...because home doesn't happen overnight.


Last year we took a family vacation that coincided with the kids’ short fall break. We enjoyed the slower pace of the off season so much that we decided to plan another trip for this fall. In the early stages of planning, we all agreed that being surrounded by nature and focusing on quiet family time were top priorities. We absolutely LOVED visiting Rosemary Beach last year (and will most definitely visit again) but we decided for this trip we wanted to experience a new (to us) place. We were also aiming for a shorter road trip to cut down on travel time and optimize R&R time. We’re headed to Asheville, North Carolina, later this month and can hardly wait!

asheville 1

We’re staying outside of Asheville to cut down on costs but plan to visit the city to eat, shop, wander and, let’s be honest, stalk houses. We’ll also be trick-or-treating in Asheville! The cabin we’re renting sits on a sizable plot with killer views and a creek for the kids to explore. If the weather cooperates, we’ll try to spend as much time as possible outside. We have a few ideas in mind but if you have any family-friendly recommendations for what to eat, see or do while we’re in the area, I’d love to hear them! We’re a family of foodies and enjoy being active outdoors, so anything along those lines is fair game. The suggestions you gave me for the 30A area last year were so helpful that I just had to ask this time around.

Thanks in advance! I promise to take a bunch of notes and pictures to share.

You can read more about last year’s family vacation here, here and here.

07.24.15 / Rainy Day Ideas

summer storm

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:

candlelit kitchen

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.

glow in dark chess

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.

new recipes

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.

art museum

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.

aether cone

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.

vacation house

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.


kid cave

umbrella man

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.

open house

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

07.07.15 / Liked & Linked

swimsuit lunch

family bonfire

After two months of jam-packed weeks and weekends, we enjoyed some much needed down time last week. The seemingly never-ending rain let up just in time for the holiday weekend so we hit up the pool, ate burgers in our swimsuits, went on family walks, watched fireworks and roasted s’mores. It was simple and perfect.

A few links…

*“Let’s sell the house, sell the car. Sell all of that baby stuff, the garden and kitchen stuff, all that extra stuff. What is all that stuff anyway? Let’s take the kids out of school. Escape the rat race and disappear for a year.” AMAZING.

*My latest architect crush.

*Modern outdoor furniture made from recycled milk jugs.

*Jessica Helgerson’s new farmhouse was recently shot for…the firm’s portfolio? a magazine pitch? an upcoming feature? Whatever the reason, I CANNOT wait to see it. Psst…a sneak peek of the master bedroom.

amber thrane courtyard

amber thrane shasta

*Daydreaming about this creative lady’s cozy courtyard and vintage Shasta camper.

*My go-to cookbook these days when I don’t feel like thinking about dinner. We had the aloha sliders with pineapple relish and Szechwan peasant pork over the weekend. So easy! So tasty!

*After extensive “research,” I’ve concluded that these vanilla marshmallows and this dark coconut toffee chocolate make the perfect s’more. Trust. Oh, wait. Did you think I was paleo? Nope. That cookbook above is excellent whether you follow a paleo diet all of the time, some of the time or never.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

images: 1 & 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 3 & 4) Amber Thrane of Dulcet Creative