Feb 25, 2012

Good morning!

My kids and I like to drink tea mid morning and afternoon. Hunter has a manly owl mug, Ainsley has her Beatrix Potter Jemima Puddleduck mug, and I have various colorful ones. Am I raising a bunch of happy nerds?

Feb 24, 2012

Yeah, I used to do that...

I used to paint. A lot.
It's been a while since I have. Maybe even 4 years which is so sad to me. So I broke out my paints today and it was very therapeutic. My first little bird sketch felt rusty but I was still happy with it. It's not great art but it's happy art, which for me is the same. While I painted a certain 20 month old and four year old joined me, my perfectly mixed colors got swiped, my water cup was spilt, one of them swiped my good brush for their own picture, and I was reminded why this doesn't happen anymore. However I can't do it at night because I need good light. This afternoon the light was perfect and I still completed a small project for my friend, Sarah. It felt really awesome!
The bird I painted looks a bit angrier than the cheeky little one I was using as model.  I used to be able to nail subtleties in expressions.  I'm definitely rusty.  
I guess I'll just have to do this more often.

Feb 16, 2012

An Ode to Contact Paper and a Retro Kitchen

About a month ago, I decided something had to be done with my cookie cutter kitchen.  The one that came with the new house, and they only let us pick the tile color.  Being that it is brand spankin new (well, it was four years ago when we moved in), there will be no painting of cabinets, no replacing of tile to granite, and no putting in hardware.  Everything works totally functionally, we aren't exactly made of money, so I am stuck with a boring, cookie-cutter kitchen.  I can't even paint it because it flows into the large great room which I want to leave white.

Usher in...contact paper.
RED.  To be exact.
It's true.  And I didn't even see this idea on a blog or pinterest.  
I know.  Desperate times create extremes in creativity.
I covered every other tile on the backsplash with red contact paper from OSH.  No one has ever guessed and most people think I have redone the tile even when getting up super close.
I only did the back wall around the windows for now since it's such a huge pop and a lot of careful measuring and cutting, but I may go all the way around.  It sticks very well, is water proof, and peels right off  with no marks when I get sick of it.  I would also like to point out that before this night, I also had completely different colors and decor in here.  It was all Americana.  It was SO 1990, and outdated.  I'm not sure that I fixed that, but after staring at red, white and blue for 10 years, I'm am completely OVER it.  It wasn't my first choice in the first place, but the only thing my husband and I could agree on together when doing our wedding registry. It was fine then, but last month I said, NO MORE! Being that I live 90% of my waking hours in here or at the table next to this room, I needed something that had my name written all over it. Done.
 Here is the full room.  It's basically just a big square.  I don't have a pantry but just a tall cupboard next to the fridge and that is the one thing that drives me nuts about it.  I could use more usable food storage, but other than that, I love my kitchen.  I had the vintage signs and stars already hanging there above the cupboards, but I bought yellow and red spray paint and painted the stars very cheery colors.  Other random vintage things are stored up there, but I need to arrange that better. Most of the vintage signs have some sort of airplane theme. Subtle nod to the hubby's job. I must point out that I love having a gas stove top and a large free standing stove which huge pans fit in.  I love having pretty hand towels hanging there, but pretty towels, young children who pull them off a million times a day, and grubby hands don't belong in the same kitchen.
 I have an apron and flour sack dishtowel hung up on either side of the window and to the right is my cookbooks.  I also keep glass jars and containers for vases and they get stored up top on either side of the window.  They get used all the time.
Fancy glass cake plates make great plant stands by the window.  Well, at least they do in my randomness.
 Did you know green onions keep growing if you put them in water?  I just snip off what I want when cooking.  I made the curtains out of two vintage lace runners I bought on etsy and then backed with red gingham.  They are hung up with shower curtain hooks and are light and airy.
 I also made a chalkboard grocery sign out of a metal serving tray and a little bowl holds the chalk on the window sill.  The red and yellow spray paint made another comeback on the picture frames and pot scrubber holder.  There is always a baby bib chillin in my sink.  Always.  I'm just keeping it real for the peeps.


On this side of the stove is the odd lineup of things we use everyday.  We have the coffee area with my favorite random mugs, my cow butter dish, the cake plate that always holds some sort of cookie, the basket which holds the phone, and the napkin basket closest to the table.  Yes, I have a cow butter dish.  I mean if you are going to have one, you should probably make it a cow.  Also, cookies are a staple in my house.  I put them in a cake plate so I can see if we are running low and I'll whip more up.  Cookies should be a food group. Truth.
 On this side of the stove is kinda the cooking staging area.  I use that butcher block sideboard every single blessed day.  Our house didn't come with a pull out cutting board, but I have this and love it much more.  Also, those containers are all that are left of the decor that said Americana.  However, they can stay.  I'm generous and full of grace like that.
 I'm rather proud of this next feature because Tone made it.  It's my pot rack.  It's made from gorgeous cherry wood and it saves me a lot of room under the counter. Isn't it puurty? My pots are all nasty stained on the bottom, but I don't care.  That stuff all got there from cooking with love and it doesn't scrub off.  That counter space under the pots gets cluttered and cleaned off about a million times a day.  The kids are always sitting there eating, talking, watching or engaging with me in some way on the two big counter stools. Adult legs can't fit between the bar stools and the counter because we didn't cut the legs down for this counter height when we moved in.  You know why?  It's the perfect height for little people who want to help Mommy cook and their legs fit perfectly.
 Our fridge is not a pretty fridge because on the front is this eclectic arrangement.  Everywhere we have traveled since we have gotten married, we buy a magnet. Here are a few of them. Being that I am married to an airline pilot and we often travel several times a year to interesting places, this has gotten quite full, but it's our fun little nod to our lifestyle.  You know, I look at them all the time and think of the places we've been.  I love them. Wait, how did the kid's bird craft magnets get stuck there?  Typical.
So the last piece I needed was one bright focal point over the window.  The clock was modge podged with this fun polka dot fabric.  Love it or hate it, it makes the room in my mind.   Hunter says it needs numbers (he's learning to tell time still and it really rubs against his type A personality).  He's probably not going to get his numbers though.  He can use the big living room clock. Yellow spray painted frames hold some embroidery of mine.
 Here it is in all it's glory.  Okay, it's really hodge podge, but to me who lives in it daily, it's got a lot of character and glory and it's cheerful. To the left of the kitchen hang the key rack and calendar and school charts.  It's not a kitchen that belongs in a pristine home, but it's a kitchen full of life and love.  I'm wondering though, do you think the red tile should go all the way around?  Or would that be too much?  I hate to do all that work cutting out squares if I will end up hating it.  On the other hand, it might make the kitchen all that more exciting and complete, and it would be totally worth it. Or...not.  Oh I can't decide! What do you think?

Feb 12, 2012

Little Notebook Printable Freebie

Today it is grey outside.   
We've had some lovely days though this week in this California sunbelt which has made me yearn for summer.  However, today we are back to warm tea and snuggley sweaters.
Yesterday, I was inspired to make some little notebooks to give as little Valentines on Tuesday to a couple of friends.  I always keep a little notebook in my purse for quick jots on the go.  They are cheery and bright even on a grey day.
I made a polka dot pattern in photoshop.  I just learned how to make my own patterned paper and it's really fun and easy.  Then I scanned some vintage fabric from my fabric stash and made a pennant and medallion in photoshop.  Fused together, these three elements make a fun notebook cover.   Here is the cover, and I'll have the link to print your own at the end of this post.
 I decided I wanted two sizes.  One is a little smaller than a half sheet of paper folded in half, and one is a sheet of paper folded in half.  My download has two options, the small or the large.
 To make them, I printed them on 8.5 by 11 heavy white card stock, cut them out, and cut out a stack of notebook paper just a little smaller than the inside.  I also covered the outside with contact paper which mean they are too shiny to photograph well.  However, it makes them very sturdy.  I stacked up the pages, and sewed down the spine on my sewing machine. Folded in half, they make a cheery and cute little notebook.
Here is the download to print off the two small sized notebooks (2 covers on one page):  HERE
Or one larger notebook: HERE
Just print the document on a normal 8.5x11 sheet.  That's it!  Easy Peasy.
PS.  My designs are for your own personal use, but not for resale.  Thanks!

Feb 10, 2012

Peace

This weeks photo theme and verse was on peace.  
James 3:18 "And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."
The note in my Bible from some sermon gone past, was this:
"Peaceable - aggressive peace.  Pursue it."
I think sometimes peace is most difficult with those you are most comfortable with.  Those that you HAVE to see day after day.  People who literally are all up in your grill and hard to escape.  Perhaps that is somewhat counter intuitive, but I know that that is true for me. I know that this is true for my children as well.  Oh yes, the daily pursuit of peace with those who know you the best and spend the most time with you can be the hardest.  The people I love the most can SERIOUSLY be the MOST annoying.  I am going to to write this blog post in perfect honesty with an open heart.  Having three children has been a tipping point for me.  Two, I had in the bag. I mean I felt like I was a super mom! Three, well, I've felt stretched thin since the day we heard about Tessa's tumor when I was pregnant with her.  Three for me has often times been overwhelming. And it didn't stop after she was born and healthy.  God has been humbling me and teaching me so much by taking me apart and what I thought I could handle brick by brick.  Thankfully, He has also been building me up in a new way with much stronger and flexible stuff than I ever thought I was made of.
 For example, Little Missy is always right up in big brother and sister's business.  I hear screams of "TESSA!"  all day long as she destroys whatever they were playing with and wrecks havoc on their every activity.  Sometimes, I hear them asking me if they can just shut the door on her to escape, but then she wails from outside the bedroom pounding on it until they let her in.  She is relentless in her pestering.  I feel for them, I do.  Because you see, they can all do the same thing to me.  And I'd just like to see me TRY to lock the door for 30 blessed seconds without someone wailing at my bedroom (or bathroom) door.
Sometimes by the end of the day, I am super short
on peace.  My mind is shot, I'm angry with the (perceived) pestering that I have felt all day long, and peace does not reign supreme in the house. I feel the self control that I desire so badly start to slip. Pursuing peace is the last thing on my mind. Sometimes it just survival.  Sometimes I'm just trying to get dinner, the bedtime routine, the chores, the schooling, the errands, and everything else that goes with the day done.  The to-do list is being checked off and I can be curt while my focus is on the list. If I am aggressive, lets just say, it's not an aggression towards wrapping my mind around peace.  It's hard to focus on them, to listen, to acknowledge, to love. Ainsley showed me something this week.  She was aggressive towards loving on her sister who wanted nothing to do with it.  Sometimes love is a force.  You gotta reach out and be purposeful and show someone that you mean it.
Sometimes, I'm just angry and short with the kids and feeling overwhelmed, and it flows out onto my husband and kids.  Sometimes it's hard to just say, "You know what? I'm going to love you right now, and you are going to love me right now, even though we both don't feel like it."  I'm going to choose kind words and a patient attitude even though my emotions are screaming otherwise.
Aggressive peace.  Man, those two words just don't seem to belong together, but the more I reflected on that tiny little note in my Bible, the more I noticed that unless I am being purposeful about peace, it doesn't just happen by itself.  Sometimes, I really have to psych myself up and say some emergency prayers and just say to God, "I need some super peacemaking skills right now!" and be aggressive in making sure that my heart is double checked before I speak rude words in anger and impatience.  That I look my kids in the eye and hear what they are actually saying to me.  Peace is purposeful and an over-the-top action.
The worst feeling in the world is the feeling I get when I hear those rude tones and snappish answers streaming from my mouth as I push my children aside because I am feeling overwhelmed.  I hear my mind mumbling and justifying the tone, "Well, they whined for the millionth time so they asked for it!" But really I know that I could have handled it much better.  I could have used a strong tone which acknowledged them in a respectful way but still kindly and firmly said, no or gave correction.  My kids know the difference and so do I. When I act rude they kind of melt and get crushed but their behavior gets no better.  When I take the time to look them in the eye, speak kindly and firmly and authoritatively, the behavior changes and they are much more peaceful.
This is a growth area for me.  I know that when my margins are pushed and I start feeling overwhelmed that I can start to take it out on my family.  It's a very sad thing to admit.  I can feel my impatience rise, my mind starts ticking off all the things that I have to do or remember and how I keep getting distracted from it, and the volcano inside can start to boil.
One strategy that really helps me stay engaged with a right heart attitude is taking five minutes to regroup throughout the day here and there.  Minutes to just sit and drink my coffee, minutes going outside to look at my garden to see what new bloom is coming up for spring (this week the crocuses), a few seconds sitting in my rocker in the living room looking at some of the inspiring quotes I have put up on the walls and reflecting on these.  Do you know, I feel supremely guilty in taking these moments?  I feel lazy.  Some part of me feels that I am letting somebody down when I do.  I know they are vital to my well being, but I am still fighting with the guilt when I do.  However, if I want to walk side by side with my husband and children in peace, then I need to take a time out from the busyness.  I need to create pockets of peace in my life on a daily basis.  The busier the day, the more vital it is that I take these brief moments, and the harder it is for me to take them guilt free.
I'm learning.
I went to check on the kids before going to bed the other night and I saw this shadow across Tessa's face.  She was sleeping in perfect peace, and it was a picture worthy moment.  It was pitch dark in the room with only light from the door so I had to really crank up the settings on my camera to get it.  Wasn't it worth it though?  What a symbol of peace.  When we walk in the shadow of the Almighty, we can lay our heads down at night in perfect peace.
May you have a peace filled week.

Linked up at Beautifully Rooted

Feb 9, 2012

Today's Pillow Projects

I had some lovely friends over today, and one of them inspired me to do some pillow projects.  Being that I finished these up at 5:00 o'clock, the sun was going and I only took some quick instagram photos with my camera.  I didn't feel like dragging out my good camera and setting up the shot while I worked either.  I was too busy laughing and chatting.  I was also trying to "show off" my silhouette machine, and I did like a MILLION dumb errors.
Discovered: I cannot talk, laugh, and concentrate at the same time. Do you want to know how many times this "&" got cut?  Too bad.  I have a little pride and am going to save a little face on my blog.  Let's just say I didn't really impress my friend all THAT much.

Do you know what this means for you?  
You get the ugly pictures. Boom.
So I started by fusing fabric to heat and bond, cutting it out with the silhouette (ahem, a MILLION times) and then fusing that to fleece or felt. We sized the pillows to be about a foot square, cut with pinking shears and then we just stitched up the edges.  We purposefully didn't flip it inside out because seeing the raw seem made a nice edge on the pillow. The red one is actually red velvet.  It looks ever so much more amazing in person.  My friend and I both made this grey one.  Actually, she picked out the colors, and I liked it so much I straight up stole the same idea for my living room couch and made one too.   I made those other pillow covers last night.  Sometime I might show you how to make the easiest pillow covers ever, that come right off to be washed if you wish
 (I have three kids, I will wish).
Cute aren't they?  And I thought the "&" was perfect for Valentine's Day.  A subtle nod without screaming PINK HEARTS!
Here is the other one chillin on my bed.  I made my bed just for you.  You're welcome.

Feb 4, 2012

Ballerina Clip Holder

So...Remember how I WON that awesome silhouette machine last year?  And how excited I was?  And how I promised I would show you all the amazing projects I was going to make with it?

Yeah, if you've been reading my blog for a while...that was a FAIL.

The awesome machine came with a program that I am sure is awesome, but it's not intuitive, and I didn't feel like sitting down for hours to learn how to use it.  It's super complicated because it does a ton of stuff.  What it can do blows my mind.  So does the program...literally, too. That is, mind blown with confusion the first time I opened the program. I opened it, couldn't get simple things to work right, there wasn't a great tutorial anywhere that came with it, and I got frustrated.  Auto quit.
For months.
Until I decided if I can learn photoshop CS3 really well (I have), then I can master this one too.
So I did, and I now know quite a bit and am no longer afraid of the dang thing.  
So, I dipped my foot in the waters and cut out a little ballerina fused to heat and bond to make this hair clip holder for a two year old's birthday. I added some lace and a little bow in the hair.  I sewed it on a piece of felt, made it into a pillow with ribbon hanging down and WAHLAH.  Hair clip holder.
 I whipped up some fast hair clips to put on it (two each for pig tails you know), and called this project done.  A couple felt hearts finish off the ribbon the bottom.
I know.  You were expected something rather more amazing with the silhouette weren't you?  Hey, well, I got it to work.  That's all I'm sayin'. I got it to work.  I mean that's some success story right there.