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Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

9.20.2021

Harvest time ends! How to start a vegetable garden: what worked, what didn't

After the success of our first big garden last year, I wanted to share more about ours this year. I’ve been posting updates throughout the spring and summer (garden plans, starting veggies from seed, planting the starts). But, things are different this year and we’ve had less time to put into it, and it has not been successful! But we’re at my favorite time of year for the garden, tomato season/late summer harvest. It’ll be wrapping up pretty soon so I figured I would share kind of a final update.

End of season harvest


I also love the zucchini and cucumbers that we’ve had, still have a few of those coming up. We only have one plant of each and they have both been super productive and giving us plenty of good ones! I could eat zucchini like every day so actually maybe we should do two plants of those next year, and not much else! It is a really easy one to grow and harvest.
Zucchini plant in the center, bolted lettuce and kale to the left

Something that did not go well: We did not harvest any of our lettuce because we just didn’t have our act together in time early summer (even though it's so easy), so we let it go to seed and might gather those and plant next year. But given our record with garden maintenance this year, I’m not sure that will happen. We did harvest some kale and then it grew some more, which we still haven’t harvested. We also didn't harvest the peas, which just dried up. What a waste.

The middle part of the garden is bare, this was the second year for these strawberries and I guess they just dry up after the second time.

We also grew several tomatillo plants because we have made some delicious tomatillo salsa and frozen some of it the past couple years. Takes all day, roasting them and then cooking and then preserving, but it’s amazing. But this year, combination of the intense heat that we had a couple times, and probably not consistent enough watering… They basically aren’t good. They’re dropping off the plants before turning green and they smelled bad.

Something that went well: We planted several cherry tomatoes and a couple heirloom tomato plants. They are all producing a ton! I think we need bigger tomato cages next year, though. We do have one big cherry tomato in a big pot and it’s done even better. Got taller, and had a taller cage. And it’s easier to harvest them in a raised planter like that. All of them taste SO GOOD. Storebought tomatoes are a disgrace in comparison! 
Picking heirloom tomatoes in a Target sand bucket. Why not

I heard a podcast the other day on tips for quieting your mind and busy-ness of being a parent of young kids, and one was to give yourself permission not to do everything right now. The host's example was vegetable gardening. She loves the idea, but she doesn't have the time to water and harvest in this time of life, and it's okay to not do something all the time/every year. That spoke to me. Tempted to garden less next year, unfortunately. 

We’re considering turning the L-shaped garden by the fence into lawn for next year and then getting some really large planters or raised beds on the chip area by the back of the fence, it gets plenty of sun. Just shrinking the garden area. And will still do the tomatoes in the sunny spot by the garage.

So that's the update. If you're interested in vegetable gardening, do check out my posts for how we got to this point (garden plansstarting veggies from seedplanting the starts) and I wish you luck!
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9.15.2021

My #1 tip for making hard parenting days easier

I’ve been balancing gratitude and just exhaustion lately. Our kids are so wonderful but take so much out of me these days. Wanted to share something that has been hugely helpful for me in the past year having Lucy, and since Jason started working (first part of this year). I work from home, he works late, blah blah blah… I don’t feel like I have a lot of time to myself and most of my time is while I’m supposed to be watching the kids, or on the weekends when we’re supposed to be enjoying family time. I’ve been doing this one tip I got from a friend a long time ago and I've realized what a game changer it is!

Me with the kids on my birthday

The #1 tip for making days of watching kids easier


This one of my friends has several little ones and her husband travels a lot for work. One of her tips for handling those times when he was gone was, get up before your kids. Yes. An alarm. Early. When you’re low on sleep this is the last thing you want to do, and most kids get up pretty early themselves, but if you can manage it, it makes such a difference. I get up at 6:30 every day have time to myself to just get dressed, feed the cat, eat a little breakfast, check my email… alone. All by myself. It is sometimes the only time in the day (except right before bed when I should be getting off my phone and going to sleep!) that I have to do that. I get Lucy up at 7:00 so it’s not a lot of time, but it sets up my whole day not feeling frazzled and spread too thin.

Now, Jason does not do this. He waits until the last minute when Otto comes to get him or when he has to get up for work, and he never has that quiet time to himself to drink his coffee before he starts a day of parenting and working! It’s really hard for him. Sometimes you feel like that extra 30 minutes of sleep is more important… But as long as you’re not majorly/chronically sleep deprived, for me anyway, 30 minutes of alone time really feels like something. 30 minutes less sleep in the morning? It sucks, but sometimes that sleep isn’t that great anyway (when I can hear kids stirring or the cat meowing or whatever). I do want more sleep, but I know I just need to go to bed earlier!

So anyway. If you are struggling with feeling like you don’t have any time to yourself… It’s worth trying!
Art update from this post
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9.07.2021

How to print and frame free museum download art prints (the fastest and cheapest way)

I am a big fan of museum art downloads for unique art in my home, but it can be tricky to navigate getting them from the screen to the frame. I’ve tried several different methods and while my favorite is definitely custom framing (I use Art to Frames), if you’re trying to fill a cool vintage or thrifted frame or want to do it really low-budget, you can definitely print yourself, too. I recently made over several thrifted frames for some very pretty vintage art from open sources, and really updated some spaces in my home!


How to print and frame free art downloads - quickly and affordably

I'd love to share how I do this to make it easy for you! First you'll need the art--I have a couple of round-ups and I always link to the pieces I've used; check out my art downloads posts. But I also highly recommend the free print shop by fellow blogger A Home Is Announced. She's put together a bunch of collections (portraits, botanicals, etc.) of art and linked them all back to the original museum sources. 

Once you've picked out a few pieces you like, some things to consider:

  • One challenge with older art prints is they are not usually standard sizes. Sometimes you can get creative and either crop the edges of the art without losing any of the star of the piece (like I did with the horses print in my breakfast nook), or use a mat that hides some of it and trim some of the outer part of the print. But unless you go custom, you'll have to stick with pretty standard sizes when you’re ordering prints. See my tip below about resizing.
  • My favorite place to order these prints made is Mpix because you can do the giclée print which has an option for super matte. If you order a matte photo or poster from Walgreens, even the matte option looks like a photograph, not a sketch or watercolor. However the quickest option, which works pretty well, is ordering heavyweight prints from FedEx. You can pick up same-day and they have an 80 pound cardstock option that makes a pretty high-quality print. It’s still a little bit shiny and I would prefer super matte giclée, but these are like $2 each and really fast.
  • If you're printing oil paintings, you can remove the glass to get a more authentic look. In that case I definitely recommend ordering on matte giclée with matboard backing (an option at Mpix). That's what I did for this piece and the two oil painting downloads for this project. You can even add brush strokes with Mod Podge to get the oil painting texture!, though I haven't tried that yet.

So here are my steps for printing and framing museum downloads, the cheap way (that is, not the custom route).

  1. Select options that look like roughly the right size and proportion for your frame. If you have an 8 x 10 frame, you can pick from a lot of different museum pieces that may have originally been 10 x 14 or something else not standard, but not too far off. Don’t pick something that was a tiny hand sketch and blow it up, and it probably won’t look very authentic to choose some thing like a huge detailed impressionist portrait or still life and shrink a really small. Also, if you want to do something really tall and skinny like this tree download I did, I really recommend going custom. You can just upload the image to Art to Frames, pick your height or width, crop if you want, and pick the frame and mat to the exact right size.
  2. Download the highest quality version of the image and use simple software to resize it. You could probably even do this in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, but I used Bluebeam PDF tool and I’ve also used my free photo editor, Google Picasa. Obviously something like Photoshop is probably better if you know how to use it. But anything where you can change the page size to the standard page sizes at FedEx will let you see how your print will fit. But note: if you have an 11" opening, you probably won’t be able to fill it with an 11" wide piece of paper and will need to do it sideways on an 11 x 14, because the outer 1/4" or so gets cut off in printing.
  3. Clean and refresh frames and mats. They are often beyond dusty. Take everything apart and clean both sides of the glass with rubbing alcohol or window cleaner. On several of these I've done, I've spray painted dated colored mats with matte white spray paint. It actually looks really good. I did that on all four of the ones in these photos! 


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9.03.2021

Tiling our fireplace surround: 2-day project, huge living room update!

I’ve been working on little changes to our living room for the past three years, trying to get it to a place we really love. Living rooms are tricky because there are so many options both in style and function, and you have to play around with both. We’ve moved furniture around, added furniture, moved and mounted the TV, changed art, changed window coverings, changed the massive rug… And I have done some small updates to the original brick fireplace with 1980s brass screen.

Well, I finally gave the fireplace the update it really needed: I added some really beautiful handmade tile. I am in love with it!

Thanks to Pratt + Larson for working with me on this project.
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8.31.2021

Major updates for the Your Home Story podcast

You haven't seen any podcast episodes lately, because we took most of July and August off! Our first break after 3.5 years of publishing the Your Home Story Podcast. Now we're back, with a big update. Plus plenty of updates on what we've been working on around our homes and personal goals. We've both been plenty busy this summer.

Me, where I've been recording!

I in particular have a big update... in keeping with my stress reduction goals I've made the big decision to step way back from the podcast. I have a lot of thoughts about it for sure. Listen in for the whole story. THANK YOU all for your support and reading and listening as I've been on this podcast journey!

Links to some things we chatted about today:

  1. Ashley's faux front porch plants
  2. Ashley's FB Marketplace orange chairs
  3. My kitchen cabinet cost comparison
  4. My One Room Challenge Historic Home Office Makeover
  5. Madeline Moves workout program that Ashley is doing

You can find us on our blogs or connect with each of us on Instagram:
@suzannahstanley
@biggerthanthethreeofus
@yourhomestorypodcast

And you can join our Facebook group here to connect with other listeners and ask questions!

Listen here or in your favorite podcast app: iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, GooglePlay, or Overcast!

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8.30.2021

Outdoor dining area back patio reveal! And our new grill/smoker!

Our backyard has gone through a lot of changes in the 3 years we've lived here. When we moved in it was overgrown and had several old wood structures, a large deck, old garden beds, and a big circle of sand in the middle from where a pool had been. We were totally overwhelmed. 

We started removing landscaping and debris and slowly it took shape so we could picture it as a functional backyard for us. We did a ton of improvements last summer (fence, gazebo, garden, wood chips, more landscape removal...) and it was really great! But there was one area we hadn't tackled: the patio by the house.

This patio was cracked, so the previous owners put a deck over it, but we removed it so we could have it all one level. It wasn't really usable for much other than a project area until we got rid of the hot tub in June! Then... it was ready for dining furniture, a grill, string lights... a great backyard dining space! 

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8.26.2021

Which is harder: going from 0 to 1 or 1 to 2 kids?

Since I’ve been a mom of two for more than a year now, I thought I should out down some thoughts about the popular question: is it harder to go from 0 to 1 or 1 to 2 kids?

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8.16.2021

Lucy's first birthday party

Lucy is one! We had a fun birthday celebration for Lucy this past weekend! 

I keep things really simple for kids birthdays but it feels like I've just got to do a little bit more than just a cake and some colorful gift bags for the big first birthday. For Otto's birthday I did another simple but very cute party, and for Lucy we celebrated in the same dining room and living room, with some different colors and a bit of slightly girly decor. I’m not planning on winning any party planning awards with this one, but it was cute and I’d love to share how you can get a very pretty, festive look with just a few simple things!

Simple, pretty first birthday party for baby girl


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8.09.2021

10th wedding anniversary trip!

On Friday we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. Wow, right! I've been blogging for almost 12 years and our wedding was a huge project so I documented it all way back then (see all posts about it here), and I don't post about every anniversary but thought 10 years deserved a post. Plus, we did something really special!

For a long time I thought we'd do something big, like a week in Hawaii or new engagement ring set, but we haven't had the capacity to do any extra things very well lately (see also: vegetable garden needing to be harvested, not vacuuming frequently enough, etc.) and it crept up on us. Plus with two little kids and Jason only 6 months into working for real, now is not a great time for a trip (COVID, too). But I thought it would be really special and sentimental to go back to our wedding venue and maybe even stay there overnight, without the kids. 

I haven't spent a night away from at least one kid since April 2018 when Otto was born! It is a big deal to be able to go to sleep without wondering if you'll be woken up in the middle of the night or early morning. Plus, just all those hours of independence... wow!

We headed out after the kids' naps Friday and walked around Edgefield, had dinner, went to the soaking pools, had a big breakfast, sat on the porch, took a few pumping breaks of course (they brought us the tiniest minifridge for the room), and visited some memorable spots from our wedding photos. So I'll mix in a few of those with the current ones (you'll be able to tell the difference!). Wedding photos are by Studio 623 Photography.

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