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!




Cranberry Heat Dip **Repost**

It’s another year of my favorite holiday appetizer! I’ll be making double or triple batches this season. Check it out below!

If you’re looking for an appetizer that’s sure to impress, you’re in the right place! This one’s creamy with a sweet heat and all the right holiday flavors. But I’m no food blogger so I’ll cut straight to the chase and give you the recipe… if you like a little story with your recipes, feel free to read the second half of this post for how this recipe came to be.

Cranberry Heat Dip

Prep Time: About 20 minutes

NOTES:

  • This recipe requires that you let the ingredients rest in the refrigerator overnight for the best flavor.
  • This recipe gets it heat from Serrano peppers, which are hotter than jalapeños (about 5xs hotter). Don’t worry, the citrus from the orange with the cream cheese cool it down. If you’re heat sensitive, you can try using less Serranos. If you’re a heat-weeny, you can sub them for jalapeños.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries, uncooked
  • 2-3 Serrano peppers (depending on your heat preference)
  • 1/4 cup green onions
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 orange
  • Pinch of salt
  • 16 oz whipped cream cheese
  • Crackers (I like Triscuits or Ritz)

TOOLS:

  • Knife
  • A nice pie dish to serve your dip
  • A medium bowl
  • A spoon or rubber spatula
  • A zester (or a fine cheese grate will work in a pinch)
  • Colander

DIRECTIONS

  1. Chop your cranberries. If you have never chopped fresh cranberries before, you’ll find these boogers can be messy. You don’t need to chop them all individually but you want to avoid any whole cranberries.
  2. Dice the Serrano peppers and chop the green onions.
  3. In a medium bowl toss in the cranberries, peppers, and onions. Combine the mixture with the sugar and salt
  4. Zest your orange into the bowl then cut it in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl and stir well incorporated.
  5. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  6. The next day, remove the bowl from the fridge and give it another good stir.
  7. Spoon the whipped cream cheese into your serving dish.
  8. Pour the cranberry mixture into the colander to strain the excess juice.
  9. Pour the strained cranberry mixture over your whipped cream cheese. Cover and put back in the refrigerator if not serving immediately.
  10. Serve your dip with crackers and a spoon to help spread onto crackers.
  11. Enjoy!

The Story

As we all know, 2020 has been one giant shitstorm. The impact of COVID-19 has lasted much longer than we all anticipated and has overshadowed the winter holidays. Despite celebrating much smaller than usual and a day later, we still planned to have the traditional dinner at Thanksgiving with a few family members. A few days before Thanksgiving we were invited to celebrate over dinner with our good friends the Sickles. Having the main, sides, and desserts covered, Rachel asked if I could bring an appetizer. Well, turns out I’ve never made an appetizer for a holiday meal!

So I did what anyone does when searching for inspiration… I hit Pinterest. This Cranberry Jalapeño Dip caught my eye so I had Sr. pick up the ingredients during a last minute run to the grocer. Sr. couldn’t find jalapeño’s so he brought home Serranos. My friend Carlos once told me that Serranos we much better than jalapeño, with better heat and flavor. To be safe I only used 2 Serranos, since they can be significantly hotter than jalapeños.

Additionally, we’ve been binge-watching the Kids Ultimate Holiday Baking Championships. So with the inspirations of great flavor pairings and Grace’s desire to zest every orange she sees like the kids on t.v., we decided to replace the lemon in the original recipe with orange.

This dip was a HIT y’all! The creaminess of the soft cream cheese, the sweet tang of the sugared cranberries and orange, and the slow heat of the Serrano make it pure joy. It was so good I let the Sickles keep the rest and made another dish the next day for dinner at our house. Sr. mentioned that it could be a but hooter so the second time I used an extra pepper and will use 4 the next time.



At War with Mother-in-Law’s Revenge

When we first moved in, Kay, the previous homeowner, came to pick up some mail and offered some gardening tips on how to care for all the beautiful perennials she planted in her 40 years in the home. One of the first things she said was that I needed to pull the “mother-in-law’s revenge” early and often.

What’s mother-in-law’s revenge, you ask? Well, Kay didn’t really know what it was but she named this formidable garden invader after her mother-in-law gifted Kay a few seedlings for her garden claiming they’d be the perfect filler and ground cover for her beautiful front gardens. Kay’s mother-in-law passed shortly after she planted them and said they’ve been haunting her gardens ever since. The seedlings quickly multiplied and choked out many of her strongest plants. She’s been pulling them from her garden–and cursing her mother-in-law–every year since.

Since making this our home and taking over the gardens, I too now curse Kay’s mother-in-law every time I have to weed it out of the gardens. It doesn’t just cover the open, available real estate on the ground, it likes to hide in the middle of other plants–like my hostas, chrysanthemums, and russian sage–making finding them early and pulling a bitch. And despite my best back-breaking, weed-pulling efforts, it seems to come back with more vehemence each time. I’m telling y’all this stuff could flourish in a vat of bleach with no light.

Finally, I did some research last year and discovered the real name of this pest–goutweed. Goutweed is an extremely aggressive, invasive perennial. Savvy Gardening calls it the “cockroach of the botanical world” and “a beast to eradicate”. While on the prohibited or restricted plant list in some states, goutweed can be found in some garden centers under the name of “bishop’s-weed” or even “snow-on-the-mountian”.

Turns out, Kay’s approach of pulling the plant, which often comes up fairly easily, is one of the worst things you can do! Goutweed stems from a web of rhizomes which branch far and wide underground. You see, rhizomes have a nasty habit of multiplying from broken or left behind roots in the ground–like when you pluck gray a hair and five more emerge, thriving and taunting you.

So how do you get rid of it? It’s a painstaking process. Many sites recommend fully covering it with plastic, essentially “cooking” the devil which can take anywhere from 8 weeks to 2 whole seasons. You can also smother it by cutting it down and covering it with cardboard and mulch – 2-3 feet beyond the menace’s prersence. Another option is spraying it down with a vinegar solution or even chemical-based weed killer like Round-up.

My initial plan was to try the smother and cover method. I figured I could cover around some existing plants and add good soil above, building up the gardens and planting new perennials which would look better in the front of the house than black plastic. Besides, I had PLENTY of cardboard thanks to Amazon and Christmas time which I stored for several months. Unfortunately, when we prepared for hosting my sister-in-law’s engagement party in May, Sr. wanted the garage clean and recycled all my cardboard. To be fair, I caved and gave him permission.

June is always a busy month at work and difficult for me to get in the gardens and then I was out of comission for several months with nausea in my first trimester. By the time I got back to life–and the gardens–in September, mother-in-law’s revenge had ravaged the front gardens.

Exhausted and over it, I’m not ashamed to say I finally caved and turned to the chemicals. After all, this was war. I came to terms with the fact that there’d be some casualties, like my russian sage, mums, and a few other perennials. After the first careful spray, I was disappointed that the beast didn’t begin to wither within hours. I had totally imagined a scene out of The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy douses the Wicked Witch with water and finally ends her reign of terror.

No such luck. However, after a few weeks a difference could be seen. AND my chrysanthemums didn’t die! Two more rounds of spraying and I’ve made a serious dent in the rein of Kay’s Mother-in-law’s revenge.

Unfortunately, the arrival of the cold weather has stalled my progress because the chemical sprays are recommended for using weather above 60 degrees. Looks like there will be more work in the spring. I’m thinking I may need to srpay again a time or two and then will likely cover with cardboard and fresh soil so I can plant a few new beauties. This will allow the new plants to thrive while the chemicals dissipate under the decomposing cardboard barrier.

I also haven’t touched the bed of hostas in front of the kitchen bay window yet but I plan to smother and cover that small bed. With my Japanese Maple in that bed, I don’t want to use any chemicals. Besides, the hostas are overgrown and can’t be divided because they’re infested with goutweed so removal or covering is the best option. I’ll cover it this winter and it’ll be fun to design a new perennial bed there in the spring–something that doesn’t have hostas maybe?