The last few days have been gorgeous here, but that hasn’t been the case all summer. We’ve had so much rain that severe weather warnings and flood watches don’t faze us anymore. In our neighborhood alone we’ve had lightning strikes, fallen trees, flooded roads and power outages on an almost weekly basis. I love a good thunderstorm and slow, drizzly days (I usually open a door or window to hear and smell the rain) but I can only take so many lazy, rainy days in a row before I start to feel a little batty. We’ve had to get creative and move beyond the typical book reading, movie watching and puddle jumping activities to thwart boredom. Here are a few things we’ve been doing when precipitation strikes:
We light candles all over the house. We play cards and board games by candlelight. We’ve eaten breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert by candlelight. It feels slower and special. The kids love it. It’s gotten to the point where as soon as it starts to sprinkle they ask to light candles.
We play glow-in-the-dark chess. Layne was gifted this set last year and it has gotten so much use. The kids usually set it up in the boys’ room on the bottom bunk and close the blinds and bed curtains. It’s kind of the coolest thing ever.
We make stop motion videos. We use the myCreate app. It’s ~$5 and worth every penny. The kids use Play-Doh, Legos, matchbox cars and figurines to plot out visual stories. They even add audio sometimes. It’s pretty comical to watch and it keeps the kids occupied for long periods of time.
We try new recipes. I’ve mentioned it before…this cookbook is my current fave. Paleo or not, the recipes are easy and tasty.
Or sometimes we stick to our old favorites like chocolate no-bake cookies. Who am I kidding? We make these even when it isn’t raining! I use almond milk instead of dairy milk. So, so good.
We visit local museums. Our favorites are the Dayton Art Institute and the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The latter has FREE admission!
We have a balloon party. It consists of blowing up a bunch of balloons and hitting / kicking them all over the house.
We listen to our Cone. The kids like to request silly things like “I like pizza” and “cucumbers.” Surprisingly, Cone almost always finds a song to meet their requests. (Yep, there really is an “I Like Pizza” song.)
We make origami. Earlier this summer, I purchased colorful origami paper and this beginner’s guide to modular origami. Sometimes we refer to tutorials on youtube as well. It’s a great activity for my oldest, Layne, who is 10 years old. He has created some really beautiful pieces. I think some of them might even make an appearance in the BHG feature.
We browse airbnb and vrbo for fun. We take turns picking destinations and then pretend to search for a vacation home. “Oh, I would totally stay here!” “That would be my room!” “Forget vacation, I want to LIVE here.” Sometimes we end up booking a place, most times not. The pretending is almost as fun as the real thing.
We look through family photo books. I’m amazed by what the kids remember about certain events. We talk about happy and sad times, easy and difficult times. It’s usually a good reminder to me to order new books.
We make silly costumes out of everyday objects. I’ll hand the kids electrical tape, a paper bag and scissors and say, “Okay, make me laugh.” They always do.
We visit a local nursery. It might sound counter-intuitive but rainy days are my favorite days to visit the nursery. We usually have the place to ourselves and the fresh air is just what we need. I think the plants look so healthy, thirsty and beautiful covered in rain droplets. Our local nursery even has a children’s play table set up in the greenhouse. There are miniature animal figurines, dump trucks, shovels, buckets, gravel, sand and dirt. The kids can scoop, dump, pour and dig to their hearts’ content.
We discover new parks. Again, it’s not an event that would normally come to mind for a rainy day activity but it’s one that we have come to really enjoy. Who knew there was a limestone waterfall just a short drive from our house? Or a real cave? (Perfect for hiding out in when the rain picks up.) Funny story: Layne was climbing on the natural rock walls which is against park policy. Steve and I quickly pointed out the “no rock climbing” sign. Layne said, “Oh, I thought that was a guy tripping on an umbrella.” Haha! That just goes to show how much rain we’ve had lately.
We visit open houses nearby. This is my new personal favorite ;) I love getting a peek inside houses that I walk or drive by regularly. If I’m lucky, the homeowners have great taste and mad DIY skills.
What are some of your favorite rainy activities? Do you have any unusual rainy day traditions?
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
When we were designing the kitchen, we were a little confused about what to do for the exposed side of the fridge. A side panel would most certainly tidy up the appearance but would it be weird to have a full-length white side panel in a tuxedo kitchen? Would a white panel extending all the way to the floor look strange with black lower cabinets elsewhere? We couldn’t decide. So when we ordered our Ikea kitchen and discovered the side panel we needed was on indefinite backorder, we let it go.
We lived with one side of the fridge exposed to the living room for a few years. As much as I adored seeing my kids’ creations and accomplishments stuck up there, things felt cluttered and chaotic. In preparation for the photo shoot, we finally got around to purchasing and installing a side panel…three years later.
Luckily, Ikea sells a white 36″ x 96″ cover panel in the current SEKTION line that matches the older AKURUM cabinets – which we have. (It’s the FÖRBÄTTRA cover panel in case you’re wondering.) We simply cut it to size and screwed the top into the cabinet above the fridge. The bottom is secured to the floor with small L brackets.
I love how the side panel visually connects the cabinet above to the fridge below. The fridge looks more built-in so the entire kitchen feels finished and polished from the adjacent living area now.
The crazy thing is the white panel is a non-issue after all those weeks and months of rolling around the idea in the early stages of renovating. It just makes sense. (Can you spot the kitty lump in the mudroom? Haha.)
The way things were displayed before was very random and haphazard. Just papers and magnets in disarray. So much so that it was hard to appreciate any one thing. After the new side panel was up, I slapped on some of my favorite family-oriented instagram prints from Artifact Uprising using washi tape. I find Mabrey standing on the step stool studying the photos on a daily basis. It’s so cute.
I guess the takeaway here is, if you’re in the middle of renovating and you can’t quite figure out a particular detail, it’s not the end of the world if you need to wait it out or live with it a while for it to make sense. I can remember getting so caught up in stupid little things mid-renovation. They drove me nuts! Often times, taking a step back and focusing on something else helped. I’m just not sure why it took so long with this one.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
I’ve been keeping a secret.
This week a team of art directors, editors, stylists and photographers from Better Homes & Gardens arrived at our house for a photo shoot! One of the home editors at BHG reached out to me this past spring about the possibility of a feature. I was asked to send over sample pictures and a narrative detailing the renovation and any special features of our home for a pitch. Honestly, I didn’t expect things to go any further than the pitching stage. I was so shocked when I got an email saying the editorial team had unanimously chosen our home for a feature. WTF?! Up until this week, I was half-expecting them to retract the offer, to realize their mistake and call off the whole thing. I mean, we’re just a normal family living in a normal house that we’ve slowly tweaked into our home.
But now that things are in full swing, I am so excited!
I’m excited to watch the pros work their magic. I’ll probably ask way too many questions and annoy the heck out of them. I’m excited to see our home through someone else’s lens. Sometimes it’s fun to see the place you live in a new light. I’m excited to witness what goes on behind the scenes of a legit photo shoot. Spoiler alert: A LOT. Our garage is standing in as a temporary prop room for the stylists and also a storage room for photography equipment. Obviously, I’m excited for the feature itself, too. I can remember reading my grandma’s BHG magazines as a kid and I’ve been a regular subscriber in my adulthood. To open the magazine and see the fruit of our blood, sweat and tears doesn’t seem feasible. It’s just plain crazy to even think about at this point.
What I’m most excited about though is the fact that a real house is going to be featured. We’re in Ohio – nowhere near a coast or trendy city. We live in a modest ranch built in the 60s – not a new, custom build or even an old house with charming architectural details. We have only the rooms we need and nothing more. There is no guest room or play room or sunroom or basement. I hope BHG readers will find our home inspiring because it’s relatable and achievable. There’s nothing extravagant about our home or lifestyle.
So the big secret is out! I’m jotting down notes and snapping a few behind-the-scenes pictures to share with you when the feature goes live sometime in 2016. I’m also bribing my kids to be on their best behavior. (Mabrey put on an impromptu dance recital for the team yesterday and Cheetah is stealing everyone’s hearts.) And it looks like the weather is going to cooperate, so YAY! I’ll be posting a few sneak peeks from the shoot over on my instagram account if you want to follow along.
As always, thanks for reading. There is absolutely no way this feature would be happening without this blog. And there’s absolutely no way this blog would be happening without you. You all are the best. Thank you.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking