Monday, December 23, 2013

My DIY Stockings

Once upon a year I wanted to sew my family's Christmas stockings.
So I bought four matching green ones from the dollar spot in Target.
Because temporary stockings didn't need to be fancy.
Temporary ended up being three Christmases.
My five children had mismatched stockings last year.

Sometime in the beginning of this December I was browsing Joann's Christmas aisle and saw the cutest stockings!  I loved both the sweater stockings and the burlap ones.  But at $30 a piece...yeah, I decided it was high time I finally sew my family's stockings.

Burlap seemed too messy and too rough...linen seemed to be the best route.  And because I'm thrifty and savvy and resourceful and all that, I dug in my fabric stash and found a pair of cream curtains I was saving for just because.  While they're not exactly linen, they're close enough for me.

And while I'm not crafty and creative when left to my own resources, I am very good at copying other people's ideas...or in this case, using their patterns.

I used an old sheet for the linings (told you!) and needed only to buy 1/4 yard of fabric for each stocking cuff and whatever buttons and lace I wanted.  I paid a total of $15 for six stockings (oops, I only photographed five)!
I will claim full creativity credits for the cuffs!  I guess I can come up with something on my own!

While Aubrey's stocking, the cream floral one, is still awaiting a fabric flower for decoration (per her request), the rest are complete.  And I do love them!

The only thing I don't like about them is how limp they are.  I fully intended to add batting when I was making them, but completely forgot it on the first stocking in my excitement to see the completed product.  I wanted them all to be the same, so left it out of the rest.  But I do believe that would have helped.

Ideally, they'd hang on my deep blue wall, but that didn't work out, so they line the portrait hallway.
And ideally, I'd have added the wood name tags before I photographed and shared them with you, but that didn't work out either.

Hey, if Santa knows their face and can see their photo in the dim light, he'll get it figured out!
The stockings are made with care and hung.  We're doing good!

Friday, December 20, 2013

51:52 Cold

I had an was to try take an interesting picture of a glass of ice cold water.
Sadly, I forgot about it amidst all this Christmas bustle and my good light was gone before I could attempt it.  So, I am posting a picture of the obvious.  Obvious for late December in Northern Arizona.

51:52 Cold

It's been cold.  One morning the other week, I woke up to a temperature of 7 below zero.  Thankfully, it doesn't stay that cold and our glorious sun usually always makes an appearance.

Now talking about cold...our sauna "dressing room".  It's not heated.  So it has been anywhere from 20 to 40 degrees when we head out there to take a sauna.  That is when you master the art of undressing in split seconds so you can hop into the deliciously warm sauna.

And even colder...the snow piles outside the sauna...that my boys ROLL IN several times throughout the course of their sauna!  Brrrrrrrr!

Linking up to Leann.  See what's chilly in her corner.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

50:52 Tradition

One of the funnest things about being a parent is the opportunity to continue your childhood traditions with your own family.

Growing up, one of my favorite holiday activities was decorating sugar cookies.  And we actually decorated them every Easter.  They were egg shaped cookies, and the decorating possibilities seemed endless to me...stripes, polka dots, zigzags, initials.  It was a great way to foster our artistic creativity.

While I whip up a batch of these cookies only occasionally for Easter, I always do them at Christmas.

 50:52 Tradition

It's one of the kids' favorite activities and it keeps them entertained for a whole hour or more.  Some of these cookies get wrapped up and make their way to the kids' school and music teachers.  The rest we share with family at our Christmas gatherings.

Elaina (2 years old) took her job very seriously.  Every now and then she would holler out "I need red!" or "here mom, you need green!" (she has no idea what her colors are yet).  She was especially serious when it came to sprinkles.  She went to town.  I wish I would have gotten a picture of her six cookies.  They each had a small mound of frosting in the middle, then a mountain of green sprinkles. :)

I've been thinking about traditions a lot lately.  I think they are important.  They foster a closeness among family members and create a sense of belonging.  I've thought about what traditions we have as a family, and most of them are carried over from either mine or Dean's childhood.  While that is good, I want to start creating some that are our very own.

One tradition that I'm excited to continue this year and every Christmas from here on out, is caroling.  Our little family bundles up and makes the round of our culdesac and other neighbors we know, singing our favorite carols.  I love that my kids are old enough for this!  Everyone sings!  Afterward, we come home and drink hot chocolate and decorate gingerbread houses.

And yes, while these traditions are supposed to be fun, I sometimes get lazy as a mom and am tempted to skip the things my kids anticipate.  Excuses of we're too busy, it's a hassle, and there's just no time shouldn't get in the way of my family's traditions. These are the things I know they'll remember of their childhood, just as I have such fond memories of my own childhood cookie decorating days, biscuit bunny making, and waking up to a valentine's day surprise.

What traditions do you and your family keep?

Friday, December 6, 2013

49:52 Intangible

Intangible: that which cannot be touched

Determination: a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult; resoluteness

Yet I can almost feel the boys' determination in these photos.  It's palpable in the air, or for you, in the photos.  

49:52 Intangible

We can sometimes see those things which are intangible - emotions.  
And the world is a richer place because of it.

Linking up to Leann this last month.  We're in the home stretch of Project 52! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Oak to Rustic White hutch makeover

It was the week before Thanksgiving that I was finally able to unpack all my Mom's china.  It really was great timing as I did not have 13 matching dinner plates in my kitchen cupboards.

As I was unpacking my totes, Dean commented that "well, she's really settling in now, she's unpacking her china!"

Yes, I'm settling in.  And I do love the feeling.  Especially when setting a holiday table is as simple as taking a couple steps to the hutch and grabbing what you need.

So for a couple years I had been looking for a hutch.  But it had to be a corner hutch to fit my dining room.  I wasn't coming across too many used ones within 50 miles of home.
Until this oak one popped up on craigslist for $350. Three hundred and fifty dollars!  Way more than I was willing to pay.  And way more than anyone else would pay for that matter, because she replied to my "I'll offer you less" email after a couple weeks.

My memory is going at a terribly young age, because I suddenly can't remember what the dickens I actually paid for it!  Oh, I think it was $150.  Yes, that's what it was.

Either way, I was kicking up my heels to finally have my hutch, and I immediately started removing all the hardware, doors, and stained glass, because oak and brass are not me.  It was particularly fun the Saturday I took a hammer to the mirror backing!

And then it sat in the garage while I waited for the sky to pour out sunshine and warmth so I could tackle the 'transformation of the hutch'.

I decided to transform my hutch with a homemade chalk paint (the plaster of paris recipe), a can of flat black spray paint, some tongue and groove siding, and a can of red oak stain (because that's what I had on hand, but it is a bit too dark for my liking).

So I took to mixing the paint (a quart sample paint pot in satin did the trick), applying the two coats, and staining the wood paneling.  Dean actually nailed these boards to the back of the hutch for me, because I wasn't having much luck getting the nails in at the right angle.

And now I will share with you my high-tech secret method of spray painting brass hardware...
are you ready for this???

Incredible huh!?  Who knew those countless boxes of Huggies would actually come in useful in more ways than one!

I couldn't wait to put all the pieces back together once the paint was dry, and haul it in the house!

Nevermind that there are no glass doors on the top yet.  The glass shop was closed the day I did make it to that side of town. So those will hopefully be in place soon.

I do love the look of the delicate china in front of the wood boards.  And the crisp clean white.  And the black hardware.  Actually, it would be fun to replace the hardware with something more ornate someday...

You know, regarding the homemade chalk paint, I really wasn't too sure about it as the paint was going on.  My hutch took two coats of paint, a light sanding, and a coat of furniture wax.  It wasn't until after I applied the wax that I loved the look of chalk paint on my hutch.
And quite honestly, I don't know if the process is that different (or easier) from sanding, applying one coat of primer, one coat of paint, and one coat of poly.
The wax was easier to apply than the poly anyway, so that's one perk of the chalk paint route.

Now if I were to paint the base and legs of my dining room table...I would definitely go the chalk paint route.  It makes complete sense for rounded, grooved surfaces such as these.

I'm not sure what I'm waiting for, but I will let you know once I do get those legs painted.  Won't it look fantastic and so much brighter?!  And the two pieces will tie together so much more!

Okay, so maybe I need verification that I won't totally ruin my (8 year old) table by painting the legs white to match the hutch.  Opinions?  Paint the legs or leave them as is?  Or should I just paint the bench legs?
I'd love to hear your ideas.

Friday, November 29, 2013

48:52 Satisfaction

This week, satisfaction was a house full of family, feasting at our table, visiting and laughing together.
Thanksgiving was as wonderful as always because I am blessed with a large, loving family.

But I didn't get a chance to photograph that kind of satisfaction.  Or the kind that follows eating a very large, very delicious meal of turkey, candied sweet potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie, etc.

So instead, I will share one of the other sources of my satisfaction this week.

My hutch makeover project is finished!
I am quite satisfied with the end result, and with the fact that I finished it in time to fill it with my china for use on this Thanksgiving. 

I'll share more details and pictures of my hutch next week.
Enjoy your weekend, as well as Marcy's pictures!

Friday, November 22, 2013

47:52 Nature

I thought that most of my pictures were of people, and specifically my kids.

However, Project 52 has made me realize that when I go out of the house I take almost just as many nature shots as I do kid shots.

47:52 Nature

I think that is a good thing.  I don't want to be stuck shooting just one subject. 
I don't want to be limited to only two either, actually.

Hmmm, I'm wishing next week's theme was 'urban' or something similar.  At least it isn't kids or nature.
Come visit again next week to see what it is, and in the meantime enjoy viewing what kind of nature Marcy has captured and shared.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

46:52 Be Still

It was on our hike out of the Grand Canyon - when I realized how quickly our hiking boots were eating up the miles - that I felt the sudden urge to just stop.  
To stop and soak up the beauty of the place. 
To be still and listen to the wind and the birds.
To pause and let the stillness of the place seep into my being. 
To be still and absorb it all and imprint it into my memory for later recollections.

46:52 Be Still

And now our weekend hike is behind me.  It feels far behind me though in reality it was just weeks ago.
And I want to be back there, soaking it all up.

Instead, I will 'be still' here.
And appreciate this moment I have in this place, my home, with these people, my family.

Be still and find the beauty that is in today.

Friday, November 8, 2013

45:52 Texture

Even bare of their golden fall leaves, I still find the aspen tree beautiful.

I'm wondering if Leann has some fabric texture to share with us this week.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

5 Things I Learned about Hiking the Grand Canyon

#5 -  Fall is a beautiful time of year to hike the Grand Canyon.

#4 -  You develop a special kinship with your hiking partners.  You're in it together; you have to get out together.

#3 -  Going down is NOT easier than coming up!

#2 -  The Canyon is demanding and unrelenting (we did a 4,000 ft elevation change from top to bottom), but the human body is surprisingly resilient.  Your legs just keep going.

#1 -  The Grand Canyon is so vast, so rugged, and so incredibly raw in it's beauty that there is no way you can take it all in over a single weekend trip.  You will want to go back.

(I have lots more pictures to share.  In the meantime, check out my brother-in-law's blog about our hike.  He does a great job capturing the beauty of this place.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

44:52 Hands

One of the things I love
is hearing my children make music.

From the little ones, with cute chubby hands, learning to press piano keys with each finger,
to the older ones, with more dexterous fingers, who employ both their hands and their lips to make a note, then a string of notes that make a song.

I'm delighted they are interested in instruments.
I look forward to adding the violin or flute (she hasn't decided yet which) into our cacophony of noise. 

The music their little hands can make is quite wonderful.

This month I'm linking up to Marcy.  Head her way to see more.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

43:52 Looking Down

It is late in the morning
and the sun has just peeked out from behind the clouds
melting the light dusting of snow and making the roads shimmer.
A train's light blinks in the distance, then the whistle blows
as it comes curving through town on it's way to who knows where.

43:52 Looking Down

I am content to watch it pass through as I keep my perch here, high above my mountain town.  I am happy here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Preparing for the hike of my life

Unlike me, my hubby has no hankerings for spontaneous adventures, touristy attractions, new cities, and beaches.

He prefers the tried-and-true quiet retreats that do not involve mobs of people.
Like our overnight trip down to beautiful Fossil Springs three years ago (I can't believe I didn't blog about that).

Like his almost-annual hikes down to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Every year he's hiked the Grand Canyon, I've briefly imagined rattle snake bites, falls, and heat stroke which make my heart beat too fast.  After which I promptly remind myself that he is healthy and smart and competent.  Then I imagine myself with him.  At the bottom.
Because something keeps drawing him back there year after year, and I want to know what it is.

I never try to imagine what it takes to get down there, or get back out, because...well, I kind of imagine it will be like wishing I were anywhere else in the world but there on the redwall. Kind of like wishing I were just dead.

Maybe I'm being dramatic, I don't know. But remember this - you have to carry all your water, food, gear, and clothing on your back!  Because Dean and his brother's don't do touristy places and mobs of people. That means no corridor trails with pack mules.

This year he is going again.  I get to imagine all the potential disasters that will momentarily make my heart beat too fast.  I get to remind myself, yet again, that my hubby is experienced and will come out in one piece.
But this year I don't have to lie in bed at night, wishing I were there with him in his little tent, because...
I will be going too!
Yes, the thought is causing some nervous heart palpitations.  But....I. Am. Excited!!!!!
I'm thrilled to be going.  I'm terrified that I'm actually going.  I'm ecstatic.

My plan was to be 100% physically prepared for this hike so that I could fully enjoy the experience (in other words, no thoughts of "just call the helicopters" or "I can't do it, let the rattle snakes finish me off").

While I haven't been able to log nearly as many hours hiking and lunging as I would have liked, I'm as ready as I'll ever be.  I guess.  With nine days till the hike of my life, I don't think I have any other choice but to keep on doing what I've been doing, pack my bags, and pray my legs will support me the entire way.

A few weeks ago, Dean and I filled our packs and hit the mountain for a "test run".  At least that was how he termed it as he will be wearing a new pack.  I called it training.

We hiked the Weatherford trail on the south side of the San Francisco Peaks.

The hike was exhilarating and the views were absolutely stunning.

I have a feeling that if this is even one-third as grand as the Grand Canyon, I will have absolutely no regrets about having signed on for such a hike.
Ten miles down.  Ten miles up.  Unparalleled beauty the whole way.
No sweat, right?
It will be totally worth it.

Um, right??

Monday, October 21, 2013

visitor stickers and paint projects

I have a week of 60+ degree weather coming up.
What am I doing blogging?

I have a honey oak hutch in the garage and raw wood siding on the guest house, both awaiting paint.
What am I doing blogging?

I have an art print and a packet of information as well as a kindergarten class expecting me tomorrow.
What am I doing on the computer again?

Oh, that's right, I was blogging!
Because I have to go pick up one child from school in 20 minutes and that's not enough time to dive into any of my projects.
And because I am having blogging withdrawals.  All these post ideas in my head, and no time to bring any of them to fruition.

Do any of you feel a sense of urgency to complete projects when it's a beautiful end of October like I do?
I have this urge to refinish furniture, redo my kitchen, paint my bedroom walls, and who knows what else I'll dream up, because it's gorgeous weather and I should be enjoying the opportunity to piddle in the garage, or throw open windows to let the paint fumes out.

Oh, but I should be outdoors too!  Fall is the best time of year to hike, run, and bike!
Plus, I'm getting ready for a daunting, sure to be amazing, once in my lifetime, 20 something mile long hike!  Eeee!
I'll try find the time to share with you later this week. Huh? I said try. It was no promise.

Okay, what was I saying again?  Oh yeah, I was going through withdrawals.
I've been busy as a beaver at the kids' school.

Sometimes I don a volunteer lanyard, and other times a visitor sticker (Donovan likes to wear one too).
Sometimes I help the Kindergartners finding their sight words in books.  Sometimes I make journals or cut paper in the copy room. Sometimes I help the 2nd graders with a map activity, or working on spelling workbooks.  Once I got to read the class my favorite kids book.  We also baked apple tarts.  And this coming week will be the first of nine Masterpiece Art lessons that I do in my kid's classrooms this school year.
So yeah, I've been kind of busy.  And it's not going to get a whole lot better soon.
But I love it!!  For the first time ever, I've been able to be actively involved in my kid's classrooms.

Sooo, what else have I been up to?  Painting bathroom cabinets, laying out the floor plan for our sauna room, squeezing in a hike or run when I can, piddling here and there.

A clean white pot, some sample paint, and half an hour of my time resulted in this fun pot in my kitchen window.
It makes me smile.

And now I am out of time.  Off to school I go.
Till next time!

Friday, October 18, 2013

42:52 Storyboard

Yesterday morning I was glad to discover that I had left my camera on the kitchen counter.
Because this is what I was able to document while I flipped french toast 
and while the kids came, one by one, out of their rooms.

42:52 Storyboard

Take a big guess which of the kids is the most comfortable with the dog?!
And yes, every morning looks a lot like this.
She (the dog) sure lives a hard life, huh?

Can I go curl up for a morning nap now?

Head Leann's way for more storyboard fun!

Friday, October 11, 2013

41:52 Wrinkles

I have no *new* photo to share.  Terrible, I know.
But it's the cutest photo ever, so perhaps you'll forget the fact that you've seen this little love before...

41:52 Wrinkles

I'm linking up to Leann again...

Friday, October 4, 2013

40:52 Movement

Be aware: If you start tossing and swinging her around, she'll never let you quit. This girl will keep you moving!

This week I'm linking up to Leann.  Happy Fall, ya'll!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It must be the eyes

I recently purchased a new camera, and even more recently a new lens, and even more recently... the newest version of Photoshop Elements.

I can now take images with a pretty good portrait lens, the 50mm.
I can now open and edit images in RAW format (a file that is minimally processed).
I am floored by the results.
And I am addicted.

I love the photos I took this past weekend (at least the ones I took before it got too dark), but I forgot to shoot in RAW. It worked out fine though, because I was able to open them in RAW (way cool feature!) and adjust the exposure, lightening them up a bit.

Since I'm driven by results, I love me some photoshop!

I'm no professional.  I'm having fun learning though, and my pictures are good enough for me.
These photos...they are priceless.

This girl of mine...
she literally takes my breath away.  
She's gentle and sweet with just enough spice, and I can see it here.
I love, love, love the photo.  

This boy of mine...
he wins me with that smile, with those big blue eyes.
He's thoughtful, dynamic, and bright.
I love, love, love him.

I am so thankful I have a camera and the ability to take photos for hanging in our home.
I am in awe of my five beautiful children and seeing their faces every day on our walls fills me to the brim.

Thanks for letting me share a couple pairs of smiling eyes with you.
I love, love, love them.

Friday, September 27, 2013

39:52 Sweet

I know that you all will think I'm a bit biased, BUT...

does this girl not have the sweetest eyes and smile?

39:52 Sweet
A sweet treat for a sweet girl

She turns two tomorrow!  And while it's true that I call her my firecracker, she also has the sweetest disposition.  She hugs everyone, loves on her baby dolls, and melts me with her smile.

Cute little headbands in her (finally growing) hair don't hurt anything either!
Neither do chubby little toddler hands.
Or kissable cheeks and button noses.
Or toddler language, for that matter.

Go see what's sweet this week in Maaret's world.

Monday, September 23, 2013

All Aboard!

Choo-choooo.  Hop on board the Diaper Express!

I only have one in diapers right now.
But you wouldn't know it by this supply.  
I stock up when I go to Sam's.
I've been buying my diapers there (or Costco) for years.

I was just thinking...
I've been buying diapers for nine years and seven months.
If I bought at least one box of diapers every month,
that's 115 months times roughly $40...
Oh, never mind!
That could be a depressing number.

As in like a Hawaiin vacation number.
But it's not worth considering.  I rather like being able to throw
dirty diapers in the trash versus the washing machine.

Now what would be interesting to know, 
is the number of diapers I've contributed to the landfill.
Let's see... five children...
It's a mountain, I'm sure.

Do I get any credit for at least recycling the cardboard box?

Happy Monday my friends!
If you're currently on the same train as me, may your diapering days be jolly!
Chugga, chugga, choo, choooo!

Friday, September 20, 2013

38:52 Outside the Lines

If I pretended we had a set of lines that we, as parents, were following for this journey called 'raising children', they would not be straight.
If you were to look back at our lines of the last nine plus years, you would find that while they started heading in one direction, they veered off course several times, and that we are no longer heading in the same direction now.
But I think that is good.
We are learning, and we are learning that what we once thought was important may not necessarily be so any longer.  I'll call that living. Living and learning.

While we may have once walked in narrow lines, I think they are starting to broaden. It's when we step outside of our self-created lines, that we push them out, expand them. I'll call that growth. Personal growth.

I think that I may have stepped outside of our pre-set lines earlier this week
(the only kind of growth I see at this moment is the tangible one of another breathing body occupying this household).
I brought home a four legged friend.

As crazy at it is to me, my kids now have a new best friend.

A very energetic, shedding, and kind of smelly best friend.  Oh, what did I get ourselves into???

But the kids love her already.  
They want to be in the same room as her.  
They think about her when we're not at home.
They give her endless hugs.

And they *cringe* share their snacks with her.

Definitely outside the lines!

I never would have thought this would be a sight you'd see in my home...

So yes, perhaps this step of acquiring a family pet was a bit 'outside the lines' for us, but then again perhaps it will soon seem very apropos and our lines will make yet another, broadening shift on their ever evolving course.

I'm linking up to Maaret this Friday.
Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, September 13, 2013

37:52 Emotion

We run through a lot of different emotions over here.
And while I knew I would have lots of different opportunities to capture some, what with five kids ranging from expressive, to funny, to sensitive, I ended up with something completely different than I thought I'd have.

We've had a few birthdays in this household lately.
Brant turned six. We didn't quite know how to wrap his bike, so we brought it into the room and then told him to open his eyes.

37:52 Emotion
Then, two days later, while all the family was gathered for a weekend camping trip, I threw a surprise birthday for my hubby.  Yes, the photo of him when he realized the party is his is fun.  But I liked this one from the day better.

37:52 Emotion
The children are excited, Dean is delighted, and his mother is ever loving.
These photos make me smile.  Do they have that effect on you?

I'm just as curious as you to see what kind of emotion Maaret's photos are going to evoke.  Who bets smile and who bets frown?