European trip and a German (Sh)mear!

The summer is going to quickly! June is almost over and 4th of July will be here before we know it.  We’ve had a great 1st month of summer.  The kids have already done tennis camp, basketball camp, and the girls are in a weekly cooking and sewing camp.  I left July open for traveling and family time so after this week we will have a break from staying too busy.  Speaking of traveling, we decided to take a leap and travel to Europe this summer with the kids!! I have never been to Europe and it has been a dream of mine for a long time. To say that I am excited is an understatement.  My hubby has had some changes with his job and he decided to take some time off this summer before he jumps back into the corporate scene.  We both agreed we may never have this time again with our family to travel the globe with no time limit.  We will be gone two weeks and plan on visiting London, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels.  I know it’s a lot of places, but we thought it’d be a good way to give us a little taste of each place and then we can always go back and visit our favorites.  We decided to tell the kids in a fun way by tricking them that on top of the reading challenge and fitness challenge we are doing this summer, they had to write a report on a city.  I told them that I had decided that we would pick from these cities.  You can imagine the push back I got from each of them.  The fact I would make them write a report in the summer was not something they were thrilled about.  So after the complaining stopped I told them that if they wanted to visit these places this summer they would need to learn about these cities.  It took a minute to register and then there were cheers and smiles all around.  It was a fun way to tell them and I really am serious about the report!  They have to write 5 pages and include things about the culture, food, people and all the places we want to visit.  I will do some more blog posts about getting ready for our trip.  Maybe some packing tips, an itinerary and how I will prepare myself for travel with kids overseas for 2 weeks!

You may be asking, how in the world are we restoring a home and going to be gone for 2 weeks? Believe me, I was worried about this too.  But as this process of remodel has gone on, I realized it might be nice to be gone for a while from it all.  It gets a little stressful and I find myself getting anxious about how long certain things take or things not getting done when I would like them to.  Up until last week I was feeling like our home would never be done.  The demo was going slow, we were waiting on permits and for our contractor to finish up some other jobs.  With that being said, this last week we made quite a bit of progress.  The permits got finalized, the plumber started replacing old pipes and putting in the new plumbing and they started framing.  I can actually see what the basement is going to end up like and it’s so refreshing.  I am super excited to see our vision come to life.  Plumbing fixtures got finalized last week and our cabinet plan for the kitchen should be done today.

Mike and I worked on a fun project this weekend in his office at Normandie Place.  There is a brick wall in this room.  It was originally the back of the house before they did the addition.  I didn’t want to frame it in and thought about painting it, but the brick isn’t the prettiest and has deep groves in it which I knew would suck up paint and collect dust.  A few months ago we were watching Fixer Upper and Jo-anna did a treatment on a brick wall called a German smear.  We both loved the look and so I got online and figured out how to do it.  We spent all day yesterday working on the wall and after a lot of sweat, sore bodies and dried out hands we finished it.  We both are so happy how it turned out.  It has already brightened up this dark room and given it so much character.  I thought I would share with you today how this whole process went. (Sorry the pictures aren’t great, the lighting in this room is tricky!)

First up the supply list:

White mortar ( I found this in the tile isle at Home Depot.  It took about 4 bags to do the entire wall)

large sponges (we used 2-3 of these)

2- 5 gallon buckets


spray bottle

spatula and mortar spreaders

drill and stirring drill attachment

Step 1:

Clean and prep the wall of any nails, dirt, cob webs, etc.brick wall

Step 2:

Mix mortar with water in a 5 gallon bucket.  I’d say we used a 70:30 ratio of mortar to water.  We mixed this will the drill and the attachment unit it was the consistency or waffle batter. mixing mortar

Step 3:

Spray brick with water and get it nice and damp.  It is best to work in small sections.  We worked as a team on this.  I would spray, Mike would smear on mortar and then I would go back over it will a tool to smooth it out and get any excess off that I could.mortar on wall

Step 4;

Let the mortar set for about 10-20 minutes and then take wet sponge and wipe off even more of the mortar until the brick is exposed and you get the desired look you want.brick and mortar

I have to tell you that this is a super messy project.  If you are doing this in your home that has carpet and furniture in it, you will want to cover everything with tarp.  The mortar is messy and drips off the wall and as you are using the sponge the water  kind of goes everywhere.  We obviously didn’t have to bee too careful as the room we were working in is getting a total face lift , but we were sure messy when we finished.wall with french doors


finished wall


so happy we're done


I'm a mess

I can’t wait to see this room finished.  This was a fun project to work on together and the final product was definitely worth it.

Thanks for stopping by today.  Let me know what your favorite spots are in London, Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels.  I would love some feedback from more experienced travelers.

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  1. Rise Stoldt says:

    Like the wall. Looks like messy and hard work. You guys are pretty brave to do that yourselves. We find it is pretty fun to work together and we love the way we feel when we are done! Good Job!

  2. Erika Clark says:

    Love, love, love the wall!! Great job! What a great project!! It looks so good!!

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