Friday, February 25, 2011

Winter, Winter, Go Away!

I am definitely over winter.
I am usually over winter about two days into it. I just don't find the cold and wind and snow inviting.
I tend to hole up and do little to nothing by this point in the winter.
I am not a cold weather/ short day kind of girl.
Earlier this week the weather was so gorgeous we were taking long walks outside wearing short sleeves and opening windows and I was just waiting to see the soft greens and tiny pastel flowers of early spring show up to replace the dull dead grays, yellows and browns of their overwintering fore bearers.
Walking around Mallard Lake at Creve Coeur Park

But it was just a tease. (Not funny Mother Nature!)
We are back to cold and wet and icky.

Knowing Spring is so close has made the end of winter even harder to bear!

So I am really trying to shake off these winter blues.

I've been looking for some motivation in the housework department.
I made a schedule but it is a work-in-progress still and probably will be for awhile, but at least I am working on it!
I found The Company Girls and I am linking up to them for the first time! So far I love doing the daily Small Things challenge we receive each day. I feel like I am doing great when I know I can check one task off my list that day!
Yesterday we did "makeovers" on whatever we wanted. I made over my messy Master Bath counter and linen closet (one led to the other) and the clothes drawers of my 3 little ones.
I need to remember to take pictures next time!
I was so happy to have a free time to get it done I raced to get to work and forgot all about the camera!

My husband did do something special to brighten my outlook. He ordered this last week and it arrived today! I don't know if I will be taking it off any time soon, I love it so much!

I guess it is a happy start to the weekend!
What are you doing this weekend?
I am planning on finally starting my Urban Lattice Quilt.
Hope you have a great weekend!

Check out the other great blogs linked up with the Company Girls Coffee!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I won! I won! I won!
I am positively giddy!
I entered the giveaway on the STLMQG (Saint Louis Modern Quilt Guild) site and I was one of the winners of a $50 gift certificate to the Fat Quarter Shop!!!!

Now I am faced with the daunting task of choosing something!
I have become the Queen Royal Highness of Indecision.
I am way better at spending my own money, than spending a gift certificate.
I just feel some weird pressure to make sure my purchase is perfect when it's "free" money. Shouldn't it be the opposite?
Here are some things I am thinking about

The Soul Blossoms came to mind immediately because my daughter chose the line for the quilt I am making her for graduation. Here's the pattern I am thinking of for it.
Cirlicue Crush by Chasing Cotton  
 Or should I get something just for me...
Here are some other contenders-
Fat Quarter Bundles-
Parisville - need I say more?

I have loved this fabric forever

I really like the colors in this one and that font print - *LOVE*

ok, I will be getting this for my yellow and kitten obsessed MoMo. But, will I use the gift certificate for it?!

One of my favorite baby sets ever, and with two babies of unknown gender expected in the family soon, this could come in handy!

Yardage I love
Innocent Crush - Oh how lovely you are...

 Central Park - How I'd love to bring you home for a visit!

And they have loads of other things that I could go on and on with
Sweet little dots?
Maybe a kit!?
(check out this fun Sudoko quilt kit!)
So you see my dilemma?!
My budget cannot handle me buying everything (though I wish it did!)
What would you buy?
Save me from the torture of indecision!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Making Cleaning Baskets Leads To A New Dollar Store Obsession

I recently received a flyer in the mail for a new store, Lucky 9 Store, where everything is priced from $.69 up to $1.89. I love a dollar (or under $2) store! The flyer disappeared, but I was determined to find the place. I wanted to go without the kids and I finally had my opportunity yesterday. When Jeff woke up, I took off.

It was a bit further than I expected, but so worth the drive. The place was HUGE! They had the regular dollar store stuff, but also a section of Japanese import stuff! I spent a ridiculous amount of time there. Jeff actually called to see if I was alright. He gets antsy when I leave him alone with the kiddos!

I may have developed a new obsession with bentos and Japanese cleaning/household items in general.
Here was just a little of what I found. I seriously need to go back and buy more!
(I was not sure how they would feel about my picture taking so there aren't too many. I took the pics with my phone, so please excuse the poor quality!
Little paper food cups for bentos!

Darling fillable/reusable condiment holders!

Rice molds! Teddy bear face and smiley faces!

Lovely dishes

Bento boxes in all shapes, colors and sizes!

Aren't those the cutest kitchen sponges you have ever seen!?
Here is some of what I brought home
darling stacked bento box

The cutest stationary I have ever seen in my life! (and there were others!!)

My personal haul - including darling sewing stuff &origami paper
All of the stuff from my personal haul was from the $1.89 section. Most of the Japanese import stuff was in that area.I felt like I was splurging LOL!

I had actually gone there to make cleaning sets for my little kiddos. I made them with simple, basic stuff, rather than the more expensive Japanese cute stuff.(expensive being $1.89!, but it did add up!) I may trade out for the cute stuff if these work out and as they need to replace things.
Amelie's set is mostly pink and Lilia's is mostly yellow/orange. They each have a plastic handled basket to hold everything, a feather duster, a microfiber mitt, a small broom/dustpan, a cloth, a spray bottle and rubber gloves (Japanese size small gloves are way smaller than American size small!).

I filled their spray bottles with a very mild solution of water/dish soap/vinegar. They are super excited and got right to work doing chores. (though they are a bit spray-happy we have to work on some restraint there!)

One of my goals is to teach my kiddos the value of doing chores and how to do housework properly. I have a list of jobs for each of the girls - some things they are able to do on their own. I do not correct anything they do on their own and I do not go back and redo it. I want them to own their work and be proud of it.  Some things they are learning and will do with me until they master them.  These chores may involve some small corrections/do-overs until they learn to do it on their own. They have to do chores each morning and evening. Right now they just love it and beg to do them. I hope they keep up the enthusiasm!

I realized while I was there that Thomas would not be happy without his own set, so I put a few things together for him also. His bottle will just hold water, and not much of it! Right now he just follows along and tries to copy the girls or me. He's too cute!

I grew up in a house with no real structure, and certainly no chores/cleaning, so I am learning along with my kiddos. I really don't want to repeat what my parents did. (though I love my parents dearly, housekeeping and organization are basic life skills we were not taught)
Do you have any tips/tricks/advice for teaching kids to do chores?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Reality Check

So I have been ever so neglectful of the little bloggy world lately.

I am addicted to hopping about the blogsphere.

I subscribe to an obscene number of blogs

I am awed by the bloggers out there.
They seem so amazing. and perfect and creative and artistic and humorous. The problem is they are not real.

I have realized that many of the blogs I read have a few things in common -

She keep a perfect house - perfectly decorated, perfectly clean, perfectly organized. She has even decorated her organizers. Her house is drenched in beautiful daylight. Her childrens' toys and clothing also coordinate with her decor.

She just got back from another amazing blogger conference. It's hard for a mom to get away. She only does 3-4 a year, not counting the ones where she's a speaker.

She furnishes her perfect home with revamped garbage found by the side of the road or on craigslist for $7. Otherwise she builds it from scratch  - in an afternoon.

She sews darling clothing and creates gorgeous accessories and provide tutorials with dowloadable patterns for everything

She cooks wonderful meals from scratch and throws elaborate parties every weekend. She provides free printables she used for her party every Friday.

She creates perfect crafty projects to accent it all. 

Her latest Pottery Barn knock off is actually better than the original. She made it with an old shirt, a bit of paint, some wood she found in her backyard  and dryer lint. There are 412 pictures on flickr of the ones other people made using her instructions. None of them even come close to looking as good as hers. 

Oh, did you see the pictures of her three adorable children? They are perfect and amazing too. Yes, they are all under 6  - and she's expecting another baby baby any day. Yes, they love going thrifting and to the fabric store with her. All she needs is a few raisins and a skittle to keep them happy for hours. 

Her children have no interest in all the plastic toys and popular characters from tv and movies. They play with vintage, european, and handcrafted toys exclusively. That way if their toys are left out the house just appears to be charmingly accented and "lived in". They are thrilled with the lovely antique-french-inspired-shabby-chic-beach-cottage decor in their rooms. Especially the boys.

Yes, her husband does look like a Calvin Klein underwear model. But he's not. He's something better. He loves everything she does. When he's not at work he is watching the kids for her.
Oh, and I forgot - she does all of this while documenting everything in beautifully composed naturally lighted and artistically Photoshopped pictures that she presents daily with inspiring and engaging writing.

Oh yes, and she has a shop where she sells some of her handmade goodies.

Oh, and don't forget, there's that new book deal she just signed. 

Did you read her book that came out last month?

It's being turned into a movie. 

Kate Hudson is playing her. 

Kate's not quite as beautiful as she is (see gorgeous pic on her blog) But the producers wanted it to be more "real".

What does all this lead to?

It is inspiring.

But more than that, for me, it is discouraging.

I really have been thinking of it quite a lot. I feel I can never catch up and everything seems to be speeding by me and the day has not enough hours and I need my sleep and my kids and hubby need my attention and before I know it the day is over and almost nothing has been done.
I admit I am a perfectionist.
I can't help but think if all these bloggers are able to do it, why do I struggle so much to just maintain the bare minimum?

Why can't I get my home to look coordinated and beautiful? Why can't I find time to craft and sew? Why don't my meals look like the cover of gourmet magazine -ever? Why don't my kids look picture perfect and happy all the time? Why don't I look great and coordinated every day instead of resorting to t-shirt and jeans no makeup and maybe brushed hair? Why do I feel overwhelmed by 3 little ones? Why does my kitchen look like a disaster and the front hall resembles a scene from Hoarders? Why does my Craigslist only offer overpriced crap? (and it's not a lack of vision for what it could be, it is crap. Crap offered for ridiculous amounts of money.) Why when I stop to pick stuff up at the side of the road does it always seem to be infested with bugs, wet and mildewed, or stained with substances that could very likely be a bio hazard? Why can't I figure out my camera? Why do I forget it and resort to the camera on my phone? And why does it take me half a day to edit 3 photos? (Yes I know with practice I will get better, but when do I have time to practice?!)

I have been inspired by some of the reality checks bloggers out there are posting.
See this great post on Addicted to Decorating for an inspiring example.
Miss Mustard Seed strips it bare on her blog also.
There are a bunch of others also and I am SOOOOOO grateful to them for keeping it real.
It made me feel so much better to read that they don't have it perfectly together.

Some things I realize are up to me to fix and I am working on it.

I have decided to stop all the blog hopping.
I am going to stick with the blogs that make me laugh, inspire me to be a better me, and really motivate me to do some of the things I really want to do. If I stop following your blog, please don't be offended. I may love what you do immensely, but it just might not fit with what I want to work on right now. On the other hand, if you are not keeping it real, I may drop you due to that.

I will be spending bunches of time trying to get my house cleaned and organized and a schedule set so I can blog and craft or decorate or sew or whatever without guilt or complete lack of sleep (which leads to extreme crabbiness, not good for a mom of 3 little ones!)

First, I am going on on a cleaning frenzy. My house needs it badly. It is embarrassing.
REALLY REALLY embarrassing.
And it  is making me crazy.

Here is my own reality check.

(These photos were not altered in any way and they were taken using a flash because lovely daylight does not stream into my townhouse!)

My teeny-tiny kitchen. It is devoid of personality and so small it is difficult to keep it neat and organized. 

 My dining room. I love the color, (I have a thing for turquoise) but I think I might change to something softer. My plan has been to paint the furniture in here. It hasn't happened yet.

The pass through is always a mess. I can't decide what to do here.
 The Front Hall. Now isn't that the first impression you always dreamed of making? Me neither.
The bathroom. Not so bad. But so boring you might just not even see it. At least the mop is there to prove I do clean occasionally.
 More front hall disaster.
 My disaster of a living room

I'm going to press "Publish Post" before I chicken out.
Then I am going to try to straighten things up a bit before my husband wakes up, looks at the house and wonders what I have been doing all morning.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Creative Play

One of the things I have been feeling guilty about is the amount of time I spend on the computer. I have made a concerted effort to limit that time and spend more quality time with my kiddos. I have though, found a way that my computer time can benefit all of us. We are having a blast discovering new ways to learn and have fun at the same time. I will feature some of these projects here with reviews from my kids and notes on our experience.

There are tons of fantastic sites that feature great projects to do with kids. One of my very favorites is Mini-eco.  Her projects are simple and accessible and they appeal to all of my kiddos (almost 6, just turned 4 and almost 2) Today we experimented with her latest  project, Magic Potion 2.
I chose this project because I remember how much fun I had making volcano science experiments way, way back in ancient times when I was a kiddo. That, and it uses the most basic ingredients. All things I had in my kitchen. I gathered everything into a box and we headed outside.

It was a gorgeous day out so taking the mess outside was a definite plus. The experiment is a bit messy, though it is the easy-clean harmless kind of messy, and a little smelly, thanks to the vinegar.
The kids absolutely adored making their cups foam over and "EXPLODE!" everywhere. I did have to keep a close eye on Thomas, who kept wanting to taste the foam. They even added their own fun and swirled together the different colors of foam to make lovely marbleized foam creeping down the sidewalk like a pastel lava flow. Best of all, the mess just disappeared from the sidewalk a short time after we finished!
Amelie enjoyed it so much she insisted on repeating the experiment for Show and Tell at school.
This experiment gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from everyone!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bring on Spring

I've been very absent from the bloggy world lately.
I've had a bit of the winter blues with all this snow and ice and cold.
I really think there is some seasonal depression getting the best of me.
I haven't much felt like doing anything.
My outlook was unexpectedly brightened last week.
I was expecting an e-mail that I had not received, so I actually checked my spam folder (something I rarely do!) and I spotted the subject line "You Won!" and realized that it was from Amy, of Amy's Creative Side blog. (as opposed to the rest of my spam folder which is appropriately full of similarly titled e-mails from scammers trying to convince me I won a bazillion dollars in (insert name of country here) National Lottery if I would only send $299 to cover taxes.)

I Won.
I Won!
I WON!!! 
Now I'll be honest winning anything is fun. But winning something this delicious was amazing.
"What had I won?" you ask


I won a GORGEOUS set of 21 Fat Quarters of Sweet Divinity from Amanda of The Quilted Fish (the actual designer of all this darling girly lovliness!!!) in a giveaway Amy held on her blog. 

I was so excited when it arrived! 

I squealed in delight as my husband brought the box in from our doorstep and I immediately ripped it open. I wanted to rip right into the fabrics and spread them all out...

but I remembered I was attempting to be a blogger so in good blogger fashion, I grabbed my camera and took a quick pic. (I opened the card first, but slipped it back in, it was too cute also!)

I'll admit I didn't work to hard on the pic, I really wanted at that fabric
All spread out to admire
A bit closer- isn't it adorable!!!
The fabric really has to be seen to be appreciated. It is SOOO wonderful! 
My daughter's Ooh-ed and Aah-ed over it with me. It even had touches of yellow that I hadn't noticed when viewing it online. (That really pleased my yellow-obsessed Lili!) 
We arranged and rearranged the fabrics. 
We tried to choose favorites. 
That proved too difficult since it was all so cute.

(I was really happy the girls loved it so much since it will likely end up in their room!)

My hubby thought the whole thing was pretty funny. He doesn't get fabric love.

I felt like the dad on A Christmas Story,
"It's a MAJOR giveaway win hon!" I insisted

(he might have appreciated the leg lamp a bit more than my fabric)

He was impressed when I told him how much this haul would have cost me at the store.

I can't wait to cut into it! (but first I shall admire it a bit more)

Thanks Amy and Amanda
you swept away my winter blues with some cheery fabric sunshine.

Bring on Spring!