Tuesday, March 24, 2015

We survived!

Ok, I know that title is a bit dramatic.  But I was a little a lot afraid about how our first plane ride would go with not one, but two kids.  There is no way I would have even attempted to take my son (now 4) on a plane when he was only a year old but I felt he could now handle it.  On the other hand, my daughter (now 1) is a different bird.  She is pretty content as long as she is in Mama's arms, so I made the decision two months ago that we had to get out of there and fly to Florida.

Honestly, the plane travel went quite well!  But I was well prepared for it so I thought I would share what was helpful for us.

1.  Hobo bag-  you need a large bag to carry all your "tricks".  I chose this Large one after much thought and research.  It's a splurge, not going to lie.  But I rationalized it by telling myself that I can spend a bit more for a bag (I plan on using this on a daily basis) since I use the same purse/bag for 2-3 years.  I am way too lazy to change out my purses/bags more often.  For me, it was worth the money for a quality piece.  The great thing about this one is the different options for carrying it.  There is a small strap, longer strap and it can also be worn like a back pack (which I found most helpful when trudging through the airport carrying a one year old, wearing my camera bag across my body and pulling my carry on luggage with a very large car seat teetering over the top of it).

2.  Doug and Melissa Water WOW! books.  Both my kids used this and it kept them busy for quite awhile.  And since the pages can be used over and over again, I used it every time we went out for dinner to keep them from getting too bored.  These are really great and a good value since they can be used over and over again.  You just fill the wand with tap water.

3.  iPad.  Enough said.  This was for the 4 year old, and the hubs.

4.  Crayola No Mess Imagine Ink- this is great because the marker only shows up on the pages.  Not on tray tables, clothes or skin.  The 4 year old liked to color and the 1 year old just thought it was great to take the cap on and off the marker (by herself, of course).  And there are about 15 pages and some the pages have games.  I got a Mickey Mouse one at CVS before we left.  Again, the kids used them on the plane and when we went to dinner so the Mickey one was spent by the time we had to fly home.  I picked up a Frozen one at the airport for the ride home.  FYI- these are about $2 more expensive at the airport.

5.  Elastic hair ties- this needed for 2 reasons:  get your hair out of your face and out of the hands of sticky, grabby hands and for entertainment for 1 year olds.  My daughter spent, I kid you not, 25 minutes on one of the flights putting this on and off my fingers.  Cheap entertainment!!  Just make sure your kid doesn't put this in their mouth!

6.  Gerber Graduates Yogurt Melts- we also had the Puffs on hand.  This was mostly for the 1 year old but the 4 year old likes them too.

Surprisingly, the kids were not at all bothered by the ear pressure changes.  I was shocked!  So it was all about keeping them entertained.  Obviously, after one vacation I am no expert in plane travel with kids, but this seemed to work well for us this time.  Kept these two little nuggets busy enough!

I will share more about the vacation in my next post!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shelf reveal

I was wanting to beef up the decor above our tv. Because let's be honest, we spend a whole lot of time looking at that wall;). I wanted to be able to actually put substantial pieces on the shelf so I knew I needed to build my own because any store bought shelf was not deep enough. And while I was at it, I went ahead and painted room a much lighter color. It's called Barely Jade.  I used Behr paint and primer in one in flat. It is amazing how bright the room became! It is a neutral with a slight hint of green. It needed to coordinate with the white with a hint of green that I painted our bookshelves and half wall in that room. 

To get rid of all the green that was in room, I had to paint the backs of the bookshelves too.  Winter Glaze by Behr in eggshell finish.  One project leads to another which leads to another....

 These were the shelves right after they were built.

Here they were a few months ago.

And here they are now...

Sorry the lighting is terrible but you get the gist.

I left my chalkboard wall above the half wall because I am still having fun with that. 

I don't have a fireplace in the living room so I wanted this shelf to serve as a "mantle" of sorts. And I am pretty happy about how it turned out. 

Here it is...
Darn near impossible to get a decent pic with a giant tv. Gotta be careful what it is reflecting:)

There is one item I most certainly did not place here. The hubs likes his high school clays project prominently displayed:)

But how did I make the shelf and get it to stay up there, you ask?

First, I made a brace. I bought a 2x4 from Home Depot and had them cut it to 5'. They cut wood for free for you as long as you tell them the measurements you want. It's awesome!

Then I had a second 2x4 cut into 4 4" pieces. I attached these to the 5' 2x4 with screws like so...

Next step was to attach this brace to the wall. I found the studs and then used the level to make sure it was straight. Then I drilled holes through my brace, wall and into the stud. Then I screwed the brace to the wall. Ta da!

Meanwhile, I made my shelf with 2 1x8 boards and a 1x6 board.  I used my nail gun to nail them together. The only cut I had to make was for the little caps on the ends. The hubs used a jigsaw for this part after I measured it out and marked it. I apologize for the lack of pics on this part. If you need some visualization of this and some actual plans to follow that follow similar steps, check out this post by Shanty-2-chic here. 

Once my brace was up and my shelf made, it was time to hang the shelf. I had the hubs help me ease the shelf over the brace and the pre-drilled my holes for 2 screws into the brace. Then I sunk in the screws. 

Then I immediately got to accessorizing!

*prior to assembling the shelf, I stained it with a stain mix of 1 part classic grey and 3 parts dark walnut. If you make this mix, don't forget to really mix the grey. I didn't do a great job at this and much of the grey was still in sludge form at the bottom of the can:(. I didn't realize it until after the shelf was up and decorated. But I like the color it is so I am not going to go back and re-stain it. 

Bunting banner was made from my all time favorite remnant fabric ever!  If you are observant, you will bee seeing it soon in another area of the house. 

 The boy. Up to no good, I am sure. 

And now I have a great big new shelf to decorate and change out decor for the seasons!

Here is the only before pic of that area I could find.

And now.

 This project may have prompted rumblings of a new project involving DIY chalk paint to the cabinet below the tv. Nothing has happened just yet, but I have plans...

Also, if this post doesn't make sense in some areas, I blame it on my jabberjaws 4 year old whom literally needs to be touching me and talking to me every second today.  Not exaggerating AT ALL!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Daily

Did I mention that three year olds are terribly difficult to handle?  And did I ever mention they get so much more enjoyable when they are 4?  Well, it's true. 

So all you parents out there trudging aimlessly through toddler town with your threenager, wandering dangerously close to the city limits but never able to cross over into the fields of freedom from tantrums over toast cut in the wrong direction and the fact that, by nature, peanut butter is sticky...

I am here to tell you it gets better!

Enter this guy:

Oh, he still has his moments, don't misunderstand me. But the ratio of enjoyable conversation and banter is far greater than mere survival through tantrum after tantrum after tantrum. 

He's a superhero in a tiny but mighty body. He uses the words "like" and "actually" like they are going out of style.  He cleans up the living room without being asked. He doesn't take a nap anymore. He eats entire hot dogs without needing them cut up. He has watched Top Gun (excluding sex scenes) and has related the experience of Maverick to his life where a daycare buddy of his had to go to a different school leaving him alone and unsure if he could go on without him but then finding the bravery to do so. 

Suddenly, he "doesn't want to talk about" when he jumped and landed face first off of one of the toys at the mall. He reassures me, "Grandma will think of something," when negotiating eating a Lunchable for breakfast instead of for lunch when Grandma is watching him for the day. And I had to agree with him. Can't really argue with that. 

But then he will go to swim lessons and cry and freak out the whole time because one of the instructors "was a guy."  And he will promise to do better next time but only if there are "two girls" there teaching him to swim. 

Four. Way better than 3. And hilarious. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Am I ok?

If you have been following my blog or know me well, you probably know I have struggled with depression since I was in my teens (and probably before that).  I think the best way to explain the experience of enduring depression is to that of wading through a pool in which the water is waist high.  There is constant resistance to your movements.  No matter how quickly you try to move your legs, the water prevents you from crossing even short distances with any ease or speed.  Accomplishing even small tasks takes more energy than it is worth.  You actually wake up in a mild state of exhaustion before your day even starts.

Aside from the physical exhaustion, is the mental cloudiness.  A constant, heavy, thick low-hanging fog resides right in the center of your brain.  Preventing you from seeing situations clearly.  It is hard to get any perspective and your thoughts turn inward and all you can focus on is yourself.  And usually you focus on your shortcomings.   Or what you perceive to be your short comings.

As a result of the physical exhaustion and mental cloudiness, your relationships with other people suffer.  You have little patience and even less kindness.  This affects all areas of your life:  family, friends, co-workers.  But usually the people closest to you suffer the worst of it.

I started seeing therapists in my teens and found I had nothing to talk to them about.  I cried, usually uncontrollably, throughout my sessions and I felt worse after each one.  It seemed like I went through a cycle where I would try therapy like every 5 or 6 years.  Usually, it was as a result of some incident at school or work that drove me to seek help that no one could give me.  I have been on approximately 7 different antidepressants, either solo or in some dual form of therapy.  I have been on medication since I was 15 or 16.  I had tried to get off of medication various times but it never lasted longer than a few weeks.

They say hindsight is 20/20.  I did not really realize it at the time but I would say I was wading through waist deep water from the time I was 15 years old until the day I gave birth to my daughter when I was 34 years old.  Of course, there absolutely were periods of time when the water would only be knee deep but then for other periods of time (usually months) the water would be neck deep.  Honestly, it didn't phase me much because it was my "normal."

I am not sure what happened the day I gave birth to my daughter but I knew I was different.  I felt a change.  At first, I attributed it to the newness and excitement of having a newborn again.  Her whole birth experience and then the immediate post partum period was a breeze compared to the first time I had a baby.  She actually would breast feed and I assumed I was one of those women that get a hormone rush from breast feeding and that is why I felt so energetic and my head was so clear.

As the months went on, I waited for the water to rise again.  But to my surprise, it hasn't.  I can breathe deep and move swiftly.  I can make memories without a haze surrounding them.  I have ideas and the energy to act on them.

And I have been medication-free for 4 months now.  Longest ever since I was 15!  I feel like I won a race, a marathon!

I started to wonder if I swung into a manic phase.  With all this energy and motivation to do things.  But really, I think I finally feel free to live.  Finally free from that damn water that has held me captive.  And I am really enjoying this:)

But with this freedom, comes apprehension.  When will I relapse?  If I lose patience with my kids and yell at them or had a bad day at work and get really irritated, I wonder if it is happening again.  Am I ok?  Is this "normal" behavior or the behavior of a depressed person?  I hate that my mind goes there, but it does.

I guess I can either enjoy my emergence from the water, no matter how long or how brief it is, or live in constant fear I will go under again.  I think I will chose to enjoy:)  Why not?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

DIY face cream

What else would you do at 11 pm on a Friday night when you should be getting some sleep for a big Saturday but DIY-ing face cream?  Normal, right?  I have been wanting to change up my skin care routine for awhile now.  Ever since I reached my mid-thirties, my skin turned from oily to dry seemingly overnight.  I need a cream that is way more moisturizing and maybe some thing for my wrinkles!  I got some bright ideas from an essential oil gathering I went to recently (thanks, Nicole!).  Here is what you need:

Essential oils.  I used Lavender, Frankincense, Lemon and Geranium.  6 drops of each per cup of coconut oil.

Coconut oil.  I used the solid coconut oil (1 cup) along with a few tablespoons of my carrier oil (liquid) because I didn't have any Vitamin E or shea butter on hand and I had to do this NOW.  I wanted to use something liquid to make the texture a bit softer.  I had the big tub of coconut oil for some time now.  When I ordered it from Amazon, I was disappointed that it was liquid.  It sat in my kitchen cabinet for a few months.  When I checked it yesterday, it was solid!  Yay!

Glass jars.  I got these stubby mason jars from Wal-mart for less than $5 for the pack of 4.

Take all your ingredients and put them in a bowl (just don't use a plastic bowl) and blend with a hand mixer.  I mixed up a triple batch, because I do things in excess and was going to give the extras away.

Transfer to your glass jars.

Boom.  Done.

Actually, I was able to get 4 jars out of this recipe (3 cups coconut oil, 1/4 cup carrier coconut oil and 18 drops each of lemon, lavender, frank and geranium).

Your welcome. G'night.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


It has been like forever since I did an addiction post.  Maybe its because I have not had an "addiction" lately.  Or maybe I did but I was just too lazy to write a blog post about it.  In any event, I have one now and have the energy to write about it.  So without further ado, my current addiction is....

Staining with this combo.

I love the dark walnut alone.  However, the Classic Gray alone is way too light for me.  But the combination of the two with 3 parts gray to 1 part dark walnut (thanks for the ratio tip, Sonia;))?  Yup, fav stain color ever!

For instance, it is great on wooden crates...

On a large floating shelf...
(This floating shelf was my latest DIY project and I am not quite done styling it yet so this is only a teaser.  The shelf post will be coming soon.  Now that the shelf is up, there are a million other projects I feel I need to tackle.  Domino effect.)

And on some DIY signs I made for my Mom for her birthday...
(Not sure why these look darker here but in person, they are more consistent with the color of the other photos.  Maybe because this is an iPhone pic at night.)

I think it is pretty neat that there is a range of tones that come out with the stain depending on the wood.  Its a surprise every time:)

And I have big plans to sand down our bedroom dresser and stain it with this mixture (which leads me to a whole other project, master bedroom redo including our new king bed, making and upholstering a headboard, "new" nightstands and switching out the mirror above the dresser).

Stay tuned for more staining projects....

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Let there be light.

I am lucky to have a Grandma that has sheds full of fun treasures.  I shopped in her sheds in September and came home with these goodies.

 (There is also an old, tattered American flag in there)

Now, I am pretty sure this is a warming lamp from a little chicken coop she used to have in her yard years and years ago.

It was a bit filthy.  I was looking for a cute, industrial type light for above my kitchen sink.  And I knew I could make this one work.  I just had to use a little ingenuity.

First, I removed the socket and cord from the lamp.

Then I washed the lamp.  I stupidly used an SOS pad and scratched it up a little but you can't really see the scratches unless you are right up close.    Thankfully, with it hanging above the sink, no one will be up close;)

Then I had to figure out how to mount it to the existing can light fixture.

I bought this pendant light fixture from Menards (I think).

Make sure you turn your breaker OFF and check to make sure the power is really off to the area.  I was able to mount the lamp to the bottom part of the pendent fixture fairly easily.  I had to leave the trim (outer ring that you can see) from the can light as the hole for the can light was too large for the top part of the pendant light kit to cover.  I ended up painting the ring with some metallic silver paint so it would look like it belonged with the pendent light.  Then I cut the wires going to the socket part (the thing you screw the light bulb in to) in the can light and wired my new pendent light fixture to this.  I just left the housing of the can light as is.  Then I was able to rig the pendent fixture up and here is the finished product.

And I am in love with it!

I am so happy I finally tackled this and got it up.  It looks exactly how I was hoping it would look!!  It took me so long to get this up partly because I was busy with holidays and the kids' birthdays and Craftshop and partly because I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the long list of projects I made myself in my mind.  I was so overwhelmed, I entered a slight paralysis phase and was unable to do anything.  Finally, I decided to tackle one project and not think about the rest and it worked:)

Next up, reupholstering this settee...