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. Missy G. says

    Holy guacamole. Y’all really have been crazy busy. I mean, I knew it was crazy over there, but not THAT crazy. I canNOT WAIT for that book. Super excited for all the (continued) success that is upcoming for y’all!! Wheeee!!

    • says


      I do not know how you juggle everything you do without some serious amounts of coffee, or other forms of caffeine. Holy Moly!

      I think after the crazy ends, you should both take a nap when Cara naps. Just a thought!

      Can’t wait for the book!!!!!

    • says

      Way to be without the coffee!!! I don’t drink coffee either, so it makes me happy to hear of other non-coffee drinkers. :)

      So sad about Ramsey. I get sad when anything breaks. Even when Jason rips his board books. So silly, I know.

      And HOORAY HOORAY! that it’s the last day of book shoots!! I love having people stay with me, but I also love when they leave :). Feels like you can breath again, ya know? Order is just so nice. You guys are such quality, gracious people that I’m sure your new book friends will miss hanging and working with you though.

      Can’t wait to see the book (esp the cover you kept talking about!) and have fun in Portland!! (So jealous that you’re going. I love Portland!)

    • meganleiann says

      You can’t go to Portland and not drink coffee you know. :) Coffee and Voodoo doughnuts. My husband and I occasionally have to write coffee into our home project budgets. We like buying the really good stuff and go through quite a bit of decaf on the long nights.

  2. Nicole says

    You have been crazy busy! Where did those amazing pillows come from ? (in the pic next to the book’s manuscript) L-O-V-E

    • says

      Those are actually ours – we’ve had them for a while! The scale-ish one is from West Elm about two years ago (it lived in our first house’s office/guest room) and the blue one is from HomeGoods a while back. Hope it helps!


  3. says

    I am so so excited for your book to come out!! I’m sure you’ll let us know when it’s available for pre-order because I’ll be one of the first! :)

  4. emily says

    Congratulations on finishing up this phase of book madness! Sorry you lost Ramsy in the process, but hopefully you’ll find something even more perfect for that spot above your bed.

    Another HUGE congratulations for being nominated for a Bloggie for the art/craft category! http://2012.bloggi.es/

    I already voted for you! :)

  5. Danielle says

    So sorry to hear about your Ramsy, but yay to all the book excitement!! I can’t wait to see it in the stores and hold it in my hands. :)

  6. says

    When ceramic animals fall to the ground and shatter, it’s just nature’s way of thinning the herd to make way for stronger ceramic animals to find their way into your heart.

    I am sad to say goodbye to Ramsey, but I’m looking forward to the cool things you may discover in trying to fill his void.

    Are you glad to be getting your house back after the chaos of the book photography??

  7. Monika says

    I did not notice you guys being slower on comments, posts, or anything else blog-related for that matter. Amazingly enough! Speaking of tropics, I really hope you guys take that well deserved break to somewhere you wanted to go (Hawaii was it?). Much love and congrats on being done!!
    We are in the midst of a kitchen upgrate ourselves (that’s how I found you!) and we are done with painting our cabinets. And we are getting new hardwood flooring. Delish! Have a great weekend!

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