Friday, November 9, 2012

My November Bless-Tacular Project

Thou hast given so much to me,

Give one thing more, a grateful heart;

Not thankful when it pleaseth me,

As if They blessings had spare days,

But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise

--George Herbert  


I've had intentions of posting more frequently as I have been crafting away but instead I've chosen to spend my blogging time as time to reflect. I've read the various blogs about these amazing women who are participating in The Birthday Project.   (Originally inspired by this incredible woman named Robyn who celebrated her birthday by performing a random act of kindness for every year of her life.

This inspired me so very much but as someone who has a birthday in January and was just now reading these blogs in October, I would have to wait a few more months until I could follow in their footsteps.

Then I started seeing the daily thankfulness status updates on Facebook that many of our friends and family post each day during the month of November and I had an idea. Instead of posting what I am thankful for each day, why don't I post what I did to perhaps make someone else thankful that day? What if I choose to bless someone every day of November as well as counting my own blessings?

After all, I could go on and on about how blessed I am. That's one of the things we usually post about our personal Facebook page as my husband and I share an account. Our loved ones know about our struggles and challenges and the abundance of blessings that our heavenly father has given us time and again. 

I feel strongly that I should be thankful for ALL of those blessings every. single. day. I speak openly about my failed marriages, my infertility, my cancer, my father's many health challenges, as well as our incredible adoption journey. I am thankful for what God has brought us through and what he has gifted us with. Every. Single. Day.

So, instead of crowing about it again on Facebook, I decided that I'd like to inspire and hopefully challenge friends and family to give others something to be thankful for. During this season of thanksgiving, there are SO many people who feel as if they have nothing to be thankful for. To quote Aesop "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."

I started this personal project on November 5th, so I had a bit of catching up to do so I performed the first 5 in one afternoon. Many of these I will be doing with my 17 month old but my husband will also participate when the opportunity presents itself. 

Some of the plans I have for the month are handing out bottles of water  to the after school crosswalk monitors and our neighborhood postal carriers. Saving the higher value coupons for food, make-up, craft stores, etc. and taping them near the products they are for with a note. Visiting a local hospital - most likely the one where my son was born - with flowers for the nurses. While there, I'd like to tape some coins to vending machines and leave some goodies in the waiting areas for children. I'd also like to visit a senior home and bring them some cheer, too.

Below I will keep a record of what I hope will be 30 days of blessings for friends, family, and complete strangers aka My November Bless-tacular!

1. Went to Old Navy and offered my SuperCash to the pregnant woman in front of me in line. She looked so surprised! She told me that she'd had such an awesome day so far. She had just left a meeting that she thought would be quite extensive and ended up only being 30 minutes long. I overheard her tell the cashier that she was a teacher. I was so pumped to have helped an expectant mother as well as a teacher.

2. Went to Michael's. My son was flirting with a woman in line behind us. Another cashier opened up and asked me to step over to be rung up. I told the lady behind us (who had an overlowing full cart while I had a handful of items) to go right ahead. The smile on her face was infectious!

3. Still at Michael's, I gave my cashier my coupon for 40% off to give to someone who could use it. My items were already on sale and could not benefit from the coupon anyway. My cashier ended up giving me 50% off of my total. Wow.

4. Went to Chic-Fil-A for an iced tea. After receiving my change from the twenty I gave him, I gave the drive-thru cashier a $5 bill and asked him to apply it towards the next drive-thru order.

5. Went to Hobby Lobby and wandered about. I'd printed two coupons for 40% — not to use, mind you — and looked around for someone to give them to. Ended up handing one to a lady and her husband walking in as we were leaving. She was so surprised and grateful!

6. Gave $5 to Toys for Tots.

7. Did not make it out but made plans to double up on day 8...

8. I printed up some inspiration quotes and pieces (such as Desiderata, Mother Teresa's Anyway, etc) and slipped them into fun and cheerful note cards that I picked up at Target. On the blank cards I wrote little notes such as "Smile! Happy looks good on you!" or "Keep being awesome! Keep being you!" and various other sentiments similar to those. 

Since I had missed doing anything on Day 7, I packed up a few cards and took them with us for family dinner. Our sweet little 17 month old gentleman handed one over to the restaurant manager who, after opening the envelope,  told us that we'd made her night.  As we left the restaurant, I tasked my husband with putting an envelope on a car and I did the same. Yes, we handed out three because I was worried that I'd miss doing anything on Day 9 as Fridays can be hectic for our family.

To be continued...


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ikea LÄTT makeover

The laughter of a child is the light of the home.

Fall has been crazy busy! I'm in the process of co-hosting a kids Halloween party with one of my besties. I'm also coordinating a surprise party for my father that will take place in early November. Then there are church obligations and my desire to have ALL my Christmas shopping done by the end of October and...well...

It's more than a little hectic.

We're still working on our home office. The paint is finally done and now we're installing shelves and adding wall art. I need to make a window treatment for the window, too. I'll be glad when the office is done because I am so ready to move on to our master bedroom!

When we went to Ikea to pick up the shelving, we also purchased the Ikea LÄTT children's table and chair set for $19.99. I'd come across so many gorgeous makeovers of this set on Pinterest and I was inspired to do my own. Baby J is 16 months old (today!) and I thought this would be a perfect little set for him. After some tweaking, of course.

This is the obligatory "before" shot from the Ikea site.

I'd bought a yard of some fun and colorful argyle fabric from Hobby Lobby a week or two before this project. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with it - only that I had to do SOMETHING with it. Since it matches the color scheme of our living room, I thought it was perfect for the seats.

While my husband was busy covering the table and chairs with primer, I went to work on the chair seats. I used some foam that I bought from Joann's to pad the seats and give them some cushion for Baby J's tush. I used some double sided tape to keep the foam in place as I stapled the fabric to the seat. I used a regular stapler and after many tries, realized that I could use it as if the seat was a piece of paper. The fabric was pulled taut and stayed in place and there were no sharp or pointy things that could cause injury.

After two coats of spray primer and two coats of Rust Oleum dark walnut spray paint, my husband had the fun task of placing the covered seats into the chair. It was a bit of a struggle but in the end, Husband prevailed.

He then took the chairs outside to seal them. We even sprayed the fabric with sealant. Here is the end result:

We're so tickled with our little project! I haven't decided whether or not I'll be adding something to the tabletop. I saw some red vinyl at Joann's that would look great on top and would add some durability, too. I'm also considering chalkboard paint or Con-Tact paper.

I'll be putting up some sort of racks for books the left at some point. This is the corner where we place our Christmas tree, so everything we do here has to be removable. Thank goodness for Command hangers!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Extra Kitchen Storage

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”  -- Confucius

I've been on a tear to de-clutter our home. We have a garage that has been converted into...extra space. It's not a completely finished room, so we use it for storage. We moved into our house in October of 2005 and since that time, the converted garage has become our cluttered little secret.  Well, I guess the cat is out of the bag now. 

Anyway, the garage/conversion is my husband's pet project. In the meantime, I'm doing my annual spring cleaning in the fall. Now that we have a child, I'm on a mission to really de-clutter each room. There's something about all those toys and toy pieces that we've accumulated in just a year that has me a bit frazzled. When my house gets too much stuff, I get overwhelmed and feel almost smothered. I'm sure I get this trait from my mother. She's the kind of woman who wakes up at 6am every day to vacuum her house. 

She cleans EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. 

I'm a stay at home mom and I just can't clean every OTHER day, let alone every day. 


I mentioned this canned food cabinet tutorial at Classy Clutter to  my dear husband and he really liked the idea. We have a very tiny kitchen - some might say a "one butt" kitchen. We don't have a pantry and we have very few cupboards. This cabinet would fit perfectly in the empty space right next to our fridge and utilize all that vertical real estate. 

So, when my husband's parents came to visit, I suggested this little project for he and his step-father to do together. Bonding and de-cluttering - win/win, right?

Here's some pictures of the completed project:
My son, Baby J, and our cat, Eddie, inspect the merchandise.

Exterior view.

What would we do differently? Not much. My husband stayed pretty true to the tutorial. The only thing he would like to change is the casters. Right now, they are free rolling casters that seem to have a mind of their own. He'd like to try and find static casters to keep them rolling in one direction as it can be a little tough to wrangle the cabinet back into it's cubby hole.

This was another great Pinterest find. Big props to the ladies of Classy Clutter for this awesome idea and detailed tutorial. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Burlap Rag Wreath for Fall

"By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer."
- Helen Hunt Jackson

I love the end of summer in Texas. The weather is PERFECT this time of year. As unpredictable as our climate can be, it stays pretty comfortable until late November. Instead of oppressive heat, we have beautiful, balmy, weather and delicious breezes. 

To celebrate the first day of fall, I finally completed my wreath project! It took some time for me to gather my supplies. I couldn't find orange burlap anywhere! I finally ordered some online and it got here in a couple of days.  

I'd seen this one on Pinterest a couple of months ago and just fell in love with it. So, using it as my inspiration, I set to work looking for rag wreath tutorials that were easy to follow. I finally found one at Six Sisters Stuff that fit the bill. There's no need for me to do a write-up because they did a great job! 

I vaguely followed the instructions as I didn't really take time to measure my strips of burlap. I just eyeballed them and decided on a length that looked good to me. I also used their bow tutorial as a guideline for my own bow. Just like the wreath, I didn't follow it to the "tee" but I think mine turned out pretty well. 

The hardest part was tieing all that burlap! It's a rough material and my hands do ache a bit but it was worth it! I really love my new wreath and I'm proud that I can say I made it all by myself. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Picture Plaques

"Sometimes God takes us into troubled waters not to drown us but to cleanse us."

We all have trials, challenges, and difficulties in life. Mine are no different than others. Mine are no worse than others. Mine are simply mine. My family and I have experienced several challenges in the past three years and each of these tests have resulted in a testimony. As times goes on, I hope to become more comfortable with blogging my personal testimonies. In just three short years, we have faced various cancers, infertility, an adoption journey, the stillbirth of our adopted son's brother, and more.

What I am able to say today is that I do feel that these tests have molded me into the person I've always wanted to be. Someone who relies on God and not self understanding. Someone who is stronger than she realized. Someone who continues to care for others even though her own life seems to be falling apart around her. Someone who forgives the unforgivable. Someone who loves without conditions. Someone who continues to keep the faith even when the enemy is at my doorstep.

All that being said, crafting has continued to be a way for me to focus my energies and clear my mind. I'm enjoying the brief moments of solitude and silence (aka naptime) when I can get messy with paints, glues, and other assorted crafting mediums.

I recently completed some wall hangings for my son's room. His room is *mostly* done. The walls are pretty bare, so I do need to work on more wall decor. I recently decided on a color and theme change, too, so I need to: make a new dust ruffle for his crib; make a new window treatment for his window; recover the glider in his room; and recover the storage ottoman in his room.

Here's the corner of the room that I'm currently working on. The wall color is a soft green...although the more that times goes on it seems to look more khaki to me.

 Since the new color scheme for the room is basically primary/bright colors, I am doing my best to accent his room with pops of color that will complement the walls as well as his new bed set, Vitaminer Rand, from Ikea.

After spending far too much time on Pinterest, I went to my local Joann's to see what they had that might fit the bill. I found several raw wood plaques in various shapes for $2.99 each. I already had acrylic paint and Command picture hangers at home, so I was good to go.

Our home office doubles as my craft room, so I placed my supplies on my desk and got to work.

I used 2-3 coats depending on the shade and consistency of the paint. I mixed my own orange and it ended up too red. I kept the color, though. I figure I can always add more plaques and colors to that wall.

After the paint had plenty of time to dry, I used Mod Podge to apply my pictures. We had our printed at Fed Ex but I am sure there are places that we can go to get it done cheaper. My husband happens to work for Fed Ex Corporate. Since we have a Fed Ex right down the street, that's just where we go to get our prints made. 

 Here are the finished plaques in Baby J's room.

I will say that if I were to do this project again that there are a few things I'd do differently:
  • I'd cut the edge of the pictures to match the shape of the plaque. The rectangle picture on the oval plaque looks a bit strange to me.
  • I'd be better about centering the photos. The picture on the white plaque is off-center and is bugging me quite a bit.

There's plenty of room on the wall for more plaques, so I am pretty sure I'll be adding to the collection pretty soon. Overall, I'm pleased with the end result and I look forward to adding more wall decor to his room to give it a more finished appearance.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Busy-ness & Poe

“I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much.” --Mother Theresa

 September - for me -  means the beginning of a very busy time. I do my best to have my Christmas shopping done by the end of October. I begin planning for various holiday events. I do my spring cleaning in the fall...

Since I was inducted into The Mommy Club last year, I'm especially excited for the holidays. My son, Baby J, is now 15 months old. He's the coolest little kid and I love seeing the world through his eyes. 

So, this year, my bestie and I are throwing a Halloween party for our kiddos. My bestie's daughter (my god daughter) is 6 years old and so much fun. Our children just adore each other and I just love seeing them together. This year they are both dressing up as pirates for Halloween. I just can't wait to see them both in costume!

I'm writing all this to say that I have a lot of projects in the works. I'm currently working on:

  • Homemade Halloween pirate costume
  • Wall decor for son's room
  • Wreath for the front door
  • Trick or treat bag
  • Halloween party projects 
  • Blinds for our dining area
  • Window treatment for our office
  • Window treatment for son's room

My husband is actually finishing up two projects for me. One of them is extra storage space from Learning to be me. He's also finishing up the painting in our office. Then it'll be time to tackle our master bedroom. Fun! 

Upcoming projects:

  • Canvas art
  • Wall shelves for the office
  • Craft Dresser
  • Updated Wicker Shelf
  • Reupholstered storage ottoman
  • Reupholstered rocker glider
  • Decor & Gifts for 70th birthday party

Our family experienced a tragic loss in early September and as such, it's been hard for me to think of much else. Being able to craft and update my home has been a much needed reprieve from my very muddled thoughts. I think that's why I have so many project irons in the proverbial fire - to keep my mind off of our loss. I know I need to face it head on and I know I need to grieve and process it in a healthy way. Until I figure out HOW to do that, I'll just keep praying, loving, living, and crafting. 

I'll conclude with a picture of my most recent Hobby Lobby purchase. I've named this little fella Poe. I wrapped some Halloween ribbon around his base. It's rather sloppy but it'll do until I figure out just what I want to do to dress him up. 


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Prayer Board

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

One evening I was browsing Pinterest and came across a prayer board. I thought this was such a cute idea and wanted to make one for our home.

With a vague idea in mind, I went to Hobby Lobby to see what I could use for this project. After a lot of searching, I finally decided on a cute picture frame. I wanted to be able to use chalk on my prayer board, so I bought chalkboard spray paint and happily carried my purchases home.

I then began to wonder what I would use as the surface of my prayer board. What could I spray paint that would hold up to chalk and lots of erasing? I then ordered some chalkboard Con-Tact paper. Of course, I then resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to wait for my supplies to arrive in order to resume crafting.

After an hour of daytime TV, I realized I was just itching to complete this project. So, I decided to paint the pane of glass that came with the frame.

First coat of paint.
It was over 100 degrees in the sweltering Texas summer heat. I was worried that the paint would bubble or not dry smooth. Thankfully, the first coat dried beautifully. The second coat went just as well.

I'd bought some chip board letters and used Mod Podge to adhere the letters to the painted surface. It was all I had on hand at the time and the result was great. I wanted to keep my prayer board pretty simple and without too many embellishments.

Finished prayer board.

Initially, I did use regular chalk on the board. However, I'd also ordered a chalk marker along with my Con-Tact paper. It works really well on the painted glass since it isn't porous. I like how neatly it writes and how cleanly it wipes off.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the end result.