A Big Table And Another Room Makeover In The Making

What do you do when your husband comes home with a huge slab of bowling alley lane?  Build a table, of course!  The table was Scott’s idea, and the efforts to build it have been combined.  It has taken about 15 months for us to finally get it assembled (not that it was hard to assemble, but it was hard to find the time to work on it), and it will probably take another month or two until we get it completely finished, but today I’m just happy to share this progress with you!  BTW, don’t mind the mess…we have kids 🙂

Scott was given a 9ft.+ slab of bowling alley from his brother shortly after we moved here.  Imagine my surprise when he showed me.  “Oh honey!  That’s…so…great(?)!  What are we going to do with it?”  He already had a response lined up.  “I was thinking we could build a cool table out of this for the classroom.”  I was figuring it would maybe work if we cut about 3 feet off, but Scott said he didn’t want to do that.  I admit that I wasn’t convinced it was a great idea.

Well, I went where I always go when I need to problem solve a design issue…Pinterest.  I started to look up tables built of bowling alley, and I was really surprised at how many I found.  It helped me to be able to see the potential of the look he was going for.  Lots of pins later, we found one that we both liked.  We settled on a leg design from Ana White, though I knew we would have to make some adjustments.  Scott wanted a slightly beefier table…we had beams from the barn that he wanted to use for the legs, and he wanted to make it counter height.  The idea was to have a large table in the classroom that the kids could not move around (they have a thing about pushing the furniture around), and where they can work and leave out a project when it’s mealtime or to be able to lay out maps or books for working with.

With a design in mind, Scott took some of the beams from the barn and brought them to the garage to await cutting.  I convinced him to cut about 10″ off of the length of the table for the sake of making it fit better into the room, and we cut the corners at a deep 45 degree angles so that it would be less likely for a little kid to smack there head and end up with stitches. and so there would be a little more door clearance around the table.  After he cut it down, he started to sand the top to remove the old finish and remove some of the shallow scratches.

It sat like that since late last winter because we had other more pressing projects to complete.  We wanted to work on it a few times over the past year, but it was just never in the cards.  Finally, in December, I started to cut and assemble the legs.  We purchased large screws to give us a nice, sturdy build for the weight and size of the table, and we bought a few drill bits and driver bits, along with a forstner bit for giving us the ability to have a deeper, stronger joins.

The top pieces of the legs are just square cuts on the ends, but the actual legs and the lower cross piece have 35 degree cuts to get the angle of the pieces the way we wanted.

After the legs were assembled, they were joined by a long beam that runs from one pair of legs to the other.  Finally, this week, I added in the cross supports for the legs that connect to the beam at a 45 degree angle to make sure the table can’t shift from side to side.

We decided to attach the table top with just some hardwood dowels into the top of the legs and a well-placed hole into the underside of the tabletop.  The table top is so heavy that it took 4 people to safely bring it into the house, so the single dowel on each set of legs is enough to make sure that the tabletop cannot slide from side to side.  The legs are spaced so that there is no chance that a child or adult could tip it over by leaning onto an edge.

I can’t tell you how much the table weighs, but it is a bit ridiculous 🙂  It cannot be shoved around.  At all.  In fact, I think it might take two full-grown adults to be able to move it fully into position once it is completely finished.  There are still finishing touches that the table requires.  I have to sand the whole thing well, especially the table top.  We are going to be laminating a border around the table that will cover the metal supports on the underside of the table.  They are metal and pointed…hard on a knee or a child’s head, so we want to cover that so people don’t get injured on it.  After the border is added and everything is sanded, we’ll stain and then finish the table.  We are planning to get some of the bar-top finish for this because it will give us a strong, smooth finish, and we want the smoothest finish possible since the kids will be writing and drawing on this (well, on paper on it…I hope).  I’m not sure when all of that will get completed because we either need to purchase or mill some boards for the border, the sanding will take time, and the varnish is pricey for the amount we need.  I’m hoping to have it done by the end of February though.

We will still need to either purchase or build stools to use with the table.  We are thinking stools with backs, probably something that swivels…if you are getting rid of some or know somebody who is, let us know!  But the classroom itself is far from being complete.  The room doesn’t get much natural light.  It’s on the north side of the house which is lined by large pine trees.  It was the second room that was painted after we moved, mostly because I had extra paint from the living room, and it needed a fresh coat of paint pretty badly.

The color I went with works great in the living room, but not so much in the already dark classroom.  I think I’m going to repaint it something light but brighter, and though I love the color of the trim in that room, I may need to paint it to optimize the natural lighting that comes into there.  I’ll definitely paint the walls, bookshelf and potentially the desk that is in there, and that should help.  Painting the trim will be a last resort.  Once I get that room all complete, I’ll share the changes with you, but who knows how long it will be before I can get it all done.

The classroom has been a bit of a mental block for me in terms of figuring out how to rework it.  What colors of paint, furniture arrangement, storage setup for supplies…I have a vague idea of what I want, and now I have to try to iron out the kinks before I really begin to dig in.  However, with the table finally set up in the room, I think I can get a better mental image of what it is we would like for that room.  The table is not in the final position in these pictures, so it looks even bigger for the room than it is, and getting the right seating around it will help as well.  We’ll share pictures of the set up once we get it all finished.

And for those of you wondering, I haven’t forgotten about the black walnut post or the bedroom post…I still have to finish those projects as well.  I’ve been working towards better organization around the house, so some of the stuff I want to write about is a little slower in coming than I had originally anticipated.  I’m also hoping to share an update on the laundry post and a follow up post to my last one asking for your thoughts.  Expect at least two posts next week as I finish some of these things up!

What do you think of the table?  Any decorating suggestions or ideas for the classroom… color scheme or otherwise?  Let me know what you think in the comments 🙂

Love~Danielle

 

 

How Do You Manage A Household?

I need your help!  I’m looking for some advice for those of us who are stay-at-home, homesteading, and/or are homeschooling parents.  (Especially if you can offer it to somebody doing all three!)  I have read a lot of books,articles, and stories about people who have grown up homesteading or farming, and who then proceed to homeschool/homestead with their children.  I’ve read a lot about people who have begun homesteading when their kids were a little older, or they started to homestead as adults, but before children.  What I have yet to read much of though, are the stories of people like me who are beginning this journey, new to homesteading, and have young children.  We’ve been homeschooling for a few years now, and the homesteading label is only a year old for us at this point (though we’ve been transitioning for the past couple of years).  Our kids are young, and we have 5 of them.  Truth be told, I just don’t hear a lot about people like that.

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Carving up a watermelon for supper.

I know that a lot of you out there won’t fit into that gap where I fit, but I know that there are a lot of you who do.  Maybe you haven’t made that plunge into homesteading or homeschooling just yet, but you plan to.  The fact of the matter is that we could use some solid advice, because it’s not easy.  So, what I am seeking from you all is for you to pass this around, share with your family, friends, or acquaintances who might have good advice.  I’d like to hear your success stories, sage advice, and reassurance that it can indeed be done.

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Painting a dolly couch.

Personally, the thing that I have been struggling the most with since we have moved is finding any kind of rhythm or routine.  I knew life was going to be intense for quite awhile.  I knew that we wouldn’t be “settled” until after the Christmas/New Year season that has just passed.  But here we are, and I admit I feel a bit lost.  I think most stay-at-home parents feel this way on occasion.  Where do we begin?  How do we bring order to the chaos?

So what am I up against?  Well, we have five kids ages 8, 6, 5, 3, and 8 months.  I know, it’s a lot, and it’s busy here.  The noise that happens with that many young children in the house 24/7 can be quite…intense.  The messes can be overwhelming.

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The messes that happens with a family of 7!

As I said, we homeschool and homestead, so there’s plenty to be done, and that’s on top of the regular cooking and cleaning and maintenance that has to happen to keep a household running.  In the spring time there are gardens to plant and tend, yard work to be done, and lots of time spent outdoors.  We have to feed the family and and do our regular chores and do schoolwork.  There is a toddler running around and a baby to take care of.  We have been cooking from scratch, so that means there haven’t been a lot of easy meals to make.  I’ve done freezer meals in the past, but can’t seem to find time to make more so that we can stay on track during the busy times or when people get sick.  In fall it’s much the same, only we are busy preserving the harvest and butchering animals.

It wasn’t until more recently that I truly began to understand my role as manager in this house.  It’s my job to keep things running as smoothly as possible from sun up to sun down (and sometimes in the middle of the night).  Scott is happy to offer advice when he can, offer assistance when possible, and try to help find solutions to our household issues, but there’s only so much he can do, and there is a limit to the amount he is able to understand since this isn’t his full-time job.

That’s where you come in.  Some of you have been there, done that.  You’ve figured out ways to make life easier without sacrificing the things that you hold most dear.  Some of you are in the midst of it, but maybe a little more comfortable and have found your rhythm.  My goal is to get as much advice together as possible not only as inspiration for myself, but as things for others to think about who are, or will be, in my shoes.

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Chickens on butchering day.

There’s a lot to be done, and I know full well that life will always be busy.  I know that it is and always be hard work.  I know that life has different seasons and different challenges.  But I need to find not to let that slow me down.  I can’t go floundering around for two weeks after we’ve had a rush of craziness, because the house needs to be taken care of and so do the people in it.  I admit to not being great at pacing myself.  It’s something I have been working hard on, but sometimes find myself feeling like I am making no forward progress.

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Marveling at the size of the garden.

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m complaining or that I have too much going on (because believe me, I don’t…I find myself wasting a lot of time during the day).  I’m not seeking extra help with the kids or “permission” to stop doing anything.  I just seem to stink at time management 🙂  What I’m looking for here is ideas for how to keep on task, ideas for combating the hurdles that life throws at us without tripping and loosing that rhythm.  I want to know how you made/make life easier for yourself during the hard seasons in life, what you did to make things run a little more smoothly.  How do you find time to feed your family well, care for the house and care for people who are relying on you?

I’m guessing there will be answers I’ve heard before, and that’s okay.  But I bet there’s stuff that I haven’t heard or thought of, so I still want to hear from you!  And if you know of a good book or article that addresses these issues, please share.  I am happy to hear answers from any of you, even if you do not fit into these categories, or if you grew up around this and have some insight.   When I’ve received a good number of answers and responses, I want to put a post together to share with those of you who want to take on this kind of a lifestyle, or who are in a place similar to me, not knowing what your next step should be.  Because if you are anything like me, you aren’t just doing this for you.  You do it for your family, and it’s something we treasure.

Please, pass this on to your friends, feel free to link it in your blogs or vlogs, share on your Facebook page or other social media, email to a friend or family member.  We don’t have a huge audience here, though it is growing, so I’ll need your help finding the people who will have good advice!  Thank you all in advance for your help, and please remember to leave your comments below!

Love~Danielle

 

 

Tomatoes Galore

Okay, maybe it wasn’t tomatoes galore, but we still had a good year with our tomatoes.  It just dawned on me that I never wrote about what we did with our tomatoes and I said I would.  I’m sorry for failing you 🙂  But better late than never, right?

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Some of our tomato plants started from seeds indoors after transferring outdoors.

We had a pretty good tomato harvest and would have had more, but we had (what felt like) a plague of mosquitoes that kept me out of the garden for a time, and then I was worn out near the end of garden season and the frost beat me to the last of the tomatoes.  Which was sad because that was when the bulk of the tomatoes ripened.  Even so, I was happy with what we ended up with.

This year we used a few tomatoes fresh, but most of what we used them for was for canning.  We made tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and with some skins I made tomato powder.  I think we had about 24 quarts of tomato sauce, 16 pints of diced tomatoes, and about a pint and a half of tomato powder.  It’s not nearly enough tomato for what we usually cook with, but it is a lot, and considering this was our first time doing tomato canning, I’m pretty pleased.

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Tomatoes on their trellises in summer.

We (and when I say we, I am referring to my sister-in-law and myself) diced tomatoes one evening, and I finished the canning.  Cutting them all up was a bit slow, but since we get together every week, it’s nice to be able to have the help getting more work done.  I added a bit of fresh basil and garlic into half of the jars of diced tomatoes. I’ll pour one of those into a blender to make a super simple pizza sauce.  This is a bit tangy since there isn’t any sugar in it, and it’s kind of watery, but we like it.  And I also use the diced tomatoes for throwing into soups or other dishes that call for it.

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Diced tomatoes. 9-16-16.  We’ve used about 8 jars so far.

For the rest of the tomatoes, I wanted to make as much tomato sauce as possible.  We go through a lot around here, and to make things simple, I figured we could just do a basic sauce since I can then turn that into ketchup or spaghetti sauce or whatever my heart desires.  And it’s great for adding to chili.  There were no added seasonings, just straight up tomatoes.  Because we were getting a small batch of tomatoes here and another there, we decided to freeze the them.  We had heard that freezing your tomatoes is a great way to make your own sauce because once they thaw, the peels slip right off and a lot of the water can be drained right off instead of cooking it off.  This also gives you the freedom to work on canning the sauce whenever you have time.

With that in mind, I cut all of the tomatoes into halves or quarters, making sure to hull them as I went (well, at least most of them).  They got put into zip lock bags until the bag was very full but could still be zipped without making a mess.  Then everything went into the freezer.  We had to wait quite awhile to get to the tomatoes because life just got away from us, but in the middle of November, we finally got to work.

A day or two before we were ready to can, I took all of the tomatoes out of the freezer and put them into the refrigerator to thaw gradually.  I forgot to take into account that so much frozen food packed together wouldn’t thaw, or at least not completely, so we ended up working with a lot of frozen tomatoes.  This ended up being both a good and a bad thing.  We discovered that it was easiest to peel the slightly frozen tomatoes.  The skins came off really nicely.  The fully thawed ones were not terribly hard to peel, and the skins did come off nicely but if the skin ripped or didn’t want to come off, you had to try and peel it off of a blob of mush.  The downfall to doing all of those frozen tomatoes was that our fingers got nice and sore from the cold.  I also realized after the fact that we should have just let them finish thawing after they were peeled because they took a lot longer to cook in that frozen state (obviously, right?), and because when the tomatoes thaw, they loose all of that excess water and it takes a  lot less time to boil them down.

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Tomato sauce 11-20-16.  We found out that 1 gallon zip lock bag of tomatoes equaled about 1 quart of tomato sauce.

We cooked the tomatoes according to the Ball Canning Guide for a water bath canner, and I had to finish cooking late into the night…lesson learned…start a lot earlier!  (We meant to, but it didn’t work out.)  I haven’t used a lot of the sauce just yet, but I will as winter wears on.  It’s perfect for making an easy batch of chili or soup, and I turned some into spaghetti sauce which the kids said they liked more than the store bought stuff.  A win for me!  (I am so used to the store bought stuff that it may take me a year or two to make that claim…or maybe just more experimenting.)

I have been wanting to make my own tomato powder for about 6 years now, and every year, I forget to try.  Well, lucky for me, right before we canned, I read a tip somewhere that you can just dehydrate your tomato skins to make tomato powder.  Tomato powder makes a great seasoning, especially when combined with basil and garlic and onion powder.  It is fantastic on chicken dishes.  So we saved a bucket of skins and put them onto my electric dehydrator (it was too cold outdoors to dehydrate anything here with the solar dehydrator).  I let them sit over night, and the next day I put them into the blender.  I ended up with a pretty fine powder with some small flakes left in.  I made a second batch and didn’t dry them quite as long (because the kids kept unplugging the dehydrator), and it was a little brighter and flakier, but it still turned out well.

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This is the second batch of tomato powder, it’s a lot brighter than the first, and it is a bit flakier.

I learned a lot in doing all of this, the things about the frozen tomatoes being most important, but this year I may get a bit more adventurous and can jars of pasta sauce and ketchup, and maybe even some tomato paste.  I know…so daring, right?  Most importantly, I really, really want to get a pressure canner because it will cut the canning time in half for the tomatoes (and we will be able to can soups and meat and veggies, which I can’t do right now).  Oh, and in my humble opinion, you should try and find a friend or family member who is willing to help you with all of this canning…maybe in exchange for a few jars or a home-cooked meal, but it’s a LOT of work for one person.

How about all of you?  What do you do with your garden tomatoes?  Do you can lots of sauces and paste or do you mostly use yours fresh?  Don’t forget to leave your comments below!

Love~Danielle

The Road To Self-Sufficiency: Growing Our Skills

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but a new year still gives us time to rest, relax, and make plans for the future.  This year one of the big things that we will be doing is to work on growing and refining our skills.  There are so many things we could be doing, but what we really need to do is continue to work on what we’ve already learned, find ways to get better at them, and still, find new things to try.

In reality, this is not a one-year goal, I think most homesteaders or self-sufficient minded people are continually working at this.  There is always something to learn, something that we could do better, or something we’ve never tried that we want to at least experiment with.  And truthfully, you can’t ever be self-sufficient if you don’t have a vast array of skills.

To that same trail of thought, I have a friend who was expressing once how she feels a bit nervous at the thought of “what if disaster would strike?”  She said she had no skills to offer and barely knew how to garden.  She used to be a nurse, and I pointed out to her that a nurse has skills that not all of the average citizen has.  Being able to use that to barter with people could be quite valuable.  Not only that, but you can’t worry quite so much about whether or not disaster could strike tomorrow, and at least find something new you can learn today.  Pick something you’ve always wanted to learn more about and work on it.

There is a lot we are going to be working on this year, but the thing that comes to mind first is our food preservation skills.  In 2016, we used a water bath canner, freezer, dehydrator, vacuum sealer, dry storage, and we are in the midst of a bit of a “root cellar” experiment.  All of these things are still relatively new to us, and will most definitely be things we continue to expand upon and improve.  To those skills, I would like to add pressure canning, possibly (but not definitely) meat smoking, waxing cheese, and if I get brave enough or have the time and money, some salt preservation.

Outside, there is a lot we can improve on.  Our garden will be expanding significantly, and that means we will need to be better about maintenance and harvesting.  Scott will possibly (probably) be plowing more this year, something we never did prior to last year, so there is room for improvement there.  He’s working on pruning our trees and getting them to be as healthy as possible, and as an added skill, he is learning how to graft trees and is hoping to begin working on that in spring.  Personally, I would like to get better at dividing and propagating our perennial crops and flowers so that we can expand what we have without having to spend any money to do so.

As far as chickens go, it’s easy enough to raise them, but we still need to find a better rhythm with ours, and we want to work on other ways to feed them even more affordably.  At some point in time we would like to try to hatch our own as well, and to that point, we need to be more diligent about stopping hens from being broody when we don’t want them to be.  Really, the whole coop set up and maintenance could use some work, but we’ll get there.  The coop will require some building and repair skills, as will lots of other things around here…things we are decent enough at, but could still use improvement on.

We (Scott) will be having honey bees for the first time this year in a joint endeavor with my sister-in-law.  This is a neat skill to have because it doesn’t require a lot of time throughout the year.  That’s not to say it doesn’t take any time, but it’s not like chickens where they need daily care.  The new skills I would like to learn this year are solar cooking, soap making, and archery.  I wanted to do all of these last year, but for one reason or another, we never got around to them.  I have most of what I need to build a solar oven, so time would be the crucial element there.  As for soap making, I would need to work on gathering supplies.  With archery, we have what I need to learn, the biggest thing we need is time for Scott to teach me.  If I am only able to one of the three, I would really like to learn archery.

In the home, there is much that we could work on.  In general, my overall food preparation lacks something to be desired.  I am getting better at it a little at a time, but I’m not exactly great at it.  Having as much of our own food put up as possible will force me to “shop” from our own pantry, and I can guarantee that leads to healthier meals and more variety in our diet.  The past couple of years, I’ve been scouring the internet and cookbooks for recipes that will help us to use up the ingredients that we have.  We tried beet ravioli one year which really, only Scott enjoyed, but we tried something different because we had beets to use up.  I learned how to make chicken enchiladas because we had an abundance of tomatillos and made lots of salsa verde.  We just need to keep working on expanding.

Again, this is related to food, but at the old house I had a small “garden” on our window sill.  I grew lots of little things, and wanted to keep that up, but after we moved, I couldn’t figure out a good place to put that.   It only took a good year+, but I finally figured out where I can put a little “garden like that in the house without it blocking light or being in the way.  In addition to that, last winter we figured out a place to have grow lights and a set up for starter plants in the basement, but in the midst of all we had going on, it just wasn’t in the cards.  I managed to get some starts going, but most of them didn’t take off.  This year we want to get that area of the basement set up, and we want to become better at growing our own starts.  If we are able to, I’d really like to get it set up as more of a mini greenhouse so that I can at least try growing a few things indoors throughout the colder months.

The last two skills that we really need to work on as a family are financial management and time management.  We did better last year in terms of financial planning and management than ever before, but there is still room for improvement and adjustments to be made.  Time management is definitely a skill I am lacking, and as a family, we really need to step up our game.  I have a hard time prioritizing, and I get overwhelmed (mentally) very easily, and as a result, I end up frozen because I don’t know where to begin.  Scott has expressed frustration with the same issue, his time awake at home is limited, and between kids and interruptions and meals, it feels impossible to get anything done most days.

This year (like every other) will be a year of growth and improvement for us.  We will work towards finding ways to do things more efficiently and effectively for a lower cost, and we’ll add a few new skills to the mix.  Who knows what the year after will hold for us, but I certainly know that there will still be more to improve, more to learn, and new things to try.

What skills will you be working on this year?  What big changes does this year have in store for you?  Don’t forget to leave your comments and like below, and as always feel free to share 🙂

This is the third in a series about our journey to self-sufficiency and all the important lessons I have been learning along the way. To read more, click here and here.

Love~Danielle

 

 

Happy Holidays!

We want to wish you all a very happy holiday season!  We’ve been MIA here on the blog for the better part of the month, but wanted to let you know that we are still here 🙂  The past few weeks have been filled with preparation and celebration of the Christmas season, so between that and a toddler and a now mobile baby, I decided I would rather wait to write until things slowed down a bit.

We have been celebrating Advent with a version of the Advent calendar where the kids unwrap a book a day that talks about the Christmas story or what the spirit of the holiday is all about.  We also use an Advent wreath and light a candle every Sunday leading up to Christmas, ending with the Christ candle on Christmas morning.  To help us all to remember why Jesus was sent, we do daily devotions from a book called The Jesse Tree.  Then before bed, we wrap the night up by singing Christmas carols.

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Of course there were treats to be made, gifts to be made or purchased and then wrapped, and plenty of playtime in the snow.  I was even able to ice skate once with Pumpkin:)  The past week and a half, we were able to set the right mood in the house with an early Christmas gift.  I was given a CD/Record player, so I was able to listen to some Christmas music the way I always used to.

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THE best Christmas gift I have ever been given 🙂

So far it has been a very enjoyable holiday season.  We still have a week of visits ahead of us, we will continue to talk about Jesus’ birth as the Epiphany comes, and there is the new year to celebrate along with Miss Lady’s 5th birthday and my 29th birthday.

It seems I have forgotten once again just how much work a mobile baby can be!  I had pared down significantly on the amount of things that I typically do around the holiday season, and in the end I maybe completed 3/4 of it…or less.  I’m not complaining, it just took me by surprise considering how little I actually planned to do.  E has become very active these days, crawling around the house, putting EVERYTHING into his mouth, and he even began pulling himself up on things.  And if Doodles is awake, I am always on high alert…I mean where can I put the jar of peanut butter that he won’t be able to get at it?  How many handfuls can he possibly sneak?  And really, when will that little boy stop flushing things down the toilet?

Amidst it all, we were able to get our bedroom painted (finally), curtains hung, and we began replacing our bed frame.  We need some parts to finish assembly, but the headboard is up!  I was able to get the better part of the table frame assembled for the classroom (that’s a project that has been in waiting for over a year now).  I think I can finish both projects not long after the new year, and of course, there will be posts to follow.

I also began cracking open the black walnuts and with some help, picked the meat out of the ones I had cracked.  I’ll do a whole post on the black walnut process after the new year as well.

If you are wondering what Scott has been working on, he’s been busy with snow removal and catching up on a lot of reading (mostly about things we want to do on the homestead in the future), as well as tackling some of the many, many, many organizational projects around here.  He has also been working on pruning trees and spending more time with the kids.

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Scott and Peanut were going to clean the garage chimney, but found out the handle for the brush wasn’t going to work 😦

With the coming of the new year, we are beginning to think about what our goals and plans for the new year will be.  Our first year of homesteading is now behind us, and we can plan with allowances for our mistakes from this past year.  We were warned in everything we read or watched that the biggest mistake a newbie homesteader makes their first year is taking on more than they can handle.  When the year started, we took that into consideration and tried to plan accordingly, but we forgot to plan time for the unexpected.  Equipment will break, people can be unreliable, the weather can be finicky, and babies and toddlers take more time than I accounted for.  Not to mention failures.  Failures will always happen.

This year we had our best ever financial plans, and for the most part stuck to it, but we had medical and dental bills that we didn’t expect, and equipment that broke and needed expensive repairs, and again, we forgot to account for the unexpected.  I think that what always amazed me throughout the year though, was how God has provided for us in ways we did not expect.  Somehow we were always able to make the finances work.  Somehow He always showed us another way to get things done.  When there was something we needed, He provided.  I cannot wait to be able to pay it forward as we get more and more established!

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We can’t wait to order our seeds!

This coming year, we will plan for our gardens, plan for more chickens, prepare for our bees, and set new goals for things we would like to learn or accomplish.  We can try to remember to leave room for the unexpected, and we hope that we will have more stamina in the new year as we continue to adapt to a new lifestyle.  We have a lot of ideas for the new year, and we hope you will stick around to read along and learn with us, and to see what goals we set, which of our goals we reach, and which ones we don’t.  This new year may also bring a few changes to how things are set up on the blog, so don’t be surprised if things look different at some point when you come back.  We want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to be with us here and for the input and comments you leave 🙂

Today I leave you with well wishes for your new year, new plans, new goals, new achievements…may God bless you in your endeavors and grant you and your families good health.  A (belated) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!img_2427

Love~Danielle (and Scott and the kids)

 

Snow and Garland

I was talking with a few different people this past week about how I was going to be making my own garland and it seemed that everyone was curious how to do that, so I decided that I would share for those of you who may be interested.

Before I get to that,I wanted to share for all those concerned, that Doodles is fine.  He had to make a trip back to the ER to get a few more stitches because he fell out of his chair and broke the cut back open, but it’s nearly better now.

It has been a busy week.  In addition to the doctor visits and and the driving and the exhaustion that follows, we also had a very busy week.  Well, it seemed busy to me because we’re homebodies and just about anything outside of our typical routine seems like we’ve been overwhelmed 😉  It was a good week, though not quite as productive as I had hoped.  Sunday morning we awoke to the most beautiful snowfall, which of course the kids immediately wanted to play in.

I get giddy when it snows out.  It feels so magical, even when it means bitter cold weather or being cooped up in the house.  I feel like I am living in a snow globe.

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This is my little slice of Heaven 🙂  This picture is not edited in the least, that’s how it really looked!

I was so worried that Doodles would fall while playing outside, and instead he injures himself falling off of a chair.  Go figure.  When I got back from the ER, I took the oldest three out to play in the snow.  We built snowmen, made snow angels, threw snowballs, took a little hike and went sledding.  I haven’t been able to play in the snow nearly enough in the past 9 years!  Between little babies and pregnancies, my winter playtime is usually pretty limited, so I am very excited to be able to enjoy it again!

On to the real purpose of this post: Garland-making.  I am in the midst of completing our garland, and I would have completed it sooner, only I ran out of cuttings and haven’t had a chance to finish collecting them.  I did finish two garlands on Saturday, so I’ll share what I have done thus far.

I made garland last year, but the process was tedious and really, really slow.  I figured there must be an easier way, so I turned where every crafter turns to when in need of help: Pinterest.  I found a blog post about how to make garland and followed her advice.  I will go through the process and share my pictures, but feel free to check out her page to see her pictures and her explanation as well.

I started by choosing 4 varieties of evergreen branches.  I wanted a nice full look that had some variety like the really expensive garlands I always drool over but never buy.  I used cedar, spruce, white pine and another kind of pine that I have yet to be able to identify.  You will also need green floral wire and some kind of green rope.  If you don’t use green, there is a fairly high probability that you will be able to notice the rope.   I purchased grape vine wire from Hobby Lobby as it best suited my needs.

I also used a pruning sheers, a scissors, a laundry basket, an old bed flat bed-sheet, and a wire cutter.  Oh, and my sister-in-law 🙂img_2296

We have plenty of evergreens on our property, so it was easy enough for me to snag a few branches without it being noticeable.  I really have no idea how much I cut, but I collected branches on a cold day, and I cut until I was too cold.  After that, I chose the spots I would be hanging garland.  With the help of the kids, I figured out how long I wanted each string of garland to be, including swags, and cut the rope accordingly.

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Basket full of cuttings

The next step was to clip apart all of those branches into smaller clippings, ranging in size from about 3″-8″, and collected them into a big laundry basket.  My sister-in-law and I did this on the living room floor, so that’s where the old sheet came into play.  We laid the sheet on the floor and put the branches on top of it.  Then we cut everything apart.  This was a sticky, sappy job, so wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, and maybe some work gloves.

I wasn’t able to continue until Saturday.  The garland actually goes together quickly.  You start  by taking one of your pieces of rope, and the spool /roll of wire that you will be using.  Make a bundle of clippings in your hand.  If you chose a variety of greens like I did, you want to make sure that you have most if not all of the varieties in each bundle that you make.  My bundles varied in size depending on the fullness of the clippings, but generally speaking, it was a small handful.

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First bundle of clippings, wrapped once with the wire ( I wrapped it twice more afterwards).

Place the first bundle at one end of the rope, overlapping the rope by about 2″, with the tips of the evergreens pointing away from the rope.  You want the branch end pointing towards the rope.  Take your floral wire and wrap it around the end of your bundle and the rope, 2-3 times, pulling firmly on the wire to ensure that your greens will not fall out.  Do NOT clip the wire.  Just set it down and make another bundle.  Repeat this process about 1″-2″ below the first bundle, and continue down the rope.

You will end up with little strings of wire in between each bundle, and that is okay.  You won’t see it.

When you get to the last few inches of your rope, make your bundle just as you did for the rest of the garland, but turn it so that the branches are pointing back to the rope again.  Then take a few clippings and tuck them in where the two last bundles meet to fill out that area.

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First completed garland.

The floral wire that runs the length of the garland will allow you to hang your garland up.  You can add in things like berries or pine cones or other decorations, and you can add lights as well, but I string my lights up underneath the garland so it shines through.  Add any bows or final decorations after you hang up your garland for the best placement.

My first two garlands are hanging in the kitchen and living room.  I have another one half-completed for the living room, but I ran out of clippings and have to finish cutting more.  I also plan to make a few for outside of the house, but I am a bit strapped for time, so I may or may not get those completed.

Now if I can only get my butt in gear and wrap up some of my millions of projects!  E has just gotten to a very mobile stage, pulling himself around the house and eating whatever might be on the floor.  With Doodles always into something, I’m constantly on high alert when he is awake during the day (which is most of the day), so it has been especially tricky to get things done around here.  And with winter setting in and the daylight hours waning, I feel like I have less time than I actually do to get things done.

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The view out my sewing room window ❤

I have this tendency to add projects to my list whenever we host a holiday at our house.  I feel the need to complete just one more project, which turns into 10 projects…

Do any of you do that too, or is it just me?  Will you be making your own garland this year?  I love hearing from you all, so please leave your comments below!  And feel free to ask questions if you have them 🙂

Love~Danielle

P.S.  I am not an affiliate of Hobby Lobby, I do not get paid to advertise for them.  I just shop there a lot for my craft projects!

 

Mom Days

Hey Moms (if you aren’t a mom, feel free to keep reading…), how are you doing today?  Right now I’m feeling exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed.  And at the same time I’m happy and I’m grateful for all that I have.  No, I’m not schizophrenic or anything along those lines.  I’m just a mom.

Yesterday we had quite and adventure.  I was getting ready to go outside and take advantage of the unusually warm November weather and get some yard work done.  I was going to put on my jacket, but it was still damp from the rain the day before.  Doodles and Miss Lady were trying to get ready to go out as well.  I said “stay here, I’ll be right back.  I just need to get my sweatshirt.”  You see, these two children will follow me EVERYWHERE unless I repeat over and over “Stay right here.”  And half the time they still follow me. *Sigh*

So I run upstairs to get my sweatshirt.  I’m upstairs for less than 30 seconds and as I turn around to come back downstairs, I hear Doodles crying.  He has a really awful habit of forgetting to breathe when he’s upset.  It doesn’t happen all of the time, but in the last year, I’d say it’s happened at least 6 times.  He cries and cries and forgets to breath and will pass out if I don’t get to him fast enough.  It’s not pretty.  Anyway, I hear that crying coming from downstairs and I yell down “Breathe Doodles, breathe!” as I go flying to the stairs.  I see him sitting there crying and I realized he had blood everywhere.  To the best of my knowledge, he tripped coming from the entryway into the kitchen, got up and scream-cried his way to the bottom of the steps where he subsequently forgot to breathe.

His lip was cut all of the way through, and it was gross.  His lip was torn through and part of it was actually hanging down a bit, and his tooth was knocked loose.  So I rushed all of the kids out to the van, called Scott and took off for the hospital.  It was obvious this bad-boy (the cut) was going to need stitches.  Scott met me there and brought Doodles in to see the doctor, but they said they couldn’t do a good enough job fixing it, so they had to call a plastic surgeon to stitch it back together properly.  Scott stayed with Doodles for the remainder and I went home with the other kids.  img_2273

I should have been able to keep myself busy and get things done around the house while I waited for my little boy to come home, but I couldn’t.  It’s funny that even though I knew he was fine, that there was nothing life-threatening about his situation, I couldn’t take my mind off of it.  My stomach was queasy and I couldn’t focus.  I just wanted him back home.  I didn’t feel better until he was tucked into bed last night.  img_2275

He’s fine.  He may loose a tooth, but he’s fine and it will heal.  In fact, he was so fine that when I brought him to bed last night, he started jumping on the bed and nearly gave me a heart attack!  img_2276

So he’s safe and healthy and I have nothing to worry about, but it really put me in a funk today.  So much so that I had a hard time getting into anything this morning.

I had to send everyone to their rooms for some quiet alone time because the older three were bickering again and mommy needed some space.  I go upstairs to clean (because it’s a mess).  There’s a room up there, “the movie night room,” that really needed some straightening up.

I start cleaning and I start feeling better.  But then I find a roll of plastic wrap up there.  Grrr.  Fine, bring it back to the kitchen.  I move the bed that is in the room to sweep, and I find 2 banana peels and two hard-as-rock muffins under the bed.  I know a mouse didn’t bring those upstairs, but it could certainly attract a mouse…and they wonder why mice come inside!?!?  Grumble grumble, sweep it up.  The door is broken on the “entertainment center.”  I knew that but still, more bristling and frustration.  I went downstairs to put something away again. The baby is crying…what happened to the 2-3 hour naps?  What’s with the sudden 30 min.-hour long naps?  Can’t a mom catch a break?  When I come back up, Pumpkin is out of his room.  Boy am I ready to blow…”Get back into your room, please.  I didn’t tell you you could get up yet.”  But then I realize that he was plugging in the radio so that I could listen to Christmas music.  My heart starts melting a little.

And I know that I’m running out of time to get things done.  I’m going out for a rare night off and the house isn’t clean.

I feel like my whole week has had a big fat wrench thrown in it.  I was supposed to work outside to get a few projects done.  I was supposed to start making garland.  I was supposed to get caught up.  But tomorrow I have to run to the doctor’s again for a check up on the injured lip.  Friday we have German class and I need to do the grocery shopping.  Tomorrow is the first day of December and I’m supposed to be prepared with our Advent plans.  I don’t like change, so it really bothers me when my plans are forced to change.

Yet I know I’m grateful to have a house that can be messed up.  Children to do the messing.  I’m grateful that Doodles wasn’t hurt worse.  I’m grateful for the extra warm weather we were given this year that has allowed us to get a little caught up.  For as much as the kids seem to know how to drive us crazy, I’m grateful that they know how to cheer us up.

I know I’m not the only mom to have days like these.  I just hope yours is going a little more smoothly than mine 😉  It may be a little belated, but that’s just a small list of things I’m thankful for…what were you thankful for this Thanksgiving?  Are you ready for December?  Do you do anything for Advent?  What are your most memorable “Mom Days”?

Mom tip:  If you have the supplies on hand, a cup of very hot chocolate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it goes a long way to making things a little brighter 😉

Love~Danielle

 

House Tour: Boy Bedroom #1

Sometimes I love a challenge, sometimes I hate being challenged, but Pumpkin and Peanut’s bedrooms were on the list of challenges I enjoyed.  Welcome to Pumpkin’s room.  I figured since his birthday is just around the corner, we’d share his room next on the house tour.  His room is often full of creativity, and he spends a good portion of his time either reading books in bed or drawing pictures of his inventions at his desk.

Before we moved in, I told the kids that they could pick the colors they wanted for their new bedrooms.  I admit, it was part of my scheme to get them psyched about moving.  They were excited to be moving to the country, but sad to be leaving their old rooms, their old friends and neighborhood behind.  Pumpkin could just barely remember the apartment that we lived in prior to moving to our first house, so all of their memories at that point were at the old house.  I figured letting them be involved in the planning of their bedroom makeovers was only fair, that it would help them get excited, and that it would make the transition go a little more smoothly for us.

I was right, my bribe did help a bit, the only downside was that we weren’t able to get their rooms painted right away.  Pumpkin’s room wasn’t painted until January, over 3 months after the move.  There was a lot of “when will you paint my room?”  I have to say, once their rooms were finished, I heard a lot less moping around about missing the old house.  Some of that probably had to do with the fact that they were adjusting, but I’m sure having their rooms decorated the way that they wanted helped!

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Okay, well, you see…Pumpkin and Peanut had their hearts set on two colors each for their rooms, and both picked very BOLD colors.  I really, really wanted to tell them “No,” but instead I told them that I would think about it, and if I couldn’t come up with any good ideas, we’d have to revisit their color choices.  I never would have chosen these color schemes, but I think we made it work in the end!

Pumpkin chose a dark teal and sort of a hunter green for his room.  I had plans for his furniture…Polyshades could make all of his furniture match…only it ended up being darker than I planned.  But he loved it, so I think we’re good.  The only thing I was adamant on for his room was that he have white curtains.  He wanted camo ones or ones like Peanut has in his room, but I insisted that he have white.  Both colors he chose for his walls are D.A.R.K.  His room is on the north side of the house near the “forest” with just one window, so his room was already pretty dark and I wanted to bring in as much light as I could.

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When the curtains are open, it brings a lot more light into the room, but he almost always has is ceiling light on if he’s in the room.

Most of the rooms upstairs have sloped ceilings, and I opted to keep both the top and the slope white, so that we could keep the rooms as bright as possible.  Then to help break up the bold colors that he chose for his room, I added a grey/white/grey stripe around his room between the two main colors to help add a little more light.  The floors were already grey, and since they weren’t in terrible shape and I had grey in the stripes, I figured I could just leave them as is.  (He’s a bit of a messy kid, and there is no way that he’d keep white floors white.)  He and I did talk about painting a large chess board on his floor, and I would make some over-sized chess pieces and possibly checkers for it as well….that might happen around Christmas time, but don’t tell him that!

Like I said, I used Polyshades on his furniture to get the pieces to coordinate better.  The dresser was the most work of the three.  I had to sand it all down to refinish it, fix some of the drawers, paint the drawer faces, and replace all of the hardware.  There were also some legs and scroll work on the dresser that were too “frilly” for his room, so I cut all of that off as well.

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Dresser and desk.  The dresser had one drawer broken beyond repair, so we decided to ditch it, and at some point I’d like to get some baskets to stick in their.  You can see he “erased” the word “pants” off of one of the drawers.  He also decided to flip around the faces on some of the desk drawers…probably because they’ve been drawn on.

The desk was easier since it has some removable face pieces that allow you to change the fronts of the drawers to several colors, one set being black and white, which was perfect since it tied in with the dresser and with the room.  All of the old knobs were wooden and constantly falling off, so I replaced those with knobs to match the dresser.

His bed was the easiest of the three pieces to refinish.  I’m really glad that I used that stuff on his furniture.  If you look up close at any of it, you will see that the finish is far from perfect, but I was working with some pretty imperfect pieces of furniture.  I used the Polyshades on the frame of his bulletin board to help it look less out of place.  He swiped an old end table from somewhere in the house and is using that as a nightstand.  His lamp was a Christmas gift from his Godmother (she made the lampshade to coordinate with his room).

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He recently rearranged his room to be like this, moving his bulletin board to above his bed.  His lamp is next to his bed since he often stays up late reading, and there is a letter A marquee nightlight next to it.

The bookshelf was built out of old barn boards and stained to coordinate with the rest of his furniture, and it was one of the last parts of the room to be completed, right before E was born.  Right now he has Doodle’s dresser in his room because Doodle seems to think that it’s fun to pull clothes out of dressers and then climb them…

The picture hanging above his bookshelf is a print we gave him for his birthday last year.  It’s of the patent for the original Lego man.  He loves Legos and inventing, so it seemed like the right piece for his room.

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Pumpkin’s bookshelf, made of barn boards.  He used to have more books, but he decided to move most of them back onto the living room bookshelf.  The Lego patent print is hanging above the bookshelf.  The red thing to the right is a “gas pump” CD rack.

Next to the door, he has a coat rack that I made of a pair of antlers that were left here with the house (his idea).  I stained a section of barn wood, drilled some holes into the antlers, and mounted them to the board.  (If you ever decided to drill into a bone or antler for any reason, make sure you wear a mask and work in a well ventilated area…don’t worry, I did, but it’s stinky and dusty.)  The painting is of the elephant I made for him before he was born.

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The door on the right leads to Doodle’s room, and the other door leads out into the hall.  You can see his antler coat rack, and the painting of the elephant.  The dresser belongs to Doodles and will eventually go back into his room.

The way his room is arranged in these pictures is not the way I originally arranged his room.  He ended up moving everything a few times before settling on this arrangement.  There are often posters from his latest Lego or Ranger Rick or Popular Mechanics magazines pinned to the wall, but they rarely stay up for more than a week.

I had taken the kids out to JoAnn Fabrics one day to look for some fabric for the back of Miss Lady’s bookshelf, and he picked out the deer head flannel as something he wanted to use in his room.  I couldn’t use it on the back of his bookshelf like he wanted, but I figured I could make a quilt or something.  It ended up being the perfect thing for is room.  His room is one of the coldest in the house, and like his daddy, he likes to bury himself in the biggest, warmest blankets he can find.  The quilt top is all flannel blocks, and the back is one of those plush blankets that matches the teal on his walls really well.  I was busy and overwhelmed at the time, so my mom helped me out by quilting the two layers together (which was not as simple as it would have seemed since the plush blanket was so stretchy).

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Quilt top prior to assembly.  Pumpkin picked out the center fabric, and I picked out as many flannels that would coordinate as possible.

Well, there you have it.  I think I’ll go over how I did the stripes when I give you the tour of Peanut’s room (they have similar stripes).

I know I talked about doing room makeovers on a budget, but I have to say that this wasn’t really one of those.  I used birthday and Christmas giftcards, and had to scrounge together cash where I could to get the job done, which is why it took until January to get it completed.  I think this room and Peanut’s room were the rooms I spent the most money on, most of the rest of the house has been done with leftovers, things given to us by family and friends, and only occasionally a gallon of paint.  Even so, this didn’t break the bank to do.  Most of what I spent was on the quilt, the rest was on paint, tape, varnish, hardware, curtains and a curtain rod.

Sorry the pictures aren’t better.  It’s hard to take good pictures in rooms that have pretty bad lighting!  What do you think?  Did I pull it off?  I wish I could figure out how to get the pictures of the house from the listing on here…they really accentuate just how different everything looks!

To visit the other rooms that I’ve shown, click the links below:

House Tour: A Purple Bedroom

It’s time for another short tour, this time of Miss Lady’s bedroom.  It’s purple and pink and full of polka dots.  She likes things girly.

When we moved here, I could not get over how difficult it was for Miss Lady to adjust to a new house.  She was 3 1/2, and I really expected Pumpkin or Peanut to have a harder time, but we found out that she doesn’t forget anything.  (Unless you are trying to teach her to read… then she can’t remember anything.)  Going from street lights to country darkness, she struggled to adapt.  The “forest” houses an owl and some bats which didn’t sit well with her, and it took until February for me to get her room painted like we had promised to do as soon as we could.

Thankfully we had enough things from the old house to make her room feel like home in spite of everything, and now even though she still misses the old house, it doesn’t bother her like it used too.  I think her favorite part about her old bedroom might have been looking out the window at the neighbors or watching whoever was in the back yard playing.  I have a feeling my neighbors miss seeing her pudgy little face staring out at them!

Miss Lady’s room didn’t start off too bad.  In fact, most of the rooms upstairs looked fine.  There was nothing fantastic about any of them, but nothing that really got me to cringe other than the family room.  The woodwork upstairs is a little more orange than what is downstairs, not particularly to my liking, but it could be worse.  At some point in time, I may end up refinishing the woodwork in some of the spaces upstairs, but I’m not in any rush to get started on that.  There was some picture rail running around the ceiling that wasn’t really doing it for us, so we took it down and used it for a boarder in the kitchen makeover.  The floors don’t look the best, and someday I would like to have them refinished, but…someday…you know.

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Now, I like her room, but I have to say, if I didn’t consider the feelings of my fellow housemates while decorating, my house would look very, very different.  I’m happy with how most of the rooms turned out, but there are only a few rooms that I was completely satisfied with when I was finished painting and decorating.  In fact, it was extremely difficult for me to relinquish complete control and listen to the opinions of my family.  So though her room isn’t exactly what I would have chosen, it’s her room and she loves it, and I think it’s perfect for her.

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Miss Lady after proudly staking claim to her new bedroom!

Her room started out a light yellow color, but she wanted a purple room.  Her last bedroom was painted Bubble Gum Pink…no really, that was the name of the color of the paint.  But she still wanted plenty of pink girly-ness in the room.  We used a lot of the same things she had in her room at the old house, but we switched a few things up this time.  Since I was on a budget, the only things I bought for her room were the curtains and curtain rods.  I mixed the paint from 3 cans I had leftover from other projects, and it just so happened to turn out exactly the color that I needed!  How’s that for lucky?!img_2103

Miss Lady inherited my very pink, girly bed from when I was growing up.  It’s a metal bed-frame painted light pink, the ends look like hearts, and there are some flowers on it as well.  The dresser and bookshelf were both dressers that Scott and I used to have in our bedroom, only they were given a redo for her room.

She needed curtains that would help keep her room warm.  The house isn’t insulated very well at the moment, and so I was limited in my curtain selection for the sake of keeping her room warmer.  The color works for what she wanted, and they have little white polka dots all over.

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I don’t think beds can get much girlier than that! (Well, the bedding could be, but not the bed itself!)  The “forest” goes right up to her bedroom window.

The bookshelf used to be a dresser, but I removed the drawers, added shelves, painted it, and covered the backing with some fabric that we picked out to coordinate with her room.

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The bookshelf gets used as a doll house more often than a bookshelf.  On the top shelf, it is holding her dolly’s bed/couch that she built and painted. Next to that is her “tea party table,” and the lamp her auntie made for her as a Christmas gift. 

The dresser was painted to match the bookshelf, and the pink scroll-work used to be gold was painted with some of the leftover bubblegum pink paint from her old room.

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Dresser repainted, with pink scroll work.  That door might have to get re-stained soon…

The artwork next to her bed consists of a vintage furniture decal, a vintage puzzle, and a painting of “Mingo,” all framed, and a wall-hanging/baby quilt that my mom made for her when she was born.

Then there is her “Barbie” picture.  It’s a silhouette of her head that she and I made.  I was trying to come up with at least one more art project for the walls, and she saw a Barbie logo with the silhouette that I had saved for inspiration that she fell in love with.  She was very proud of the finished project…I was happy, but getting her to sit still for it was…difficult.

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Miss Lady’s “Barbie” silhouette.  The frame was an old frame a friend gave me, and Miss Lady and I painted it pink, then white, and then distressed it.  The silhouette itself was traced onto some scrapbook paper and then glued onto a piece of poster-board.

Polka dots seem to be the “theme” of her room, because if you look close enough at most of the things in there (not that you can see it in the pictures), you can find polka dots on nearly everything.

When her cousins come to play, her room explodes in all things girly.  They play dress-up or dolls or house, they become ballerinas or princesses.  But when her brothers are in there, they build forts and CONSTANTLY rearrange her furniture.  They also love to play “zoo” or “store” or “sale” up there.  She loves to play hide and seek in there, but she only hides under the bed, so it’s not really much of a surprise.  And some how, no matter how many times I explain that the laundry should either be in the laundry basket or the dresser, her room will have clothing EVERYWHERE.

By the way, Miss Lady says, “Next time you come visit, will you please come see my room and play with me?”  It’s basically her pride and joy 🙂  Tomorrow I am hoping to be able to give you a tour of Pumpkin’s room!

So, how many of you have let your kids be the sole decorators of their rooms?  How many gave them zero say?  How many of you have not given any thought to decorating?  I tried my best to let them have as much say as possible, only vetoing things that would have made the room completely overwhelming to anybody’s senses.  Doodles and E didn’t get any say, but the big 3 did!

Love~Danielle

 

Busy On The Homestead

I apologize for my absence here on the blog.  We’ve been busy playing catch-up and digging back into “school work.”  Wow.  What a year!  Some days Scott and I feel like we haven’t accomplished anything around here and other days I am amazed at what we did get done.  It’s been a crazy year, and I think we both feel relieved to see progress being made on some of these projects!

These past two weeks have been filled with plenty of activity.  Scott changed the oil in 6 of our vehicles this weekend (2 tractors, the 4-wheeler, van, lawnmower and snowblower…with some help from a friend), did plenty of cleaning in some of the buildings, pruned more trees, pulled a few shrubs and trees, and mowed the lawn one final time for the season.

Over the weekend and this week I have been working on redoing the flower beds around one half of the house.  My sister-in-law and I worked on edging the flower bed, and generally pulling dead plants, weeds, grass, and leaves out.  It looked significantly better, but now I am in the process of adding a wood boarder around it to make maintenance and lawn mowing much easier, “tilling” and replanting the flowers in a little bit more of an orderly fashion.  There are all of these wonderful perennial flowers on the property, and I kind of like the whole “cottage” feel, but they get crowded out by weeds and tall grass since there is no distinction between lawn and flowers, so the goal this fall (and next spring) is to bring a little more definition to those areas to allow the flowers to really stand out and also make yard maintenance a little easier.

The veggie garden is in the process of being weeded at the moment.  It was quite a jungle at the end of garden season, so I am working to clean it up.  I think another two days of digging in should finish the job.  We ran our leaves over with the lawn mower and that will be getting spread onto the garden as extra mulch just as soon as I can finish that job.  I think I will be pushing pretty hard over the week/weekend to get it done!

 

We decided to replace the garage doors.  (When I say garage, it’s the building built onto the granary that was intended as a garage but is being used as our woodworking shop.  We just park our vehicles outside.)  Right now we have some yellowed, wavy fiberglass doors that need to go, so I am building carriage doors from barn wood.  I am nearly done with the doors themselves, just a bit more reinforcement on them, and then I need to fix the door frame itself and install them (with help because they are HEAVY!).  I can’t wait to get them up!  There’s two doors to the garage and I’m pretty sure I will only have one half complete before the snow comes.  When it is done though, you can bet there will be a post about it!

As I was assembling the second door for the one stall, I accidentally broke the glass in the window…this just after I repaired a window in the garage that broke when I was cutting wood for another project.  It’s one of those moments where I hang my head and sigh.  At least I know how to fix the window!

Two weeks ago, my wonderful mother came over to help me out while I worked on FINALLY cleaning up my sewing room.  Before E was born, we were working on cleaning other areas of the house and somehow my sewing room became a dumping ground.  I’ve tried cleaning it in the 6 months since he was born, but every time I got started, the kids would sneak in and make a mess or I would get interrupted or I had something that “has to get done now” and the room just kept getting worse.  Now it’s pretty well in check.  It’s a room with many purposes, so I don’t think it will ever look truly clean, but I do plan to improve on it yet.

Oh, and now that E is 6 months old, he’s all over the place and needs more attention.  He’s rolling across the floor, pulling himself around, and putting everything in his mouth.  Goodbye days of easy baby!  Oh well, he’s extremely happy which makes him extremely cute, so all is forgiven!  🙂  It just means that I will be less productive in his waking hours.

I gained new motivation to finish a bunch of projects around here! My family will be celebrating Christmas Eve at our house which means I will want to finish as many of my half-finished projects as I can.  With it still being warm (a warm November in Wisconsin…it’s weird), I’m trying to complete all of the outdoor work that I can before I really begin to dig into the indoor stuff.  I guess that means I will have plenty to write about in the coming months!

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Pinterest project…pillow for the porch swing.  Now I need to make a new cushion cover!

Other things I have yet to write about…We picked black walnuts from a relatives yard and removed the hulls, now they are drying and waiting to be cracked.  I’ll share more about that when we finish that project.  Prior to chicken butchering, I made grape jelly for the first time.  It was exciting and yet disgusting.  I may be a sugar addict, but seeing how much sugar goes into making it…my jaw hit the floor!  We’ve been taking German lessons with some fellow homeschoolers, I wrapped up the pumpkin sales, and I’ve been working on a few Pinterest projects for around the house.  Oh, and I finally started to really clean and reorganize the basement!  There was still a huge pile of stuff down their from the last owners that I went through in the wee hours of the morning.  I still have a lot to clean down there, but it’s much, much better than it was.

Well, sorry for the boring post!  I needed to journal what we’ve been up to.  I want to get another post up before the weekend is out.  I have a few ideas rolling around in my head, but leave your comments and let me know what you want to hear about!  I’ll share more if I can!

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Chickens!  Just for fun 🙂

What about you?  Has it snowed yet?  Or is it warm by you, too?  What kind of last-minute fall projects are you working on?  Don’t forget to leave your comments below!

Love~Danielle