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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How Does the Garden Grow?

So far this year the garden is doing great! We’ll see how the heat wave this week affects things…

The garden went in earlier this year than ever before. I planted tomatoes in April! There are already dozens of green fruits, and I think the heat this week will help with ripening. As of this morning there are also four zucchinis about ready to pick. Maybe tomorrow for the big one. The peppers have small fruits, and there is one jalapeno about ready to pick.

Last year we did not get one usable carrot, but there is a nice little crop out there now, as well as onions. The lettuce will probably be done after this week, but I think there are leftover seeds to maybe plant a fall crop.


The herbs are getting there. The perennials are huge, but it took several weeks for the basil to take off, and the rosemary is lagging a bit. The heat should help those, too.

I’ve repurposed the 16’ cattle panel from the back of the garden. Yesterday I cut it off the fence posts and have made an arched trellis with it. It will go over the tomatoes and they’ll be tied up to it so the harvesting will be much easier. This photo shows where I put it yesterday, but this morning I moved it over the top of the raised bed. Now if I could wield that sledge hammer to get the fence posts in the ground, it’d be great. They’re a tad tall for me, but I’ll keep working on it.


I really like this cattle panel arch, and plan to put a few more out there. Cattle panels are inexpensive and can take the erratic Nebraska wind.

Not much gardening for me today, though. I don’t “do” the hot heat and have plans to say tucked inside my cool house and work on wedding stuff.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

It’s Christmas Prep Day!

The 25th of the month has rolled around again and it’s time to talk Christmas 2012 which is only ten months away!
I have worked on some ornaments this month, but since they’re for an ornament swap, I cannot show you a photo. Suffice to say they were quick and easy, but I love them! I love them so much, in fact, that I made extras for family. You’ll get to see them after the swap is complete.
Since I cannot show you my project this month, I thought I’d share my Christmas board from Pinterest. I have pinned some decorating ideas, ornament, sewing, and craft ideas, Christmas cards, gift tags, and a recipe or two. Take a look:
Here are some of the things from my Christmas board that I’ve already done:
Santa mugs – I have a collection of old Santa mugs gathered from various sources. This year they were displayed in the Hot Drinks station created in the sunroom.
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The popcorn ornaments I made a few years ago for the movie theater Christmas tree. I shamelessly pinned that from this blog.
This is the original photo of the crocheted jingle bell garland that inspired me to make one for Jessica’s tree.
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This bread pan with greenery and candles was meant to be an Advent wreath. I did a similar arrangement, but with only three candles and they were red. Since it had the greenery, I didn’t light my candles. (We won’t talk about the time we had an Advent wreath made of a slice of wood and some real greenery and I fell asleep on the couch while it was still lit. Greg came home from work in the nick of time…)
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I hope this post works as inspiration for you to be thinking about the Christmas season in February. After all, it’s wonderful to keep Christmas in your heart all year-round, right?


Friday, February 03, 2012

A Crafty Friday

When Jessica and Scott moved into their new home, she found several old windows stashed in the small storage shed outside. We spent this gray, rainy Friday afternoon personalizing the window as a birthday gift for Jessi’s cousin Sara.

After some Pinterest searches, she settled on a monogram from vinyl to decorate the window. Sara is getting married in June, so the monogram is the first initial of her fiancĂ©'s  last name, then she added both their first names.

I borrowed the Cricut Expressions from the library and cut the components for her. Originally we were going to use the vinyl adhered to the glass and call it good. I offered her the option of etching the monogram onto the glass, and due to the obvious antiquity of the window, we both decided that was the best option.

We used the vinyl I cut as a stencil for the etching cream. It took us about an hour to place and adhere the vinyl to the glass, then we each grabbed a paintbrush and started applying the etching cream. The window is so large, it was quite a feat to wash off the etching cream in my tiny kitchen sink, but with the two of us, we got it done.

I wish I could have taken photos during the process, but for most steps, two sets of hands were necessary. Here is a photo of the finished product:


It’s not a crisp photo, but you can see the ornamental handle at the bottom. It’s kind of scrolly and fancy. This house was built in the early 1900’s, so this window is over 100 years old. The glass is bubbly in a spot or two, and there’s a line across the window that at first I thought was a crack, but it’s actually inside the glass – just an imperfection.

Jessica has a few more of these windows, and I cannot wait to make one of these for Greg and I.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Playroom Progress

This weekend was the linky party for completed Picture Perfect rooms at Donna’s Funky Junk Interiors, and I’d hoped to have the playroom re-do completed for it. Alas, that did not happen, but she’s going to continue this challenge once a month, so I have a few more weeks to finish all those details that I think will make the room super-sweet!

Mostly what I’ve done so far is clear out the closet, rearrange toys and toy storage, spruce up the crib/daybed/reading area, and get hooks up for dress-up clothes. The small wall area that had magnet paint was covered over in chalkboard paint.

These are the Mary Englebreit posters that inspired the colors used in this room. The one on the left is the alphabet, then at the bottom says “put ‘em all together” and “read”. The one on the left is a favorite of mine, “Books fall open, you fall in”.


This small green shelf is actually a plate rack that Jess got at Goodwill a few years back. She’d painted it black and used it in her first real house of her own. Right now it holds a couple of my favorite Eric Carle books. The toys on the top of the bookshelves are all antiques, but the kids play with them and love them! The horse was apparently Greg’s when he was a little boy – no information on brand or year or anything. The wind-up radio and wind-up clock still play lovely music. No batteries needed!



I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the vinyl skull and crossbones that were on the wall above where we had Bradley’s changing table when this room was his nursery, so when it peeled off the wall fairly nicely, I stuck it on the re-positioned full-length mirror.


These sweet little cupcake paper flowers were made by my nieces this past week. They were thrilled to help decorate the wall! Bradley and I will make more this week since I want to sweep them up towards the ceiling. The idea is in the current issue of Family Fun magazine.


The chalkboard, formerly magnet wall. Bradley insists on still putting his magnets here, even though I hung the magnetic whiteboard on the opposite wall. Trim will be added around the chalkboard paint to finish it up.


The dress-up hooks are screwed into a piece from Brad’s (now Silas’s) crib. When we first got the crib, one corner piece had no holed drilled into it for assembly. I called customer service immediately and they shipped a new one, but it took a couple of weeks. We didn’t want to wait, so Greg drilled holes in the original piece and assembled the crib. It works great, so we had the one they shipped, and no use for it.  It works great for hooks for dress-up clothes and hats. The wooden stars are for beads and bags – at least they were last week while my nieces were visiting. So handy to have a place where everything could be accessed easily and put away easily.


For the crib/day bed, I found a body pillow case that was priced at what that amount of fabric would cost me, or less even, so I ordered it online. It’s pretty plain, so embellishment will be added. I did get one pillow cover sewn (the polka dots), and found that flower-shaped pillow in the closet. The girls arranged the animals and dolls before they left, when we picked up the room yesterday.

The quilt has been trimmed of six inches around the outside edge all the around. I will trim it with a bright-colored binding. But what I really like about this is the checkered bedskirt on the bottom. DSCN2252

While I love the quilt, I want a bit more brightness to this little reading area, so I started a small afghan throw to put on it. This may take awhile to be finished, but it’s pretty fun to work on, so I’ll keep plugging away.


Aren’t the colors wonderful? The pattern is called Granny Stripe, the directions from Attic 24. Her projects and home were also inspiration for this room. As much as I love my calm and very neutral house, I do enjoy her very colorful one.

Some of the details left to do: paint the back piece of the crib and install it, paint the bookshelf, arrange the art display area, trim the chalkboard, paint the doors, and put up a few more wall art pieces. I also found the white chain we hung from the ceiling for Jessica’s stuffed animals when this was her bedroom, so I’ll probably have Greg put it up again. I’d love to find a brightly colored rug to use in here, too. It’s currently carpeted, but we plan to change that next summer and lay some kind of laminate. A rug will be needed for sure then.

Okay, all of that can be finished before the last Saturday of February, right? Then I’ll have to decide which room will be next – den? or guest/craft room? or both?


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jingle All the Way (Christmas 2012 prep)

It’s the 25th, and that means only 11 months until Christmas!

Okay, I’m going to try to do at least one thing a month to prepare for next Christmas and get it posted here…

This month it’s a fun thing and it whipped up in just a couple of hours while watching TV. I found this idea on Pinterest.


This jingle bell garland is crocheted using crochet thread rather than yarn. You need to string all of your bells onto the thread before you start stitching, so it’s a constant process to move the bells down the string as you work. I got several feet done, then the string snapped – the bells had frayed the thread as I moved them. Jess used that on her Christmas tree anyway, and will tie this longer garland to the shorter one that should decorate the entire tree next year.

For a full tutorial, you can go here.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snow Window

January is traditionally the month when I use some snowflake/snowman decorations in the house. Somehow that seems a bit incongruous this winter, though, since we haven’t had much snow. (Not complaining! The past couple of years have had enough white stuff to last awhile.) Temps have been mild, almost early-Spring-like, so I really didn’t get behind the snow stuff in the house.
Then a couple of weeks ago I came across this photo on a blog:
It inspired me to gather my blue glass canning jars and do something similar in my own kitchen window:
Instead of battery-operated candles and glass beads, I used some Epsom salt in the bottoms, then added some of my collection of crocheted snowflakes inside the jars, and draped a string of white lights behind them:
This is so pretty at night, plus I get to enjoy some snow without the cold, wet, muddy mess it makes!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Picture Perfect Room (the “before”)

During this first month of the new year, Donna from Funky Junk Interiors has issued a challenge: concentrate on one room in your house that you want to make “picture perfect” and then do it.

(click on the picture perfect button to read about the challenge)

This challenge would apply to every room in my house, but for the purposes of this project and in keeping my sanity, I chose to focus on the playroom.

The playroom started life as Jessica’s bedroom, then playroom, then Bradley’s nursery, and is now back to being the playroom. The original incarnation as a playroom was more of a small-scale preschool room with “centers”, thus the word labels on the walls. Those will be covered up since the room has evolved a bit.

I have not picked up in there after Christmas yet, so here’s the view when you open the door:


Not horrible, but it doesn’t really invite play, does it? I feel like it more invites chaos – dumping and tossing and general mayhem. The reason I haven’t picked up yet is because:

a. Bradley pretty much just brings the toys to the living room to play unless there is someone in there to play with.

b. There was still some of Jessica’s stuff stored in here – her Little Tykes desk, the big keyboard, some big boxes of blocks, and a big Hot Wheels storage container full of tracks and accessories. (She and Scott and the boys have moved into a big house now, so that stuff is moved, too.)

c. I knew I wanted to re-work this room, and I was procrastinating…

True confession time over, lets go around the room and see what we want to do. First of all remember, this will be a “make do”/no-$pend makeover, with the exception of some paint and perhaps a rug. Also, this room will be gender-neutral, and baby-friendly as well as fun for toddlers and preschoolers (and who are we kidding – even my elementary-aged niece and nephews like to play in here).

1.) This photo is of the North wall, Northeast corner of the room. Right now there are stacked shelves for toy storage. I’m going to take at least the top set down and put it in the closet (now that there is room in the closet…). This gets rid of some of the cluttered look in the room and gives me a little more wall space to decorate. Totes and baskets will be labeled as well so everyone knows what toys go in which container.

The quilt will be altered to work as a bedcovering on the old iron crib. It was made by my great grandmother and is badly stained and worn around the edges. I’m just going to remove the outer section all the way around and bind it with a colorful trim. Yes, it’s an old quilt. Yes, I’m okay with altering it.

The M.E. poster is pretty much the color inspiration for the room. The walls will stay light blue, but the furniture is in brights, and the wall decor will be, too.

The side rail for the old crib needs to be painted cherry red to go along with the rest. I originally didn’t plan to use it, but Aunt Jan confirmed for me that it would look better to have a back rail on the bed. This will be a reading spot, so the body pillow will be covered and a couple more pillows added so it will be a snuggly place. It also will be a guest bed for little ones who come stay here, and I will use a safety rail for the open side of the crib when someone is sleeping in it.

I also have fabric to make a bed skirt since I will use the space under the crib for storage.

The Northwest corner: The closet door will be painted white.

The spot on the wall where I tried magnet paint will be covered over in chalk board paint. (That magnet paint was an expen$ive disappointment.) Above the light fixture I’ll hang a shelf to house some of the stuffed animals.

The small bookshelf will be painted – color yet to be decided – and the sweet little display shelf that is currently sitting on top will be hung above. I have some antique toys that will go there.

The Southeast corner: the valance is constructed of a cardboard box, covered in batting and a colorful plaid fabric. There is a plain white shade at the window. That will all stay. No curtains to entice little ones to wrap themselves up in or pull off the wall. I will install a hook for the shade pull. Right now I drape it on the hardware holding the valance.

Greg built that sweet little table last summer, and the chairs were $1 each at a garage sale. The chairs are a strong hardwood and I sanded and painted them that bright yellow, knowing I wanted to use that bright color scheme.

The vinyl skull and crossbones is on the wall above where we had Bradley’s changing table. I know a nursery doesn’t usually have such a motif, but Jess was going for kind of a “rocker” theme, and it worked for us. I guess it’s time to remove it, huh?

That full-length mirror is hung horizontally and has some peg hooks beneath it. I used those hooks for different hats for the kids to use for dress-up. I’ll re-hang the mirror vertically and I have something different for hooks.

As you can see, this corner is currently the “Art Display” area. That will stay, but will be better.


Okay, long post, lots of ideas, lots of work ahead. The Funky Junk challenge is to post the completed room (or progress if not finished) by the end of the month. I’d like to get the majority of it done this weekend since my little nieces are coming to stay the last week of January.

I guess I better get busy. Wish me luck!


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Hot Drinks

Inspired by the many hot cocoa bars I saw online and in my email, I decided to set up a “hot drinks station” for Christmas.

I used part of my collection of antique Santa mugs, and set it up for coffee, hot tea, and hot cocoa.


Those two mugs in front were made by my mom in 1969. One has my name on the bottom, the other is Arlan’s.


Even though it’s been a very mild winter, I thought this sign was fun. The script is vinyl, cut with the Cricut and adhered to the glass. Then I just added scrapbook paper for the background.


We enjoyed this spot over the holidays with company here. I plan to set it up each year as a new tradition.

Now that the holidays are over, I put away the Santa mugs, but wanted to keep the hot drinks stuff set up – you know, just in case we get some winter weather yet.

So I replaced the Santa cups with the ones from my white stoneware, added the sugar bowl and creamer from that set, and a set of snowman salt and pepper shakers – those aren’t filled, but would be good for cinnamon or sprinkles for the hot chocolate. The tea bags and marshmallows are now in apothecary jars.

Some vinyl snowflakes on the wall, the cocoa jar, and the marshmallow jar add to the theme, as well as a wooden snowman wall hanging.

I love this fun little spot, and hope you will consider this an invitation to join me for a hot beverage!


Sunday, January 01, 2012

Year in Review and Wishes for the New Year

It’s New Year’s Day and time to look ahead to a fresh new year. Before we do that, though, let’s take a look back at 2011. I have a lot of pictures to share, and I didn’t get Christmas cards or a letter done, so if you don’t mind...
January found us moving Jessica and Bradley into their own home about 15 miles away after living with us for over a year. Jessica found out in late November 2010 that she and her boyfriend were expecting a baby, so they started building their new life together. We have enjoyed getting to know Scott and he’s an amazing partner for Jessica as well as father to Bradley. Brad from J 049

I still kept Brad during the day while Jess worked full-time. I must’ve blinked, because all of a sudden, he grew from a baby to toddler.
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DSCF7182  DSCF7351  DSCF8106
At the end of April, I left my early morning job in preparation for caring for Bradley and the new grandboy we were expecting. It took a few weeks for me to sleep past 4 a.m., but it’s all good now.
In May, our son Nick was hospitalized suddenly after becoming quite ill. He’s doing great and living a healthier lifestyle now.  He was able to join us for Halloween this year, in costume even. Don’t ask who he was supposed to be – just a generic character from a video game – I can’t be more specific than that…
Greg and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in May, and I turned 50 in July. We celebrated by attending the  Bob Seger concert in Omaha. It was a great show!  seger concert
I’d like to say I’m none the worse for wear at 50 years old, but in May I fell down the deck steps, landing on my knee, and I’ve been hobbling about ever since. That, combined with the arthritis, has slowed me down a bit.
The injury kept me in my chair for a few weeks, and I wanted to be productive, so I dug out my crochet needle, invested in some yarn, and turned on YouTube for instruction. Many hours spent over several weeks found me with a pile of dishcloths for Christmas gifts, a blanket for Silas, and some winter scarves. My nephew Wyatt saw the yarn and things I was working on, and asked me to teach him, so with a few quick crochet lessons, he was on his way.
We had a fun week in June when my nieces from Sioux City visited. Tay got to go to Vacation Bible School with Randy’s kids, Reese and Brad became friends, and we enjoyed a day at the zoo.
The last day of July, at 3:26 in the morning, Jess and Scott welcomed their baby boy, Silas Paul. He’s our sweet love-bug.
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In September, Jessica, the boys, and I went to Sioux City for a visit. One of the fun things we did was visit at the shop where Alan works. Bradley saw all the motorcycles in the window, yelled “GO!” and ran to the door. He wanted to sit on every bike, and was thrilled when Uncle Alan finally let him on one.
Bradley had his second birthday at the end of September. He’s a big fan of Cat in the Hat, so Jess constructed a giant hat for his cake.
Halloween was our usual fun time with Randy’s family joining us for a quick supper then trick or treating. The weather was awesome and it didn’t take Bradley long to figure out the whole “trick or treat” scheme!
In November, Jess and Scott put a bid on a house here in Benedict, and closed on it a few days before Christmas. They moved enough things to be in their house for the holiday, and the past few days have been spent painting, packing and unpacking boxes, and getting settled into their new home.
That pretty much sums up the past year for us. What do we look forward to in 2012? We know we’ll enjoy those grandboys who live just down the street from us now. They grow so fast and we don’t want to miss a minute of it. I have a list of craft/sewing/decorating projects to tackle. Greg plans to build a covered patio in the backyard. (He’ll be building lots more things if I can give him part of my list, but I’ll have to be sneaky…)

We are incredibly blessed with a happy healthy family and more, and we thank God daily. We wish you many blessings also in 2012, and if the world doesn’t end on December 21 like the Mayans say it will, we’ll try to get real Christmas cards done!