Packing It In

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Seasonal change is upon us. We’ve received preschool letters. We’ve started planning Nora’s fall birthday. We’re procuring fall and winter clothes and school backpacks. I’m scratching my head trying to figure out our fall schedule, which involves two kids going to preschool on separate days, a husband who is working various early mornings and evenings, and a fully packed social calendar.

But summer isn’t over quite yet!

We’ve been enjoying summer activities to the max this week, attending a minor league baseball game, swimming at the pool, and lounging at the beach. I hope you are also enjoying these final lazy days of summer.

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Hammered

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Well, I am pretty glad that I decorated my office earlier this summer. I have been living in it!

Since leaving my full-time job last spring, I have been picking up freelance work here and there. I copyedit and proofread books, journals, websites, and other publications. When I left my position as a managing editor, I didn’t want to give up on my career entirely. In publishing, there is a great deal of freelance work. Fortunately, as of late, I have been experiencing an onslaught of projects!

However, for the first time ever, I had to turn down a project. Wow, was that hard! But with several large projects hitting me at once, my pile of work is too big, especially with two littles at home, a husband who is beginning his busy season at work, and a fall calendar already packed to the gills with back-to-school, Nora’s birthday, and church and social obligations.

I’ve found that I LOVE editing and proofreading at home, but I have to balance my love of work (and making some additional income for the family) with my full-time stay-at-home mom gig (or, am I a work-at-home mom now?). Lately on the weekends I have been holed away in the office while Steve takes the kids to do fun things. It’s nice to have another role in my life, but balance is key.

I am an enthusiast by nature, which makes it difficult to say no. I love to craft, work, volunteer, and host parties, which sometimes leaves little free time for my family and me. I’m pledging to keep myself busy (I do thrive on juggling lots of things) but without making my family and me crazy.

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New House: Front Door

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The kids and I love the song by Phillip Phillips called “Home.” (Seriously, even though he won “American Idol,” which I had no awareness of at the time, Phillips is as good as Ray LaMontagne and Jack Johnson, to name a few of my other favorite male singer-songwriters.) One of the best lines of the song is “I’m going to make this place your home.” And that’s what we continue to do at the new house. Our project this weekend? Painting the front door smurf blue (or smurf indigo, depending on how picky you want to be when dissecting the color).

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Now, this change is completely based on personal preference; the maroon door we inherited wasn’t that bad looking, but it was dull (I did make sure to remove the ancient and less-than-attractive screen door as soon as we moved in). When we were waiting to close on our house this winter, I’d drive through the new neighborhood and remark on how good the fronts of the houses looked. I wanted to do something bold with our house’s exterior, so painting the door was the perfect first project to tackle outdoors.

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I used a semigloss paint and primer in Batik from the Eddie Bauer collection (purchased at Lowes). I painted it with a small roller and angled brush, and the paint project took about two-and-a-half hours. Before painting, we used a deglosser to clean the door (no sanding required!).

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The finished result? The door is bold, but I’m happy with it. We’re color people, and I can’t wait to find a few more outdoor decor items to make the front of our house “ours.” Plus, it’ll be easy to tell people where we live–it’s the Tudor with the BRIGHT blue door!

 

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Finished: Living Room Curtains

IMG_4859Here they are! The finished living room curtains. Made with Waverly Barano fabric in Indigo and sewn according to this pattern for backed-tabbed curtains (without the blackout lining) on View Along the Way. I’ve been ordering fabric at Fabric.com and loving it–the site is easy to browse and there is free shipping for orders of $35 and up (not a paid placement, just a recommendation!).

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Each curtain took about an hour to sew, including cutting out the size (I trimmed them down to 44 inches wide and 71 inches long) and sewing (side hems, top tabs, and bottom hem). The curtains at the large front window hit just the bottom of the windowsill, leaving plenty of room for our radiators (while I love floor-length curtains, they aren’t practical for a home with a boiler!). The other curtains on the side window are a bit longer, which I did based on personal preference. I sewed the top tabs before hemming each curtain to ensure that each one aligned with the windowsill/desired length perfectly.

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While I wasn’t keen on sewing all of the curtains in the house, I am quite pleased with the finished result and will keep using this pattern until someone tells me to stop! Next up, the bedroom curtains; I’ve already ordered the fabric and just need to find the time to make them happen.

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Reorganizing Life

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Steve and I logged on the computer this morning to register Nora for her fall activities at the YMCA. It was very reminiscent of college days, where we’d set our alarms to sign up for classes and the computer would freeze, and then we’d spend an hour trying to get into Spanish 201 only to find out that all sessions were full. This time around, I still had technical difficulties, but I was thankful to get into our desired sessions.

Fall is coming in our house, though it’s three or so weeks away. The September through December calendar is already looking a bit packed, and that’s just with preschool and extracurricular activity runs. We’ll add church, birthday celebrations, fall festivals, and holiday stuff too. On top of that stuff, Steve’s schedule becomes rather wonky with evening hours and an early Sunday morning shift until February. There will be a lot of adjustment come September 1.

While I like summer and its freedoms, I LOVE fall and its structure (and fall beers, crunchy leaves, and cool nights). This year, Carson will attend preschool two mornings a week, which I think will be an awesome experience for him. I’ll also be balancing a lot more paid work than I did last year (the freelance gig is seemingly working out) and Nora’s going to add an activity in addition to swimming lessons. Plus, I can’t wait to enjoy the leaves change color at our new house, though I think we’ll be responsible for raking at least 50 bags of them come October.

Our final weeks of summer include a baseball game, the Renaissance fair, an art camp for Nora, and a few other things to be thrown on the calendar at the last minute. Then, I’ll be ready for the football season to begin and the school doors to open.

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Rewarding Myself (And Not Forgetting to Try)

One of my favorite sayings is “Don’t forget to try.” (The other one is “That’s not helpful,” but that’s more related to the stay-at-home life than a general life theory.) I’m a pretty good trier, but there are aspects of my life that get away from me.

I had a moment today in the dressing room at Kohls where I realized that I’ve really let myself go. Like REALLY. I’ve got the mom ponytail, the stained pairs of shorts, the stretched out T-shirts. All I’m missing are holes in my clothes (oh, wait, I’ve got that covered too!). Thankfully, I keep up with my hair color since one of my close friends is a cosmetologist. And my brother’s wedding prompted me to restock my fancy clothes, so at least I looked somewhat decent at a wedding we attended last night.

I’ve got to make this aha moment count. While it’s true that my life is hectic with child rearing and I’m always keeping our budget in mind, there’s no way that I can completely let myself go–I’m only 31 for goodness sake! And with a full fall social calendar, it wouldn’t kill me to try a little harder in the clothing and beauty departments.

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For a quick remedy, I treated myself to new nail polish today (Naughty Nautical by Essie), which reminds me of the Elsa costume I recently sewed for Nora. Also, I’ve fallen in love with Jamberry nail wraps thanks to my friend Liss. I’m going to apply these cute rose polka dot ones later this week. A fun way to end the summer, right?

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Any tips on how you stay on top of your style? What do you do to reward yourself?

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New House: Living Room

I wrote about my hopes to decorate the living room a few weeks ago. After lots of sewing (curtains and pillows), framing, and hanging, we have a much more decorated space that feels homey. Of course, the room isn’t technically “finished” yet because I am waiting for another two yards of my curtain fabric to arrive so I can sew the final panel for the front windows. Once that is finished, I’ll post more info about how I sewed them.

So, without further ado, here’s the space:

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I’m sure I’ll tweak the space over the years (I’d love for the reading nook to have some funky art and a bright pillow at some point), but this feels like a great base for now. And someday, when the kids are older, we’ll probably get a coffee table. But for now, it’s great to have space for them to play.

 

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New House: Beverage Station

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My friend Lisa turned me on to the idea of a beverage station this spring. She’s been undergoing a renovation project at home and started pinning ideas for this little hospitality nook, and I decided to make one in our house, too.

Our kitchen has minimal counter space, so placing the Keurig and other coffee- and tea-making supplies in a separate zone from the cooking area is optimal. I take my hot beverages pretty seriously, so this corner of the eat-in kitchen feels like mine.

The most recent addition to the beverage station is the hanging shelf, generously sent to me by my mom. I love displaying my favorite mugs in open shelving. Plus, the style of the shelf (we think it originated with my grandmother) really suits my built-in-1928 house.

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Home Ec Week

While it wasn’t intentional, the littles and I spent the week doing many activities my home-economics-teaching grandmother would have loved.

We started the week (while we were still healthy!) making fruit pizza:

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And Nora and I finished the week sewing a sock snake, found on this blog via Pinterest: IMG_4818

The sock snake was the perfect time-killer for a house-bound end of the week, as Carson came down with hand, foot, and mouth. While he’s starting to feel better, it put a bit of a damper in our typical summer plans.

Slowing down and embracing the everyday has ignited my passions for baking and sewing again, so I hope to post more of our projects in the near future. Yesterday, Nora and I went to Joann to pick up notions for her Elsa costume (making it early though it’s for Halloween). And I’m working away on the living room curtains and pillows. Hope to have an update on that big project in the next week or so (though I just realized I need to order more fabric for the last curtain).

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What a Weekend! (And Month!)

This weekend proved to be a small representation of our July. Packed to the gills with fun and house stuff. It included a birthday party, a relative visit, home projects, and lots of cooking!

Some photographic highlights:

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We bought some fresh produce at the farmers’ market, enjoyed some treats, and got soaked by an unexpected rainstorm!

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The new tapestry arrived on Saturday and we started to work on our living room decorating project. (We also started working on our basement organization project, which is a whopper of a task.)

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I finally made this pumpkin garlic knots recipe (after years of having it on the to-do list) that my friend from college created. It paired perfectly with the farmer’s market garlic.

Summer is sure fun and eventful, but exhausting too!

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