Family Visit!

Brett’s mama (Patti), his sister (Kristin), and her boyfriend (Dan) came for a visit!

We visited the Mom’s weekend craft fair at the U of I, bought some tea at the local loose-leaf tea shop, explored a local art show, and had a lovely dinner.  The next day we walked (briskly!) around the sculpture park, got some wonderful Mexican food for lunch, and enjoyed our backyard patio.




at dinner

Along with visiting peoples though, we also had a visiting pup!  Leia, the family dog, came along for the ride too.  Find out more about that tomorrow!  🙂  (oh the suspense! 😀  )

Fence Project!

We’ve started a new fence project because Inca,


a.k.a. the escape artist, has gotten herself out of the yard AGAIN!  The yard has been pretty secure since we fixed the fence when Brett and I first moved into our house, but Inca has found a new way out!

When we first moved in, we loved that the large backyard had a fence all the way around it.  Having a smaller pup though, we needed to ‘fill in’ some of the wider gaps of the decorative fence on the street side of the yard.

blog_fence2Brett and I dug a trench and lined the bottom 6 inches of fence with chicken wire.  We attached the chicken wire with a staple gun.

blog_fence3The slats of one of the fence gates were wider than in other areas so we lined the entire gate with chicken wire.

blog_fence1This solved our Inca escaping issue for more than a year.  The other night though, Brett noticed that the pups had been outside longer than normal for the wet and chilly evening we were having and that Caya had been barking at something for the last few minutes.  When he went outside, neither dog would come to his call.  When he went behind our shed to investigate, Caya was barking and Inca was peering nervously at him from another person’s yard!

blog_fence4She had been able to jump the chain-link fence on the left of the image since its shorter than in other areas of the yard.  Goodness gracious!  Now why, you ask, would the smaller dog jump the fence to chase a squirrel before the larger dog would?  Well…Caya is a bit of a scaredy pup…she doesn’t even like to open doors by herself (and we’re talking doors that are already slightly opened just not enough so for her to pass through).  🙂  Inca is more adventurous and more willing to fit herself through little holes.

So the ‘fix another part of the fence project’  has commenced!  From the hardware store, we bought welded wire mesh (more sturdy than chicken wire), U-posts, and a post driver (to drive the posts into the ground).  Brett buried a few posts and dug a trench to set the welded wire mesh into.


Brett attached the wire mesh to the posts using zip-ties, to the shed using eye hooks (this was my idea! haha), and to the existing wood fence with our trusty staple gun.  Seriously, if you only have a few home improvement items, staple guns are a necessity!  🙂 (also a shovel and a wheelbarrow!)


blog_fence7Here’s the finished product!



Do you all have any home improvement stories/secrets/successes to share?  🙂



In the Casperson-Jones house, much time is spent on tinkering 🙂  One of our favorite places to check out on a weekend is the Re-Store.  They sell “gently used furniture, appliances, electronics, household items, and home improvement supplies…[and] all proceeds support Habitat of Champaign County.”  On a newly wed/graduate student budget, we have found numerous items there that work great in our home!  Some of them are ready to go, like these….a record case (YES, we have records inside!), a simple wall hanging, a filing cabinet (do you know how expensive these can be when you buy them new by the way?  haha!), and a tripod (not shown below but can be seen here).




Other items that we’ve bought at the ReStore need to be taken apart and tweaked a bit, like this cabinet we got to add counter space to my old apartment…(the doors were missing so we hung a curtain!)… (excuse the mess on the countertop…it IS a working kitchen after all)  🙂  When Brett and I moved into a new house we both insisted that this cabinet move with us and that it have a place in our new home.  <3


These retail store racks turned book shelves also needed a bit of work.  The shelves were mounted on a larger, square platform with wheels initially (which you can see Brett using in his time-lapse photography attempts.  Even now, these bookshelves have some character because of their metal sides with slats where retail hooks were hung!



This ‘door desk’ Brett put together from supplies purchased at the ReStore.  Such a fun idea huh?  🙂  An old door, cleaned and sanded a little, a smooth glass door on top to give a hard and flat surface, and both are supported by either stands or (in Brett’s case) stools.


We even bought all of the crystal bowls for our reception at the ReStore too!  Small and simple but they did the trick. Not buying something new made for an eco-friendly addition to our wedding day!

blog_thrift7* centerpiece photo taken by my cousin Cindy 🙂

What kind of tinkering/home improvement ideas do you use?

the return of hobbies!

Brett and I LOVE hobbies! 🙂 We have quite a few of them… and often times don’t seem to be able to make time for anything of them. There are entire weeks in our academic lives where we get up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, work some more, and then go to bed…with some doggie loving happening whenever possible while at home 🙂 BUT this post isn’t about research or work or grad school…its about the stuff that we LOVE to do when we’re not doing all of that other stuff! (though many already probably know that Brett’s hobbies and his research are often heavily mixed, haha).

One thing that I love to do is bake. 🙂 I wouldn’t say that I love to cook…because while I do cook dinners and make lunches…sweet things are my absolute favorite and I seem to only find the motivation to spend over an hour in the kitchen if what I’m making is SWEET 🙂 This past weekend I made some of those shortbread, caramel, chocolate layered desserts that I have talked about before . I made them again and they didn’t take nearly as long this time and turned out buttery and wonderful 🙂 Here is a picture before the chocolate was poured over the caramel…


Brett is pretty big into photography… I owned a DSLR before we met but he has gotten me WAY more into this fun hobby and talked us both into purchasing better lenses about a year ago. Here are a few shots that I took after getting the fun new lens




Just as a side note…all of the pictures that I have previously posted to this main ‘blog’ portion of the website (all the ones besides the three above) have all been taken with my iPhone…crazy right?! 🙂

Lately, Brett has been experimenting with time-lapse photography and has been seeing if he can’t rig something together with supplies that we already have at home. This is him toying with something in the kitchen


The return of warmer weather has meant some awesome running in the neighborhood with the pups. We have found exercising to be a really fun way of spending time together…especially when we go through periods of time when we need to get some serious miles on those sneakers while training for races! When the wind dies down a little though, we really LOVE biking 🙂 It takes us about 15 minutes of biking to be deep into the corn fields for some really nice road riding. This is us at our ‘half way point’ for water, food, and a picture break during a 21 mile ride this past weekend.


Everyone once in a while we splurge on a weekend brunch. 🙂 Here, we’re waiting for our names to be called


Lately, some of our hobbies have taken a complete back burner. Over the winter, Brett and I got really into stained glass…but since school and research got super busy and then the weather got warmer we haven’t gotten any closer to finishing some of those projects. I’ll be sure to post some pictures though when we get back to them! Another thing I’ve really been wanting to try is candle making. My dad got me this awesome kit 2 Christmases ago and I still haven’t made them. The kit came with wax, jars, wicks, colors, and even scents. Brett’s interests go in and out depending on what his research requires…for a while over the holidays, we had a downstairs FULL of poster board cut outs for potential holiday yard displays. 🙂 Most of all though, I think we spend most of our time being goofy with one another. 🙂 Here is one of Brett’s signature faces


What kind of hobbies do you and your spouse/significant other/roommates like to do? Do these change when the weather gets warmer? 🙂