Happy List: #72 Memorial Day Weekend Edition

Who’s ready for a 3-day weekend?

Me, Me, ME!

Doesn’t Memorial Day kick off the beginning of summer too? I’m ALL about summer!

This week I whined shared about how I’ve come to terms with embraced back-to-back birthdays for my kiddos.

I also shared a gorgeous DIY live edge wood coffee table that I tried to bring home with me on my last visit to my parents’ house.

Here’s this week’s Happy List!


Normally, I’d say if your ceiling has these gorgeous beams, it doesn’t need anything else.

I think I’m wrong. This ceiling is so eye-catching with the wallpaper.

If you aren’t sure, click over to Rachel’s site, Crate and Cottage, to see the before pictures.

(image: Crate and Cottage)


I think we’ve established that I don’t have the greenest of thumbs. Although, I am getting better.

I have never given any thought to how to transplant one of these prickly suckers, so that’s why this article by 4 Men 1 Lady caught my eye. She has a clever trick!

(image: 4 Men 1 Lady)


This tween room is really cool.

It dawned on me if this kiddo’s parents had the patience to tape off all those paint lines, then they should have no problem with patience through the teenage years. Right?!

Get all the details and much more inspiration at The HandMade Home.

(image: The HandMade Home)


Confession. I didn’t know the difference between shibori and tie dye. I had to look it up and based on what I can tell from this article at Adored 1, shibori has been part of Japanese culture since the 8th century. Tie dye is much more recent (early 1900s), but is considered part of the shibori family.

That brings me to these very cool shibori dyed napkins by Jen Woodhouse. Jen has the step-by-step on her site. Also, if you ever watch Jen on InstaStories, she sometimes sings and has the most amazing voice.

(image: Jen Woodhouse at House of Wood)


I like behind-the-scenes photos almost as much (sometimes more) than the actual photo.

I just like knowing what goes into capturing a great moment. Sometimes it is happenstance, but a lot of times it is hard work, patience, and curious wildlife.

Photo by @spono of @bertiegregory. Behind the scenes on my new series for @natgeo at St Andrews Bay, South Georgia. This bay has got to be one of the most incredible places on the planet. Argued to be the busiest beach in the world, it’s home to over 400,000 king penguins. It’s hard to believe that in 1925, just 1,100 kings were counted here. This is what happens when environmental conditions are right and you protect a place. Hats off to the South Georgia Government and all the awesome NGOs that have contributed to this success story. After I sat down quietly at the edge of the colony, these curious brown chicks came over for a closer look at the camera. Follow @bertiegregory for more wildlife adventures!

A post shared by National Geographic Adventure (@natgeoadventure) on


Two things I love about this picture.

  1. All the tile on the walls.
  2. The lighting. Notice what the designer did instead of 4 can lights.

More pictures of this space can be found at Lisa Berman Design.

(image: Lisa Berman Design)


Truthfully, I’d probably like these apple “donuts” better than a real donut.

Also truthfully, there is no way I’d be able to eat this dessert gracefully.

Recipe is by Courtney’s Sweets.

(image: Courtney’s Sweets)


One of my favorite Memorial Day traditions is one of service to the members of our family who are no longer with us. I wrote about it here.

We did this a little early this year when we were in Oregon and it was such a blessing.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend.


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DIY Live Edge Wood Coffee Table

When I go “home” for a visit, I literally go home to the same house I grew up in.

Anyone else sleep in their old bedroom when they go home? Thankfully, all my old posters are long gone because there are some things I just don’t want to explain to my kids.

However, I am happy to tell them over and over until they say, “MOOOM!” about the endless amount of chores I had to do.

When I was growing up one of our home’s “design features” was a 5-foot long slab of unfinished black walnut wood sitting on top of a half wall. I’m not even sure if the wood slab was secured to that half wall, but it acted as a catchall counter of sorts. I had the lucky chore of dusting all the nooks and crannies of the slab’s live edge. The teenager eye roll I threw in while I did this chore was just a bonus.

I never knew until this week that the wood slab has a neat history. It was given to my parents by my Uncle Mervin. He worked in the logging industry, but also competed in lumberjack sports in the 1960s. Yes, lumberjack sports are a real thing. If you’ve never heard of this sport, watch this YouTube video of one of my other relatives, Mel Lentz.

About 12 years ago my dad remodeled the house. The half wall was removed and that gorgeous wood slab I had spent my entire childhood dusting went into storage.

That’s where the wood slab sat until now.

When I came home this last time for a visit, I walked into the living room and was greeted by this beauty: a DIY coffee table from that wood slab.

It’s pretty fantastic, right?

That wood slab was such a fixture in my childhood that I never stopped to think about how it could be repurposed.

It’s a good thing someone else did!

My stepmom (aka The Junk Whisperer) had a vision for using the wood slab as a coffee table that was absolutely perfect.

The table legs are DIYed from 1.5-inch black metal pipe. This sort of black pipe can be found at any home improvement store, but their’s came from a plumbing supply store.

If you buy this type of pipe, you’ll notice that it is coated in some sort of oily film. If you want to paint it, you’ll need to wash the pipe first to remove that oil. Be sure and prime first or use a spray paint that has primer in it. Otherwise, the paint won’t adhere correctly.

The wood slab had been sanded smooth decades earlier, but it received a sanding touch up and a few coats of a clear sealant (like this one). I thought the slab was cool in its original state, but a few coats of clear sealant really made the wood pop!

Is there a moral to this story?

You bet!

Run home RIGHT NOW and scour your parents’ garage for any treasures that can be reused and repurposed.

If you’ve learned nothing else from reading this blog, you should know that my life experiences often serve as a lesson of what not to do.

Today’s lesson? It’s a lot easier to fit a wood slab in your suitcase BEFORE your parents realize what they have on their hands and turn that beauty into a coffee table. Just saying…

Seriously though, it is so much fun for me to see something old (but not THAT old because I’m still super young) repurposed into something new and useful that will bring happiness for many years to come.

P.S. I wrote this article on the fly. I didn’t even have my good camera with me. If you have how-to questions about making this DIY live edge coffee table, let me know and I can dive into that in the comments section or in a separate article. 

P.P.S. The coffee table book is Best-Kept Secrets of Ireland by Kevin Eyres. I highly recommend actually going to Ireland to buy this book, but if that seems like a jaunt, you can also buy it on Amazon. 

Thanks for hanging out with me today at my parents’ house! It’s been fun! If you want to read some other stories from my visits home, here you go.

DIY Burl Wood Table

Potting Shed Part 1 and Part 2

Natural Rock Soap Dish

Fresh Raspberry Margaritas

Shovel Head Owl Art


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Back-to-Back Kid Birthdays

What’s it like for all you people out there whose kids’ birthdays are nice and evenly spaced out?

Is it amazing and stress-free?

It is, isn’t it?


I have to say, it was really smart of you to plan the births of your children that way.

And if it wasn’t exactly planned, I don’t want to know the details take that luck and enjoy the heck out of it!

My children’s birthdays are ONE. DAY. APART.

Let that sink in…

Whatever you are thinking about this life-long situation, yes, it’s probably like that.

My inner efficiency expert would prefer one small joint birthday celebration.

She’s a party pooper though and usually gets vetoed on this particular topic.

Just like the people who sometimes get short-changed because they were born on Christmas, I don’t want my kids to feel short-changed because back-to-back birthdays wear mommy out.

How we celebrate their birthdays has changed every year. This is mainly because my kids are different every year and life circumstances change. We’ve done joint parties, sleepovers and separate parties. We’ve foregone all parties and taken a trip.

I’ll let you guess which one of those options was my favorite.

This year, for the first time in several years, we were able to celebrate their birthdays with cousins. Lying in bed one night before his birthday, my son said, “so ALL my cousins are coming?”

I replied, “Yes, from my side of the family and from daddy’s side of the family.”

He thought about this for a moment.

Then in the darkened room he lifted up his little arms and cupped each of his hands in a half-circle shape and said, “so it’s like this half and the other half coming together.”

He looked at his hands, which now formed a circle and said, “Actually mom, it’s more like this…”

And he changed the shape of his hands so that the two sides formed a heart.

To which I melted into a puddle of maternal goo replied, “Yes, it’s exactly like that.”

I’m actually feeling at a loss for the right words, so I’ll just say I’m so grateful our family was able to love on the kids in person this year. These moments matter.

My kiddos were glowing with happiness and a sugar high at the end of the day.

And you know what? My heart was full too.

P.S. My kids (ages 8 and 11) are into science stuff right now, so this is what we gave them for their birthdays. My son got the microscope. It won some awards for best starter microscope, so that’s how I picked that one. My daughter has been asking about growing crystals and a kit seemed easier than the DIY version. Plus, this one can become a night light. I’ll let you know how it all goes!

National Geographic Mega Crystal Growing Lab and Night Light

Microscope Kit

Thanks for reading! To keep this birthday fun going, here you go… 

If you want to read about our simple, low cost birthday traditions that we do regardless of any other celebrations, click here.

If you need gift wrapping ideas, here are all my favorites.

Pom Pom Initial Gift Bag

Perler Bead Gift Topper

Denim Pennant Gift Topper

Tourist Maps Make Great Wrapping Paper


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Happy List: #71

May is FLYING by, isn’t it?

This week I shared my tips on visiting one of Ireland’s greatest cultural treasures, the Book of Kells.

I also wrote about a recipe that changed my life. Okay, fine. I exaggerate, but only slightly.

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, I’ve posted some gems recently!

It’s ever-changing, but always present – here’s this week’s Happy List!


I’m sure the pictures are out there, but I haven’t seen grey penny tile taking over the universe. Maybe it should?

This tile and that door aren’t even the best part of this house by Bria Hammel Interiors! Be sure and check out the kitchen.

(image: Bria Hammel Interiors)


Potluck food is not my favorite to eat make. Not all foods travel well. Not all foods should sit out for an extended period of time.

This recipe for Pane Bianco with Basil, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Sausage does travel well and can sit out, but it will be eaten quickly! I know because I made it last weekend. I first posted this recipe on the blog it seems like yesterday 3 years ago!

Plus, it looks like a showstopper and tastes like pizza bread. If you don’t want to deal with rising dough, I think you could probably hack this recipe with store-bought dough.


This color combo is delightful and earthy. Don’t you think?

It would go great with the dirt my kids track into the house.

Also, mudrooms look a million times better without actual stuff in them. Have you ever noticed that?


Totally want to try this Smashed Chickpea Salad recipe by A Sweet Spoonful.

(image: A Sweet Spoonful)


I just got this skirt from Target for $22.99 and have received so many compliments.

I’m going to recommend you size WAY down though. I’m 5′ 9″ and typically a size 8. In this particular skirt, I needed a size SMALL.

So, of course, I had to buy it. Well played, Target. Well played.


Warning. Do not attempt this stair treatment unless you are a perfectionist’s perfectionist.

Of course this is the one time I wish I was a perfectionist…


Now I finally have an answer to one of the million random questions my kids ask me each hour day.

How did a big ol’ dinosaur not crush its eggs when it sat on a nest?

This article in National Geographic answers the question, but scientists still don’t know why dinosaurs needed to sit on the eggs. To keep them warm? To protect them? We may never know.

(image: Kohei Tanaka via National Geographic)


Even if the color isn’t your jam, you have to love how dressed up these bi-fold closet doors are! Pretty fantastic, right?

I believe Monica from Monica Wants It customized the doors herself.

(image: Monica Wants It)

We have a fun, full weekend ahead of us. I’ll tell you ALL about it on Monday.

If I survive.

Happy Friday!


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Would I Make It Again: Cilantro Vinaigrette

If you are a faithful reader of this blog (thank you!), you might remember me rambling on at least once about trying a recipe for Cilantro Vinaigrette from What’s Gaby Cooking.

I decided this blog needed less talk and more action, so the other night I made the Cilantro Vinaigrette.

Then I decided to tell you ALL about it.

The recipe is not hard at all, but it does take a few minutes to pick the amount of cilantro leaves needed off the stems.

Spoiler alert!

Do you want a spoiler?

Okay fine. I’m feeling generous.

It was a few minutes well spent.

The Cilantro Vinaigrette recipe description says: “It makes for the most delicious salad dressing, you can spoon it over roasted chicken, salmon or steak, you can toss it with a bowl of quinoa, pasta or farro, or you could eat it with a spoon straight out of the fridge. No judgement here.”

Challenge accepted.

I may or may not have eaten I definitely did more than once the vinaigrette straight from the blender with a spoon.

Then I dipped a tortilla chip in the vinaigrette more than once because you can’t just have one chip. THAT was amazing.

Finally, after deciding this experience called for my stretchy pants a lot of “taste testing,” I put the cilantro vinaigrette on top of my chicken taco salad.

A couple of days later I used up the last of the vinaigrette on breakfast burritos.

Don’t make me choose a favorite way to eat this vinaigrette!

One note about the recipe: it calls for 2 cups of tightly packed cilantro, stems removed. It’s really hard to gauge how much cilantro that is when you’re in the store.

My giant bunch of cilantro ended up being only one cup. I kept the other ingredients the same as the recipe indicated and clearly the vinaigrette turned out just fine.

More than fine, actually. It was the best thing I’ve tasted in a good long while.

In what is a rare act for me, I didn’t add one single thing to the recipe.

Would I make Cilantro Vinaigrette again?

I know the subtle nature of this blog post might have you wondering, did she like it? It’s so hard to tell.

Let me spell it out once and for all. Yes! Definitely. Making the recipe again is a no-brainer.

And I must insist that you try it too. I won’t be happy until you do!

Huge thanks to What’s Gaby Cooking for another great recipe. You nailed it, girl!

Other recipes in the Would I Make It Again Series:

Would I Make It Again: Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake

Would I Make It Again: Chile Lime Almonds

Would I Make It Again: Cheese Tea

Would I Make It Again: Rhubarb Scones

Would I Make It Again: Korean Beef Bowl

Would I Make It Again: Chicken Rigatoni With Vodka Sauce

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