Project Linus

As I’ve mentioned before, one fun part of teaching at our school is the flexibility of our Friday schedule. We have regular math/language arts classes, but then break out into more unusual activites with a focus on service learning. As part of this schedule, I have been able to lead some craft lessons on Friday afternoons. Such a fun way to lead into the weekend!

This past semester, the kids have been learning to sew. Yes, 12 year-olds. With needles. Yes, the boys too. As the final project associated with these lessons, the kids were split up into groups of four to construct quilts for Project Linus. Project Linus is an organization that donates handmade blankets to children in the hospital. This is beneficial because kids are sometimes not allowed to bring blankets from home and the handmade blankets let them know that someone is thinking of them.

The past few weeks have been utter chaos, but with the help of some wonderful parent volunteers, our students were able to produce 16 quilts. It was so much fun to watch the kids (again: yes, the boys too) sewing during their free time in anticipation of seeing the final product. They also seemed to really connect with the idea of doing something to help other kids. It may have been slightly exhausting and at moments made me want to pull my hair out (I rethreaded more types of machines than I ever knew existed), but it was totally worth it!

 

Plants in the Ground, Plants in the Ground…

Couldn’t resist! A couple of weeks ago, Zach spent his Friday getting some plants in the ground. We are now the proud caretakers of three raised beds filled with strawberries, bell peppers, Habanero peppers (crazy!), a few varieties of tomatoes, cantaloupes, corn…and some other stuff. He really went to town- I have a hard time remembering it all! We’ve gotten a healthy dose of rain over the past few days, and the plants are looking happy. We’re looking forward to tasty summer salads!

Sew Perfect

I’ve been a little MIA on the blogfront this week, mainly because it’s been a pretty crazy week. Our last day of school is a week from tomorrow and with that comes project wrap-ups, report card writing, parent-teacher conferences, and end-of-grade testing. Thankfully, it has also been Teacher Appreciation Week and one of my kids’ parents sent in a 24 pack of Diet Dr. Pepper. That is one smart momma. Forget the apple tschotskies- bring on the caffeine.

One school project that has been keeping me pretty busy is the consturction of quilts for Project Linus (more on this later). After the kids sewed the quilt tops I (along with a few parents) took them home to attach the backing and batting. As a result, our kitchen table has looked like this for the past few weeks:

 

Not horrible, but not so helpful for mealtime. I have an idea for a desk I would like to put together for the craft room, but I have a feeling that it will be awhile before completing it. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking how nice it would be to have a place for my sewing machine in the meantime. Enter, this little beauty:

 

 

 

I found it at a yard sale last weekend and could immediately envision it in the craft room. I love the time-worn look, the chippy paint, and the fact that the aqua matches perfectly with my crazy-colorful quilt. It was originally marked $30, but after telling me I should be in the used car business, the man sold it to me for $10. I’m happy with how it looks in the craft room, and that I can keep all my sewing insanity away from our dinner!

Don’t forget to check out the other inspiring ideas at The Shabby Nest , Finding Fabulous, Tidy Mom and The Inspired Room

I Wish I Had Inherited His Green Thumb

My dad recently put together this bouquet of flowers from his yard. Hopefully I’ll be able to share pictures of his landscaping soon because, as this little glimpse shows, it’s stunning! The colors stop neighbors in their tracks. As my plant-murder tally continues to grow, I’m hoping I’ll be able to channel some of his talents and keep our greenery alive!

Family Room Inspiration

Now that project: family room redo is underway, I’ve been on the hunt for some inspiration. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Country Living

 

House Beautiful

 

Country Living

House Beautiful

I guess it’s no secret that I love light, neutral spaces. I’m enjoying the challenge of bringing some of these elements into our own space!

Family Room: Before and…During

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been giving extra attention to our family room. While we don’t expect it to be done for a while (unless I’m able to find some great yard sale deals), but it’s fun to get started on revamping the space. Here’s a picture of the waaay before:


To prep the space, we:

– took down that horrible wallpaper 
–  scraped the popcorn from the ceilings
– had the hardwoods refinished
– had the trim painted (Sherwin Williams’ Westhighland White colormatched in Valpsar)
–  gave the walls several coats (thanks to all of the residual wallpaper adhesive) of Pittsburgh Paints’ Southern Breeze (colormatched in Valspar)
Since we moved in, this has pretty much been the scene:


 
I didn’t hate it, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite room in the house. While the sectional was comfy and great for large crowds of people, it was also a Criagslist find and, as a result, had quite a few cat scratches and stains from the previous owner. I’m also a big fan of neutral furniture pieces, as they make it easy to switch up other aspects of the room (great for people like me with chronic indecisiveness). So, to start with a blank slate and a clear understanding of how much money I had to work with, I sold the sectional without being totally sure of what I would replace it with. For about a week, we replaced it with this:


 
One member of our family saw the change as a serious upgrade.

Zach and I, on the other hand, are looking forward to a finished, furnished space!

 

Don’t forget to check out the other great ideas over at A Soft Place to Land, The Inspired Room, and The Shabby Nest!

Squashing the Clutter Bug

Last night I had the privilege of attending a decluttering/organization class with some girls from our former Sunday school class. if you know me, you may be able to see the weirdness given the fact that I am slightly OCD about getting rid of stuff and cleaning up. Some evidence:
1)      When I was little am would go to friends’ houses to play, I would convince them that a fun activity would be to clean their rooms. I persuaded them by telling them that it would make their mom really happy and she might buy them something. I know…you’re thanking your lucky stars that you weren’t my friend in elementary school. Or one of my friends’ moms.
2)      All of our everyday bath towels are white (so they can be bleached). On top of that, there is an order to the towel stack in our linen closet. The fluffy towels go at the top, the thin towels that we have from college go at the bottom. (Insert pity for my husband here)
3)      My dream job is working for a show like Clean Sweep where I get to go through people’s junk, get rid of a ton of stuff, then prettify their house. With stuff from Craigslist.
4)      So on and so forth.
 
In light of this slight insanity, as I was getting ready to leave last night, Zach asked, “Do you think you’ll learn anything?” Translation: “you are a crazy person and if this class makes you any more crazy I am going to have to start hiding my stuff.”
All of that aside, I’m not sure that I came to any amazing revelations during last night’s class, but it did inspire me to purge more junk from our house. There are clothes from high school that I never wear, an old computer monitor that Zach has been keeping for who knows why, and random kitchen items that we never use but for some reason still keep. I’ve only been in declutter mode for a day, but I’m pleased with the pile I’ve started. I’m a pretty regular purger, but it’s nice to have someone else’s ideas on what should stay guiding me as I work. I was reminded last night that we usually keep things we don’t use because:
·         we feel bad about the money that we (or someone else) spent on them
·          we have some emotional attachment to them
·         we believe we’ll use them someday
All of these modes of thinking can lead to stuff gaining control over our lives. It was great to think about these ideas in a fresh way. It makes so much sense that unused stuff doesn’t just create clutter in our homes, but in our minds as well.
 
I know it’s been all over blogland, but I’m really trying to keep these two ideas in mind:
 
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
 
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris

 
Last night’s session was mostly an introduction, but I’ll try and report back regularly with what I’m learning!