Summer may be over but I still don’t see any autumn.

So, it has been a while (an embarrassingly long while) since I updated this thing and I’m afraid it’s gotten to the point where there’s just so much stuff to post that I don’t even know where to begin. It might seem a little helter-skelter around here for a bit because I’m going to post things that aren’t necessarily in chronological order, but bear with me. I haven’t been posting because things have just been that busy around here. I’ll start with something fun.

Our little family just returned home from an adorable vacation spent in Galveston. We rented a lovely yellow house a block away from the beach and had a blast at the tail end of the season.

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Elliott is used to Galveston because her dad lived there for a while and his parents and siblings still do, so her visits with them always included time on the seawall. Grayson, however, had never even seen a beach in his fifteen months of existence, but boy did he make up for lost time.

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My dad used to take me and my sister Liz, who was maybe 5 or so at the time, for weekend visits in California (where I was born) when I was Grayson’s age and he loves to tell the story of me sprinting as fast as my chubby legs could carry me toward the water of Monterey Bay. I was waiting for Grayson to try kamikaze-ing into the brownish waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but he was not a fan of salt water in his nose, so that wasn’t too much of an issue after the first wave he underestimated.

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Ellie was way more interested in building sandcastles (or, rather, what she referred to as sandcastles), mainly so she could destroy them. She got the most ridiculous tan ever after our four days of unrelenting sunshine. My mom has been joking non-stop that Ellie’s darker than me now, but she’s blind without her glasses, so what does she know?

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Overall, Galveston is a far cry from the white sand beaches of Florida and the water definitely isn’t blue or green like you’d get in Hawaii or the Caribbean, but the house we rented was comfortable and really cute, the whole vacation was really affordable, and BEST OF ALL, it’s an hour and fifteen minutes away, which minimized our risk of roadside temper tantrums.

There are lots of things to do in Galveston, depending on your budget and what you and your troop enjoy doing. My tiny tyrants require constant engagement, for the most part, so the beach itself was a major hit. The other families kids shoving sand into buckets, the passersby with dogs on leashes, the seemingly endless parade of pigeons or whatever those birds were, and the sand and waves made for quite a few lovely and relaxing afternoons.

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We took the ferry to Bolivar Island right at sunset and that was fantastic. The ride itself is slightly less than 3 miles and, at about 15 minutes each way, is long enough to enjoy without being too long, but on weekends, the return line can get preeettty long. I highly recommend checking the Houston TranStar traffic camera website (http://traffic.houstontranstar.org/cctv/transtar/by_roadway.html?mnu=ferry&rd=Galveston_Ferry) first. We saw dolphins, seagulls, a light house, and a partially-sunken World War I ship, and best of all- it’s totally free!

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My mom went with me on the ferry to make sure no tiny humans went overboard.

We ate a LOT of seafood, which for a homesick New Orleanian was a treat. There’s an impressive amount of Gulf seafood around town (who’dve expected that in a town on the Gulf of Mexico?), ranging from $6 poboys to gourmet cuisine. We had really great Italian at a place called Mario’s on the Seawall. I literally ate shrimp every single day. That alone almost qualifies the place as heaven.

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L-to-R: shrimp scampi, shrimp Alfredo, and shrimp parmesan at Mario’s on the Seawall.

We skipped the “Pleasure Pier” because Ellie’s dad has taken her there before and it’s a rip off. Apparently, it’s $10 just to walk onto the boardwalk, before you play any games or ride any rides. There are a very limited number of rides, they’re pretty expensive, the games are your typical carny fare, and there aren’t really any toddler-friendly rides, aside from a big ferris wheel. I’d rather take Ellie to the carnival that parks in the Sharpstown Mall parking lot for all that hassle, to be honest. And anyway, my first priority at any carnival isn’t the rides or the games. I go there for the candy apples. But that’s a post for another time.

All in all, we had a really great time. Then again, I’d have a great time just about anywhere with John. With our rugrats in tow and my mom there to lend a helping hand, it’s a recipe for well-spent family time.

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An adorable (DIY) shared nursery for two adorable children

As penance for my really shoddy record with updating this thing lately, I figured I’d do a big post. Welcome to my hazy recollections of creating a shared nursery for my two kiddos.

My daughter & I moved in with John in August or September of 2012 and by December, I was gathering inspiration for how I was going to transform what was once Ellie’s “jungle safari” themed bedroom that I had grown sick of into a gender-neutral nursery that wouldn’t be stifling for either of them.

We have three bedrooms, so eventually they’ll have their own rooms, but for now, we want them to share a room. I, personally, think it’ll make them close and I also don’t like the idea of giving up a space for guests just yet if we don’t have to. The third bedroom is currently a totally junky catch-all room slash “mancave” where John has his electronic drum kit and dual-screen PC setup. Very little time is spent in there, but hopefully (once I start/finish making the playroom for the kids and get matching nightstands for my own bedroom) I can eventually get in there and make it a legitimate room where he’ll want to spend time.

When I began visualizing what I was going to do with the kids’ room, I pictured bright and airy walls with a colorful and playful color scheme that could also make a restful sleeping space. I wanted something appropriate for a little boy and little girl to share. I decided to skip a theme altogether because I think that’s what led me to get sick of my daughter’s decor so quickly.

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By the time we’d spent two years looking at the tan zebra print and overabundance of zebras, giraffes, monkeys, and lions all over the place, there was nothing fresh about it, no matter how well tied-together the room may have been. One of the first things I did before we moved in was paint the walls in her bedroom yellow and tan and that was the first thing that needed to go. What was once my favorite shade of yellow paint, when mixed with that tan (admittedly, an oops color that I got from Home Depot for $5), had turned into a drab combination that reminded me of a hot dog bun or soft pretzel covered in mustard. I hate mustard of all kinds, but none quite so vehemently as yellow mustard. It made the room feel darker and smaller which was absolutely ridiculous because this is a MASSIVE bedroom.

So, the color du jour became tan. Not just any tan, though. I wanted a crisp, yet warm tan that wouldn’t clash with the gray carpet (that I am seriously ready to replace with hardwood laminate floors). I wanted something that could serve as the backdrop for decor changes throughout the years. I wanted something bright during the day and calming at night. I ask a lot of my paint colors, I know.

The next step in the process was where things got kind of iffy. I had the genius idea to mix my own shade of tan, rather than waste that dreadful more-like-light-brown-than-tan oops color that I got for 5 bucks. That’s not really the iffy part, though. The iffy part comes in where I thought it was logical to mix only enough paint to put one coat on the walls and wouldn’t exercise enough patience to not paint after a rainy day in the middle of February. Needless to say, that turned into a disaster.

I painted the day after it rained. I’m pretty sure it was in the 30s or 40s, temperature-wise, which is basically -19 fahrenheit in Houston terms. The paint was soooo streaky. I wish I had a picture but it didn’t photograph well. I had dark streaks and light streaks and streaks that didn’t even look like colors that would be anywhere along the spectrum of light tan to brown. And, of course, I didn’t have more of the same shade of tan mixed.

So, I mixed another bucket of tan paint. This time, I had the foresight to mix the rest of the can, but sadly, it was only enough to do a second coat (on a day with an appropriate climate). The second coat dried alright, but still needed another coat on top of that to fully cover the yellow and light brown that had been there before. That’s where the disaster part came in. I only had enough paint left to do a third coat on two of the walls.

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This would be the moment where a normal person would admit defeat, but I painted the two walls that needed it worse and convinced myself that it wasn’t terribly noticeable that one of the walls is an ever-so-slightly-lighter shade of tan than the other two. Just in case you’ve been counting and were beginning to doubt my basic addition skills, it’s worth noting that I painted the fourth wall a great shade of tangerine that I got from Home Depot. I want to say I sprang for the Glidden.

I put up two of the Ikea curtain panels that I brought over from my apartment when we moved. The window in this room looks out into our backyard and lets in an incredible amount of natural light during the day, so the crisp white curtains keep it bright, but tone it down just a little. I love the whimsical black sketch-like outlines of trees and birds. It ties in with the tree decal that I put up on the wall above the changing table (which is no longer there). I think that’ll be a post for another time, though.

I spent a lot of time and energy making the accessories for this room. I wanted the kids to have unique things that I made myself, from the wall hangings to the decorative items around the room.

As for the contents of this side of the room, the play kitchen was a gift from my dad to Ellie for her birthday, I think. The poster is for the Columbiana (Alabama) State Fair and came from my childhood bedroom in New Orleans. It survived Hurricane Katrina. The star lamp and hanging toy holder in the corner came from Ikea. The toy bin was one of those $29 deals from WalMart and it Toy Story themed, but I turn the canvas bins backward so that only the blue is visible. (They have the aliens from the claw machine on the front.) The little shelf thing is one of those modular cube things you can get anywhere that sells Closet Maid items (WalMart, Target, Home Depot), and the yellow bins were $1 each at the Dollar Tree.

You can’t see Ellie’s bed well in this photo, but it’s the Sniglar toddler bed from Ikea. It came in an unfinished pine and I stained it the same color that I stained the Sniglar crib (from the same line at Ikea) for Grayson. I believe it was a walnut color from Minwax. I’m so pleased with how they turned out and will definitely devote a post to them. I love the Sniglar and Gulliver cribs from Ikea because they’re good-looking, affordable, and endlessly customizable. I got the toddler bed and its mattress, and the crib for around $200 altogether and they’re a custom-stained set. Can’t beat it.

I’ll follow this post up very soon with a detailed description of the accessories that I made for this room. There are custom wrapped canvasses, all sorts of framed goodies, a DIY lamp, an origami mobile, and some other cute things in store. The other half of the room is so much better than what I’ve shown you but I’m WAY overdue for my bedtime.