Monday, February 24, 2014

Have a Seat

Do you remember our little sofa?  The tiny little guy that we had at our first apartment?  
Well.  Six years, two kids, and one dog later, that little guy wasn't looking so hot. The dog had chewed the arm of the sofa back when we was a puppy, and the kids had spilled more things than I care to count on the poor thing.  Not to mention it was so cushion-less that our rear-ends would fall asleep if we actually tried to SIT there.  
Here it is in our current home, and really doesn't look as bad as it was. At one point Luke crawled out from underneath it with a three inch bolt that he had taken out.  We never did find where that actually went now that I think about it....

Well anyway...long story short, we finally decided enough was enough and bought new furniture.  
It took us both a few days to get used to seeing normal sized furniture in here, but the bosses?  
Well...they approve.   And judging by the amount of naps Matt managed to squeeze in on the new sofa this weekend - I'd say he approves as well! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Special Delivery

I've been thinking a lot lately about the split seconds that occur in our lives when we can impact others.  When we are their 'one chance' at something.  Maybe it's just a smile at the grocery store or kindness to a neighbor, but if you have one tiny moment to impact another person's day, are you taking it?

I think I fail at this more often than not, but today?  Today we seized our moments and battled the elements to deliver some Valentine's goodies.  Because of the crazy amount of snow we got yesterday we didn't make it to as many people as we would have liked, so some belated gifts will be heading out later this week, but still! We tried!
Yesterday during the snow storm we hunkered down inside and make our little gifts, which are just simple heart bird-feeders.
They are simple as can be, just plain gelatin, hot water, and birdseed.
But the smiles on faces when these two showed up with flowers and a gift?  They were priceless.   I hope the boys always remember how much they can brighten someone's day by just investing a little bit of time and effort in them.

Happy Valentine's Day dear readers! Take advantage of all of the chances you have to be someone's 'happy' today!

PS: Family members - if we didn't get to you today, pretend to be surprised if you are suddenly given a crumbly heart shaped bird feeder!

PPS: 2 packets plain gelatin, 1/2c hot water til dissolved, 1.5c birdseed pressed into molds.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Blogger Challenge: Patterns

A few weeks ago I got a really fun email from Chelsea over at Pinterior Designer, asking if I would be interested in participating in a blogger challenge.   Of course I said yes, and our first challenge is...patterns! Oh man.  You guys...patterns aren't really my thing.  I love the way other people use them, but when I try I usually end up with a hot mess.

I stewed on it for a few days, trying to think where I could best use a fun pattern in our house, which as a whole tends to be pretty neutral.  Right around that time, the boys put a hole in the green curtain in their room.

(This picture is old, when my previous laptop crashed I lost a lot of pictures...which included updated boys room pics with Luke's big boy bed and when we moved the dresser away from the window.  All I could find is this candid shot of Jack cavorting on his bed! Sorry about that!)
Well then...problem solved.  Clearly the boys needed something new in there, and where better to experiment with pattern than in a fun kids room?   I have always loved the look of bold striped curtains, but I've always been too cautious to give it a try.

I had previously made them some little faux roman shades from drop cloths, so I wanted to continue that look, but I wanted these curtains to stand out, so I went with full length curtains.  I bought one drop cloth for about $10, cut it to fit and hemmed the sides.

Little tip: ALWAYS double fold your hem when you are working with drop cloth, this stuff sheds like you would not believe! String everywhere.  I laid my drop cloths next to each other and measured my lines across both curtains at a time, that way even if my lines were a fraction of an inch off their measurements, the lines would be continuous no matter what.

(I swear I took a picture of this for you, and it is nowhere to be found. If it shows up I will add it!)

Just like painting any stripes, put your tape on the OUTSIDE of the lines that you want to paint.  This will make your lines look unevenly spaced, but once the tape is removed the lines will be even again! If you need some pictures to guide you in stripe painting - here is a good one.

After that is was a simple matter of painting.  I used a stiff bristled paintbrush and dabbed the paint on, I found that that gave me much better coverage than trying to paint it on like you would on a wall.  It sort of pushed the paint into the fabric.

And so...
Over all, I am loving it! It definitely lends the room a 'big kid' vibe, which is an adjustment - but in a good way. The navy blue and the drop cloth also add to the nautical feel we have going in there, without being over the top.
There is definitely some variation in the painted stripes, especially when the sun comes through, which you can see in the above left picture, but I actually like that. I feel like a little bit of the imperfect can add a lot to a room.

Just for kicks - because you know I love a good before and after, lets see how far we've come with this room...

Yeeaaaaah! I am loving the changes! I think with my personality our house will always be changing, so I can't say any room is ever 'done' but for now, this one is looking much better to me!

I am so glad I decided to be a part of this challenge, because without the push to try pattern on a larger scale I really doubt I would have given this a try. Thanks Chelsea!

You guys should definitely hop over and check out all of the other participants in the Pattern Challenge!
Image Map
Image Map

Monday, February 10, 2014

Orange Oil Cleaner Revisited

A few years ago I wrote a post about how I make an all-natural household cleaner using orange peels and vinegar.

Since that post, I have gotten a lot of questions about it (usually the same ones over and over), so I thought I would go ahead and answer them here, that way they are all in one place if anyone is looking for them.

Does it have to be refrigerated?
       Well, to be honest, I am not 100% sure.  I always refrigerate my orange peels and vinegar while they are in the jar, but once I strain the oil and put it in the squirt bottle I just store it under the sink.  This has always worked for us, so I haven't tried it any other way.

How do I know when it is ready?
       It's hard to explain, but there is a visible change when the vinegar becomes orange oil.  It is noticeably thicker and there is also a change in the color of the peels.  In the picture below you can see that one jar is much brighter than the other.  That is a brand spankin' new jar, while the one next to it on the left is two weeks old .
Will Clementine peels work?
Yep. Lemon peels as well.

Do you dilute it?
I do, but I also pack my orange peels very tightly, so my oil is very concentrated.  I typically dilute it on at 1:1 ratio with water.

Where do you store your peels until you are ready to make a jar?
I have a container in the freezer, and each time we eat oranges I just stick the peels in there until I have enough to fill a jar.

Will this work on really grungy areas?
Yes, you will just need to put some elbow grease into it.  A cool little trick I learned recently was to sprinkle baking soda on the mess first, then spray the orange oil onto it and let it fizz and work for a little while.  Then go ahead and wipe it all up.  We have a glass-top stove and this works great on there!

Does it stink like vinegar?
I don't think so.  It has a noticeable orange smell, which I like, and any hint of vinegar disappears as the vinegar dries.    

Can it be used on fabric?
I can't say for sure whether it is safe for your fabrics, but I can tell you that I have used it on our sofa with no problems.  That said - our sofa is 7 years old and years ago the dog chewed the arm so I am not overly attached to it anyway.

So there you have it, a few answers to the questions I typically get when I mention this cleaner.  If you want a full step-by-step on how to make it, you can read how I do that right here.  If you have any questions I have missed, please feel free to let 'em rip, I'll get back to you in the comment section! If you have any tips for me, let those rip too! I love tips!

Linking up: Natural Family Friday

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Snow Day

We have been cooped up for days. Between Jack, who had pink eye in both eyes and now has a never ending cold/fever, and Luke with the same cold and an ear infection to boot, we just haven't been able to get out like we like would like to. So when the skies opened yesterday and dumped the most perfect packing snow this year - we jumped at the chance to stretch our legs.  
It's funny how even though we live in Pennsylvania, where snow is really not a rare thing, it is still magic.  We all turn into children, digging and sliding and laughing.
Chucking snowballs this way and that (which always seem to end up heading my way). Look at how happy that man is to be pelting me with a snowball.  Good thing he is cute.
Matt took it upon himself to help the boys build the biggest snowman EVER, so they rolled and rolled while Luke and I gathered up the top hat and carrot nose needed to make this guy something special.
 Sure we forgot enough stones to make our snowman smile, and yeah...his head ended up a little bit on the skinny side...
But still.  Best snowman ever.

PS: I just now realized that my scarf is still outside.  I should really get that, since we are supposed to be getting a few more inches dumped on us tomorrow.

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