Building the House Part 1

I have always loved interior design. I love the idea that I can create a beautiful and peaceful surrounding for myself and my family. I love that when someone walks into my home, they get a sense of who we are and what kind of life we lead. My surroundings greatly effect my mood for better or worse. 

I have enjoyed tackling the challenge of trying to give each new house my personal stamp of approval. And after living in so many houses, I have formed LOTS of opinions on what I like and what I don't like.

We tried finding an existing home, but the more I looked the more I yearned to create a house that was all my own. So... the search began. The task of finding a reputable, trustworthy builder was daunting, but after countless visits to various builders we finally fell in love with Robert Thomas Homes. They are a local company with well thought out floor plans and beautiful modern finishes. I can not sing the praises of Robert Thomas enough.  They were a joy to work with every step of the way.

So... first things first--choosing a lot! One bummer about building new is the lack of trees. Fortunately we were able to get a tree lined lot with beautiful mature trees in the back. Score!

After picking the lot, it was time for the design center. Now, I have heard horror stories of the design center.... couples getting in huge fights, or being overwhelmed and exhausted. But, of course, the design center was right up my alley and I loved every minute of it. CJ was a great sport and showed great stamina and interest for the first 6 hours then tired a bit in the end :)

CJ striking a manly pose next to the back splashes...

A few of our selections...

Exterior colors. Far right is the main house color with white trim and grey shakes.  The bright pink is for our front door.

Hardwood floors...

Kitchen and butler's pantry back splash...

Quarts counter tops for kitchen island..

Charcoal granite for outer counters...

Master bath tile...

And what would building a house be without pony rides?

No? You don't usually ride ponies?

One thing we love about our builders is that every few months they throw big neighborhood parties to attract people to the neighborhood.  We were able to meet lots of new neighbors at these parties and also got to do fun things like going on pony rides, bouncy houses and petting zoos.

After the design center we tried to be patient, but it seemed like forever before they finally started digging.

Then one day we drove past and it had begun!

I drove past the house sight nearly every day hoping for a glimpse of something new.  I was blown away by how quickly things progressed.

Pouring the foundation.

First story walls.

Second Story.


Then, one joyous Sunday we dropped by the house after church (which we did every Sunday) and the framing was complete! For the first time we were able to walk through our new house.  I gave the kids the grand tour as they squealed with delight and excitement.

Cora and Abby could hardly contain themselves.

And Isaac would not stop talking!  He had to tell us all about his new room and all the cool things he would do once we lived there.

Oh, this was such a happy day with the sun pouring through the window openings!

Well, that's it for now.  Next post we will see drywall, siding, paint, cabinets and the pink door!



I am still blown away by the fact that we are finally "Home".  In our 16 years of marriage we have lived in 11 different houses, 3 different states, and 2 countries.  As an Air Force wife I quickly learned how to create a beautiful home where my family could thrive no matter what the circumstances. I also learned how to make friends quickly.  Friends became everything to us, especially when we lived overseas in England.  Our friends became our family... eating holiday dinners together, traveling together, watching each others kids, and being a shoulder to cry on in times of crisis.  Our life has been exponentially blessed by the families we have met and the trials and adventures we have had as we have lived around the world.

Mildenhall, England
But through it all I have had a little dream in the back of my head that someday we would finish with the Air Force and move back "Home".

"Home" is such an interesting concept. I have been thinking a lot about "home" lately and what that means.  I have certainly loved every place we have lived.  I have been happy there and embraced the culture and quirks about each new region.  But there is something about THIS place. This place that I live right now... Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is HOME.

Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens
I grew up in Utah.  My parents moved there before I was born. I spent my early years in Draper and lived in Sandy right through High School Graduation.

Tessie 8 months
I adore Utah.  I love the mountains, the skiing, the quaking aspen in the fall, the dry air, the lack of bugs, the four seasons, and the people! But somehow, Utah just never felt like home.  I know it doesn't make sense, but when it came time for college I did not apply to a single Utah school.  I applied all over the country and got accepted to a bunch of different schools.  I narrowed my choices down to University of Washington in Seattle and University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.  I went to visit both of the colleges and as soon as I set foot on the U of M campus, I KNEW that this was home!

About to drive from Utah to Minnesota to start my Freshman Year
I felt like I belonged here in Minneapolis, like my soul had been yearning for this place for years.  I looked at all the students wandering around campus and I thought, "This is where I want to be. This is my HOME!"

After starting college it didn't take long before a met a cute boy named CJ. Marriage was not in my original life plan... I thought I would get married some day... maybe when I was 30? But CJ came a long and how could I resist?  He swept me off my feet and before I knew it we were married and incredibly happy.

We ended up only living in MN for a few years before CJ joined the Air Force and we moved to Washington D.C. for medical school. We continued to move around with the Air Force and in the meantime were blessed with 4 of the most amazing human beings.

As we traveled around from place to place, people would ask where "home" was? And I would always answer, "Minnesota". Unless of course they asked where I grew up? Then I would tell them the story of how I grew up in Utah, but I claim Minnesota as home :)

CJ and I both always longed to get back to Minnesota, but life seems to throw so many curve balls that we didn't know if our plans would actually pan out. And now we are here! How did this happen? I can hardly believe that my heart's desire has been fulfilled!  Some day I will have to write about the countless miracles that had to happen for us to be here. So many moving parts and so many obstacles to overcome, but everything seemed to work out.  Miracle after miracle! And now we are here.  We are home.

It is weird to be in this stage of life.  My youngest is 6 and my oldest is 14. I am slowly figuring out how to be a new kind of parent. A parent of older kids, a parent to teenagers. After so many years of always moving, we are settled.  We are done with school, residency, and that terrifying "just out of training" phase. Now we have arrived. Good job, good community, a loving church family and a brand new house.  Did I mention we built a house??? Yes it is more than I could have dreamed of. My cup runneth over.

Welcome home.



I recently took a girl's trip to Sedona, AZ to try to escape the Minnesota winter. Unfortunately Sedona was in the middle of a cold snap and it ended up raining for a few days.

Despite the rain, the landscape was just breath taking.

We did have one beautiful sunny day and we took advantage of the warmer temps to hike and enjoy the beauty of Sedona.

The trip was the master mind of my mother-in-law. I hear lots of horror stories about peoples in-laws, but I struck gold when I married into CJ's family.

Here is my sweet mother-in-law.  She has been a constant support to me and my family.

And two of my fabulous sister in laws...

After hiking we were able to stop at this beautiful Roman Catholic chapel on the hill... Chapel of the Holy Cross. It was so peaceful and reverent inside.  It made me think of my Catholic roots and how thankful I am for all those faithful ancestors that came before me.

While I was getting ready for my Sedona trip, a friend told me about the "Pink Jeep Tours".  She raved about how much fun their family had so I thought we had to try it!

We did have a blast bumping over the rocks and trying to stay warm.  Of course, it ended up raining on our tour, but that was fine by me because we saw the most magnificent rainbow.

Just as the tour was ending, the rain stopped and we arrived at a beautiful lookout just in time to see the sun set.



Rainbow Party

I can hardly believe my little Abby is 12!

Ever since she was born we have called her our little ray of sunshine.  She is so sunny and bubbly.  She is a joy to be around and always loves to be part of a good conversation. Abby is almost always willing to help and often asks how I am feeling and how my day was.

So what is the perfect party for a bubbly, sunny, fun-loving 12 year old?

A Rainbow Party, of course!

I wanted the various rainbow food to be the star of the show, so I placed everything on white dishes and a white table cloth.  To add a little extra color I used double sided tape to attach a few streamers to the table.

The cake turned out fabulous! I made mine using this recipe then frosted it using this technique from I am Baker.

The rosettes turned out so sweet and feminine.  And I promise it is easier than it looks.

The rainbow "happy birthday" candles were from Target.

And of course the inside was rainbow. The girls were all shocked when I sliced the first piece.

Rainbow Jello is a long standing tradition in our home.  We make it every year on Thanksgiving.  Instead of making it in a large glass pan, I made it in individual plastic cups (more fancy that way).

And to wash everything down.... rainbow juice!

For the rainbow juice I created a printable in microsoft word, cut it into a cloud shape then used a strip of rainbow scrapbook paper to go around each bottle.  The glass bottles were empty starbucks latte bottles that you can find at the grocery store. (These were actually the archer farms ones from Target.)

The secret "Rainbow Juice" potion was sprite, strawberry lemonade, and rainbow sherbet on top.

A few more table pretties...

Right before the party I started to cut up the pineapple for the fruit kabobs, but it had gone bad.  So our rainbow was missing the yellow. Oh well.

Instead of goodie bags I decided to make these tubes of skittles for each of the girls.  I found the plastic tubes and rainbow suckers at Hobby Lobby. 

The idea for the tubes and these beautiful printables are from My Sister's Suitcase found here.

Didn't they turn out lovely? 

During the party we ate, played color tag, and opened presents.  We were also going to paint nails, but I completely forgot.

We also made gumball necklaces from this tutorial.  To make things easier I pre-drilled all the holes with a power drill. (Thanks for the idea, Britany!)  The girls loved it!

Also Abby made the most brilliant streamer rainbow across our ceiling, but I somehow did not get a picture of it :( I hate it when that happens.

Happy Birthday Abby!  Thanks for being my ray of sunshine and lighting up our family!