Friday, September 28, 2012


can't see the castle for the trees

....well our hope is that sooner than later we'll see less of the castle because of the trees.  Probably the biggest "con" on our list when buying this house was the castle next door.  We did check with neighbors who assured us an old retired couple lived there and was building their dream home.  The mason that did work on our house also shared that the bricks and masonry the neighbors were using was one of the most expensive techniques around.  As it turns out, Greg and Kate are not old-though they are near retirement and we remain hopeful they will keep working toward finishing their vision-whatever it is.

"the castle" at dusk

In the meantime, we decided some trees and privacy were in order.  We ended up with bigger tree$ than we initially sought, but a sale and supply led us to these.  We purchased them on our fifth anniversary and there is one for each year. :)  They say you can't buy time, but in this case, the bigger and more expensive trees will give us the privacy we desire-sooner.
These beauties are admiral junipers and, as evergreens,  will be green and full all year.  They will grow together at the bottom depending on how we trim them and are considered fast-growers.  They should top out at 20 feet. 
It is likely the new garage will come back some and be close to where the trees start.  We also thought that even if the house eventually expanded towards them, they would be nicer to look out at than a plain fence.
I'm excited to nurture these babies and watch them grow.  It feels great to finally be making improvements and purchases that are just for us with no end in sight.  It's good that I'm so in love with these guys because they were a big investment and will be the last one for awhile. :)

We had to remove a planter box before the trees were planted.  We're hoping to relocate it for a shade veggie garden in the spring as this was the sunniest spot in the yard.

Moving the boards proved easy.  A fairy named Moi worked through many nap times hauling buckets of dirt.  I was very proud of my level ground.

They were planted SO straight.  I'm very glad we left this one to the professionals.

Luke is quite a photobomber!
before and after

Friday, September 21, 2012

choose carefully

Another great part of downsizing that I've already realized is that the things I choose to put out and on display are really important things.  I have a bowl we got in Mexico and a wood platter from Panama in the living room, and every time I see them they spark memories of those travels.  I think in our larger home, some of those things got lost in the clutter or stored away for special occasions because there was room to store and rotate things.
One little charming area I've utilized is in our hallway and we think it used to fold down as a seat for talking on the phone.  One day we will dive in and open it up.  When we moved in, what to put in this little niche really tormented me.  
While cleaning out my grandparents home this summer, I found a prayer that I had always remembered being on display and that I think my catholic grandmother got on her trip to Rome. It's a prayer I've always loved, but the fact that it was Grandma's is where the meaning is for me.  I brainstormed over and over about how to frame it bigger to hang in the niche.

One day while carefully moving the pottery Ryan and I got on our own trip to Italy it hit me!


 I have thought about hanging or adhering the prayer more securely but Ben takes it down a lot and as I have driven home how special it is, he just kisses it and sets it back gently.

The "plate" is used in Italy for money exchange.  For example when you pay at a register, you set your money there and they place your change and receipt.  We toured the factory in Deruta where it was made and bought this and a matching biscotti jar that is sitting on the kitchen counter and might just stay there.

I think that when we paint this hallway I will go a few shades lighter on the inside of the niche and the shelf below for contrast. I'm also on the lookout for a knob made in Italy for the fold-out below.

This morning my new cousin posted a FB status regarding the recent loss of her grandfather, "Sometimes its okay to smile and have a few tears."  The best part about that prayer in the hallway is that both the smiles and the tears come more often.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Small World and small gifts

Last night my husband got a call from the childhood friend who grew up just two doors away from him.  We had heard through our mothers that this friend and his family were moving nearby.  Little did we know just how near they meant.  Their family moved in just one block north and few streets over! They have two little kiddos, 2 and 4, and it's crazy to think Ben and their kids will likely attend school together just as this friend and my husband did.  
Well, this news prompted me to think about all the wonderful welcoming things I should be baking for this old friend.  Unfortunately, we have a really busy week with a road trip this weekend, so I let Pepperidge Farm do my baking.  I made another little gift for some people we'll be bombarding with our presence on our road trip.

Anyone who has moved with toddlers knows the Calm tea is a must!

I'm hoping this little number gets me in the good graces and allows me to steal these hosts' new grandson for a bit. :)

I also had two more little gifts on my to-do list.  After helping my sister with these adorable bridal shower favors last week,

The bride and groom's names were on the other side.

I was inspired to make something for Ben's TEAchers.  As I sat in silence (dangerous) putting the shower favors together, my mind started spinning with clever PUNs to give tea as gifts, stocking stuffers, etc.  I actually cracked myself up a few times.  I came up with these for the present season and beginning of school and think they turned out really cute.

My sister got her tea at TEAVANA, where you can choose your own loose-leaf blend and they sell all the supplies for bagging.  I think this also be cute with clever things just glued over more common store-bought tea.  All of these gifts combined totaled about $35. Any clever ideas my readers want to TEAse me with? You could really have some fun with some of the Celestial Seasoning blend names.  Cheers to leaves and brown and orange and hot tea season being nearly upon us!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

dining light

Well, this post may need a re-post when I make it big and have more than 1 official follower, but I am calling on you dear readers to give your opinions about a new dining light.  We have made a recent large purchase for the house (post forthcoming) so this light may have to be at the top of my Christmas list but there are only 97 shopping days left.
I didn't care for the current light when we bought the house but knew I could live with it for a little while.  I then saw it was the cheapest light of it's type at Home Depot and have liked it less and less since.

So, keep in mind that the walls will be pewter tankard

and the living room sconces look like this

....and space is not in surplus.  I will share tips I've learned and some things that seemed intuitive about making our space feel bigger in future posts, but for now I'd just love your opinions on which light you love most.

I also don't know what, if anything, will be on these two walls and it would be a bonus if the light we choose could someday be moved and utilized in a larger eating area.

And the runners' up are:






So, pick one, any one, or maybe 2 or 3.  Let me know why you like it too please.  Also keep in mind that all of these are similarly priced.  Thanks in advance for the input!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

First Fall Friday

Technically Fall is not yet upon us, but in the Heimer Haus it is.  Fall has long been my favorite season and as my petunias were looking a little stringy I was anxious to get some mums on the porch.  
As I sorted through my fall decor, I did notice how a smaller living space meant fewer places to grace with leaves and acorns and pumpkins, oh my!  What I do love so far about decorating a smaller space is that most things I do put out are my favorites and subtle touches go a long way.

These little pumpkins that used to be high and far from view must go! Only the real deal will suffice in this case and the plastic is awful.  I just didn't realize how awful until I took pics.

I also have my eyes on one little addition. :)  As it is my goal for our dining room table to no longer house any papers (see future post: family command center), I want Ryan to whittle me this little number.  I'm thinking it would work great with little fingers to corral the decor and also would be easy to change throughout the seasons.  I could even use it for fresh herbs in front of the kitchen window when spring comes.

So, throngs of loyal followers, what's your favorite season? and what would you change about my fall decor so far? Pumpkins on the porch? More leaves on the mantel? Let me know!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Gesundheit!!  No, it's not a sneeze, just another oddly named Ikea product.  It has been mind-boggling how many Ikea products we have purchased recently as most people try to move away from it rather than back to it in their 30's and 40's.  The sad but honest truth is that no one gives more options for small-space organized living than Ikea, and at great prices too.
Today I wanted to share a quick post about a space-saving great that would work for even the non space-challenged.  

Ben's jammie pants are drying after he tried to hop in the shower with me:)

The Skoghall over-the-door laundry bag has been amazing for us.  We no longer need bulky laundry baskets taking up space in both our closets and the dual compartments make sorting a breeze.  Additionally, there are no more clothes left just outside the basket leaving me to wonder whether they are clean or dirty.  We are talking full-fledged commitment here people! And my boys pre-sort the laundry for me too!  Sadly, you can't get it online but if you venture to a store it is about $10 and available in black, red and white.

(afterthought-eeeeee! talk about airing your dirty laundry for all the world to see!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

the why

I thought I should start with the why.  Why did we choose this little house with it's complications and space challenges?

1. Location
2. Location
3. Location  ok....ok.....
4. Large lot size
6. Curb appeal
7. instant livability
8. it's size

Ok, I'll elaborate.  Before we had even moved home, we were pretty certain we'd end up in a small old home near Washington Park or in a big sprawling suburban home in an area called Highlands Ranch.  As our KS home took so long to sell, we spent A LOT of time exploring other areas and neighborhoods but always came back to these two.  I actually became set on Wash Park rather quickly and after our focus narrowed we even took one last trip to the Ranch to make sure we were content in our choice.  I chose an awesome home there to look at that had every single one of our suburban "wants" and "must-haves" and we still were unimpressed.
As is happening all over the country right now with people our age, we wanted to move in. (There is a great NY times article on this trend here) We wanted urban.  We wanted city with safety and good schools and that's just what we got.  Because of the hot Denver housing market we did not get it quickly and there were other urban neighborhoods we made offers in, but all along Wash Park was the one we wanted most.
So, with any real estate decision there are give and take's.  In Wash Park, Bonnie Brae (technically our neighborhood) and surrounding areas there are 3 lot sizes.  3125 sq ft is actually standard, many are 1.5 lots with 4000 something sq ft and double lots are 6250 sq ft.  Although we considered a few 1.5 lots we always really wanted a "big" lot and that's one thing we got.  We got the added bonus of a very treed lot and treed street but gave up a two car garage for a one car shop.  Expanding the garage is at the top of our big project priority list.  We do however have the only front driveway on the street which is very handy and street parking hasn't been an issue so far.
While we looked at other bigger homes on big lots, many of those were lots newer than ours (built in the 50's vs. 20's) and lacked curb appeal.  Though we both love craftsman style, this little tudor's curb appeal and charm quickly captured both our hearts.
As the NY Times article above discusses, walkability is a huge aspect of urban living.  We have a quick walk to several different enclaves of shops and restaurants, to Washington Park itself, and to all of Ben's schools through high school. Both our bank and the library are short walks.  Ben and I even walk to the grocery store for small trips and I get exercise, errands, and Ben's "bob bob" time done all at once.  Because we are also closer to Ryan's work, our spending on gas has already decreased dramatically.
Speaking of schools, while most in this area have great ratings and test scores, we had always hoped to find a house in the Cory_Merrill area.  Cory elementary has long been rated in the top 5 elementary schools in the state and often finds itself at #1 on different rankings by educators, parents, and based on test scores.  To save any readers the argument of parent involvement mattering more than great schools, I will agree wholeheartedly.  However, having a great school as a foundation is very important to Ryan and me as parents.
Ok, we are almost through the list!  More than many homes we looked at in this area, ours had a lot of "instant livability" for us.  Because the size of house we could afford wa$ limited, we knew we would likely one day expand any house we bought.  It was hard to imagine living in many of the houses we viewed for 5 or 10 years while we saved for expansion.  Therein lied a bigger conundrum of how much we would want to do in the interim if said improvement would just be torn-down or redone in a few years.  Though we will soon paint lots of our house, even that was neutral and pleasing.  Though our kitchen is small, it has tall maple cabinets and granite counter-tops.  Both bathrooms have been updated to our liking.  A new high-efficiency furnace and AC sealed the deal that we could love living here for many years without major renovations.
Size! Yes, size!  While a bit more space all over and a larger eating area would be quite handy, part of the appeal of urban living for Ryan and me is using only the space we need.  Walking places, living with fewer material things, and decreasing our impact on dear mother earth are important to us and important lessons for Ben.  These were not easy or realistic options in Wichita and aren't in many places.  The sacrifices aren't for everyone but I think that for us the rewards outweigh the inconveniences.  This early post will also serve as a great reminder as our expansion dreams become reality.

Now the fun begins! I wish I had documented the house before our stuff was here at all as we've already accomplished many space-saving, life-organizing projects.  I'll do my best to fake the "before's" where necessary and be sure to capture it all from here on out.....................

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Dream Team of Josephine

The Dream Team of Josephine

Here we are! After three long and torturous (actually quite wonderful) years in Kansas our family has moved back home to Colorado and settled into a new home.  It all began with Ben and a BBQ and grew in The Big Heart of a Tiny Tudor.  I've started this new and separate blog to share ideas for living with less in less space, general interior design thoughts questions and projects, to gather ideas for our future expansion and to create accountability for myself to step up our family's commitment to living green (within reason).  I'm hoping this blog will eventually serve a much larger audience than our family blog and serve as an outlet for all things domestic that that don't fall under the child-rearing side of my daily duties and pleasures.  I also welcome my readers new and old to give honest (and kind) feedback about my design ideas and editorial thoughts alike.  Challenge me and I will challenge you in return.  Welcome!!