's a pain to water. But this past weekend, I cut all the dead foliage off the plants and it's easier to water. I don't have to water often either.

I'm proud of my greenhouse. I didn't want it to be an eye-sore or have anything take up room in our small yard. This worked out great. Best part, I have plants ready to go in the new yard! Just have to pay for sod and trees! Not bad at all.

And while I was converting the playhouse, Mom was using the contraption Dad created to blow the leaves out of the gutters. She has woods behind her house and the leaves are abundant. Dad created this extension for the leaf blower so that we could easily clean out the gutters and not use a ladder. Thanks, Dad!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Brick Colors

Our land we are to build on is in a subdivision with an HOA and Architecture Board. For each house built, the builder/owner has to submit an application. Along with that application, you have to provide a sample of the brick you are to use and the exterior paint chips.

I was not even close to picking a brick color yet. We've been designing this house and I had my choice of brick color and Mr. JCrew had his. This is the only thing where our tastes varied. I like red brick and he does not. My favorite brick color is near my mom's house.

But I'm picky about my red's. It can't be red-red. There has to be some contrast to it. Below is an example of red brick I do not like. It may be that I think the stone doesn't match.

This red brick is okay, and reminds me of our first house.

When I think of brick and stone being on the same side of the house, I picture them matching. This house does that very well. Mr. JCrew says it looks very masculine.

There is white brick that can be testefully done.

And then there is white brick that is too much. I can't judge it yet because it is not finished. The trim and shutters could make it so much better. But I have nicknamed this house the "pink house." When it rains, the house turns pink!

This picture made the brick look white, but it really a cream with varying shades mixed in. This house has been under construction forever. My sister always asks about it becase she can't believe that each time she visits, the owners have not moved in! I think they're close!

Mr. JCrew seems to like gray/brown brick. 

My mom has always loved this house.

To me, I think I shy away from gray/brown because of the lack of color. But there was one color of brick that we both liked and I chose it as my backup color. I loved watching this house be built. I am in love with the front doors and the porch ceiling.

I've thought about painting brick if I couldn't find a color Mr. JCrew and I agreed on.

But I shutter at the maintenance of paint. I rather only have my trim and minimal siding to touch-up every few years and not the entire house.

We drove all around the city and finally found a color we liked. We always overlooked it because the majority of the house is stone.

 I called the builder and asked him the brick name and color. He provided it to me along with the mortar color and stone. I've realized brick shopping how important mortar color is. Below is a sample of the same brick we've chosen, but with a different color mortar. Makes a huge difference.

Ivory Mortar
Buff Mortar

So, I called the brick company and asked if I could borrow a sample to get approval from the HOA. But I also needed the sample to pick an exterior trim color. This step made me really nervous.

I knew what color I wanted the doors to be; Dragon's Breath by Benjamin Moore. I started with that paint swatch. When I pulled it, I realized I loved every color in the family. My choices would now be easy.

I really did do a happy dance and got all excited. This was it! Next, I had to decide what color and where. It's hard to describe without showing you the elevation of the house, but I would need three, possibly four, colors on the exterior.

One rule of thumb I was given, was to pick the shade darker of the color you like when selecting exterior colors. The sun washes colors out. The 'London Fog' color at the top of the swatch in the picture above appears gray, but would look white on the house outside. That was a good rule of thumb to use.

When selecting our colors, I had to remember the style of house I have. It is mainly Tudor, with a front porch. Tudors don't have porches, but we both wanted one. And usually tudor style houses use dark trim colors. You can't find white trim on a tudor. So that nixed my lighter color I had picked for trim (Ben Moore China White).

I picked out three colors. Here's where they fit on the color swatch.

I remembered to pick the shade darker than what I was drawn to.

I am very excited to have picked colors and be happy with them. I really took this step seriously. It's not like the interior that is easier to change. I have a reputation for painting things over, but I think I am learning what I like and am happy with and sticking to that instead of trying to be bold.

As for what we selected:

Brick: Harbour Shoals by Pine Hall Brick
Mortar: Light Buff
Trim 1: Plymouth Rock by Benjamin Moore
Trim 2: Gargoyle by Benjamin Moore
Trim 3: Dragon's Breath by Benjamin Moore

Once they go up on the house, I'll share more pictures.

Whew. I'm getting really excited now.

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