Deuce Cities Henhouse

So There’s This Thing Called Pinterest

Recent Inspiration :: Deuce Cities Henhouse

Hey Guys, Whazzup? Not too much going on over here, the leaves are just about to pop on the trees and I couldn’t be happier. If spring hasn’t happened to you yet, hang in there, it’s on its way.

Here’s a funny story. I just recently discovered pinterest. I know, what took me so long? Well a few things, I’ve had an account since the beginning and I just never got into the idea of pinning stuff I found on the internet. I felt like pinterest was gushing with way too many cutsie craft projects and DIY’s that nobody would ever actually really try in real life. I cringed a little every time I logged in.

Not only that, there was the whole argument of pinterest being over saturated with so much eye candy that it begins to stunt actual inspiration. I get it, I am worried about being over inspired by the internet, and not finding inspiration from the things in the world and life around me. I want to trust my gut and do it on my own, but there is a lot of value in inspiration. There is also the whole legal argument of pinterest being a place where images get lost and are never properly credited to their true source. I hate that. Then there’s the thing that happens to some people when all of the pretty stuff makes them feel inadequate because they get wrapped up in comparing themselves to others.

Anyway, none of that bothers me enough not to visit the site and I’m actually experiencing a very positive reaction. I see it as a super inspiring place. Recently after making my obligatory three month stop on pinterest I realized that it had changed, or I had changed. There was a lot more inspiring beautiful spaces in my feed, and barely any recipe hacks, cute animal cakes, or things I could make out of clothespins and magnetic chalk board paint. I was relieved. So I slowly started pinning a few things. Now, I like visiting the site every morning while I sip my coffee and watch the Today Show — I kinda get a kick out of seeing what sort of douchey thing Matt Lauer is up to each morning.

Recent Inspiration :: Deuce Cities Henhouse

+++ sources +++
design lovefest | decor8

I’m very selective in what I pin, I have only been pinning spaces that really truly inspire and trigger a gut reaction in me. The payoff for the whole thing is going back and looking over what sorts of inspiration I have pinned and finding common threads within that. Instead of pinterest being an overwhelming land of repetition, it’s actually made me see my style in a more clear and defined way.

I wanted to share with you some of my most recent favorite bits of inspiration. How do you guys feel about the old pinterest, you into it, or what? Maybe next month I’ll learn how to use the twitter.
Recent Inspiration :: Deuce Cities Henhouse

Recent Inspiration :: Deuce Cities Henhouse

Recent Inspiration :: Deuce Cities Henhouse

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Riding the Rails

We did something awesome as a fam two weekends ago – we headed out on a journey to our second favorite city, Chicago, via the old Empire Builder Amtrak line.

None of us had ever gone on a domestic train trip at all, so it was all very new to us. Gus, our youngest, has had a heavy fascination with trains for the last year, so that was a major driver of the trip. And we like trains too, I mean, who doesn’t really? So we decided to use the rails as our mode of transportation for a spring break trip we had planned to Chi-town.

The first thing that surprised me was the price. The rumor on the streets of Minneapolis was that trains were expensive. Not. True. We got this family of four to Chicago and back for the price of $530. Flights for the 4 of us round trip to Chicago would have been almost double. Not only that, we were surrounded in comfort the entire trip. We sat in coach on our way to Chicago and the seats boasted tons of leg room and adjustable do-hickeys. Just imagine the space you get on an airplane and triple it. Plus there was outlets for plugging in ipads, phones and ‘putrons. On the return trip we paid up for a sleeper car so the kids could rest – so worth it for an evening train ride with over-traveled kids.

We packed tons of snacks for the kids and I’m glad we did. Our outgoing train was delayed by two hours and we missed lunch. Our kids survived on chips, Cheez-Its®, and pretzels. We are the worst parents ever, I know. The kids made friends with some tweens in the seats behind us and they chatted and played games with them for the entire trip. Us grown people purchased some beers from our endearing train server, Cammi.

There’s lots of stuff to see on these big passenger trains. A few cars forward there is an observation car with windows on the ceiling! The observation car is open to all passengers, but is usually pretty crowded. They even have tiny train-love seats for hanging and watching the view fly by. Below the observation is the snack car where they sell concession-style snacks and drinks. Another car ahead of that is the dining car. The dining car was equally as thrilling to us as it was to the kids. Our sleeper car included a free meal on the return trip so after boarding we made our reservation for dinner. Our kids dined on hot dogs AND you guessed it, CHIPS, while we enjoyed veggie lasagna and roasted chicken. It was all pretty satisfying.

The trip from Minneapolis to Chicago is loaded with quick stops and is a little less than eight hours long. The first leg of the route travels north > south and runs next to the Mississippi river. The scenery is quite beautiful and is eventually proceeded by vistas of tall hills, which to us prairie folk might as well be mountains. Wisconsin looks alright sometimes. We make lots of quick stops at tiny train stations all built around the 1880′s. A few people hop on, one or two hop off, and we are on our way. Before we know it the Chicago skyline is on the horizon and the kids press their noses up to the train window trying to spy the tallest building.

We will most definitely be riding the rails again. I have this romantic ideas of taking the train to Glacier National Park in Montana, and from there renting a car to explore the mountains, hopping back on the train a day or two later and and taking the Empire Builder all the way out to Oregon to hang out with Sleater-Kinney. It seems like a good idea, but in reality that’s a really long train ride.

Tips for Riding the Rails with Kidz
Bring Snacks
Unlike traveling by plane, there are no security screenings, and baggage maximums seem to be suggested only. Basically, you can bring lots of stuff on the train, including food and drink, so don’t skimp when it comes to snacks fer yer kids, and maybe a flasky fer yerself. If I were to do it again I’d have an arsenal of peanut butter sandwiches, apples, granola bars and backup apocalyptic treats and candy if shit hits the fan.
Check Times
We received a notice via e-mail from Amtrak that our train was delayed an hour and a half the morning of our trip. The message came through just as we were stirring around 5:45 am to get dressed. Man would I have loved to have an extra hour and a half to sleep, but the kids were already awake. I stalled the kiddos by offering waffles, and they barely noticed we were off schedule. We parked our car for $10 a day at the station and got to the depot the suggested hour early. In minutes we were to our gate and there was a lot of waiting. Our kids were impatient and wanted nothing more than to be on the train. Our train continued to be delayed in small 10 minute increments. It was torture for them, and us. Check the schedule and even call the station before arriving to avoid crazy-excited-anxiety-ridden-kids.
Arrive to the station about half an hour early
Like I mentioned above, Amtrak will tell you to get there an hour early, but really train travel is as easy as walking through the door, finding the terminal, walking out of a door and hopping on a train. Don’t be to hasty in getting there a full hour early, but don’t be late either.
Get a Sleeping Car at Night
On the way back we purchased a sleeping car for us and our kids. Originally we had two, two person cars so we were split up, but comfortable. Not too long into the trip our train-car-manager-dude came to us and said he had an open family sleeper if we’d like it. We jumped at the offer and switched to our new spacious quarters. Although we were comfortable in the 2 person sleepers, I’d pay up for the larger family sleeper when traveling with kids. We put our kids in PJ’s, got them tucked into their bed, and within minutes they were both asleep. Money well spent.
No WiFi on the Empire Builder
There’s not Wi-Fi on these trains so if you’re planning along trip consider making your mobile device into a wireless hotspot.
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Getting Kids Involved in Gardening

Getting Kids Involved with Gardening
Hey, Pals! It’s no secret that I am so excited to get out in the yard. Not having dirty hands every day is just killing me. The only thing that can really be done this time of year is getting raised beds ready for the coming season, so I’m doing it!

We started our raised bed gardens three years ago. Back then Finn was three and was finally old enough to want to be involved in helping outdoors. That spring Finn and I built our first raised bed, added soil, planted seeds and tended to it throughout the summer. It made me so incredibly happy to see the kid who refused to eat vegetables run out to the garden, grab dirt laden carrots out of the ground, and take a big bite. He also started begging me to go out to check and see if there were any peas or beans that needed eating. He’s been a helpful partner in gardening ever since the first year and I am so happy that he will have these memories as he grows.

I have memories of being small and helping my Grandma pick vegetables out of her garden every night before supper. Radishes to be set out on the table and dipped in salt, greens for salads, strawberries, green beans and squash (I hated the squash). When I was a bit older my mom planted a garden in our backyard and I clearly remember how awesome it felt to be able to grab a hunk of sour rhubarb when we were playing in the backyard. These are the same experiences I want my kids to have. We don’t have a big suburban backyard, we just have our small city lot, but we have dedicated the sunnier side of the house to our two raised bed vegetable gardens.

Not only are gardens valuable for the memories that come with them, but for practical purposes as well. Obviously these small gardens are providing vegetables for the family, but let’s be realistic, there isn’t enough for every dinner every night. We do a lot of supplementing with our CSA box throughout the summer. The big thing is that the kids are learning where food comes from, how it’s grown, and all the work it takes to produce a little bit of food. In these times of climate change and excess everything, we need to be vigilant and do what we can to reduce our ecological foot print, to me, that means buying local foods from local farmers. There’s no better way to instill this respect and understanding in kids than showing them first hand how it all happens.

Okay, now let me swing my leg over my saddle here as I begin to step off my high horse. I’m not one to get super preachy, but this stuff is important to me, and I think it should be important to others too. Okay slowly lowering myself back down to the ground. No, you don’t have to have a garden to be an advocate for the environment, it’s just how we do. What I want you to know is that it doesn’t take much effort or space for a small garden and the lessons learned from it our really valuable.

I have a whole slew of other posts about building raised bed gardens and even making them look pretty in your yard. Here are a few of my favs if you feel like learning more:

Getting Kids Involved with Gardening
Please note Finn’s hawaiian shirt. This was one of our first warm days of the year, and he was committed to wearing this shirt because what else would you wear on warm tropical-like days??? I am a horrible person and tried to get him to change his clothes so that he would look less like Hunter S. Thompson in gardening gear and more like the son of a blogger, but he refused.

Also, Gus is three and he is excited about gardening too! I guess three is the magical age in which digging in the dirt becomes fun if you are an Allen. I am so happy to have him share with Finn and I.

Getting Kids Involved with Gardening

Getting Kids Involved with Gardening
I mentioned that I was going to do some soil testing this year. Let me tell you som-sing, it was totally unsuccessful. I found out that the soil was neutral and the rest of the more specific test didn’t work, I failed them or they failed me, who knows. After two attempts testing I said screw it. Instead, I did what I do every year and added a few bags of manure (or compost) to each garden bed, and a bunch of peat moss for drainage. I also had been collecting eggshells for the last few weeks and tossed those in their for good measure because pinterest told me I shoud. The kids were eager to turn over the soil and get all that cow poop mixed in.

Getting Kids Involved with Gardening
We moved some of our seedlings outside, including our leaf lettuce, kale, and broccoli. These green plants are up to the cold weather conditions of the spring. Later this week I plan on having the kids out to plant pea seeds.

Getting Kids Involved with Gardening
We bought a bunch of new kid gear at the gardening center this year. A round of gardening gloves for everyone and then kid sized tools to share.

Getting Kids Involved with Gardening
I couldn’t not post this pic. I love him all the loves.

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My March Garden


Yes, okay, it’s a few days late but I’m happy to share with you my 2nd ever March garden post, and for the record I did snap these photos on the 31st. This is only the second time of the six gardening seasons we’ve had that there have actually been plants popping out of the earth at the end of March. I know what I’m sharing isn’t amazingly beautiful or anything, but in comparison to my April post last year I have similar sized perennials 30 days early. That makes me hopeful that the plants will have a longer season this year, and if you’re a half-glass-full type like me, then essentially spring is coming early and everything is awesome.

I’m starting to see tiny leaves on the buds of many of our trees and after the next few days of rain albeit cold rain, things should start greening up!


Bleeding Hearts



I’m so excited to see the peonies this year, last year a bunch of the tiny stalks got trampled during the fence installation and I didn’t get to see all these pretties. Plus, I planted two new peonies in my anniversary garden last spring, ‘Raspberry Charm’ and ‘Coral Charm’. They be real purty.





Look! Do you see ‘em?


Jacob’s Ladder


Brown Town

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Featured : Adore Home Magazine

Whazzup guys? I didn’t really plan on taking a week off, but then I guess I wasn’t really being realistic either. The kids are on spring break this week, plus I’ve been babysitting one of their little pals. I am ready for them all to be back in school, I swear they’re ganging up on me. It’s hard to believe I used to do this all-day-kid-watching-thing full time. I thought I could manage it all but it turns out there was just NO way productive posting was gonna happen this week.

I do have one pretty cool thing to share. I was featured in this months edition of Adore Home Magazine! Adore is an online magazine so you can all cruise over here to take a look, plus this month issue is all about the bloggers, there’s pages and pages of eye candy and links to good reads.

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