Monday, April 30, 2012

A Bathroom Redecorated...

I'd gotten tired of my first floor bathroom.  You know, the one that does double duty as a pretty guest bath as well as a convenient place to rinse off sandy children.  It was too dark (red, tan and brown) and just worn out.  After painting the kitchen (post soon to come!) I had a new fresh color to work with.  So with only the cost of a new shower curtain I pulled together a new look.

the new shower curtain

After raiding a friends dilapidated barn with only a single glove and a wonder bar (awesome), I scored this crate.  In its not so distant past it was a nest box in a chicken coop.  Needless to say I scrubbed this thing until my arms almost fell off.  Then after some sanding and a coat of stain, I had a nice clean box.  At first I was going to throw it in the corner and pile it with clean towels but I had been looking for a cabinet to hang on the wall.  Could I mount the crate to the wall?

Definitely.  It's rustic and old fashioned.  And no matter how hard I try or how much I want to avoid it, that is the direction this house will always take.  Use what you have...

The next project was something to fill the opposite wall.  I love browsing prints and frames at stores but can never convince myself to buy any.  I'm addicted to originals.  I built this frame using old fencing and staples.   (My first solo radial arm saw project.  I was scared to death!)

Some paint and some stain to distress it and I was happy.  I had seen bloggers framing sticks and thought I would give it a try with some of my grape vine trimmings.

Another hit.  Wow, could this room be coming together so fast with really nothing but time invested?

The soap dish?  The the base of a planter.  Painted and stained.

The curtain?  Ruffles?  Me?  Hmm... not so sure if I'll keep this one but I'm trying it.  Just muslin and literally scraps I ripped off an old table cloth in the basement.  The only thing I do like is the unfinished look.

Keeping with the "bird" theme (nest box, shower curtain, twigs... see it now?) two brass birds with a coat of white spray paint.  So pretty perched on my mirror ledge.  

Homemade milk glass with upcycled food jars... think vanilla extract, grinder spices and artichoke hearts.

I'm pretty sure that I took about one hundred photos of this tiny room. That's about 95 too many even by my standards.  But in my defense I have been suffering with this room for years. So just a few more if you please...

(Ok, a remodel  for the price of a shower curtain AND a stack of fluffy new hand towels...)

Overall, I like it.  So much brighter and clean.  For a couple days every time I walked past the room I had to stop, turn on the lights and sigh.

A finished project.

One room down...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Good Food Friday: Chocolate Apricot Bars

I love the idea of unprocessed food.  Real food.  Whole food.  Foods that heal.  That benefit my body.  I would say I eat this way about 80% of the time. The 20% of the time that I don't is normally for dessert.  But why?  Because healthy desserts have a nasty reputation for being boring, tasteless or just plain weird. As I have been reading more and more, learning about how individual ingredients function in a recipe it is getting so much easier to discover satisfying sweets that fit in the whole unprocessed category.  

Like this.  

Almost completely nuts and fruit this is just about the healthiest treat I can imagine.  And with the addition of dark chocolate chips, it tastes indulgent.  Almost like a granola bar I'm betting this will be great in the morning with a piece of fruit and mug of hot tea for breakfast!

Chocolate Apricot Bars (Gluten Free)

  • 1 cup ground almonds (I did mine in a coffee grinder, but a food processor would work too)
  • 3/4 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots 
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • a few tablespoons water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 dark chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350*.  Lightly grease an 8X8 baking dish.  
  • Combine dry ingredients besides chocolate.  
  • Add beaten eggs and mix with a fork until ingredients are no longer dry.  If the dough is not sticking together, add water a tablespoon at a time. 
  • Add chocolate chips.  
  • Lightly press dough into the pan.  Bake for 25 minute.  Allow to cool or if you can't wait, go ahead and sneak a square.  They hold up well (if you eat gluten free and avoid synthetic binders you know what I mean) and are quite filling.

Inspired by Elana's Pantry

P.S. I was right... they do make an excellent breakfast!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Baseball begins...

His first year of baseball.  His first scrimmage.   His first home run.   

Well. that last one isn't quite entirely true.  He had a decent hit and ran towards first... but never tagged the base.  Continued to second.  Missed that one too.  By now the other team was in shock and frozen.  He rounded third again without making contact.  With a huge smile on his face he came home and finally tagged the plate.  Home run?  Sure why not.  

I wish I could say he learned something important after that play but he did it again... and again.  

And I'm pretty sure while he was in the outfield I saw him pick clover and eat it.  What?

Baseball may not be his thing.  

With five kids it is not unusual for us to spend a couple nights a week at sports, year round.  It starts in the fall with soccer followed by basketball.  Basketball overlaps with indoor soccer  and then indoor soccer overlaps  with baseball.  From baseball a two week break before soccer again.  Not all the kids play each sport, but someone is always going somewhere.   

I have learned that going to practice and games is as much for the kids playing as the siblings being dragged along.  All my kids have basically grown up on the sidelines watching their brothers and sisters play.    I have so many sweet memories of cuddling babies on chilly nights.  

We cheer from the grass or shout from the stands.  We spread out blankets and pack supper.  Iced tea for hot weather and hot chocolate for the cold nights.  Sometimes there are playgrounds for climbing or benches for reading, wooded paths for exploring or grassy fields for playing.  

I have watched the babies cheer for their older brothers as well as seen the older brothers gently coach the younger ones.  Nothing could please a mother more.

I am thankful for these evenings.  These  nights when supper is eaten a bit faster and empty dishes cover the table as we head out the door.  Getting there doesn't go as smoothly as I would like it, but as soon the van unloads at the field everything slows down.  And it is always worth it.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Goodwill Desk - Polka Dot

On a donation trip to Goodwill a couple summers ago, this ugly little desk caught my eye...

A small investment later it was in the back of my van and settled into a dark corner of my crowded garage.

Fast forward to this spring...

Supplies for summer projects have come earlier than expected and every inch of space possible is needed.  So let's get this desk out of the garage and into the driveway for another refinishing job.

I find lots of inspiration for paint color and design pieces on this site.  While I love the paint color for the body of the desk, a great mix of blue/grey/black, (the same color from the first piece I did) the desk felt way too serious for me.  I wanted something a bit more playful.  Then I found this piece and felt it fit.

I traced a plastic cup for the circles and then free hand painted.  Distressed sanding and a coat of stain... (I really want to start using paste wax, just need to research more about it!)

It's perfect.  I know I say this every time I finish a piece, but I think this might be my favorite.  I originally had pictured this for my son,  Then I recanted and gave it to myself to replace the decopage bookshelf I've been blogging out of.  Brought it in, transferred stacks of paper, pens, cords, magazines, clipboards, electronics and such.  Took a bunch of pictures.  Tried to admire it...

Hmmm... looks weird.  Still love it, just not here.  And a quick tour around my place tells me I need to stop holding onto pieces I fall in love with after refinishing.  Yes.  This will be my first heart break.  My first loss.  He must go...

Any takers?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sisterly Love

My first daughter will be joining her brothers in the fall on that long daily trek to and from the bus stop.  Could it be that teeniest tiniest of my babies will be in school come this fall?  Just four short months left with my baby girl.  This fact hit hardest last Friday when she got dressed early and went in for her kindergarten assessment.

And I was left with just one bird in the nest.

Boy, her little sister is sure going to miss her. And I will miss capturing sweet little sister moments like these.

Big sister helping little sister.  Makes me want to cuddle a little longer in the morning, make French toast more often (Eden's favorite!), spend more afternoons reading books on the trampoline and in general make this time go by so slow.  What am I going to do without this pair this fall?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Toddler Activities and the Terrible Twos

I have been feeling like a terrible mother to Wade for a couple months now. The end of the pregnancy, week 36 - 42+, I was worthless. Seriously exhausted and barely able to move because of swelling in my lower limbs. I couldn't get on the floor and play with Wade or do much of anything. We did cuddle a lot though and I will always remember that time as special because Wade wasn't a cuddly baby.

When Ethan arrived the baby needed me right away with nursing issues. The nursing issues set into motion a whirlwind of three weeks of stress and appointments. On top of it I had some health complications from the birth that was making my recovery more difficult. Wade would cry for me and I couldn't just put Ethan down to pick Wade up. It broke my heart. Once again, I was spending zero time with Wade. I felt like Wade and my relationship was slipping away.

During my third trimester of the pregnancy, Wade started to experience some real and ugly terrible two behavior. Major tantrums (Wade wasn't really a crier and was pretty compliant before this) the kind that made Gary and I look at each other and wonder if our son had been replaced by a two headed monster. This was followed more recently by lots of "no". It didn't help that Wade's sleep schedule was shot and he was exhausted, off schedule, emotionally I was pretty unavailable, and there was lots of new adjustments.

Still dealing with Wade's attitude started to wear on me. I don't like the attitude of the teenager in the house and I constantly worry about "nipping in the bud" Wade's attitudes before he reaches out of control teenager. Molding a young heart is truly important for their lasting character. Add sleep deprivation of myself and a major cold to the mix and the beginning of this week was more than rocky. I was most definitely the mother I never, ever want to be. Short tempered, yelling at Wade, and I even smacked his butt once (he was being very, very bad) but with anger in my heart and I never, ever want to discipline out of a place of anger. I am not sure who was crying more. Wade or myself. I hated this version of mother and felt completely out of control. Now I was the two headed monster.

I had to make some changes fast. First, I had to ask for forgiveness (from God and family) and then forgive myself. Remembering I was sick and tired literally I focused on rest and healing. I also made sure to continue to focus of scripture verses. Second, I decided that I needed to daily find something for myself that was more than a hot shower. Third, I dedicated myself to being more creative with Wade. That even if it seemed like extra work to find a simple project daily to have him participate with even if it was making lunch or doing dishes but a time to let him play and explore and learn new things. I want to raise a creative child and I need to encourage creativity. One more thing, I had already decided that this week would be a week without appointments for myself or the kids. No lactation appointments, etc. Ethan and I would focus on nursing and Wade and I would focus on our relationship.

What a difference! I am happier, Wade is happier, and Ethan is just fitting so nicely into our lives. I feel happiness coming back into our lives and joy back to my heart. It was really looking rocky for a couple days.

Activity one:
Alphabet magnets - a dollar purchase that gave me several minutes of entertainment. Although Wade wasn't ready to put them ON the refrigerator. Instead he would rip them OFF. Until play is less destructive they are stored in a jar in the pantry closet. I would go insane trying to pick them off the floor everyday.

Activity two:
Classic Play Dough Recipe
I loved playing with play dough as a child. My mom had a great recipe. This one I believe is similar but not as wonderful as I remember it. I will have to look up that old recipe. In the mean time this project was great. Wade helped at the sink making his own "dough" while I made the actual play dough. Lots of sensory play. Then he played with his trucks with the play dough.

Activity three:
Rainbow Rice
I really loved this project and yes it can be messy in the house. I accept that and just vacuum and sweep up the mess. So far this project has been entertaining for the longest amount of time. I experimented with Great Northern beans as well and the dyeing wasn't as successful. I would like to try with small pasta as well. Also, I used liquid water colors I had for coloring and rubbing alcohol (but in lesser amounts than suggested). I would like to make a bin of "rainbow" colors. It was fun for both of us.

I am looking forward to more activities with Wade. I have to channel that energy as I train him past tantrums and "no". He really is an awesome kid.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Back to Eden Film

Back to Eden Film

I first stumbled on this film back on September 21, 2011. I meant to watch it (more than the trailer I saw) and share a post about the movie. It has long been in the back of my mind and obviously I am just getting around to sharing now. Can I just say the film took my breath away, blew my mind, and built in my such a great excitement to garden I can hardly stand it?

As I have shared earlier this week; lately the chickens, rabbits, and garden seem like such a major, extra chore. I have to remind myself why I am doing this all. Why grow my own food when I could just buy it from the supermarket? Sometimes I just don't have the answers. Especially after we took some bad advice and fertilized our raised beds with un-composted rabbit manure late last fall. Apparently, the mild manure that can "just be added right to the soil" is only to be added if you feed pellets alone. We don't. We feed hay. You know... grass like the wild rabbits eat. Pellets are just a supplement. Well that means only add rabbit manure to your garden beds before composting if you have weed free hay. Funny the solid layer of grass and weeds growing like a carpet on all my old beds that we added rabbit manure directly to... lots more work. **Sigh.**

This movie changes all that for me. You know when you read and look in search of a better way to do something just knowing it is out there and it still alludes you. The answers are within this fabulous system revealed to Paul Gautschi by God and shared with the world. Now I just have to convince my husband, the muscles, and we will be in business. 

Here are the highlights that really stood out to me:

  • Paul's love for God and gentle spirit are so appealing that you are just drawn in. His knowledge of scripture and application is just fantastic. I loved how the verses related so well to the action of gardening. 
  • This is the perfect system. Designed by God, modeled by nature, and recreated by Paul. Amazing.
  • That this "system" is being revealed now for a time of need. The ability to garden like this has always been "there" and many people have touched on or discovered many of the concepts shown but I do feel there is an element of timeliness in Paul's methods and in how it is revealed. I also feel pressured to have a food system in place for a time of need for myself, family, and strangers in need. 
  • You may or may not be amazed as I was at the size, swift growing, and sweetness of the fruit/veggies. Even being said to taste like candy. In addition, the water content in the fruit of the garden is so apparent that I can't relate it to most modern food homegrown or otherwise. It was just dripping!
  • No need for crop rotation (love this!), watering, weeding, fertilizing, soil testing, etc. Most of the chores of modern gardening are completely eliminated. Weeding, watering, and crop rotation are all major chores to me. Yuck! You don't have to "work" to keep up with this garden.
  • I kept wondering how to create such a garden myself while watching. Either from scratch or with what I already have. About an 1 and 30 minutes into the movie you get a great demonstration of the beginnings of making a garden like Paul's. Clearly only time will make a garden as fertile as Paul's but you see the start and early success. There is also a step-by-step "how to" on the film web site.
  • I love how Paul gives freely of his garden and his explanation of why he does so. Talk about beautiful. 
  • The movie is a bit of a time commitment but it is so very worth it!
Please buy the DVD or give a donation if you have the financial means. I am not affiliated with the film in anyway but I love how you can watch the film for free and I feel that should be rewarded. I am sure it will be a blessing and money well spent. Have you seen the film? Or if you watch it please tell me what you think about it. I would love to know what stood out to you. Did you agree with Paul on his method's?

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