a year of hats : march (and paint too)

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I almost had my hat finished this month and then realized I goofed up on the decrease while talking to Joe in the car. I'm not really good at talking and counting, I guess. So I have to pull it back out and redo it. It's close though! Just in time for spring biking weather for the hat wearer I am gifting it to. (it's this yarn and this pattern.)

It was a slow knitting month….. but a huge house project month. I've been in the studio every weekend. Cleaning, decluttering. And now painting! I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to paint over the flat tannish-off-white paint in there. It's original to the addition that was built on the house over 15 years ago….. long overdo for some love. I finally chose a shade of white. Don't giggle, it took f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Joe was sweet as could be listening to me ramble on about the undertones being the right shade for the light coming in. I want it to glow in there when the sun comes up. We'll see….. We've got two coats on but we ran out of time and paint. It really needs one more coat, but the littles and I are heading out tomorrow to the deep south. So it has to wait for now…..

Louisiana, here we come!! Sunshine. Friends. Warmth. Oh my. We are so excited!!

I won't be checking in here for a good ten days or so…. but I will be on instagram if you'd like to come along on our southern adventure.

See you soon!

xo,

s

DIY Chalk Paint Cabinet Makeover

I've been wanting to give a little facelift to these cabinets for quite awhile. Especially after we got the dining room aka homeschool room painted (saving that project for another post). At first I picked a green color…. and I really pretty much hated how it looked with the soft yellow in the dining room. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm totally blaming it on winter. Luckily, we had two of those smaller cabinets…… so I started over with a deep teal blue : Cathedral by Behr. The woman at the paint department was swooning over it, telling me her son's room had been painted that color and it looked different throughout the day depending on the light that was coming in…. she totally sold me. Even though I was worried it might be dark… or look odd once I mixed the plaster of paris into it (recipe after the pictures).

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I'm really, really happy with the way they came out! The paint is a little gritty, but it adds to the vintage-y look. I'm sure real chalk paint would be more smooth….. but this was a lot cheaper and I could pick ANY color I wanted. I took the photo of the lid to show you that the color didn't really change at all adding the plaster of paris to it. (blob on the left is after, right is before) I was really surprised by this, since this color is so dark and has a deep base. After painting three coats on, I waxed the cabinets with minwax finishing paste. It's messy hard work. Don't let it dry too long. But it looks really great and has a durable finish. In the future I'll look for something more natural. It was pretty stinky!

I tried several DIY recipes online for the chalk paint before landing on one I liked. If it's too thick, it drips once you paint it on the cabinet, and doesn't seem to cover as nicely….. at least in my experience. I liked the look of thin coats. Even though I ended up covering it three times, I had better control of where the paint ended up. I chose a satin finish hoping it would be more cleanable because these are cabinets that get a lot of use. I'm not sure that made a difference? The end result was very matte until I waxed it. But I love the way it looks for sure! (the small one is our homeschool books, the large one is art supplies)

 

DIY CHALK PAINT::

1/3  cup  plaster of paris

1/3  cup  water

1 cup paint (I used satin Behr Ultra)

*whisk the water and paint together. let sit for ten minutes to help the water absorb the plaster of paris. whisk vigorously again. some people blend it? I was worried about air bubbles so I just mixed it by hand. mix the paint in very well. that's it!

 

I did read that some people did not like the look of using a paint+primer if they were distressing the cabinet. I knew I was not going to do this, so I chose a paint+primer to make sure I covered years of grime on our old cabinets. I did lightly sand everything before I painted too.

I completely splurged on the knew knobs. I bought them with a 20% off coupon here. They were still kind of spendy……. but I ADORE them. And the project was still under $75, so not too bad.

DETAILS::

Two old Ikea cabinets. Solid Pine. Previously had a waxed finish.

Behr Ultra Paint Satin Finish in Cathedral (Home Depot $16)

Plaster of Paris (Home Depot – clearance box because it had been opened $2)

Minwax Finishing Paste (Home Depot $10)

Decorative Knobs (Restoration Hardware – $12 each, I got them 20% off on sale)

I haven't painted furniture since I was in high school and my parents let me paint everything in my room black. (Thanks mom & dad!) And while I do love the look of natural wood, this is the perfect sort of project for tired old pieces that need a little makeover. I'm eyeing the bedroom set we bought from the previous owners and thinking of yellow….. or triangles. Decisions, decisions……

Have a happy Monday!

xo,

s

 

messy projects, love lists, and spring!

Happy first day of spring! From now on any wintry weather will be laughed at and referred to as fickle spring weather. That fifteen degrees this morning and the flurries forecasted for tonight? Oh well, that's just spring. In like a lion, out like a lamb they say…. (haha winter, we won!)

I spent a rather embarrassing amount of time this week figuring out how to use mail chimp, designing a logo, and switching my e-mail list over to a newsletter that I have more control of. I really love the look of it, and I get to personalize it a lot more than the generic feedburner style that was there before. If you were subscribed before, you should have received a Welcome Newsletter earlier this week. If you're not signed up, you can do so here. I'll only be sending weekly-ish updates with links to new content on the blog and some other rambling bits you all so sweetly put up with!

 

Beautifulmess

 

I had to share one messy photo of my most recent project. I bit of a teaser I guess, I'll have the whole post up on Monday for you to see. DIY chalk paint and IKEA hack unite. It was a fun one! Especially on the third day of our dining room looking like that when the man ever so politely asked me so, uhm…. how long do you think this project is going to take?

 

Now…. onto a Friday love list::

 

I've been trying to decide what the perfect shade of white is to paint the studio for some upcoming big news. The discussion is over on instagram…. I would love any suggestions you have!

Swooning over some artwork on etsy this week. This lovely terrarium print by Gennine and the someday cottage by The Wheatfield (this is what I picture my broken-down-farm looking like that I mentioned yesterday!)

I pretty much adore everything in this jewelry shop : india y la luna. Hello gypsy-hippie-boho mama jewelry!

Heather is running a Whole Food Kitchen class this spring! If you haven't taken a class with her before, you should. She is wonderful, a wealth of information, and creates the kind of e-courses you print up and keep forever in a binder. Her popular bring a friend offer is good through the weekend. Come join us! It's going to be fun!

I keep asking the thrifting fairy to bring me something like this. So far, no luck. But I'm patient… it will happen eventually…..

The best tutorial I've seen on sewing a curved hem.

I want to dye some curtains like these ones when we paint our room this summer. I think I could pull it off…..

This is a must read. I love that Ginny and I were kind of on the same wave length yesterday!

Lastly, a year ago this week.

 

Tell me what you're loving….

And happy, happy weekending to you~~

xo,

s

 

on dreams……

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Oh, dreams. They are made up of hard work and good ideas and hope.

Many moons ago our first dream was a camp in the woods. We bought cabin books and magazines. Searched for land. Studied kits and plans for cabins. Crunched numbers. Saved, and saved. I imagined driving up to our camp, kids in tow, a giant hammock waiting for us to sit and swing in. We lived in Cape Cod then, a new young family of just four. Property was still affordable to average people. Northern Maine was our hope. It kept our hearts happy somehow, this little dream of ours. 

The timing wasn't right though. Instead of leaving the military to enter the civilian sector of the workforce, we chose to stay in. The wanderlust call was too great, we wanted to see more of the country. Job security and health benefits played a role in that decision too. Ohhh practicality….

Time carried on. Our family grew. And grew…..

The first dream slipped away a little. How could we buy land if we didn't know where we would live every 3 years? East Coast, Alaskan Coast, Gulf Coast, Great Lakes. We have called each of these places home over the last decade and a half….

But we kept saving. In 2009 we put that chunk of money down on our first home. It was in suburbia on one fifteenth of an acre. It felt so far from the dream that started the savings account. This is what being a grown-up is like sometimes. 

As we pulled up carpet and painted walls and tiled floors we kept dreaming….

What if we lived in town and created an urban homestead academy? Taught people to keep chickens, brew beer & can tomatoes?

What if we bought a Volkswagen bus and sold soup and rice bowls and bubbly tea from it.

What about a sailboat? A yurt? Off the grid living?

An old beaten up farmhouse with a writer's retreat? I'd serve them scones with ridiculous amounts butter, studded with raspberries from the backyard and huge fresh salads with spicy greens and local cheese for lunch.

Do we still want that camp?

Can we really live working part time in our 40's? 

Are we crazy?

Four years later we sold that house and moved to this one. It feels a little closer to the original plan, but it's a high cost area and has a hefty mortgage that cannot be maintained if we want to work part time in the near future. The savings account has dwindled significantly from home ownership. (damn that grown-up thing again.)

But I'm stubborn. I can't give this one up. So, the dreaming continues…

I don't want to live too far from community. I'd like running water and internet service of some sort. Joe wants a tractor. And a donkey. I'm not sure about that last one. I want rows and rows of flowers and herbs. More beehives & chickens. A homestead easy enough to leave in the care of someone else for a weekend getaway, but still just big enough to provide us with a root cellar full of nourishment to last through winters. A place nearby to push our kayaks in for a paddle. Simple, humble, affordable housing. Does this exist? It's not much and a whole lot all at the same time.

Nothing is held too hard and fast. I know things can change. What feels right now may be completely wrong later. An opportunity we never knew existed could be hanging out for just the right moment to show itself. It might sound wishy-washy, but I like to think of it as open-minded. In the meantime I put my thinking cap on. Scrape pennies from our budget into the savings account. Pay off debt. Wistfully swoon over property listings of the aforementioned broken-down-farm. 

Hope. Plan. Dream. Repeat.

My soul needs dreams. Yours too. Dream, and dream big. Be brave. Write it down. Make it art. Sing it. Say it out loud. Manifest it, in some way….. one tiny piece at a time until you are holding it on your hands.

 

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~Mary Oliver 

 

xo~

s

  

winter chores…..

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It's nowhere near a real farm, I know. But there are morning chores just the same. Especially in the winter when water freezes and snow covers the floor of the coops. Everyone needs fresh water. A bit of hay or straw. Perhaps some shoveling to clear away snow under their feet. The chickens have been spoiled with sunflower seeds, leftover dried marigold petals from the garden last summer, freeze-dried mealworms and organic cracked grains. They squawk and cackle at us as soon as they see us emerge from the garage, bundled up in jackets and gloves (sometimes over our pajamas), buckets of food and water in hand. Such a funny flock of ladies. Maggie is always with us, sure to dig through snow to try and find a stick. Or a mouse. She always follows me out to check on the bees, even though the snow is over her belly.

These pictures were just a week ago. Our last (I'm hoping) bit of snow. Now the weather has shifted, the snowdrifts are melting, the hum from the beehive is growing louder and mud season is beginning…. more on hope, dreams and melting snow next time.

xo,

s

in my kitchen

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These are a collection of things from the last month or so.

We picked up our grain share near the beginning of February. We've been eating local beans, oats, corn, fresh flour. And popcorn! This sort of thing makes my heart very happy.

I've been sprouting. It had been awhile. The youngest gave me a peculiar look munching on his avocado-cheese-sprout sandwich and said "whatever these weird crunchy things are, I love them!" I'll take that as a win.

We made maple syrup candy in the snow!! And it worked!! Yes, I needed extra exclamation points there because we've tried this in the past, several times, and failed. This year was a hit. One of the kids suggested maybe we just needed good snow. I think the Daddy just has better candy making skills than the mama.

Kombucha has gotten serious. I've been doing second ferments with fruit juice and ginger added. (blueberry and cherry) I even got some cool flip-tops on sale from the homebrew store. And a few small single-serve ones for Joe's lunch. His coworkers like to wander over to his desk and see what weird hippie thing he has that day. Is it mason jar soup day or strange metal lunchbox day?

I just finished my intro class on herbalism, and I am beginning my intermediate class right away. (more to share about this another post/day) I've learned SO much about herbs and even made my first herbal salve. I've been slowly gifting it to loved ones and telling them, this is magic. And I really mean it.

Leftover oatmeal muffins. An oldie and a goodie. Made with half spelt and half buckwheat. Slathered in butter and jam. My favorite from last summer's canning extravaganza is the wild grape. Hands down. I could eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon. Not that I have. Ahem.

Tell me, what's join on in your kitchen?

xo~

s

 

reading

There's been a lot of reading this winter. Cozied up next to the fire book in lap…. watching it snow, snow, snow. As I decluttered our library area a few weeks back, I found myself reading several favorite picture books. We've acquired quite the collection over these 18+(gulp) years of parenting. I was reminded that I've been wanting to pull together a regular list of good picture books. Both from our own shelves and the always heavy library bag.

Here are two recent library favorites…..

The first book is Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads written by Bob Shea and illustrated by Lane Smith. We love this because it's FUNNY! The story is about some bad guys aka "the terrible toads" who are a bit cheeky and "steal your gold, kiss your cattle, and insult your chili". Then Hope rides in on a turtle. Slowly. And while he doesn't seem to know a lot about crime-fighting, he does know a lot about dinosaurs. You'll have to read it to see if he saves the day….. and I'm pretty sure you'll get a lot of giggles too.

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You got a bonus cute dog picture in there. That's the face she makes when I say the words "dog food".

The second book is Julia's House for Lost Creatures, written & illustrated by Ben Hatke. I LOVED this book. Julia moves into town and things are too quiet for her. So she puts up a sign to welcome lost creatures. All sorts of fun and unusual creatures begin to show up. The house gets loud and full…. and things get a little chaotic. And messy. (does this sound familiar to anyone else?) Julia has to figure out how everyone can work together…… It's a really sweet story with magical illustrations.

Enjoy. (and feel free to leave your own current favorite)

xo,

s