Lightning Bugs

Our backyard has turned out to be one of the best place to hunt fireflies.  One evening, Cora and I headed downstairs to watch the sunset and we ran around catching lightning bugs for quite a while. It became one of the activities that Cora loved talking about and asking if it was time for the lightning bugs to come out.
We saved a queso jar, painted the top, and set it up so we could catch fireflies.  We drilled a couple of holes, made sure we put a damp paper towel in the jar (keep the air in the jar humid), and added some grass and flowers so there was something for them to climb around on. The first night we put bugs in our firefly jar, Cora was obsessed. She couldn't stop yelling whenever her bugs would do something. She put her arm around Ida and showed her the bugs saying "It's nature, Ida! It's nature!"

Each evening, we've gone out and released the lightning bugs that we had in the jar that day and catch new ones.  It has been fun observing the bugs, running around catching new ones, and coming up with new names for the bugs (Zemo, Mr Bugface, Eno, Neno, her cousins names, Mr Chubbyface, Xylophone, etc).

I love these sweet summer evenings of running around the backyard after those blinking lights and watching the sunset behind the trees.


Veggetable Garden : Progress

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One of the things I was looking forward to when we moved into our own house was starting a vegetable garden.  I love vegetables and I'm cheap so I would love getting tons of veggies for very little cost.  I did as much reading as I could, lots of Pinning, and a little bit of planning.

We made this raised bed out of scrap pieces of wood I had. Cora and I tried just nailing them together, but that was not the best way to construct it. I bought some corner brace things and Ben and I put this together one evening.

I threw in some cardboard boxes from our move and moved dirt from the existing raised beds.  Cora and I picked up a bunch of seeds at Lowes and worked on germinating the seeds in damp paper towel and ziploc baggies.  I was getting a little discouraged because it was taking a while, but a couple days later I looked and little roots were sprouting in everything but the beans.

I planted the seeds, watered, and hoped for the best.  A couple days later things started to pop up and we were way too excited for it. I was still a little worried about the beans because I hadn't seen any activity yet, but one day they just started popping up.  By the end of that day, almost all of the bean seeds had popped up and were growing fairly quickly.

Using some bamboo sticks and netting, I made these little bean teepees and whatever that other thing is called for the plants to grow up on. I'm really just winging it with a lot of things regarding this garden, so time will tell if these methods worked.

I've only had to do a little bit of weeding and watering it at least once a day, but the plants seem to be doing pretty good. I am far from being a knowledgeable gardener, but this little project has been so fun for me and Cora to work on.  I can't wait until the plants start getting veggies and we can eat straight from the garden.
See more of our garden updates and pictures at #CoopstromsGarden


Life With Ida : 9 Months

Crawling, pulling up, and starting to cruise.  Ida is really learning to get around and she seems like she'll be pretty mischievous. She's always trying to check out what is going on and loves to peek out the bedroom window to look around.
Ida loves to tease us.  She loves to pull on Cora's hair and there have been times where Cora was napping next to her and she starts to reach out. I warn her and she gives me the sneakiest little look. Ida also loves to put her pacifier in our mouth and then yank it out and giggle at us.  Its a fun little game she likes to play and makes us all laugh.  I have a feeling we'll have our hands full with this little stinker.

Ida is still trying all foods and doing an awesome job feeding herself.  She really loves nachos/burrito type food, spaghetti, and lasagna. Ida doesn't have teeth yet, but somehow she manages to eat pretty much anything that is within reach.
She's making more and more noises and starting to say what sounds like 'dada'.  She's still pretty quiet most of the time, but I love when she surprises us with loud noises or babbling. Sometimes Ben, Cora, and I will be really loud and Cora loves to join in with a high pitched scream. It is the cutest thing ever.
She sleeps really well at night lately.  I only have to nurse her once or twice and I've been getting a lot of pretty good sleep, so it has been nice hitting that milestone.  We've been discussing moving Ida into Cora's room soon since she's doing so well sleeping. The girls love being around each other and Cora can't wait until they can share a room.
Ida LOVES baths.  We've been doing lots of sink baths because loves making a mess when she eats. She splashes all over the place and loves it. Cora likes to help with the sink baths and Ida loves spending anytime she can with Cora.
Happy 9 months happy little Ida! I love all of the laughter and cuddles you bring to our family.


House Exterior : Progress

I feel like I've put tons of work out here, but making very little visible progress at this point.  I don't have too much to share, but I wanted to share some of my own pictures and plans.
In the backyard, I moved the stones from this circular bed. We found that when we were playing outside it was just in our way and we'd walk right through it, so I'm slowly working on getting rid of that.  I'm transplanting a bunch of the hastas to the front garden and trying to even out the area.  I'm hoping some of the spreading 'weeds' we have will cover up this area without too much work from me, but we'll see how that goes.  I still need to fill in some of the divots so there aren't a bunch of random holes in the yard.
I've slowly been working on clearing out behind the garage.  There is a ton of overgrown weeds, trees, leaves, and overall junk.  It's taking so much time, but progress is progress.  I also started tearing apart the raised bed.  The wood was rotting, so I reused some of that soil for my veggie garden and I'll reuse the irrigation system on another raised bed when I get that fully taken out. I'm planning on putting some french doors in the back of the garage and turn it into a little studio, or 'she shed' as they call it these days.  I'll share more of those plans when we're closer to implementing them

I've also slowly been working on the front garden.  I cleared out a bunch of dandelions and moved some of the hastas up there.  My sister bought me some tulip bulbs from the zoo and we planted those up in the front too.  Not much to look at yet, but we're in it for the long haul.  
Other than that, not much has changed with the house exterior.  We have big plans, but it's going to take quite a while (and lots of money) to get to them all.  We have the following low cost things on our to-do list for this year (hopefully):
+ remove honeysuckles in front garden/yard
+ remove screened in porch
+ remove awnings
+ train some plants up the fence (started with some clematis so far... not super successful)
+ clean up the patio so we can enjoy some Friday night cookouts
+ save up for some long term plans like painting the house, new roof, etc


Dining Room : Progress

We haven't done too much in this room yet, but I just wanted to share some updated pictures with our furniture and some decorations in it.  Here are the before photos I have from the listing:

We got this dining set from my aunt and uncle and it is the perfect fit for this space.  We only keep a couple leafs in it on a day-to-day basis, but we did manage to put a couple more in and seat 12 for the Valentine's day party Cora and I threw.
My parents brought over Cora's table and chairs that she got for Christmas or her birthday of last year.  She loves having it setup and coloring at her table while I work on my projects. I also occasionally set up my sewing machine on it so she can test out the machine.
I'm also LOVING decorating the mantle.  I had some gift cards and a return from TJMaxx/HomeGoods so I bought this mirror for a steal.  It was an amazing price and I hemmed and hawed over it, but it was my first real fun purchase for the house and a little birthday present to myself (even though I used gift cards).

I bought some small stockings for Christmas and made this heart garland for valentines day.  I love to hang up the Happy Birthday banner and celebrate with cupcakes in the dining room for our birthdays.

We also have a rocking chair and cuckoo clock from my aunt and uncle and a easel for Cora in here. This room is kind of hodge podge right now and mostly used for art projects, playdoh, my drop zone of work stuff, and anything else we really need to spread out. 
Overall, this room has the least amount of things that I want to do to it, so it's towards the end of the list.  Here is the to-do list:
+ Pick a new light fixture.  We've found a couple that we can semi-agree on, but this task is proving a lot harder than I anticipated.
+ Paint walls.  I originally wanted something moody (dark turquoise), but this room also doesn't get a lot of light right now.  Waiting until we take off the awnings before I make any color decisions in here.  I'm also considering adding some kind of wainscotting, board and batten, or some other kind of molding.
+ Recover dining room chairs.  I have ideas, but I haven't found the perfect fabric yet.
+ Patch and paint the fireplace. It appears that it was chipping and someone just slapped a coat of paint over it.  Shouldn't be too much work.


Master Bedroom : Progress

It doesn't seem like much has happened since we moved in... until I look back at the before photos.

We painted everything white when we moved in.  After looking at the room, I decided I wanted black doors (which has always been on my wish list for a home anyways).  Ben got me the dresser from EBTH for a steal and that's pretty much where we're at right now.

+ Replace fan. (done, just need pictures)
+ Build bed/side tables.  I have some ideas for this, but no official plans yet.
+ Build/upholster headboard
+ Hang pictures.  Planning a wall of pictures (kind of like Ashley's)
+ Get rug or FLOR tiles.  This is a tricky room since the bed is covering half of it and the other half is essentially a cut through for the bathroom and man cave.  Thinking FLOR tiles may be the way to go.
+ Mount TV.  Still deciding if I want it in it's current spot or if we want it above the dresser.  Once we decide, we'll put it up since we already have a mount.
+ Redo closet. Paint whole closet and put in to place some kind of organization system
+ Make art for above the beds.  I'm thinking of some kind of wall hanging or even hanging some african baskets.  I have a bunch of ideas so I'm putting that off until the bed gets done.
+ Figure out something to do with the giant blank wall.
+ Curtains? Or some other window covering?  Still undecided on this.


Kitchen : Progress

As a reminder, here are pictures of our kitchen before we moved in:

Not too much has changed in the room.  We got a new (to us) fridge when we moved in.  The old one was moldy and we just didn't want to make the effort to clean it.  We found this fridge at a scratch and dent store for an amazing price.  There are a couple noticeable scratches on the front and a dent in between the handles that you can only see when the fridge is open.  We spent a bunch of time cleaning all of the cabinets inside and out, lining the drawers with contact paper, and starting to organize.  We put our old dining room table in there and it's where we share most of our family meals.

Since I've taken the pictures, we've taken down the sconces above the sink, but otherwise not much has changed. I'm not sure what we have planned for this room yet.  We'd love to redo the backsplash and paint the cabinets, but we may just wait until it's ready to reconfigure the room with new cabinets. Another room we're putting on the back burner until we get a bunch of the other necessary tasks completed.
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