10 March Things

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  1. I am crafting again! I crocheted this Power Ranger for Carson and am working on the Coffee Shop Wrap. I bought the kit from Lion Brand and love the colors and the lightweight cotton yarn. Hoping I can enjoy it by April (meaning that it will be finished!).
  2. It snowed and sleeted all day today. So much for spring!
  3. We are heading out on a family adventure in a few days to an indoor water park. This corresponds to the year of fun I mentioned in January. Both kids are very excited to have this getaway and it helped us push off a Disney World vacation for another year.
  4. Before the temperatures plummeted this weekend, March entered like a lamb. I stocked up on some fun Lularoe for spring, put out some Easter decorations, and got the kids’ spring schedules lined up. Think baseball and running!
  5. We’re binging on The Great British Baking Show right now on Netflix. Steve and I seriously look forward to watching it every night.
  6. I’m trying to take actions that represent my progressive viewpoint a few times a month. This includes donating to worthy causes, contributing to making my community a better place, and finding ways to stand up to those who are less privileged than me.
  7. We booked plane tickets for our summer vacation. It involves visiting family and squeezing in a few new states for the kids. Stay tuned!
  8. We have a family wedding coming up. The kids are excited to see their aunt and uncle tie the knot and there are many festivities related to it. The best part for Nora is that it involves another trip to New York City, her favorite place!
  9. I have incorporated listening to Young House Love Has a Podcast into my weekly exercise routine. It’s a great one for a thirty-minute walk. And I am not getting too focused on house improvements since Steve and I have tabled big projects this year.
  10. Life is good. Work is steady for me and Steve. The kids are happy in their classes. The year of fun is working out. I am embracing the more relaxed lifestyle of having older kids. It’s less physical work, though at times it is more emotionally intense, but I feel like I am in such a healthy place that I can handle it well (as long as I don’t let the nonsense of the day–thinking the news cycle–break me down too much).

The Year in Crafting

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Honestly, 2016 wasn’t my best year for crafting. Or for reading. Or for blogging. Or for other leisure pursuits. *Sigh.* I did have a gangbuster year with my freelance business, so I’ll put that feather in my cap as I close out this year. If life was perfect, I would have worked a bit less and relaxed a bit more. I am aiming for this in 2017!

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I did have an epic craft storm for a few months this fall, which resulted in making several felt ornaments aligned with the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” I stuck with numbers one and two this year, stitching several pears, partridges, and turtle doves from August through November. Part of me would love to bust out the super-cute French Hen for my tree before Christmas decorating passes for another year. We shall see!

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These ornaments are from beautiful patterns designed by Larissa Holland. I am just a little bit obsessed with her aesthetic!

Spring Cleaning

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With spring-like weather teasing us on the East Coast (except for forecasted snow on Friday, which I am actually praying avoids us for the sake of my school/work schedule), I’ve begun the annual process of sifting through our belongings. Sitting in this house for months on end during dark and cold days makes me a little stir crazy. So any sign of spring gets me organizing and planning for nicer months to come.

I tackled our book collection last week, which was an interesting process. Now many, many years removed from college, I am finally able to detach myself from most of my favorite English lit books, reminding myself there is always the library. During this session, I also tossed many baby planning and baby rearing books that were so near and dear to me just a handful of years ago. While there were moments when I wondered about this purging bender, using the “KonMari” approach really helped me let go. I “thanked” and appreciated what the books brought me and then put them in the laundry basket of no return — feeling immense gratitude for various times in my life. I cherish many phases of my three-decade-long journey, but the material objects I possess from favorite periods don’t need to hang around forever.

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The exciting takeaway is that I am left with clean, alphabetized, and manageable bookcases after this activity, which gives me so much joy. I am also delighted to have gathered our vinyl collection in one place, and we’ve decided to move our CDs to the basement once and for all, accepting that having all of them in our iTunes library is sufficient for regular use. Some day I should list the titles of our ’90s alternative/indie rock collection. You’d be impressed.

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In related house project news, we finished our bedroom painting project, and the results are stunning! I love the Sherwin Williams Moody Blue and feel like it’s made our adult space so relaxing. I really wanted a retreat and this color delivered!

 

Between Idea Land and Execution

Home projects top the list for us in the next few weeks, likely because the football season is over and we filled our taxes and didn’t owe a million dollars as I feared (I believe this must be an emotion many small business owners share). Now that we have time and a clearer picture of our financial situation for the year, we’ve been able to pick financially appropriate projects to polish our home.

It’s been nearly two years since we moved into our house. I remember feeling frustrated when we began life in the new house because there was SO much decorating to do. I couldn’t wait to get to the redecorating stage where I could refine my ideas. I think we’re finally there!

Our first order of business is painting our bedroom. This has been on the wish list since we settled, but we’re finally getting to it and I am glad we waited so we could take our time and anticipate it fully. (Plus we’re actually getting full nights of sleep these days, so it’s a good way to celebrate that milestone!) I’ve struggled with the paint color choice, but I think I’ve settled on letting West Elm do the picking for us. We seem to adore blue in the house, so we’re going to try Moody Blue.

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We’ll pair it with white, gray, and yellow accents. downloadThe bedroom refresh also includes finally addressing our aging blinds and the sheers that remain on the room’s small windows, a carry-over from the previous owner. I am ready to freshen up this space and feel at peace in there at last.

We don’t have many more fun aesthetic projects going on, though I did snag some nice new fabric to recover our dining room chairs today. I’ll post pics of the finished product soon!

Other updates:

  • This weekend has brought nicer, milder weather, and I am starting to believe spring is on its way. A friend and I have taken on the planning for the Easter egg hunt, which will be rather early this year, so let’s hope Mother Nature continues her gentle ways.
  • I nerded out this month and watched The Roosevelts, the Ken Burns documentary. I finished the final episode last week and felt a sense of amazement at what that American political family accomplished. It really puts our political cycles in perspective as well as the amazing leadership abilities of some. If you have fourteen hours to spare, watch it.
  • We also watched the original Star Wars trilogy with the kids last week. It’s been fun to revisit the movies again, and my son has taken to reliving each light saber scene. I have no idea how he has absorbed all of the characters’ moves after one watching, but it’s pretty amazing that he’s so captivated.

 

Finished: Christmas Napkins

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I’ve been a crafter for my entire life. In my adult years, I’ve enjoyed making handmade items around the holidays. However, in an effort to avoid half-finished projects in December, I always make it my goal to finish any crafting by Thanksgiving. That way I can turn my attention to all of the other holiday merry-making as we lead up to Santa’s arrival.

This year I want to have a beautifully set table for Christmas meals. I just bought a few items to serve as the table’s centerpiece, and I’ll use these newly made napkins for each table setting. Generally I am a low-fuss entertainer, but there’s something special about having a beautiful home around Christmas. Plus, I have piles of Christmas fabric sitting in my attic waiting for me to do something with them.

These were easy to put together. I got in my head that each napkin should have perfectly mitered corners but quickly gave up on that after taking a step back and asking myself who would notice. With just a few creases to iron and a little straight sewing, these came together in no time.

I am enlisting the kids to make some napkin rings to adorn these cute vintage-inspired Santa napkins. This is the same fabric on Carson’s Christmas stocking, and I am glad to feature it elsewhere in our decor because I adore the print.

 

Finished: Kid Hats

I’ve caught the yarn crafting bug again. This stress reliever has been good to get me away from the computer screen so I don’t obsess about my small business 24/7. It’s also been fun to make hats for free using my massive stash of Vanna’s Choice yarn.

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I crocheted basic beanie hats for my kids this week. Nora’s is a rainbow pattern and Carson’s is inspired by our favorite adolescent mutant turtles who are also trained ninjas.

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Both kids agreed to model these hats, but the weather has been in the 70s lately, so we’re not sporting winter accessories outdoors yet.

Rediscovering Color

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Last week Steve and I painted several rooms, giving our century-old Tudor some new life. After rolling on several coats and finishing a few other projects, we were amazed by how awesome and how “us” the house looks now. Why didn’t we do this sooner?!

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For some reason, it took me a long time to choose paint colors for our house. I got wrapped up in the current trends, feeling compelled to experiment with grays, even though I really love yellow, blue, and green walls. One day I realized I should just follow the colors I used in my old house — what a thought! This aha moment resulted in quick action that took our house form “eh” to “wow.”

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I stuck with the Sherwin Williams line of paints and chose from their HGTV color palates. When we sold our house last year and I cleaned the walls for our showings, I couldn’t believe how nice the Sherwin Williams paint still looked. It came through for me again, requiring just two coats for each room.

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I chose White Raisin in our kitchen to complement our wood cabinets and painted the trim Alabaster. I even painted the doors to the bathroom and basement white, which really brightened up the whole room. We added some new hardware to the cabinets and I scrubbed them with Murphy’s Wood Oil to give them a nice, clean feel.

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Once we assembled everything back in the room, I couldn’t believe how warm the room felt, even with very little sunlight. I also loved how well the yellow coordinated with our newly renovated powder room, which we painted blue back in April.IMG_6976

For the dining room, I swapped out the dated Raisin Torte color for a more contemporary one, Retreat. The color is so calming and makes the room feel larger. I love it with my gold curtains from West Elm and the new bamboo roman shades I bought through JcPenney.

We updated some other rooms during this project week, but I’ll get to those later. I hope you had a great Fourth of July!

Winter Wonderland in March

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Well, Mother Nature kept her mightiest snowstorm for the Philadelphia area for March. The dumping we received yesterday followed an entire week of ice and snow events. It’s hard to believe that spring is just a few weeks away!

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Aside from my parents’ travel plans being derailed, we’re embracing these winter temperatures as best we can and are trying to have a little staycation this weekend in hopes that it will keep our children happy.

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And I guess I needed a little March snow to motivate me to sew a project for the kids. Thanks to some cute fabric from JoAnn and the One-Yard Wonders pattern for preschooler-sized messenger bags, the kids and I completed a sewing project in just one icy/sleety/snowy afternoon.

January Scrapbooking Mission

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Lest you think all I do is brood about my existence, I am back to show you that I actually do things around the house. One of my big “tackle this already” projects for January has been to sort through the pile of kid artwork underneath the desk in my office. At our house, we display preschool projects for a few weeks on the fridge, and then I remove them, toss them in a box, and vow to sort through them at some point, usually a couple of times a year. A majority of the artwork ends up in the great big bulletin board in the sky. The most treasured pieces get displayed in scrapbooks I compile for the kids.

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Updating these scrapbooks takes some time, mainly because the sorting process agonizes me. I hate to toss things my kids created. However, as a pragmatist and nonhoarder, I know that it’s essential to cull through the giant stack of projects and keep only a few. I tend to save projects that involve kid hands and feet, show great enthusiasm with lots of embellishment and detail, and display developmental skills. I updated Nora’s scrapbook with her first drawings of people and faces. Carson’s scrapbook includes some of his first preschool projects.

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In addition to the project pages, these scrapbooks include progress reports from school, class pictures, professional portraits, and birthday party momentos. I hope the kids can see their development over the years and enjoy flipping the pages of the books throughout their lives. Though it’s sometimes arduous to keep up family memory collecting, I consider it one of my household responsibilities.

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Finished: Felt Bird Ornaments

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I am truly thrilled to be closing out 2014 posting about crafts I completed this year. When I began writing here in 2008, my life was much different, and I had so much more time to create things. Though I would never want to go back to that childless, craft-centric life (I LOVE these kiddos!), I am a little jealous of my crafting production at that time. Especially my ability to make so many gifts for the holidays.

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For Christmas this year, I was determined to contribute one handmade ornament to each family household on my gift list (those of whom have Christmas trees!). I showcased my cinnamon ornaments a week ago, and here is my other 2014 production: the Snow Bird ornament by Larissa Holland (I love her blog, MmmCrafts). I created five of these and kept one for my own tree (the purple one, of course!).

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These little birdies sure take a lot of time, but their folk chicness is right up my alley. I used high-quality felt for these avian decorations, which I purchased from Etsy here. Each bird’s construction took about an hour, not including glue-drying time. I worked on them in October, giving myself plenty of time to finish a flock before the gift-giving season. I have learned as a crafter (one with little kids!) that if the project hasn’t been finished by Thanksgiving, it’s better to move on and gift it another time. I hate crafting with pressure. It’s the worst!

I would highly recommend making these as gifts for friends and loved ones. I hope those who received mine enjoy hanging them on their Christmas trees for years to come.