Nigel the Lemon Tree


The entry way is  in need to some sprucing up.  There are a number of items on my list if terms of a makeover… The pictures that are running up the staircase are not the right proportions and I want to do a gallery wall I think? The entry tends to collect “things” and we need a better system for organization.  And where do we put all the baby strollers? The list is endless and sort of exhausting to think about.

The one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted a lemon tree to add a bit of color.  How cheerful would a tree covered in sunny yellow lemons be? A call to my very favorite greenhouse, Heartland Nursery, confirmed that they had Meyer Lemon Trees in various sizes.  I decided on the 5 gallon size as they were already producing fruit.  As luck would have it, Target was also putting their gardening supplies on clearance.  We snagged a shiny white planter for our lemon tree.

We have named our happy little tree “Nigel.”  Naming a tree is weird?  Well… by naming the tree, I have found the boys take more of an interest in caring for it. Someday, Nigel will grow into his pot and be 10 feet tall.  For now, he is short and squat.  But we love him anyway.

The boys take turns watering Nigel and are waiting for his lemons to ripen and turn yellow.  I haven’t eaten a Meyer Lemon before, but they are said to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange and are therefore sweeter.  We are looking forward to baking up some yummy treats once our fruit is ready to pick!

In addition to Nigel, I also swapped out the sheer curtain from a plain linen to a patterned IKEA sheer.

Hello… hello…. hello…

Wow… a bit dusty around here, yes? It isn’t that there is a lack of projects going on around here… there is a lack of time to post!  I really need to figure out a more streamlined manner to take pictures, edit and add watermarks, upload, etc.  (If anyone has any tips for me on that, I am all ears).


We do have a lot of projects in flight here, so perhaps I should set a personal goal of knocking out some blog posts?  (And perhaps maintain a readership?)

So let it be known that I will do posts on the following projects! (Nothing like publicly shaming myself!)

  • Entry Makeover
  • Upstairs Hallway Progress
  • Dane / Satchel’s Room
  • Kitchen Demo
  • Our New Roof
  • Living Room Update (Paint, furniture & fireplace)
  • Halloween!!!
  • Dining Room Progress
  • Boys’ Bathroom Progress


matching game for Modernist families


Steven made a neat little find at Half Price Books… 

This little matching game by Binth is really modern and cute! 

So much more chic than the regular Memory game cards!  I really love the designs and the edited color palette.

And I might add… Bowie is really good at this game.  He has a great memory… and gives his big brothers a run for their money!

We do something every Thursday night at our house called Family Fun Night…  I pick up pizzas and a dozen Dunkin Donuts, and we watch movies and play board games.  It is something the boys really look forward to, and gives us all a chance to talk about the week and gear up for the weekend.

Do you have fun family traditions at your house?


the thinking chair (and a birthday!)

pink chair, hallway, renovation, black and white

pink chair, hallway, renovation, black and whiteSteven finished sinking nailheads, wood-filling and sanding the hallway floor.  Whew!  After a coat of primer, some black paint (Silhouette by Martha Stewart), and some satin sealer, we are so much closer to a finished hallway.  It will be awhile before we have “finished / after” photos for you since the reading nook and bookcases that are replacing the closet will take some time. 

In the interim, here is a sneak peek for what it looks like so far…  I decided that we needed a bright pop of color.  After you climb the stairs and peek into the hallway, there was too much black, white and gray.  We had a vintage wooden child’s chair that we picked up at Goodwill.  It was a once-cheerful, now-sorry yellowy-green.  I didn’t want to run in to town for paint (I was thinking Bubblegum Pink), so I started mixing.  I had a sample of Martha Stewart’s discontinued Scented Notepaper, which was not popping enough.  So I stirred in a dab of Ralph Lauren’s Aruba… and bam…  Dane walked in the kitchen and said, “Does that paint have a name?  It looks like bubblegum!”  So, yay for me!  A few coats later, as I was too lazy to prime, and we had this fun little chair.  Steven added some fuzzy pads to the metal glides, and we were in business.  The boys are already enjoying this little quiet spot to read a book, so we know the future reading nook is going to be the fun hang-out in the upstairs.

Speaking of fun…  A hap-hap-happy birthday was had by Mister Bowie Morgan!  He turned 5 on Saturday, despite all my urgings to stay little forever.  Bowie asked for a honey cake for his birthday.  (Apprarently the little honey pot on top of the hoosier cabinet really caught his eye).  So out came the cake pan from his first birthday party to whip up a cake.  Happy Birthday, Bo-Bot!

Bowie fifth birthday cake bee williams sonoma nordic cake pan

Historic roofing for modern times


Due to a summer storm, we are putting a new roof on our home.  It was really interesting to talk with the insurance adjuster that came out.  He was very surprised that our asbestos-concrete shingles were in near perfect condition.  Unfortunately, the hail broke a few of our shingles and these are non-replaceable.  I had to look for an alternate roofing material that I felt matched our home’s aesthetic and was the most historical accurate. 

While I didn’t have a great picture of our original roof (before the 1940s remodel), I did have this picture of the “sister” house to our home to work from.  Love those Yankee gutters and patternwork!

Here is a list of some of the options available to those doing similar research.


Photo: Lawrence Journal World

Slate is particularly popular on the east coast.  Slate has been found in ruins of 17th century buildings in Jamestown.  Due to difficulties in transportation and availability, slate was an expensive product.  Not until development of the rail system did slate really become an economical option.  Not just beautiful, but also fireproof and durable, slate was a popular option even into the early 1900s.

Today it is an expensive (and heavy) option.  The Watkins Community Museum in Lawrence, KS, pictured above, has a rare red slate roof.  This red slate is available at only one quarry in the world. 


First Church in Kansas, Big Springs, KS

Asbestos was used in asphalt roofing shingles to act as a reinforcement  for the shingle and add fireproofing. Although i twas banned in the 1970’s, some roofing products may have contained asbestos until the early 1980’s. Our roof was a composition of cement and asbestos and basically looked like squares of concrete.  Other asbestos shingles looked more like today’s traditional shingles.  While there are some reserves of these shingles for historic preservation restoration jobs, you won’t find a bulk of these for much else.   

Big Springs, KS


Parmenter Hall, Baker Univerity

Wooden roofs were very common in this neck of the woods.  While wood is a bit of a fire hazard in an urban setting, a lot of old farm houses had wood roofs in the Midwest. 

Folk Victorian, Baldwin City, KS

Of course, Shingle Style is the most obvious use of the material.  Bungalows, Queen Anne and Folk Victorians often included shingle not only on roofs but on gables and walls.  Our Cottage of Stone began life as a shingle-covered beauty, before the 1940s remodel.  Our builder, Joe Spurgeon, was extremely found of Cabot shingles, according to early news clippings I have found.

Modern treated wood shingles are more brittle and are thicker than historic shingles.  A modern option here might be Fancy Shake from DaVinci.  They have a polymer shake available in many colors that looks very close to wood shake if that is the look you are going for.


The most common and economical material is asphalt.  Asphalt shingles, particularly ones marketed by manufactures as architectural or luxury, often mimic slate, shakes (wood) or tiles.  During my research, I found a CertainTeed product called Carriage House that had a nice scalloped look to it.  While I am in no way endorsing this product, it is a viable option for someone who wants more than just strip shingles.  If you go this route, you might also consider trying to incorporate patterns with different shapes and colors. 

Did you know many states have a program for recycling asphalt shingles?


After speaking with the insurance adjuster, I feel in love with a diamond-shaped polymer shingle that, we found out, was discontinued.  Therefore, I had to research other options.

DaVinci had a few products that I was interested in.  The slate tiles caught my attention, particularly the multi-width and Bellaforte products.  While they didn’t have the diamond shape I wanted, they did have some interesting patterns.  They had a rainbow of colors and a cool option to create your own palette.  I narrowed my favorite to Multi-Width in Castle Gray.  I will update with photos of our house once we get that new roof!

There are many manufactures of modern slate alternatives, so if this is your look, you might check out Eco Star, Lamarite by TamKo (some of which have been discontinued so use caution), and Symphony by CertainTeed.

Goodbye, sweet girl…


For our children, Cross Check has always been there.  She joined our family when Emery was a baby.  She was always happy to see us; her face would light up and she would wag with her entire hind-end.  She was never aggressive and tolerated baby’s tugging on her ears and younger dogs nipping at  her heels.

As a service animal, she flew more flights than seasoned travelers, rode on buses and trams, slept in hotels, hung out in restaurants and napped under desks in cubes. I know everyone always says their dog is the “best dog ever.”  But in her case, it really might have been true.  She was selfless in the way she cared for me when I was sick.

Even though initially it was I who rescued her from Denver Dumb Friends… it was Check who rescued all of us.

We won’t ever forget you, Check.  We will all always love you.

Your family always,

Sarah Beth, Steven. Emery, Satchel, Dane, Bowie and Tatum

the painted hallway


The hallway is looking a lot less scary these days.  We have more work to do, but the list is getting shorter and a lot less daunting!

  •  Scrape off popcorn ceiling
  • Mud ceiling
  • Patch holes, skim, sand
  • Wood-fill trim as needed
  • Caulking
  • Install quarterround
  • Prime everything
  • Paint (texture) ceiling (Irish Mist)
  • Paint walls (Newsprint)
  • Paint trim (Pure White)
  • Paint floor (Silhouette)
  • Install new push-button switch & plate after fixing box
  • Install new light fixtures
  • Build reading nook (this is a huge project!)
  • Build bookshelves
  • Paint reading nook, cabinets, bookshelved
  • Replace hardware on cabinets
  • Hang artwork (almost done – one to go!)

All that said, it is amazing how quickly you get used to the “new.”  It is easy to forget how ugly the “before” was!  Lest we forget how much work is ahead of us, we still have the eyesore that will be the reading nook, and the terrible floors.

But let’s just forget all that for a moment and concentrate on how pretty the black doors are up against the white trim, and how the silvery-white walls are set off:

And now it is no longer scary to look at the upstairs from the landing.  I really love the Stendig calendar here!  (Ignore the light switch is still not fixed and is poking out of the wall).

And the decorative blocks fix the transition from the 1906 trim to the 1946 trim!!  Every though we have a lot of clean-up to do…

And even though I used to hate brass, I think the hardware would be blingin’ if I polished it all up!

Tatum Evan, 9 months


Mister Tatum Evan is now 9 months old… we are rolling up on his first birthday soon.  What a wonderful age he is in.  He has been crawling for months, and walking along the furniture for a couple months…. which makes for a lot of “no-no” and “no-thank-you.”  But really, he is a wonderful baby.







We are working really hard on eating solids, and he really loves crackers, cookies and fruit.

Tatum is very happy nearly all the time.  He cracks up laughing whenever his brothers play with him.  He is a total flirt.

So I mentioned before Tatum didn’t dig on his cradle as a newborn.  He has been happily snuggled in bed next to me.  We did set up a playard next to our bed.  And I have managed to get him to sleep in the playard an hour each night.  After an hour, he wakes up scared and not knowing where he is at, so I scoop him back up and he snuggles with me the rest of the night. Slowly but surely, I think we will get there!

hallway painting


I was eager to share a picture of the new light fixtures that Steven installed.  We have two of these replacing the original gass-electric fixtures in the hallway.  These Allen + Roth fixtures came in oil rubbed bronze, or ORB for you hipsters, but I wanted flat black to match the rest of the home.  A little rattlecanning, and we have fixtures to match the rest.  The vintage-style bulb in there makes everything yellow at night, which gives it a nice cozy look… though not easy to photograph.  I snapped these pictures this morning with my phone.







Here is the finished hallway.  The color is Newsprint by Martha Stewart.  It is the discontinued line at Lowe’s, but they still have it in the computers and can mix it.  It is a nice white with a touch of silver.  It really brightened up the hallway since there isn’t any natural light in there.



the hand that rocks the (empty) cradle


Before Tatum Evan made his appearance, we set up a lovely little corner in our bedroom for him.  Steven brought the cradle up from the basement but could not find Bowie’s old bedding.  He did a great job of picking out replacements from Babies R Us.  I ordered a cough*knockoff*cough Eames rocker and a pouf for those late night feedings.  It was all so pretty and I couldn’t wait to rock Tatum to sleep in the cradle.




Tatum decided that sleeping away from Mommy was not an option.  He snuggles up next to me every night and refuses to entertain the thought of sleeping anywhere else.  Yikes!  Oh well, the midnight feedings are easier anyway…


Hallway… progress?


The hallway is looking a little less scary.  We have the walls patched, sanded, and ready for paint.  The ceiling has been primed and painted.  The trim has been filled, caulked, sanded, and ready for primer.  You can’t see them in this picture, but Steven also installed the new light fixtures!  The original gas-electric fixtures were lovely, but not really in keeping with what we were going for.  Since the original shades are long gone, I didn’t feel too bad replacing them.

Here is a shot of the hallway from the top of the stairs.  Steven built some plinth blocks to fix the transition between the 1906 baseboard and the 1946 baseboard.









In case you are wondering what our homemade scaffolding looks like – here is what Steven built to allow us to set a ladder in the stairwell to ready the ceiling!  Clever, clever!

   Our baseboard and plinth blocks have taken a beating over the years.  Steven has them all prepped for primer now.  He also had to create some shims to fill in some house-settling gaps.

Here is the view down the hall to the nursery.  You can see we have some work to do on the old closet we tore out to make way for a reading nook for the kids.

the hallway of horror!

Before finishing our other projects, of course we have a new one underway!  I think we may have project ADD.  Anyways…  The upstairs hallway has bothered me since, well, since we moved in.  The dingy green-gray sponge-painted walls.  The ill-fitted trim.  The mangled painted floor.  It all had to go.

To whip the hallway into shape would mean scraping the popcorn texture off the ceiling and patching / smoothing it out.  Steaming wallpaper off the ceiling (yes… wallpaper on the ceiling!).  Patching plaster on the walls.  Removing / replacing.  Caulking.  Sanding.  Crying… lots of crying. But first, we had to build a scaffolding system to allow us to reach the ceiling in the stairway.  Good times!

That is all behind us!  I finished painting the ceiling the same color as the downstairs entry way (Irish Mist by Behr).  Steven installed the new light fixtures (Modern Classics Collection by Roth + Allen).  Steven is wrapping up prep work on the trim and we will be ready to prime and paint the walls, trim and floor.  Sigh!

Before you get to see the After pictures, you have to join us in the nasty, scary Before pictures.  I’m not gonna church-it-up. They invented the word “fugly” just for pictures like these…  Let’s take a look!

dingy, ugly, nastiness

mounting a light switch into the wall? pfffft!

How many different papers? I think I lost count.

Where 1906 trim meets 1946 trim.... Yikes!


It can only get better from here, folks!


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