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Friday, June 29, 2012

Working on the Master

I've been slowly working my way through the house, taking my time making it all pretty.   Now I have finally turned my focus to the Master Bedroom.  Trust me - it needed it!  In fact, when I think about it, I don't think our bedroom has been completely "put together" during our entire marriage.  There is always something else to spend the time and money on. 
When we first moved in we painted the walls and that was pretty much it.  We had always used my old bedroom set from high school, which was basically a queen size headboard, a dresser with a mirror on top, and a single nightstand.  When we replaced our mattresses and upgraded to a king size, the headboard of course never fit and we've been living without one for 8 years.  I used to use an old desk as the nightstand on my side of the bed but we got rid of that a while ago and since we've moved I have just had a big 'ole black spot in the space beside my side of the bed.  And being near-sighted that means I can't see the alarm clock in the middle of the night - not fun. 
We had decided we wanted a sleigh bed and when one because available (for cheap!) we did get one about a year ago.  This past Christmas I told my husband our gift to ourselves was a new set of nightstands.  It took me until February to find the ones I wanted, then another 6-8 weeks for them to arrive since, of course, they had been out of stock.  In the meantime, I had pinned quite a few decor ideas and I now have a pretty clear concept of how I want the room to look eventually.  The first step was new bedding.  I had fallen in love with this Anthro-inspired bedding (inspiration link here) and decided I would take the leap (all white bedding is SCARY isn't it??) and try to make it myself.  I lucked into finding a fantastic deal on sheet sets online ($25 for a king set!), bought two of them, and used them as fabric to make a duvet cover (figuring that is SO much easier to wash than a comforter if the white ever gets stained).  I alternated ruffled strips and solid strips until I had the size of the down comforter we had picked up at Ikea when we were in Charlotte.  Once I got it on the bed, I decided it didn't cover the bottom of the mattress well enough, so I un-picked the side seams and added in a ruffle. 
Much better.  I used the leftover fitted sheet from the second sheet set as a mattress cover for the box springs.  Then picked apart the pillow cases to make king size shams.
For colors, I've been really drawn to high contrast color schemes, especially black and white and I've been excited about building on that idea.  The walls in the room are blue, so I added in a few touches of blue on the pillows to bring it together.
This black and white chevron pillow is my favorite.  Makes me feel like I'm in on the trends, as chevron patterns are still pretty popular :)
Sewing isn't my craft of choice, and the duvet was pretty labor intensive.  The sewing projects took over the sunroom for probably a good 3-4 weeks LOL.  But it was worth it.  I love my new bedding!
Next up - accessories!  And some sort of console table under the flat screen TV the husband talked me into last weekend (it was on the best sale we'd seen, plus he hadn't decided on what he wanted for his "big" gift for Father's Day and our anniversary).  :) Linking to:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Our List This Summer

 It has been my system for the last couple of years to sit down with the whole family and write up a list of things we want to do during the summer.  It serves to give us a bit of direction in what could be a series of long, hot, boring days.  Some of the bigger items need to be planned or scheduled ahead of time while the smaller things can be used to add a little fun when needed.  It's also just a fun activity overall, especially this year when the kids had quite a bit of input.  We ended up with a pretty good list incuding things like roasting marshmallows and learning to swim (Tyler) to visiting the beach and taking a trip to Utah to see the family.
Once we have the list, I type it up and make it all pretty so we can display it and check off the items as we go.  And with the second week of Summer just beginning we already have a great start on the list.  We've had lots and lots of pool time since our neighborhood pool opened.  We met some friends at the zoo for a fun day with the animals.  We fired up the fire pit and roasted giant marshmallows.

And we went berry picking - so fun!  Now there's an activity that gets addicting quickly.  The kids love picking the berries, especially since we go with another family that has become our designated berry picking buddies.  And we're all kind of obsessed :)  Last week we started out bright and early only to discover that we still weren't in time to get a shot at the raspberries (crazy!  they were gone by 7:30AM) so we stocked up on blackberries and blueberries (Kaitlyn's favorite) instead.  And then the true madness kicked in and we made a trip to a second farm where we picked strawberries (the last of the season) and loaded up on a few of the veggies they had for sale (sweet corn, baby potatoes, and green beans!). 
After that is was, of course time, to eat the berries (not that Kaitlyn hadn't been popping berries the entire time :)  ) - and oh how many great things there are to do with berries!  The kids insisted we make fruit smoothies as soon as we got home.  And of course we had the berries fresh with some fruit dip for lunch and dinner.  We had made arrangements to meet up with our berry buddies back at the pool that afternoon (which was of course great fun), then after showers (thus the scraggly hair in the above photo) Kaitlyn and I did some late-evening jam making.
We finished off the last of the berries on Sunday with homemade blackberry ice cream and blueberry crumble for Father's Day.  Now we're left wondering when we can manage to wake up early enough to get a shot at those raspberries...

Speaking of yummy summer food - We spend a good 3-4 afternoons or evenings down at the pool every week and snack food is in high demand right now.  So I got inspired and decided to let the kids mix up their own trail mix with items we had on hand in the pantry.  For that round I pulled out the peanuts, pretzels, sunflower seeds, mini marshmallows, raisins and white chocolate chips.  It was a huge hit with the kids!  It's my favorite type of summer "project."  Simple, quick, inexpensive, and easy to personalize.  I'm already gathering items for the next round of trail mix making - cashews, dried berries, goldfish crackers.  What else would be good in trail mix?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Giant Balloon Flowers

I have a quick and easy party decor tutorial for you today - mostly because I want to remember the process we figured out if I ever need it again :)
Kaitlyn's class did a very short play for part of their end of the year awards program in their classroom.  Her teacher wanted some giant flowers for the "set" (the play was about insects/collecting pollen) and Kaitlyn volunteered me to help out.  Not that I minded.  The teacher probably had no idea what she was getting herself into :)  She wanted a certain amount of flowers, 2 of each color and let me run with the rest of the plans.

Of course I recruited the husband to build the stands.  We did them completely out of scrap wood, painted them green and added big paper leaves.  That was our first installment.  We took these to the school the week before the play so the kids could practice with them. 
Then two days before the play we blew up all the balloons and I put together the flowers.  Thank goodness for husbands and power tools - the air compressor made relatively short work of this big task.

The idea I had been looking at online suggested tying the ends together to form the flower but they didn't keep their shape that way.  So I took discarded cardboard from cereal boxes, etc, cut it into circles (about 6" diameter), then cut 5 slits into the sides and slid the ends of the balloons into the slits.  I punched a hole in the center for the center balloon, then covered all the ends with tape to make sure they stayed in place.
Ta-da!  Giant three foot wide flowers made of balloons.
We carted them all to school (thank goodness I took the stands in earlier as the balloons filled the entire vehicle and I had to recruit helpers from her class to carry them all into the school) and I attached the cardboard to the stands with push pins.
Their little play was a big success.  Kaitlyn had one of the larger speaking parts and did a fantastic job as did the rest of her class.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer summer summertime!

As we were folding the laundry earlier this week my husband commented, "you know it's summer when you don't have to fold any socks!"  True, right?  Summer has it's own style and pace.  And the biggest difference between summer and the rest of the year isn't the fact that we spend most of our time in flip flops but the fact that the kids are home All Day, Every Day.  Oh boy.
I know a lot of schools have let out for the summer already.  Here in North Carolina we are still on our final week of school - and oh what a fun week it is.  Graduations (Tyler's preschool graduations was A-dorable), awards ceremonies, parties and field days, etc etc.  And while I'm just as excited as the kids are for lazy mornings with no schedules/places to be and fun filled afternoons at the pool, I am also dreading the long days that could lead to boredom and sibling arguments. Which means I've been gathering ideas for weeks now on how to combat these issues (and there are tons of great ones out there thanks to the internet, blogs, and Pinterest).  I am spending a good chunk of time today pulling things together - you know I don't tackle anything without a plan and a cute gimmick or two up my sleeve.

This morning found me in need of groceries (and probably one of the few opportunities I have left to go to the grocery store without kids in tow) and while I was out I made sure to stock up on on the summer Must Haves - freezer pops and fruit chillers and drink mixes and pool friendly snacks. I piled all my loot on the craft table and hunted up some of the other things I had stashed for summer use - a new extra large bottle of bubble solution, water balloons, and some water/pool toys (these aren't new, but we haven't used them much and I'm pretty sure the kids don't remember we have them) - and dumped it into a big bucket.  I plan to have the bucket sitting out to surprise the kids with when they get home from the final half-day of school on Friday.  (Plus a new sarong for Kaitlyn and a cap for Ty if I can find one that's cute and in his size.  Easier said than done, I'm finding.)
In addition to the bucket of fun, our plan is to celebrate the last day of school with a popsicle party at our neighborhood pool.  I've already posted an invite to all the neighbors on FB and it looks like we'll have a nice-sized gathering that afternoon.
Now I'm sitting here with notebook at the ready, flipping through all the ideas I have gathered to keep us all busy and happily entertained this summer.  I have a few new items to add to our Summer Fun Ideas Jar (you can see my post from last year here).  I've already pulled it out once already (this weekend when the kids and a couple of their friends just couldn't seem to agree on anything.  Worked like a charm - woohoo!) and I know it will come in handy many times in the next couple of months.  Basically it's a jar full of ideas that the kids can pull out when they are having a rough time.  The catch is that whatever idea they pull out, they MUST do that activity for at least the next 15 minutes, without complaining.
The boredom isn't the only thing I know we might get frustrated with this summer.  We have a fantastic neighborhood and a whole pack of kids that like play with each other as often as possible.  That gets a little hard on the parents when kids are in and out constantly, so I'm already considering a designated No Friends Day or at least a portion of each day when friends aren't here.  I even printed off this great little "Yes we can play/Sorry we can't play door hanger (printable found here).
Also on my mind - daily/weekly routines, learning activities, our Summer To Do List, and a good idea for dealing with bahavioral issues (like the many many arguments!).  I'll save all that for a post tomorrow and leave you with a few photos of the little treat I whipped up for Kaitlyn to give to her bus driver. She has stopped Kaitlyn more than once, and even pulled me aside at the bus stop to say how great/sweet/nice Kaitlyn is.  Love that!  She totally deserves a treat and a thank you.
Ok.  So I just grabbed a big ole' box of Junior Mints.  No idea what the bus driver likes, but this seems a safe bet.
Then I tweaked this printable (found here) to fit the box and printed it off on cardstock.  I would have printed it on yellow if I had known the yellow wouldn't print (printer issue on my end probably? I have since changed both ink cartridges), but instead I just colored in the background with a crayon.  Should have wiped off the icky crayon debris befor taking the photo - oops!  Stick a cute, quick and easy bus driver gift idea, even with the crayon crumbs, right?

Now it's time for me to wrap up my blogging and put my lists aside and go pick up my little guy from one of the few days of preschool he has left.  *sigh*  Oh they grow up so quickly...