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31 May 2010

Let's Meet on Monday: The big 3-0 (and a little something for you!)

Giveaway is now closed!

I turned 30 this year. For some this is a traumatic milestone, but not for me. I am anticipating a fabulous fourth decade of life. I love the season of life I am in now. My days are filled with just enough of the unexpected to keep me on my toes, and just enough of the expected to make me feel 'at home'.

In celebration of my 30th birthday, I set a few goals for myself. In the coming year I plan to read 30 books, write letters to 30 influential people in my life, and memorize 30 Bible verses. The reading portion of my little plan has been the easiest. I love to read, and with this goal I have been more intentional about spending time with a good book.

Right now I am behind in my memorization and letter-writing. I have a terrible time with memorizing anything. I typically don't remember much about what I've read, heard, seen...where was I going with this? (*wink*) I wanted to challenge myself because I know it's not going to get any easier to memorize scripture as I get older. To be honest, writing this down now is giving me a boost of motivation to continue on!

As far as the letter-writing goes, I plan to complete a majority of these over the summer. I love to get real pen-and-paper mail. I believe it to be so special partly because it is a seldom-received treat and partly because it takes time and thought to produce such a gesture.

How about you? Are you a goal-setter? Have you had success or do you eventually abandon ship?

I realize this is a new blog, and I am excited to have a few followers already. If you're still reading, THANK YOU! And, how about a little giveaway? Leave a comment for one entry, and become a follower for another entry. (Be sure to tell me in a second comment if you follow!) I'll pick a lucky winner Wednesday morning.

In homage to a little show I like to watch, 'Want to know what you're playing for?' I will send you a little package of goodies from my Etsy store. Good luck!

28 May 2010

Garage Sales 101: Part 1

I maybe should call this little series Garage Sales: Elementary Edition, since I'm a relative beginner in the world of garage sale-ing. Garage Sales 101 seems to implicate more of a collegiate-level offering of information. Ah, well...either way it is garage sale season, and I wanted to walk you through how we're doing it here and now.

This is Maren and her $20 Fisher Price Little People collection we found on our first day out this season. The guy wanted to sell the lot together, and for $20 I couldn't refuse! I originally planned on re-selling the garage, but it's turned out to be Maren's favorite thing!
This will be my first year hosting a sale in our very own garage. For the past couple of years I have joined forces with a few friends, and we've had successful sales. Until now, I've been too chicken to branch out on my own. If you've never held a garage sale before, joining with a few others is a great way to start. It takes some of the pressure off of having a yard-full of stuff to sell, and it really is just plain old fun. (So long as you partner with people you'd actually like to spend a couple of mornings alongside!)

Maybe someday I will share a post on the best approach to group-garage-sales. I have definitely learned a few things!

Today I want to focus on STEP I: gathering items. In my opinion, one of the most overwhelming parts of garage sale preparation is the process of accumulating items to sell. Here are tips I have found helpful in this regard:
  • Start early! Don't wait for the weeks before the garage sale to clean out closets. I try to have all of my items set aside no later than 3 weeks before the sale. Those long winter days are great for sorting and cleaning! This will allow plenty of time for pricing and setting-up.
  • Keep it clean. All of my items go into the pile in 'ready-to-sell' fashion. Clothes are clean, dust is wiped off, small repairs are made as necessary. The nicer your items look, the more money they will bring in!
  • Have a place (or 2!) to put items aside for the sale. We have a two-story house, so I keep a box in a closet upstairs. I have found it to be far easier to toss an item in the box rather than carry it all the way to the basement. When the box fills up, I take a trip downstairs, where we keep the 'big pile'.
  • Throw as you go. You don't have to preform a major clean-sweep of your house all in one day. I toss things in the sale box as I find them. From time to time, I will go through a box in my craft room, or see something on a shelf that rarely gets used. It's amazing how much has accumulated in the garage sale pile without ever having a major go-though-closets-day.
This is my current closet pile. It's overflowing a bit now, but next week it all comes out for pricing!

Next week we'll talk about timing, pricing and shopping! Have you had a garage sale before? Do you spread out the preparation, or do it all in the week or two leading up to the sale?

And, just to leave you with a smile, here's Maren in her personally-selected outfit of the day. It's in the upper-80's here, but she insisted on wearing the boots. Oh, the lengths to which we go for beauty!

27 May 2010

In which moment I realized I am such a mom

Yesterday Maren and I joined several friends in a make-shift parking lot to view the Thunderbird show that follows the Air Force Academy commencement. It's quite a spectacular event to witness, and I'm glad we went.

That being said, allow me to share of a series of events that left me thoroughly aware of this journey of 'motherhood' I have been thrust into, and desperate to add two items of great value to my arsenal of mothering utilities for said journey. (Most willingly, I might add!)

To protect those innocent souls acting only in the best interest of their offspring, I will change all names.

My dear friend, Gertrude, arrived at the site early to procure the perfect vista from which to view the show. Moments before the show was to begin, and as we were all gathering around Gertrude's minivan, her daughter announced a need to use the restroom. Now, her daughter is 3, which invokes a relative urgency when it come to matters of 'relief'. Surely, she wasn't going to last through an air show, one that would inevitably include plenty of noise and opportunities for 3-year-old-pants to be wet. Lovingly, Gertrude looked across the expanse of parking-lot towards the nearest restroom, and agreed to accompany little-girl, knowing all the while they would indeed miss a portion of the show.

Before Gertrude even had a chance to stand up, another friend (who is obviously pregnant), cheerfully volunteered to retrieve a small potty from her own car a few rows over. Within a matter of moments, Elaine came bouncing towards us with a tiny, red, portable toilet in hand. This was the point at which I became acutely aware of the onlookers, yet didn't care one bit about the embarrassment factor, as my motherly instinct kicked in. I thought to myself, 'What a brilliant thing to keep a toilet in you car! I must remember to carry one with me (in the car, of course) at all times once my own girl reaches potty-training-age.'

Elaine passed the 'throne' onto Gertrude (it really is worthy of a royal title), who swiftly set up a perfect little 'bathroom' right there in the rear of her minivan. Once little-girl 'A' was finished on the potty, little-girl 'B' quickly decided that she, too, was in need of a bathroom break. Now, you're probably wondering what happens to the contents of little, red, potty upon completion of it's duty. This is where the lone DAD of the group came in. I watched in amazement as he (without being asked, nagged, prodded, begged) gingerly collected little, red, potty and proceeded to walk like one of those women-in-other-countries-who-carry-mounds-of-produce-on-top-of-their-noggins all the way across the parking lot to a place where no foot had trod, in order to dispose of the contents of two small bladders.

Now, the air show was truly amazing, but to me, the most impressive spectacle of the day was the teamwork displayed by Gertrude, Elaine, and one brave DAD in efforts to make the afternoon enjoyable for two small girls. Upon further reflection of my day, I became aware of the truly bizarre feat that had happened that afternoon, and the even more preposterous observation that not one person in our party thought it anything out of the ordinary. I also feel desperate to own both a minivan and a tiny, red, potty by the time my own sweet girl reaches potty-training-age.

25 May 2010

French Press Cozy Tutorial

I'm sure I'm not the first person to fashion one of these little guys, but I wanted to share my version of the French Press Cozy. I prefer my coffee made in a French press, but hate how it's always cooled off by the time I'm ready for a second cup. This is my solution! (And, it's just plain cute!)

You will need: 2 pony-rings or elastic, 2 buttons, ribbon or other embellishments, fabric, flannel, silver heat-safe fabric, terry or other backing, needle and thread, sewing machine, scissors. (I think that's all!) *I'm sure there might be better insulating layers to use. This is just what I had on hand, and I'm all about being thrifty!
Begin by measuring your French press. Mine is a standard 8-cup Bodum brand press. I cut my fabric to 6 in. x 14.5 in. I might extend the length a bit in the future...maybe to 15 in. Cut pieces from the cover fabric, flannel, heat-proof and terry.

Next, layer the front fabric (right-side up) on top of flannel and heat-proof fabric.

Now pin your ribbon to all three layers. Make sure to leave allowances for seams. (I use 1/4 in. seams)

I like the looks of 2 strips of ribbon. You could leave the ribbon off altogether, or use rick-rack, ruffles, or anything you'd like!

Now you will sew down the edges of your ribbon on both sides of the ribbon. This will also secure the first 3 layers of the cozy together.

Now attach the elastic bands. Keep in mind, the loop facing to the right in this picture is the part you will see. Be sure your loops are positioned so that they will button through the handle of your press. (See picture of the 'dressed-up' press!) I sew over the elastic several times by back-stitching. You want the elastic to be good and secure.

Now, snip the outer loops a bit and trim the string. Don't cut too closely, just enough to get rid of most of the excess.

Now it looks like this:

Now, pin the terry to the other layers, right-sides together.

It's good to see those little 'tails' from your elastic. You will want to back-stitch over those several times again, and this will help you know how to 'find' them when you are sewing. Sew 1/4 in. around, leaving an opening for turning.

Turn your cozy back to right-side-out. Be sure to carefully poke out the corners. You could pin the opening together, but I usually just iron it.

Now, carefully sew around the edges, being sure to sew the opening closed.

This is what the back of the almost-finished cozy will look like:

And, the front:

All we have to do is sew on the buttons, and it's ready to use! Mark where the buttons need to be attached.

Using your handy-dandy needle and thread, attach the buttons.

Just waiting for some coffee to warm:

Ahhh...nice and cozy! This one is a gift for my sweet cousin.

One for my mom!

And, I get to keep this lovely. :)

This is my very first tutorial, so please let me know if you have questions or thoughts on how it could be better! Happy sewing!

For more ideas, visit:


The Black Buffet

When we moved into this house last summer, I knew we needed a place in the family room to store Maren's books and toys. This bookshelf worked for a while, but I was always bothered by the cluttered open shelves and the spillover of toys. (Not to mention the boxes of homeless books sitting in the upstairs hallway!)
I started having regular 'dates' with Mr. Craigslist, and finally found the perfect piece. The lady sold it to us for $25.
I didn't mind the design of the door-fronts, but I did not love the original finish on the wood. {Enter sanding+black spray paint}
And, our little cabinet in it's new home. We added a thin layer of furniture wax, because we wanted to be able to wipe the whole thing down easily. Unfortunately, it also adds a bit of shine to photographs. ;) Again, these pictures were all taken pre-blog, so I don't have any 'in-process' pictures. I promise to get better about that now!
Be sure to stop by Kimba's for more DIY inspiration!


Pulled from the archives for:

Visit thecsiproject.com

23 May 2010

Let's Meet on Monday

Part of the fun of blogging is finding ideas and inspiration from other creators, moms, writers, thinkers and doers. But, I also find it endearing to learn about people...what they like, how they live, who inspires them, how they have grown, what they are learning...I could go on and on.

In light of these observations, I've decided to start a weekly 'column' called Let's Meet on Monday. I'll do my best to give you a deeper glimpse into what makes me tick. I'll share stories behind my favorite (meaningful) things around my house, thoughts on motherhood, favorite books, and anything else that strikes me as significant on a given Monday. I am hoping this will give me an opportunity to share more about 'me' and less about projects and creative ideas. While I enjoy talking about decorating and creating, I hope you come to know more of me than just my aesthetic taste.

So, Let's Meet on Monday! See you next week!

20 May 2010

Have a seat!

If you have a fond appreciation for antiques and original wood, look away. I love old things, and sometimes enjoy items in their original state. But, I also think life is too short to make decorating choices based on what someone else says is 'right'.

We inherited a special table from my grandparents, but never had fitting chairs to go around it. Someday I'll show you that table and share a fun little piece of family history with you. Not right now. Right now we're talking about chairs.

If you stick around long enough, you'll come to understand my fond affection for a little place called Craigslist. I knew what sort of chairs I was looking for, and patiently browsed until I came across these beauties. We brought home all 6.

Here's the chair as it came to us:

The tapestry seats were worn and not quite our style.

Can I tell you how difficult it is to photograph fabric with a smallish polka-dot pattern? We sanded down the chairs and spray-painted them black. (Again, I apologize for the lack of in-process photos. This was a pre-blog project!) I re-covered the seats with a black and white polka-dot home-decor weight fabric. I love the completed product. We have these chairs in our eat-in kitchen, but they also work great with our black formal dining room set.
How do you feel about painting wood? Do you prefer to keep things as close to the original as possible, or do you like to take an unconventional approach by applying a coat of paint?

19 May 2010

That explains alot

I grew up in a tidy house. My mom is one who cleans out closets every season, takes monthly trips to Goodwill, and does not have a junk drawer anywhere in the house. I would say a fair amount of her orderliness rubbed off on me. But I do have a junk drawer. Or three. I'm hoping this blog might help me in remedying that situation. We'll see.

Melissa at 320 Sycamore took me on a fabulous little walk down memory lane today by mentioning The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room. I loved that book! Now that I think of it, I wonder if perhaps my mom had an agenda when she brought that book into our house. I know I will have an agenda when I bring it home for my own daughter. Well, Melissa's post made me think of a poem by Shel Silverstein called Messy Room. Do you know the one? It's fabulous. I memorized it in 3rd grade for a speech meet competition. I might ascribe a bit of my current temperament to these two literary masterpieces. What early works were influential in molding you into the person you are today?

18 May 2010

Master Bedroom Re-do

When we moved into this house last summer, every wall in the place was cream. For some this might be fine, but I am not a 'cream' kind of a person. As of today, we have successfully painted the entire house with the exceptions of 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, and the laundry room. And, if I'm being honest, I should point out that my sweet husband painted almost every wall himself. In our house, I pick the colors and he provides the labor. I know, I'm spoiled.

I have enjoyed having a blank slate, and choosing new colors for this house. We painted Maren's room the same color, but other than that, everything is different here. I've always been drawn to bold, bright colors, but have rarely been brave enough to use them in the house. So, when we chose colors for the master bedroom, I threw caution to the wind. Brett found some crown-molding remnants and painted them crisp white. He was so thrilled to be installing the molding, that he lovingly agreed to paint the ceiling. It was a lot of work (for him, of course), but we are loving our improved, bright bedroom.



We made the artwork above the bed with things we had around the house. Brett cut up some mdf shelving and spray-painted the boards black. I applied the 12x12 scrapbook paper with Mod Podge. I suppose I need to learn to take pictures of the process for the blog. Next time. I promise. We love Benjamin Moore paint. The ceiling is Aegean Teal and the walls are Pale Avocado. At first I thought it was way too bright, but once we accessorized, we grew to love it.

I have some fabric to make a couple more pillows for the bed, and I hope to add curtains someday. (when the budget allows!) For now, we're loving the look of our new bedroom. What do you think?


05 May 2010

Maren's Nursery

A couple of months before Maren turned one, we moved. Saying goodbye to our first home was hard, particularly because we had put so much work into making it 'just right'. Maren's nursery was one of my favorite rooms in the house. I love vintage style, with modern and classic touches. We had a fairly modest budget, and most of the decor was hand-me-down, which makes this room all the more fabulous.

We installed the white wainscoting. It was so much work, but we were glad we did it! Brett found the rocking chair at a garage sale for $5. He sanded it and spray-painted it red. The shelf on the wall was a hand-me-down and my aunt made the quilt for me when I was a baby. The little table came from TJ Maxx. We wanted somewhere to put a drink and a book for those long newborn evenings. Because of it's instability and some sharp corners, we moved it out of the room once Maren became mobile. The paper mache letters came from Michael's and were spray painted with leftover paint from the rocking chair. Curtains came from Target.

Another hand-me-down shelf that we painted. The vintage childrens books were all gifts or hand-me-downs. I had the mirror in my stash, and we spray painted it red. The flower are in glass baby bottles that were my mom's.

Brett's mom made Maren's crib bedding. I had long been admiring the reproduction 30's prints, so I knew that's what I wanted to use. She also made a twin-sized quilt that can be used as Maren grows.

A peg-rack that my grandpa made with a vintage hat of my grandma's and my diaper bag, made by my college roommate. (Thanks again, Em!)

I found this chandelier at a local antique market. The electrical didn't work, so I took all the wiring out and added candles. It was the final touch on the nursery, and one of my favorite things in the room.

This was an old lamp my mom gave me. I used my glue-gun to adhere vintage buttons. Those were my shoes when I was a baby!

I love all the nostalgic touches we were able to add to the room. When designing the nursery, I wanted to have touches that would be 'baby' like, but also things that could grow with Maren, and weren't exclusive to nursery decor. I've got some fun ideas to implement in the coming year as we add a twin bed or two, and some grown-up furniture. Stay tuned!