Happy, Happy



beach chairs

Everyone else: HAPPY FRIDAY!

The Mister surprised us with a day off from work and a day at the beach. The boys had so much fun! I was under the umbrella and wore an enormous sun hat since my rosacea medications + sun don’t mix, but it was fun watching them boogie board. Nico was fearless and tore it up. He got in trouble once for trying to go in by himself without telling us. Not cool, especially since directly in front of us was a riptide. Mikey was cautious and at first didn’t want to go in (because sharks). Once he heard about the riptide, he was even more resistant. He had this image of a riptide pushing him out to sea, smack in the middle of a frenzy of sharks. When I explained to him that his dad wasn’t in the riptide section and that he would always be with him, he relented. He had a great time.

Walking on the sand made one thing clear to me: I’m losing all the conditioning I gained walking every day last year. The video in that post still makes me tear up. Why, oh why, am I having such a problem getting back into the routine of daily walks? It’s like once I achieved my 365-day goal, I lost all motivation. This is exactly what I was afraid was going to happen. Ugh! In part, I think it’s because I no longer had to post pictures to instagram, as crazy as that sounds! I asked on my 300 social media channels if there was a fitness app or website that people found motivating. I used endomondo all last year, but it’s become buggy and boring. I would love to try yoga, but like I mentioned on instagram (I’m @themrskendall or @ourbuttercup, but that one is only pictures of Buttercup), I don’t know how realistic it is with the library, the boys’ activities, and the Mister traveling so much. I’m checking out everything recommended and will post my results soon. Below is what people recommended as of 12:17 am. Anything to add?

Yoga Download
Nike Training Club App
THE WALK It’s 40% off right now!

Buttercup Tumbles

Buttercup Tumbles

In a move that will surprise absolutely no one, Mikey, Nico, and I started a blog (really a tumblr account) to collect all our Buttercup pictures. It has been so much fun doing this with the boys. Nico is now fully part of the project. I thought he was too little, but then he took one of my ideas and made it far easier and more elegant. Basically, in this picture I wanted to attach streamers to a large bamboo stick. This required scissors, glue, and patience. Nico gentle told me that it made more sense if we threaded the unrolled streamers on the bamboo stick. This also meant we wouldn’t have to cut–and waste–any of the streamers. That boy is a future engineer.

The additional bonus to taking pictures of Buttercup, aside from super-fun quality time with the boys, is that it will force me to finally work on my photography skills. All the pictures are iphone pictures, but there is still a lot of room for me to improve my white balance and lighting. I’m sure there are books or websites that focus on iphoneography. I just need to do a little research and find one that educates rather than tries to sell you the latest gizmo via affiliate links.


You can subscribe to a tumblr the same way you would a blog. I had to research this since I knew nothing about tumblrs until yesterday afternoon. It should be pretty straightforward after you press the RSS link, but if there are any problems, please let me know. I did set up the entire blog by myself, so problems would not be a surprise.

We hope to see you there!

The William Morris Project: 2014 | The Plant Stand

A while back I wrote about looking for a plant stand. I wanted something larger than what I found, and I also wanted something in a dark finish so it would sort-of match the dining table since they’d be in the same room–mere feet from each other, actually. The IKEA one I mentioned in the post was in the right price range, and I liked the glass shelves, but I wanted something sturdier in such a high traffic area. I had visions of glass all over the floor following an attack from an errant soccer ball or light saber.

Plant Stand, 1

I ended up buying this bookshelf on sale at Cost Plus World Market. I wanted solid wood in a dark finish, and this bookshelf meets both requirements. Cons: the shelves are wood, and I wanted something less easy to suffer water damage. Another con (and this is a major one) I can’t display any of my tall plants. The shelves are for books, so that’s expected. Also, our hermit crab takes up a good deal of room and determined how I was going to place the rest of the shelves.

Plant Stand, 2

There is enough room on top for my pothos, and I’m thinking of adding a string of pearls, but I killed my last one. I think the pot and soil were the problem, so I’m willing to try again.

Plant Stand, 4

I finally printed out a picture of Buster. Nico and I cried when I placed it on the shelf. I was in a glum mood for the rest of the day. Mikey just stood there with a stoic look on his face.

Plant Stand, 3

I need to repot my cacti, but I can’t decide If I want to add more.

Plant Stand, 5

The hermit crab tank and my ferns, which are so far doing well in the terrarium. I mist them regularly, but I don’t know what I’m going to do once they outgrow the terrarium. Buy a larger one? No clue what to do. The main point of this picture, though, is to rejoice that I finally have a place to easily access my gardening books. Observation: the best garden books are vintage or at the latest from the 80s. (Which I guess is vintage now. Gah.) Today’s garden books are slick and pretty and, from my experience, rarely of much use. I would love current recommendations that aren’t a waste of money and are for people who actually enjoy and grow house plants. The books I reference most are goofy-looking Sunset publications from the 70s with poorly-styled photos. I’ve used this one since I was a kid. (Wish I was joking.)

Plant Stand 7

I bought my first African violet pot! I’ve resisted for years, and after a disastrous attempt at keeping African violets 14 years ago, I figured they weren’t for our dry area. Aha! All that changed with this short and squat self-watering pot. I’m now a firm believer in the right pot for the right plant. I thought if I babied them enough, I could make anything live. Nope. Wrong. So wrong. I’m now so happy with my violets that I want to start a collection of them.

I posted a similar picture on instagram, and someone mentioned that African violets reminded them (in a good way) of their great grandmother. Sounds right up my alley.

Our Buttercup

IG Buttercup

Oh, yes, I sure did!

Our cockatiel has her own instagram account. I loved the idea of posting as many pictures as I like in as many creative scenarios as possible. Mikey and Nico were huge supporters of the idea. It’s not like I needed much encouragement, so I grabbed the ball and ran with it.

Best thing I’ve done this year, aside from allowing Nico to buy a bird. First, it’s a place where I can be my cooky-creative self because for some reason, I don’t feel comfortable doing that on my personal account. I’m not a fan of posing kids in artsy, fake positions and then pretending to the world that I just happened to capture them eating salted caramel gelatto while riding red bicycles. #soblessed #summer

Birds? Birds are a different story.

Second, and most exciting, is that this immediately became a Mikey/Mom project. Mikey helped me with the name (and rejected several of my suggestions), takes all the pictures with me (setting up, holding Buttercup or props), and has even started a list of picture ideas (he wants to dress up Buttercup as a Sith Lord, and is currently making her a miniature light saber). He’s really into it, and I love that this is something creative we can do together. It’s a mother-son bonding thing. Nico is involved, too, but will be more help when he’s a little bit older. He currently provides comic relief and plays with Buttercup.

Agapanthus Buttercup

I’ve received a few questions about Buttercup over the last few weeks, so I thought I’d answer them to the best of my new-bird-owner abilities.

Flying: Buttercup’s wings are clipped, but she can fly small distances. She will be able to fly more once her flight feathers grow back. Yes, flight feathers grow back, and you have to continue to trim their feathers every couple of months if you don’t want them to fly.

Buttercup will fly from my hand to my shoulder, or from her cage to the ground and then to us on the sofa. Sometimes she walks around, but because she’s so tiny, I rarely let her do that for long. I’m afraid she’ll get stepped on! We leave her cage door open much of the day if we are in the room with her, and Nico fashioned a “balcony” for her that is really just a way to make sure she doesn’t poop outside her cage.

As you can see in the above picture (and in this one), Buttercup doesn’t try to fly away when she’s outside. She sees us as her flock/family, so she has no desire to go anywhere. I put her on my shoulder when I clean out her cage every day, and to do that I have to make several trips outside. She looks around, but that’s about it. Birds are very hierarchical–they don’t call it a pecking order for nothing–and in her mind I’m the boss. Even when she gets spooked, like if a big trucks rolls by, she’ll fly and turn around to see what I’m doing/where I’m going. More on that hierarchical nature in a minute.

Clarinet Buttercup

Sounds: male birds are louder and sing more than female birds. We won’t know if Buttercup is a male or female until she is about a year old, but right now she’s pretty quiet. Sometimes she chirps, and sometimes she wolf-whistles. Here is an example of what that sounds like. Mainly she calls out to us, me in particular, when we get home or if we’re in another room. Here is an example of what that sounds like.

Broccoli Buttercup

Food: Buttercup eats a raw seed mix that we keep in the garage freezer so it doesn’t get buggy. A lot of cockatiels eat pellets. Millet is her treat, and we keep several stalks in her cage. She also eats fresh, organic fruits and vegetables and grains like Cheerios. Broccoli is her favorite. She’s not really a fan of fruit, though I can get her to eat freeze dried pineapple bits. She can eat whatever we eat with the exception of chocolate, avocado, alcohol, onions, mushrooms, tomato leaves, caffeine, or uncooked beans. Why anyone would feed a bird alcohol is beyond me.

Neck rub

Temperament: Cockatiels are just like cats or dogs. They are unique individuals with their own personalities, so one cockatiel isn’t going to be like the next. Buttercup is a sweet, docile bird. She’s very timid, very affectionate, and needs lots of snuggles throughout the day. That’s a picture of her dozing while I rub her neck. She doesn’t not like us to be gone for very long, and on the rare occasions we are, she pouts. We were gone most of yesterday, and when I got home I was greeted with a deafening silence. No chirps, no hellos, not even a wolf whistle.

Having a gentle, submissive bird is great, but there are drawbacks. When we first met Buttercup, we had to decide between her and her sibling. The obvious choice for me was to bring home both of them. That’s what we did with Buddy and Buster, and what I assumed we would do with birds. We were advised against that because of Buttercup’s temperament. Buttercup is dead last in the pecking order–at least in her mind. They had to separate her from her brother (put them in separate cages) because she was so submissive that he wouldn’t let her eat and she became dangerously underweight. When we brought her home, I had trouble getting her to eat, and again she lost weight. I finally realized that she is a ground feeder. Now I put her food in the food bowls and give her servings of the same foods on the floor of her cage. She’s almost back to her initial weight!

The bird farm said that, for now, Buttercup needs to be the center of attention to build up her confidence. Only then can we try to pair her with a friend. The bird farm said this would take about 6 months to 1 year.

I’m learning something new about birds every day! I never knew how social they are, how affectionate, and how structured they keep their societies. It’s very interesting! If you have any more questions, I’ll do my best to answer them–but keep in mind I don’t know too much. In the meantime, if you would like to see more of Buttercup’s (and mine and Mikey’s) antics, you know where to find us. :)

p.s. This is a pretty good video on common cockatiel behavior.

Outdoor Decor for the 4th of July


The best thing about working for Wayfair is how accepting they are about my personal beliefs and interests, even when they may go against their sales goals. I debated for a while before accepting their offer to post for them. I worried that I would have to sell items people didn’t need in a style I didn’t like. Luckily, that has never happened. In fact, I’ve had the opposite experience. They have encouraged me to write about what I love because they believe passion sells, not strategically placed links. When Buster died, I missed a deadline. It just completely slipped my mind, and when my contact emailed me asking where my post was, I was horribly embarrassed. I wrote out the post and sent it to her as soon as possible. A few days later, this pillow arrived on my doorstep. Forgive me if I’ve told this story before, but it’s so nice that I like to tell it over and over again.

So, holiday decor. I used to hate it, but working in the library got me to see the magic in decorating for holidays–at least within reason. I don’t mind going a little crazy for the kids at school, but having all those decorations at home goes against the principles of The William Morris Project when you think of the money spent and space required to store them properly.

I’ve been thinking a lot about outside decorating for the holidays. How to make it inviting without being over-the-top or obnoxious; how to spend my money on items that last beyond a few weeks; how to spread what I think is beautiful without being wasteful of both my time and my money. That’s why I wrote about over at Wayfair, and I would love for you to check it out.

As always, thank you for your support.

How to Decorate Your Yard for the 4th of July

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.