Monday, March 5, 2018

Our Farmhouse Bathroom Reno

Our Farmhouse Bathroom Reno

2-4 years in the making ...

In March of 2014 we began the first phase of our upstairs bathroom renovation. In the beginning, our main goal was to remove the wallpaper, the carpet, and old shower doors.  We were just trying to get by with what we could do ourselves, which was by no means how I planned to leave it for the long haul. Sometimes you just have to do things in stages.

Fast forward to March 2016: Baby girl was due in May, and we decided to try to renovate the second floor bathroom before she arrived. In theory, it was a great idea. In reality, it was a bit silly. Renovating our bathroom at the end of pregnancy meant spending the last two and a half months of pregnancy using the only functioning bathroom on the first floor. Know what that meant? I got my exercise from climbing the stairs multiple times every night to go potty! LOL! Good thing I can laugh about that now. :)

Fortunately, I survived the renovations (and pregnancy) and ended up with a dreamy farmhouse bathroom. Our contractor thought I was being a little plain by going all white, but I LOVE IT! We did use Daylily Yellow on the walls, giving the bathroom a warm, happy feeling. The white trim, wainscoting, vanity, tile, and pops of gray and chrome give a very FRESH vibe in our farmhouse bath. 

We added custom end cabinets with lighting and electrical outlets from floor to ceiling. I also thought wainscoting added a nice farmhouse touch and helped cover up some of the rough patches in the old plaster walls. Of everything that we did, having our contractor level the floor was by far my favorite decision. There's hardly ever a straight edge in a 100 year old farmhouse, and ours is no different. I can live with it in many circumstances, but the bathroom floor was not one of them. Our contractor did an awesome job cutting out an old beam and adding a new level beam support before laying this gorgeous tile (Marazzi Bianco).  Note* I saw an image where they had staggered 6x12 and 12x24 inch tiles throughout the shower and bathroom floors. I loved that look and wanted the least amount of grout in the shower. Our contractor highly encouraged us to use small floor tiles in the shower but agreed to make our large tile dreams come true in the shower. It wasn't easy, and it had to be cut on an angle, but I really do love how it turned out. Thanks, Keith!

New light fixtures, a new wall heater, our frameless shower door, new vanity, and brand new window all made our new farmhouse bathroom complete. We even splurged on in-floor heating...this bathroom renovation is for the long haul after all!   
We chose all of these features before little one was even born, but they're coming in handy now that she's using the bathroom, too. We especially appreciate our soft-close vanity drawers. Did I mention we purchased our vanity from Costco? It has great counter space, looks chic, and the drawers and under sink storage are wonderful. We also purchased our sink faucets from Costco and have been really pleased with them, too. We found our frameless shower door online with Menards, and our local plumber installed our Delta shower heads. 

We do love having a frameless shower door and in our space we decided for the sliding door. If we had to do it again, I would consider using a hinged frameless shower doorinstead. Knowing we were going to have a toddler soon, we thought a sliding door would be less likely to be slammed. Now I'm thinking it might have been easier to mount a child lock on a hinged shower door. At least this is only a short phase of life -- hoping we can teach her quickly to not open and slam our glass door!

Here we used an iron wine bottle rack as our towel rack. I liked the contrast of the dark iron against the creamy white bathroom. I also like that the wine rack keeps the towels fairly far off the wall, enabling them to dry faster and more thoroughly between uses. 

Baby girl loves bath time! Z and I were not huge fans of baths, so we wanted to maximize our shower space with a large walk in shower. Since we don't have a bathtub, we actually use a Rubbermaid tub for the little one's baths and she could stay in her "bath tub" all night if we'd let her! 

Next, I'm sharing some of my favorite details about this room, which include artwork. YES! I have artwork in every room of our house, including the bathroom. After all, this is probably the nicest room in our home and I enjoy it daily. I'm a firm believer that you can have art in any room, including the bathroom. Just be sure you have good ventilation and use your fan when showering to minimize steam from the shower. 
Painting by Molly Marie

Photography by Judith Eastburn

One day our open cabinets may look more organized, but for now they are packed full of the things I don't want Emmajean to reach! :)

Free standing towel racks keep our hand towels tidy, off of the counter, and dress up the space.  We picked these up at TJ Maxx. The only thing that I found odd was that they seemed short for regular sized hand towels and I didn't want to hang washcloths to dry our hands. My mom (in law) is super clever and found these cute gray and white bar towels that are the perfect size! 
I use little baskets and containers to store miscellaneous items in our open shelving, and I love having my hair dryer, brush, and straightener all easily accessible. 

Of all of the rooms in our house, this room and Emmajean's nursery are my favorites! 

It took more like two years than two months to have this completed, but we finally have our dream bathroom! 

... and it was worth the wait!

I hope you've enjoyed this tour of our new farmhouse bathroom! 

Do you have an ongoing project?
 What's the ideal number of bathrooms in your home?
 Do you have bathroom art?

PS. You probably notice the adorable training potty in several of our photos. We love the Summer Infant Potty. She hasn't quite mastered it yet, but at least it's ADORABLE and fits the decor our farmhouse bath perfectly. She likes to sit and pretend to potty, it even makes a flushing sound! I think she will grasp the idea of really using it to be continued. :) 


Amazon links on this post are affiliate links. So, I could earn something small if you purchase through my amazon links. All other links are simply of products that we used and I thought you might like to find yourself. ALL items that I link are items we use in our home and I'm comfortable sharing with you! Thanks for helping support my blog and for reading my reviews. ♥ 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Mutualism | Artist Ashley Althoff

When our Art in the Park intern let me know that she was having her senior thesis exhibit this month, I knew I was in for a treat. It has been great getting to know Ashley over the past year. She jumped in and took charge as the KidsArt coordinator, came up with and helped install the "Hue Hall" art installation, and offered excellent ideas throughout the year for our regional fine art festival. Knowing her level of commitment and dedication to our volunteer board, I could not wait to see the attention to detail in her own art exhibit at Upper Iowa University. 

Last Thursday while Grandmommy babysat the little one, my husband and I made our way to UIU to see the opening night of Mutualism by artist Ashley Althoff. Walking into the Edgar Fine Arts Hall took me back to my first collegiate exhibitions, and I could feel the excitement of opening night in the air. The stark white walls, shiny wood floors, and huge glass windows set the stage for this dreamy exhibit. 

And it was breathtaking... 

Here Ashley is pictured in front of her sculptures that she created from everyday materials. Using paper, clay, wax, and other everyday items, Ashley was able to create substantial organic forms that also convey a sense of fragility. I wanted to run my hands over the sculptures and lift them to see if they were as heavy or light as they appeared, but I contained myself. 

Mutualism sparks a conversation on the need for awareness and heightened consideration of our everyday materials in this age of increased consumerism. We need to ponder the overwhelming growth of our throw-away culture and recognize how what we use and throw away continues to live alongside us. Her work is a beautiful reminder that we can, and need to, be more connected to the material things we use in our everyday lives and how we can coexist in nature. 

I was immediately drawn to these physical masses and especially appreciate the way she chose to display them on welded metal and concrete pedestals.  

Ashley's two-dimensional work was equally mesmerizing. Taking photos of the sculptures in nature and displaying them together in the gallery enables the viewer to further imagine these materials coexisting in nature

Mutualism showed alongside Katie Brooks' exhibit, Embrace. One beautiful thing about making it to the opening night event is hearing the artists talk about their work and how they answer questions.  

These next two images are from the other half of the gallery, showcasing the exhibit Embrace by Katie Brooks. Katie's figurative work developed through her childhood fascination with the desire to be an animal and her love for the dinosaur. She's created this playful figurative body of work around a dino/human creature where she's able to express and embrace a plethora of emotions.

These artists created work that dealt with the everyday, but did so in a larger than life way. I appreciated the juxtaposition of various elements on both sides of the gallery: soft, yet hard; human, yet animal; natural, yet woman-made; large, yet whimsical; current, yet prehistoric; delicate, yet strong...I could go on.

Both Ashley and Katie's artwork are exceptional, and I hope you can make it to The Bing-Davis Memorial Gallery at Upper Iowa University to see for yourself. This exhibit runs through February 24th (I was told at the opening night that it will be up through March 12th) and can be viewed during regular gallery hours. 

I am so excited to see what the future holds for these talented artists. 
Congratulations on your senior theses! 

How long has it been since you've been to an art exhibit?
Did you know UIU has a brand new studio space where they house their 3D sculpture and ceramic classes?


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Handmade Valentine Cards | Kids Crafts | Holiday


I love things that are handmade. For most holidays, Zach and I skip gifts entirely and just make each other sweet little handmade cards or handwritten notes. I cherish these love notes and have saved them through the years... he saves all of mine, too! :) 

This week it has been bitter cold in Iowa and our toddler is fighting her first chest cold. So, we have been staying inside, playing around the house, snuggling, reading books, napping, and crafting!  

Yesterday, we used hearts that we had sponge painted a few weeks ago from a craft idea that we got through Follow the link to take Jamie's "Hands On 7-Day Challenge"I promise you won't regret it! If you use this link to join the free challenge, I may earn something. Emmajean loves doing Jamie's activities, and if you visit her blog, you may even spot an Emmajean cameo appearance!

It was so fun and easy to sponge paint these hearts. Emmajean and I made a ton of them with plans to cut them out to make our Valentines this year. I wasn't certain how we'd incorporate them, but I knew I wanted to use them and other materials that I had around the house. 

I dug into our craft box and pulled out pipe-cleaners, construction paper, tape, a glue stick and markers. Emmajean helped me paint the hearts for her Valentines, but she decided to craft on her own when it was time to put them together. I did the assembling of these adorable, heart-flower, handmade cards. 

What can I say... she loves her glue stick!

These valentines were simple, fun to make, and I'm sure will put a smile on Emmajean's friends' faces (and her daddy and grandparents, too)! ♥ 

While I finished up with the cards, Emmajean had fun making a HUGE birthday card for her cousin, who happened to be born on Valentine's Day! Happy early birthday, Carly! (Aunt A, maybe you can wait until after it comes in the mail to share this with your little valentine birthday girl.♥) 

Have you ever made your own cards? Do you go all out for Valentine's Day? 

Happy Crafting! 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

10 years | Growing Love

10 years | Growing Love

Some of our first photos together, Charlotte, NC, 2008

Somehow, it's been TEN years since Zach and I went on our first date. It feels like it was yesterday, and a lifetime ago! So much has happened that I could never sum it up in a single post (but you can read all about how our love story started here)!

We've been so lucky to have each other through thick and thin, a move across the country, the birth of our daughter, countless fun outings, the passing of loved ones, new jobs, and every other mundane event that together makes up this crazy beautiful journey!

In ten years together, I've learned and grown so much... we both have.Young love grows and changes. Marriage isn't a never-ending honeymoon. It's friendship, teamwork, adapting, and loving each other despite all of your quirks and flaws. Relationships prosper when there is open communication, and being honest with your fears and dreams is important. You're going to make mistakes, there may be hurt feelings, but working through things together makes you strong individually and as a couple.

Being able to talk and listen has given our relationship strength, happiness, and comfort over the years. I'm so grateful that Zach is a good listener.

Then there is balance. Z is my other half, my balance.  Sometimes I have to remind myself of that, when he's calm and collected over something and I'm freaking out over the same thing (I'm the worrier)!  If he got worked up over things like I do, we would be in a world of trouble. I like to think he calms me and I help keep him up to date on things like the end of the world!

In short, ten years has taught me that true lasting love is: listening, forgiving, balancing, enjoying, and remembering to be grateful for each other.

The greatest love ...♥

It's not always smooth sailing, and sometimes I miss those initial butterflies from our first days together, but I wouldn't trade the comfort, trust, and the love we've grown for anything! There's no one on the planet I'd rather do this journey with than my hubby! I'm so grateful for the joy I have from living life with these two. 

I'm looking forward to the next ten... and for as long as the earth keeps turning.

Do you have a relationship tip or two? Feel free to share in the comments!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Farmlife | Buddy and a Bunny


It's been awhile since I've shared a Buddy-Long-Nose story... 
Beware, this one is not for the faint of heart, but it's #farmlife. 

If you've been following me for awhile, you know Buddy is our runaway collie. We rescued him from the NE Iowa Humane Society, where he kept finding himself after he constantly ran away from his previous owners. I was POSITIVE that I'd give him so much love and attention that he would never run away again. Pfffft! 

Life lesson learned: Don't judge or assume an animal runs away because it doesn't get enough attention.

He stayed home for a solid week before he grew comfortable enough to start his Saint Olaf explorations. Zach and I even purchased a GPS tracker for his collar to help us keep up with our little adventure seeker. The tracker worked for awhile, but over time he's turned into an inside dog... with the occasional excursion through the timber (timber= how Iowa folks refer to "woods"). 

Anyway, If you saw him lying around snoozing in the sunshine you'd never guess he had the energy to take off and run marathons like he does. He's definitely an explorer at heart. He especially loves to chase the deer out of our yard, sends squirrels straight for the tree tops, and goes crazy when large birds fly overhead. You would think that our yard would be animal free after almost three years with Buddy-Long-Nose, and I definitely would never expect to find a wild animal in Buddy's doghouse or kennel.

Now comes the gross grownup part.... 

Last week we were outside enjoying the last of the snow before it melted, and what did we come across? A HUGE rabbit that had gotten caught in Buddy's kennel! Unfortunately the rabbit had gotten stuck in the cage and froze solid. The kennel door was open, but the rabbit had tried to escape from the back of the kennel by squeezing through the tiny fencing. It made it part of the way but apparently couldn't get all the way through. 

 After mourning the sweet bunny, my brain quickly turned to "bunny removal mode." I seriously didn't think I could do it myself. I don't think Buddy had anything to do with the bunny getting stuck in the kennel, but I was disgusted at the thought of him trying to get it out (by eating it) if I didn't get rid of it first. I tried to talk the husband into handling the situation, but he didn't want to have anything to do with it. He suggested calling one of our friends who hunts and would have more experience in dealing with a deceased creature. I thought about it but couldn't ask someone else to do this sad/gross task for us, and I was NOT going to leave it for Buddy. 

So after consulting with our hunter/gatherer friend, Aaron, I waited until it was below freezing (less blood), put on rubber gloves (even though I didn't plan on touching it with my hands), and managed to free the rabbit from the kennel fencing and dispose of it (ax + shovel) ALL BY MYSELF. I did have to shut my eyes, hold my breath, and get it done as quickly as possible. 

Life lesson number two: There are things you hope you never have to do, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and handle it. 

On the bright side, for future gross grownup situations that need handling, I'll just remind Z that handled the rabbit. 

Who takes care of the gross stuff at your house? 
Would you have called your neighbor?
Sorry, Naomi.. I should have called you!


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Traveling with a Toddler | our flight home

Our Flight Home:

For those of you following my tips for traveling with a toddler, I told you I'd give you an update on our flight home. There's almost always something unexpected, which was the case, but it turned out to be a pretty good flight! 

So, I have been super lucky flying with Emmajean. She's now flown 16 times, and I've even done it by myself for a few of them! She has done so well, and I have to think that it's thanks to having snacks, an awesome carrier, and my fav diaper bag.

Obviously flying with a companion is by far the best help, so flying to NC with Gima Dawn was a breeze, and knowing I'd be flying home with Zach's help calmed those pre-travel jitters. It wasn't until we boarded the plane back to Iowa that my "I got this" attitude took a dive, and you'll know why in a minute! 

The night before we flew, we checked in online. We didn't select our seats when we checked in to print our boarding passes because it costs extra, and they often make adjustments at the airport if you're flying with an infant on your lap. Sometimes they won't even let me check in online if I've selected lap infant. They have to be sure there is an extra oxygen mask in the row with a lap infant, which means you have to sit on the right side of the plane. 

After we printed our boarding passes, we were relieved to see that they put us in seats 8C and 8D -- side by side, or so we thought! I planned to take my usual window seat and Zach would take the aisle. If we hadn't automatically received these "side by side seats," we would have asked at the gate to see if they could seat us together. We boarded the plane and realized we were across the aisle from each other! I thought, SHOOT....not the end of the world, but not ideal.

HENCE, TIP # FOUR: You can pay to select your seats when you check in online at home or take a gamble and ask to sit together when you're checking in or at the gate. They are generally super helpful and will seat you together if possible (especially if you have an infant). Just be sure to ask! If you're trying to fly next to a companion and you didn't pay to select seats from the online diagram at check-in, don't rely on your seat numbers. Check to be sure your seats are actually beside each other when you get to your gate.

In theory, the person beside me could have easily switched with Zach. I told the nice lady already sitting in the window seat beside me that my husband would be happy to trade seats with her if she didn't want to ride beside a baby (who would?). To my surprise, she was thrilled to ride next to a baby-- LOL! Luckily, Zach was right across the aisle so he could help me get adjusted and help with Emmajean's snacks/bribes during the flight. I just crossed my fingers that she would behave and, hopefully, nap. 

The flight was actually fairly comfortable, and Emmajean enjoyed sitting next to her new friend. With about thirty minutes left to fly, Emmajean and I both dozed off. Wondering how I was able to snooze with a baby on my lap? Check out my tips for traveling with an infant/ toddler. The plane landed, and we said goodbye to the nice woman beside us. She was still in shock over how well Emmajean traveled! 

No matter how many times we fly, I always breathe a sigh of relief when we've landed with no major meltdowns. Thinking of booking your first or next flight with your little one? GO FOR IT! You've got this! 

Flight Tips for Toddlers in summary:

1. Snacks/Bribes
2. A comfortable carrier
3. an easy access diaper bag
4. Check to be sure you're seated beside your travel companion by asking at the ticket counter or at the gate or be prepared to enjoy the company of a new travel companion.

I hope these tips help you fly with confidence, and feel free to share! :)  

Happy Travels!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Iowa Corn | A lot to learn


Nine years ago, Zach brought me across the country to visit his grandparents at the farm. Since I hadn't yet been west of Tennessee, you can imagine my surprise as I observed the changes in the landscape. From the rolling hills of North Carolina, over the Appalachian Mountains (pronounced App-a-latch-un, if you're a native North Carolinian), across the breathtaking horse pastures of Kentucky, and into the Midwest where the sky stretches forever and the fields are filled with corn, soybeans, and windmills into the horizon. 

I remember being amazed as we made our way into Iowa. The sheer amount of corn had me in awe as we drove through "the land of opportunity."  The fields spread as far as I could see, and we drove past one farm after another. Can you imagine the shock when I found out that 99% off all of that corn wasn't for eating? I was seeing "field corn," which is not what you buy at the grocery to eat. I was quite stunned when I found out that only one percent of the corn grown in the US is sweet corn and grown for human consumption. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea I was eating "sweet corn"... we've always just called it corn. :) 

Can you tell I've had quite a bit to learn about Iowa and corn? Don't worry, Saint Olaf folks... I've got my kernels straight and know what's for dinner... SWEET CORN!

Well, I thought I had it all figured out, until I was recently gifted a few ears of popcorn from a neighbor. My generous neighbor has a friend who grows popcorn. That made me wonder, what category does popcorn fall under? Thanks to google search and some quick research, I found out: popcorn is yet another variety of corn that has a hard, moisture-resistant hull that surrounds a dense pocket of starch that will pop when heated, and it's a whole grain. So it isn't sweet corn or field corn. You can find more on this over at After reading their story, I'm going to have to try theirs next! 

Iowa Pop!

This was my first time making popcorn straight from the cob! Zach is the popcorn maker in our family, so I'll actually give him the credit.

If you're interested, our favorite popcorn tips are: the Warring Pro popcorn maker (which we got to have at our wedding reception 6 years ago), and coconut oil. I know what you're probably thinking, who really pulls out a big popcorn maker at home and where in the world do you store it? We do, and it's totally worth it! LOL! We love it and have used it regularly for six years. It's always a crowd pleaser, and after research, and trial and error, Zach has gotten our "movie theater popcorn" at home down to an art!

I'm not gonna lie, I've been on a popcorn binge for the last several months. It's fitting that I've finally learned something about it. 

I've also learned that though the kernels of some wild types will pop, the cultivated strain is 
Zea mays evertaand that there are actually two different varieties of popcorn: a fluffy "butterfly" variety and a sturdier variety called "mushroom popcorn" that is most often used for coating with flavorings. 

Do you have a favorite popcorn? Do you prefer movie theater pop or sweet caramel corn? I love them all! 

...And it turned out DELICIOUS!!
I'm looking forward to trying it again with different toppings!


Maybe I've piqued your interest in Iowa corn? Find more facts by visiting: