...because home doesn't happen overnight.
11.20.15 / Liked & Linked

everett & cheetah

Can we agree that parenting is hard? I graduated first in my class in high school and college (that means absolutely nothing in real life, btw) and nothing has required more from me than being a parent. It is emotionally, financially, intellectually and physically taxing. We don’t watch the news in our house but I do listen to NPR in the car and my kids hear snippets of reports. With everything that is going on in the world and being covered by the media, my kids have questions. Questions that are incredibly difficult, even impossible, for me to answer. And this week they all came flooding out.

Everett asked, “Mom, why do bad guys want to kill people? And how is it a good idea to bomb anybody? I mean, if you kill a bad guy but blow up a school too, how is that okay? And even if you kill only the bad guy, don’t you feel bad about killing somebody?” He’s seven. SEVEN.

Part of me applauded his insight and conscientiousness. I want my kids to question everything. I want them to be empathetic. The other part of me was horrified that his innocence is being tainted by the gravity of real world problems. I didn’t know what to say. I told him his questions were good ones and that I didn’t have the answers. I told him he will likely have more questions that can’t be answered but he should ask them anyway. I told him that I love him. Later, he helped me make a donation to the International Federation of Red Cross.

Are you having similar experiences with your children? How are you handling them?

A few (lighter) things…

*When kids take things literally. (This is so, SO Everett.)

*Room is one of my favorite fiction reads of all time. I’m curious to see how the movie compares to the book. So far, it’s getting great reviews.

*Cozy rooms for weekend lazing.

*I’ve often thought our counter stools would look great with leather tops. They do!icon

modern majestic

modern majestic 2

*When the weather turns colder, I fall down the real estate rabbit hole. It’s my weakness. I’d live here.

*Sweet potato  & sausage soup is on heavy rotation around here these days.

*One woman’s mission to scatter joy through art, living and giving is now a self-titled brand. And it’s even more inspiring when you know it was an entrepreneurial choice Kathy made with tenacity shortly after divorcing and become a single parent. I’m happy to be participating in the Kathy Davis #CreateaLifeYouLove campaign along with several other bloggers. It’s fun to see the variety of beliefs, interests and special someones held dear to everyone’s hearts. Follow @KathyDavisBrand to see more.

I hope your weekend is full of kindness and sharing. xx

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Realestate.co.nz

honest bathroom 8

We’ve been living with TWO bathrooms for almost a year. It still feels like a luxury after sharing one bathroom for nearly three years. I get a lot of questions wanting to know how the main bathroom is or is not working for us. Now that we’ve lived with it a while, I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts on the space: things I’m loving, things I would change if I had it to do over and how I’m keeping the room looking as good as new. (Hint: It has something to do with The Honest Company and their promise to deliver safe and effective products at an affordable price point. I’ve been using their products for years on my own, unsolicited, and am happy to share a discount from Honest at the end of this post. If you aren’t interested in the offer, feel free to skip it but I hope you still find this post helpful when/if you’re brainstorming a bathroom renovation.)

honest bathroom 11

First up, the tub and its DIY cradle base are solid. We LOVE them. I was really nervous about losing the claw feet and adding the wood base (which we kind of made up as we went) but the setup turned out beautifully. Steve did a superb job contouring the wood cradles to match the profile of the tub because the tub hasn’t budged, not even a wiggle. The cradles are protected with Waterlox so inevitable bath time splashes aren’t a problem. I’ve only managed to take one bath in the deep tub but it was glooooorious. It needs to happen again. And I’m even not a fan of baths. Scratch that. I made it happen last night.

Many people warned us about cumbersome showers in an old cast iron tub, claiming water would spray everywhere and the curtains would stick to wet bodies. Surprisingly, neither of those things have been an issue. As long as we remember to close the curtain (there are actually two separate liners that enclose the entire tub), water from the shower head stays in the tub. Using liners with weights along the bottom and running the ventilation fan during showers prevents the liners from billowing into the shower and doing that annoying curtain-to-skin-contact thing.

honest bathroom 2

If there is one thing I would go back and change, I’d add recessed wall niches near the tub, if possible, to hold toiletries. As is, we only have a small rack on the plumbing kit. It’s big enough to hold the kids’ shampoo + body wash and a bottle of bubble bath from The Honest Company but it would be nice to have a little more room for rinsing cups and guests’ toiletries.

By the way, we’ve been using the shampoo + body wash as a family for years and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Steve even uses it. Real men use body wash. Ha! Obviously, the combined function is ideal for small bathrooms. It’s one less bottle in the shower. It’s naturally tear-free (it contains no added numbing agents like other tear-free products) and super gentle which makes it perfect for kids AND color-treated hair. Plus, it smells delicious. My favorite part, though, is that since it is soap-free we don’t get the nasty pink build-up caused by bacteria feeding on residual soap scum. It’s a win-win-win situation.

One thing that was a little unexpected is the height of the shower head. It’s slightly lower than what we’re accustomed to. It’s because the floor of the tub is higher than a standard tub or shower pan, and the ceiling is 8′ so we didn’t have extra vertical space to work with. It’s not a deal breaker, just something we’ve noticed. Steve and I have taken showers in the bathroom with no problem. Oh! And we remedied the leaky shower head. The company sent us a replacement. Problem solved.

honest bathroom 1

Overall, I would do this whole tub / cradle base / shower setup again but I’d consider the addition of a wall niche or two.

I wouldn’t change a thing about the wall and floor tile. I’m so happy we took the subway tile to the ceiling in the tub area and then carried it around the rest of the room at a height of ~41″. It’s super easy to wipe down and, with kids, that’s definitely a pro. I’m also glad I threw in the pencil liner detail at the last minute but, in my opinion, the best part of the bathroom is the hex tile on the floor. It was an absolute pain to install but totally worth it in the end. The black travertine hex paired with a light gray grout has proven to be extremely kid-friendly. Our boys seem to be, um, distracted when using the bathroom. Still, their stray streams (if you catch my drift) haven’t discolored the tile or the grout.

honest bathroom 7

After trying various store-bought and homemade cleaning solutions on the travertine hex with subpar results (I was usually left with a hazy film on the matte tile), I turned to Honest‘s bathroom cleaner and couldn’t be happier. It cleans mean and smells nice.

As for the square toilet, it’s a good thing it’s cute. It’s comfortable to the tush (inquiring minds want to know) and I love the modern shape against the old tub, but I didn’t even consider how difficult it would be to clean the interior of a square toilet. (!) Without giving away too many repulsive details, the corners can get pretty gross. I avoid chemical-based toilet cleaners because I like this planet we live on, but my homemade concoctions were no match for this toilet. I needed something thicker that could be easily directed toward the offending corners. Enter Honest‘s toilet cleaner. The natural ingredients work like a charm and have the faintest, most pleasant eucalyptus scent. It’s the best. Ever. Hands down. Seriously. HAVE YOU ORDERED THIS TOILET CLEANER YET? Yes, I’m attempting to proselytize toilet cleaner. This is what happens when you own a square toilet. My only words for someone considering a toilet with a square bowl are “How bad do you want it?”

honest bathroom 5

honest bathroom 4

honest bathroom 6

I wasn’t sure how the double handle sink faucet would go over with the kids but it’s worked well. If anything, we’re using less hot water because it’s easier for them to just turn on the cold. I’m NOT a fan of the vanity. Save for a basket (which I added) and a small drawer too low to be of much use, the vanity provides no real storage. If I had to do it again, I would go with a white version of the same floating Ikea vanity in our master bathroom. Yes, it’s ubiquitous, but for good reason. For starters, it’s affordable. The deep drawers provide ample storage and the floating design is practical for small bathrooms. The recessed medicine cabinet is totally saving my a$$. We’d be lost without it.

honest bathroom 9

Not having to share a bathroom with the kids means the master bathroom stays cleaner longer. We like having a bathroom close to the main living area, too. And I think our guests appreciate not having to pass through our bedroom to use the bathroom anymore. That always felt awkward. I love you second bathroom.

honest bathroom 10

And, obviously, I love Honest products. This is a sponsored post which means I’m being compensated to share my thoughts about the company with you. But it’s easy when it’s a brand I’ve been subscribing to and paying for on my own for years after buying and reading The Honest Life. Without being preachy, the book raised my awareness of what’s really in the products we bring into our home. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about making informed decisions. The subscription service ensures that I have only what I need when I need it. I can easily edit my bundles and shipping dates to suit my family’s needs. Typically, I receive orders 4-6 times per year.

I regularly order the shampoo + body wash, conditioning detangler (necessary for combing through Mabrey’s mane!), toilet cleaner, bathroom cleaner, dryer cloths and stain remover. Honest let us try the bubble bath and foaming hand soap for this post :) When Mabrey was a baby, I also used the wipes and organic healing balm. Looking ahead to the winter flu season, I added the organic breathe easy rub to my last bundle. Fingers crossed I don’t have to use it.

Do you subscribe to The Honest Company? Which items are your favorites? If you’re interested in trying safe and effective household essentials in your home, Honest is offering an exclusive 25% discount to House*Tweaking readers on their first bundle. Use the code HT25OFF at checkout.

*Offer valid only for first-time bundle buyers at Honest.com now through November 30th, 2015, 11:59 p.m. PT. This offer can only be redeemed once per customer and cannot be applied to international surcharge, taxes, shipping, previous purchases, current bundles, the purchase of gift cards or gift bundles. Offer cannot be redeemed for cash or combined with any other coupons or promotions. Terms of offer are subject to change. This post has been sponsored by The Honest Company who provided products and payment. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

asheville cabin

Last month we spent a week in the mountains of North Carolina. It was the perfect balance of relaxing and doing. I’ve decided to share more about our stay in a two-part series. Up first is where we stayed!

asheville cabin

We rented a cabin in a remote area about thirty minutes outside of Asheville. For us, it was the perfect proximity to the city. It was far enough away to completely submerge ourselves in nature but close enough to drive into the city for food and fun. Upon arrival to the cabin, we were met by the sweetest waft of mountain air mixed with pine. We couldn’t stop inhaling. I wanted to bottle up the scent and bring it home with me.

asheville cabin

A kitchen garden growing alongside the front walk smelled delicious, too. We were free to use the herbs for cooking meals during our stay.

asheville cabin

At the opposite end of the cabin was a deck overlooking the mountainous landscape. We caught the tail end of October and it was perfect timing. We literally watched the leaves change from green to various shades of orange and red during our stay.

asheville cabin

The porch swing was ideal for sipping morning coffee and watching the fog roll in. It was so peaceful. Chirping birds and a nearby bubbling creek were the only sounds.

asheville cabin

They don’t call them the Smoky Mountains for no reason.

asheville cabin

The cabin is located a mile down a private gravel lane that crawls up the side of a mountain, surrounded by trees and farms along the way. I managed to squeeze in a few runs and the colorful tree canopy created a tunnel-like effect. While running up the side of the mountain wasn’t easy, it felt like I was watching the most beautiful silent film.

asheville cabin

Except for a few cows mooing at me :)

asheville cabin

The cabin itself was a dream. The casement windows were my favorite part. I would crank them open to let in the mountain air and listen to the creek.

asheville cabin

asheville cabin

Floor-to-(almost)-ceiling windows in the dining area gave us an amazing view of the autumnal colors. We spent the majority of our time in the cabin at the dining table. The benches were perfect for the kids. At home, we eat most of our meals at the kitchen island. It’s casual and unfussy but sitting at a table where we can look at each other’s faces is pretty nice, too. This table inspired us to start eating at our own dining table more often.

asheville cabin

The sight lines in the cabin were incredible. I loved the transom windows above the bedroom doors.

asheville cabin

The only bathroom was charming and cheery and included an oversized clawfoot tub, hexagonal floor tile, high angled ceilings and a large pedestal sink. Just imagine soaking in the tub with a view like that!

asheville cabin

Without light pollution, nights at the cabin were the blackest of black and perfect for stargazing. All lit up at night, the cabin reminded me of a tiered birthday cake glowing with candles.

asheville cabin

asheville cabin

asheville cabin

We felt right at home in the cabin. Built-ins were stocked with all kinds of books and board games. (During one family game night, we discovered that Mabrey is a Pick Up Stix ninja!) There was no TV but we did stream The NeverEnding Story for a family movie night. All five of us piled onto the sofa to huddle around the laptop. It was so cozy. There was a home stereo and our soundtrack for the week included a lot of Nickel Creek, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson.

The kids were excited to discover a few surprises: a hidden play space tucked under the eaves in one of the bedroom closets, a ping pong table in the unfinished basement and a secret man cave in the loft of a barn on the same property. The man cave included a wet bar and drum set (!). Layne really took to the drums. He would wander down to the barn on his own throughout the week and I would hear a rough drum solo through the open cabin windows. It was too funny.

asheville cabin

We had several rain days but we didn’t mind. We hid out in the cabin baking cookies, reading books, playing ping pong, sipping coffee, listening to music and just being together. I finished Cabin Porn and The Inner Game of Tennis. Cabin Porn is a beautiful collection of handmade cabins. I knew the cabins would be good but, my goodness!, the stories behind them left me in tears and inspired. I was not expecting all the feelings. And The Inner Game of Tennis was great, too, if tennis is your thing. I started The Kinfolk Home as well but have yet to finish it. It’s not due to lack of interest. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s so good that I want to be able to savor it uninterrupted and, well, real life presents a slew of interruptions. I need to make the time to finish it.

asheville cabin

I bought Animal Kingdom and Splendid Cities just for the trip to ward off boredom. They are the most beautiful coloring books. I brought along a pencil case (from Target) filled with colored pencils. They kept Steve, the kids and me busy for hours at a time. It was almost meditative.

Needless to say, our time spent at the cabin filled us up in so many ways and we’re so grateful for the experience. I think we all left little pieces of our hearts in those mountains.

Stay tuned to read about what we did and saw beyond the cabin.

P.S. – I’m not linking directly to the cabin listing for privacy reasons but, if you’re interested in learning more about it, you can email me.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking