Stooping up the yardwork

Up until this August, our front yard looked like this.  (Hiiiii, neighbors!)
We loved our zero-scaping so much, we embraced it for several months.  Maybe years.  
It was super low-maintenance. #blessed
The Mr. worked hard leveling the ground, prepping the soil, laying sod, then stone.
Then he planted things.

Earlier this summer, Mr. applied stain to the new stoop (color: chocolate).
Here it is now:
The terra cotta 'backplates' lurking behind the bushes are how we're keeping the soil from washing backwards & under those windows.  Not sure whether they're a permanent solution, but we're hoping all the greenery will grow in to camouflage the terra cotta pieces.

I have my eye on a tall planter for this spot, just waiting for a sale.  My camera makes the stoop look bowed but I assure you it's level.  I know because I whipped out the level to make sure. ;-)

That potted perennial is one of the few things I've managed to keep alive 
(Quinn counts, right?).
Alright, we're calling this area done for now. Just in time for it to be covered in leaves, then snow.
Are we timely or what.  It's how we do, leave us alone ;-)

More on the mudroom exterior/stoop:

Mini mudroom: take two

Hello there, me again!  It's been a while.  I did not fall into a vat of wine.  

I've received emails from some very nice readers who are contemplating adding on a mudroom & wondered how it's working out for us.  It's been about a year since the walls went up in this space & a few months since its reveal.  Verdict?  Love it.  We don't know how we ever lived without it (neither of us grew up with a mudroom).  While the new addition wasn't exactly cheap, it didn't break the bank either.  As a reminder, our former stoop was essentially enclosed to create the mudroom. Our home is on the smaller side at 1,680 sq ft; the mudroom addition has brought it to 1730 sq ft.....not much by way of size but SO much by way of quality of life.  Is that too dramatic for me to say? #firstworldproblems
Clutter makes me queasy, but clutter is bound to happen.  Our mudroom is part dumping ground/part seasonal control center.  I realize a fairly empty, clean mudroom defeats the whole purpose of uh, it, but the no-coats season we're in is pretty sweet.  I recently gave the whole room a scrub-down....before the muddy season descends upon us....I don't know why, it just made sense in my head....if we had a cleaning lady, I'd probably clean the house before she came over to clean it because it's who I am.....and I don't know, stop asking me questions ok?! ;-)

I hid some things in the cabinets for these photos because I'm a dreamer & I like to pretend it's always this clean.  This is how it looked in its 'summer coat'.  I won't show you its winter coat because it will look like the walls/floor disappeared under all of our Colorado winter crap.  But for a few minutes, it looked like this & it was nice.  

I also bought myself flowers.  I yell at the Mr. for wasting money on flowers for me but then when he doesn't, I get moody & well......those flowers aren't going to buy themselves so I bought some.
How come my chalkboard never looks like the ones on Pinterest?
What do they have against feminine hygiene products?

We purchased this rad mirror at Bixby & Ball when we were in Solana Beach.
Also, mini horse shoes for a little luck.

We're very happy with the finished room.  There are a just few things we'd do differently:

* Radiant floor heating would be nice, especially on those cold winter days.  We skipped HVAC work in this space & though the ceiling/walls are insulated, the tiled floor does get chilly.  Oh well. Any excuse to wear thick, cushy socks/slippers, I guess?

* Built-in shoe cubbies under the bench is something that we might tackle down the road.  Right now, shoes get kicked off & left haphazardly all over the mudroom.  Which I suppose is the whole point of a mudroom, but you know me.  Clutter. Lack of order.  Queasy.

* We should've ripped out the metal threshold (formerly the front door) leading into the house & replaced it with something more conducive to an interior doorway. Quinn also likes to perch there so a smoother surface for the bum (& toes) would be nice.  I've probably stubbed my toes on it too many times.

Just little cosmetic things.  Overall, I think we did well in the planning stages to ensure that this room fit the way we live our lives.  *golf clap*

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope your Labor Day weekend was a nice one!  
How are we bidding farewell to summer already?!

Summer snack: ricotta crostini

We're finally getting around to working on the landscaping in the front yard so hopefully I'll have an update on those goings-on sooner rather than later.  I'm also realizing I never blogged about the new stoop's stain color so once I can find a shade plant that will be happy living on the stoop, maybe I can show some decent photos of that.  

Meanwhile we're doing what you all are probably doing....squeezing every last ounce of fun out of this all too fleeting summer.  I'm trying to ignore the back-to-school supplies & fall decor that have cropped up in stores.  We've been to the pool regularly, slurping popsicles & ice cream cones, chomping on watermelon, riding bikes downtown for dinner, & listening to live music in the park.  Spending so much time outdoors that we're no longer fazed by the mosquitoes & once-pressing matters like home improvements have been pushed further down the list.

What is it about summer that makes me want to throw quick dishes together with minimal stove time involved?  I mean, we're fortunate to have central air conditioning so it's not like I'm suffering in the kitchen ;-)  Recently, I threw together an appetizer platter of crostini, ricotta, & various accoutrements for a 'happy hour' when friends dropped by for an afternoon visit.  Everyone just grabbed a crostini, topped it with ricotta, & adorned it with whatever he/she pleased.  I've since stocked the fridge with these 'staples' for a quick lunch or snack that doesn't involve heat.  Bonus points for the easy prep since my little firecracker lady has been keeping me on my toes even more so lately.

I'm not a food snob nor have I ever done a Whole30 Challenge, but for the past 5 years we've tried to eat whole/organic/non GMO when possible because honestly?  It just tastes better & we feel better.  So it's why I suggest using the good organic ricotta that's most affordable (oxymoron).  Ricotta is a mild Italian cheese, slightly sweet & creamy, that complements practically every topping. 

{L to R crostinis}
ricotta, tomato trio, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, freshly cracked black pepper, sea salt
ricotta, extra virgin olive oil, freshly cracked black pepper, sea salt
ricotta, arugula, prosciutto, freshly cracked black pepper
You know how there are rules like drink certain white wines with seafood & certain reds with meats/pasta dishes?  I have one rule: if you have a favorite wine who cares about food pair it with whatever you like.  We discovered Dreaming Tree cabernet sauvignon a couple years ago & it's an all-around favorite, affordable red.  One that we're not embarrassed to bring as a hostess gift or for occasions.  It's robust & fruity, with notes of vanilla (& epic-ness).  And yes, that Dave Matthews is the co-winemaker.  A sip might take one back to those halcyon college days of rocking/swaying to his music, singing every word to his songs because omg you totally have every CD & went to see him live at Red Rocks.  I'm just saying this might've happened to a friend...

I obviously cracked into this bottle before remembering I needed to snap a pic:
If you're a wine drinker, I hope you try it!  My guess is a lot of people already have.  Linking up to my favorite wine blog buddy Amanda & her fun series Wino Wednesday.  Hop over for more delicious & unpretentious wine recs ;-) Link up to your own wine-related post to share the wine love! 

Kids and Cabernet

Stuff I saw

Happy Friday!  Many, many thank you's for your kind words on our family & SoCal trip recap.  I'm behind on replying to comments but I truly appreciate you taking the time to read & leave such fun comments, friends!

Stuff I saw, links I'm lovin':

I adore dressing Quinn in clothes that I'd wear myself.  I know it won't be too long before she has very specific opinions on what she wears (actually she's already dressing herself in the funniest getups so here we go).  If I had a million dollars (ahem, Harper Beckham), I'd take Bonpoint by storm.

I cannot get this DIY faux bone inlay mirror out of my head!  I meant to link to it months ago & stumbled upon it again recently.  Shelley is incredibly inspiring & the gal makes me constantly laugh out loud on Instagram.

I could get used to this living room.
Kristin's glorious garden party for her darling daughter is the sweetest thing. There's nothing this gal can't do.

Did you see Holly's fabulous house tour on Style Me Pretty?  I've followed her renovations for years & she's segued into flipping houses beautifully.  She's the flippin' queen ;-)  So genuine, too.

I've been loving digging into the archives of Mimi's blog, getting deliciously lost in her fairy tale lifestyle in the French countryside.
Last year, it was the J Crew bubble necklace, this year it's the tassel necklace....neither of which I own.  But what I'm really digging is one of these.

Have a wonderful weekend! We've got a fun-filled one with friends, kiddos, & frolicking in nature. 
And wine (no kidding).