Ram Down!

Remember our dear sweet never-hurt-a-fly Ramsey who watched over us in a not-creepy-at-all way when we slept?

He was a beloved member of our household and even inspired Burger to do yoga.

Well, Ramsey will be missed.

And yes, it totally felt like this tragedy of yore all over again.

Except John didn’t draw a depiction of the event

… because it actually wasn’t John’s fault. But yes, yesterday we bid a fond farewell to our TJ Maxx find when he somehow popped off the wall in the kitchen where he was temporarily hanging for a book vignette above the fireplace. No one was even in the room to attempt to catch him on the way down. It pains me that he died alone. John’s even a little sad too. He was a good little ram. And we loved sleeping under his all-knowing gaze very much.

We were doing so well over the last three weeks of photo-shoot madness. A house full of cameras + people + equipment + secret projects + extra furniture/accessories is definitely like Catherine Zeta Jones trying to slither through those red lasers in that scene in Entrapment (you know the one). Except more lurchy and uncoordinated. Which is why it’s no surprise that on our second to last day of shooting (yes, today is our very last book shoot day after three full weeks of photography here at our casa!!!) Ramsey was our first casualty. Poor guy. What not-creepy-at-all ceramic animal will we hang over our bed now? We’ll just have to wait and see who catches our eye. But for the time being, there’s a hole in our hearts (and on our wall) for our dearly departed Ramsey.

Speaking of the end of our book shoots (can you believe our last book process post was three whole weeks ago?) we thought it would be fun to share a few pics from the last 21 insanely exhausting yet completely amazing and exhilarating days of essentially turning this pile of paper…

… into a holy-cow-it’s-real book that now just needs to be laid out/designed, sent off to “the printer’s”, and will be available for preorder this summer and out this fall. Ahhhhhh. And you know this little ol’ blog is just about whatever’s going on at our house (projects, broken ceramic animals, miscellaneous photography-related chaos), so we had to alert you to the latest (both in ram-related injuries and photography progress). As our shooting marathon draws to a close, we have shot over 2,000 photos (!!!) out of which 200-ish will make the final cut (we got lots of angles and progress pics and variations of things, so for every ten shots that we took, we usually just kept one). We even shot three different cover concepts yesterday – all of which we managed to worm our way out of (haha, we were so freaked out by the idea of seeing our smiling mugs on the cover of the book for years to come). They all came out really great – especially without our awkward faces in them – so we can’t wait to see which one they pick.

And you know over-sharers like us want to spill those pics and deets rightthissecond, but alas, we’re not allowed (gotta save it for fall when the book is out). So without further ado: here’s as much as we’re permitted to divulge when it comes to the chaos that was our lives during these past three weeks. Um yeah, the playroom has secretly been painted about nine times. Not kidding.

Different parts of the room got different colors that we assigned to spotlight specific shots/projects/vignettes (so the whole book isn’t full of Moonshine and Sesame and the other few colors in our house). So yes, part of the reason we’re tackling more Dude, Get On That Already challenges is definitely because all the items that used to live in the playroom have been offset into other rooms while we paint/shoot in there (the sunroom, guest room, our bedroom, and the dining room = crazytown). In keeping-it-real news, about four colors into it we got sick of repainting. Haha.

But oddly enough by about the eight and ninth ones it felt like second nature. Last night we even stenciled one wall for a special shot that we’re taking this afternoon. Yowsa. What will we do with ourselves when we’re not painting the playroom walls every few days after Clara goes to bed?

There was also gluing, taping, spray painting, dyeing, stenciling, staining, and a bunch of other secret DIY bid-ness going on. And we had to protect our hands for process shots throughout so we didn’t look – as Clara would say – “messy, messy, Mommy!” – hence all my dark nail polish as of late (to hide the grub under my nails) and John’s Dexter-ish rubber gloves.

Clara had a lot of fun checking things out (and yes, those are my snazzy spray painting clothes, complete with fuzzy red socks). The photographer’s name is Kip Dawkins and Clara loved following him around squealing “Hi Kip! Hi Kip! Hi Kip!” on repeat (kind of like kids asking “are we there yet?” every two minutes on a road trip). By the end of week one she not only knew everyone’s name, she could identify their cars when they pulled into the driveway (“Marcie’s car! Kip’s car! Susan’s car!” was a normal morning refrain) and was surprisingly good about keeping a pretty safe distance while still enjoying all the action. We’re so grateful this insanity didn’t completely wreck Clara’s life (and very very thankful for John’s parents, who snuck off with her whenever things got really hairy). But she did amazingly well with so much “change” at home – in fact, I think she might ask where everyone went when they stop coming by every day.

Here’s how we shot some of our pics to demonstrate how a few of our projects were done mid-process. The bigger ones got laid out on the floor and shot from further away. That white thing in the background is a “seamless” so the process shots look simple and uncluttered, while most of the after shots are things that we “styled in situation” – meaning they’re somewhere in our house to give those photos some environment (ex: on a table/on the wall/in a room/near a window or door/outside/etc – but they’ll probably only look vaguely familiar as being in our house since so many things like furniture arrangements and wall colors and accessories have changed). Oh and the thing over us is a reflector to keep the lighting consistent throughout the book. I liked to pretend it was a sail and we were out in the tropics on a boat. I guess I’m just as guilty of daydreaming as Clara (who saw fishies here).

Burger was also pretty cool with all the new folks and extra stuff in our space. Look, here he is perching on disembodied Karl like it’s no big deal. We worked him into the book like a champ. What’s a YHL book without some quality Burger shots up in there?

It was at this moment about a week and a half into shooting when we realized that our house hadn’t looked this crazy since moving day. Yup, that’s our guest bed in the corner of the living room. We carried that thing all over our house for different shots. It became kind of a game. Where can we put the bed next? The funny thing is that the bed shows how giant this room really is. It’s a gymnasium-sized room.

Here’s that same guest bed up against the back of the fireplace, completely blocking traffic. That finished book shot is actually one of our favorites. It was two projects in one being shown in that picture (neither of which are visible here of course). Oh man, is it fall yet? Can’t wait to show you guys.

Look, no more bed in the corner, but that’s a drop leaf table back there. We had some dining scenes to shoot and since we have a giant round table we had to borrow a regular rectangular one from a local shop for the day to make normal shots easier to snag.

Oh and look, that’s not our sofa! It’s another borrowed-from-a-local-shop item that we used for a few vignettes. This sofa also shows how giant Karl the Sectional is (we have eight of those pics hanging above Karl, as contrasted with the three over this standard-sized sofa).

So to the crew who are practically like family after nearly a month of “living” with us: thanks for everything! And to you guys for bearing with us while we’ve juggled this and the kitchen redo and the bean and “the bug” that tore through our house earlier this week and all of our Portland prep (which means we were a little slower on comments from time to time): thanks for understanding! And to any and all varieties of dark chocolate: we couldn’t have done it without you! Hey, when you don’t drink coffee you have to grab a little zing of caffeine anywhere ya can.

Have you guys broken anything lately? Or completely turned your house upside down? Or gotten to know a group of total strangers over the course of a month to the point that you know their favorite music/food/color/quotes/movies? It’s so crazy how much has happened since Christmas. Is anyone else still scratching their heads that it’s mid-February? How did that happen?

Psst- You can check out our other three book-related posts over the last year here, here, and here.


  1. says

    Thank God I wasn’t drinking anything when you said Burger did yoga or it would’ve shot clean out of my nose!

    I can’t imagine what it was like to have a bunch of strangers in your home but I bet it warms the cockles of your heart to have them leave as friends! (I think I need to brush my teeth now. Cavity inducing comment)

  2. fd says

    kudos to you for surviving the month. And the idea of you and John continuing to repaint the spare room for kicks every other night gave me a giggle.

  3. Callie says

    Where is that not-your-sofa from? It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for!

    Plus, can I just say you guys making me tired just reading about your lives?! I’m way impressed with how much you guys squeeze into life.

  4. julie C says

    Wow! What a fantastic three weeks! I love checking on your progress. You are so inspirational!
    I am hoping the stencil in the special shot is you heart logo. That would be an awesome wall!

  5. says

    I am so ridiculously excited for fall. If your book comes out on my birthday, it will be the coolest coincidence ever. I know, super nerd right here.

  6. says

    SO much packed into one post. Sorry about the ram. :( I hate when that happens…thankfully should my felted deer ever fall, all will be okay.

    What a crazy fun month! You two deserve a vacation after this but I can’t wait for the book, it’ll especially be fun trying to figure out where in your house things were photographed. The same wall painted 9 times?!! It’s going to be so quiet after today. I hope you get some rest this weekend. :)

  7. says

    So sorry for the loss of your ram. I will observe a moment of silence in his memory.

    And then I will go back to my happy dance because I’m so excited to read your book!!

    • says

      Nah, same old thing! Just using our short handled brush to cut in (John rolls and I cut in – and we tape off the ceiling since I’m not as steady handed while perched on a ladder).


  8. Kristin says

    Would those be the same fuzzy red socks that were featured so adorably on yesterday’s YHLife video? “Mommy’s sock!”
    I confess, I had wondered when $herdog wears red socks, and I’m sorta relieved to learn that it’s for painting. :)

  9. says

    Aw, RIP Ramsy. I hate when beloved items break. I had a fabulous yellow/green/brown swirly vase that bit the dust over the summer and still haven’t found anything I love to replace it.

    And whoa – kudos to you for living through the chaos! I can’t wait to see the book! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *