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Friday, October 28, 2011

Good Finds at Goodwill

     Thrift stores are an awesome source for pretty much everything, but they can be overwhelming. So, what do you look for and how can you score a great find in the midst of another's castoffs?

     The key is low expectations, and stopping often. Seriously. Don't go the thrift store with a particular item in mind when you need it, because you most likely won't find it! And, plan ahead for best selection. Usually at the beginning of a season I look for items for the next season. No body is looking for sweatshirts in June, but I have found some great name brand items that my kids will wear this fall/winter.
Most of their tops came from Goodwill

   Keep a running list of things to look for each time you go into a thrift store so that you walk out with something that will be useful to you and work with what you already have.  I have my own list for each time I go into a thrift store. Here's what I look for:

          1)     Picture frames: don't look at color, just look at condition and the design of the frame. Picture     frames can be easily spray painted making a bunch of mismatched frames look like an expensive collection. A large frame can be used as a chalkboard if you paint the glass. (see my last post)
          2)     Baskets: Here, shape and condition are key. I love square baskets in any size, they fit well on shelves and are the best use of space. I use small ones in my fridge for nail polish or sticks of butter. They are also useful in the pantry for miscellaneous small items or packages of popcorn. Of course bigger baskets are great for toys, blankets or shoes. Baskets can even be spray-painted and are especially cute for kids items.

          3)     Dishes or ceramic shapes: Think about what works best with what you already have. I have collected a lot of dishes, canisters and teapots all in the same color of cream. Unifying them by color makes all of these mismatched pieces look like a part of a big collection.

          4)     Classic Children's Books: Books can be very expensive but creating a library of books for my kids to read is important to us. It amazes me that there are so many good books languishing in the corner of a thrift store. Now I won't call this a classic but I found what appears to be a brand new hardcover Star Wars book.  That doesn't knock my socks off but I know it will my son's and it only cost $1.00. (Shhhh! I'm saving it for Christmas) :)

          5)     Furniture:  Always look for sturdy, well made pieces or even a piece that needs a minor repair that you can score at  a discount. Try to look at what the piece could be with some updates (paint, new knobs, modern fabric etc.) Make sure though that you only buy what you know you can refurbish. There's nothing worse than a bunch of junk piling up in your garage waiting for transformation. Tackle one piece at a time! (This also keeps the peace with the hubby).
This is what it originally looked like and the after

this coffee table is my all time fave and I found it in a trash heap

Both of my bedside tables were from thrift stores

          6)     Clothing: Now this one can be overwhelming. For myself, I like to focus on completer pieces like a jacket, sweatshirt or scarf. I also check out the pants. Brand name pants usually are made well and will last a while, but always check the zipper! I typically avoid the tops. These often aren't true to size as they've been stretched out by the former owner, shrunk in the wash and show wear more readily. That's not to say that there aren't any diamonds to be unearthed! I do love the thrift store more for their kids clothing. I have four kids and it is so expensive to keep everyone clothed. For kids I always look at a size bigger than what they really need because of my above statement (this is even more true for kids shirts). My focus with kids clothes are the filler pieces like sweatshirts, pajamas/loungewear, skirts, or tops rather than complete outfits. Again, I always shop ahead of the season to get the best selection. (Now is a good time to look at their short sleeve shirts.) Here are a few of my favorite jacket finds. Don't mind the poor photography, when a 7 year old is shooting your pic you take what you can get!

          Shopping at a thrift store is always an adventure! Purchase items that speak to you AND will be used. You can return items at most thrift stores if the tags are still in place so don't be afraid to do that if you get home and that giant rooster doesn't look quite as good as you thought it would, or its just not appreciated by the rest of the fam. Beware though, shopping at thrift stores can be addicting especially if you've found some amazing things.

           Don't say I didn't warn you! Happy shopping!

                                ~ Jody

Friday, October 21, 2011


My kids love coloring with chalk, inside or out, and I have to admit that I find it kind of fun too. One cold and snowy winter, I painted a series of 3 chalkboards on our basement wall. The kids have had a lot of fun with these.

Since then I have made a few more that I've used elsewhere around the house. Here is a simple tutorial on how to use chalkboard paint to make your own!

For all of these projects I used 'Rust-Oleum's' chalkboard spray paint.

In the basement I used painters tape to mark my shapes on the wall. When I was ready to spray I also used a large piece of cardboard along the taped edge and a large drop cloth on the floor. Holding your cardboard around the edges as you go in your left hand, use your right to wield the can! Hold it about 10-12 inches from the surface of the wall and spray light even strokes. I did about 3 coats per project letting it dry for about 10 minutes in between each.

For chalkboards that I could hang I went to my favorite store, Goodwill. I found this large super ugly piece. Its a framed apron. Not a cute one but a horrible one that left me wondering. (Seriously, why would someone frame such a thing)  I liked the size and the design of the frame, so it made the perfect subject.

After removing the back and taking the ugliness out (revealing an even uglier mauvey print) I cleaned the glass front and layed it on my drop cloth. Using the same technique spray the glass (or mirror if you choose) with 3 even coats. Paint the frames in any color.

This one is in my son's "workshop".

We use this one in the kitchen for verses, menus (if we're being fancy) and to make a gratitude list with the kids occasionally. This one was once a mirror.

There are many other things you can do with chalkboard paint:
~paint the top of a children's table for an art surface
~paint labels for storage bins that can be erased when the contents change
~paint the surface of a metal bucket for storage
I saw a picture on 'Pinterest' of the inside of a pantry door that was painted with chalkboard paint. Since we are in the middle of painting our kitchen cupboards I'm thinking that this is the perfect idea for the inside of  my pantry door, and inside my baking cupboard. I always keep measurement conversions, my chocolate chip cookie recipe, and a buttercream frosting recipe that I use for everything taped inside. Chalk would be a great way to include these things that would look a little nicer than my taped up hodge-podge.

So many good ideas, so little time! Happy chalking!

         ~  Jody

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Remembering H1N1

     Today I'm going to take a departure from my usual decorating posts to remember what happened to our family 2 years ago. God has been gracious and spared the life of our oldest son Camden. On that fateful day, I picked up the kids from school and noticed that Camden did not look good. I asked him if he was feeling ok and he said that he thought he was coming down with a cold. All the way home he was coughing. When we got home I checked his forehead and could tell he had a fever. Ironically I had my camera out that day and took a picture of him lying on the couch after school. (I don't normally take pictures of sick kids!)

     If you remember in the news that fall (2009) H1N1 was big news. I had been agonizing for a few weeks whether or not I should get my kids vaccinated. There was so much controversy about this vaccine that I prayed that God would make it clear whether or not we should have the kids vaccinated. At the time Camden came down with his symptoms the vaccine was not yet available. As soon as I knew he had the fever my first thought was H1N1, but that night he threw up and I remember feeling relieved because we thought that it must be the flu. We let Cam sleep on our floor and he slept fairly well that night. The next morning Jeff left early for a meeting at church. When Cam woke up he looked awful. He said he couldn't walk or get up and wanted me to carry him to the bathroom so he could go. I called the pediatrician's office and they had us come right in. I had to carry him into the office. The nurse tech came in and asked about his symptoms, took his vitals and then rushed out of the room yelling, "I have a kid in here with an SaO2 below 90". The doctor came right in and after listening to him and having another doctor come in and listen to him too they sent us directly to the hospital.

     The first few days were a blur. He was in isolation as a swab confirmed that it was H1N1. The initial struggle was to keep his temp down and his O2 levels up. They had respiratory therapy come in every 4 hours around the clock. These efforts kept things fairly stable until the evening of day 3. His temp spiked and he was more uncomfortable and coughing more. The next morning his O2 levels kept dropping no matter how high they put his oxygen. He was using all of his external muscles to breath and was very lethargic.

     They did another x-ray and doctors came in and said that he had developed a lung consolidation in one lung, which is a jello like mass, and mucous plugging in the other lung. At that point they increased his breathing treatments to every 2 hours but said that if things didn't improve he would be moved to ICU where they would put him on a ventilator. Jeff had been working during the days yet, taking the kids to school/daycare but coming in the evening so I could go home for a few hours and shower and change and see the other 3 kids. This morning though I called him and work and told him to come in right away. After talking with the doctors, Jeff and I went into the bathroom and had a conversation I will never forget. Jeff asked us both, "how tightly are we holding onto this kid, he belongs to God". We cried and prayed together, submitting ourselves to the will of God. I am so grateful to say that God heard and honored our prayer. Over the course of the next few hours with the aggressive therapy and by the hand of God he gradually improved. He stayed on the hospital for few days more and was released a little paler and skinnier, but alive and on the road to recovery.
the day we got to go home! the nurses made him a fort in his bed

     Camden was the first confirmed case at his school. My other kids were put on Tamiflu. The CDC reported that  of those who come in contact with the virus (all it takes is being within 10 feet of a carrier) 60% will not develop symptoms. Of the 40% who do, 99% can manage their symptoms at home, but 1% will get hit hard.When his pediatrician saw him a week after he got out of the hospital he remarked that when he saw Cam's hospital reports he could not believe that Cam had survived!

Our family in Maine this summer (We're on the far right)

     God faithfully watched over us and met our needs in so many ways. Family and friends watched our kids, provided meals, ran errands and even came and cleaned our house for us. The body of Christ is an amazing thing to behold when it is in action. God even provided the funds to pay our portion of the hospital bill in an unexpected way. Praise God! I know that this could have turned out entirely differently. Having glimpsed God's hand during this time I know He would have sustained us, but I am so grateful every day when I see my blond headed boy who is so compassionate, creative, and loving. We love you Camden  and praise God for your life!

                 ~ Jody

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Creating a homey home

     Don't you just love a house that makes you feel at home the moment you step in?    A homey home is one that is warm and inviting. Its a home that greets you with comfort and makes you smile when you return from a hard day. Our homes are the shell of our lives. They protect us, keep us warm and never judge.


How do we create spaces that are warm and inviting? First of all we must look at the attitudes we project to our family and friends. Beyond that there are many things that we can do to enhance that warm and cozy feeling in our homes. Here are my tips for creating a 'homey home':

     1)   Add layers   This time of year its especially easy to do this. Add a throw to your couch or armchair, fold a quilt and put it at the end of a bed. Think beyond just putting a pillow in each corner of the couch, add a bunch! Think about your floors too, rugs help to warm things up both visually and underfoot. Add a runner to a table.
Pottery Barn

     2)   Add texture   Adding texture to your spaces adds to the visual interest and warmth. Think about things that feel warm like the nubby texture of a blanket, soft corderoy, or chenille. Use fabrics that you want to run your hand across for your throw pillows on beds, chairs and couches. When you choose curtains, even if you're going with a solid color, look for fabrics with depth or that have that 'touch' factor like silks, linens or even drop cloths. A tone on tone pattern works well too. Add a textural place mat to an end table or bedside table. Even a stack of books provides texture.
Pottery Barn

     3)   Add natural elements   BASKETS! These really bring in that natural element. At our house we use them for shoes, to put a throw blanket in in the living room, to corral sticks of butter in the fridge, to store rolls of toilet paper, to throw our keys in when we come home, and so many other places! Floral arrangements, wicker balls, sticks, shells, or plants, these help to provide life to a room.
Pottery Barn

     4)   Use of color   Color is a big way to add warmth to any space. Maybe your design style is very minimal and the thought of bringing in some of the above items doesn't work for you, but you still want warmth. Use color! Most any color has warm shades and cool shades, but when we think of warmth we think of creams, and spicy colors likes reds, oranges and browns. Use these colors all over or sparingly. I'm more of a green and blue person but I've added in browns and creams to add that warmth.
Pottery Barn

If you've done all of this and it still feels cold, turn up your thermostat! (This is for my friends Jeff and Katy ;) )

I hope that you are inspired by some of these ideas. If you have other thoughts on creating cozy spaces I would love for you to leave a comment!

I'm linking up with:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A quick pumpkin project

For some reason this fall I have been a little nuts about pumpkins. I showed you in this post here  how to monogram your pumpkins. This is the same project essentially, the only difference is that these pumpkins were white-washed first. I used real pumpkins that were only 50 cents at Meijer.

To paint these guys, I used cheap craft paint in a "snow white" color. I experimented a little with the finish by adding a little bit of water to achieve that white-washed look.

I left the stems in their natural state but a sparkly champagne color stem would be pretty too. Next, print out numbers or letters in the size that best fits your pumpkin size. Cut out your number and gently pin it to the surface of your pumpkin. Using a pen trace your letter or number, then fill in with a small brush and craft paint.

I like the subtly of the #1 and #2 message in the bathroom. My kids haven't figured it out yet! ;) Oh, well! My humor is usually lost on them anyways!


I'm linking up at
     Check out the fun!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Adding Contrast

It is a super hot fall day here today! The windows are open and the breezes are blowing. It was a breeze that drew my attention to my dining area curtains. We are in the process of painting our kitchen cabinets and now that they are much lighter they are blending in with the walls and curtains. We need contrast people!

Here are these same curtains in my living room with trim that was sewn on them some years ago. I wanted to do the same things on the dining room panels but the sewing about killed me!

Here's a close up of the travesty!

I have never used fusing tape before but wanted to give it a try. Here is the blow by blow of the process if you are interested in embellishing your own curtains. I used this "Heat n Bond" hem or fusing tape and gross-grain ribbon that was 7/8th inch wide.

      First iron your curtain panel so that its as smooth as possible. Measure down from the top all the way across where you want your stripe to go so that its level. Pin your ribbon in place with a piece of your fusing underneath your ribbon.

     Once you have all of your pieces in place use your iron on a medium setting and iron over the ribbon pausing for about 3 seconds. Be careful, if you hold your iron still for too long, the results are messy. I'm not saying that that may or may not have happened to me. I just know that there are not any pictures proving anything! Fold your ribbon over the edge and iron that down too. Here's the final product, and just the amount of contrast I was looking for.

       Since I'm not a seamstress, I like this version of the final product much better. I'm not sure how these will wash up though the package suggests it will wash up fine if you have pre-shrunk your fabric first.
      Happy fusing!

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