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

    I’m sure it must be so hard to keep all the book news and photos to yourself when we know how much y’all like to share! Thanks for sharing some behind-the-scenes shots!

    We went through the same anticipation when we were on a reality tv show for our master suite renovation. I had to be very careful which photos I posted to the blog before the show aired. Now that it’s out we can bare all, which I recently did here: http://9adventures.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/15-minutes-of-fame-being-on-tv/.

    Can’t wait to see/learn more about the book as things progress!

  2. says

    I know exactly how you feel. I filmed a segment for a reality TV show last Fall, so we had a camera crew of 8 (maybe 9?) at the house. And that was just for a couple of days! I can’t imagine four weeks of such chaos.

    I’m looking forward to your Portland trip, and will be attending one of the “meet and greets.”

    Enjoy your tiny window of normal life!

    Katy Wolk-Stanley

  3. says

    We’ve had all of our bedroom furniture out in the living room/dining room for the past week or so since we’ve been putting down floors and painting in the bedroom. I have also been sick the past couple days and completely overwhelmed that I haven’t been able to get as much done. But after seeing what you all are going through on top of being sick earlier in the week I’m encouraged. Thanks for keeping me in perspective. Things will hopefully be back to “normal” soon (for you and I both).

    P.S. Can’t wait for the book!

  4. Kathy says

    Wow. I need a nap just from reading that post. I’m never going to complain about being “too busy” again. (And we don’t even have a kid!)

  5. meredith says

    wow! i grew up in richmond and interviewed kip for a high school photography class in 1998 or so. i’ve often thought of how patient he was with my stupid questions and been really appreciative of him. so nice to see this and excited for the book!

  6. says

    I have a question about the borrowed furniture for the shots. I work for a premedia company and we have to rent any furniture we use for our shots(and it’s crazy how expensive renting is). Did they really let you just borrow it? That’s amazing! Maybe it’s because we’re in a big impersonal city (Toronto) versus your smaller town. Or maybe it’s a southern thing. But aren’t Canadians supposed to be the nice ones? :)

    • says

      We had to pay for trucking and get it back within 4 hours! So it was a crazy fire-drill-type situation and it was $250 to truck it here and back but we didn’t have to buy a sofa – which was nice because our strict book budget didn’t allow for it!


  7. says

    I’m exhausted just reading that, I can only imagine what a whirlwind the last few months have been for you guys! And without caffeine??? You’re right, you guys are crazy haha. I’d never survive!

  8. Karen F says

    Poor Ramsy!

    oh my goodness, I can’t believe how crazy your house looks! And all the things you’ve been juggling (and then being sick on top of that) – amazing! So, what are you guys going to do after you get back from Portland (assuming your house is all put back together by then)? Sleep for 3 days straight?

    Can’t wait for the book! I don’t think I’ve been this excited for a book to come out since the Harry Potter series! (LOL, but it’s true)

    • says

      Sleep and some much needed relaxation after Portland is definitely in order! Assuming Clara is ok with that (and not thrown off from the time difference- haha).


  9. cheri s says

    That bed in the corner of your family room reminds me of when we moved into our house. Our layout is almost exactly like yours. Our house needed extensive cleaning and painting, so we just lived in the family room for the first month. In truth it didn’t even feel like we needed to move into the rest of the house because we weren’t used to so much space!

  10. says

    I am so incredibly excited for this book. I am definitely pre-ordering! I love that you guys came up with all sorts of new projects for it. You’ve really been inspiring me to get extra thrifty lately– I’ve been visiting flea markets and thrift stores several times per month to find awesome new decor– so I can’t wait to see what’s in the book!

    P.S. I totally depend on dark chocolate when I’m stressed out, too. lol No shame!

  11. Carrie says

    Poor, poor Ramsey. :(

    There is a little part of me that likes seeing your house look like this since mine has for oh… about a month now. :) I don’t have an excuse as cool as yours though. Christmas presents that had no obvious home, back injury, birthday, then the flu…. well. It’s just gotten away from me. And my sick body dictates that I will be sleeping this weekend away and my house will still be a wreck.

  12. Meghan says

    I looooooove those pillows that are shown in the first pic under John’s drawing! Where did you get them????? Gorgeous!

  13. says

    RIP, Ram.

    I love seeing all these in process shots of the photographers in your home! I used to be a photo assistant for a few years, and we shot spreads for an interior catalog. It’s one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had. We would go to fancy homes and beautify rooms with product while the rest of the home would turn into a nightmare! But by the end of the day, it was our job to return it to it’s natural state – often times cleaner and more put together than it was originally! Ah, good times.

  14. Emma says

    Sorry about Ramikins. I’m so excited to read your book! And it appears as though it’s coming out this Fall. Yahooo!!
    You kids need a spa day one day soon.

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