Sunday, December 25, 2011

Makeover Monday: nursery before and after

I hope everybody had an amazing Christmas! Ours was super low-key and relaxing. And by relaxing, of course I mean imbibing a ridiculous number of Christmas cookies, picking up bits of Moon Sand smashed into the carpet (what part of me thought that was a good idea?!), and playing with my new (old) 1918 paper cutter (my husband knows me so well). I thought about doing a Christmas post on some of the gifts/crafts that I made this year. But then Chris told me (truthfully) that one of the gifts, a unicorn costume for my eerily unicorn obsessed daughter, looked more like a pig in a party hat. So I decided that perhaps it wasn't worth a post. But I definitely am going to be adding some cute pictures of my adorable little lovies enjoying their Christmas! So grab a cup of cocoa and stay tuned. Organic cocoa made with local, raw, grass-fed cow milk, of course. 'Cause I am crunchy like that. Really.

When we moved in to the Crack House, we planned to make the smallest bedroom into the nursery. It didn't seem horrible at first glance, but there had been some water damage that had to be repaired. The previous tenants, when they realized that water was coming into the room from the exterior, lifted up the corner of the carpet and coated the seam with spray foam. Great idea for keeping out moisture. (Did you catch that? That was sarcasm. Using spray foam to seal a leak = water coming into the house elsewhere. Truth.)

While it wasn't cosmetically the worst part of the house, it did need some work to waterproof it and repair the water damage.

We painted, and replaced the ceiling tiles and carpet.

It's an itty-bitty room, so it's hard to photograph...

but I think it's sweet and cute. For a sweet and cute little baby.
Not that she has ever actually slept in her crib. In fact, I am currently petitioning the Household Manager to let me turn the nursey into a playroom. So far it's a no-go.

I like decorating baby rooms-- but I am not really into "cutesy" nurseries. I'd rather something that can last for a while. Unless you decide to turn it into a playroom, of course. What about you? Are you into Winnie the Pooh and pastels? Pretty pinks and boyish blues? How did you decorate your nursery for your babies?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thrifty Thursday: vintage pulley-- what would you make?

I know I said I wasn't going to make T.T. regular, and I'm not... but this is one of my thriftiest finds yet. 'Cause it was F-R-E-E!

I understand that some girls want fancy jewelry and electronics this Christmas.

Not me.

I am perfectly happy rummaging though shelves at Goodwill and rifling through other people's curbside trash (you think I jest?). So you can imagine my excitement when Chris got me a "present" (ie, found this super cool vintage pulley in the rafters of our barn). He was all excited to give it to me, which is how I know that he secretly loves my dumpster diving habit, and can't wait to see what I pick up next on the side of the road. Right, honey?
I already had an idea when he gave it to me, as I had seen this photo in Dwell magazine months ago:
But a quick pinterest search yielded some other fun stuff (sorry, I couldn't relocate some of them and can't give credit to their owners):
I am kinda partial to the first hanging pendant lamp-- maybe beside my bed in lieu of a lamp? Or maybe the globe light in a future homeschooling space? Somehow I feel as though the pulley bookends wouldn't have the same aesthetic affect when propping up my stack of smutty Sophie Kinsella novels. But the possibilities are endless! What's your favorite? Any other brilliant pulley ideas for me? Anyone else like crapping up beautifying their homes with other people's castoffs?! Tell me about it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Advent--welcoming the Savior

Oh, yes. Oh my word! Yes, come in! Please. Welcome!

I am so sorry... I was really hoping to be better prepared for You.

Wait, hold on a sec. Shoot, yeah. That's the baby crying... lemme grab her. My apologies.

Ummm, wow. Where are my manners? Have a seat. (Cana, hush! We have company!)
I'm really embarrassed. I had hoped to have the house cleaned up more.
See, I had it all planned out in my head. Candles, music, clean and well-behaved children.

Sorry, I'm so tired. Frazzled. And oh, my kids are making me crazy tonight.

(Evie, stop kicking your sister! He's here--He said he would come and He is here!!)

Yeah, sorry. I know this is totally not ideal... I was really hoping that we could sit and chat. It's been so long since we've really talked.

How can You get a word in edgewise amidst all this din?

But oh. Please don't go.

What I am trying to say is, I need You here. I desperately need You to stay. And yes, I am going to have to interrupt You sixty times so I can change a diaper or wipe a nose or kiss a boo-boo.

But I've invited You here. And I've been waiting for so long.


Oh, yes. Wait, what? Is that You? Really?

We're so sorry-- You'd think we'd be better prepared for You.

Wait, hold on a sec. Are you serious? A baby crying in a manger? My apologies that we didn't have room.

Wow, where are my manners? Have our treasures.

Here's our incense, our myrrh.

We're really embarrassed; we were hoping to have our hearts cleaned up more.

See, we had it all planned out in our heads. A military coup, a prosperous society, well-nourished children. We are so tired.

You're really here. You said You would come and You are here.

Sorry. I know this is totally not ideal. I can't believe that we can sit and chat... the face that Moses was forbidden to see, the face he longed to see... we can really talk.

How can You get a word in edgewise amidst all this din?

But oh. Please don't go.

What we are trying to say is, we need You here. We desperately need You to stay. And yes, we will spit on Your face. And yes, we will deny You three times. Yes, we will mock You and hang You on a tree and kill You.

But we've invited You here. And we've been waiting for so long.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Makeover Monday: Pottery Barn Pinterest Project

Please pardon the piddliness of this post.

Projects are plentiful and pending completion perfection.

(How about that thar alliteration?! Shout out to Miss Dixon, my sixth grade language arts teacher. Who got married to a man but then left him for my female 10th grade language arts teacher. True story. Boo.)

No, of course I didn't just google a synonym for "completion". Ahem.

Awesome alliteration aside, this is just a quickie post about one of the Pinterest projects I've done lately. What's that? You're not on Pinterest? Well, by all means, stop caring for your kids and preparing meals for your husband and get on over!!

I saw this bad boy at the Pottery Barn outlet several months ago, and I fell in love a little bit:

But it was $69.00.

The heck you say.

So when I saw something with a similar look on pinterest a while back, I whipped my hair back and forth it up.

I had some of the materials on hand, and grabbed the rest for about $2 at the thrift store (brass candlesticks and old cake pans multiply like bunny rabbits on the shelves of Goodwill-- so easy to find.) I have also seen people use new cake pans, but I like old crusty crap the weathered patina.

A little spray paint and Gorilla glue later, my own little tiered cake stand cutie:

Ok, so yeah. I like the Pottery Barn one better too. But considering that I spent about $5 total and not $69 + taxes and tags, I think it's a decent stand-in. How about you? Have you made any Pinterest projects lately? Are you a compulsive pinner like me?

What's that? You actually prefer to play with your kids instead of mindlessly browsing images of houses you will never own? Me, too.

Of course.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thrifty Thursday-- Dish it up

Just kidding. I don't think I am doing a weekly feature on crap amazing stuff I got at the thrift store. But I don't know... I do get some incredible things there. Just ask my husband. He loves it when I bring home amazing stuff from the thrift store. Really.

Like these bad boys:

What's that? You're not impressed?!

I should have seen that coming.

You see, the thing about me? I have a fetish for vintage schoolhouse stuff. Wait, does "fetish" only apply if it's some kind of sexual preference? I think it might. In which case, I definitely do not have a schoolhouse fetish. I just really really like it.

Which is kinda weird, considering that I haaaaated elementary school. I mean, ugly-cried every morning and begged my mom not to make me go to Mr. Clymer's class. (I called that one, though. He totally ran off with one of my classmate's moms that year. Bad egg.) I was the fat kid who got teased all the time. Which is weird, cause I wasn't really a fat kid. Now I am the fat kid, and people don't really tease me for it. At least not to my face. Go figure.

Ahem. Anyway. I digress.

Don't these trays remind you of your elementary school days (before they started hating the earth and using stryofoam)? Can't you just picture the little chocolate milk box and the little pizza rectangle (wait- maybe I was the fat kid.), all nestled sweetly into their own little space?

They make me smile, in all of their pee-yellow and puke-orange glory (there's more colors, but that friend, is another amazing post). Next I am totally getting a hair-net and doling out mashed potatoes with an ice cream scoop. Oh yes, I am.

My kids think they are the shiz-stinking-nit. Smart kids.

God love the Goodwill, for making this schoolhouse-fetished smitten mama smile, one ugly plastic tray at a time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

She made the paper!!

Last week, when we were out enjoying Christmas in the Park, a photographer for the local paper asked if he could take a picture of the girls.

Not shocking, right?

'Cause who wouldn't want to peruse the paper with their morning cup of coffee and stare at these wee beauties?!:
I mean, come the heck on!

So when we received our paper the other day, I eagerly thumbed to the community section, past the Help Wanted ads, past the girls' basketball scores (who CARES?!) and found....

Wait for it...

Keep waiting...

It's gonna rock your world...

Keep scrolling...

*Sigh*. Almost missed it, but I recognized that little pink and black jacket.

You win some and lose some, babe. I really hope that wasn't the entirety of Evie's 15 minutes of fame, or else she got J.I.P.P.E.D.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Makeover Monday--my little kitchen

When we bought our house a year and a half ago, we had been looking for a loooong time for an investment property: at least two units, with a large barn or garage for Chris's production business. We finally found our new place--less than a mile from our old apartment and PERFECT for us. Well, let me clarify. The house part of the property was perfect for us. 4 bedrooms, hardwood floors, clean... lots of character. But Chris didn't want us to live in the nice, clean, perfect-for-us house. Oh, no. You see, in the back of the property, there's a warehouse. A garage. A barn. Whatev. 5000 square feet of crusty old space. And Chris wanted us to live there. Of course he did. 800 square feet of the garage had been converted into a very small, very poorly built apartment. We took one look at it and affectionately dubbed it "The Crack House". And this was to be my home sweet home.

I fought tooth and nail to get my way. But in the end, and for multiple reasons, I am so glad I lost that battle. I love my little garage house and I wouldn't trade it for anything. As we have had money, we have been renovating every inch of it-- and adding lots of inches, too (about an additional 1000 square feet, by means of adjoining the apartment with empty garage space)! If you're in the marble counters and Viking appliances design camp, my little house will probably do nothing for you. We ain't fancy folk. But if you're into, uh... goodwill glam?... then come on in. You'll be right at home!

Here's the kitchen before:

That's it. If you can look beyond the pink countertops and complete lack of prep space, you will notice that itty table on the right. That was their only dining space, and there was no pantry or other storage (you can kinda see where they kept all their food on a shelf in the corner). There's nothing wrong with this, per se. But there is NO way that this would be practical for 2 adults and (then) 2 kids. The doorway on the right (directly before the table) went into one of the bedrooms-- really kinda messing up the feng shui in the kitchen. (Errr, what I am trying to say-- it took away useable space in the kitchen. ;) ) The whole place was literally falling apart (which you can't really tell from the above pics) and smelled like 5000 dogs had died there.

What's that you say? Water-soaked drop ceiling tiles aren't your thing?!

Yeah, me neither.

A word about peel-n'-stick vinyl tiles. I have nothing against them. My boyfriend Nate Berkus uses them all the time. But if you apply them OVER CARPET and the carpet gets wet--- you create a Stank-Nasty-Black-Mold-of-Death-Breeding-Hot-Mess. You can quote me on that.

But, lucky for me and my Black-Mold-of-Death-hating-self, my husband's got a jack hammer. And he knows how to use it. (Heh. That sounded dirty.) He started with gutting the kitchen (we saved the cabinets and reused them in the garage. But that pink countertop went straight to Ugly Countertop Purgatory where it's currently petitioning the Ugly Countertop Gods to let it come back into style someday.)

Then he put a hole in the wall, into our future living room.
(It's a good thing he's got lots of truss, or else how else would we hold up the ceiling?)

"This is already much better," I am thinking to myself. "Now I can wash dishes and keep an eye on my kids while they watch PBS Kids until their eyes get red and pussy errr, play with their Waldorf dolls and imagine stuff."

So, a couple hundred trips to Lowes, a crap-ton of awesome slaves friends and a couple dozen pizzas later:

This is coming into the kitchen--the same view as the first "before" pic.
We (and by we of course I mean Chris and our slaves friends) moved that ill-placed door on the right to a separate wall, freeing up that kitchen wall for more counter-space and cabinets. He also replaced all the insulation, replaced the florescent lights, and tore out the drop-ceiling and replaced it with drywall.

My walls are "grellow" and brown-- which makes me think of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Which is fitting, since this place used to be Rosey's Ice Cream Factory, dating all the way back to the 1940's. (See that pic on the wall? That is a calendar page from an original Rosey's ad! Incidentally, Ruby was almost named Rosey. Is it too late for a do-over?)

View from the living room. There was initally Pergo flooring in here, but same issue as the peel-and-stick vinyl. It was installed incorrectly and therefore needed to be replaced. I was really hoping that we could do hardwood or cork flooring in here, but when we found this tile for $1/ft at Habitat Restore, it was a no-brainer!

Heh. These little guys are like Elf on the Shelf-- they show up all over our house. Last month, they were all up on the heat vents on the dining room ceiling. Incidentally, there is only one member of our family who can reach the heat vents in our dining room. Ahem.
Another steal-- the sink and faucet were $40 from Habitat Restore. That place is like Disney World!

We still have some stuff to do-- ie, get around to putting all the trim/molding back, replacing some appliances as they begin to crap out. But it's so much more practical for our family now! (And in case you were wondering-- we converted another room to a dining space, since we got rid of the "eat-in" kitchen [if you can call it that].)

What about you? Any Black-Mold-of-Death stories in your house? Put any holes in your walls lately (on purpose. Or not.)? Am I the only one who can't get DC Talk's "Tearing Down the Walls" out of my head whenever I think about this post? ("What walls?!?") Ha. Now it's in your head, too.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The fall is still falling...

Last week, my amazing sister Gwenn blogged about some difficult experiences they are facing as they walk the lives of missionaries in Haiti. In discussing these struggles, and referring to the broken state of our world, she stated, "the fall is still falling". Maybe that's something Christians say all the time, but I had never heard it that way before. It resonated with me. The curse, spoken thousands of years ago, to people I have never met, is still unfolding-- trickling down and puddling at my feet.

The fall is still falling.

This past week, there were some heartbreaking stories on our local news station. On Monday afternoon, five teenagers were killed in a devastating car accident. The following day, our community again caught it's breath when we learned that three more children-- 16 year old twins and their nine year old sister-- were killed in another vehicle crash.

The fall is still falling.

I understand the doctrine of a fallen world; I have read (and reread) the curse spoken to Adam and Eve. I can imagine the grief of a holy God, whose justice required Him to banish the ones he loved most. I get it, I think, theologically-- working the ground, pain in childbirth, our husbands will rule over us. And I can even accept the inevitability of death, probably because I know the end of the story--there is a victor over the curse; through the "second Adam", there is redemption.

But I will never understand the death of a child.

Now hear me, this is not a charge against God. I am not accusing Him of not being good, of not being compassionate, of not being just. Surely, our idea of justice must be childishly laughable to a God whose very essence is holiness. I know that I see but dimly; my very highest thoughts are not His.

But oh, I think of those mamas. Six women who will never face another day without an aching weight in their chest. I hold my babies and think of the ones who cannot. The ones who will never, ever be "ok" again. And oh, my heart longs for heaven. When every wrong will be made right.

But until then, the fall is still falling.

During Advent, we've been reading about the prophesy of a Savior. I've been teaching the girls the lyrics to "O Come O Come Emmanuel".

O Come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

For now, as we muddle through life and grapple with grief and the ins and outs of the human existence, I trust that we are never forsaken... that our circumstances are filtered through the hand of a loving God... that they are specifically designed--by God, for us-- so that He might be glorified. But how I long for my spirit to be cheered by the advent of Christ. I long for the day when He disperses the gloomy clouds of night, when death is robbed of it's sting and victory.

Emmanuel--- God with us.
Oh, come.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Walk in the Park

We live in an adorable little town smack dab in the center of Pennsylvania's Amish country. It's quite picturesque, really: lots of farms and horses and buggies. And whoopie pies in every flavor imaginable. Heck to the yes.

For several years now, we have been going to our town's Christmas tree lighting, and, the following day, the "Christmas Day in the Park", a fun craft/treat/Santa Claus outing. Can I just say that the Christmas tree lighting is always super lame-o? Like, Christmas carols two octaves too high and a piddly 6' Douglas Fir... Really, people? I could do better than that in my front yard. Next year, we're doing it at my place.

(Yes, I went out in public without makeup. So shoot me.)

(I told the girls to give each other a hug. They started hugging the tree instead. Dirty little hippies.)

But the next day is usually pretty fun for the kiddies. We started at the Visitor Center, where each kid was given a bag with a colored balloon on it. We visited each vendor downtown that had a corresponding color balloon; inside there were crafts for the kids, stories being read, or a small gift or treat.
(Our awesome friends Michelle and the Lovable Levi joined us.)

They also opened the Elementary school, where they had more crafts and games and live music and a zumba class for the kids to work off their candy canes.

Outside, they had fire pits and free marshmallows, funnel cakes and horse-drawn carriage rides, while Santa rode around and waved at the littles (on a crazy loud fire truck, waking up my baby who was so peacefully slumbering in the carrier). But I can't really complain because everything was F-R-E-E, which was definitely in the budget this month!

Then, should you want to stand outside in the arctic line, you can wait for an hour and a half (yes, we did) to sit on Santa's lap.
Or, if you're Cana, lurk in the background and give him the stink-eye.

Some of these activities fall into that "more fun in my imagination" category. It's cold, and the baby is cranky, and the girls have melted marshmallow and candy cane glop congealed to their jackets and their noses and their mittens. (Wait. They weren't wearing mittens. BAD MAMA!)

(wiped out!)

But one thing that I really admire about my parents is how purposeful they were about creating traditions for us. (For years, we went Christmas caroling [with a group] at 4 am on Christmas morning. No lie.) I have such wonderful Christmas memories from when I was a child, and I want to do that for my girls. Even if it means falsetto Christmas carols and congealed marshmallow glop.

What about you? Do you have any special traditions from when you were a child? Do you still practice them with your children/family? Have you created new traditions? I'd love to hear and get some ideas from you!