Month : September 2016

flex room progress


Are you overwhelmed by the style in here?! ūüôā

Slowly but surely, I’m pulling together a plan for this light and bright front space of our home, that I last talked about here. ¬†While there hasn’t been all that much progress, I think the real step forward has been defining, for myself, how we’ll use this space going forward.

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While I’m no longer offering photo sessions in my home, I DO like the idea of keeping the neutral white walls because they bounce so much light around in this room, in contrast to our living room with its darker paint color and deeper wood/stone accents. The Nordic-style, white-walls-pops-of-color thing, really speaks to me and this seemed a perfect room in which to attempt the look.


It started with the rug. PSA: always shop around! I had my heart set on this baby when I first found it at — then stumbled on it,¬†nearly 150 dollars cheaper, at Rugs USA. Woot!


For now, I’m keeping the white Ikea Kivik chair that’s already in here — I’d like something just as comfy, but with arms and in a fun color (I keep seeing emerald green, if not in the seating than maybe in window treatments?). I go back and forth between a small sectional and a couple of arm chairs.¬†My eye goes to more modern stuff from time to time, but I think at the end of the day I like a little more comfortable, relaxed, and dare I say traditional feel in my own home.


As chic as the little tikes basketball setup is (just keeping it real!) it will eventually relocate to the basement play area in a few months. I completely stumbled on this little end table marked down to a song (!) to tuck in a corner with the chair. I love me some copper.


I’d love to add a single big piece of¬†art on one wall – kind of loving this guy from Minted for West Elm.


I would like to do some sort of coffee table in here since we’ve skipped one for now in the living room (it takes up prime play space, and is cumbersome with two reclining sofas that face each other). I keep coming back to round styles like this one¬†(from…


…or something that brings in a little of the rustic vibe we have going on in the living room. I like that this particular version (also from overstock) has the more modern legs to keep it from feeling too heavy.


As plain as this inspiration board looks, it’s my “next phase” for this room, slowly pulling together (and funding) the right pieces, at a time we’re also focusing on a much bigger project (the basement!). This room will continue to take a backseat, but slowly and steadily, it’ll get there!


the beginning of the end: basement finishing progress

I last blogged about our plans for the basement shortly before we moved in. If you prefer a quicker re-cap than reading the link, we had our builder frame this lower level for us and stock it with drywall, saving Page one of the more time intensive steps, and avoiding dragging messy (and huge!) sheets of drywall through our finished house later when we were ready to get cracking down there.

Our plan still includes some unfinished storage space, a fifth bedroom, full bath, gym, kid area/oversized toy closet/understair playhouse, an area to hang and watch TV, a wet bar, and a golf simulator. As much time as we spend at home now, it makes sense to us to put our time, energy, and funding into these types of projects. Additionally, after our last basement finish much more than paid for itself when it came time to sell, we also see this as a fun project that we not only benefit from now, but also (hopefully) and investment that will pay off later. Since we moved in, we had an electrician come out and rough in all our wiring.  

This summer, Page did some additional framing of the soffit in the bedroom, an access wall to the sump pump along the simulator area, a future stone column, and the wet bar. Although the gym is no more than framed, we added our flooring — the same horse mats used by CrossFit gyms — and moved in the weights and equipment. We’ve been using the gym as-is in lieu of a paid membership elsewhere and we both love the ability to work out at home.

August = insulation. #thispartsucks #basementfinish #casadesmith #houseprojects #diy

A photo posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

This past month we tackled insulation. There’s no way to sugarcoat it — insulation installation is pretty damn awful, but it’s a step we could do ourselves and save some coin.

Yaaaaaassss. #finishingthebasement #houseprojects #casadesmith A photo posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

We’ve had the hardest time finding available drywallers, and in something unheard of to us, we are discovering many options¬†— but some ONLY hang the drywall, and some¬†that ONLY mud/tape/texture. Weird, but whatever, we’ll take it. We were able to get on the first contractor’s schedule this month, so voila, we now have walls! This was SUCH a huge step down here — to get all the drywall up and off the floor makes the space, while unfinished, much more usable. We have a busy toddler who can spend the cold winter months riding bikes, big wheels, and jumping on his trampoline (shh! he doesn’t know Santa is bringing it!) down here all winter long, while we save up for the next steps (and pick paint colors! No idea what we want to do down here yet!)

Please excuse the dump of photos…it’s been over a year since I last came down here with my camera! Beginning with our basement stairway…


…this is the¬†view into what will be the living room area…


Off to the right of this area is a kiddo space…


…with an extra-deep closet to the left for toys/games…


…and perhaps my favorite spot of the whole basement, a mini door to under the stairs for a Crew clubhouse…


…In the opposite corner of the living room will be a full bath, and a guest bedroom…


(guest bedroom)


(guest bedroom)


…and opposite the guest bedroom is our workout room…


…turning around from the workout room looking across the living room to what will be the bar area…


…and in front of the bar, the golf simulator…


…the door to the right is a long narrow closet mainly for access¬†to¬†A/V, our sump pump, etc.


For now, we’re at another pause point down here, cleaning up this latest (dusty!) phase, but so happy with the progress made as we save for and decide on next steps. As mentioned, the mudding and painting will be completed by a pro, but Page will do the trim work himself. Flooring will be professionally installed, although we’ve toyed with installing the bath/bar floor ourselves. (It’s worth noting we also said this the first time we finished a basement…and changed our minds, so…). Final plumbing and electrical stages will be completed by outside help, and we’ll plan to install our own bath fixtures, closet fixtures, and bar cabinetry/counter.¬†So more or less “half DIY”. For now we’re just happy dancing that these most recent steps are behind us!

Crew: 20 Months

We’re winding down your second¬†summer as you roll into the 20s — 20 months old! Moment of truth — I’m already giving some thought to your second birthday bash! We didn’t do much last year, but I did quickly learn that everything closes (bakeries, Etsy shops, etc) over the holidays, leaving me in a bit of a lurch for a January 5 fiesta, so I’m trying to think ahead a little this year.

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Until then, we’re relishing where you are, right now: More running than walking, in a major mom-cling mode the past couple weeks, and growing like a weed — in particular your hair and feet ha — nearly every month, we are¬†getting your hair cut and purchasing the next size up in shoes! You’re still a good napper but are starting to understand how bedtime works and fight it a bit more!


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Your obsession with all trucks continues, but you’ve developed a bit of a fear of them up close in real life. You are locked on them the whole time, but scramble to be held if they get too close. Other faves continue to be Elmo (who was wearing his raincoat in an episode one day, so you, too, had to get yours out – below), you love to get the mail — it’s a whole thing to cross the street and use the key to open the box, shut the box, etc.), and you’ve become a pretty big fan of play-doh.

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You’ve made big strides in shapes and colors. You can’t name them all, but if we ask you to find a shape in your puzzle, you can locate it. You can correctly name yellow, blue, and purple most of the time, otherwise when you don’t know, you default to everything being “blue”. ūüôā


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You love to pour and sort stuff — muffin tins, mixing bowls, cups, ladles, and anything you can dump between it all (rice, dry pasta, pom poms, anything) is a bit hit that will keep you occupied for tens of minutes at a time. (Woot!) We’ve also made up a game at home with flashcards that have letters and illustrations on them. We spread them all over the floor and ask you to find an object — just another way I see your vocab growing! You’re continuing to add to your arsenal of animal noises — the horse neighing and the cat meowing (hilarious — you must only encounter loud, mean cats!) are a couple of your newest skills.

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Your response to anything we say or ask right now is an upbeat “yeah!”.¬†You must say it fifty times a day. You’re in a pickier phase again with eating — you no longer eat cheese (how are you my child?!) or the veggie nuggets I was relying on for getting you your broccoli. If you had it your way, it would be hot dogs, yogurt, and applesauce for every meal. You’ve discovered sugar is pretty damn good — vanilla soft serve, mini M&Ms, and chocolate chip cookies are never turned down!


The Olympics were a big hit with you! You particularly liked watching the swimmers and the gymnasts. Both would prompt you to sprint and try to somersault, or to lay on the carpet and pretend to swim. There was lots of kicking and scooping and bubble blowing in the bath, too! You started a round of¬†swim lessons again this month and we’re planning to put you in a tot gymnastics class this winter to burn off some energy!

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We took you to your first Iowa State Fair this month. You loved the cherry lemonade and seeing the animals! You ended up going back with me the next day for a client’s photo session, and we made a stop at the Little Hands on the Farm exhibit — you didn’t totally get it, but loved collecting things in your bucket, and riding the toy tractors, as you went through the course!


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We wrapped up the month with an overnight trip to Omaha, but I’ll save those pics for the next month’s post. I can’t believe we are in the “20s” and on the home stretch to two. So looking forward to a new season and all of the fall activities you can participate in more this year!

Love you lots and lots and lots!