The Perfect Messenger Bag: Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag

For the past few months, I’ve been scouring the Internet for The Perfect Tote Bag. It occurred to me today that I would be doing you, dear readers, a huge disservice if I did not share with you The Perfect Messenger Bag: a Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag.

It’s attractive, durable, weather resistant, convenient, and it is loaded with organizing pockets. Working on a college campus, it was perfect for carrying everything I needed. It’s also traveled with me on the few occasions that I’ve flown or taken a train.

For probably at least six years (I don’t remember when I bought it, but it was before I had any children), I’ve carried this bag to work with me on a daily basis. It still looks 95% new. Its biggest blemish is completely my fault. When my son was about two, he scribbled on the inside flap with an ink pen.

This bag is still going strong and has shown no signs of slowing down. Timbuk2 knows how to make a good bag.

I purchased this one before I was a mom and before I owned a smartphone or a tablet. I’ve outgrown it a little bit for my day-to-day needs, but I love this bag.

Timbuk2 sells very practical, good looking bags, and you can customize many of them. Mine was a standard issue, but since I love green, it totally worked for me.

This is my trusty messenger:

Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag

Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag

Below is a shot of the interior, loaded with my stuff. See that red ribbon? On the other end is a hook for keys – love that feature! And there’s a pocket that’s the perfect size for some sunblock!

Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag

Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag


Evergreens No More

Ben’s been hard at work on the yard. Most weekends, and many evenings, you’ll find him wielding a chain saw or an axe or some other manly type tool.

Now, thanks to his hard work, we can see our property from the back of the house!

Last week, he took down the trees that had grown in front of the enclosed side porch (on left in photo below). Now that they’re gone, we can be in that space and watch the deer in the yard. Today, he took down the trees on the opposite side by the garage. Pictures of tonight’s project are below. 20140707-221416-80056196.jpg






Creating a Fire Ring Area

When we purchased our home last fall, there was a small section of dead ash trees and other shrubbery on one side of the yard.


This is an area where Ben is working to remove dead trees and clear an area for a fire ring. This is how it looked in June 2013.

This spring, Ben has been working steadily to remove the dead trees and other growth to create the perfect space for a fire ring!


This picture was taken in May 2014. It’s a slightly different view from above, but you can see that the space is clearer.

The long-long-term plan includes a fire ring, seating area and outdoor food prep area.

The short-term plan is to clear enough space for a basic fire ring and probably some camp chairs.

Bring on the roasted marshmallows!

Product Review: Command Products for Hanging Frames

So far, I have yet to hang any art in my house using nails. It’s true; I haven’t needed Ben’s help with a hammer and nails once since we moved in!

Our last house had mostly very textured plaster walls, and nails were pretty much the only option when it came to hanging art on the walls. Our new house, however, has nice smooth walls, and since I discovered Command picture-hanging products, I’ve been on a roll!

These all have been hung using Command products:

family photo wall

Family photos printed, framed AND hung. Check me out.

gallery wall

The start of a gallery wall going up the stairs.

Ohio print

Our first item to be hung on the walls! This was a birthday gift made by Blake and Irene!

I mostly eyeball the placement, but occasionally do enlist the help of a small level.

Here are links to the products I’ve used:

Command picture hanging strips

Command Sawtooth Sticky Nail Hanger

Dr. Seuss Themed Kids’ Birthday Party

Let’s first address the elephant in the room. This party took place in December, nearly five whole months ago. But it was so cute, I still wanted to share it!

Anyways, moving on …

Elias was turning 3, and Eva was turning 1 in December, so I decided to do a joint birthday party with family at our house — which we had just moved into in November. I went with the Dr. Seuss theme because (1) it’s adorable; (2) my children love to read; and (3) it was a good choice for a dual boy-girl theme.

My ultra-talented brother and sister-in-law created the invitations for me, as well as a scrapbook page for guests to fill out (much like I did for Elias’ first birthday party in 2011) and super cute cupcake toppers. (They also have an Etsy site.)

Dr. Seuss cupcake toppers

Cute cupcake toppers, made by Irene

It was a fairly simple birthday party, but I still wanted to add something fun and extra special. I decided on a photo booth, and Irene really took the lead in putting it together. She made some really fun decorations and props, and the resulting photos were great. Irene even brought her updated version of a Polaroid camera so guests could see their pictures immediately; those will go into the scrapbook with the notes from family.

Dr. Seuss photo booth

The Patterson family

Irene’s photo props were so darn adorable, the photographer, Tiffany, who did Eva’s one-year photos suggested we use them in the photo shoot. The results were awwwww-inducing cute! Tiffany also did our family photos in the fall.

Dr. Seuss themed photo shoot

Photos by Levenhagen Photography

March Stitch Fix Review, Fix #7

What is Stitch Fix, you ask? In a nutshell, it is a personal styling service. It’s fun, convenient, and a great way to incorporate some new pieces into your wardrobe!

I’ve written about it here, here, here, here, here and here.

This time, I kept a Hemmingway Tab-Sleeve Knit Shirt by Tart.

This is Stitch Fix’s style suggestion:

Stitch Fix style card

Stitch Fix style card

Here’s how I wore it (I also had on red flats, but photographer husband cut off my feet):

blue and white shirt

Hemmingway Tab-Sleeve Knit Shirt by Tart, from Stitch Fix

If you’re interested in trying it for youself, I’d be forever grateful to you for using my referral link!

Finding a Baby Gate for a Split-Level Staircase

Although I appreciate my husband’s creative suggestion to find some discarded baby gates at garage sales and zip tie them together, I thought the better approach to finding a safe and non-hilljack baby gate for our split-level staircase was to buy one made for that purpose.

It was expensive, but I feel much better about the safety of my home.

Here’s what we ended up with:

baby gate for split-level staircase

baby gate for split-level staircase

It’s great! It completely does the job, and I plan to purchase two more for the top and bottom of the staircase.

The specifics:

This is a Custom Fit KidCo Configure Gate with one 24″ Gate Extension.