The Keeping Room

Today I’m posting images of our Keeping Room along with Darlene of Fieldstone Hill Design, who provided me with the amazing design. She really made this process fun rather than frustrating, and helped me focus in on what I wanted the room to feel like and how to make it function  as we needed. I wrote about the process of working with on online interior decorator here. I can’t say enough great things about Darlene–she was so patient with all my pickiness and helped keep my love of lots of color from turning the room into an Easter egg : )

Here is the Design Board Darlene created:

Design Board by Fieldstone Hill Design

I loved it at first sight– thanks SO much Darlene! And here’s how it came together:

Gorgeous Keeping Room: salmon walls, aqua couch

This room. So much living in this colorful space.  It’s here that we curl up with our coffee and books, where we pull the littles onto our laps and read them Berenstain Bears. We sit the baby on the striped rug and surround him with his little rattles and toys; this is where he’s learning to crawl. The desk in the corner is my favorite spot to get some work done without being far from the kitchen or the little ones. I pull down my cello or my violin in here to help my little ones when they practice their tinier versions.

keeping room chair and desk

This space sees a lot of living. We often crowd more into it–a brown leather recliner I got for my husband fits nicely in the back corner, and a little round yellow Ikat storage ottoman generally sits in front of one of the Sofia Chairs. I keep my knitting tucked inside and pull it out on movie nights. We store puzzles and games with pieces inside the wooden storage table, which the kids haven’t figured out how to open quite yet : ) In reality, this room is usually quite a mess, albeit a beautiful one at that–books and toys all over the place, people sprawled across their projects and an occasional small one asleep on the couch. That’s what a proper Keeping Room is for you know–keeping the ones you love feeling cozy, loved, and near while you’re whipping up some food in the kitchen.

Keeping Room 3 birds lamp

When it comes to decorating, I have to remind myself that all these painted walls will someday crumble. The couch will become old and moth eaten, the metal will rust or the wood burn, or maybe thieves will break in and steal. The point is, I don’t want our home or its contents to be our treasure. Our hearts, the idol-factories that they are, might bend us to worship the idea of a perfect room, brimming full of texture and balance and pattern and color. There is a reason we yearn for this–the longing to see Eden restored somehow–to live surrounded by unspoiled beauty. One day, all will be restored, and there will be no more death or sickness or suffering. He will make all things new. As I put together a home for my family, this has been my goal–that those who pass through will find themselves longing for our real home.

Keeping room windows

keeping room tv cabinet

Sources:

Wall color- Smokey Salmon by Sherwin Williams

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Chester Sofa - I ordered this sofa from a local store in Columbia, SC called Mack Home. They had piles and piles of fabric options and all I knew is that I wanted a pale aqua. The velvet of this fabric gave it a nice sheen. It’s also the perfect height for a sofa–low couches make my knees hurt! Given the potty training stage of my kids is still sort of ongoing for at least one kid at any given time, I keep a thick throw over the seat cushion most of the time.

Desk: Lillian August Leif Secretary  I bought it at a local store called Marty Rae’s. I wax poetic about my desk in this post.

Zuel Rug in Brown. I bought mine when it was on sale at One Kings Lane.

Cowhide stools–another One Kings Lane purchase.

Coffee Table–West Elm Rustic Storage Coffee Table another good find on sale.

Bookshelves- Verona Two-Shelf Bookshelf from World Market. I loved the side tables Darlene found but realized after we were living in the space that we needed more book space.

Curtains- I crocheted a border along some panels I picked up at Target. The yarn color was Persimmon, I think. If you know how to crochet, a border is fairly simple to pull off. I have photos I took of the process somewhere if anyone is interested in learning how.

Curtain Rods and Hardware: Restoration Hardware

Three Birds Lamps– from Wayfair.com. 

Desk Chair is from World Market. I don’t know if they still have this one around, and couldn’t find it on their site to link. But I love the tufts and color, and its so comfy.

Pair of brown club chairs: Sofia chairs from Ballard Design. I waited for a sale, of course.

Crushed Gold Velvet and burlap pillows from this Etsy shop.

Coral Greek Key Pillows from this Etsy shop.

Coral Ikat pillow from Etsy but now I can’t find the shop. If I do run across it I’ll update this.

Solid Yellow pillows from Target.

The TV cabinet–This is a redone ‘lift cabinet’ from Touchstone products. It has a remote control hydraulic lift that raises the TV out of a panel in the back for viewing. That way I can hide it away when not in use.  I redid this piece to make it our own. You can read about it here

Nest Painting with three eggs- was done by Jeanne Illenye –it was a commissioned piece. I love it because it’s so realistic and the three eggs for our three kids : )

Pair of egg prints–I found these in an antique shop in Charleston, SC. I had them matted at Hobby Lobby. The frames are from Pottery Barn.

Violin–My Grandfather, and his grandfather, were both fiddlers. He bought this violin many years ago and gave it to me when I was young so I could learn to play. It has brought me much enjoyment.

This post contains my referral links to One Kings Lane. Thanks!

 

 

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I’m not sure how it happened in this very busy season of my life, between teaching my daughter to read and nursing a baby and wrangling a toddler, but I’ve somehow become someone who bakes our own bread each week. I didn’t set out to do it, or to find the perfect recipe or anything. True, I’d tried a couple of whole wheat sandwich bread recipes before, all of which had turned out to be somewhat rocklike, and I found use for them only as turning into homemade croutons {Although quite possibly they could have become doorstops given their weight}. I’ve had some measure of success with the Healthy Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day recipes, and I’d totally recommend trying them. But their 100% whole wheat recipe left something to be desired, and really didn’t work out too well, for me at least, when I tried it in loaf pans. I figured I’d have to keep buying the stuff, if I wanted it 100% whole wheat.

But one day, amidst a little experimenting, I stumbled upon a game-changer.

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread. Finally an easy, healthy, homemade option. The Molasses and Olive Oil give it a rich taste

The original recipe I found here. {She has a fantastic whole wheat dinner roll recipe too, by the way}. I made it my own by subbing in molasses for some of the honey. Got to Southernify it, obviously. And I changed out her oil for Olive Oil, and adjusted some of the steps. Also, this dough isn’t super sticky, it only has one rise, and you really only have to knead it for a couple minutes, which I actually find quite enjoyable, relaxing and contemplative, especially since this dough isn’t all stuck to my hands and wedding ring. Pulling this together each week has actually not been very complicated or time consuming at all.

It think the key step involves letting the some of the flour sit in the water with the yeast and ‘sponge’ for a good 20 minutes.

Also, a note on gluten, which I do use in this recipe. {Yes, you can buy Wheat Gluten, right there in the baking aisle, maybe near the special flours}. There’s a lot of confusion out there about gluten these days. Everybody gives poor gluten a bad rap. I will say: there are a number of people who actually have celiac disease {about 10 percent of the population, give or take}, or have found that they have a gluten sensitivity, which while less severe than celiac disease, can be a good reason to avoid it. But, unless you fall into those camps, do you really need to avoid gluten? Are you doing something ‘bad’ for yourself if you eat it? Is it outrageous to buy a box of pure gluten to add to something you feed your family?

While I learned about celiac in med school, I did a little extra research to be sure there wasn’t anything I missed. {Meaning I consulted actual medical research, not ‘Dr. Google’ or some random blogs}, and I found no evidence that you need to avoid it unless you actually have celiac disease or a real sensitivity to it.

But what about all those people who say they feel better, or are more focused, or maybe have more energy now that they avoid gluten? Well, think about what sorts of stuff is usually in food products that contain gluten. Mostly, they are processed foods also full of sugar and salt and fat. So people who cut out gluten have generally had to cut out a ton of processed foods to really avoid gluten. So they’ve essentially cut out a lot of other bad stuff at the same time, and my bet is they are feeling great because they aren’t pumped full of the “processed trinity” of sugar, salt, and fat anymore. Avoiding factory made fake-food is going to make anyone feel better–we avoid it too! It’s just not the gluten in it that bothers me.

So that’s why I don’t hesitate to use wheat gluten in my family’s Whole Wheat bread. It is a protein that helps give the bread great loftiness and airiness, I’m making them a whole grain food, that’s super healthy, doesn’t contain any preservatives or weird chemicals. And I know for sure it wasn’t baked on a counter next to any sesame seeds {my son’s life-threatening allergy} that could have cross-contaminated it. And wow, have you seen how much it costs to buy a loaf of whole grain breads these days? I’m saving bundles, and this recipe hasn’t been hard to pull off on a regular basis. I make two loaves, and pop one in the freezer as soon as it’s cooled and wrapped.

100% Whole Wheat Honey Molasses Bread

  • 6 to 6-1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2-1/2 c. warm water (I run the tap till hot and then use it)
  • 1-1/2 TB instant yeast
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1-1/2 TB molasses
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 2-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 TB. vital wheat gluten- OPTIONAL (I don’t use this anymore)
  1.  Add water, yeast and 2 cups of the flour in a large mixing bowl. I use the one for my stand mixer. Stir together briefly and let it sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Add olive oil, then honey, molasses, salt, and gluten. Stir briefly, then add 4 cups of flour. Mix at low speed with dough hook until dough starts to clean sides of bowl. Then let it knead 6 to 7 minutes longer. {If you are doing the kneading by hand, go for 10 minutes}. Add a few tablespoons of flour at a time if dough sticks to sides, being careful not to add too more than 1/2 cup. I usually don’t have to add any.
  3. At this point I usually turn it out onto a floured counter and knead for a minute more after its done in the mixture, but I’ve skipped this step when in a hurry and it’s been fine.
  4. Divide in half and place into two greased 9×5″ pans. Allow to rise in a warm place for about 50 minutes (1-2 inches above pans). Then preheat oven to 350 and allow to rise ten minutes longer while oven warms. {Total of 1 hour rise time}.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from pans to cool on a rack. Wait until it’s cooled to slice it, otherwise your knife will get all gummy. When completely cool, you can wrap tightly and freeze. I keep my sliced loaf in a ziploc bag in my bread drawer and it keeps for a couple days, if it lasts that long. Then I pull out my frozen loaf and we start on that one : )

Makes 2 loaves

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all the blinding brightness

snowprintsSnow came to South Carolina last night, and oh, how the children {and I!} rejoiced. It’s been a few years since anything white padded our lawns, and my kids couldn’t ever remember seeing it. When the first rumors of a Winter Storm circulated on Sunday night or Monday, none of us knew if we could believe it. Monday’s weather was beautiful, in the sixties, sunny and dry. Schools let out early Tuesday and everyone waited in anticipation of what was supposed to start around 3 in the afternoon. The excitement swelled and we watched and waited. Across the city everyone had prepped in case we lost power or couldn’t leave home, bought out all the milk at all the store in town. {This is SC y’all, we don’t have many snowplows…} We opened all the blinds so we could watch the beautiful sky fill with falling flakes. But it was dark before the long anticipated snow arrived, blanketing the area in soft and quiet beauty.

This morning the brightness filled our windows. My little ones took a break to defrost from their galavanting, and I stole away for a long walk down the briliant lanes and roads. Seeing as I had nothing better to keep the wet and cold off, I borrowed my husband’s snake boots. They were a bit large but did the job well enough.

photo

Every time I see snowfall I remember my college years up in western Pennsylvania. Yes, I’m a Southerner; grew up outside of Atlanta. But I spent four years at Grove City up in PA and the Lake Effect snow permeates my memory to the extent that now every time it falls I recall hours bent over molecular biology texts and organic chemistry books and writing philosophy papers, all while snow after snow fell outside the large library windows. There were jogs in the snow, and hot cider, and fun to be had, and I loved those years with people who became dear, dear friends, before I returned to my Southern soil and moved to the grand jewel of a city that is Charleston. It feels so long ago that I studied in those stacks and wondered what the future held, where I’d be in 15 years.

Amaryllis blooms at littleprogressnotes.com The amaryllis chose today to open, her red petals unfurling even as the landscape whitened. That scarlet red against the backdrop of snow, it’s no coincidence He chose today to call her out. Scarlet and white. Each flower bends to His will, and there are always a thousand things He’s doing under the surface of what we see. I saw some lampposts in the snow on my walk, too. Little signposts in the paths of my life that whisper of things unseen.

January is almost finished. Already, 2014 has been full of burst pipes (we Southerners don’t remember to drip our faucets), lawnmowers running over outdoor electrical plugs causing septic pumps to fail, and basement flooring that had to be ripped up to repair. But January has also brought small toes on a growing baby full of coos and chirps, three pairs of bright blue eyes seeing their first snow, a handsome beard on my husband’s kind face, long reading sessions by the fire while children nap and then snuggles with picture books when they wake, and the feeling of baby weight falling off as I embrace my new daily habits. And there has been good cooking. Each week I’ve baked fresh molasses Whole Wheat Bread for our sandwiches, and stirred up pot after pot of savory stew and soup.

I have lately found ways to worship in my heart as I flutter around the kitchen, tending to the nourishment for the ones I love. But I’d bet to say that my kitchen is a bit more busy than Brother Lawrence’s Parisian monastery. I think of his famous words, which I love…

The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.

…and I think he probably didn’t have three kids five and under either screaming or tearing up the monastery while he finished up his dishes, and I bet he didn’t end up raising his voice too much as I often do. So yeah, there is a lot of chaos in my life right now, and messy rooms, and even as I declutter one area another is torn asunder. Toys scatter across most floors and I try to patiently teach Littles how to order and care for their gifts but fail more than I succeed. But this is a season of rich living for us, as I’ve seen enough of the other sort, in hospitals, the losing sort of life that can happen at the end, when the pain won’t stop without eternity being crossed. So I say my thanks for it all and wrestle in my heart to raise eyes from the chores long enough to just savor the pure joy of living and newness that surrounds us. I’m fast approaching my 35th birthday, halfway across the decade to 40. I know what I am made for, and it is worship.

The snow falls and covers it all in pure whiteness. And I wonder. What kind of whiteness is whiter than snow?

IMG_1046

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New Year, New…

seagulls flocking at sunset

I try to approach each year’s end and new beginning with sober self-examination and pose the question to myself “What if this was the last year of your life?” I think about how I’ve lived, the course I’m taking each day, and what I’d change. I always want to be kinder and more gracious to those around me. I don’t want to waste my life.

This year, as I prayed over all this, and reviewed last years’ accomplishments and failures, I felt one thing becoming quite clear. All the desires that boiled down to wanting to care for and love my family well, all the career planning and redirecting, all my aspirations to become a supurb home chef to nourish my family well, improve my health, as well as declutter every nook and cranny of our house…they all boil back to that one deep-seated motive that underlies it all. That purpose I’m made for.

Worship.

I’m not one to choose a ‘word of the year’, but somehow, it came and found me amid the mess of imperfections and half-met desires of my life. Worship. Its what I’m made to do, and I do it wether my soul lifts itself up to Christ or to something lesser. It’s when we become tangled up in worshiping ourselves or some idea of what our life “should be” that we become overwhelmed and discouraged. We don’t realize we’ve made an idol of something until it comes crashing down. Only then do we find we’ve traded the fulfillment of God-glory for the illusion of self-glory.

Everywhere the current catch-phrase seems to be “New Year, New You,” refering to health and wellness, weight loss, organization, etc. etc. etc. The culture pulses with the hope that we can make ourselves over, become that perfect mom, wife, woman, athlete, chef, homeschool supervisor, doctor, reach the perfect weight, or whatever else… This taps into our deep seated longing that we can really change, that we can become whole again. Everyone longs for a redemption and the new striving of the New Year Season only magnifies it. But we can find ourselves clamoring for self-glory rather than God-glory without even realizing we got there.

The reality is, people can change, and it can be lasting. We can be redeemed from the messes we’ve made. We can love our families better, tend to our health in a wiser way. But it’s not going to happen by simply creating a daily checklist of things to complete, keeping a perfect early morning routine. Sure, we can make things look good for a while on the outside, with maybe a cleaner house and smaller waist. But we don’t get to redemption by our our striving.

Let me tell you what transforms us. It’s sitting at the feet of Christ, looking at his nailscarred hands, and knowing He was perfect for us. In worshiping Christ, we are transformed. When we meditate on what he’s done, the length He came to rescue us from ourselves, the compassion he shows us, the perfect and deep love that He offers us despite the fact he knows us better than we know ourselves, including all the gunk and messy and sin…that’s when we start to change.

We think about the Cross and suddenly we have more patience. We hunger for Christ, and suddenly the comfort food isn’t as comfortable anymore. We finish decluttering that dreaded closet only to find that while we did, the 5-year old rearranged every piece of furniture in her room, the dresser drawers removed and dumped out to become part of an elaborate, imaginative world. The dishes might be piled in the sink and the laundry basket spilling over. Work goals for the day might be foiled by a child who’s sick and needy. I might not get to stock up on the veggies and fruits as frequently as I like, when my kids are tired and need naps more than a trip to the grocer. But this year I want to relearn how to Worship in those moments. I want to figure out how to turn the times where it all feels like it’s falling apart into moments I can really, genuinely offer a ‘sacrifice of praise’. I know it has a lot to do with exercising gratitude. Gratitude turns the heart to worship.

Don’t get me wrong: I am still working on routines and loose schedules that can help things run smoothly and use our time well. I do have written goals for many areas of my life, and action steps I’m taking to move toward them. Because I am a steward of this life, of my health, of this family I feed, this house I tend. I’m a goal-oriented person and work better with lists and such, as more gets done and mouths get fed and laundry completed this way. I am shifting my focus in completing goals this year to a more processed-focused method rather than a results-focused method. The scaffolding that holds these plans up is the worship of Jesus. When we set our plans with that end in mind, we will love people better and care for the gifts He give us better, and in all of it feel His joy.

I often need to preach to myself that my “To-Do” list was nailed to a Cross about 2000 years ago. That worship doesn’t need to wait to happen until the list is all checked off and the extra weight is lost and all the laundry folded. Worship can happen in the middle of my mess. Worship can be part of the process. In fact, more than being part of the process, it’s what the process is all about. It’s what life is all about. I don’t have to get wrapped up in results, as the way to not waste my life is to Worship right smack in the middle of it all, in the middle of the process. I’m called to Worship a God who holds every atom together, sustains and forms every life, orchestrates every sunrise and full moon, who hung the starts and crafted my infant’s toes in my womb. I’m called to spend my life Worshiping Him and bringing others to Worship Him. This is the way to not waste my life. This is where a year begins…

 

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An Advent Reading List

It’s the first day of December, and the merchants and catalogues have been glutting my inboxes with the push to buy, spend, shop, shop, shop. A whole industry is devoted to turning this season into one giant, frantic rush to mail cards, wrap presents, stuff stockings and make the rounds of parties and lights.

I cringe and look for ways to push back the frenzy, to hold off the clamor and endless lists of things to mail and buy and do. I just want to curl up by a fire and sip something warm, to hold onto words that speak of the eternal in the midst a world of plastic and neon lights. I want to steep deep in what is true and real, the miracle of a God incarnate in the fragile flesh of an infant. This is the third Advent I have held close a swaddled newborn of my own. Have observed the tenuous, utterly needy state in which a baby arrives. To consider that the supremely powerful God would come to us in such a state. In a season that feels like a such a frenzy of rush, I want to push the pause button and simply wait. Wait, wait, and wait for the coming, to think of that one great Advent, that one great coming, that will be the culmination of all our Advents, of all our waitings…

an advent reading list- great books to consider as december starts

So I choose these books and these Words to anchor me during December. To build up anticipation, during the waiting…

Good News of Great Joy , a free Advent ebook and Scripture reading plan by John Piper, which includes a short devotional for each day along with a scripture passage. I actually found it because it’s a reading plan option on YouVersion, the Bible reading app I love and use frequently (especially because of the option to listen to daily scripture passage read aloud–As a mother of three young kids this feature comes in very handy!)

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping Full Love Story of Christmas, by Ann Voscamp. A collection of advent readings meant to be read as a family each day, accompanied by a set of ornaments that corresponds to each day’s scripture and reflection. Ann’s writing is poetic and God-glorifying in every way, and I’m looking forward to digging into this, her second book.

God Is In The Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Much of this book was written during the two year period that Bonhoeffer was jailed by the Nazis. I read through this last winter and will likely reread it every December.  Here are a couple favorites:

“Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent. One waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other–things that are really of no consequence–the door is shut, and can only be opened from the outside.” – Bonheoffer, in a letter to a friend, Christmas 1943

“Through all the Advents of our life that we celebrate runs the longing for the last Advent, when the word will be: “See, I am making all things new” (Rev.21:5) The Advent season is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.” -pg 2

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Of course we’ve all heard the story or seen it played out on a stage or screen. But I’ve never read the actual tale as told by Dickens. This year I will.

Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. An anthology of reading related to advent by writers including Aquinas,  Lewis, L’Engle, Luther and many more. Wide variety with a few gems  in there.

Song of the Stars, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. One to read to the kids, equally enjoyed by the adults in the house, by the writer who put together The Jesus Storybook Bible, a favorite in our house. Her way of telling these stories is so well-composed for children, putting complicated concepts into simple words that go deep.

 

 

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Pumpkin Power Muffins

The Thanksgiving holiday may have passed for this year, but in my neck of the woods, pumpkins are still quite in season, spilling out of my pantry. I roasted my own pumpkins for the thanksgiving pies, though I have one little pumpkin I spared, as my 5-year-old begged me not to “kill it too.”

But it won’t stay out of the oven long, as I’ve finally perfected my pumpkin muffins: No oil, no refined sugar, all natural, 100% whole grain. Nutty and rich-tasting, sweet enough yet completely nourishing. The recipe I was looking for online but couldn’t find anywhere, so I developed it myself. Sweetened by dates blended with milk to create a delishious slurry stirred into the batter. It’s perfect for any pumpkin puree left over from holiday baking, I used them to fuel my thanksgiving preping last week, and I’m counting on them to get me started on busy December mornings. At 7g of protein each, one fuels me all morning. So get baking and stock them in your freezer to pull out as needed and heat in the mornings to get you through the cold months ahead…

no oil, no refined sugar, 100% whole grain, all natural, delicious and packed with antioxidents and phytochemicals...what I'll do with the rest of pumkin

Pumpkin Power Muffins

25 minutes

Number of servings: 12

Per Serving 258 calories

Fat 6 g

Carbs 49 g

Protein 7 g

12
  • 20 mejool dates (pitted)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 c. pecans (or your choice of nuts. this is the south, y'all. we use pecans, pronounced "Pee-cans" around here)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • 1 3/4 tsp pupmkin pie spice blend
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin

Soak dates in milk 10 minutes, and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and the spices until blended. Add eggs.

Blend the milk and soaked dates together well in a blender or food processor, then add to other ingredients. Mix well and pour into a 12 cup muffin pan.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until done.

Before you think to yourself: ”Wow, dates. I’ve never cooked with those, don’t even know if my grocer carries them….” Just check near the raisens in the dried fruit and nuts section of your store. You’ll find them there. And don’t be afraid of them; they’re a luscious sweet dried fruit that lends the deep sweetness like that of caramel or brown sugar to your recipes. But they are packed with nutrients and fiber that make them a wonderfully natural and healthy option for sweetening.

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DIY {free!} Christmas photo cards

Easy, free, way to make your own photocards for Christmas or anytime usine the free website oicmonkey. I saved $100 this year doing this!

Y’all, I’m not tech-savvy. In fact, you’ll see below that I can’t even figure out how to take a screenshot on my computer, so my ‘screenshots’ of this process involved snapping pics of my computer screen with my iphone. I know, so dorky. You can even see the reflections of our gorgeous fall foilage in the screen…

But even with my techie ignorance, I ‘ve figured out the free Picmonkey’s website, and created my own Christmas photo cards, which I can now print for the price of photos (MUCH cheaper than the companies that let you put your photo into their cute designs, like a dollar less per card!). It’s easy! I don’t have any affiliation or vested interest in picmonkey’s website. I just love using it, and was pretty thrilled to figure these things out.

Here is how you do it:

  1. Choose the photo or photos you want to include on the card.
  2. Go to picmonkey.com and click on “Edit a Photo” near the top of the screen if you only want to feature one photo, or “Create a Collage” if you want to have several photos on your card.
  3. Upload your photo (s).
  4. Now you get to customize your own design. There are SO many options:
  5. To add text,  click the “Tt” button on the far left of the screen and choose your font, then drag the text box to where you want it and size it as needed. If you have a dark area you could add white or light colored text directly over that area of the photo. Or vice-versa if you have a light area.
  6. Another option is to add an overlay in any color you desire, and then type the text on top of that. To add an overlay, click the butterfly icon on the far left of the screen. You can have an overlay in a huge variety of shapes. Scroll down the options in the column just to the left of your image to see all the options here. I added a long banner to my photo along the bottom (which you can find, obviously under “Banners”), and then typed my text over it.

    easy way to DIY free photocards

  7. To customize color, or size, or shape of the banner or overlay, or of any words you add, click once on the item you want to change and this box will pop up. See below where I can adjust my overlay of the “Merry Christmas” icon I choose (It’s found by clicking the snowflake on the far left column, then choosing “Santaland” from the column of options, then scroll down to click  ”Overlays” then “Season’s Messages”
  8. Also, see that little “Fade” sliding option on the Overlay control window in the photo above? You can slide that little dot back and forth to control how translucent any of your overlays look. You can make them faint so the image behind them is still visible, or keep them opaque like I did in my image.
  9. You can add frames. I used the Candy Cane frame, also found under the “Santaland” catagory. Make it as thick or thin as you like.

Just keep playing around with the program until you get a design you like. If you need inspiration, look through some of the photocards those big companies come up with for design ideas, and then customize it to make it your own. There are endless possibilities. You can even add the effect of snowfall to your photos! Or, if you want a tile look to your card, with one or more photos plus a seperate tile with your message in it, create the whole thing by going through the “Create a Collage” option in the beginning.

Once you are happy with your photocard, click “Save” and remember where you saved it on your computer. Then you can have it printed like a regular photo anywhere you like. Just remember to size it according to the envelopes you want to use so it will fit. Now your biggest expense will be postage!! I probably saved at least $100 this year making these myself. And I spent about the same amount of time making my own card as I did in previous years just looking through all the predesigned options and putting them together on those websites! The biggest thing I like about this way is the ability I have to customize my card to say exactly what I want, and look just how I choose.

Now I’m off to make my baby announcements the same way : )

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The Healthiest Scrumptous Breakfast Cookies

These helped me lose 50 pounds! Easy, whole food, no-sugar-added recipe.

Kitchen snapshopt of www.littleprogressnotes.com

This post is part of an October series about fitness, weight loss, and gluttony. To read all the posts in the series, see the index here.

I love portable whole-grain breakfasts for those days that we are in a hurry. I ran across the idea of these breakfast cookies over and over again in various online places, and finally came up with my own concoction that my kids seem to like and I feel good about feeding them! I made a big batch of them, and then froze a pile. In the morning before we headed out of the door, I nuked them in the microwave for maybe 15 seconds and they defrosted perfectly. Here’s the recipe:

Healthy Scrumptious Breakfast Cookies:

Ingredients:

3/4 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats, to grind into flour (I use a high speed blender, and measure before blending)

3/4 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats (not ground)

1/2 cup raisens or pitted dates

1/3 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans, becuase this is South Carolina and that’s what we grow here!)

2 and 1/2 ripe bananas

3/4 cup applesauce

1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Measure the 3/4 cup of oats into the blender and process it until fine. Add the applesauce, ripe bananas, and half of the raisens/dates, and blend until creamy. Add vanilla and blend it in as well.

Use a spatula to scrape the mixture out of the blender into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes so the oats can absorb a little moisture.

Drop the dough onto a lined cookie sheet by spoonfuls, shaping each into a cookie round. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

 

This recipe can certainly be customized in almost unlimited ways, with a little experimentation. We can have pumkin variety for fall, maybe adding in some cinnamon for that. Or add some little chocolate chips for a little treat.

This post has been linked to Thrifty Thrusday at Living Well Spending Less !

 

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My Past Race Results

This post is part of an October series about fitness, weight loss, and gluttony. To read all the posts in the series, see the index here.

I’ve been thinking about how much I love road races and the fun surrounding them. They really give me focus and a goal in trying to improve my PR. I’m not a fast runner at all, as you can see from my previous race times. I finally looked up my old race times from the years I was in med school. I didn’t consider myself much of a runner, but so many friends were running the Cooper River Bridge Run, I think that’s what got me started running when I was in Charleston.

I had a gorgeous route I used to jog through downtown Charleston during my second and third years of med school. I lived downtown, and I’d take a road down to the old Battery and run all the way from the Coast Guard base along the waterfront, down past all those old mansions, and then into waterfront park. I’d loop through it and back down to Broad Street, and then head back across the peninsula along that quaint street past the gorgeous shops to my apartment, which was in a tall building overlooking the Ashley River. It was a great route, especially as the sun dipped down. The Cooper River would start to turn lavendar by the time I got over to Waterfront Park, and I’d just have so much to see and admire as I went.

I’ve definititely missed running the last couple months–but just a little over a week from now, I’ll be cleared to start back again. I do my best thinking and destressing while running.

 

2002 Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston, SC 10K race time: 1:13:21

2002 Kiawah Island Half Marathon, Kiawah, SC Half Marathon race time: 2:51:44

2003 Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston, SC 10K race time: 1:21:00

2005 Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston, SC -walked this one in the rain- 10K race time 2:19:51

2011 Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston, SC 10K race time 1:35:52

2012 Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston, SC 10K race time 1:29:00 That year the race started over an hour late! We were so tired, hungry, and the sun was beating down by the time we finally started!

2012 Isle of Palms Connector Run, Isle of Palms, SC 10K race time 1:14:55

 

 

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Revamping Snacktime

I was once told by a nutritionist that each time I ate, I should be sure the food contained both fiber and protein. This has been a very healthy and helpful rule of thumb for me. (Along with counting the calories and limiting the sugar).

Here are some go-to snacks I’ve relied on when hunger strikes. Keeping them stocked up in my kitchen has warded off many a temptation.

  • Apples (esp this time of year!) with nuts or natural peanut butter
  • 100 % Whole Grain crackers with a low-fat cheese
  • Celery with almond butter and raisens
  • Soy Crisp cakes (they are like rice cakes)
  • A simple handful of nuts
  • Slices of bell pepper or other veggies with a low fat Greek Yogurt based dip (there is a cucumber-dill variety in the produce aisle of Publix that I love)
  • Bean based dips with veggies
  • For most people I’d say hummus and veggies are awesome! Unfortunately, we have a child with a severe allergy to sesame in our home, so hummus (which contains ground sesame as tahini) is banned from our kitchen. We miss it!

 

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Eat what is good

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant…

-Isaiah 55:1-3

 

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Fit Friday {and the freezer cooking has begun}

It’s been a busy week of knocking everything off my To-Do list I can, just in case baby decides to arrive early. I realized last weekend that even though my babies have never wanted to come anytime before the 40th week, and in fact probably would have stayed in there until 43 weeks had they been permitted, my going into labor early is still possible. I had a good number of more intense but still completely irregular contractions Saturday, prompting me to prioritize those things on my list that are most important. So I tacked the nursery and washing the baby clothes and all those must-do things first. Then I hit some house projects that were almost-but-not-quite done and tied up all the loose ends.

I realized a major item on my list hadn’t even started to happen yet–the freezer cooking! Before I had baby #2, I managed to bank about 40 meals in our freezer. And it was a normal size freezer, not a deep one by any means! I was 2 weeks before my due date when I did all that cooking last time around, and enjoying the months that followed with a newborn was far easier when I didn’t have to do much cooking. Plus the pocketbook and the waistline benefitted from not ordering in or eating out.

So I grabbed a pile of library books this week that were filled with healthy ideas for freezer or crockpot {I figured I’d put some crockpot “kits” together and freeze them ready to pop in the slowcooker}. I also ordered “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker” book, which I’d heard rave reviews about. It arrived yesterday and I spent the afternoon thumbing through all these books as well as my recipes and all that I’d pinned about freezer cooking, trying to come up with a plan. I hit the grocery store last night while my husband played with the kids {shopping for all I needed without the littles in tow was quite easier}, and he even unloaded everything for me when I got home!

I’m not sure how this always happens, but of course everything today took twice as long as I expected. I managed to crank out 7 whole-wheat vegetable-packed chicken pot pies, as well as 24 big twice-baked potatoes stuffed with caramelized onions and a little dubliner cheese. I shredded a pile of italian cheese for my planned pesto I’m going to finish with all the garden’s last basil. But once all that was done I just couldn’t do a bit more. My feet were in pain and my back was in pain and at least I’d remembered to put on compression stockings this morning before I started the whole ordeal. My little ones did well for a while, playing on our porch and inside and then I let them watch Ratatouille, but after lunch they kind of fell apart, and by the time I put them in their rooms for naps I was barely able to get the potatoes in the freezer before collapsing in the easy chair.

Driving me to finish several more mass quadrupling/freezing of other recipes is the notion that healthy meals are easier to make now than later with a crying hungry baby involved. So I’ve got tomato soup to finish, the pesto to process and freeze, and I’m still trying to decide on which crockpot kits to assemble. Then, next week I’m thinking I’ll have a italian day, where I make a pile of spinach lasagnas and gallons of marinara sauce along with a pile of lowfat meatballs. {I’d love to find some kind of vegan/vegetarian ‘meatball’ recipe, as I refuse to buy fake meatless meatballs but want to create something great without having to resort to turkey meatballs instead}.

My husband is going to put in the fall garden during his paternity leave, and if it turns out anything like last falls garden, it will supply us with piles of fresh salad greens and huge cabbages for soups–we had fresh salad every day we wanted them, and it went straight through the winter last year!! There is really nothing like picking your lettuces from your yard, washing them and eating them within an hour. You can’t buy that taste in any store, and it makes me crave greens just remembering…

 

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Fit Friday

At least I can say this week was an improvement on last week in terms of eating habits! Unfortunately, that’s largely because last week was rather bad, not that this week was ridiculously good. I’m remindd how important meal planning is–without it, a meal out occurs and those are just way too hard to maintain healthy choices at. Only keeping healthy, whole foods in my home is one of my best protections against poor eating choices, as well as overeating. They are the food full of healthy nutrients that don’t trigger addictive eating patters. It’s those junky foods with the triad of salt, sugar, and fat trigger the addictive endorphin cycle in the human brain that makes it very hard to stop eating them! So I’m really trying to keep those out of our home.

I really miss running at this point. I’m close the end of pregnancy and the weight of my uterus makes it hard to even walk a lot, because of pain at the old c-section sites likely because adhesions are stretching as the uterus grows. I also start lots of contracting (just Brackston-Hicks, not real labor) when I walk a lot too, and the feet swell up after a bit. But I’m eager to start running again as soon as I’m able after the baby arrives. I’ve decided for now to just use the double stroller we have (it’s a BOB so it’s awesome) even though there will only be one baby in there once he’s old enough. I just don’t want to get another stroller right now, but we’ll see how it goes, I might cave and get one so it’s easier to have in the back of the car.

I also picked up a copy of runner’s world last night. I love reading about running. I have a couple books I listed on my Book List which I’m finishing up that are running memoirs. If I can’t quit run yet, at least I can read about it. : )

 

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The Nesting List and Living in the Present

It's funny how sometimes I can be tricked into thinking that “real life” will start once I finish my To Do list. That once it is complete, I'll be able to relax and enjoy things like time with my little ones, good books, sitting and watching waves hit a shore. In the midst of a List, it can feel like those sorts of things are on hold until everything is crossed off, until the house is completely “done” (whatever that means), and the meals are planned weeks ahead.

Reality is what it always is. The things I think of as “interruptions” to The List (like feeding children or keeping up with laundry) are the real life. They are the daily liturgy, the things that invade the false perception that the living must be ordered and controlled and planned out to be relished. Real life and the good life will always break out of the mold we try to stuff it in. The children will laugh before The List is done. You will find them playing an elaborate make-believe game and they might invite you to join. To enter back into childhood for a while. The adult in you might think you should wait, that you must at least do such-and-such or fold a load or finally organize that particular drawer before you can have freedom. The kitchen counters surely must be cleared before you can have any fun.

Today we started officially with the Classical Conversation community in my area. My little 4-year-old loved it, coming home talking about continents and satellites and experiments with temperature. I'm an introvert by nature so the social time of the morning (the moms stay in the class and are available to help) drained me. But overall it was good. Now I look at the week ahead and all I want to do is curl up with a little girl and read books about and help her trace continents on her map and sing songs with her about Charlemagne. I want to put together the first bit of the lapbook with her. There was an unrealistic part of me that wanted everything in the house to be done before this week started. That I'd be free for the homeschooling stuff once all the house projects were behind me. But even when I cross every last item on the list below off, I'll still have things to do in the house. One thing I'm determined to do in regards to homeschooling is seize the moments of interest my kids have about their studies and dive deep into the information with them. I don't want to squelch any joy of new learning with that silly Nesting List. So I won't. I'll fit it in here and there. It will get done eventually. I have crossed a large number of things off this past week or so, after all. Look how close I'm getting…


The Craft Studio:

  1. Have stock base cabinetry installed in our craft studio, and a long counter placed.
  2. Put the shelves I was previously using in craft studio against the wall on the counter, bolt them to wall for kids safety, and then add some trim around the tops to make them look built in. Oh, and also: caulk around things like crazy to finish the built in look.
  3. Add floating shelf above the sink for paintbrushes to live and dry after washing.
  4. Improve on ribbon storage and thread display storage on wall.
  5. Paint cabinets White Dove.
  6. Add labeled bin pulls to all new drawers and cabs.
  7. Organize all arts and craft supplies into cabs and shelves.
  8. Install kids locks on cabinets.
  9. Add “Create” logo on the wall.
  10. Consider how best to use corner spaces and walls for kid use.

The Mudroom:

  1. Change out ugly knobs on cabs for happy yellow ones.
  2. Improve the Mudroom sink: either paint the base or make a skirt for it. (decided not to change it!)
  3. Set up mudroom diaper changing station.
  4. Hang fun wall art, in yellows and greys. This includes kid's handprint art.

Kid's Bathroom:

  1. Paint walls (going with SW “exciting orange”)
  2. Change out lighting over sinks
  3. Install mirrors
  4. Create/obtain wall art
  5. Change out cabinet knobs.

Upstairs Halls:

  1. Paint walls (considering yellow and white horizontal strips if I'm brave!)
  2. Hang turquise frames along walls–consider Alphabet Art of some kind in them?
  3. Hang some inspiring word art in the Laundry Room (Make some myself)

Playroom (soon to be turned into my 2-year-old Son's Room, then in a couple years the Schoolroom):

  1. Paint walls (SW Rainwashed)
  2. Improve AC/heating plan.
  3. Put locks on attic doors (don't want a toddler sneaking into the attic!)
  4. Hang blackout Roman Blinds.
  5. Decide on and hang decorative window panels
  6. Weed out old/broken/annoying toys to donate/discard, and move my Daughter's toys to her room, infant toys to nursery.
  7. Organize toys and books remaining in Son's Room. This might entail new storage, but hopefully not.
  8. Set up the Big Boy Bed.
  9. Put up some Wall Art
  10. Install display bookshelves along one wall for Big Boy's books.
  11. Recover two floor pillows to match the curtain panels.

The Great Room:

  1. Change out sconces on either side of front door.
  2. Change out sconce on on stairwell.
  3. Hang drapes.
  4. New shades for lamps.
  5. Touch up wall paint.

The Keeping Room:

  1. Hang rods.
  2. Make drapes (using target panels and I plan to crochet a fun coral frindge/pom-pom ish border)
  3. Hang egg prints in the Keeping Room.
  4. Create and hang a Nest painting in Keeping Room. (my husband is getting me one for Christmas!!)
  5. Make a sign for over the door to kitchen: “there will be a bright tomorrow, all will be well.”

Nursery:

  1. Set up extra twin bed in nursery (bought two matching ones since the boys will share later!)
  2. Make two matching boy's quilts. Nautical theme. I'm thinking nautical flags?
  3. Research and obtain baby monitor with two cameras that I can view on my phone.
  4. Hang wall art, including oars, life preservers, Large letters for Baby's name. (also need to get new letters for my other kids names on their walls!)

Master Bedroom:

  1. Hang items on walls
  2. Organize items on dresser/declutter
  3. Hang Roman Blinds in Master Bath

Miscellaneous House Organization/Projects:

  1. Reorganize linens and sheets in the Laundry Room
  2. Junk Drawer in the kitchen!!
  3. Organize junky corner cabinet in Kitchen.
  4. Reorganize and secure all medications in house.
  5. Move storage ottoman to basement room.
  6. Measure basement room that Darlene is helping me figure out how to decorate: prepare her a file to send.
  7. Major Freezer Cooking: stock up on a pile of healthy dinners and such for the family when I'm postpartum!!
  8. Hang existing art in Guest Room.
  9. Hang photos in Garage/mudroom hall.
  10. Take down last year's old kid's art, Artkive it (its an app) and file the favorites for safekeeping.
  11. Hang the last items in the Library–decide which diplomas to frame hang.
  12. Finish alterations and sewing pile
  13. Fix old desk chair that's in the garage.
  14. Organize and clean out garage. {Not even sure where to start here!}
  15. Repair a few toys and the dollhouse.
  16. Cover/beautify windowblind over the door to garage.
  17. Make a sign with psalm 121 on it to hang somewhere. I love that psalm.
  18. Do all the Christmas Shopping ahead of time that I can!!
  19. Kid Safety Netting installed along deck rails (This got done thanks to my husband!)
  20. Install a chilproof gate/fence around the workout area in basement to keep kids from getting to weights and stuff.
  21. Touch up paint in downstairs bathroom.
  22. Plan a birthday party for my soon-to-be 5-year-old
  23. Get halloween costumes figured out
  24. Decorate house for fall and buy lighted garlands/12 foot tree for Christmas if they go on sale at Hobby Lobby

 

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Swallowing a frog

The garage is one of those places in most people's homes that is dreaded in terms of cleaning out and reorganizing. But sometimes, before you can really get ahead on a 'to-do' list, you've just got to swallow that frog and clean out the garage. When I added it to The Great Nesting List, I really wasn't sure it would really happen. It would take the stars aligning, I thought, for there to be a cool enough day where both my husband and I had the time and the energy and the desire to tackle it together.

We didn't schedule or plan to do it this past Saturday. If we had, I think we would have dreaded it all week. It just ended up happening. That morning after a leisurely breakfast (peach oatmeal), we just decided to start in, thinking it would only take a couple hours. The kids played in the yard while we worked, and the breeze and cooler temp (for august in SC–high 70's is shocking!) kept us moving. That couple hours stretched into most of the day, but we just kept plugging away, I taking the kids inside for lunch and naptime, and my husband wanting to see it through. We took piles of stuff to the dump which had been laying around since we bought the house, as well as donated a couple things at goodwill. I've never been so glad my husband drives a pickup as when we loaded it up with all those extra broken window screens and wood and such before we left for the dump. Now the garage is one of the most organized parts of the house! It feels so much better coming in and out of it, unloading kids and groceries and such, to have plenty of clear space around the minivan and no piles of leaves and such in the corners for snakes to {theoretically} hide in. Also, when I need to borrow a power tool or something from my husbands toolbox, I can find it!

I've made progress in several other areas though can't quite cross them off the list yet: I'm almost done with one curtain panel's crocheted border, and nearly done with painting the craft studio cabinets. I have about 80% of the kid's art nicely archived. I found some great storage boxes for the most special pieces, and rather than going through the pain of uploaded photos of all the other stuff into the artkive app, as organized as it sounds, I realized the better solution was to use painter's tape to hang all those other pieces all over the large stairwell halls that lead down into the basement, which are a dull, sad brownish color. Nothing like kid's art wallpapering them to pep them up! To the left is a photo of the spot I clip up the art when they bring it home, in the hallway leading out of the garage. I took the photo before I pulled all last year's art down, so now it's all empty and ready to display all this years creations. See the blind over the window at the end of the hall? That's the one I plan to beautify as I mentioned under “miscellaneous” below.

Anyway, as I look over all the rest of the list, I feel as though the worst is well over–the garage is tidy! Frog swallowed.

 


The Craft Studio:

  1. Have stock base cabinetry installed in our craft studio, and a long counter placed.
  2. Put the shelves I was previously using in craft studio against the wall on the counter, bolt them to wall for kids safety, and then add some trim around the tops to make them look built in. Oh, and also: caulk around things like crazy to finish the built in look.
  3. Add floating shelf above the sink for paintbrushes to live and dry after washing.
  4. Improve on ribbon storage and thread display storage on wall.
  5. Paint cabinets White Dove.
  6. Add labeled bin pulls to all new drawers and cabs.
  7. Organize all arts and craft supplies into cabs and shelves.
  8. Install kids locks on cabinets.
  9. Add “Create” logo on the wall.
  10. Consider how best to use corner spaces and walls for kid use.

The Mudroom:

  1. Change out ugly knobs on cabs for happy yellow ones.
  2. Improve the Mudroom sink: either paint the base or make a skirt for it. (decided not to change it!)
  3. Set up mudroom diaper changing station.
  4. Hang fun wall art, in yellows and greys. This includes kid's handprint art.

Kid's Bathroom:

  1. Paint walls (going with SW “exciting orange”)
  2. Change out lighting over sinks
  3. Install mirrors
  4. Create/obtain wall art
  5. Change out cabinet knobs.

Upstairs Halls:

  1. Paint walls (considering yellow and white horizontal strips if I'm brave!)
  2. Hang turquise frames along walls–consider Alphabet Art of some kind in them?
  3. Hang some inspiring word art in the Laundry Room (Make some myself)

Playroom (soon to be turned into my 2-year-old Son's Room, then in a couple years the Schoolroom):

  1. Paint walls (SW Rainwashed)
  2. Improve AC/heating plan.
  3. Put locks on attic doors (don't want a toddler sneaking into the attic!)
  4. Hang blackout Roman Blinds.
  5. Decide on and hang decorative window panels
  6. Weed out old/broken/annoying toys to donate/discard, and move my Daughter's toys to her room, infant toys to nursery.
  7. Organize toys and books remaining in Son's Room. This might entail new storage, but hopefully not.
  8. Set up the Big Boy Bed.
  9. Put up some Wall Art
  10. Install display bookshelves along one wall for Big Boy's books.
  11. Recover two floor pillows to match the curtain panels.

The Great Room:

  1. Change out sconces on either side of front door.
  2. Change out sconce on on stairwell.
  3. Hang drapes.
  4. New shades for lamps.
  5. Touch up wall paint.

The Keeping Room:

  1. Hang rods.
  2. Make drapes (using target panels and I plan to crochet a fun coral frindge/pom-pom ish border)
  3. Hang egg prints in the Keeping Room.
  4. Create and hang a Nest painting in Keeping Room. (my husband is getting me one for Christmas!!)
  5. Make a sign for over the door to kitchen: “there will be a bright tomorrow, all will be well.”

Nursery:

  1. Set up extra twin bed in nursery (bought two matching ones since the boys will share later!)
  2. Make two matching boy's quilts. Nautical theme. I'm thinking nautical flags?
  3. Research and obtain baby monitor with two cameras that I can view on my phone.
  4. Hang wall art, including oars, life preservers, Large letters for Baby's name. (also need to get new letters for my other kids names on their walls!)

Master Bedroom:

  1. Hang items on walls
  2. Organize items on dresser/declutter
  3. Hang Roman Blinds in Master Bath

Miscellaneous House Organization/Projects:

  1. Reorganize linens and sheets in the Laundry Room
  2. Junk Drawer in the kitchen!!
  3. Organize junky corner cabinet in Kitchen.
  4. Reorganize and secure all medications in house.
  5. Move storage ottoman to basement room.
  6. Measure basement room that Darlene is helping me figure out how to decorate: prepare her a file to send.
  7. Major Freezer Cooking: stock up on a pile of healthy dinners and such for the family when I'm postpartum!!
  8. Hang existing art in Guest Room.
  9. Hang photos in Garage/mudroom hall.
  10. Take down last year's old kid's art, Artkive it (its an app) and file the favorites for safekeeping.
  11. Hang the last items in the Library–decide which diplomas to frame hang.
  12. Finish alterations and sewing pile
  13. Fix old desk chair that's in the garage.
  14. Organize and clean out garage. {Not even sure where to start here!}
  15. Repair a few toys and the dollhouse.
  16. Cover/beautify windowblind over the door to garage.
  17. Make a sign with psalm 121 on it to hang somewhere. I love that psalm.
  18. Do all the Christmas Shopping ahead of time that I can!!
  19. Kid Safety Netting installed along deck rails (This got done thanks to my husband!)
  20. Install a chilproof gate/fence around the workout area in basement to keep kids from getting to weights and stuff.
  21. Touch up paint in downstairs bathroom.
  22. Plan a birthday party for my soon-to-be 5-year-old
  23. Get halloween costumes figured out
  24. Decorate house for fall and buy lighted garlands for Christmas if they go on sale at Hobby Lobby

 

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