Progress! Backyard Reno

Last time I shared with y’all I was fresh into redoing the backyard, so excited about the possibilities. It’s been a month and a half and until this weekend the project hadn’t gone any further.

Before/early progress- July 2022

Luckily the stars aligned and I had the energy AND the time. I told Sr. that all I wanted for my birthday was the materials to bring my vision to life (and his truck to haul it all 🤣).

We’re in the middle of football and softball season so Saturdays are just about the only day we have free so this past Saturday we got to work. Brian and Ella even HELPED!

Two loads of topsoil later and we’ve got a pretty good, level base for the pea gravel. The two railroad ties from the existing garden bed, of which we removed 4-5 feet in July ended up being great borders for the two sides. These are only temporary –Sr. thinks the ties are yellow jacket magnets and wants to get rid of all of them down the road. I used rock from a pathway I removed in the front gardens to round out the corner between the two ties. This matches the layered rock corners found elsewhere around the house gardens.

We also decided to move the azalea, opening up the space even more–another 3-4 feet. This was my brother Josh’s brilliant idea! We moved it to the little outside corner of the space and added some rocks. The larger space now has me thinking we could open the stairs up more on the corner to further connect the space!

Next up, I’ll dig a trench to fix a standing water issue at the patio and divert it downhill, add landscape fabric, and then pea gravel and done! I’m hoping I can get to it all by this weekend. 🤞🏻🤞🏻



Nursery Reveal!

It’s been nearly three months since we’ve brought Bladen home and I’m excited to finally share my new favorite room in our home!

The nursery took me much longer to put together than nurseries in the past, in part due to lack of energy and in part due to putting together some special touches, like a gallery wall of art made by each family member ❤️. It has become the place we come for quiet snuggles and read-alouds– especially when the hot or cold weather keeps us from our other favorite space for this, the sunroom.

The nursery is located between our master bedroom and the girls’ shared room. Like the other bedrooms in this 1970’s home, there are no overhead lighting fixtures–just natural light and light from lamps. Despite that, it’s on the sunnier side of the house and gets great light throughout the day. Since we left the gender of this little one a surprise, I wanted to design a room that would be special, regardless of gender. Inspired by the beautiful outdoors we’ve cherished more since moving to Ohio, we decided on a woodland theme, complete with natural light, woods, and touches of greenery.

CRIB

Despite having rid our storage of ALL the baby things when we thought we were done growing our family, we held on to the crib we used with all 3 kids…until last year when our friends were surprised with the news of a fourth on the way, shortly after their third. When we shared the news of our pregnancy, the first thing they did was insist we take our crib back. The timing was perfect given that their third would be moving to a toddler bed and their fourth could move into his big sister’s crib. Now, while there isn’t anything particularly special about this crib we purchased 12-13 years ago from Target, its dark finish is marred with scratches and teeth marks– teeth marks made by each of our three children. Brian, Ella, and Grace spent nearly every night and nap of their first few years in this crib, so it’s pretty special that our last child gets the same experience.

DRESSER

When looking for a dresser, I knew I wanted one that would grow with the space as the child does and serve as a space for diaper changing in these early years. I found this sleek, budget-friendly dresser at Ikea and I am pleased with how well the dark finish pairs with the crib. Even better, it has plenty of storage for all the little clothes, diapers, burp cloths, and baby linens. I don’t even use the closet for anything other than clothing he’s far from fitting into.

BASKETS, CHANGING BASKET, AND BASSINET

One thing that has really spoken to me lately is natural wood and woven baskets. I may be a little obsessed. Baskets are actually the first thing I purchased for the nursery when they showed up on shelves at our local TJ Maxx several months ago. You can see them scattered throughout the room. They serve as storage for playthings and hold essentials for nursing/feeding and changing. I also couldn’t resist this precious changing basket and bassinet combo from Design Dua. Since I had to have a c-section (due to a difficult and nearly tragic delivery of our firstborn) and we have a split level home, the bassinet lives in the living room and sometimes the dining room where I’ll work from time to time so naps can happen close by if needed. While Blade truly prefers his own crib for sleeping both the changing basket and the bassinet came in handy during our newborn shoot and made for some precious photos!

CHAIR

I’ve never had a nursery chair–well, not a real one anyway– so I decided to splurge a bit on this part of the nursery. I wanted something modern and comfortable; something I could see putting in another room in my house when it was no longer needed in this room. I wanted it to rock and have a high enough back that I could sleep in it if needed. I originally purchased a dark blue chair from Wayfair but was underwhelmed with it when it arrived, realizing it was more of a grandmother’s chair–old-fashioned and hard, perfect to wear a divet in the seat in while crocheting and watching wheel of fortune or soap operas, not one for nursing and rocking a newborn babe in. Luckily, the chair came with a missing rocking leg and the manufacturer couldn’t replace it so, I was reimbursed for the chair. (Wayfair customer service is fantastic by the way!) Instead, I purchased this adorable longhorn (at least that’s what this Texan is calling it) footstool, and a few other items for the house. My continued search brought me to this eco-friendly, cream rocker from West Elm Kids. This chair is perfect and will withstand stains for years to come. Blade has already tested it with some spit up a few times and it wipes right off. I have also found myself enjoying many naps in this chair in the few months I’ve had it. Alongside the chair is an old side table with a mid-century feel from my house in college and a Tiffany-style lamp gifted to me a few years ago by my Mom–dragonflies are her favorite– and I love the soft, warm ambiance it provides when the sun is down.

GALLERY WALL

For each of the kids, I’ve painted something to go along with the decor. When I began my paintings for this nursery, the kids asked if they could create something as well. ❤️ Each picked their own subject (staying with the theme) and inspiration for the process. For the girls, it was Eric Carl while Jr. chose a mentor image on Pinterest. It was Ella’s idea to put all the pieces together as a gallery. They liked it so much that they asked to add more so they created some drawings and paintings of our favorite birds. With one spot left, we challenged Sr. to create something for the wall. In true Sr. fashion, he took the challenge and did his own thing–if you knew him, you’d know the grumpy cat is his spirit animal 🤣 Read more about this project in my nursery sneak peek post. I can’t wait to add Bladen’s work on this wall as he grows.

FLOATING SHELVES

If you read my earlier post and sneak peek, you know what a pain it was for Sr. to install these shelves. The installation was rather easy, the pain just came from the fact that he hates putting holes in walls. 🙄 However, I LOVE how it turned out! I even made Sr. put up a few more shelves for some greenery and knickknacks. These wood and iron-look shelves came from Target’s Magnolia line (another little homage to our Texas roots).

PLAYTABLE and ROCKING DEER

Lastly, and perhaps most special are the custom-made pieces from Papa Jeff. First is the darling rocking deer he surprised us with at Christmas. Handmade and painted by Papa himself. Jeff struggles with Parkinson’s, so to see such detailed woodworking and painting from him is amazing (you should see the moon-shaped gliding bassinet that he made for Brian’s sister, Mary). I also asked Jeff to make a small paytable to go with these cute raccoon stools I scored for $14.99 at the Home Goods store. A plain white table was a pretty boring project for Jeff, but it’s the girl’s favorite place to sit in the nursery.

So, that’s the nursery! I’d love to know your favorite par – there are too many for me to choose from!

Special thanks to Butcher & Co. Photography for the beautiful newborn photos of our family!



Meet the newest member of the Camp family

Nearly three months ago we anxiously awaited the arrival of March. Not only would we be welcoming the newest member of our family to the world, but I’d also have 6 weeks of maternity leave and the plans I had to do with my time were endless! One of which was to get back on a regular blog writing schedule.

Well, folks, most of those plans have fallen through BUT the best one, welcoming and nurturing our youngest, has been a total success!

Bladen Ell was born on March 9th and at 10lbs 15oz, 22.75 inches, and the biggest, sweetest, squishiest cheeks ever. He was the talk of the maternity ward!

We were a bit shocked by his size–considering he was projected to top out around 8lbs 12oz–and though we didn’t know the gender, I thought it might be a girl, considering all the morning sickness and headaches I had–a symptom I only had with our girls. We also had a girl’s name all picked out but we’re still up in the air with what we would name a boy.

Choosing a Name

Bladen remained nameless for the first hour or so. We knew a few things we knew–we wanted to honor my Opa, Ell Kramer, with our name choice, given his size and deep almost manly cry, he needed a strong name, and we wanted a name you don’t hear often.

Ell is definitely uncommon but not the best choice for a first name since we have an Ella. Bladen was a name Sr. had discovered and was towards the top of our list. As we considered the meaning of the names in our list, we discovered Bladen means hero and so his name was decided.

Coming Home

Though visitation was yet allowed at the hospital, Sr and I enjoyed the quiet bonding we had during our stay. We brought Bladen home on his third day to a home full of loving siblings, grandparents, and curious pets.

Jack, our labradoodle is most confused when Ell has hiccups (which happens about 5 times a day) because he sounds just like Jack’s orange squeaker toy.

Postpartum Issues

The day I delivered Bladen, my blood pressure was elevated. However, all seemed fine by the time I was discharged. At my one-week check-up, it was still higher than normal and though Ii was concerned, my OB was not worried.

The following week, just over two weeks after having Bladen, I had an in-home visit from a nurse (a wonderful service offered by our local hospital). Bladen was asleep when she arrived so she began by taking my vitals. I shared that I was concerned about my blood pressure since I never had issues before. I had been having headaches but chalked it up to exhaustion and maybe dehydration. Turns out it was significantly higher than it should be so our wonderful called ahead to the hospital, finished Bladen’s check-up, and helped us pack for the hospital. By the time we checked in at the E.R. my pressure was sky high-as in a hypertensive crisis, at risk for seizure or stroke, I was admitted immediately and administered magnesium. Once they got us back up to the maternity floor, I was placed in a padded bed and put on a 24-hour magnesium drip with bed rest. Bladen and Sr. were by my side the whole time.

Turns out preclampsia can happen before delivery as well as up to 6 weeks after! Three days later we returned home again, I was placed on blood pressure medication (since it was still a bit elevated after the magnesium drip) and we have been on the mend since. I only had to stay on the medication for a few weeks and my blood pressure is back to normal. I still have elevated liver enzymes and will be seeing a specialist in the next month.

Settling in

The past several weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind as the baseball and softball season kicked into full swing. Bladen’s such a champ at the field–and probably the quietest fan in the stands.

All the kids take turns feeding and playing with him and Uncle Josh helps out too!

As I get back into the garden, Bladen joins in the stroller or the carrier (babywearing is kind of our thing).

We’re so close to those heavenly baby giggles, I can barely stand it.



This Week on the Half-Ass Homestead: February 12-19, 2022

This week has been a stressful one on the Camp Farm.

Everything has been so frozen here, our poor hens seem to have made the menu of some predators. Sunday we discovered something tried to get into the chicken run by ripping up the chicken wire from the bottom of the run door frame. It was easily fixed with some more zip ties but it has put us on high alert. Thursday something made it INTO the chicken run and tried to get into the coop. Luckily, they were unsuccessful and all hens are accounted for. We suspect raccoons.

Tuesday we found out that, while my due date is 4 weeks out, my body and this baby are preparing for a very possible early arrival. I’m in early labor, which can last days to weeks. Since Tuesday I’ve been been trying to balance an attitude of “GET ALL THE SHIT DONE!!!!” to “take it easy, rest while you can”. Not sure who it’s more stressful for, me or those who have to live with me 🥴

Either way, we’ve been making some MAJOR progress on the nursery and it’s almost ready for its reveal!

If you follow our page on Facebook, you probably saw the paintings I created for the nursery. As I was painting, the kids asked if they could creat something for the nursery too (OF COURSE!)

Ella and Grace drew inspiration for Eric Carle and Jr. looked to the internet for a mentor image. We’re only missing some original art from Sr. now 🤣. Check them out!

Finally, despite all we have going on, and soon to come, my mind keeps drifting to spring and planting the flower and vegetable gardens. Pretty sure I won’t be able to do much this year but I’m itching to plan. What are your super-simple, go-to plants?!



Nursery Sneak Peek

Y’all. This nursery has come along WAY slower than I would like. Partly because I either don’t have energy, can’t make a decision, or I’m waiting on someone or something. Anyway T-minus 23 days and it’s ALMOST done. Possibly the most exciting thing, these acrylic floating shelves for books.

I’ll tell y’all something, it KILLED Sr. to put those nine holes in the wall for these but I absolutely LOVE them.

Now on to the rest of the walls and finishing touches. And I cannot promise there won’t be more holes 😜



Winterizing the Chicken Coop and Run

It’s a blistery, cold day here in central Ohio as the winter storm impacting much of the US this early February hits us. Also, Punxatawny Phil says it’ll be 6 more weeks of winter. So, what better time to share how we’ve prepped the henhouse for winter this season? While I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, I also wanted to ensure our methods worked before sharing… just in case some of you look to our half-assery for guidance. So here it is…

This was the first year we had to winterize for chickens–our flock last year went to Gigi’s (Tarin’s mother) before winter. When the hens stopped laying eggs mad-fall, Gigi came by to help us see if it was something we were doing… it was. We learned that we weren’t letting the hens out early enough nor did the feed we had provide enough calcium for layers. And because we had no idea what we were doing or plans developed for how to brace for winter, Gigi offered to take the hens to her coop for the winter. Needless to say, that flock stayed with Gigi as the Norris’ welcomed their newest little one to the world and the idea of taking chickens back on was a little much for them this spring.

This spring, the Camp kids pleaded hard and presented some strong cases for getting chickens again. They vowed to help care for the hens every day–rain, sleet, ice, or snow (like the postal code goes). It’s been amazing to see them work together to care for the hens, though they need reminders from time to time. This flock has a few hens that are STILL producing eggs, which amazes me. While the adorable little coop we bought for the last flock is less than ideal for a number of reasons–difficult to clean, flimsy door, barely large enough for 8 hens–we decided to refrain from investing in a larger coop just yet for two reasons:

  1. I wasn’t completely confident the hens, or really the kids, would last through the winter. This pregnancy has really sucked the energy out of me so the responsibility of keeping the hens alive has been soley on the kids and just supervised by Sr. and me. We fully anticipated the possibility of the kids throwing the towel in and needing to rehome our sweet hens.
  2. Our barely-big-enough coop actually seems to be an advantage in the cold winter while a larger coop might require more work to winterize. Our coop is designed for 6-8 hens, we have 8. But the tight quarters are actually a benefit as they keep the hens warm with less dead space to have to keep warm.

We’ve had some pretty cold, icy, and snowy weather this winter and the kids, hens, and coop continue to persevere. I’m glad we chose to wait on a bigger coop as the winter care experience will also help us determine the best coop feature we want when we upgrade in the spring.

So how did we winterize this year? It was actually pretty simple and cost-effective! First, I did some research and came across the idea of winterizing the run by blocking the wind with clear tarps. Since our coop sits in the run pen, we determined that this would be a two-in-one solution!

I purchased four 8 x 12 clear heavy-duty tarps from Amazon. These would not only block the hens, and their coop, from blustery winds but also allow us to maintain some visibility in the run. We ran the tarps horizontally (with the 12 ft side across the walls of the run) and secured them with zip-ties. The sides of our run are less than 8 ft but the excess height of the tarps actually provide a little coverage from snow on the edges of the run.

We also purchased a few bales of straw to provide more insulation in and outside of the run. Inside the run, we placed two bales against the open side of the coop, which is placed in the corner of the run. Outside the run, we placed the remainder of the bales against walls. As we get snow and ice, we use straw from the bales to provide a dry pad and walkways for the hens to walk on and stave off possible frostbite. The only issue we’ve run into is, recently–because we don’t have our straw bales covered–they freeze and are next to impossible to break apart. We’ve just used our pine bedding on the floor of the run instead.

Speaking of bedding, we’ve upped how much bedding we use as well for the winter. This helps insulate inside the coop and maintains a dry space for our hens.

When it comes to water, we’re simply using a bowl of water, checking and refilling throughout the day, when the temps are low enough to freeze up our gravity waterer. I thought for sure we’d have a water warmer by now, but haven’t seen enough need to invest in one just yet.

Whether you come here for guidance, curiosity, or entertainment, thank you. And know we always welcome your questions and comments!




Shared Girls Room Refresh

Last month we decided to do a BIG refresh to our home and replaced all the old blue carpet in our home. Y’all! There was a different kind of carpet (8 different shades of blue) in nearly every room and hallway in the house when we moved in. It was an eyesore–all stained from foot traffic and spills that had accumulated since it was put in some time in the 80s or 90s. It’s been a game-changer… and exhausting as we’ve packed away most of the house in 10 days, painted rooms and trim, and put it all back together after the install. One of the main reasons for the new carpet was so we could move the girls into a shared room and convert Grace’s old room into a nursery for our upcoming arrival.

Back in Texas, the girls–just 2 1/2 years apart in age–shared a room but when we moved to Ohio, each girl got their own room. Though they enjoyed their own spaces, they’ve often had sleepovers in each others’ rooms and occasionally discussed going back to a shared room.

When Grace was upgraded from a single twin to a twin bunkbed last Christmas, the sleepovers increased and so did the talk of “moving in” together. However, it wasn’t until we found out we were pregnant this summer, that the idea of moving them back in together was taken seriously.

The girls immediately began planning, taking over my interest to look for inspiration. Their only must-have–a play kitchen. Mine, plenty of storage to keep their abundance of toys OFF the floor and out of sight. I also wanted to find a way to show off their collections of hats, books, and stuffed animals as well as provide each of them their own special spaces.

It’s been a few weeks since the carpet install and we still have a little more to do but we’ve finally gotten to a place where we have something to show y’all!

We’ll start with my favorite part: this wall storage system from IKEA.

There are several different sizes and configurations of the Kallax systems. I actually went a size up from what I planned and I am so glad I did! It was also super easy to put together. Ella and I did it all ourselves and only needed Sr. to secure it to the wall.

New carpet was a GREAT motivation to go through toys and clothes but we still had lots to find practical solutions for. What I love about this unit is I can use bins to hide, I mean “store”, toys but we can also display special things at the same time. The bins also help the girls keep things sorted and easier to find. And the BEST part? The girls can easily move the bins to wherever they are playing and put them back all on their own. The toys have stayed OFF the floor since we set up the unit, so I call that a #MomWin!

Next up: the library and bunkbed. The girls both LOVE to read and had stacks of books everywhere in their old rooms–bed, floor, shelves… so it was important to make sure their bookshelf was easy to access and that they had a dedicated space for their current reads by their beds as well as good lighting. Last year, I got this three shelf bookshelf off my local Buy Nothing Facebook group and whitewashed it. By some miracle, it fits perfectly in the space next to the bunkbed.

The girls call it their “library” and Ella loves to sit right by the shelves and read. They also enjoy sitting in this beautiful, refinished vintage chair by the window. Truth be told, I tried to get rid of this a week ago, thinking there wasn’t room for it in their room. I finally got tired of it being in our dining room waiting for a buyer and put it here temporarily but it works out perfectly, so it’ll be staying!

That big red and white bear is named Wanda. She’s my favorite old stuffed animal from my childhood and now is graciously loved by Ella. We filled her with more stuffing this week to give her new life!

Since the girls like to do a lot of nighttime reading, I found them their own little wall bookshelves for their bunks at Target.

I also found these great little reading lights at Ikea to clip onto their headboards. The bunks are also each girls’ little piece of private real estate in the room so we added some special lighting and comfy pillows at the foot of the beds to add another space to sit for daytime reading. We reused the mosquito net canopy from Ella’s old room and Grace tszujed it up with a strand of floral garland we had in the basement. Each girl picked out their own lights while at Hobby Lobby the other day–llamas for Ella and an ombre curtain for Grace that looks so great with her canopy. These were around $12 each and are battery-powered.

Now that the days are colder and shorter, I foresee many hours spent on these bunks, with the lights aglow, reading. ❤️

Next up, the girls’ kitchen! As I mentioned, this was a must-have for the girls. They had many grand ideas for a custom build that Papaw and Sr. would have been obligated to create. Thankfully, we scored a well-built wood kitchen from the children’s room in our church when they decide to upgrade. I used Murphy’s Oil to give it a good cleaning but the plan is to paint it (when I have the energy).

I may also have Sr. build a simple base for it to make it a bit taller for my tall girls. The girls have their “fridge and pantry” stocked–mostly with homemade felt food, and a bin of larger cooking and baking playthings in the wall unit. They often play house and restaurant. The service is great, but a little pricey 😉

Lastly, Ella has quite the collection of vintage and straw hats–thanks to GiGi and Papa–and Grace isn’t far behind. For a few years, they’ve been stashed in the closet but we found some fun ways to display a few. the rest are in the dress-up bin in the wall unit. The hats on the wall are just hung with a simple push pin but I’d love to find some cool hat racks for a neat display with the rest of the vintage hats above their dresser.

All-in-all, aside from the cost of the new carpet the wall unit, two wall bookshelves, and bunk lighting, we didn’t have to buy anything else for this refresh–just some cleaning, combining, organizing, and moving!

Still to come for this room: window treatments– I personally LOVE these but Ella turned it down quickly–, bunk curtains for Ella to give her some requested privacy, possibly a new rug, and the painting of the play kitchen.

Stay tuned!

– Cory



Finishing touches!

Today we worked to put the final touches (for now) on the girls new shared room. Including putting some life back into some favorite oversized animals. Grace learned to do some simple sewing. We’ll be sharing more on the blog tomorrow!


It’s been a while

So much to catch y’all up on!!

It’s been a few weeks since the constant nausea of my first trimester subsided–praise the Lord! Since then, I’ve been trying to catch back up to life and all the things around the house and gardens.

In the past month, we’ve waged war on the “mother-in-law’s revenge”–aka goutweed–in the front gardens, planted fall mums, orchestrated a near-whole house refresh with new carpet and paint in the majority of the house, revived the dahlias in the cut flower garden, celebrated 2 birthdays and an anniversary, finished the football season, and moved the girls into a shared room to free up a room for the nursery.

The big garden also got A TON of care and attention from Clint who built raised and installed garden boxes and used old pallets to build a new compost bin. I’m serious y’all, it’s impressive!

As the cool weather rolls in, we have much more to do–like prep the coop and gardens for winter.

I’ll be posting something about each of our updates and adventures moving forward. In the meantime, what winter prep tips do you have to share with me?!