Deuce Cities Henhouse

Wait For It

So, guys. I’ve been wanting to buy this certain rug for the boys’ room for a long time, and after waiting for-like-ever, we finally purchased it last month.

I know, buying a rug isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but I thought that after waiting for so long it was at worth a blog post.

There’s a lot that happens to your relationship to an object or thing if you decide to hold off and wait for it. Either the heart grows fonder or you get over it, (and go out with someone else). Simple as that. I knew I loved this rug before I knew how the boys’ room would change, before I knew I’d add that crazy geo pattern to the walls, before I painted it white, and before I purchased the bunkbeds. I knew that if anything would happen to this room it needed to involve that navy and white striped rug. I just liked it soooo much.

The rug was reasonably priced at around 300 bucks with all the discounts and such that RugsUSA is constantly throwing at you. It wasn’t just the price that made me wait it out though, it was the principle. I’ve been trying very hard to really consider how much I want, or as it were, need something, before I purchase it. I don’t want purchases to be things that are temporary, I want them to last. Even if they don’t last in that specific place they were intended for, I want them to be able to transition to other parts of our home, be reused and repurposed. I want to get the most out of them, I want to make practical thoughtful decisions about the things I purchase. I want this because I think its time that we all start doing this more often.

Sorry, I know this is like my second tangent in the last two weeks, I must be getting old and delusional and thinking my opinions matter and you want to hear about them.

I think we should start thinking about the impact the choices we make has on the environment and our surroundings. I think we should wait for it before we really go for it. I think we should all try and suppress the impulses and truly consider before we buy more.

I’m not perfect (duh). I buy crap I don’t need at Target and Ikea too often. I’m just saying, the more we all think about what we spend our money on, the more impact it has.

Anyway, I like this rug, and I’m happy I waited for it.

One last thing about the GD rug. Okay, I really like this rug because when you look down the hallway from the boys room you see the second level of my home summed up in rugs and color palette. The blue in the boys rug ties right into the navy of the sofa in the bedroom porch. See? It all make sense, this rug was essential to this plan.

Last month I shared version 2.0 of the boys’ room with you – today I’m sharing the more updated vs. 2.1. We added some kid-made-artwork to the wall on both levels of the bunk. I really love Finn’s whale. Gus has hung up some art too and they are both so proud of seeing it framed and displayed on the wall.

Keeping the walls white made it easy to add lots of colors with all the kids toys n’ stuff. These are Finn’s planets. He loves space, and black holes, and Neil deGrasse Tyson and all that stuff so much.

I’ve also tried to go through and make all the toyz more organized and accessible for Gus. We use this low shelf as a place for him to set out his toys and play, and the toy boxes are all organized by type of toy. It has really helped, and Gus loves playing in his space. The toys don’t float around the house as much and they stay relatively organized up in their bedroom. My kids appreciate order too ;)

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in Around the House

Date Night with Blue Apron

Date Night With Blue Apron
This post goes out to all the homebound parents of small kids out there. You guys know what it’s like to feel stuck at home with kids, doing kid stuff all the time. Kids are cool and all, but come on, lets be real — sometimes they just need to go away. Date nights out on the town can be few and far between when you’re dependent on babysitters or grandparents helping out. Date nights at home are a good substitute that can be even better than the real thing.

We’re big fans of mixing up a few cocktails and making late night meals on the weekends after our kids have gone to bed. It gives us a chance to catch up after a long week, just the two of us. Recently I was approached by Blue Apron to try out a few of their pre-portioned meals for two, and I immediately thought this might be the perfect dinner for one of our in-home hang seshes.

Date Night With Blue Apron
Blue Apron delivers step-by-step recipes and fresh ingredients to customers nationwide. The experience of opening a Blue Apron box is reminiscent of opening a CSA box straight from the farm, and each week the refrigerated box is different. The ingredients are farm-fresh seasonal, and sourced straight from the purveyors, all with recipes designed by chefs.

I loved the convenience of using Blue Apron. All the menu cards and details were delivered right to my doorstep, along with pre-portioned ingredients that are perfectly measured to the recipe so there’s no waste leftover. All you need to make these delish meals is a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Plus their plans are totally flexible so if you need to skip a week or opt out for a bit, no problem.

I love trying new things when it comes to eating out, so I was excited about the prospect of having meals that I might have not normally tried preparing before. What I really enjoyed though was someone taking over meal planning for me. Cooking new recipes was much more enjoyable with all the guess work taken out of it, and not having to go grocery shopping for hard-to-find ingredients was tyte.

I really like to cook, but I can get really get stuck in a rut preparing the same meals over and over again for weeks on end. Even our date night meals are generally the same, so getting this Blue Apron box was a great opportunity to be exposed to some new recipes and cooking techniques. It was kind of like a mini-cooking school experience in a box.

Blue Apron offers two types of plan, a family plan and a plan for two. Since my kids are basically the pickiest eaters in the entire world — and because they weren’t invited to date night, duh — we ordered up three meals from the two-person plan. Considering the cost of a date night out of the house, this is a really affordable option; meals actually come in under $10 per person. Not only that, I really appreciate that all the meals are between 500-700 calories.

So do you have an in-home-date-night on the horizon, or maybe just a busy schedule that is keeping you from planning meals? Blue Apron’s got you covered. The first 25 readers will receive two free meals on their first Blue Apron order! Woohoo!

Date Night With Blue Apron

Date Night With Blue Apron

Date Night With Blue Apron

Date Night With Blue Apron

Date Night With Blue Apron

Date Night With Blue Apron
For our date night we cooked up some flank steak with peppercorns, creamed spinach and fingerling potatoes.   Saturday afternoon we prepared some turkey pita sandwiches with a side salad and it made the perfect spring time lunch. Both were super good.

Date Night With Blue Apron

This post has been sponsored by Blue Apron. All images, content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to support the original content that fuels this blog!
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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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in Inspiration

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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in My Life, Travel

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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in gardening, Kids