Monday, March 29, 2010

Continuing on my Spring Theme, A Spring Porch Makeover.

Well, I haven't done it yet. (Ahem. Obvious to anyone who has been to my house in the past two weeks. My front porch is definitely still in Winter Mode.)

But I was reading about doing a Porch Makeover (from The Inspired Room) and here are the steps she took when she re-did her porch.

Step One: Clean. I took everything off the porch and threw almost everything away. I hosed the porch and all the chairs down. I washed the cushions and swept the floor.

O.K. This definitely needs to be done here. On the plus side in terms of cleaning, the porch is small. However, I do wish that it was bigger.

Step Two: Make a Plan. I knew I wanted a comfy place to sit together…play games…talk…eat ice cream cones. I knew I couldn’t spend much money. I knew I already had lots of things here that I could use in a different way. I wanted a living room….but outside. I had mostly blues and greens already so I chose that palette to make it easier and less costly.

I'll need to think about this a little bit more. I've got plenty of outdoor furniture, but I need to place it in a way that looks more "room" like and less like I just set it there. I also need to use more accessories. I also need to call and find out how much it would cost to pour some cement to extend the back patio. And figure out how make the south part of the yard seem more like a private, adult space . . . But I digress.

Step Three: Accumulate. I gathered all my furniture I thought would work from the basement and other rooms in the house. At World Market I found the sisal rugs on clearance (you buy them by the 1′x9′ strip as wide as you want) and a cushion in my colors. It was the last cushion in that print and it had a small hole. I asked for a discount and they gave it to me for 50% off!We got a few things at Target and spray paint at Walmart. (Blue Ocean Breeze and Ivy Leaf…Krylon)

I'll have to look around. I'm thinking I don't have much. And I really don't have a much money to spend, and I sort of hate to shop.

Step Four: Work. I spray painted an old rocker we had from an auction, a metal table from a garage sale, an oak bench from our previous dining room set and a kids’ chair. I covered the top of the bench with oil cloth fabric that I already had…stapled it right on the back. I made three new pillows with scraps I had and a vintage tablecloth I have had for a long time. I strung big glass Christmas lights on one side of the porch. For the sitting area I took the electrical parts out of a big iron chandelier my friend gave me and wrapped it with white Christmas lights. They both turn on with a Christmas tree timer.

She has some creative ideas on lighting. This gives me a couple ideas . . . I don't have as much furniture as she had laying around, but I do have a couple resin chairs and table for the front porch, and for the back, a 4 chair/umbrella/table set as well as two other outdoor chairs, footstools and small table. I just need to find a way to make it look so predictable. I can definitely sew up a few cushions . . .

Step Five: Decorate. Pull it all together and here we are…an outdoor space that is happy to be in! I spent about $100 on the whole thing. A suitcase is filled with games, art supplies, a snack and magazines. We have a bucket full of outdoor play essentials.

I had a tub of outdoor things last year, and that was helpful. A bucket might be a bit more attractive, but not great if I left it out in the rain, and I've learned that I generally don't go out and bring them in the garage, etc. when it rains. Maybe some sort of outdoor storage bench??? Plus the bench would have to be on the back patio. Not sure how much I want to spend on storage . . . The suitcase thing could work though for art supplies. I would just bring it in and out. I think I would be willing to do that. Probably.

Well, I'll take pictures of it when I finish. Hopefully before Summer . . .

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Food Storage Series: The Beginning

I'm going to post something about Food Storage for the next several Saturdays. I'm taking the information from a little book that my Mom sent me a few years ago. It was with my grandmother's things, and she wasn't going to need it when she moved to the assisted living place, and my mom thought that it was something that I would find useful.

I'll say, I was a little underwhelmed when I received it. In fact, I am fairly certain that I rolled my eyes when I saw the little book (it is about 3" x 5" and about 20 pages long, held together with a binder ring in the top left corner. The cover is Pinkish Orange - shudder - and has a vague title of Food Storage Recipes) thinking something along the lines of "What is my mom sending me now?"

But then I looked at the first couple of pages and realized that this is book is AWESOME. It is just the kind of book that I had been looking for - a book that contains a little information about the item (such as wheat), conversion information, and some basic recipes. It contains information about the items required in Basic Food Storage items (water, wheat, flour, rice, rolled oats, macaroni, beans, sugar, and dry milk as well as some information on creating a sourdough starter and sprouting.)

So starting next Saturday, I'll do a post about something from the Little Food Storage Book - starting with Wheat.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oh, It Is Spring!!

When I was a child, the only season I liked was Summer. I loved it when it was HOT. I loved wearing flip-flops (although back then, we called them thongs), and cut off jean shorts, and t-shirts. I loved, loved, loved swimming. I loved running everywhere - with no destination in mind. I loved the smell of the heat. I loved running through the sprinkler. I loved going out to the swing set and playing for hours. I loved going outside and feeling the cool grass on my skin. I loved having so much time to write (I loved writing poetry and stories. People expected me to grow up and be a writer. Well, I was a technical writer once upon a time, but I don't think that's what most people had in mind. And I write here. And there is that book that I'm sort of working on, but it isn't fiction. Anyway . . .)

But the older I get, the more I am able to appreciate Spring and Autumn. And I'm even getting to appreciate (not enjoy, but appreciate) Winter. Spring MIGHT even be my favorite now. There is just something that just makes me so happy as the earth, my neighbors, my children seem to just burst out in the Spring. And while I don't love cleaning anytime of year, something about Spring makes doing a big old fashioned Spring Cleaning, dare I say, almost enjoyable?

I even got to get out my favorite shoes again! Anybody who known me the past couple of years, knows that I have some black clogs. A very exciting find at the local Goodwill. They are Born clogs, and had I purchased them new, they would have gone for about $90. I got them for $2, and they were in fantastic shape. I've had them for two years now, and I wear them at least 2-3 times a week for 9 months out of the year. I don't, however, wear them in the winter. Illinois definitely gets snow and ice in the winter, and they just aren't practical for Winter. But now that (hopefully!) the danger of snow is past us, I got them out again, and I tell you, I fell in love with them all over again.

The daffodils in the backyard are starting to sprout (no blooms yet though) and the grass is green. And I'm hopeful that the hydrangeas will bloom this year (long story. I pruned when I shouldn't have . . . and I haven't seen blooms in two years now. Hoping that I will this year. Please.)

And then of course, there is Easter. A time of Remembrance of Sacrifice and Renewal.

So many good things.

But as with so many things in life, there is some sad with joy. The beginning of Spring, March 28th, is the birthday of our second son. And the day that he died. This year, it marks the 2nd year since he left. The first year, it was painful to see Spring all around. But each year, it gets a little easier. I like to think he would have wanted me to see Spring and realize that I should still have Hope. And Faith. Because every year, even after it being so cold, so grey, so dark, Spring comes.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pinewood Derby - and no, Super isn't old enough for Cub Scouts yet!

The church girls youth group decided to have a Pinewood Derby a couple months after the Cub Scouts had their Pinewood Derby. Taking pictures and watching was about my only involvement in the project - which was just fine with the girls. Mr. Simple helped the girls, and both cars turned out great! Jelly Bean made hers look like a Hershey's bar, and Flower's car was a Crocodile Rocker.

Jelly Bean's is the on the far right
(click the picture to get a closer look)

Flower's is the green car - it had googly eyes
and teeth on the front.
Flower's car went on to place 2nd
in this heat.

Flower placed 5th overall and Jelly Bean took 7th.
Both girls had LOADS of fun and hope that they
make this an annual event!

Friday, March 19, 2010

I get a gold star . . .

O.K., after all my complaining in my last post, I decided to just stop whining and get all the organizing done in one weekend. Well, most of it anyway.

I sorted through the winter clothes and either gave them away or put them back in the fall/winter tubs for next year. I have a large storage closet in my basement - It is 12 feet deep x 8 feet high x 5 feet. I can get lots of Rubbermaid tubs in there (I store everything in Rubbermaid tubs in case it ever floods - flooding is not an uncommon thing in our area, and it makes it easy to stack things in the closet.) The problem with stacking the tubs though is sometimes you have to move 12 tubs to get to the one that you want. Oh, and the Christmas tree too - which is not in a Rubbermaid tub.

Then I decided that I needed to do something about the girls room. Their dresser was beyond repair and I needed to get something to replace it. I did glance at the "curb" selection, but I really didn't want something that was as broken as the dresser that I already had. I checked Craigslist, but all of them were at least $150 (and most were closer to $400. I mean most were real wood that obviously came from a master bedroom set so it I could kind of understand why they weren't inexpensive), and that was more than I really wanted to spend. I didn't see any at the thrift stores and the ones at Target were at least $150 for not real wood, that I'd have to put together, that I knew wouldn't hold up for very long. So what I ended up doing was buying two sets of plastic drawers. (We are not using the wheels.) Now, I'm not usually a fan of plastic, but it fit the budget, the space, and the girls really love them. So I went with it.

Then we attacked the closet. That was a job and a half. The girls room used to be a play room, and then the preschool room before it was their room. Mr. Simple had put additional wire shelving in the walk in closet for storage before it was their room. That shelving was still in there, and they had been using it to hang their clothes, but it wasn't really intended for clothes hanging, and so it was at odd heights, and they also started coming out of the wall because the girls put things that were too heavy for it, etc. So I took all the additional shelves out of the closet. I also completely overhauled their desk and bookcase and got rid of two trash bags worth of things. Then we went through the Spring tub and put everything in the dressers and closet.

Super's transition was much easier. Because he is the only one in his room and still relatively small, I am able store more in his room instead of the storage closet. I took his fall/winter clothes and gave those away, and then his spring/summer clothes were already hanging up in the back half of his closet, so I just moved them forward. I got out the tub of clothes of fall/winter clothes for the next size up and stored that in the back side of the closet. It is nice to be able to do this, because then I can just look and see how much clothing he already has and what I need to still buy before next year.

I also found some boots for Jelly Bean that will work, so I am back to only needing one pair of boots for Flower. And a rain coat/windbreaker for Flower.

Next week is Spring Break for us - so we will not be homeschooling, and I'm also not doing daycare that week. We will be relaxing and going on a daytrip or two, but I'm also going to try and do some more cleaning and organizing . . . There is always something to organize around here . . . .

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This is not my favorite time of year (m)

It is almost Spring. I mean, that part I am glad about because I'm not a big fan of being cold. But what I'm not a fan of is the fact that we still have snow boots out in the entry way and winter coats and scarves/hats/mittens in the cubbies, but we also have hoodies and slip-on shoes in the cubbies too. But yet, I don't have the Spring clothes tubs out yet, so I hear complaints all the time that "that's too hot" or "where is my pink short sleeve shirt?" And then I didn't get rain boots last year for Flower or Jelly Bean because I thought Flower could wear hers one more year or at the very least pass them on to Jelly Bean, but the boots met with an unfortunate accident and had to be tossed, so now I'll have pay full price for not one pair of rain boots but TWO, and I hate to pay full price. Thank heavens I bought Super some last year on clearance. I'd be REALLY grumpy if I had to buy 3.

I also hate the tub transfer process. It takes entirely too long to go through everything and decide if the stuff in the tub fits, and then get the winter stuff out of the drawers and closets, and decide what winter stuff will still fit next year, and get all the winter stuff washed and put with it, and put the tubs away, and there is always like 2 things that I find later and I don't want to get the tubs out again . . . .

Or what always happens is that I go ahead and get it out and put everything away, and then there is a two week cold snap/heat wave. If I ever have enough money, I'm just going to have my kids each have a huge closet, and they can have spring/summer stuff on one side and fall/winter stuff on the other side so that I don't have to do any of this.

Of course, that would assume that Flower and Jelly Bean would put their clothes away properly. Right now, I don't think that you can even see the floor in their closet, and they've broken two drawers on their dresser and there is a third one on its way. Every time I go in their room, I swear I'm just going to empty the whole thing except for the beds. I have them clean it every week, and yet after two days, it looks like a clothes and paper bomb went off in there. I've tried helping/not helping, yelling/not yelling, limiting the amount of stuff allowed in their room, limiting the amount of clothes they have, and nothing seems to help.

And then the garage, that is storing so much stuff for the winter that we can't get our 2nd car in the garage, that's getting a little old too. And the kids want to ride their bikes, but their bikes are stored up high, and there isn't much room to maneuver around because of all the other stuff in there.

And then there is the rain. I'm not a fan of cold, but at least when it is in the 20s/30s, and there is snow on the ground or even when it is snowing, I can still send the kids out to play. I can't send them out when it is raining. And even after it rains, the ground is so wet, and the kids get so wet and MUDDY. I'm definitely not a fan of mud, especially when it ends all over the house. And of course, I don't have rain boots yet, so the mud and water ends up all over their regular shoes . . .

So yes, this is not my favorite time of year.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Having a clean home is important. A well-organized home makes it so that it is easier to find things and it is a more soothing environment for your family.

But having a clean home shouldn't be our MAIN goal. If we spend too much time cleaning and organizing, then we are sacrificing time that we could be spending with our time with our families, developing talents, or helping others.

I wouldn't say that I'm someone that spends LOTS of time on cleaning. (I know a couple readers who definitely have me beat in that department!) But one thing that I tend to do is that I don't clean as well as I could during the day and then I have a bunch of stuff to do before bed or I also have a tendency to let the house go over the weekends, and then I have to stay up really late on Sunday night/Monday morning to get the house ready for the coming week. And that is NOT a joyful way to start my week, especially since I wake up at 5:45 am during the week.

If I cleaned on a more regular schedule, it would help. If I enlisted my children more in housecleaning, it would help. If I did smaller chunks of housecleaning more often, it would help. And if I did those things, then I could help others more. Oh, and probably be less grumpy in the morning. Well, maybe. It's a theory anyway . . .

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Twist on a Valentine's Dance

Well, I already posted about how the children got us gifts for Valentine's Day. In addition to that, our church was also sponsoring a dance that weekend - however, it wasn't for sweethearts. It was a Daddy-Daughter Sock Hop. The girls were thrilled. They decided to go with cardigans, and then Flower went a skirt, and Jelly Bean went with jeans. I was surprised at the amount of girls that went with poodle skirts. Mr. Simple took them to dinner first (at the Olive Garden!) and then they hopped the night away.

I think that this is the Hokey Pokey

Jelly Bean Dancing

A shot showing a bunch of the skirts

Flower dancing

Jelly Bean taking a break

Super's girlfriend doing the limbo
(although I hear that she might be his
ex-girlfriend. Ah, young love . . .)
Flower doing the limbo

Jelly Bean doing the limbo

Even Mr. Simple got in on the action
(Sorry the picture is a little blurry!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Totally Frivilous Post . . .

I changed my banner/colors months ago to the current one. Before that, I had been changing it ever month or so according to the month/season/my mood. I still like it, but here's the thing:

I don't like pink.

Like I REALLY don't like pink.

And one of my template colors is pink, and there is definitely hints of pink in my banner.

But I'm a bit attached to the "Simple" look.

Should I change it? Hmmm . . . .

Feel free to comment, if you want.

(By the way, I also have a pink cell phone. Long story how I ended up with a pink one, but I went out and got a non-pink cover right away so I didn't have to look at it anymore.)