Get It Together

Blissful times are ahead as I prepare, with gladness, for that handsome hubby of mine to come on home after a long leave of absence for work.
To help make the reintegration of two busy lives as smooth as possible, I felt like it was time to update some of our organization systems. IMG_6111.JPGThis little write-on, wipe-off frame is used for evening meal planning. I simply doodled the text with a gold paint pen, used white chalk to highlight the letters, and popped it into the frame.
After trying a system in which I wrote every meal and snack on a complicated grid, I’ve realized that, for the two of us, simply having a detailed plan for dinner is plenty of meal planning.
I use a wet erase marker for writing and clean it off with a damp paper towel.

IMG_6125.JPGThis daily/weekly/monthly cleaning schedule sits below it and keeps me on track where cleaning is concerned. Having a visual checklist has always been very motivational to me, and it actually lets me spend less time cleaning by helping me to stay more efficient. I got it from The Art of Simple here and modified it a few years ago to meet our needs.

IMG_6128.PNGI snagged these wire drawers at Target and they help me to stay on top of all the mail and paperwork for work.

IMG_6129.PNGI decided it was time to make our cork board both prettier and more functional. I don’t know about you, but beauty really does inspire me in my day-to-day. This pretty brass clock, a favorite family photo, some fresh flowers, and a special necklace all bring me happiness as I pay bills and make plans.
I keep a personal planner for my schedule, but I’ve decided we’d benefit from a combined family schedule, too. I hope the calendar on the cork board will do just that. I like when I know things like whether Mr. S has to appear in court in the a.m., if there is an upcoming drill weekend or military special school, if we have social/church church commitments, etc.

IMG_6127-0.JPGThe last improvement around here is my favorite! Brother took the time to come over and build me a shelf above or washer/dryer. I cannot even express how nice it has been to have cleaning products off the washer/dryer! I finally have a flat surface for folding. Heaven! How blessed am I?
Hooray for making preparations for precious homecomings.
This heart is overflowing with praise!

Table Completed

The day has come! Our new table is in place, and I couldn’t be more grateful! photo (4)Here’s a look back at our first table! This table served us well for nearly three years. It was a moving sale find that cost us under a hundred bucks. I did (and do) love it, but there were a few reasons it wasn’t “just right” for us.

First, it was bar height. As we increasingly have little ones over at our place and look forward to children of our own someday, we realize this isn’t the most family friendly option.

Secondly, It wasn’t ideal for company (and we L-O-V-E having people in our home). The leaf was destroyed before we owned it; the previous owners’ dog had chewed right through it! To entertain, we had to use the leaf and cover it with a table cloth, plus add additional less-than-comfy counter stools.

Thirdly, it needed some TLC. The poly topcoat was failing after some less-than-careful care. If we’d kept it, I planned to sand, touch up dinged corners with a wood stain pen, and completely re-seal the thing.

Lastly, and absolutely in dead-last where importance is concerned, it just wasn’t “me.” Certainly no reason for a major overhaul, but I do enjoy the pursuit of pretty. 🙂 
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After the table found a loving new home (its new owner, by the way, style it adorably and made me realize how cute it really was), we were left with four lonely chairs I wrote about here.

They’re definitely “trendy” despite their classic shape because of the wood’s finish and upholstery in linen. I know that my tastes will drift a few years down the road, so I’m glad I got a fantastic deal on these. When the time comes, I won’t feel guilty when I swap ’em out! I can already picture some lovely Windsor chairs down the road for a distinctively American feeling (don’t tell Mr. S these chairs are quite French, or I’ll have to immediately give them the axe). 😉  IMG_2741

And here is the table my dad, brother, and I created (can you guess which one of us was the least helpful?)! I am crazy about its look, but more importantly, I love that it was made with love! It turned out better than I could have imagined. Best of all, it cost us about $200.00 in materials–the deal of the century for a solid wood piece of loveliness.

Brother and I designed it together, and enjoyed sketching out everything from leg styles (we chose a huskier size than normal to give a substantial feel, but went with a traditional look) to the Golden Ratio (we are that weird). Though we considered lots of things when designing it, our most major concern was overall size. We decided on its size because of the space we have now, and because we think our first home will probably just have a small eat-in kitchen. Anything larger may not fit! If, down the road, we also have a larger formal dining room, we’ll purchase a larger table. 🙂
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The top is made of a series of boards skillfully selected, perfected, and planed by Daddy. He carefully cut away knots and imperfections that would interfere with the structure of the table while letting me keep the little dings and marks I thought were beautiful. I also learned how to align the boards with the end grain going in different directions to prevent warping over time. It is truly amazing how much wood moves over time with changes in temperature and humidity and Dad made other structural provisions with that in mind.

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We chose maple ,a nice hardwood, for the top stained it in a cool tone (Dark Walnut by Minwax), and sealed it carefully with polyurethane. We wanted a surface that was durable and ready for daily use. I adore the way the stain looks with the pickled finish on the chairs. Dad carefully showed me several options for routing the edge, and I think we chose well in the end!

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We chose to save money on the base by purchasing softer, more affordable poplar. I painted it with a matte shade of white (while I adore dark and gleaming antiques, I’m much too casual of a girl for all that). The boys patiently let me paint it myself, and didn’t even complain when I insisted on taking the time to apply many super thin, drip-free coats. It’s still waiting for me to slather on Annie Sloan’s Clear Wax (just what I have on hand, but any brand would do if you want to do this yourself) for extra protection.IMG_2750

See those deep, diagonal lines? We left ’em on purpose! Dad and Brother planed the surface by hand. It’s hard work, and they did it not once, but TWICE!

In a frustrating turn of events, after I carefully stained and sealed the top, our last coat of poly was a nightmare–it dried with bubbles you could see when light shined across the surface, and it appeared cloudy. After much strategy talk, we decided to bite the bullet and totally strip it down to bare wood. This meant hours of extra planing and sanding. A lesson in patience to be sure.

Though we could have made it perfectly smooth (we did the first time), this time I insisted on keeping the marks of their second round of hand planing to remember the hard work they put into the table, and because I love the homemade feel it gives the piece.
IMG_2760Momma and I enjoying a breakfast of apple-smoked sausage, fresh apples, and a strawberry-banana-mango smoothie as the first meal enjoyed at the table.

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Other delights this weekend included finding an ironstone pitcher for a song while antiquing with a friend, the arrival of my new lesson planner for next school year, a glorious sunset by a loving Father, and a fun couples’ baby shower.

I look forward to sharing meals with family and friends, happily sewing, creating art, and (prayerfully) doing kids’ homework on our table in the years to come.

Hope you’ll come “sit a spell” with us, too!

 

I’m linking up:

  DIY Showoff: That DIY Party

One Day, Two Makeovers

photo 1 (6)Hi there, Friends!

It’s been that kind of delicious Spring day. The kind where you fling open the windows and are greeted with blue skies and puffs of warm air. Kids were laughing, birds were chirping, and it was time to put cream and sugar in my usually-black coffee.

If you’re anything like me, a day like that means it’s time to whip out a paint brush and put some pretty in the world (you get that, right?!).

When Mr. S came onto the scene a couple of Septembers ago, we realized that our little apartment, just perfect for one, needed some upgrades to accommodate two. Alas, my sweet little bedside tables were stored away and replaced with a pair of nightstands with real drawers. Though it sure was a good choice for our little family, I missed those pretty cottage-y tables with their curvy lines (Home Goods steals).

Armed with some French Linen Chalk Paint, whose fateful purchase you can read about here, it was time to bring one of them back home. I found the perfect spot for it and transformed it from a deep green to a lovely taupe-y gray.

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I am in love with this matte color. It’s definitely a gray, but somehow still so soft and warm! photo 4 (2)photo 5 (1)

My favorite reading nook just got better!

My next victim was one of the most used items in our little apartment. In fact, I’m sitting on it now. I wanted to lighten up our cheap-o Target desk chair. This baby is not heirloom quality by any means, so I felt no guilt or hesitation when painting it Duck Egg Blue.

The only before photo I could find (smack to the forehead for forgetting to take one) is this one of Mr. S who while fist pumping to “Eye of the Tiger” completing a research paper. I am positive that everyone is secretly as weird as we are behind closed doors… At least I hope we’re not the only ones.

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I feel like the chair is much happier herself in her new shade of blue. It was the first piece of furniture I’ve ever waxed, and I was somewhat surprised by the process even though I’d read about it before. It was a LOT of elbow grease, but well worth it! Today, a few hours after the last coat, it’s surprisingly hard and not at all soft or tacky.

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Last but not least, I thought it was worth including my loyal companion, keeping guard against the outside world as I did some reading in bed this morning. My fellow dog lovers can read about little Lucy’s less-than-smooth transition into our family here. Pet adoption is tough but worth it!

She was a great defender with her distinctive beagle baying directed at each passerby (our neighbors love us, guys).

Thanks for stopping by, friends!

Linking up to:

Savvy Southern Style: Wow Us Wednesdays

Miss Mustard Seed: Furniture Feature Friday

Domestically Speaking: The Power of Paint Party

Sweet Haute Link Party

The Shabby Nest: Frugal Friday

My Romantic Home: Show and Tell Friday

French Country Cottage: Show and Tell Friday

A Pretty Life in the Suburbs: Our Sunday Best Showcase

A Peek Into My Paradise: Happiness is Homemade

Lamb Around

DIY Showoff: That DIY Party

Catch a Glimpse Button


Valentine’s Day Cards For my Little Ones

Holidays, birthdays, and the like are a favorite of mine. Really, any opportunity to celebrate gets me excited and fills my heart. There’s something about not just feeling joy, but intentionally searching for it, that make these special occasions dear to me. Is anyone else with me?

However, age has slowly replaced the exploding-jack-in-the-box with a more quiet happiness. I am content with this, but still have a secret way to experience both kinds of holiday cheer.

You see, I teach at an elementary school. I am convinced that no one (not celebrities, socialites, event planners, nor even royalty) celebrates with as much determination as a group of twenty-eight 6-and-7 year olds.

You who are blessed with children of your own know exactly what I mean. Bright eyes expecting Santa; a child on the morning of his birthday, quietly wondering what the day will hold; or an impending visit from the tooth fairy all are just better with sweet peas around.
Continue reading “Valentine’s Day Cards For my Little Ones”