Monday, April 7, 2014

Craft Room Tour



Hey everyone! This week I'm excited to be participating in a HUGE craft room tour hosted by Angie at The Country Chic Cottage. She has gathered more than thirty bloggers to share their crafting spaces and they are chock full of inspiration! Check out Angie's blog for a link to tour these lovely spaces, and check back often, as more will be added each day this week.


I've been super busy lately, I'll give you three good reasons why:



These three are keeping me on my toes! So when Angie asked if I wanted to participate last month, I said yes because I took these pics WAY back when and they were hanging out on my computer just waiting to be shared. 

As I was pouring over the pictures, I kept saying to myself,

"Look how CLEAN this room is!" 

Sad when you have to look on the internet to enjoy a clean house.

Seriously folks, five minutes after these pictures were taken, things got real and this room went back to being a dumping ground for everything in my house! I try to organize my supplies, but when I am in the middle of a project, I can drag them out like nobody's business and you are looking at one trainwreck of a craftroom!

My craft area is the room in the very back of our house. Our home was built in 1950, and I suspect this room was previously a porch. At some point (I'm guessing in the seventies), it was converted into part of the house. The acoustic ceiling tiles and bad texture job that cover the old wood paneling  are dead giveaways. It is right off the kitchen, and where a window once sat above the sink overlooking the backyard, there is now the entry into this room. The kitchen sink now has a bar in front of it.

This room is not only my craft space, but our office, and homeschool area. It works triple-duty, and I think without this addition, we would have outgrown this home a long time ago. I would argue that this could be the most important room in my house (my husband would say the TV room, but what does he know?) The "Mom Cave" rules! I chose a palette of bright, happy colors since it is also a kid-friendly area too.


Starting at the door leading to the back patio, to the right, I have a buffet that holds all of my scrapbooking supplies. It is filled with way too much scrapbooking paper, stamps, ink, and paper trimming tools. I also have a Cricut machine (Check out the Daily Deals from Cricut!) under the little slipcover I made, and I keep all of my adhesives and scissors in the pink caddy above. It makes it easy to find them when they are all in one place. I used to have all of my brads, eyelets, and other metal findings on a magnetic board in those little circle tins, BUT, one of my children slammed the door too hard and they fell and made a giant mess. So, I had to give up the cute display and put them away safely in a drawer.


On the very top shelf, I store my craft paints in the large bins. I received a ton of Chalky Finish paints from DecoArt that I used on my last furniture project. One box is full of kid crafts (I like to pick them up at craft stores after the holidays on clearance and put them away for the next year), and I also store my extra fabric for sewing projects in the last box.

The desk is a project I did last spring. It's an L-shape, made from 3/4" plywood. I used 1x2's to trim around the edges and finished it off with a little cove molding before I painted it white. Supporting the desk top are two oak store-bought file cabinets that I painted to match, along with a computer tower I built to support the far end. All of these pieces are separate, but the white paint (Heirloom Lace, by Olympic) keeps the furniture cohesive.



I love the desk! It is huge and gives me plenty of workspace. I cut up my old desktop to create the shelves that now hold my printers. One printer is for my coupon printing, and the other is for photos.


When I started to gather design inspiration for this room, I fell in love with the Rodney White print
that hangs on the wall. My husband surprised me with it one Christmas and I mounted it to the front of a wood frame I built from 1x2's. I painted the frame black and then used old roofing nails to secure the print to the front. I keep it right above my computer. The print reads:

"We tend to seek happiness, when happiness is actually a choice."

It's there to remind me of the condition of my heart. While I'm pouring over Pinterest, gathering inspiration, and pinning up a storm, I like to keep things in check. It's so easy to focus on what you don't have instead of being thankful for what you do. I really struggle with contentness and even though I've come a long way compared to when I was younger, I still like to have this here as a reminder to make the best of what I have in all circumstances.


Okay, I couldn't share my room without mentioning this one embarrassing thing. Why mention it? Because I KNOW I am not alone. I have this light-up makeup mirror on my desk. And next to it is a cup full of grooming tools.

So the story goes like this: Once, while Sam and I were driving down the freeway; I had the vanity mirror down and was applying my makeup in the passenger seat. The sun was shining perfectly on my chin and I almost died when I saw it! A black hair growing out of my chin! ACK! I had just had my second baby a few months before and was not quite twenty-eight years old. Way too early for a whisker. Ugh. It took me back to being twelve years old, when my Great Aunt Marge, at the wise old age of 82, asked me to pluck her chin hairs because she was old and couldn't see them. Well, of course I obliged, but the whole time I was thinking, "Someday, I am going to be an old woman and this will be ME asking MY nieces to pluck my chin hairs." Never, EVER, did I think I would have that problem at 28. But here I am. Awesome genetics, I suppose. I am extra paranoid, and I keep this mirror here on my desk. While I am working, should my hand graze my chin and feel something a little rough, that hair gets plucked ASAP. It's handy for doing my eyebrows too. I spend way more time making stuff than I do primping, so this lets me take care of things without having to get up and run to the bathroom every time, lol. I may have a few eccentricities, but I don't want "Bearded Lady" to be one of them, haha.



Okay, back to the room tour. At the end of desk is a wing chair I recovered. I envisioned curling up with my kiddos and reading books there, but it has turned out to be just too much chair for this room. So, it's no longer there. It's in my kids' room. And soon it's getting booted out of there for a crib, so who knows where it will end up. But isn't it cute? I really loved it for this space. It added to the busy fun-ness.




 On the third wall, I have a hutch and dining table set up for our homeschool station. They are cast-off's from my cousin that I painted a fun color (Valspar's "Twilight Meadow"). I used vinyl sheeting over the table and it has kept the table clean and unblemished for nearly 2 years. Best $4 I ever spent for that space! On each side are two tall bookshelves that were part of our old entertainment center. I couldn't bear to paint them; they are part of the Broyhill "Fontana" Collection, and I still love it. It's whitewashed pine from the nineties, but it has a timeless appeal, in my opinion.


I've also replaced the two chairs with an upholstered bench that I made last year. It works great for the kids to sit on while they work. They were always falling off the chairs, so the bench is much more comfortable. There are free plans for that here.


The final wall holds my sewing area. It is adjacent to the kichen bar and fits nicely in a little nook behind the door. I store my sewing machine, serger, and loads of fabric above and below. I found this piece at the thrift store and refinished it. You can read the blog post here.










Thanks for stopping by! Make sure to click over and see the rest of the great craft spaces in this tour!



Linking up and sharing here:




Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine Party Crafts for Kids


If you are hosting a Valentine's Day Party for Children, or if you happen to be a Classroom Mom or Volunteer, I've got a few kid activities that are sure to keep them busy.

Last year, my homeschooling friends and I got together for a Valentine Exchange Party and I organized a few craft stations for the kiddos. Our kids ranged from toddlers to teenagers, and everyone got involved.
The party went off without a hitch, and I will be doing the same activities AGAIN for this year's party (Why mess with a good thing?). I found a great craft via Pinterest and put together a few by myself that I knew the kids would enjoy.

Without further ado:

Crayon melt activity

This is my all-time favorite art activity to do with kids, as I get just as much enjoyment out of it as they do. This craft is easy to put together and costs almost nothing. It's a favorite in our school room, and I like to bring it out on special occassions.

 Here's what you need:


Electric Warming Plate. These are a throwback from the sixties and you can find them for a dime a dozen at thrift stores. My girlfriend and I spotted a pile of them in all sizes at Goodwill for just a dollar or two. They usually have only one heat setting so you will also need:


A Hotpad or Folded Towel.

So you're thinking, "You just unleash a bunch of small children around a burning hot plate and expect them not to get burned!?"

Yes, I do. I taught preschool for YEARS before I had my own kids and we never had an issue. With a classroom of twenty something kids ages 3-5, including a few special ones thrown in there to add an element of danger, and still, not one child got burned. Ever. If your warming plate is larger than a piece of paper, you place the towel or hotpad on the exposed surface and you show the child how to rest their other non-dominant hand on the hot pad while they are coloring. Kids are smart, they figure it out.

Crayons.

This activity is excellent for all hoarding frugal mothers everywhere. If you have a box of broken crayons that you were "saving" for some other craft someday, well this is a great place to use them. If you are not a used crayon hoarder, then the cheapy crayons are also perfect for this activity. Crappy dollar store crayons, "Craynola," or whatever RoseyArt variety you have will work well here.


To get your crayons ready, you need to remove the labels. I have found the easiest way is to make a lengthwise cut down the crayon using an Exacto Knife (adults only) and the labels will just pop off. If you get in a rhythm, this goes pretty fast. Just keep your fingers out of the way.

Coloring Sheets.

You can purchase a coloring book and separate the pages or you can find free printables online. I have a black and white laser printer, so I chose to print my own. I found a few great kiddo designs from doing a Google image search of "Valentines Day Coloring Sheets." Many early education websites have free printable coloring sheets and you can find them for any theme or holiday to suit your desire. Simple pics for younger kids or more elaborate designs for older kids. Trust me, the older kids (and I mean teenagers) love this one too!


I found this fun print from Vanessa at Tried and True. Her FREE printables are beautifully done and warm my heart just by looking at them. Something about coloring "You Are My Sunshine" on this dreary winter day just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. She even has a great one that's perfect for Valentine's Day: 


Place your coloring sheet on the warming plate, hotpad in place to cover the exposed portion, hold the crayon upright, and begin coloring. That's my six year old coloring, by the way.


The heat from the warming plate melts the crayon onto the paper in the most awesome way. It is like magic! Kids and adults will "Oooh" and "Ahhh" in delight. This is such a satisfying activity, super relaxing, and a little therapeutic too. In no time at all, the smell of melted crayon will create a memory association so strong, you will always go back to this calming place! It's your new "center."


Once you are finished, hold it up to the window! The wax melting into the paper makes it semi-transparent, creating a stained glass effect. So cool. You'll be fighting the kids for your turn on the warming plate!




The next activity we had was a "Valentine Makin' Station." 

The kids already had their pre-made valentines to hand out, but this gave them a chance to put a personal touch on things and make a few while they were at the party. They loved making them for their friends while they attended the party!


You will need:

Cardstock in several colors or patterns
Paper Doilies (heart-shaped are great)
Stickers and/or Washi Tape
Mini Stamps and Ink pads (optional)
Valentine confetti
Glue Sticks
Glitter Glue (totally optional. This will take the mess level up a notch. But what's a Valentine without glitter?)
Markers, crayons, or pencils

I found a great little divider tray in the dollar spot at Target to organize all the little accouterments for the Valentine Makin' Station. A couple of these little trays were all that I needed for the table. Many of the supplies were dollar store finds.

I made blank cards of all sizes from cardstock for decorating. This is a great way to use up scraps! Little kids just love the mini-sized cards.
Then, I used my Cricut to cut out some fun designs. Lacy hearts, sparrows, floral motifs, flourishes, just whatever cartridges I had on hand that fit the theme (Storybook, Lacy Labels, Botanical). I love how the Cricut Craft Room program lets me do them all at once. It goes quick. These were favorites, so if you don't have an electronic cutter, find someone who does!

Right now you can purchase the Cricut Valentine's Day Image sets for 20% off through February 12th, 2014! Check them out, there are some cool designs!

Stickers, sequined hearts, and other little do-dads filled the compartments.Throw in glue and it's ready for decorating.



Next craft we did were these fun Valentine Bling Rings made from a Hershey kiss and pipe cleaners.

Super easy and the boys loved their "Power Rings" just as much as the girls liked their sparkly jewels. I found metallic pipe cleaners on clearance from Christmas and they worked out perfect for this Valentine's Day craft. You can find the tutorial at Mom On Timeout.


Finally, I threw together a photobooth for the occasion. This was as simple as throwing a pink curtain over a shelf for a backdrop, taping paper mustaches and lips onto bendy straws, and putting my camera on a tripod.


Boom. Photobooth.


Don't you just want to eat him?! Soooo cute, and the giant band-aid just adds to the cuteness!

See what you can find for props; hats, boas, fancy sunglasses. The kids really had fun with this and the photos were priceless. I forgot to share them with the other moms last year- whoops! I better print some out!

These are a few ideas to get the ball rolling. Every party needs punch and treats too. Keri at Shaken together has the best looking punch recipe that I want to try for this year's party. It comes in two versions- blended for a few, or punch for a crowd. YUM!


And a treat? I've got you covered on that too:


Easy-peasy popcorn deliciousness from Jacque at The DIY Village that I just know is going to be highly addictive. So glad I stocked up on vanilla candy coating after Christmas!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Saturday, January 18, 2014

2013 In Review


This year has flown by fast and I wanted to share a few of my highlights. Although I always have a nagging feeling of what I didn't cross off off my "To-Do" list, I accomplished a ton this year.

A couple of large projects, lots of small ones, a few personal milestones, and many moments enjoyed.

My heart is full. I've spent the year enjoying my children, family, and friends. I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for us.

Here is the time machine back to 2013:


January 22nd of every year is the March for Life. It is a day we take to remember those who were taken, to be a voice for the voiceless, and to pray for the hurting who felt like they really had no "choice" at all. 

It's always freezing cold and every year, we wonder if we can brave the weather, but we are there. I'm glad to be sharing this with my girls and I hope that they will grow up knowing that women deserve BETTER. Plus, I really get into my sign making, and that's always a fun project.

I built a diamond tufted dining bench for our Homeschool room. The girls use it every day when they do their work. This was a design from scratch that I did with Ana white. There are free plans too if you would like to make your own!


Pick a friendly fabric, because there will be lots of glue!



February is a big month for us. It kicks off with my youngest daughter's birthday. She turned the big "3" and had her first birthday party Dora-style. Winter birthdays are tough! We have a tiny house that does not accommodate large groups, so we opted to have the party at a kiddie play place. Jabbers was phenomenal, the facility and staff were amazing, and I think we will be doing that one again this year!




The hair that she butchered so many times finally started to grow out.

Then came the Day of Looooove! I participated in this fabulous "Hey Girl" linky party with a few of my blogger friends to give a shout out to all of our main men. Go HERE for some great laughs. Here was one of my contributions: 


I also managed to whip up some Valentine's day surprises for my girls. These cute little cupcake purses were originally Christmas gifts that I didn't get finished in time. But, they ended up just perfect for Valentines day. I posted a link to the tutorial here. 



Preparing for the big day, we made Valentine's boxes for our first ever Valentine's Day party. That is one of the downsides to homeschooling- class parties. They were always the best days in public school! I happen to do a weekly bible study with some lovely ladies that are also homeschooling moms, so we gathered our troops and had a party of our own.




I can't wait for this year's party! The kids all had a great time.


Those cold, quiet days of winter spent cuddled up together. Basking in the glow of Kindles since there was almost no sunshine to be seen. We were getting some serious cabin fever by March.


 We welcomed spring and warm weather with open arms. We also welcomed new life into our lives.

Surprise! We found out we were expecting. I spent the next couple of months on the couch with morning sickness. Blech!


With April came Easter, and some long awaited relief from morning sickness. I sewed the girls matching peasant dresses to wear for the big day. Easter egg hunts at both grandparents' houses meant double the fun!



 Are my kids lazy or just smart? They figured out a faster way to collect eggs at their Grammy's house.





 In early summer, we decided to take a day trip to Bruneau Sand Dunes. It is the "largest moving sand dune in North America" (according to the sign at the park). Sam and I hadn't been there since we were kids and thought it would be a good destination for a day out. While driving through the desert town of Murphy, Id, we happened upon their annual "Outpost Days" at the Owyhee County historical museum. We stuck around and got to watch our very first horny toad race.


Apparently this was a big deal. People gathered from all around for the main event.

Things got all fancy with when they placed the toads under a five gallon bucket in the middle of a pit. Then, when the bucket comes off, the first toad to the edge wins. 


I don't even think it's a toad at all. That's a lizard if you ask me.


But what do we cityslickers know?

When in Rome...






We came, we saw, we conquered. Turns out the Horny Toad Race was the highlight of our day because in the end, we arrived at a giant pile of sand...I guess the idea of sand dune is much cooler when you are a kid because you are thinking of Aladdin and looking for scorpions.


B-o-ring!


The view from the top was not so bad, then the wind picked up and we hurried back down to avoid the sand in our eyes.


 We saw a snake, got attacked by a million mosquitos, and ooh'd and ahh'd over the view of the Snake River Valley on the drive home. It was great to get out of the house and the drive made it feel like old times before children.

Sam and I USED to have a sense of adventure!

We decided that we need to make more of an effort to get away, even if it is just for a day to rediscover those things you forget.


With June came Father's Day, and I surprised Sam with this great cooler stand. Ana White broke my design down into a free plan to follow and you can make one for your Dad too!


July is a big month for us every year. It is Sam's favorite holiday, second only to Christmas. He LOVES 4th of July.

Like really loves it.


Each year, we go to the illegal fireworks stand out of town.


This is what is crazy about fireworks in Idaho. You can buy illegal fireworks (those that go higher than 10 feet off the ground) within state lines, but it is illegal to actually set them off in Idaho. So you sign a waiver upon purchase that you will only light them off out of state and you are golden.


What the what?

I know. Some might say it is a technicality, I say bring on the Roman Candles!


See, he magically turns into an eight year old boy when July shows up. It's nothing but the smell of gunpowder in the air for a solid week around our house! He and the neighbor turn the back yard into a sparkler bomb factory.




You know it's going to be a great 4th of July when your fireworks have names like "Midnight Sunburn," "Pyro Magic," and "I <3 America!"

For almost ten years now, our neighborhood has had a block party. We all roll our grills out front and plan for a night of food and fun. I feel so blessed to live in 'Merica!


After the 4th, the following week is time for the annual Snake River Stampede. It's a rodeo that has been a part of my town's culture since before I was born. I grew up going to the week-long festivities including the "Buckaroo Breakfast" and the Snake River Stampede Parade.

This is the largest horse parade in the west- I even rode my horse as part of the parade when I was twelve, so there is some nostalgia there that makes me all teary-eyed when we attend every year. I will say, the parade is not what it used to be. Maybe it is just me, but it seemed much larger when I was a kid.


Ohh, I SO wanted to be a rodeo queen when I was a little girl! All the sparkles, the crown, the big cowgirl hair... It was as close to a Disney Princess as I was ever going to get.

Sam had to work, so we had a girls day out at the rodeo. I brought home the program because cowboys have the best names. Who needs a baby name book when you have the bronc riding schedule?



We also said "Goodbye" to a few things last year. One was my waistline, and two were these shoes. These were Lyla's. As you can tell, they were well loved. These were a gift to my oldest by her cousin Brooke. Ava never really wore them, but when Lyla discovered they were a perfect fit, she wore them with everything. I could not get these shoes away from her! She loved them so much! I know I will have memories of her prancing in her sparkly shoes, her dainty little feet tip-toeing around, and the sound of her tiny voice singing. I thought of keeping them for sentimental value, then realized that's what hoarders do, so I took a picture of them and chucked 'em.


August was a hot one! And an ultrasound confirmed that the bun in my oven was a BOY! Our first boy was something to look forward to.

I decided that if I was ever going to have a yard sale before summer's end, I was running out of time! My nieces came over and helped me sort through a mountain of baby girl clothes. Two girls and a grandma who likes to shop equals an ungodly amount of baby girl clothes that were taking up some serious space in our storage shed. With the clock ticking, I knew I had to make some room for our little boy.


I'm laughing because as I was looking back over my Facebook feed for the year, I found this:

Ahh! My kids are just like me. Just busted them in the garage digging their old stuff out of the yard sale pile. I'm shaking my head because I caught them, and because they are girls after my own heart. #hoarders
102Like ·  · Promote · 

So telling.

I knew the time would come someday, but just didn't know when. Finally, after a year of receiving catalogs (surely I was not pushing her into this), Ava asked for an American Girl doll. 

We were preparing to buy her one for her upcoming birthday and I was even checking out ebay for a "gently used" doll in good condition. Problem is, the old dolls are considered "collector's items" and they are not cheap. Sam and I were saving up to get her the doll when we had a brilliant idea. 

Fundraiser at the yard sale!

Ava was floored! She loved the idea. We made signs, got out the toy cash register, and launched a full campaign for an American Girl fund. I woke up early and made bought doughnuts and muffins (fresh-baked, of course. Thanks, Fred Meyer).


I can tell you this was one proud parenting moment for me. My daughter has skills. At five years old, I was so impressed with her ability to make conversation and give her sales pitch to yard sale customers. In her articulate little girl voice: 

 "Hello, I'm raisng money to buy an American Girl Doll. I'm selling muffins, doughnuts, and cookies. They are $1 for the large, or 2 for a $1....Which would you like?" 

ALL.DAY.LONG.

She stayed outside for a solid 8 hours selling treats and manning her table. One kind lady even donated $20 to her doll fund. It brought me to tears.


She's growing up. 

Ava earned over $50! It was a huge success. Even better for us, she decided the Target version of the doll was just what she wanted, so we loaded up and made the trip to Target that evening. She gave the leftover money to her sister and Lyla put it toward Gak, haha.


Ahh. Victory is a sweet reward!

Moving on, August was another attempt at finishing our bathroom remodel from the PREVIOUS summer.

The story goes like this:

The summer before, our water heater flooded and ruined our kitchen. We repaired the damage and took on another project of a bathroom remodel with the extra money we saved from DIYing. Problem was, we got lazy, and when the weather turned, we gave up on cutting tile outside in the snow.  We only managed to tile one of the three walls. Normal people have nice insulated garages for this sort of thing, but that was something we overlooked as young newlyweds when we bought our house. So the bathroom job went on the backburner. We planned to finish it in the spring, but I got preggers and the morning sickness won out.

So, I finally decided to get that tiling done before winter came.

Again.

One year of using only the bathtub was not so fun.


You see, my husband hates baths.

Hates them.

I've come to the realization that here are two types of people in the world.

Those who take pleasure in a long, warm soak- filling the tub with epsom salts and essential oils, letting the stress of the day melt in the hot drawn water. Allowing tired, achy muscles to unwind and relax (me). 

Then there are the other people (husband). Those who think baths are disgusting. Something along the lines of "soaking in one's own filth" is the description they give.

I pity them. 

Because he so despises baths, Sam has been taking "shaths" as he calls them, for the last year. This is where he gets in the tub on all fours and sticks his head under the spout to "shower." Trust me, when you've seen a grown man, naked on all fours getting ready for work at five in the morning- your heart breaks a little. I so wanted to get the shower tiled before the baby came. For his sake, so he could get his dignity back.

After the yard sale was done and the leftovers were donated, mess cleaned up, and stuff rearranged, I got crackin' on the tile. On Sam's day off, we managed to tile ONE of the shower sides. 

And that's it. 

Yep. Planned on finishing the job the following weekend but something happened (probably football) and we just never got it done. Two out of three ain't bad, right? Hopefully the final wall will get done THIS year. 

See, that's the side of DIYing that doesn't show up on peoples' blogs that much. People forget to mention how long projects take in real life. Jobs, kids, life...those kinds of things really affect your timeline when you are doing it yourself. 

If there is ONE thing I have learned in blogging my DIY projects so far, it is DON'T post about it till the project is complete. I've been smack dab in the middle of projects and so excited to share the details that I post about it and say something like, "Next week, you will see the final pics" only to realize that "next week" really became "next month" or in my case, turned into "next year." That's life, nothing is predictable.I just have to remember to enjoy the journey even when my to-do list doesn't get checked off in time.

Okay, another HUGE thing that happened in August:

I GOT A CELL PHONE!!!

I know, I am kind of a big deal. We gave up cell phones six years ago when I quit my job to be a stay at home mom. It was a luxury we couldn't afford, so we went without. When Sam was promoted this year, he became the closest manager to the store. Meaning, if the store alarm happens to go off at night, he is the first person called and expected to be down there. When the boss asked for his cell phone # and he just stared back with a confused look on his face, he knew that wasn't going to work. After he was laughed out of the room for living in the dark ages, we went and got him a cell phone that evening. Fast forward a month or two and the convenience factor was so nice, we were constantly fighting for use of his phone (I am a mom, running errands with children. It is obvious I need it more!) and our cable/home phone/internet contract was expiring ...I just couldn't see any way around it. So, I did the wise thing and got my very own cell phone. 

Have you seen these things??!! 

I mean, seriously, I can update my facebook status, TEXT, and check my email all in the palm of my hand!!!

I had been living at least a decade behind in the technology department. While everyone else was deciding when to upgrade their iphone, I was googling things like "SMH" and "TIA" because I was so out of the loop.

"Selfies" looked like this:


I had to adjust the camera, ask my five year old to take a picture without dropping said camera, upload it to the computer, and then load it onto facebook. So not fair.

I could have a cell phone just for instagram alone!! By the way, BirdsAndSoap is on Instagram, yo! Follow me for adorable baby pics and photos of my thrift store junk finds.

September is a big month in our house. It is my birthday, my daughter's birthday, and our wedding anniversary. If you ask my husband which is what, he always says out loud "6, 16, 26? 6, 16, 28?" until he gets the dates right. It's a busy month.

My husband and I had a great date night for my birthday, thanks to my in-laws. They treated us to a great restaurant in Boise, I could have just walked around and stared at all the details forever. *See my Instagram feed for a pic of the entry, haha .

For Ava's 6th birthday, I custom painted this easel and shared the project on my blog. Another personal milestone, this was my very first time working with a company on my blog- the fabulous Deco Art! It was pretty exciting for me, they sent me some great products to try out, and her birthday surprise was a smash!


And we celebrated TEN YEARS as husband and wife! An entire decade of marriage. A flash in the pan, I tell ya. I don't even remember what we did, I think we had a night in with the girls, but still, we had each other.

I also shared a blog post giving details of my Sewing Cabinet Transformation. This was a thrifted find that I revitalized and put to good use. It is now one of my favorite pieces to date.




At the end of September, I reaped a "Great Harvest" from my garden. I posted about that earlier in the summer. sigh. Maybe vegetable gardening is just not my thing.




October is one of my favorite months because I LOVE FALL.

The weather in Idaho during the fall is divine. We hadn't had family pictures in a few years, so we took to the park while the leaves were ablaze.


Family Picture 2013!

October also means fun family time. Trips to the pumpkin patch are a favorite, and you can squeeze them in between the cooler days.
























I shared this spooky Halloween sign I made from scraps with a tutorial on my blog too. Using more Deco Art products, it really turned out great and I am happy it will be around for Halloweens to come.


 I love to sew and especially like the challenge of making my kids' costumes. The most difficult part is talking them down from the ledge of which Disney Princess they want to be. I prefer something a bit less predictable. I won! This year, they went as "Glinda the Good" and "Theodora" from "Oz the Great and Powerful." I finished just in the knick of time.


 Ava loved her costume and the cape was a last minute touch.


Lyla's was my favorite. She just looked so adorable in that little dress.


She is my shy one. Yes, she will take your candy, but you have to listen close for the tiny "Thank You" as she is turning away.

We had a great time trick-or-treating. Unfortunately, my body was pretty maxed out at this point. With one month to go, and it being my third pregnancy, I was especially achy. Don't get me started on what the baby "dropping" felt like that time around. It's X-rated.

My hormones were kicked into full nesting mode, but my body just couldn't keep up. I did manage to squeeze out (no pun intended) a couple more big projects- just before our little man showed up.

I slipcovered our formerly white sofa to a nice chocolatey brown. It's easy on the eyes and hides stains. A welcome change from our seriously gross old cover.


Next up was another project using Deco Art products. I repainted a thrifted set of nesting tables with their Americana Chalky Paint. This product just won the CHA's Hottest New Product of the year award for 2014!


I've already used this paint on another side table and can't wait to try it on more projects!

And my greatest DIY project of 2013 came on November 13th:


I can't take all the credit. I had a little help. Finn Samuel Piirto was born at 6:53 a.m. 5 pounds, 12 ounces, and 18 inches long. The most INTENSE and quickest (Praise the Lord!) back labor I've ever experienced. He came a week early (just as I had predicted, really patting myself on the back for that one). He reminds me of Ava, I think they have the same eyes.

The girls are so delighted to have a little brother. It has been a smooth transition, and so far, I think going from two to three children is way easier than going from one to two.

We finished off December with a "Good Old-Fashioned Family Christmas" (name that movie).

The girls sang beautifully in our church's Christmas Eve program.The rocking chair interview had an extra little rocker this year. The girls were so excited for Santa to come that they skipped feeding the reindeer and put themselves to bed an hour early. As I was closing their door, they said, "Don't forget to put some cookies out for Santa!" 


He loved it!

And, to the girls delight, Santa brought their most requested gifts.

Last year, Ava told me about a week after Christmas, "Mom, I asked Santa for a Furby, but I think he may not be able hear well because he brought me a Barbie. You know, because he is old."

Yes.

That must be it, Ava. I think Santa is old and deaf. That, or he wasn't about to spend $50 on a dumb stuffed animal.

Well, this year was proclaimed the "Year of the Furby" because Santa scored a sweet deal on Walmart.com with a sale and gift card promo that brought joy to the children's hearts on Christmas morn.


And Lyla, she only wanted one thing. A Mooshka doll. It took about a month of her trying to explain it to me before I finally saw a commercial and realized it was a thing.

We are half way through our first year of official homeschooling. Ava is killing it in kindergarten, and Lyla is showing me she is more brilliant than I had ever suspected. She is quietly taking it all in.

We have a few big goals that are within reach, and I feel that with our family growing, we are in the midst of the best days of our married life.

Well, there you have it. A few of my highlights for the year. I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for us! Here's to a great year, and another to come!


So, how about you? What were your highlights for 2013? What are your goals for 2014? I've got too many to list, but I will get there a little at a time.

And because I can't resist, more gratuitous baby shots:


I love him!