Archive for the ‘at home’ Category

To help my kids make sure they accomplish all of their morning preparations, I made a up a little check-off chart for them!  This chart was heavily influenced by THIS really cute one, but I ended up drawing my own, because I wanted to have a chart that reflected our particular tasks and look like the items in our own household.

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I drew the pictures by hand and then scanned them in black and white.  I adjusted their sizes to make them consistent, spaced them out, and then added captions in Photoshop Elements.  The charts are slightly different for my son and daughter: I drew clothes that look like their favorite school-clothes styles, and my son doesn’t need to style his hair in the morning!

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I bought very inexpensive frames with plexiglass, and we attached a ribbon to hang them from two Command Hooks (<-affiliate link) so that the hooks could become a holder for a washable dry erase marker (each kid picked a favorite color to use from a set I found in a craft store several years ago).  They are hung at kid-level in the hallway so that as they complete tasks, my kids cross off each picture.  We also added felt pads to the back of the frames so they don’t make marks on the walls when bumped.

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During the day or in the evening, I simply wipe the frame clean, and we start over again in the morning!  We’re several weeks into school now, and the charts have been really helpful in motivating my kids to accomplish what they need to do before leaving for the bus stop!

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Utility sewing

Not all of my sewing is fun and beautiful.  Well, perhaps, that’s not entirely true.  Almost all of my sewing is fun– I love the sense of accomplishment that comes with a completed project.  Recently, though, I took a little bit of time to sew up some utilitarian things for my household.

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First, I made some re-useable mop covers for my Swiffer-like mop.  We had our kitchen renovated this summer, and that project included getting new floors in the entire ground floor of our house.  I’ll be doing (hopefully, ha!) a lot more mopping, and I really didn’t want to have to keep buying disposable mop cloths.

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These covers are made from scrap flannel (an old, old sheet) and an old less-than-white-but-still-clean hand towel that had been relegated to rag status**.  The towel became the mop part, and I used the flannel to make pockets on each end so that the mop head slides right in.  It was a very simple sew– I based my measurements on the size of the mop head and basically just serged everything together.

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**I did make one with all flannel, but when I used it, I found that it stuck too much to the floor when I was doing wet mopping, so when I make more (and I’m definitely going to make more), I’ll use more towel pieces.

When I’m done using the mop covers, I’ll toss them into my rag wash load, and they’ll be ready for the next time I do some floor cleaning!

~ ~ ~

I used some scrap cotton for my next quick sew: a cloth cover for a frozen-veggie ice pack.  Recently, a friend and I were talking about ice packs (and I’ve been needing one more often recently due to foot pain), and she mentioned that she keeps a bag of frozen veggies (peas, corn, etc.) that has been “permanently” designated for ice pack use only.  I thought that was a great idea, and instead of just putting a label on it like she suggested, I took it one step further (because, after all, I am me).  I like to have my ice packs wrapped in a bit of cloth, so why not just make a little pillowcase that can just live on the veggie bag all the time?  No one is going to mistake the dino-covered bag for a supper side dish 🙂

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This was, quite possibly, an even simpler sew than the mop covers.  I simply made an envelope pillowcase sized for the 1-lb bag of peas I had for an ice pack!

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Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go and ice my foot. 🙂


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Creator space

I’ve always wanted to have a kid-sized art table somewhere in my house.  Before we finished our basement, I dreamed about how it might fit somewhere in our kitchen, but due to its layout, anywhere I would have put it would have been in the way of something (a door, a walkway, etc.).  But when we finished our basement, a whole new world opened up! (okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but still!  More space!  New space!)

Since my craft room is so enormous, it was no hardship to give up a corner for the kids to have an art area all their own!


Back in September, we set up this “Creator Space” (as named by Vivian, who loves to–in her word–“create”) in the corner of my craft room with some plastic drawer units, a kid-sized picnic table, and a cheap area rug.

When we got a backyard playset last summer, it came with a bonus kids’ picnic table.  Instead of using it outside, we saved it to use as an art table.  The rug cost about $20 and is from Ikea, and I thought that it was the perfect amount of whimsy.

The plastic drawers are stocked with supplies are safe for V to use on her own.


This drawer unit is stocked with different kinds of paper: white, colored, patterned, construction, collaging materials, and coloring pages.



This drawer unit is stocked with different coloring and creating media: various kinds of crayons, markers, colored pencils, a glue stick, kid scissors, stamps, washable ink pads, stickers, cardboard tubes, pipe cleaners… And I plan to keep adding materials as I think of them or V and B acquire skills to use them. I want them to be free to explore and experiment with the supplies at hand.


The rules are that the art supplies stay on the rug, and V can use the space any time she asks, even if she is alone, as long as she touches nothing else in the rest of the craft room.  She is also responsible for cleaning up after herself.


First test of the “creator space!” It received a resounding stamp of approval 🙂




Since B is still so little, I need to be in the room when he is “creating,” but that is usually pretty fun (until he starts dumping the crayons…;-))  B has really come to love coloring.  He asks for “colors!” and scribbles away on paper.  He usually tells me that the drawing is a fish, though one time he “drew” a sheep 🙂  Vivian loves the freedom to create whenever she chooses, and I love seeing how she creates “multimedia” pieces, using crayons, markers, colored pencil, and stickers.  It was fun to see her start drawing on the cardboard tubes, and I’m looking forward to the day that she figures out 3-D structures.

I love that my kids can be working at their table while I work on my own projects in the craft room.  It has been so much fun!!


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Christmas wonder

This past month has been full of PhD ornament making, Christmas gift sewing and crafting, and delicious cooking and baking.  I have so many things to share, but that will come after Christmas in the new year.  I hope to get back onto my regular Monday+Thursday blog posting schedule in January.


May your Christmas be full of wonder, thankfulness and rejoicing in the amazing gift of our Savior.

P.S. This is my 1000th post on this blog!  Wow!

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So, just as I started stitching my quilt blocks into rows, I ran out of white thread. While it was quite a bummer and dented my momentum, it gave me a bit of an excuse to work on a couple of other things that had been simmering in my brain, but that I’d been putting off because I wanted to devote my crafting time to finishing this quilt.

One of them was this baby dinosaur taggie toy for B.


The project popped up on my Pinterest feed as a “recommended pin.” Generally I really dislike these pins, since they tend to dominate my feed and dilute what I have chosen to follow. I try to seriously limit the time I spend on the site (I already have so many things I want to do…) and so I try to ignore all the tempting pins on the home feed, but this little dino was so cute, I couldn’t resist. Husband has a soft spot for dinosaurs, and I have s soft spot for my husband and son. 🙂 As soon as I saw the link, I’d mentally chosen fabric!




To fit the fabric scraps, I had to reduce the size of the pattern to 90%. And since B seems to love tags but more ambivalent toward loops, I finally tried the candle technique to “seal” the cut edge of the ribbons along the dinosaur’s spine.  The whole thing took me less than an hour.




It was immensely gratifying to see that B immediately liked his dinosaur.  He made approving growly noises and proceeded to explore the ribbons and have a taste of the dinosaur’s head.  I think the dinosaur ended up being the perfect size for him to hold (and bash).

The other thing I made during this particular overlapping nap time were two small, loosely stuffed pillows. I’m calling them door pillows.

door pillows for the kids' rooms


At night, we like to have our kids’ doors partly open so that we can hear them better, and also because my daughter likes to have the light from the hall spill into her room until she falls asleep. But we don’t want the doors wide open, either. The way the doors are hung on their hinges means that, left on their own, they will swing wide unless latched. Until recently we have been employing an inelegant solution: propping the doors open on bunched up scraps of cloth–ugly and sort of embarrassing, really. These pillows are low enough loft that the doors still swing over them if pushed (say, as a bleary parent responds to a cry in the night), but there is just enough friction to keep the doors from swinging on their own.  I didn’t weight them, so they are not tripping hazards (see above, about bleary blundering in the dark).  I’m so pleased to finally have such a simple solution that looks intentional.

door pillows for the kids' rooms

door pillows for the kids' rooms

door pillows for the kids' rooms

After working on a long-term project like the quilt, I felt so successful to have completed a couple of projects in about an hour of overlapping nap time!


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…is exciting.

This past fall, we had a portion of our basement finished.  We are very pleased with the quality of work by our contractor!!

One room is becoming my craft room (I am so blessed!!).


This is where it started:


day-in-the-life documentation, 2014


From the “front” room, looking through the entire space:

basement progress at the end of the day, 10/6/2014

basement progress at the end of the day, 10/7/2014

basement progress at the end of the day, 10/9/2014

basement progress after we returned from our long weekend in PA



And now, from inside what will be the pocket doors dividing the two rooms:

basement progress after we returned from our long weekend in PA

basement progress: the drywall is up!!

basement progress: drywall mudding

basement progress: more drywall mudding

basement progress: even more drywall mudding

basement progress: doors and trim!

basement progress: more doors and trim!

basement progress: trim done!

basement progress: painting started!! (primed)

basement progress: painting--trim

basement progress: paint finished!  carpet installation starts tomorrow :)

basement: FINSHED!!!!


A whole new era is beginning in my crafting life!

Stay tuned for updates as I furnish and organize my new room…

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Two-and-a-half-ish years ago, I was deconstructing my last craft room!

When we moved into this house, I used one of the upstairs bedrooms as my craft room.  I posted a long time ago about my Expedit shelving unit but never showed any other photos of the room.  That was partly because I never did a lot more to “finish” it– we hoped that this would only be temporarily a craft room and that we would be turning it into another child’s room.

And that is where we are now!  🙂

We (appropriately?) started the deconstruction process on Mother’s Day.  Here are a few “real-life” photos of how the craft room looked at the beginning of last weekend.  In the three subsequent photos, you can see several projects “in progress”:  the crib skirt, and V’s December album, as well as my planned rocking chair pillow (posts will be forthcoming about all of these projects!  I’ve been working hard!!)


Above: view in through the door.  The shelving unit is to the left, and my work table is on the right. My sewing machine always stayed out, and my serger lived under the table in its rolling case so that I could pull it up onto the table on the left-hand side whenever I needed it.



Above: I’m standing in the tiny closet to get this shot!  As you can see, I got some really cute bins from Target to hold my craft supplies.  I love how they look, and they work perfectly for me!



Above: my work table and bookcase (just used for storage, not very pretty right now); the door to the room is just to the right of the stacking plastic 12×12 drawers on the floor.


The main task we tackled on Mother’s Day was to move out the big shelving unit.  That made room for us to move in the rocking chair and small dresser that we’ll use as a changing table.  Below, you can see my work table covered with (and standing above) the entire contents of the unit!  The small piles under the window are baby things that will stay in the room.



We’ve left the work table standing so that I could finish up some of the sewing projects for the baby’s room.  But as of the writing of this post (5/15), most of those projects are finished (blog posts coming!), so we’re going to set up the crib this coming weekend!


So, where is all of my stuff going to go?  When we purchased the Expedit, we planned to move it into the room next door (the guest room) and turn that room into a shared-purpose room (guest+craft room).  So that is where it is living for now.  My sewing machines will probably move to the dining room for a while, so that I can access them.  Most of the rest of the things (the supplies stored in the closet and book case) will probably be stored in the basement, since I don’t use them as frequently.  But we have some exciting things ahead, so stay tuned!  Coming in the fall, hopefully: my new and improved craft room!


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Another one of our big projects was to make over our daughter Vivian’s room.  I’ve always been in love with the white wainscoting look, and so when I saw a pin that had grey walls above high white wainscoting, I was hooked.  This is the room that I dreamed about when I put together her room in our old house.  {Click on any photo in this post to see it a bit larger}

Before, it was a nice, clean, just-barely-off-white room.  Bright, but plain.

Vivian's room: before


Vivian's room: before


Before we even moved into the house, I daydreamed about how I wanted to change things.  I decided that the wainscoting should be higher than chair-rail height and that if possible, we should try to make the top moulding into a shelf for displaying little decorations.  I picked a grey paint color (Grey Timber Wolf by Behr).

Once we moved in, we decided to try and finish the majority of the project before Husband’s family arrived for their Thanksgiving visit.  It was good to have a deadline!!  We took lots of measurements and headed to Home Depot to do some research.  The vertical pieces are a narrow lattice (we briefly considered bead-board paneling, which I also LOVE, but decided we wanted a plainer look). We discovered that moulding is more expensive than we expected, so I abandoned the idea of using true crown molding (which would require three separate moulding pieces to construct) as a wide shelf at the top of the wainscot effect.  After a lot of brainstorming and time looking at the moulding options, we decided to use a casing with the widest top edge we could find.  This way, we only needed two pieces of moulding to make the shelf.  This meant that the shelf itself (made with a wide lattice piece) is narrower than my original vision, but it’s probably better, since it doesn’t cut into the room so much.  Husband spent several hours measuring and cutting all of the moulding pieces, and then I spent several more hours painting them.  We measured the walls and painted the top part grey and the bottom white… and then attached all the moulding pieces.  A lot of detail touch-up later, and it is everything I hoped it would be!!

We met our “deadline”– we were putting up a few decorations the morning of the day Husband’s family was scheduled to arrive!  The final touch– vinyl lettering to spell Vivian’s name on the wall– didn’t go up until just the other day, though!  Here are the “after” photos.







The “shelf” along the top of the wainscoting is wide enough to hold some special little decorations…

paper-pieced monogram and angel figurine

paper-pieced monogram and angel figurine

olive wood camel from Israel and rosemaling horse from Norway

olive wood camel from Israel and rosemaling horse from Norway

china pieces painted by my grandma for me when I was a baby

china pieces painted by my grandma for me when I was a baby

Eventually, I hope to choose some curtain rods and make/buy some curtains for the room, but for now, I am just so, so happy with the soothing grey-and-white-wainscoting!

P.S. You can see posts detailing my previous decor projects for Vivian’s nursery by clicking HERE

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PhD ornaments aren’t the only projects that have been keeping me busy this fall!  We have a big list of “house projects” that we’ll be working through.  First up on our list was painting a couple of rooms… Even before we closed on the house, I was planning how we’d change the downstairs half-bath.


Not only were the walls an eye-searing lime green, but the toilet paper roll mysteriously got broken off the wall between when we signed the contract and our inspection (::sigh::).  Since there was going to be a big ol’ patch on the wall, and since the color was seriously overwhelming in such a small space, we wanted to paint it right off the bat.


the broken toilet paper roll. It cracked me up that the cleaning service that came through before closing folded the end of the paper, and balanced the roll on the broken holder!

Faithful readers (hee hee) may remember that I was brainstorming a while ago on the blog, and we decided to go with horizontal stripes, as inspired by this pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/278167714455505439/.

But first, some more “before” photos, because you need to understand the lime-y-ness of this room:


And another view


We painted the whole room (and the laundry room, which was a bright primary yellow with red-and-black flower stenciling!) a soft aqua (“Enamelware” by Martha Stewart/Glidden).  After it was nice and dry (and already so much better than the lime!!), we began the laborious process of marking the stripes.  We started at the ceiling and traced horizontal pencil lines 8″ apart all the way down the walls, then added the tape along the lines.  It took hours.  And hours.  I got very familiar with the nooks and crannies of this little bathroom!

Taping horizontal lines 8" apart for our stripes in the downstairs 1/2 bath

But as far as I’m concerned, it was TOTALLY worth the time.  We painted the stripes a slightly darker shade of aqua “Artesian Well” by Martha Stewart/Glidden) for a tone-on-tone effect.  With the brass fixtures, we think it has a little bit of a nautical feel, which I love.  We dressed it up with a watercolor print and some scenery photos from our honeymoon.

Finished downstairs half-bath with stripes and some decorations.

Finished downstairs half-bath with stripes and some decorations.

Finished downstairs half-bath with stripes and some decorations.


I am so excited about the way it turned out!

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Thanksgiving decorations

Before our Christmas decorations are fully in place, I wanted to take a moment and share my Thanksgiving decorations!  I absolutely love decorating for the seasons, and I’m gradually amassing little bits and pieces to add to my collection.

{click any photo in this post to make it larger!}

In my last post, I shared my Halloween (fall) mantel.  I cannot even express how delighted I am to have a fireplace mantel to decorate!!  I didn’t change much for my Thanksgiving mantle; I just took away the Halloween banner and added some Pilgrim figurines that we received as a wedding gift.  They make an appearance every year!


Thanksgiving mantel

I added a little bit of fall prettiness to one of my kitchen windowsills with a real pumpkin and some artificial leaves and fall flowers.    (My sunny kitchen makes my heart sing!)

kitchen windowsill

Early in November, while Vivian napped, my friend and I made some glittery pumpkins using THIS tutorial (it’s pretty straightforward).  It was so much fun!  It was my first time using glitter in a very, very long time, and I have to say, I love that gorgeous Martha Stewart Fire Opal glitter–it’s such a beautiful orange.  I am looking forward to getting my hands on some more colors.  As we worked, we definitely discussed (the many) other things that we could coat with glitter!!

The almost-finished glitter pumpkins looked so pretty in the afternoon sunlight!

For Thanksgiving, I went all type-A (I just can’t resist!) and made little menus for each meal while our guests were in town!  I figured since I was making one for the Thanksgiving feast, I might as well go ahead and make the rest!  I added some artificial leaves and the glitter pumpkins to finish out the tableau.  Here’s the sideboard in our dining room, all gussied up for Thanksgiving…

Thanksgiving menu on the dining room sideboard…and homemade apple pie!

…and a closeup of the menu:

Thanksgiving menu


I hope that you had a lovely and blessed Thanksgiving!

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