...because home doesn't happen overnight.
02.09.15 / Made Me Smile

cool cat

How was your weekend? We had decent weather. Decent weather = >40ºF + no snow + sunshine. Isn’t it crazy how warm 45ºF feels mid-winter as opposed to early fall?! We couldn’t bear to stay inside another minute on Saturday, so we took the kids to the park for a few hours then went out for a late lunch. Cheetah held down the fort lying on a floor register…next to the fireplace…in a ray of sunshine. It’s her Trifecta of Happiness.

More happiness…

*All my blog friends are making renovation plans! I love living vicariously through them…and them.

*The designer who inspired the wood cradle base in our bathroom has new biz digs and some pretty amazing projects in the works.

*What white paint, open shelving and a vintage rug can do for a kitchen.

*Have you ever wondered what Ikea’s birch cabinets look like painted?

*How to make coconut whipped cream.

modern rustic cabin 1

modern rustic cabin 3

modern rustic cabin 2

*The cabin of my dreams has casement windows, heated brick floors, a clever walk-in closet, a cheeky porthole window in the floor and a bed on casters with the option to sleep under the stars. *BONUS* – It’s a vacation rental!

*Here’s a little Grammy-related trivia for you: Rosanne Cash‘s daughter is the mastermind behind this renovated ranch in Nashville. (Read more about the project here.)

Keep on the sunny side, friends.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2-4) Jean Longpré


Congrats to Trudy and Nathan who would like to try the orange apple fruit chews and the pineapple coconut bar, respectively.

I’ve had requests to share what a typical day is like for me. The thing is, every day is different and not all that exciting. But I figured, what the heck!, and documented a random day earlier this week. Spoiler alert: it’s not as glamorous as you think. I’m just a normal mom trying my best to make it through these long days and short years without letting my health, sanity and passions fall by the wayside. Get ready for some very candid, very real photos. (It was a no makeup, no shower day. Not all that unusual actually.)


midnight – 7:45 a.m. I’m up with Mabrey eight times during the night. I thought she had the “big kid” bed all figured out but I was wrong.

6:30 – 7:45 a.m. Steve gets the boys up and off to school so I can catch some zzzzz’s but, in reality, I just lie in bed replaying the night’s events on the back of my eyelids like a bad movie. I am exhausted before the day even starts. Mabrey throws open the door. Good morning! She is unfazed by the lack of sleep. I get up, wash my face, make the bed and plod to the kitchen for breakfast.

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. We eat breakfast: fried uncured ham, toast with honey from one of Steve’s co-worker’s beehives (it’s the best honey I’ve ever had) and green juice that Steve made. Mabrey leans over several times while we’re eating to tell me secrets. I love you, she whispers. Suddenly last night doesn’t seem so awful in retrospect. Steve is working from home today. I thank him for the juice and for getting the boys off to school. I empty the dishwasher, load it back up with dirties and clean up the kitchen.

mabrey bath


9:00 – 10:30 a.m. I attempt to edit some photos for a blog post while Mabrey plays with Play-doh but it’s nearly impossible. She wants me to play with her. I feel like I’m half-assing both tasks so I shut my laptop and try to keep her happy and quiet while Steve works nearby. After a while, Mabrey and I go to my room so I can get dressed. In the few minutes it takes me to dress, Mabrey sneaks into the bathroom and rubs big clumps of Steve’s hair gel into her own hair. I try combing it out but it’s useless. I give her a bath while Cheetah supervises.

naturebox snacks

tennis snack

we're off!

10:30 – 11:00 a.m. Mabrey and I prepare to run errands. I have a tennis drilling session at noon but need to grab a few things from the store first. I make a list: toilet paper, paper towels, one of those childproof doorknob covers to prevent Mabrey from wandering the house at night. I pack Mabrey a NatureBox snack for the trip to the store: mango orange fruit chews + praline pumpkin seeds. I also pack her a lunch to eat in the nursery at tennis while I’m drilling. If I eat lunch before tennis, I’m sluggish. Instead, I pack NatureBox’s dark chocolate berry trail mix, a banana and my water bottle. We’re off! I feel like I’m forgetting something.


11:00 a.m. – noon Mabrey eats her snack while I grab a few things. We check out. As I’m loading up our purchases, I remember that I forgot to grab Mabrey’s lunch I had packed at home. (I knew I was forgetting something!) I tell her. She loses it. I drive back home, grab her lunch and drive to tennis. I scarf down my banana and a palmful of trail mix. I pull into the parking lot right at noon. Mabrey has fallen asleep in her car seat. I feel a twinge of guilt and wonder if I should skip tennis to take Mabrey home for a nap she most desperately needs. Mabrey wakes up excited for “school.”

noon – 2:00 p.m. I drill with a fun group of ladies. (I played tennis in high school and just picked up a racket again in October after an 18-year hiatus.) I play like crap but it feels good to sweat it out. I get a boost of energy. I pick Mabrey up from the nursery. Her “teacher” informs me that Mabrey was unusually tired. Mabrey falls asleep on the way home.


2:00 – 2:45 p.m. I put Mabrey down for a nap. She doesn’t fight me at all. I’m so hungry. I eat lunch: cajun stew leftover from the previous night’s dinner + an apple with peanut cookie butter. I unload the car & Mabrey’s lunch bag and clean up the kitchen. Again. I scoop Cheetah’s litter box. I need to shower but don’t have enough time.

everett home

everett snack

everett snack

steve snack

2:45 – 3:30 p.m. Everett gets off the bus and pretends to fall down in the driveway while all the kids on the bus watch. (He does this every day. The first time he did it his bus driver stopped the bus to make sure he was okay. Everett = drama.) I make him oatmeal with almond milk and top it with NatureBox’s french toast granola + strawberries. He eats every. single. bite. He does his homework. I offer Steve – who eats a mostly paleo diet – NatureBox’s coconut date energy bites. He strikes a corny pose for the camera then threatens to post a picture of me eating in my pajamas on the internet.

layne home

layne snack

3:30 – 4:00 p.m. Layne is home from school. He brings in the day’s mail. He chooses a snack: carrot, apple, NatureBox’s praline pumpkin seeds. I sort the mail and parent-teacher communication. I’m reminded that I am chaperoning Layne’s field trip the next morning.

4:00 – 6:00 p.m. It’s too cold to play outside. Layne and Everett watch a movie while I edit photos (finally!) and attempt to wrangle my inbox. I am so behind. I really want to write a post but Mabrey wakes up from her nap. We cuddle for a while and I start contemplating dinner.

dinner help

everett color

layne reads

everett note

6:00 – 6:30 p.m. Mabrey helps me prepare dinner while Everett colors and Layne reads. We listen to Nickel Creek on Cone. Everett gives a love note to Steve who is hiding in our bedroom finishing up work. He decides he’s done and joins us in the kitchen.


6:30 – 7:15 p.m. We eat dinner: bacon-wrapped pollack, asparagus cooked in sesame oil with lemon mayo. Plus white cheddar mac-n-cheese for the kids. Plus rosé for me. The boys whine about the asparagus but they eat it anyway and we talk about how everyone’s pee is going to stink later. Each kid gets a mini frozen coconut sandwich bar as a reward for finishing their dinner.

tetonic plates

packing lunches

7:15 – 7:45 p.m. It’s kitchen cleanup time. Again. The kids bring their dishes to the sink. Steve loads the dishwasher while I wipe down the counters and sweep the floor. The boys get their pajamas on and brush their teeth. Mabrey needs a little help with hers. Layne shows everyone his school project on tectonic plates. All three kids commence play-wrestling in the living room. I pretend not to hear the words “butt” and “poop.” Steve packs the boys’ lunches for the next day and gets a little help from Mabrey. I go to feed Cheetah but discover Mabrey has already fed her…a week’s worth of food…in her water bowl.

7:45 – 8:05 p.m. We meditate.

8:05 – 8:30 p.m. Bedtime stories for Everett and Mabrey. Hugs, kisses, lights out. I realize I forgot to buy a doorknob cover for Mabrey’s room earlier in the day. It was even on my list! Steve rushes off to buy one just in case we need it. I really hope Mabrey sleeps.

8:30 – 9:00 p.m. Layne reads then heads to bed. Steve is back with a 4-pack of doorknob covers. We decide to hold off on installing one until Mabrey is awake. Don’t wake a sleeping dragon!

9:00 – 10:00 p.m. Steve sits next to me in the living room while I edit MORE PHOTOS. At 10:00, he gives me a quick kiss and goes to bed.


10:00 p.m. – 12:45 a.m. With Cheetah snoozing at my side, I finish editing photos, write a post and respond to the most pressing emails in my inbox. I throw in the towel. I need a shower still but I’m too tired. I’ll have to get up extra early the next morning to squeeze in a shower. I change into my pajamas, wash my face, brush my teeth, set my alarm and slide into bed. It’s frigid and I think about summer and warm sunshine and wonder why the hell I live in Ohio. But I’m grateful for our snug lil’ house, my healthy family and a full day. Cheetah curls up at my feet. I’m out within minutes.


Ground-breaking stuff, eh? Like I said, every day is different. On the days I don’t have tennis, I try to work out at home. Some nights I stay up until 2:00 a.m. cranking out a post just because that’s the only time I have to do it. Once a week, I get groceries. About once a week, Steve brings home dinner. We try to keep things pretty healthy most of the time but indulge every now and then.

NatureBox snacks are a great fit for our lifestyle. We pack them for school, work and on the go. I love that they are free of high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats and artificial sweeteners / flavors / colors. The kids love the way they taste. Eaten on their own or paired with fresh produce, yogurt, oatmeal, etc., they are the perfect pick-me-up. With over 100 snacks to choose from, there’s something for everyone. (I was stoked to see many new options!) I like to keep them on hand for when our groceries are running low and I can’t make it to the store. The subscription service  allows me to choose new & healthy snacks each month. Are you interested in giving NatureBox a try? Keep reading for details on how to win a free 6-month subscription!

PRIZE: Two winners will each win a 6-month subscription to NatureBox.

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. or Canada.

TO ENTER: Browse the ample snack selection here. Then leave a comment on this post sharing which snack you’d most like to try.

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 12th. Two random winners will be announced Friday, February 13th.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: Join NatureBox today and score a FREE sample box of their most popular snacks. Click here to get started. Free trial is available for new and U.S. & Canadian subscribers only. Not valid on gift subscriptions and may not be combined with any other offers.

Good luck and healthy snacking!

*This post is sponsored in part by NatureBox. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog. Even if you don’t end up subscribing, I hope you enjoyed a behind-the-scenes look at my everyday.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

toddler transition 1

A few weeks ago I put Mabrey down for her afternoon nap and jumped in the shower. I hadn’t even wet my hair when she threw back the shower curtain and said, “Hi mom! I get outta my bed.” She had climbed out of her crib for the first time ever. She was so proud. I was so, so sad. There went my babygirl and my opportune shower time. Sniffle, sniffle.

Needless to say, we skipped naptime that day and later on in the evening I converted the crib to a toddler bed. For those who don’t know already, it’s the Ikea GULLIVER crib and I have nothing but good things to say about it. It’s affordable, practical and has clean lines & a small footprint. The ability to convert to a toddler bed was the final selling point for me.

toddler transition 2

Removing the one side was quick & easy. It took me all of twenty minutes. My favorite thing about it was that other than the accompanying toddler side rail (which I stashed in the nursery closet for the past two years), I didn’t have to keep track of any other parts or hardware. All of the hardware I removed was used again to install the toddler side rail. LOVE THAT. I slid the crib rail I removed in behind the standing shelf in Mabrey’s closet. It barely takes up any space. DOUBLE LOVE THAT.

The crib-to-toddler-bed conversion left me feeling sentimental and a bit lost. Sentimental because I’ll never put a child of mine to bed in a crib ever again. Lost because, even though I have two older kids, this was my first experience with a climbing toddler. Neither of my boys ever showed interest in climbing out of their crib. They were both 3+ years old when I transitioned them to a twin bed in preparation for a subsequent baby’s birth. And they each handled the transition beautifully.

I’d like to say the same for Mabrey, age 2¾. She did really well the first week. I think she was just so smitten with the idea of sleeping in a “big kid” bed, she wanted to do it right. But, lo and behold, last week was rough. It was like she went to bed one night and something clicked.

Heyyyyyyyy. Wait a minute. I can get up whenever I want. I can get up WHENEVER I WANT. And turn on all of the things! And take off all of the things! And climb all of the things! And never sleep! And party all night long!! Yeah, let’s do that.

Steve was out of town last week. Figures. When he’s gone, Everett gets a little daddysick and likes to wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me his foot hurts and the only thing that will make it better is sleeping in my bed. I don’t mind. He goes right to sleep. But when he came into my room one night last week (for the second time that night), I had already been up with Mabrey a half-dozen times or more each night for the past several nights (including that night) and was on the verge of livid-exhausted. If you’re a parent, you know that feeling. You are so, so tired and you’re mad that you’re tired. You’re so mad about being tired that your anger wires you and the only thing you can do is lay frozen in bed thinking about how tired-mad you are and what you wouldn’t give for just five hours of solid sleep. Until another little person walks into your room or the baby starts crying again. Sleep deprivation. It’s a torturous thing.

Anyway, I hadn’t an ounce of sympathy for Everett’s daddy-missing foot. Gruffly, I told him to get in bed with me and go to sleep. Then I cursed Steve. Because somehow it was his fault that Everett’s foot was heartbroken and Mabrey was participating in what can only be described as “Girls Gone Wild Toddler Edition.”

By mid-week, I had removed the rocker and all lightbulbs from the nursery and was contemplating a padded room. Mabrey was miserable. She hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in over a week. She’s normally a very happy-go-lucky kid but had melted into a whiny bag of overtiredness. I was at my wits’ end. Then, I think out of sheer exhaustion, Mabrey finally slept through the night. As did I. Uninterrupted sleep is pure bliss.

We’ve had a few nights in a row of good, long sleeps. Mabrey is back to her cheery, cheeky self. Steve is home. Everett’s foot is miraculously pain-free. I think we’ve turned the corner. Fingers crossed.

toddler transition 6

toddler transition 7

I thought I’d share some pictures of the changes in Mabrey’s room now that we’re all in a better place ;) Don’t let her cuteness fool you. She was a hot mess less than a week ago!

The highlight of the transition has been bringing out the heirloom quilt my grandma gave me last year. Doesn’t it look like it was made just for this room? It was made by my great-grandmother, Mabrey’s great-great grandmother. Mabrey is her namesake. My great-grandmother’s maiden name was Larew which is Mabrey’s middle name. That quilt is pretty special.

toddler transition 3

I hung the Bright Lab lights months ago. I’ve mentioned them on instagram but don’t think they’ve been formally introduced on the blog.

toddler transition 8

Ironically enough, they are dubbed the Party Girl lights. How fitting.

toddler transition 5

The rocker is still in the living room. I’m not taking any chances.

In summary, the physical conversion of the crib to a toddler bed was smooth sailing. The actual transition? Notsomuch.

I’d love to hear your experience with the crib-to-bed transition. Was it an easy or difficult milestone? At what age did you switch your child(ren)? Was it different for each child? Did you use any sneaky tricks?

Sweet dreams all around! And if not, there’s always Go the F**k to Sleep. No, Seriously, Just Go to Sleep.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking