Friday, November 7, 2014

Thanks for helping me grow....

Between the time of our move, and my last day of work, I was still keeping with my schedule of being in the office every other day. This meant that Richard could continue to go to the daycare he has been at since he was 3 months old on those days. I was glad that he (or I should say we) was able to "ease" out of being there instead of it just come to an abrupt stop since there is so much other transition in his life. I knew that I wanted to come up with a special "thank you" gift for the staff on his last day. However, there are no words or material things that can express the feelings of gratitude we have for these wonderful people! I cannot say enough good things about this center, and it has been one of the hardest things about our move. Richard has been so happy there - he has learned so much and made so many friends - I am friends with the teachers on Facebook and several of them have babysat for us (and continue to want to do so even with our distance). There is no denying how much they truly care for each and every child there.
 
I saw a few ideas with the theme of "thanks for helping me grow". To put my beading skills to use, I decided to make charms that could be attached to most anything: a necklace chain, zipper, purse, etc..... The only thing I needed to purchase was the little ruler charms. I had Richard pick out all of the beads from my stash and he had so much fun. He put everything he wanted into a container and then I had him select groups of 3 beads for each piece. Depending on the beads he picked, I changed my technique of how to wire/hang them from the clasps. It was great that he could be involved in the project, and now we just have to color up some cards for each of them to go on!



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Borrowed Time

Whew, a lot has been going on around here. We closed on selling our Battle Creek home, Halloween, a last date/weekend getaway before baby, and this week is my last week of work. I hope to post about all of that stuff, but the theme of this post relates to the doctor appointment I had on Tuesday.
 
My due date is November 21st. I couldn't have asked for better timing knowing that my last day of work would be November 7th. I day dreamed about those few weeks off in between....... before I would be responsible for a newborn and a 3 year old........ enjoying the first time I have been unemployed since I was 15....... and basically just flat out relaxing and doing whatever I felt like since our lives have been such a whirlwind this year. Without getting into too much detail, my doctor told me on Tuesday that I could go into labor at any time and that he didn't think I would make my due date. The "checkup" prompted some sporadic contractions later that day and I thought for sure things were going to go pretty quickly. I made sure I had any loose ends tied up at work just in case I didn't make it through to my last day. This included several calls into our HR department to find out how the birth would affect my severance package and if I'd be eligible for the typical maternity leave since I'd technically still be employed with the company. (The answer is yes).
 
My Dad came in from out of town on Wednesday so that he could be here for Richard and the dogs. Our bags are packed and ready. I have been working at home, but am scheduled to go into the office on Friday for my last day. Jon has been going to work but has been nervous about us making it to the hospital on time since I stayed with my doctor in our old area.
 
But alas, I am just sitting here. Waiting. Wondering.
 
Of course you can't predict these things, unless for some medical reason you have a scheduled birth. But when you get all excited that it is going to happen - especially with all I have to factor in with employment/insurance/etc.... - it is really hard.
 
The last minute nesting bug is a sure sign that it will be happening soon though..... I was determined to change out my Halloween mantle (see pics here) to get ready for Winter. I should preface this by saying that in no way am I one of those people that decorates way too early for a holiday. I wait until after Thanksgiving to put up my Christmas decor. But I don't feel this layout is Christmas specific, but rather a general "Winter" feel. Also, knowing that I will have a new baby and will be recovering, I have no idea how much decorating/shopping I will be able to do for this season. It's kind of a liberating feeling though and I hope I can keep the pressure off myself.
 I am keeping with my goal of using what I already have. My color scheme (neutrals: white, wood tones, silver, gold, and a touch of evergreen) centered around a few key pieces. First off, I knew I wanted my focal to be this iron medallion. We have 2 of these. They came from Jon's parents home in Florida and he asked for them last summer. He sprayed them white and they hung on each side of the gate at our old house. Some of the paint is already coming off from being weathered, but I love that. It reminds me of a big snowflake!
 
The other key piece was the rustic garland we found at Michael's the other day (the ONLY purchase for this project). It's pine cones, twigs, leaves, etc...... Sure, I could have made it. But the price was worth buying it.
 
While "shopping" around the basement for all of the other stuff I wanted to use, I came across this petrified piece of wood from our old property. Jon dragged it in several years ago because he thought it was cool (it is) and I am glad I am finally using it for something.
 I just started grabbing anything I had that fit into my theme. Of course I didn't use it all, but you want to have all of your options on hand. It takes a while to play around with the design and edit it. I used several frames that I "emptied". They either had no pictures in them or else it was images that no longer fit our decor. Have frames on hand but they aren't the right color for your idea? Spray paint them. Luckily, all of these were already good to go. The pedestal and 3 pillar candles you see came as a gift set (with a ring of red berries around it). By splitting the set up, I was able to make better use out of the pieces. I put one of the candles on a silver candle holder I had. The birdcage I've had since before I was married..... I had already spray painted it gold all those years ago for whatever I happen to be using it for then. It holds the other 2 candles and some little trees that I had leftover from yet another project I will mention as well: homemade snow globes. This post details how I made them 3 years ago and they were perfect to scatter in this plan.
 Various other candle holders were used. The little tree in the gold pot I've had for years. I am really pleased with how it all turned out. I'm glad I will be able to enjoy looking at it the next few months, as I snuggle the baby (whenever he decides to come out)!



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Big Boy Room!

Richard is going through a lot of change right now. Moving into a new house..... becoming a big brother...... so we knew we wanted to make his "big boy" room very special so it wouldn't be so hard to give everything to baby brother. His room was already painted blue, and I knew I had a primary color palette in mind. This was a huge contrast to the muted earthy colors of his baby room. We wanted his input, and his one request was for Lightening McQueen. I am not a huge fan of licensed characters for decor, because it's hard to change things out when your child decides on another favorite every few weeks. I ended up getting him Cars bed sheets and a "window treatment" find which I will explain later. The more sensible plaid comforter set was exactly what I had in my vision, and he was with me at Bed, Bath & Beyond when I found it to give his approval.
 
Right before the move, we set out to find a twin bed frame and nightstand (and new mattress set). Being set on thrifting / DIYing, we headed to Salvation Army to peruse their vast furniture section. We found a solid (a.k.a. well made, real wood) bed for $14.99 and side table for $9.99. With a little sanding and stain or paint, they were going to be great!
Jon painted the bed red, and added some scrap wood in white to create a "rustic barn" look. I could tell how much he liked making this for his son. 
We had these colorful metal chickens from Pier 1 in our kitchen long ago, and they are another example of something I tried to sell at one point. They didn't really fit in the new kitchen, so I thought they'd still be doomed. Luckily, we tried them in here and just love how well they fit. I suggested we make a shelf out of scrap wood, and Jon brought a pallet home from a selection behind his work. With a few cuts, it was all set. We added Richard's railroad crossing sign to it as well.
The nightstand got painted a steely blue. The vintage metal basket, yet to be filled, I found at the Habitat for Humanity store for $2.00! The little metal lamp was another one of my parents early antiquing days purchases. It has special meaning because we used to go to the same resort in Northern Wisconsin for Summer vacation...... my Grandparents, cousins, etc.... were all there the same week. The owner of the resort ran a little antique store for a while (before my time) and this was where the lamp was purchased. My Dad replaced all of the glass in it.
When Richard turned one, his birthday theme was circus. I had bought this tent for the party, but we never really had the room in our old house to have it up all the time. He loves that it is up now and as you can see it corrals his stuffed animals. He likes to take naps in it or have quiet time. The giraffe was his final potty training reward. The Cars curtain was a rummage sale find for a quarter! It is actually a flat bed sheet, and it was the only piece they had. I washed it up and cut the seams along the top so that a curtain rod could go through it.
His activity corner features a bulletin board, clip boards for current artwork (purchased for under a $1 at some sale..... they used to hang in my studio with necklaces on them), and my "miniature shelf" from when I was little. I used to love to collect little things, and Richard seems to be following in the tradition. He was so excited to fill this up with his most important treasures!
Lastly, his bookshelf is from Pier 1 and it just happens to be my very first blog post from 2008! I can't believe I have been blogging for so long! I sure hope I have evolved and improved since then!
As with the other areas of our house that I have shown, it was fun to pull together a bunch of different pieces that were previously used somewhere else, to complete the look. And, I love that the new pieces we added we were able to "upcycle" and give a new life to!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Front Entry / Office

I hope you don't mind me popping in a home decor post here and there. Decorating ranks right up there with building my wardrobe, and I go about it in just the same way. The hunt..... the bargain...... when something comes together perfectly...... it's a thrill. Because of our recent move, it is a huge part of my life right now. Finding new ways to use what we already have, I hope I can share some good tips that others can use.
 
I've already shared my walk in closet, and seasonal mantle. Today, I am featuring our front entry / office. This was the first area we finished..... and also the one I thought our first fight would occur from. Remember how "involved" my hubby was when staging our other home? I dreaded disagreements that I thought were bound to occur as we settled here, but everything has been going wonderfully! It has been such a great bonding experience!
 
Our old home had a formal dining room..... that we hardly ever used. This area was set up as a formal dining room when we looked at the house, but I knew I wanted to use the space as an office / studio. Jon seemed set on the formal dining room idea, even though we have a bigger eat in kitchen area that will suit our family of (soon to be) 4 just fine. When we do have family or friends over, I am sure we will come up with an eating arrangement. I just didn't want to sacrifice space for maybe 2 meals out of the year! Since we had professional movers, I knew we had to tell them where to put the furniture when it came in. The night before they arrived, we were "camping out" in the empty house and Jon asked how much I had my heart set on making that the office. My heart sighed with relief - he finally agreed.
 
I should also add, that before we moved I tried to sell our formal dining room set (a corner cabinet, hutch, table & chairs) so that we could use the money for other things we wanted. But I am now glad it didn't sell as I am using the corner cabinet and hutch. But I'll get into that more later.
 
Our style is turning more and more into old things...... vintage...... worn....... character....... tells a story....... antique....... thrifted...... upcycled. This area ended up being a mix of pieces from our old studio, dining room, living room and upstairs loft. The desk and cream rug came from the studio. As well as the printers cabinet, dress form and assorted peacock suitcases and trunk (which were added to the studio after my initial tour post). The patterned rugs came from our upstairs loft.
The baby buggy is my Grandpa's (he turns 95 on the 15th). My Boyd Bear collection lives in it and it used to be in our dining room. The bench used to sit on Jon's Grandma & Grandpa's porch, and we stained and refinished it a few years ago. We had it in our upstairs loft. My parents bought the stained glass window in the 70's and let us have it a few years ago.
The skinny corner cabinet was in our living room, and I bought it at an antique store before being married. My Dad's first toolbox is on the floor.
The Kalamazoo Dairy crate I bought at Battle Creek's Charitable Union gift shop. The old duck decoys I got for Jon for his birthday last month, purchased at an antique store in Marshall.
A better shot of the printers cabinet (which houses all of my beads) with a family of wire peacocks on it. The trio of shadowboxes I made was posted here. The desk chair is a chair I bought in my single days as well and has a needlepoint seat.
The dress and shoe forms were a Christmas gift from Jon (he got them in Marshall). The wire peacock feather was found at Hobby Lobby for $7. It was a bright teal but we painted it a bronze color to fit better. See how simple it is to completely change the look of something into what works for you?
Since I still needed storage for our good dishes, using the corner cabinet from the dining set was a last minute decision. The original plan was to store the entire set in the basement until we could try to sell it again. I ended up using the hutch in the eat in kitchen area, so there is another tip : don't fret about "splitting up" matching pieces to suit your needs. At the end of the post, I will show how I changed out the knobs on the cabinets to give them an updated look.
Window seat detail. Peacock pillows in browns. Old laundry wringer.
We have tall ceilings in the front entry, and knew we wanted to find some large items to display. The weekend we were moving in, there was a sale up the road where Jon was able to pick up some old farm equipment really cheap. He got a saw, sickle and push lawnmower for about $30. If you price these things in an antique store, they are much more! That's the thing..... we have found so many great deals over the years, that it's hard to even think about paying more. You really have to be patient sometimes. Hitting up garage sales is your best bet. Antique stores (and even Flea Markets) know their prices. Just look at the show American Pickers (which we love)...... you see how much they pay for their items, and how much they are going to mark them up to make their living. We were really excited to go to the salvage store in our new downtown. It takes up the window fronts of 3 buildings! I thought for sure we would walk away with some things, but the prices were crazy.
 
Anyway, getting back to these farm items..... I wasn't too keen on hanging them inside the house, as much as I appreciate their coolness, but figured I would let Jon do his thing. I did ask him if he was taking out an extra life insurance policy on me, in the event that a hook didn't hold and I was accidentally beheaded. That's our sense of humor with each other, just so you know.
The lawn mower is outside on our front walk way right now.
Okay, so here is the update on the cabinets I reused. The picture on the left was one I took for trying to sell the set (this is the piece in our kitchen now). The knobs have always been a wood, where the stain didn't match. The ones on the drawer were larger, and left quite a mark in the wood when I took them off. So trying to find a large and small option that matched one another (and covered the marks) was a bit of a challenge when looking at Menards, Lowes, Hobby Lobby and a few online places. Sure, there were tons of cool ones out there - so many it can make your head spin and rethink your decision a million times! I ended up finding a great option at an independent hardware store in Marshall during the Witches Night Out I posted about. Not only was I glad to support a local business again, but the gal offered up a great suggestion of using a curved pull - rather than a knob - to cover up the marks! I have always admired this style of pull and was glad to finally find a use for one. The brand had a knob that matched so I was sold. Investing about $30 for a total of 2 pulls and 8 knobs for the two pieces of furniture was not bad at all considering how much is changed the look. You can see the comparison when I was changing them out in the middle, and the finished result on the right.
My learning experience from this move, and lifestyle in general, has been to use what I have available to me with little or no money spent. I was one of those girls who started their "hope chest" really early on and then add in 12 years of accumulating stuff while married. I've always been a collector..... some might even accuse me of hoarding. I've always been of the thinking that even if you are not using something right now, you may use it someday. This often conflicts with my moods of purging / selling / getting rid of whatever I can when I feel overwhelmed with stuff. True, it is good to keep things at a good level - you don't want to end up on one of those TV shows! But I am so glad now that I still have a lot of the stuff I once tried to sell. It is a really good feeling to use them again. Styles and tastes change. But always think about how you can reuse something. Can you paint it? Change out hardware? We are bombarded with TV shows or websites that show us new and interesting ideas for furniture and objects.
 
A phrase I picked up from a blogger I follow is "shop your house". As you redecorate a room, or even if you are just changing up decor for the season, odds are you have a stash of stuff in your basement you can pull from. Check out your options before running out to the store. I never have been, and probably never will be, the type of person to walk into a furniture store and buy everything I need for a particular room. It is much more fun to curate a space by collecting pieces over time, and makes for a much more interesting home!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Reason to Dress Up

Last Thursday, I had a reason to break out of my jean/tank/sweater "uniform" and dress up! Not just dress up, but sort of get in the Halloween spirit too! Fall/Halloween is my favorite, but it seems the days of obsessing over couples costumes and going out to hit up contests are long gone. Now, the focus is on my little one and doing all sorts of fun activities with him!
 
I've noticed that lots of little towns around here have a monthly girls night out event. For October, the one in Marshall, MI was named Witches Night Out. Being in between where we used to live and where we now live (although, closer to where we used to live), meeting up with some friends after work was a no brainer. Especially not knowing how much longer I will be getting out (a new baby in Michigan Winter can put a damper on such things). Dinner and some light shopping was great!
 
It was surprisingly easy to match up my olive green witch hat. I've had it for several years and I love having it on hand every season. I got it at Meijer, and was drawn to its satin material, netting, rolled fabric roses and feathers. I added in my own peacock feathers to match my skirt.
 
The Massini black cowl neck tunic I am wearing is also from Meijer (get a better look at it on their style blog). It is long and goes over the bump, but today I tucked it into my skirt.
 
The feather/animal print skirt was found by my Mom - she got it at Steinmart. It is stretchy, like all the skirts I have worn during this pregnancy.
 
Jean Jacket - TJ Maxx (to pull out some of the blue in the peacock feathers)
 
Boots - Zulily
 
*Note, all pieces are non-maternity*
I am at 36 weeks here.
Linking up with The Pleated Poppy





Thursday, October 23, 2014

Live, Work, Create. Local.

Our lifestyle is changing. We went from a City to a Village. There are a lot of differences I will talk about as I continue to unfold our move here, but today I want to talk about supporting local businesses. This is something I always strive to do no matter where I am. But it seems like I have even more opportunity to do so in our new area.
 
We have one small grocery store in town, and it closes at 9:00 p.m. It houses a lot of our favorites, and we did find out that if you ask for something specific they will order it if they can. Nice!
 
We've only tried one (immediate) local restaurant so far - the diner downtown - and it is excellent! Mostly breakfast items, but very delicious!
 
We are close to one of my favorite little towns - Chelsea - so I was already a bit familiar with it before moving. We explored a little more last weekend and here is what makes me happy over there:
 
The Common Grill restaurant - award winning. Need I say more? We didn't eat here that day, but have eaten here many times previously. It's one of my favorite places to go!
 
Where did we end up eating? Zou Zou's Cafe. First time there. Loved it!
 
We went to an Amish furniture store to look for a dining room table set. Currently, we have a pub style table that only has 2 chairs. This worked while Richard was in a high chair, but he has long been out of that and we will soon be a family of 4. We opted not to have a formal dining room like we had at the old house (and never used). So we want to invest in something that is built well and will last. We have a set picked out to order once we close on our old house, and I am glad to spend my dollars at this business.
 
Another eventual plan is to replace the kitchen appliances. We walked by a local appliance store and saw in the window they had the brand/finish we plan to get (which was seen at a big box store). So when the time comes for that as well, I'd love to give them our business.
 
Santa got some early Christmas shopping done at 2 toy stores (while Richard wasn't looking). The local toy store we always supported in Battle Creek recently closed due to the owners retiring. I am glad that we have these new options close to us!
 
Being a creative person, I was thrilled to find USArt Quest! Here is another site for them, as they hand make about a million varieties of paper! I felt very welcomed when we stopped there. They offer lots of classes and fun events - perfect for organizing a bunch of my friends to come over for something fun to do!
 
Lastly, let's get to my new bag which inspired this post..... I got a mailer from Dayspring Gifts and fell in love with the recycled canvas totes they showed. So I decided to check their store out too while we were over there.
 
And, for the rest of my outfit, yet another jeans, tank, wrap "uniform". I swear, I can come up with tons of these combos!
 
Jeans & Tank - Motherhood Maternity
Striped Wrap - Meijer
Lenora Dame Starlight Mesa Necklace - Anthropologie
Minnetonka Mocs - TJ Maxx
See Biscuit peeking out the window? New neighbors were moving in across the street and the dogs were losing their minds all day! I must say, I do miss our fenced in yard!
And Mocha is faintly in the window here. They are getting used to their new lifestyle too, just like we are.




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peacocks for Babies

When I was pregnant with Richard, of course I thought about what kind of peacock items I could get for babies/kids. I found a good variety, but most things were geared toward girls. Which sometimes to me does not make since, because the male peacocks are the ones with the pretty plumage. When we found out he was going to be a boy, I had to scratch a lot of things off my list....... nursery bedding sets........ frilly clothes. But I was still able to get him some plush toys, as pictured below. One plays music and the others have all sorts of rattles, crunchies and squeeky things. The Palmer House one he got when he was older on one of our overnight trips to Chicago (the peacock themed hotel we love staying at).
This time around, I wondered if I would be able to indulge in all those girly things. When the ultrasound revealed another boy, I had about 2 seconds of sadness and then I was over it. I love being a Mom to boy(s), so let's see what else we have that is more of the male peafowl type.
 
Jenni of Gnome Lover gifted me this cute onsie from Etsy seller Crawlspace Studios. I can't wait to see the baby in this!
Richard was a peacock for his first Halloween (see original post here). I just found the costume the other day when I was unpacking the baby totes, and I wondered if I will use it again for baby brother. We'll have to see if it fits in 2015.
But, out of everything, the most peacock items I seem to find that Richard enjoys are books. His daycare has a "Raising a Reader" program where we "check out" a bag of books every week. Our best surprise was when we got the book below and it had a peacock AND a railroad crossing sign! I have a huge train lover on my hands and railroad crossing signs are pointed out during every car ride. At our zoo, the peacocks seem to hang out by the mini railway as well. Must be a thing that peacocks like trains???
Limelight Larry is a book we discovered at the library, and we loved it so much I ordered it from Amazon. It is a great story/lesson, and the artwork is so beautiful!
This is the best page, when we both yell "Take up the whole page and show off!"
Three Hens and a Peacock was another add on to an order, and it is a really cute one as well.
Same with The Golden Peacock. I find that if I am coming up short for free shipping, I will add on a book. Our routine is to read 4 books at bedtime. We've created quite a nice collection of all kinds of books over the last 3 years and it is wonderful!
Inside graphics on some of the books..... swoon! 
I got Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? at my shower for Richard. What a surprise to see a peacock inside! After I had him, I was looking at books at Target for a friend's shower and saw the book was made with sound buttons! I just had to have it and it is hilarious now that Richard can imitate a peacock (among other animals, of course).
Richard knows that peacocks are Mama's favorite. It has been fun to collect these things for my kids, and I can't wait to see what I find in years to come. And by no means to I mean to sound like I am strict on gender things........ the other day, Richard saw a preview for My Little Ponies on a DVD he was watching. I told him that I had those when I was little and that they were packed away in the basement. He requested I find them...... and I did! He has his Dad's old Hot Wheels....... It's great to share your own childhood loves!