Friday, July 29, 2011

Dresser and closet updates

As promised, here is the second installment of my closet organization!  Yeah!!!  Confetti flying everywhere!!!

I asked my friend, Joslyn, to come by last night for dinner and to give me perspective on the clothing I have kept.   I took a picture of her for the blog, but it was terrible and does not show how adorable she is, so instead, we'll call this cucumber that she grew Joslyn.  Hello, Joslyn!  Green is definitely your color.

Sometimes we need another pair of eyes to keep us objective when it comes to our clothes, especially when they fit really well but are out of date.  Our styles are different, so it was wonderful to get Joslyn's take on what she would pair together to make an outfit. She helped me to weed through a final time.

After having a couple of ladies comb through my cast-offs, here is my final pile.

So, finally, the sorting is done.  Now it's easy to go in my closet knowing everything there fits and is able to be worn. I actually have to keep reminding myself that I can wear everything in there. I amazes me how many things had been sitting in my closet that I couldn't wear, and I just kept looking at them sadly but not doing anything about it.  Isn't that a rather pathetic mental image?

I didn't get rid of as much as I put into storage.  I am still in transition, losing weight, but at the same time knowing another pregnancy could be in my future.  I look forward to being able to shed all the excess stuff.

On another note, remember this post from Monday?  Well, I have learned quite a bit from that little dresser.  Most importantly, check the weather report.  If it looks like rain in the week ahead, put off the project until a sunny week.  I finished sanding and staining on Tuesday evening.  I was excited to paint it on Wednesday and polyurethene on Wednesday evening or Thursday {the poly won't be on the painted part, so I could do it while the paint was drying}. 

Problem: Tuesday night began the rain that would not quit.  When the humidity is high, stain, like paint, does not dry.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  All to say, instead of taking eight hours, it has taken three days to dry.  The good news is that I love it. 

{oopsy!  dirty lens}

  It's a beautiful rich stain called Jacobean.  The wood grain shows through so nicely.

It's finally dry, so hopefully on Monday, weather permitting, I'll have a beautiful dresser to show you.

Sunny days are here again....


Rain, rain, go away. 

Whichever applies.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I went into the closet.

Remember when I told you Handsome Hero asked me to work on organization before I took on any more projects?  Well, I took it to heart and have been working to weed through, cull, and organize all of our possessions.

Turns out, I misunderstood the man.  He didn't care if I organized the closets or not. But the organization bug was now in me.  Did you know there was such a bug?  It's Latin origin is Organizia.

Our master closet was a wonderful selling point, as you can see. It's huge. I didn't think we could beat the his and hers closets we had in our last house. We certainly did.

Not to complain about having a huge closet, but my complaint about having a huge closet is this:  it is hard not to make it into a catch all store room.  Don't know where to put something?  Throw it in the closet!  Company coming over and no time to clean?  Throw it in the closet and forget it!  Where so you keep the Christmas or birthday presents?  Store them in the closet!  Obviously, my closet complaint is about me and my housekeeping and not about the closet itself, and I know many of you would love to have such tough problems in your lives, so I'll stop complaining now.

I recently have dropped some baby weight, and so I went through my closet, trying on everything, and putting into storage boxes anything that was out of season, maternity {I couldn't believe I had maternity still in the closet - Jack was seven months old when we moved here!}, or too big {I don't want to get rid of too-big clothes yet because we may have another baby, Lord willing}. I also made a large pile of give-away items.

I read somewhere that to make a place look lived in and homey in pictures, put a pair of shoes on the floor.  I don't think this applies to closets where you are trying to show your organizational prowess.  Or maybe I should have chosen a rockin' pair of heels.  Note to self: buy a rockin' pair of heels.

As you can see, we got rid of a lot of clothing!

Two things are still to be done.  We have no full length mirror in the house, and one is needed.  If I want to see if an outfit works, I have to walk down the stairs and get a progressive view in the mirror at the bottom.  It's like a reveal on TV.  I don't need that kind of anticipation just to see myself!

Also, the jewelry holders that I made for our last house aren't practical in this one.   The only place they fit is behind my clothes in the back of the closet.  I need to figure out a replacement that I can put over the dresser that will fit all of my jewelry.  I love big chunky necklaces and bracelets and they take up a lot more space than that jewelry box can hold.  Besides, if you don't see it, you forget it and don't wear it.

 Check out the paint job on this dresser.  My sister did it for me in 199?. I promise it was the height of cool then!  Someday I will update you, little dresser.

Even with these "to do's," it is wonderful to have the organization part mostly done.  I do have a final piece that I will tell you about...


Don't you love cliffhangers?  Get it?  CliffHANGERS?  In a CLOSET???  I kill me!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Our first finger painting experience was a study in two different approaches.

This one painted nicely at first, even when I told her she could use her hands.  She did this with her first birthday cake.  Just little pinches.  She does not like messy hands.

Then it became a contest to see how much paint you could fit on a brush.

Then it was all in.

This is my attempt to teach that red and blue make purple.  Apparently, not in finger paint.

This one started off with one mission:

To see which paint color tasted better. 

After the sad realization that this was not, in fact, candy paint, he piddled a bit.

But then the great big world called to him.

He heeded the call to go.  This was his quest, to follow that star, no matter how painful, no matter how far....

The world needed painting, and he was just the one to do it.

All in all, a great activity, approved by both daughter and vampire son.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I thought I'd have more to report...

but I don't.  I was going to write about how I had done this amazing dresser redo,

but, alas, I didn't get very far.  I was going to sand it down gently and then paint, but then I got an idea.

I think I will stain the top and paint the bottom.  That stalled me, because I have to go to the store to get some stripper.

Paint stripper!  Tut, tut.

Also, about the time I finished sanding the top, I thought, "I don't know how old this dresser is.  I don't know how old this paint is.  I don't know if this is lead paint.  I just sanded down the entire top of this dresser and breathed it all in.  I need a mask before I go further.  Am I a penguin?"  I hear hallucinations are common in paint inhalations.

I'll keep you updated on my progress. 

I think I just saw a unicorn!! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Date with Ella

Before our second Wonderkid was born, Ella was like my little appendage.  She went everywhere with me.  We were very attached.  It was like having a second head.

Ahem.  Yes, well.

Now that Jack is here, of course, we travel as a group, and I don't often get quality time out alone with her. 

When the Winnie the Pooh movie came out last week, Handsome Hero and I thought it would be a wonderful first movie theatre experience for Ella. She and I talked about it for days, painted toenails, and dressed in complimentary dresses chosen by her. She wanted to be dress twins.  She's into that.  "Mama, we're pants twins!"  "Mama, we're flip flop twins!"  "Mama, we're toenail polish twins!"

Let's take a picture before our date, Ella.

We are big fans of the original Winnie the Pooh books.  If you haven't read these books you are missing out.    A. A. Milne is one of the funniest authors I have ever read.

Look at the camera this time, Sweetie.  Okay, let's try one more.

We had a wonderful time.  The movie was really cute.  We went out for dinner, got ice cream {cotton candy flavored with sprinkles} and window shopped at the mall.  We ended our evening by playing in the playground inside the mall where my big girl impressed me by being very kind to a mean little beady-eyed smartypants that I wanted to punt into next week, little devil. 

I'm working on my protective mom issues.

Smile this time, Ella.  Not so hard, Honey!  You're.  smushing.  my.  cheek!

All in all, a very successful evening.  Handsome Hero and I love spending one on one time with our kids.  They feel special and we get to know them in a different way.  For instance, on this date I learned that Ella has no concept of what a stranger is.  She would walk up to someone and say, "Hi!" and then say to me, "That man wasn't a stranger.  I just don't know him."

{exasperated sigh}

Friday, July 22, 2011

Benches and Staplers and Tufting - Oh my!

For my birthday this year, Handsome Hero knocked my socks off by getting me a pneumatic nail gun. I was THRILLED!!!!!! Yep, other girls may want jewelry and clothes, but not me.  I'm just a tomboy who loves her tools {confession note: the previous statement is a stretch, or maybe a categorical lie.  I get stars in my eyes over pretty clothes.  And jewelry.  And shoes.  Don't forget shoes.  Ohhh, and purses.  Definitely can't leave out purses...}. 

Pneumatic tools use an air compressor to shoot either nails, brads, or staples.  I have lots of upholstery projects, and having a pneumatic stapler will help me acheive much more professional results than my old manual stapler that isn't powerful enough to drive the staples completely into the wood and hurts my hand after just a few staples.  I can adjust the air pressure on the compressor to the strength I need for each project.

Pneumatic. I just like saying it. It makes me feel smart like my husband, who uses words like viscosity on a regular basis.

The first project I took on was this bench.  Remember the other bench?  I think I have a thing for them.

When most people go out on their own for the first time, they use horrible hand-me-downs or thrift store furniture until they are able to replace it.  In my case, I was given beautiful antiques from members of my family who didn't need them any more.  It's a hard life.

The two pieces of foam on this bench had been covered in tapestry.  It was pretty, but not my style and very uncomfortable.  I was thinking of getting rid of it, but decided to try to recover it and use it in the piano room.

I did not write a tutorial on this project because it is done the same way as dining room chair cushions.  Nothing more complicated than that.  Instead of just redoing the two squares, I added lots of foam and batting and covered the whole seat.  Then I stapled it to the the back of the seat frame.  It was easier and way more comfortable for my tushy than trying to make remake the same little squares.  See, already a vast improvement.

Here's where it got tricky.  I wanted to upholster the back, but, I couldn't figure out how to upholster it comfortably with the spindles, and I didn't want to mark up the wood, in case I changed my mind in the future. 

Light bulb!  Handsome Hero was putting peg board up in the garage, and I asked him to cut an area just shy of the measurements of the back.  I covered it in the same way as the seat, and set it in.  Because of the holes in the pegboard, I knew I could tuft it easily.

Even without the tufting, it looked so cute.

Way more up-to-date.

At first I was going to do a traditional tufting, with lots of buttons in a diamond pattern, but the more I looked at it, I thought simplicity was a better way to go.  I got two of the largest coverable buttons I could find and used fabric scraps to cover them.  Then I used an upholstery needle {which is very long} and thread {which is made for this purpose and is very strong} to go through the foam and make a simple tufted look.  Real upholstery buttons are actually like heavy duty brads that you push through the fabric and spread open in the back.  I plan on getting those for another project I have in mind, but these worked just fine for this time around.

I didn't take pictures of the tufting process for two reasons.
1.  I had never done it before and didn't know if I was doing it correctly.
2.  I did the tufting during naptime and the camera was in Jack's room.  No way was I going in there and waking the dragon.  That kid does not take to being awakened before his time.

I think I'll make a couple of cute pillows to go on it and finish it off. 

Kind of unintentionally, I have made this home more cohesive colorwise than the other places we've lived.  The bench could actually live in our bedroom, the living room, the dining room, or the piano room and look very purposeful, like it was made for the space.  That makes it easy to move things around and keep the house from feeling boring or stagnant. 

I gravitate toward antiques, but am drawn to modern, fresh looks, also.  I think that putting modern fabrics on old pieces enlivens them and breathes new life into them.  Not that I think they are alive.  I don't talk to them or anything.  I don't thank chairs for holding me or my dresser for storing my clothes so well.  It is ridiculous to think of calling a buffet Buffy, and promising that soon, very soon, she will be refinished, and to just try to be patient.

Hello, there, Tufty!  May I join you? 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Can you still fit into your wedding clothes?

Handsome Hero and I went out for our anniversary last night.  And, like a good wife who knows what's best for her family, I badgered the mister into taking a picture of just the two of us before we left.  I told him that he'd be so happy to have it later.  I mean, what if I died in a car crash today?  Wouldn't he want a recent picture? 

Maybe I didn't say that last part, but I won't promise I didn't think it. 

Our date was awesome.  We don't get a lot of dates, living so far from family, so these times are precious.  I am thankful that spending time together is still such a high priority.

But back to my reason for this post.  I would like to venture that most of you married types out there can no longer fit into your wedding attire.  It happens to the best of us, you know.  We have great intentions of staying the size we were at the time of our wedding, but life {and a kid or two} catches up with us.

Well, I've worked very hard, and have sacrificed and exercised in order to say that eight years later, I can still do it!


Just look at the fit.  It's perfect!  Not too tight, not too loose.  The seams aren't pulling.  Yep, I'm very proud to say that I am still able to wear these.  I can also say with confidence that I fit into the earrings and necklace that I wore very nicely.  It's almost shameful to look this good.

What, did you think I meant the dress? 

Oh, please.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Recipe: chicken squares

I don't know where this recipe came from, but we always got excited when we had these for dinner growing up.  Now that I have my own place, they are a staple company meal.  They fit the criteria:  they're easy, look pretty, and taste wonderful.

Chicken Squares
serves 4

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2 cups cooked chicken
2 T butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese
2 T milk
1 t. salt {or to taste, since the chicken is already cooked}
1 T chives
1 can 8 ct. crescent rolls

Dump ingredents, minus crescent rolls, into a mixer and start 'er up.

Mix until it looks like this.

Note: You can make the filling ahead and chill for a few days or even put it in the freezer until you need it.

Open your can of crescent rolls and make four squares out of them, pinching the seams closed.  I forgot to take a picture of this step.  Put 1/4 of filling on each square and bundle them up, making sure all the filling is securely inside.  Place them on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.


Note: I try to keep cooked chicken in my freezer at all times so that things like this are easy.  My favorite way is to buy rotisserie chickens when they're on sale, take the meat off the bone, and measure the chicken into bags in two cup increments, since that's what most recipes seem to call for. Then I bag up and freeze the carcasses to make chicken broth at a later date. 

Another Note:  I usually keep a box of puff pastry sheets in my freezer {found with other frozen doughs in your freezer section}.  I've made this recipe with one of those, also, and it worked wonderfully.  Just adjust your cooking time and temp. according to the package.

Yet Another Note:  these make great appetizers or finger foods.  If you separate each crescent roll and make them half the size, or even cut those in half and fill accordingly, you have a pretty appetizer for a party.

Just One More Note:  If you are a spinach fan, you can add frozen or fresh chopped spinach.  Just make sure if you use frozen that you drain it well, or your dough will steam and be watery and yucky.  If you are like me, add up to a cup to the filling.  If you are like my mom, add a whole bag/box.  Whatever floats your boat. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eight Years

Eight years ago today, Handsome Hero and I walked down the aisle.  We became Mr. and Mrs.  We became one.  It was awesome.  It still is.  Being married to my best friend is a wonderful blessing.

Now that I have acheived the pinnacle and know all there is to know about marriage, I will share some of the quirks I have learned about my husband that helped to get us to this state of wedded bliss.

  • When he is working around the house, he loves to have company, even though he doesn't act like it.  Just don't ask how he's doing.  He doesn't like that.
  • He will most likely decide it is time to check the oil just at the time we are late for something, but he does it so that I don't have to check it later.
  • When he says he will be home by a certain time, he most likely won't, but probably because he's stopping off at the store so I don't have go in the morning with two kids.
  • When I want to buy or do something, there is no need to be manipulative.  He is more than willing to make my desires a reality.
  • When he questions why I did something, he really wants to know.  It isn't a subtle way of telling me I'm stupid.
  • If we are working on a home project, the words guaranteed to stall the process are "it's fine."  Fine does not cut it.  Fine is not good enough.  We must strive for perfection.
  • Everything in life is meant to be researched.  All aspects of our lives are made better by a little delving.  Where should we go to dinner?  Let's look up reviews of restaurants.  What kind of running shoes should I get?  Let's research any studies done on that. 

Most of the things above drove me bonkers when we were first married, until I realized that his checking the oil and going to the store for me are acts of service that he does because of his love for me.  When he researches and researches and researches and takes twice as long to do a project as the research suggests, it is because he is making sure that his job is done right.  And it always is.  There is always a beautiful result when Handsome Hero is on the job. 

Happy Anniversary to my beloved.  You really are my hero.  You balance me.  The Lord clearly knew what He was doing when He put us together.  It has been an honor to watch your growth as a man, a husband, a father, and a follower of Christ.  Thank you for eight wonderful years, and I look forward to many, many more.  But can we take more pictures of the two of us in the future?  This is all I could come up with.   This is most of the pictures we are in together for our whole marriage.