Master bedroom on a budget!


I wish I’d taken a before picture to show how hideous the master bedroom was. But for the past 2 years (since we moved into this house) I’ve made sure no pictures were taken in that room, because it was so horrid. So, there are no pictures of the sadly neglected master bedroom. But I do have pictures (iPhone pictures, I’m afraid, in low light) of the newly redecorated bedroom! Check it out:


Other than the dresser, which hubbs splurged on (Ikea, $249, I think), the rest of the room was my thrift shopping.

5′ x 8′ rug: $49 at Old Time Pottery

Comforter with 2 matching shams: $13 at Salvation Army

2 coordinating shams: $0.79 at Value Village (thrift)

Coordinating throw pillow: $1.49 at Park Avenue Thrift

Remnant upholstery fabric for headboard: $4.50 at Old Time Pottery (and I have enough for valences! – later )

Foam mattress topper for headboard: found it in the basement – used to be on one of the kids’ beds.

Button covering kit for headbard tufting: $8.00 at Hancock Fabric

Quote above the headboard: $14.99 at Old Time Pottery

Total: $78.77, plus hubby’s dresser


I no longer cringe walking into my room. I think it’ll need some color on the walls at some point, and I’ll install a closet organizing system at some point. But for now, I’m pretty happy with my <$80 redecoration!

DIY! Owl applique


What does one do when crazy busy with accelerated nursing classes, 3 kids, a job, and a hubby who’s out of town for military service? Applique an owl (my school mascot) onto a backpack! Yes, I think we refer to that as escapism, avoidance, procrastination, or some similar phenomenon. Other examples might be building a headboard from scratch (which I am actually also doing), painting the dining room (hope to do next week), knitting scarves for my kids that they won’t wear (done), and churning my own butter (I’d have to be really, intensely stressed and slightly insane to consider that one…).

Anyhow, everyone in the nursing program at my school is required to buy a black backpack filled with nursing lab supplies – gauze, saline solution, syringes, catheters, etc… So, you have 150+ people in the same classes carrying the same bag. I needed something to make mine stand out. (And I needed a justifiable reason to not make my head spin with pathophysiology).

So, my black backpack got ‘pimped’ with my own DIY owl applique! I used a template for the owl, picked up coordinating fat quarters in black and yellow (my school colors) from Hancock Fabric, and used a tutorial on embroidery stitches to master the blanket stitch around the edges of each layer. I pulled some similar-ish buttons out of my giant bowl-o-buttons for the eyes, and finished the whole thing in an afternoon today. While not studying.

If I’d been planning ahead, I would have taken step by step pictures. But I wasn’t planning ahead – just procrastinating. And so you only get a couple shots (below) of the final product. I can tell you what I did though. I used the template as a pattern to cut out the pieces to make the owl. Then I used Hollywood Fashion Tape to secure the belly and eye pieces to the main owl cutout. I blanket stitched those into place with embroidery thread. Then I used the same method to stitch all of that to the backpack. Added the wings (with the fashion tape, then blanket stitch), and finished by sewing on the button eyes. I probably should have sewn those on with black threat (to look like pupils) or small black buttons, but as mentioned earlier, the planning ahead phase wasn’t part of my process. I’m thinking about using an embroider stitch with contrasting fabric to give “Lucky” a stethoscope…

Here are 2 pics of the ever-so-cute backpack:

Owl applique backpack 2

Isn’t it cute? My kids have named the owl Lucky. Maybe he’ll bring me luck when it’s exam time?

Owl applique backpackNow, if you’ll excuse me, I have about 3 gagillion pages to read and commit to memory. (Seeing as how I was too busy to do that earlier in the day…)

A place for everything…


And today, we have Prednisone project #2 – cleaning the boys’ room! You see, we had a bad case of post-Christmas explosion: IMG_2072


Toys everywhere. Nothing had a home. The truth is, very few things had found a home even before Christmas, but once all the new Christmas stuff arrived, the situation was, well, disastrous. As you can see. So, hubbs and I sent the boys downstairs to play. See, when there aren’t any children around we can easily dump things into the trash… Sneaky? Perhaps. But efficient. In the end, there were 2 large bags of trash and 3 boxes for Goodwill.

IMG_2073Now, all their toys have their own home. Everything is put away, and most of it is labeled. Because I love labels. We’ll see how long things stay put away, but for now, the post-Christmas explosion has been dealt with.


Whitewashed fireplace: disaster and fix


Bronchitis for the few weeks leading up to Christmas can be a real downer – that is, unless your doc prescribes you an upper! Sleepless nights and bounding energy have turned me into the energizer bunny. Browsing around Pinterest I found some awesome pictures of whitewashed fireplaces and decided to make that my Prednisone Project #1. Here’s the inspiration:

Whitewashed Fireplace from

To start with, this was my fireplace:

Red brick

Plenty of character, but with the nice hardwoods and the large oak built-ins on the wall, it made the room look dark and dingy. So, I followed the instructions from The Yellow Cape Cod, mixing my paint with water, and brushing on. But, seeing as how the prednisone had me going a mile a minute, I didn’t take time to do it slowly and check my progress. So I ended up with a white fireplace. Much whiter than I wanted. Boo.

White fireplace

So, back to Pinterest I went. How do you un-whitewash a fireplace? Pinterest was no help. Neither was google or a handful of do it yourself sites. The best advice I found was to repaint it another color. Yikes! Could I really have ruined my fireplace? A little more research, and I found that I could pick up some denatured alcohol or paint stripper at the hardware store and remove some of the paint. And, a bottle of Motsenbocker LiftOff and some old towels did the trick. Spray on, leave for 1 minute, then rub with a towel. Here’s the finished fireplace:

IMG_2050The natural patina of the brick is back, but the lighter finish really brightens the room. I may go back over it in a few places with the LiftOff to bring out the natural brick tones just a bit more, but for now, I’m quite happy with it.

iPhone apps for kids that don’t suck


There’s this great thing about having a smart phone (or tablet) tucked away – at the doctors office and all sorts of other places around town where we sit around waiting I have a way to entertain my kids with ease. The key is, apps. Fun, educational apps. Here are my faves (some are paid, but worth it, others are free).

Dragon Box

Dragon Box: Aimed for ages 8 and up, my 4 and 6 year olds love it too. It’s an intuitive game that separates the screen in half, and the goal is to isolate the “dragon box” on one half of the screen. But whatever you do to one half, you have to do to the other half of the screen too. It teaches algebra skills without any numbers! That’s right – they’re getting ready for algebra and they don’t even know it!

Cash Cow: cool little game with neat cartoony graphics – teaches math and money skills

Presidents vs. Aliens: Bean and I compete with each other in this one, and I’m afraid to say her presidential trivia skills beat mine. Answering questions correctly gives you the opportunity to shoot aliens out of the sky. Cool? Yes.

Mathmateer: Kids get to build a rocket and then use it doing basic math. You can set the level and skills (number recognition, addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc.). Super fun.

Stack the States: By the same developer as Presidents vs. Aliens, this one uses trivia about the US states. There’s another version about countries in the world that’s cool too.

Pure genius: Kids helping with chores


Since our kids are over that infant/toddler-must-be-watched-at-all-times phase, we’ve made a habit of keeping toys upstairs, for the most part. Of course, during the day the kids wander downstairs with toys or books, to make a hideout fort under the dining room table or just because they don’t want to let something out of their sight while doing something else. So at the end of they we have them make sure all their toys are taken back upstairs – and as you can imagine, they often miss a few.

It’s been a constant hassle – sweeping up stray legos, stepping on matchbox cars (or vice versa). So we had this great idea that instead of returning their toys to their rooms when we find them, we’ll put them in a clear container that they can see but not touch.

When they want something back, they have to buy it back with a task from the buy-back jar. Here’s our list of tasks – some are easier than others.

Practice karate for 20 minutes
Play outside for 20 minutes
Make your bed
Fold laundry
Vacuum 1 room
Sweep the kitchen
Clean up all the toys in your room
Find toys and books downstairs and put them away
Sweep the hallway
Clean downstairs surfaces (light switches, door handles, window sills) with a wet wipe
Clean the bathroom counter (upstairs) with a wet wipe
Clean one toilet
Sharpen pencils
Clean up someone else’s room
Read a book to Bruiser
Do 20 minutes on IXL (math practice website)

A couple of things to note: we keep non-toxic Seventh Generation all purpose wipes on hand, so I’m not putting a bleach- or ammonia- based cloth in their hands. Bruiser can’t do quite all of these, but he can do most. I put a little red dot on all the things he can do, so when he needs a task I make sure I pull out one with a red dot.

31 things to teach your daughter


1. How to give a firm handshake.
2. To never wear clothes with something written across the butt.
3. A man will never treat a woman better than he treats his mom. Pay attention to how the guys treat their moms, and run from the ones who aren’t respectful.
4. Look people in the eye when you talk to them.
5. People will judge you by what you say. “I was like, um, totally!” does not qualify as a sentence.
6. People will judge you by what you wear. Show respect for yourself (and see #2).
7. How to change a tire.
8. How to throw a football.
9. Don’t be afraid to use your voice – sometimes it’s the most powerful thing you have.
10. Basic self defense – be able to get out of a situation, and run fast. And use that powerful voice.
11. Teach them how to apologize well, ask for help when needed, and that anger is more harmful to the person who harbors it than to who it’s directed at.
12. What’s in the magazine is photoshopped. Confidence is more attractive than size 2 jeans.
13. Laughter can diffuse many a challenging situation. Especially when you can laugh at yourself.
14. Block out the voices. Not every opinion is worth listening to – listen to the ones that matter, and learn whose opinion you’ll allow to shape your thoughts.
15. Advertising is full of hidden agendas. Don’t fall for it. “Maybe she’s born with it… maybe it’s Maybelline” – really? Maybelline didn’t make her anything she wasn’t born with.
16. How to hit a baseball, throw a punch, and use a compass.
17. How to write a proper thank you letter, and how to type.
18. How to manage her money.
19. Appreciate the little things (and little refers to more than diamonds and pearls).
20. Read often and much. Read works of classic and contemporary literature, fiction and nonfiction.
21. Walk in someone else’s shoes.
22. Listen well, both for what’s being said, and for what’s being omitted.
23. Dream big, and set realistic goals. You can accomplish more than you think you can.
24. Girls can do most things as well as boys can, in general. But know your personal limits, what your own strengths and weaknesses are. Once you know them you can use them to your advantage.
25. Most things worth having or worth doing require sacrifice. Know what you’re willing to sacrifice, and for what.
26. No regrets. Learn from the past, but don’t dwell on what could have been.
27. Just because it’s never been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Push the limits.
28. Basic sewing skills.
29. How to handle herself online – using good privacy, remembering that anything shared can go viral (including pictures in poor taste), and knowing that people online aren’t always who they say they are.
30. Trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Listen to that voice, and don’t silence it.

31.  The world isn’t all there is.  Rely on God more than you rely on anything else, including yourself.