Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easy Peasy Table Runner

I adore the table linens in our dining room, but if we ever want to play any games or turn our table into a makeshift desk we have to move them out of the way.  It's a pain and takes time.  

One solution I came up with was to make a table runner and put something cute in the center of the table as opposed to all around the edges of the table.  I figured making a table runner would be as simple as making a pillow case, minus the pesky stuffing step.    

So I headed to Jo-Ann's with my coupons and found some cute patterned fabric

I cut my fabric so the runner was about a foot wide and ran the length of my table.  I wanted it to hang down about 5 inches on each side so I made my cuts accordingly.  Of course, you'll want to use dimensions to fit your own table if you are going to try this for yourself.

My sewing machine decided to cooperate, which doesn't always happen.  I sewed three sides together, wrong sides touching.  

Then I turned my fabric right-side out.  At this point, it was looking like a really long pillowcase.  

The last step was to use iron-on hem tape to seal the fourth side shut.  I could have just run it through the sewing machine, but I didn't want the seam to show.  And I didn't want to press my luck with my finicky sewing machine. 


Here's the finished project!  It's simple, but the bold pattern makes a statement.  

Now all I need is a centerpiece.  Hmmm.....

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fake It Til You Make It

There have certainly been some trying times for me over the past 2 years.  I have been upset, frustrated, depressed and unhappy at one point or another. It's really easy to get stuck in those feelings and stay there.  However, that's no way to live.

Sometimes you have to push yourself beyond those feelings.  It's not easy and sometimes it doesn't work.  One thing that does work surprisingly well is to fake it til you make it.  

Well before I was ready to move past the loss of my baby, I decided to fake it. I convinced myself that it was time to move forward and not spend my days thinking about my baby.  So, I started my job as a secretary as a way to distract myself from my thoughts.  Doing so required me to smile even when I didn't feel like smiling.  I had to act pleasant and like I had my shit together even though I felt like I was falling apart on the inside.  It turned out to be easier than I thought.

Acting like I was okay somehow tricked my mind into thinking I was okay. That first day as a secretary was hard.  It happened to be the due date for my baby, which didn't make anything easier.  But I pushed through.  I faked my way through the day and ended up okay at the end of the day.  

I am not suggesting that you ignore your grief and pretend that it's not there. You definitely need to feel and live your grief.  But sometimes you have to say enough is enough and start moving forward.  

I try to be positive in my daily life.  I try to smile.  I try to appreciate kindness and generosity when I see it.  I try to be okay with losing my baby.  I try to be okay with having fertility issues.  I don't always succeed.  During those days when I struggle, I just fake it.  I put on a smile and look for the silver linings.

Free Printable | Sometimes You Just Have to Put On Lipgloss and Pretend to Be Psyched - Mindy Kaling | clubnarwhal.blogspot.com      


Friday, March 27, 2015

Home Tour- Living Room

Adam and I spend most of our time in our living room.  This also happens to be one the the rooms I love most in our house.  

Living Room

Here's the living room when we moved in:

It was just a big blank slate.  We have done lots to make it into a cozy living room:
-Repainted the baseboards, trim, fireplace mantel
 & crown molding in a bright glossy white
-Painted the walls a rich, chocolate brown
-Added curtain rods and curtains
-Replaced the ceiling fan

Here's our living room today:

This is our vacation photo gallery wall.  Adam and I take a picture or pick up some local artwork during our travels to hang on this wall.  It's a fun way to look back on our trips.  

We still would like to do something with the wall behind the tv.  Maybe build some built-ins.  Or find a long buffet/dresser on Craigslist to refinish and add some shelving above it.  We'll see what strikes our fancy.  

We'll go upstairs on the next part of the home tour.  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Perpetual Calendar

I decided to stop making stupid New Year's Resolutions that I wouldn't stick to (like losing weight and exercising more) and make ones that would be fun to follow.  One of my resolutions this year was to make and keep up with a perpetual calendar.  A perpetual calendar is a calendar that is organized with a page for each day of the year.  You write down one event that happened on that day.  You do this for a year, and then repeat the process in future years.  I thought this would be a fun way to reflect on each day and be able to look back over the years on all the things I've done.

This was such an easy project and would be easy for you to recreate, so I thought I would share how I made it.    

I started by getting 5x7 index cards and cutting them in half.  You'll need at least 183 cards, but you'll want to have some extras on hand for all the stamping mistakes you'll probably make.  Using a date stamp is surprisingly tricky.   

Then I used a date stamp that I got at Hobby Lobby to stamp each day's date on a separate card.  I used my 40% off coupon on this item.  

Next I cut some cute cardstock to separate each month's cards.  You'll want to cut it so the width is the same as the index cards, but the height is a bit taller so you'll be able to see it when it's all put together.

The last thing you'll need to do is find a container to hold your calendar.  I walked around Hobby Lobby with an index card that had been cut in half and stuffed it in various containers to see how it would fit.  I ended up in the section with the vases and planters.  I found this container that was the perfect size.  It was half off so it wasn't that expensive either.    

I keep my calendar on my dresser and walk by it as I'm getting into bed each night.  On my way, I stop and jot down one memorable thing from that day.  Sometimes it's a big event and sometimes it's something small.  Regardless, it will be fun to look back on in the future.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mulch Love

One of the easiest, most impressive changes you can make to your yard is adding a little (or a lot of) mulch.  Adam and I took advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend and added new mulch to our front yard.

Here is how our front yard looked before the new mulch was put down:

Before we added the new mulch, we cleared out all the leaves that collected in our flower beds.  We also trimmed back some bushes that had gotten a little out of hand.  Look at how much fun Adam is having:

Jazzy supervised the whole project.  She could have come out front if she didn't like to trot off down the street when we let her out the front door. The little stinker. 

We started out buying 5 bags of mulch.  This turned out to be 6 bags short of how much we actually needed.  My one mulching tip is to buy twice as much as you think you'll need.  Adam had the brilliant idea to write down how many bags we ended up using and then putting that in our house file.  That way when we have to add more mulch next year, we won't have to make more than one trip to Home Depot.  I married a smart man.  

Here's how the front yard looks after our mulching project:

Now we just need all our plants to get green and grow flowers!   

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Mantra

If you would have asked me if I had a mantra a few years ago, I would have said, "No, because that sort of thing is weird."  Well, I'm weird now.  I have a mantra:

The best is yet to come. 

After I had lost my baby, my mother-in-law Janet shared the idea of having a mantra or personal saying with me.  She told me that her mantra is "all is well."  It made a lot of sense to me at the time and I'm very thankful she shared this idea with me.  So I scoured quotes on Pinterest and came across "the best is yet to come."  It spoke to me and said "make me your mantra" and so I did.  I come back to my mantra on hard days and it helps renew my hope.  Plus, it brings me to a more positive frame of mind.
I tell myself that "the best is yet to come" when I am especially frustrated about not being able to get pregnant again.  I even have a little framed version of my mantra on my desk at work.  I think about all the wonderful, exciting things I have to look forward to when I do eventually have a healthy baby.  

Surprisingly, getting the chance to spend time with babies and toddlers helps me look forward to all the fun I'll get to have one day.  It's almost like seeing my mantra in real life.  I got to meet up with my friend Sara and her adorable one year old.  I loved getting to make silly faces and see his sweet smile.  I also got to meet up with my friend Emily's two year old this past weekend. There's nothing like talking with a two year old to brighten your day.  I'm thankful to my friends for sharing their kiddos with me.  I don't think they even realize how much joy and hope it brings me.   

One thing that's helped me heal is planning things to look forward to.  They way I see it, it's always nice to have something to look forward to.  Whether it's something fun I have planned for the upcoming weekend, my family vacation to Gulf Shores this summer or the thought of having a baby, it's nice to envision these things in my future.  When you plan fun things in your future, then the best is yet to come.      

Monday, March 23, 2015

Jazzy's Favorites

It seems as though Jazzy finds new things to entertain herself with on a daily basis.  Usually they crack me up and I feel the need to share them with anyone who will listen.  Here are her recent favorites:

Her Dog Obedience Certificate

Jazzy has been prancing around the house, showing off her newly learned commands that she worked on in her obedience class.  She has officially graduated from her beginning obedience class and she has a certificate to prove it.  Adam stuck it on the refrigerator since we're such proud parents. Jazzy's pretty proud of herself, too.  She asked me to take this picture of her next to her certificate.  She even decided to smile her crooked, little smile.  

Gazing Longingly Out of the Front Window

Since we got our new sectional in the living room, Jazzy has claimed the top cushion in front of the window as her spot.  She jumps up there and precariously walks along the edge until she settles herself in the cushion. There is now a permanent dent in the top of the cushion, but I let it slide because it brings Jazzy so much joy.  She loves to keep an eye on all the going-ons of the neighborhood.

Sunning Herself In the Wood Chips

We've had some beautiful weather lately and Jazzy has taken full advantage. I walked outside the other day to find her laying on her side in the wood chips.  At first I thought she might be dead and had a small heart attack, but no.  She was just basking in the sun.  I personally would not pick wood chips to lay on, but Jazzy seems to think they are comfortable.  Silly girl.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Home Tour- Kitchen, Family Room & Half Bathroom

Here's the next part of our home tour:


Here's our kitchen when we moved in:

We've made some big changes:
-Had new hardwood flooring installed
-Painted the walls
-Got a new refrigerator
-Installed a new dishwasher (That was a project I wish we had paid someone to do.)
-Added a new stained window sill
-Added a new tile backsplash
-Replaced the hideous light fixture (We found out that there were only 2 screws holding up that gigantic, heavy box.  Yikes!)
-Replaced the light fixture over the sink

Here's our kitchen today:

Family Room

The family room needed some love.  Here it is before we got our hands on it:

What we did:
-Took down the vertical blinds and replaced them with faux wood blinds
-Replaced the ceiling fan
-Replaced the carpet
-Painted the walls
-Added a rather large fish tank (Yes, I know I'm a nice wife.:))

Here's the family room today:

The fish were getting jealous of all the attention Jazzy has been getting on the blog.  I promised them I would put their pictures on the blog, too.

We're pretty happy with how the family room has turned out.  We would like to eventually replace the doors with sliding glass doors.  We're also throwing around the idea of switching the position of the fish tank with the love seat, but that will be a huge job.  Maybe one of these days.  

Half Bathroom

Here's our half bathroom today (I failed to take a picture of it when we first moved in.):

This little guy has received just a few minor changes:
-New paint on the wall (It's the same paint color as the kitchen and family room.)
-New rug (Normally I'm not a big fan or rugs in bathrooms, but the tile sits right on the concrete slab and it is FREEZING even in the summertime.)

We'd still like to do a full update of this small space.  We've talked about switching out the sink surround for a pedestal sink.  We'd also love to do some sort of tile feature wall behind the sink.  

Stay tuned for more of the home tour!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

My Sugar & Flour Have a New Home

Adam and I have been trying to cut down the amount of plastic in our kitchen.  We use glass containers to store our leftovers.  We use glass water bottles.  And I try to buy food in glass jars instead of plastic or aluminum. Don't get me wrong, we still have lots of plastic in our kitchen.  But we're trying to cut down where we can.  

My flour, sugar and powdered sugar used to live in these cute red aluminum and plastic tins shown below:

I love how they looked, but decided it wasn't the best way to store my baking essentials.  While watching Martha Bakes on PBS (Yes, I watch PBS because I don't have cable.) I noticed she had glass jars to store her flour and sugar.  If that's how Martha does it, it must be right.  

So I went on a little shopping spree and gathered some supplies:

-Two Glass Jars from Walmart (I'm not proud of shopping at Walmart, but they sure do have unbeatable prices.)
-Vinyl Stickers (These aren't the exact stickers I got, but they're similar.)

First, I washed and dried the glass jars.  You just never know what has touched the things you buy at the store.  (I decided to only get two jars, one for flour and one for sugar.  I rarely used the powdered sugar, so I just put that back in my pantry.)    

Then, I used the chalk marker to put an outline around the sticker and label the contents of each jar.  Like so:

After that, I just stuck those vinyl stickers on the jars.  Make sure to wait until the chalk marker dries before you try to stick them on the jars. Otherwise it might smear and then you'd have to start all over.  

Here are the finished products.  Pretty cute, if I do say so myself. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"What Do You Do?"

I hate this question almost as much as I hate, "Do you have any kids?"  Here's why: 

When I was a mere 5 years old, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I was going to be a teacher.  I turned my basement into my classroom.  I created binders full of curriculum.  My teachers would give me the extra worksheets because they knew I liked to play school.  I bribed my poor brother into being my student for hours on end.  

I went to Mizzou and got my degree in elementary education.  My first job was teaching 3rd grade in Fulton, MO.  I loved every second of it, even the challenging moments.  I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.  When I met Adam, I followed him to Kansas City and got a job teaching 4th grade in Grain Valley.  I loved that, too.  

When I found out I was pregnant, Adam and I decided I would take a break from teaching to be a stay at home mom.  I felt as though I was meant to be a stay at home mom, just like I was meant to be a teacher.  So, I submitted my letter of resignation and completed my 5th year of teaching.  It was bittersweet.  I knew I would miss my "kids" and helping them grow as learners and people.  But I knew my next job as a stay at home mom would be even more important and rewarding.  

Then I lost my baby.  

I was completely and utterly lost.  When I finally surfaced from the depths of my grief, I realized that in addition to losing my baby, I also lost my job.  I didn't realize that so much of my identity was wrapped up around being a teacher.  A job did open up and my principal was kind enough to offer it to me.  But I was still so consumed with grieving the loss of my baby that I couldn't even consider going back into the classroom that fall.  

That summer was awful.  All I did was think about my baby.  I stayed home all day by myself.  If I did work up enough strength to go to the grocery store or Target, I felt like there was a pregnant lady or baby in every aisle I walked down.

Eventually I realized that I would not get on with my life by sitting at home by myself.  My friend Jill realized this, too.  She told me about a job that came up in the middle school she taught at and I took it.  I am now a registrar/counseling secretary.  

I am still adjusting to this new title and not being a teacher.  I feel a bit silly and embarrassed when I tell people I'm a secretary.  Especially people who knew I was a teacher before.  Let me say, I have the utmost respect for secretaries, especially since becoming one.  They truly do make schools run smoothly and take care of everyone in the building.  And no one has ever spoken down to me or made me feel like being a secretary isn't a noble profession.  

I just am not okay calling myself a secretary.  I have a master's degree in education and I don't feel like I'm using it.  I don't feel like I am living up to my potential or doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  I don't want people to think I was fired from my teaching job or that I quit because it was too much.  I also feel bad about my paycheck shrinking considerably.  Adam takes very good care of me emotionally and financially, but I wish that I could contribute more income towards our household.  Again, Adam has never made me feel like I am not contributing.  But I know these are all issues I have within myself, not issues anyone else has placed on me.  

I am trying to make the most of my job.  It's by no means what I plan to do for the rest of my life and knowing it is temporary helps.  I like being able to support other teachers and students.  I like the flexibility it offers and I still get my summers off. :)   

Hopefully one of these days I won't cringe when I get asked, "what do you do?"  I hope that one day soon I'll be able to answer with, "I'm a stay at home mom."    

Monday, March 16, 2015

Separation Anxiety

Since I had a day off from school, I decided to visit my family in St. Louis. Adam had to work, so he stayed behind with Jazzy.  I didn't really think about the fact that I would have to be without Jazzy for 4 days until I started packing.  I briefly flirted with the idea of packing Jazzy in my bag.  

She was not amused.  

Before I left, I made sure to give Adam explicit directions on how to take care of Jazzy.  He is perfectly capable of taking care of our baby, but I like to think I know exactly what Jazzy wants.  I told Adam that when he gets home from work, he must do the following:

1.  Tell Jazzy how much he missed her during the day while jumping about excitedly with her.  

2.  Let her out in the backyard and play chase.  

3.  Come back inside and tell her again how much he missed her during the day.  

4.  Ask her what she did with her day.  Did she have a dance party while listening to the radio?  Did she try sitting on every piece of furniture in the house?  Etc.  

5.  Play bite.  This is where she will ever so gently bite your fingers.  Not sure why she likes this, but it is what she requires at this point in the routine.  

6.  Rub her belly.

7.  Get really excited about the idea of going on a walk.  Ask her repeatedly and jump up and down when she does.  

8.  Go on a walk.  

9.  Practice her tricks.

10.  Tell her again how much you missed her while rubbing her belly on the couch.  She also likes to watch Friends during this time.  

I'm sure Adam left out some of these steps, but I know she was well-loved while I was gone.  I was quite surprised at how much I missed my sweet Jazzy.  I'm sure I drove my family crazy talking about how much I missed her.  Jazzy and I are back together now, which is where we should be.