gratitude chalkboard

If you’ve followed along this blog at all, then you’ve probably heard me whine about my kitchen. It’s a horrible 1980’s melamine white kitchen with a lovely oak trim (aka dirt catcher). I’ve had no issue at all drilling holes in these cabinets, removing doors (most of them have fallen off on their own) and recently I decided to add a little paint to them.

Gratitude board in the kitchen
One of the corkboards.

 

On either side of these tall cabinets the previous owners had hung up these long cork boards. They’ve been our go-to place for displaying art and other papers and I recently had the idea of taking down one of the corkboards and making a giant chalkboard.

Gratitude board in the kitchen
our new gratitude chalkboard

 

One thing I talk about all the time is finding ways to “be thankful”, “be grateful” etc and yet we never really act on that. So this year I decided I was going to take action.

Gratitude board in the kitchen

I took down the corkboard, primed the cabinet and then painted the whole cabinet with 3 coats of chalkboard paint. I bought some chalk markers from the craft store and did a little pinterest “shopping” for ideas of sayings and verses.

I didn’t tell my kids what the board was for until they finally saw me drawing on it today and it was funny how excited they were to add their own first things to be thankful for.

Gratitude board in the kitchen

Here’s hoping that enthusiasm stays around all year and on and on.

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gifting time

It’s about this time of year that my list making goes into hyperdrive. Between the holiday markets I am doing for daisyeyes handmade, there is Christmas and before that my daughter’s birthday. My one and only goal this year with all the gift giving is to be insanely intentional and simple.

That said, my first gift purchase was for my daughter’s birthday. She is a tough one to buy for because her attention span is like nil. But, she does love animals and knowing and pondering the toys that she always tends to gravitate to helped me solidify this years major birthday investment. We are doing a woodland themed party and in the spirit of that theme I found the most amazing seller on etsy so I just had to share!

My girl loves to play with little animals, especially those by schleich. We have a fair amount of them floating around our house, but she didn’t really have anything to play with them on. I started researching some play mats and came across the shop SooSun on etsy.  She created the most amazing play mat and felted animals that I’ve ever seen!

Here is the mat and set in it’s entirety. It measures about 16×23 and honestly is the perfect size.

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We specifically asked for a family of badgers, some hedgehogs, a duo of foxes and owls for the tree. She gifted us with some little ducks for the pond. 🙂

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Then came something even better! My daughter and I recently finished up reading The Wind in the Willows. I realized that it would be so fun to have Mr. Toad, River Rat and Mr. Mole to play with her set. I couldn’t find a set anywhere, so I decided to go back to this shop and ask if she could make up a set for us. And she did! Aren’t they the cutest!

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Here’s hoping for many years of fun to come and an amazing gift to pass on from generation to the next. And check her out!

And as a teaser…check back in the weeks to come as I plan for this little woodland event!

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summer 2013 wrap up

It may still be crazy hot outside and the calendar might still read July, but summer has come and gone for us. Our schools go “year round” essentially, which means we have a shorter summer break but longer breaks during the year. We love it and both my kiddos were excited to head back to school.

We didn’t do hardly anything on our science of summer list. These few weeks off went by like a hurricane and before I knew it I was standing in the library at school during open house! But we did do a few things that were pretty fun and broke up the monotony of the crazy rainy summer we had.

On one particularly dreary and boring day, the kids set up a nerf gun shooting range. Using some boxes, ping pong balls and golf tees they had fun trying to shoot all the balls down.

nerf gun range

I will admit this was a pretty messy activity that was kind of short lived. But they did enjoy it while it lasted.

nerf gun range

 

One day my son was busy doing something else so the chick and I decided to make a box puppet theater. The only box I had laying around that would work was this Priority Shipping box from the post office. It’s kind of flat so you don’t have a ton of room to move around in it, but honestly it worked out great and doesn’t take up of ton of space either!

box puppet theater

We cut a hole in the top part of the box for the flap to lift up to make the name for the theater. I had a dowel rod laying around that we used for the curtain to hang on. The curtain I just cut out of some scraps with pinking shears and just quickly stitched a seam across the top for it to slide on.

box puppet theater in use

The back has a hole in the bottom for you to stick your puppets up through. We just printed out some coloring pages of specific animals the chick wanted onto cardstock. She colored them and we collected some sticks from outside (Popsicle sticks would work better, but alas couldn’t find any) to make holders for them.

box puppet theater

We used construction paper to decorate the front and make a backdrop inside. All pretty simple, but fun!

 

The other thing I did this summer that was on my personal list was making bug spray.

DIY bug spray

I combined a couple of recipes I had seen floating around Pinterest and ordered some essential oils and put it all together. Here’s the recipe I put together:

50/50 mix of distilled water and witch hazel
30-40 drops of citronella oil
20ish drops of lemongrass oil
10ish drops of tea tree oil
few drops of glycerin

Overall it works pretty well. You can’t let it sit though and then use it again. I really think you have to mix it up fresh. I love how it smells and I love how cold it feels going on. The husband gave up on it though and went and bought the “real stuff” just because he is like a mosquito magnet.

I also made some citronella “candles” using mason jars, water, floating candles and some citronella and lemongrass oil. They worked pretty good too and man oh man they smell great!

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school’s out for the summer…almost

Now that I have the roaring head banging song in your head, I present to you our summer plans. I do a great job of making it look like I have it all together and this summer is no different. This is the last week of school and so I’m hurriedly trying to paste all my last minute ideas together so that next Tuesday (because Monday is a holiday) we are ready and going.

One thing we will do this week is have a “yes” day. I implemented this day as the first and last day of any vacation that we have. It’s a no holds bar kind of day where you can cram your head with as much technology and anything else (within reason) because after that we are on a schedule.

Last year we had this crazy magnet thing that I had come up with. While we kind of held it together in the beginning,  it pretty much all fell apart after a few weeks. It was a little bit too lax and the follow through wasn’t happening.

After spending Christmas vacation with one child who seriously needs some sort of schedule and me realizing that I am going to have to still work on the shop this summer, I knew we would have to have some sort of framework.

summer 2013

So this is what I came up with. A loose schedule filled with assigned days for things and different themed hours in our house. One thing I know that could easily overtake us is technology, so we are going to be very rigorous on this one. Both of my kids are getting to the age where if they are bored they want a screen. Not gonna happen this summer. We also have this Apologia science book that we’ve been talking about doing for at least 2 years and I swear we are going to do some of it this summer. So this is the lay of the land.

1. We have a family calendar hanging up that we will mark off the days as we go. This gives everyone a heads up for what is coming up that is planned for.
2. We have assigned days for things: Monday mornings we will have a chore time. They will be assigned one weekly chore that they will do on Monday mornings. Wednesdays is movie afternoon. Hopefully this helps with the “I want to watch a movie” whines. Friday mornings we will hit the library.
3. We will be unplugged between 8:30 and 1:00. No questions asked. I’m also trying to get rid of the t.v. as soon as you wake up habit. If they do wake up before 8:30, then PBS is totally fine, but if you wake up later than that….too bad.
4. We will have a loose structure to our day: breakfast, school time, work time for me with play time for them, lunch and then the tech hour. During this hour they are free to have whatever screen they desire: Ipod, Ipad, computer, Leapster, Wii…whatever. And then quiet hour. My hope is to have 30 minutes of reading time for all of us and then 30 minutes of quiet time in their rooms. This is more for my sanity than theirs! Then we will hit the pool 🙂
5. Obviously there are days where this won’t happen and to be honest we only have 4 weeks this summer that are totally open (we go to school year round so we have a pretty short summer). But these weeks we are “down” I hope will be pretty routine.

summer 2013

The second thing I did was our bucket list. I have a bunch of things I’ve pinned on my Summer2013 board and many of these ideas came from there. The idea for the mock chemistry board came from here.

summer 2013

I did ours a little differently and color coded the post it notes for free activities (pink), those that involve money (yellow), those that involve planning (blue) and a couple of open spots (green).

I have a tendency to be too structured and then never follow through, so I tried really hard to make this whole thing be a system of guidelines for us. Giving us all space for summer life to happen, but also a little roadmap for those of us that crave that sort of thing.

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thredUp beware

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A few years ago I saw a review of a company called ThredUp. The concept was simple. Fill up a box of gently used clothing and then list those items and other parents were able to review all the different boxes and chose one. I did this at least 3-4 times and never had a complaint about the clothing that I had sent in. And while I had a few duds in some of my boxes, for the most part it was all represented accurately.

Recently their company decided to do away with the swapping boxes idea and become somewhat of an online consignment store. The idea is you send in a bag of clothes to them, they go through them and then chose the ones that meet their criteria and give you credit for them. You can go to their website, use their iPad app and shop for clothes online. Simple right?

I thought I would give it a try. I have a local consignment store that I love, but it’s 30 minutes from my house. The idea that I could just fill up a bag, leave it on my step for the postal worker was rather appealing. I ordered my little green dotted bag, filled it up with clothes that I would have normally taken to my local shop and waited.
And waited. And waited.

Finally I heard back from the company that I had received a whopping 80 cents for the one shirt out of 20+ items that they decided met their criteria. I was told the rest of the items were stained or ripped. Totally untrue.

After doing a little nosing around on the internet, I found blog after blog where people had written great reviews about the items they had received from ThredUp (for free to review), but comment after comment about situations like mine. They even have a multitude of complaints to the Better Business Bureau for the same thing.

So, while ThredUp may be a great place to buy clothing…DO NOT send in your clothes there. Support your local consignment store, do a clothing swap with friends, heck give that bag of clothes to someone in your community that needs them. But stay clear of that little green polka dotted bag.

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