Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Fancy New Rack


Here is another project from Ana White. I was perusing her amazing plans and came across this dress-up rack from guest Craftiness Is Not Optional and got all inspired.

After a few tweaks to personalize it, I made the trip to Lowe's to get the materials. This project was super easy, and you could make it more simple if you didn't have a jigsaw.

What I bought:

(1) 1x10x12 *Top Choice Pine. I had the guy at Lowes cut it into 3 equal pieces (48").
(1) 1x8x8 *Top Choice Pine. Again, I had this one cut in half (48")
(1) 4' Poplar closet rod

*And let me just say, "Top Choice" lumber should be renamed "Crappiest Choice" since you have to do a fair share of sifting through the boards to find ones that aren't riddled with giant knots or warped and twisted.


Total cost was around $25. I bought one long board since it was cheaper than a couple of smaller 1x10s and there would be less waste.

But "Top Choice" fits my budget. I'm not interested in solid oak with fifty coats of varnish. Not creating a family heirloom, just a solution to the piles of princess stuff all over the place. Ava is in her prime princess dress-up stage right now, and the volume of dresses, tiaras, and wands seem to triple overnight.

So after I stared at the wood, I decided the magic number was forty-four. Forty-four inches long and forty-four inches wide. Short enough that Ava would still be able to hang her clothes by herself, and wide enough to fit everything. I cut all the pieces to that length.

Then came the artsy part. I wanted a little whimsy in the design so I chose a Fleur de Lis pattern for the top ends of the rack; a little fancy, a little princessy, and a little fun at the same time. I rough sketched a pattern (fold a piece of paper in half, draw half the design, cut, and voila, perfect mirror image) and traced it on to the wood.

I used my jigsaw to cut it out. Another awesome gift from Santa from what I like to call the "Year of the Tools." My husband knows me so well.


Then I lined up that board on my other end piece and traced the pattern. Two boards later and a little sanding, my rack was ready to be put together. I assembled the pieces following the plan instructions.

Using a countersink bit to make sure the screw heads along the bottom wouldn't scratch my floors.

For the closet rod, I measured down the center the same distance on each end, marked, and pre-drilled the holes. I put a little glue on the ends of the rod to give it a little stick while I drove the first screw on the first side so it would hold still for me. For the other end, I drove my screw through the 1x10 and left a little poking out to catch the rod and hold it still while I used a level to make sure it was in place. Then I drove the final screw.


I used a little wood filler, primed, and painted. I also added three hooks on one end to hold all of the necklaces that my daughters like to tangle into one big giant ball.


Next, I used my Cricut and some patterned paper to make the word "Imagine" (I saw this on someone else's and loved it), I also cut out a few butterflies too. Font cartridge is Cindy Loo. The last step was decoupaging the word with a little Mod Podge. *I placed the butterflies right over the screw holes that showed on the ends.


Seriously, what can't the Cricut do?

It turned out lovely! And best of all, my kid can hang her stuff up all by herself, she has plenty of room underneath for her accessories, and the whole thing is so darn cute.


It's a party! I linked up with these fabulous ladies:




A Thrifty Mom

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I LOVE Ana White And I Don't Care Who Knows It!

One night I was pondering the future, particularly bunk beds. With our two girls in a tiny house, I was dreaming up plans for their future sleeping arrangements. I was looking into all sorts of designs; from fancy $10,00 Rap Star's daughters' bunk beds, all the way down to the simple 2x4 plank style. Searching for a nice design I could copy that would look great, but also inexpensive to make.

And then I stumbled upon Ana.

It was love at first sight. She captured my heart with her fantastic (and free) knock-off furniture designs. Everything for every room. Any furniture you are looking for- she has a plan. From that day on, I have dreamed in wood. Her site has inspired me beyond belief, now the wheels turn constantly as I am always planning my next build.

Ana White is known for taking some fantastic $2000 Pottery Barn bedroom set

This:
(Farmhouse Bed, Pottery Barn)

and recreating it for around $120.

This:
(Queen Farmhouse Bed, Ana-White.com)

And she has quite the following too. Many DIYers like myself love the process, but love the pricepoint even more. It is worth every drop of blood, sweat, and glistening tear to make something with your own hands that comes out beautiful, functional, and affordable. I have never lacked the confidence to tackle a woodworking project, but rather, the complete know-how of carpentry. After pouring over this site and reading the simple instructions, I convinced myself that I could do it. And guess what? It really wasn't that hard.

So I made a list of things I wanted to make. I started with the smallest project and finally decided to make the picture ledges I had always wanted (The ones from Pottery barn that cost a fortune). I had looked online at making these myself and found that it would cost more to buy the fancy hardware that Pottery Barn uses than just to buy the overpriced finished ones at the store, so I gave up on my dream.

Then Ana shows up with her $10 ledges.

So here's how easy it was. I started with (4) 1x3s and (2) 1x2s. cut them to length and put them together. I screwed and glued the 1x3s together, and used my nail gun and glue to attach the 1x2 to the front of the ledge.


Filled the holes and gave them a good sanding.


Then I dragged them in the house and threw them on the kitchen counter and proceeded to stain them (it was still February when I did this, so it was too cold to stain outside. So I set waxed paper on my counters and *carefully* stained them with mahogany stain).


And Voila!



I screwed them straight into the studs (well, I only found a couple) and finally had a place to put some family pictures. I love the look of the pine boards, they look rustic and modern at the same time.


It's those finer things in life...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Day I Got My Mojo Back

It all started late one night. I was dreaming up plans for my girls' future bedroom. Ava was outgrowing her crib and Lyla was getting too big to be in the bassinet. We knew the girls were about to transition into sharing a room, and this meant a big girl bed for Ava. I had an old daybed in storage, which was mine when I was a little girl . The old painted iron and the heart-shaped frame matched the bedding I had purchased the year before and was just right for my girly girl. I was excited for the change, but a little sad too.

It was fall and we had spent the entire spring and summer getting our house ready to put on the market. Eight years and two kids felt like we were outgrowing our 1000 square feet and we were ready to look for something bigger. We hoped that we could fetch a small profit since we bought our home several years before the housing market fell through. After six months of finishing up remodeling, decluttering, stressing myself out, and cleaning, we had three realtors over for valuations. With each one giving their opinion, it seemed that the next one's take was worse than the last.

So we found out we weren't moving after all.

After the initial 24 hours of shock, we accepted our fate and began to rethink things a bit. We got lost in all the anticipation we had built for a new move, and talked about it often. The plan was for a smooth transition; not where you drive up the moving van and then just tell your kids you're moving away. We wanted Ava to be aware of what we thought was going to happen. In part of those conversations was the promise of a new pink room.

I know. You shouldn't make promises you can't keep. But in all honesty, we really didn't know just HOW BAD the real estate market had gotten. I decided that since we couldn't give Ava new room, we could at least paint the old one pink!

It felt good to start planning again. I had spent the last six months trying to remove any personal effects from my house and declutter (all with a newborn baby), and the previous six months in an exhausting pregnancy. A new project was just what I needed. As I started peering over paint samples I began to envision the room coming together and it gave me hope that we were going to be fine in this house. For the long haul if we had to. Not quite sure about more children, but the more I (re)adjusted my thought process, I began to fall in love with our old house all over again. All of the rooms that I had convinced myself "just didn't work" now had potential.

I started to dream again. And pray more. I realized that through the time I spent stressing over selling the house, I had worked myself into a horrible frenzy of misery, and really, I had been leaning on my own understanding instead of God's- and it got me nowhere fast. I felt spiritually dead.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding, but in all ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths" - Proverbs 3:5

A lot was going on. We had recently left our church. After nine years of attendance, our pastor's message began to shift more and more toward emergent church/kingdom theology. "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." 2 Tim. 4:3 We would notice a little here and a little there. A red flag would go up, and then we would just ignore it. It was our family after all, we were comfortable in our routine, and most of all, we respected our pastor. I began to grow more and more unsettled and after a while a "spit out the bones" approach just wasn't working anymore. There were real issues that needed real examination. My husband and I began to pray and research. We asked God for discernment.

I learned that when you ask God for discernment you had better be ready for what he reveals.

We began to research our pastor and his associations and they were more than troubling. Not only were our suspicions confirmed, but we were completely shocked at how bad the reality actually was. "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread[a] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" Luke 11:9-14
We were confident that we were making the right decision to leave. We were no longer blind to the lie and could not ignore what was right in front of us. But still, it was difficult. On one hand, we were SO VERY GRATEFUL to God for revealing the truth to us, but we were heartbroken to be saying goodbye to a church family we had been a part of for so many years.

And then where do you go?

We tried 8 different churches over 6 months. My husband's job requires that he work two Sundays a month, so I really wasn't interested in trying a new church with a baby and a toddler all by myself every week. Here's what we learned: The body of Christ is huge and there are lots of folks and it takes all kinds. We had no idea what was out there! We just wanted to find a nice non-denominational church like we were used to that wasn't emergent. Finally, (after a couple of scary experiences) we did find a church that is super close and a good fit for our family. -and no emergent theology yet that we can tell.

Our youngest baby was a few months old during this time, and I think I experienced a bout of post-partum depression as well. I've never been a depressed person, but I can recognize that I had no energy or desire to do anything that I previously enjoyed doing (Well, shoot, I had no desire to do anything I didn't enjoy either!) I was always tired, and just felt "blah" all the time. While preparing our house to sell, I had packed away everything that allowed me to be creative, virtually anything that could make a mess: soap business, sewing machine, scrapbooking supplies, paint; all gone.

I think it was safe to say we were under spiritual attack.
No vision, no desire, no peace, no joy. A horrible place to be.

The issue of spiritual contentment is something that I thought I was well aware of in my own life. I know that my peace does not come from things or circumstances, but from Jesus Christ alone. But I looked around one day, and realized the peace that I had with Christ was also put on a shelf while I scrambled around trying to control what was going on within the walls of my home. I had set myself up for failure.
"For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me--the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!" -Jeremiah 2:13

And I felt so empty.

Hearing "No" to the move was the wakeup call I needed to recognize how small I was. It was a reminder for me that God is in control.

With "No" God had brought me back. He brought me to my knees and He humbled me. And finally, I stopped. I let go and I let God. With a repentant heart, I started fresh that day.

He reminded me of what life's really about:

Him.

He reminded me that all my efforts amounted to nothing without Him. My Savior, My Comforter, My Friend.

"Not that I speak in respect to lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in need. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." Phillippians 4:11-13


And that's how I got my Mojo back. Out came the paint, the miter saw, my smile, and the peace that surpasses all understanding. My house went back to being our home, no longer a showroom that reminded me of all the things I couldn't have. My heart is now in the right place, at home with my husband and my girls. I've got messes all over, but it means I am alive. Alive in Him and in myself.

And here's girl's room after I finished painting. I think my husband belches while talking on the video. gag. He's a gem.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"VAA" was here.

The other day, I was walking by and happened spot something on the wall.

hmmm.

Scrawled out in pencil were some familiar letters. So, before the discipline part I grabbed the camera and called the guilty party into the room.

Disclosure: Before you watch the video, pay no attention to my filthy walls. Gosh. My only excuse is that room is the girls' playroom; but I'm sure all my walls look like that so I'll blame the kids and their greasy chicken nugget fingers instead. Kids are great for blaming messes on.



Yes, she only has three letters in her name and two of them are the same, but (secretly) I couldn't be more proud. She's got great writing skills for a three-year-old.


I love that little girl.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My First Homeschool Convention

Well, mark your calendars because June 2nd will be here in no time. This year will be my very first year attending the CHOIS (Christian Homeschoolers of Idaho Sate) annual homeschool convention. I feel like a super nerd talking about my excitement over the whole thing.

Several years ago, our church was hosting an Answers in Genesis conference I attended and CHOIS had a booth. I started talking up the gals and telling them all about my excitement to homeschool and how I would love to receive their quarterly magazine.

Then one of the gals asked me how old my children were.

I said "Well, I don't have any children yet, but I just want to be prepared." Her response was "Honey, you've got some time before you need to worry about that." They then proceeded to laugh me out of the room. Needless to say, I received the magazine and saved all of my back issues for a full two years before I even had a kid.

So what are my expectations?

Do I need to dress up?

Is this like Comicon?

Maybe instead of a Captain Kirk outfit I should wear a denim jumper?

denim jumper

I could wear braided buns like Princes Leia and I would fit in either way. hmmmm...

I jest. But seriously, I am really excited! There will be 2 1/2 days of workshops plus a used curriculum sale. I am hoping to gain some knowledge and see what's out there. Idaho is a huge homeschooling state and I know that the possibilities are endless. I just need a place to start. l feel like a ship that's about to set sail on her maiden voyage; off to discover a new world as I move toward the future. But I need a map. And a compass. And a crew. And a boat. And a parrot.

I know. I'm in a cheesy mood tonight.

Sam is even going to come. And guess what? There will be a special section on marriage. I'm sure he penciled in his days off the moment he read that one! I don't know about you, but there's nowhere else my husband would rather be on a Thursday night than attending a marriage seminar. Just kidding. Actually when I told him about it, he was enthused. And I thought I was going to have to break it to him gently.

So, I've got my ticket confirmation, I'm checking out the guest speakers, and I'm picking out which Crocs to wear. No, I don't own any Crocs. Just checking to see if you're still there. And no offense if you wear Crocs- I don't blame you, they look comfortable (and big. and bright. and plasticky).

Here is the link for the CHOIS Convention 2011 They have a whole breakdown of the daily events and info on each guest speaker. The cost is $45 and your spouse gets free admission. They also have children and teen programs for an additional cost.

I will be counting down the days!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

March Comes in Like a Lion and Goes Out Like a Slipcovered Arm Chair.


Once again, I happened upon an awesome "March Madness" fabric sale at Home fabrics last month. I had been waiting for a deal on upholstery fabric and was so excited when I found it again!
I got a great little houndstooth pattern to cover our arm chair and ottoman (Yay!). It is a treated outdoor fabric (Yes!) and it was only $2 a yard (Oh yeah!).

After I washed and Ironed the fabric, I set out to start the slipcovering process. A couple of late nights and I had finished the chair body. It was also about that time I realized that I wasn't going to have enough to finish the cushions or the ottoman.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now.


Back to the store for more March Madness. And I was mad alright. They didn't have any of the houndstooth left. Why, oh why, do I do this to myself?? One more yard would have made the difference. poop.

No sense dwelling on the past. Instead I chose a botanical print with a brown background that should do the trick. Not what I wanted, but a good Plan B.

And that is still where I'm at. I grew frustrated and moved on to other projects. I sewed a pair of drapes for the back room of our house AKA classroom, office, multipurpose room, and junk room (I must admit, I'm getting pretty good at a blind hem!)That was a side project from my ADD brain when I first found the amazing fabric sale. New drapes for $6! I even got my neighbor down there and now she is planning on slipcovering her sofas! And I've still got 12 more yards of other fabric to make new curtains for our living room!


And now that's on hold too. The sun's out and the daffodils are blooming. Spring is here at last! I've cleaned up my flower beds and the lawn is freshly mown (is mown a word?). It's time to get out into the world and breathe some fresh air for awhile!

Oh, and this is going on too.


My baby is now climbing those new curtains and everything else in sight. Her daredevil moves are enough to give me a heart attack.


She has cut the inside of her mouth three times this week from falling off random furniture onto her face.


She kills me.


But she has such a sparkle in her eye from her accomplishment, I can't help but shake my head and smile.

Love Is In The Air

Well, this one is a little late but....


Sam always complains about the winters here in Idaho. I, however, relish them. I get 7 months a year to be outdoors enjoying the warm weather, and I get five months a year to stay in and work on the crafts I enjoy. Winter is the time for scrapbooking, crocheting, sewing, baking, and whatever else I fancy. I like having a break from yardwork, farmer's markets, and entertaining so I can spend time doing the other things I love.

It's not Winter, it's Craft Season.

Back in February, when it was miserable cold I got a great idea for a Valentine gift for Sam. I planned to make him a mini album of just us. Since our lives are filled with children now, I thought an album of the two of us would be fun and memorable for the Holiday of Love.

aaaaww, young and in love (and skinny too!!).

I went poking around the internet for inspiration. I found a great channel on youtube with this lady who makes fabulous mini albums. Her name is Robyn and she lives across the pond and she gets really excited about her finds. She gives tutorials on techniques and showcases her albums and they are just beautiful. I think this is my favorite one. I just love birds and this one is right up my alley.



If you want to see more (and I highly recommend the slider card tutorial, these made really cool Valentines for the grandmas) she has a website with all of her tutorials. You can find Robyn at www.injoystampin.com.

So I got crackin' on my own mini album. I'm sure you've seen these, they are simple and fun to make using lunch bags and paper. I was really into it too, I finished the album in a couple of nights and all I had left to do was add the pictures.


Well, the album was the easy part. It took me forever to find pictures I could crop and print and put in the album. Just when I thought I had a few, I started to remember all of the pictures that are floating around on my in-law's computer. When you are always the girl behind the camera, it's really tough to find pictures that you are actually in. So by the time Valentine's Day rolled around, I still didn't have it completed.

No sweat I thought, because fortunately for me, Sam's birthday was the following week!

yeeeaaaahhh.

Didn't quite get it finished by then either. I did produce a partially filled album and it pretty much got the response I figured. A half interested "Thanks" before moving on to the next article he was reading on espn.com.


Were my feelings hurt? Nah. I know before I give my husband a "craft item" he can only be about as excited as any other dude. Sure he appreciates the gesture, but I have learned that any expectation of seeing him sit down to pour over each page and notice the carefully selected patterned paper, read every quote and caption, pet the different trims and fibers I chose, comment on the hours of work I must have put into it, and cry over each picture of us isn't happening.

And really, I must give God a big THANK YOU for that one. I think I would be laying in bed at night wondering what had happened if I was a witness to such a sight.

No pressure. No timeline. I finished it when I finished it and put it out on the table and said nothing. I'm guessing that was around the beginning of March.


A few days later he came home from work talking about how he was bragging to his coworkers about how cool I was for making him an entire book. Now if that doesn't make a girl feel special, what does? Knowing that he takes a minute from his March Madness bracket talk to interject a compliment on my scrapbooking skills (to other dudes, nonetheless) makes me want to gush all over him. I love that man.


Even when I think he's not looking, he has already been there and done that.