Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Prep

 Saturday was pretty busy around these parts. In the morning, while the kids were doing their chores, I made 3 pies, strawberry jello salad, a gallon of yogurt, and a large quiche. All of this is normal for our household, great food for our Easter feast , baskets for the kids, etc. Here's my bad mom confession. I don't usually dye eggs with my kids. It had been years (and a few kids) since I had attempted it. Five kids + egg dye + clothes = too much for me to handle But this year I was determined to be a good mom and dye eggs with the kids and even make cut-out sugar cookies as penance.

I'm happy to report that we all survived.

I used a boxed sugar cookie mix and my new (clearance) cookie cutters from  Williams -Sonoma. I divided the cookie dough in quarters and used my food colorings and colored each quarter a different color.

Turned out pretty great huh? I was pleased until I took them out of the oven when they were done. The cookies turned brown just like they should have, but the brown really didn't look so great with yellow chicks, blue eggs, orange carrots and pink bunnies. 

 He didn't mind.

Onward to the eggs. All 5 dozen of them.

Josh made fantastic yellow- orange- green hues.

Dabney made lots of purple, and David stuck with varying degrees of blues.

This guy just walked around eating warm cookies, handing things to people saying, "Here go", and randomly interjecting "Pur-ple!"

 That wound healing under his mouth is from Wednesday when he bit right through his lip. I'm so grateful his injury wasn't as bad as it could have been.

The aftermath.
 Clean up wasn't the catastrophe that I had imagined and I can't wait to do it again next year.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Secret's Out

It's funny how things can be so busy although nothing new is happening. And that has been the case around here for the last, I don't know, YEAR. We still live in the same small house (small for 7 people), we still homeschool. Tim has been with his company for almost 9 years now.

But some elements of our life are pretty tough right now. We have 5 rapidly growing kids that need room to run and play and work. Although we know that God always provides for his children, we could use a bigger grocery budget (and clothes budget and curriculum budget). We would love to have a verdant garden where we could supplement said budgets with fresh produce and where our kids would learn to work hard and learn the rewards of working the land. It would be nice to live in a place where the cost of living, housing especially, would be more reasonable. As a homeschooler, I see such a value in living close to areas where our American history was forged and trips to DC, Williamsburg, Philadelphia, Jamestown would be such a blessing to my teaching efforts. I want my kids to be as well aquainted with these places as I was growing up. We really dream about living closer to family that wants to be involved in our kids' lives. Family is precious and we're so tired of living so far apart from those we love.  The places that would fit all these bills seem to be in the south eastern US. We're thinking NC, SC, TN, VA, etc. I was raised on the east coast, so any of those places would definitely be 'home' to me. 

We've been dreaming about all of these things for quite a while now and I thought I just might share with you all. I'm also sending this out there so you all will be witnesses as we watch God do amazing things in our lives. You can pray that God will make our way straight and clear and send a wonderful job offer for us and that we'd be wise and prudent as we take the first (half) steps in selling our home.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


One thing that fascinates me as a homeschool mom (or just a mom in general) is how amazingly different each child is. A few of our kids look very similar and they have so many shared mannerisms, but each one is his own person and they all learn very differently. So I had to take all of that to heart in January when I needed to change up our phonics program for the little boys. We decided to make the investment and purchase the Veritas Press Phonics Museum curriculum for Kindergarten and 1st grade. The little guys (Josh and Adam) are doing fantastic with it and I love that they are learning to read with songs and projects and pictures.

 The sample word for the letter B was "bull" complete with an art card depicting the ancient bull leapers from, but the project at the end of the lesson was making butter. Josh colored the label for his new jar of butter while I poured heavy whipping cream into a mason jar with a marble.

Josh got right to it and shook, shook, shook!

Poor guy! After a few mintues, he couldn't shake anymore so we threw the ingredients in our mixer and watched as the air bubbles were forcing the fat molecules to join. After a few minutes we certainly had achieved butter! We separated the butter from the buttermilk and slathered our fresh new butter on a piece of homemade bread.

Sorry that I don't have any more  pictures of our great project, but it was eaten too quickly, but we just may do this project again and I'll remember to capture the finished product.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I finally did it!

This May will mark our 8th year in this house, believe it or not. We moved in just after Baby #1 turned a year old, and I was about 6 weeks pregnant with Baby #2. Of course, being a first time homeowner, we had a lot of builder-grade everything and I woke up every morning with the burning desire to paint every wall in our new abode a deep, rich color. Fast forward almost 8 years, and I'd like to think that I have matured and mellowed quite a bit. Our walls are much more neutral and we have marks and scuffs of much love from living as a family of seven in our sweet, albeit shrinking, home.

Now, I'll be the first to admit, I am a home junkie.  I think growing up as the daughter of an architect and touring great homes and building sites had a fantastic affect on me. The smell of drywall is easily one of my favorite smells ever.  Anyway, I've noticed a growing trend of painted cabinets on HGTV, on Pinterest, in home magazines, etc. (Check out my Pinterest page for some of my favorite home ideas.) My kitchen cabinets were a medium oak-y color, but the finish was not wearing well with our large family dynamics. I knew I had to face my fears and help my poor cabinets a little. Why "face my fears"? Well, like I said, I grew up around a lot of spectacular homes and the term "resale attributes" is something I think about everytime I bring out my hammer or the paint or my drill. "What if I screw it up?" What if it looks terrible?" "These are solid wood cabinets! What if I'm ruining them forever?"

Well, 2 weeks ago, I put the "what if's" behind me and dove in. I sanded, primed, sanded, painted and repeated. I still haven't sanded after the first coat and applied the second coat, but it's coming very soon. My family was really tired of not having drawer fronts and cabinet doors and they wanted their dining table back, so I'm taking it one step at a time.

 Can you see the huge difference? It is almost like night and day! It is spectacularly bright in our kitchen and so much more cheerful than that oak-y brown stain. You can also see that old brown color in the above shot where I haven't done the spot under the cabinets, but believe me it will be done soon.

I used Kilz oil-based no-odor primer (highly recommended) and Olympic oil-based semi-gloss in 'Horseradish'. My original paint chip was Valspar's 'Bay Oyster' ~ I love that name~ but 'horseradish' was the closest shade that Olympic could match.

I even picked up some better cup pulls for my drawer fronts when I was they were clearanced at Target.

(Clearly I also need to use my camera tripod more often.)

So there you have it. The mini kitchen make-over that cost lots of hours and hard work, but only about $40 and gave new life to the hub of our home.

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Ikea-fied our bedroom


Last month, my family and I trekked northward for our first Ikea experience ever. And let me tell you it was everything I had imagined, all at once. We had made plans to hit up a few of the other stores we don't have in our town, but we didn't actually get that far. We twisted and turned our way through the Ikea Marketplace, not even venturing up into the showrooms, and that alone took almost all of our time. I loved the kitchen wares and the textiles, frames, planters, lighting and the furniture section (which is another post all together) but my very favorite was the self-serve fabric counter. My mind began spinning when I saw that gorgeous blue floral pillow back in textiles. I knew our bedroom would never be the same.

  I love the backs of the pillow almost as much as the front. Almost.

 When I ventured to the cutting table, I found coordinating navy /tan stripe clearanced for $3.99 / yd and almost had a heart attack right there. I bought 6 yards of the stripe and 2 of that fantastic blue check (because that was $8.99/yd). Then the Map Pillow. My poor husband. He must of thought I was crazy because I think I was shaking with excitement at that point.  

We had a cash budget set aside for this trip and I had a piece of furniture that was on the top of my list, so I calculated all the yardage for the duvet cover carefully and realize that it would be more economical to back the cover with that blue bedspread I had just passed up in the linen section. I was in love just looking at everything already coordinating in my cart, yet also not being matchy- matchy, which is exactly what I wanted to avoid.  I picked up that ruffle pillow and I that point I couldn't wait to get home and finish my new bedroom.

This whole project was so super simple. How simple? Simple enough to not even use a pattern. I cut my huge 6yd cut of stripe in half, matched the edges and sewed the panels together so that you can't see they were pieced. I used my old pillow sham dimensions to make the new navy check shams. I made the duvet ties from some torn scraps from that navy check.

(A word about the chicken pillow. I was not anticipating putting a chicken of any sort on our bed. However, I found that our Ikea has a clearance section off to the side of the warehouse right before you get to the checkouts. I took a peek and found a large plastic bag of fabric scraps stapled shut. I saw quite a bit of that navy check in the bag and decided to take the $2.99 gamble. I check out, make my way to the car and open my goody bag: that piece of blue check was actually this 19" pillow cover. For now it lives on our bed, but I haven't decided it that is the permanent home. Feel free to give your opinion in the comment section.)

Housework is not always my favorite thing, but I guarantee you that I smile every day when I make our "new" bed.

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