Our Family Unit
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  • January21st


    Happy New Year everyone!  I realize I’m a little late to the party, but things have been busy around here…planning for this new year and looking back to figure out what worked and what didn’t in 2013.

    One of the things I’ve been looking at in that process is holiday traditions.  As a family with young kids, we’re just in the early stages of building out the traditions we want to celebrate year after year.  It seems like we often go through a lot of trial and error to get there, cleaning up after more than one flop that looked like it would be so easy on Pinterest.  But I think we’re making headway…
    easter2013-2One thing the kids love is Easter Baskets.  I enjoy putting them together (plus it gives me an excuse to go to Target without the kids in tow) and they love getting them.  Other Easter traditions, like Egg Hunts, I’ve realized don’t have to depend on me.  It seems there’s always at least one group of friends doing one that we can join, and it’s less stress for me.

    I grew up celebrating Independence Day with a hometown parade and Kyle’s family never missed fireworks.  So we try to hit up both on the 4th of July.

    traditions-1 traditions-2

    Birthdays…this is one that seems to be ever-evolving.  We don’t do birthday parties every year for every kid, but we still want to make the day special for them.  So we’ve started decorating their bedroom door with birthday streamers and giving them a grand entrance to the day.

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    Another thing we like to do for birthdays is an elaborate (as I can manage to make it) cake.  They get to pick the subject/theme for their birthday cake and then I do my best to surprise them with it that night.  Lucky for me, at 5 and under they are all still easily impressed.  ;)


    Chocolate Monster Truck Cake


    6 Layer Neapolitan Cat Cake


    3 Tier Cat in the Hat Cake













    I love fall, and the week of Jessie and Buzz’s birthdays seems to kick off a 2 month holiday at our house.  So far, we’ve never missed Pumpkin Carving with Dad, although cleaning the seeds isn’t really anyone’s favorite part.

    traditions oct-1

    traditions oct-2Even if our block didn’t have a Halloween Parade, I think the kids would still dress up for Halloween.  They love that dress up box so much; we’re in costumes 5 days a week as it is.  Doing it with all our friends and neighbors on the same day just makes it that much more awesome!

    traditions oct-3

    This year, in anticipation of Christmas, we took the kids to see the Christmas Lights.  It was a lot of fun and I think I’d like to continue the tradition, however we might modify it a bit for next year.  A friend of mine told me that they had their kids go through the normal bedtime routine, then when the kids went up to bed they found “tickets” on their pillow.  When they came back downstairs, the car was running and hot chocolate was ready and they drove around to look at lights.  I think that might be the way to do it next time!

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    We love decorating Christmas cookies each year, but this time around we also did Gingerbread Houses while we were at the grandparents’ house in Colorado.  I liked it because not only do I want to be thinking about what traditions the kids do with Kyle and I, but also to develop a few that are done with the grandmas and grandpas, too.  The Trader Joe’s Gingerbread Kits made it super easy, too easy to pass up.  This’ll be a keeper.

    traditions-12 traditions-13 traditions-14

    Sometimes this stage of life makes traditions difficult.  My kids aren’t quite ready to stay up and ring in the new year, sometimes they’re asleep before the fireworks start, they don’t always  help clean up the mess or smile for the picture.  But that’s not really my goal with our family traditions (although it sure is nice when it works out).  My goal is to be intentional about creating some family time.  The tradition is more of an excuse to do something fun and a reminder to enjoy the little things.  If things never went wrong in the middle of it, think how boring our family memories would be 20 years from now.

    I’d like to incorporate more this year…something for Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day or Thanksgiving.  Maybe swap out mediocre ones with something better or come up with a few that we can do with our friends and cousins.  Maybe something not holiday related.  I’d love to start date nights with the kids or Family Adventure Days where we all go see or do something local once a month.  What is the one tradition your family wouldn’t dream of skipping, no matter how hectic life gets? Tell me what your kids love…

  • August19th

    burlap roman shade-1

    I love the look of burlap, I hate the look of mini blinds.  Finally, I figured out how to solve both problems at once.

    burlap roman shade-2

    My mom helped me with a little DIY project that I had been procrastinating on when she visited in July.  A burlap roman shade to cover the mini blinds in our dining room.  I LOVE how it turned out, and since it was SO simple, I thought I’d share how to do it.

    If you rent your home, rather than own it; more than likely you are stuck with the standard mini blinds hung from every window in the house.  Now you could take them down and try to store them somewhere and rehang them when you leave, or you could try to talk to the landlord about installing something better, but you might want to try this option instead.  It keeps the mini blinds in tact, providing shade, privacy and a happy landlord…but it also makes the room feel much more homey and you can customize it to your decorating style.

    burlap roman shade-6

    I cut a piece of burlap to the size of my window, actually to the exact width and about 2″ longer, and ironed it flat.  See how to cut burlap in a straight line here.  Then I folded the top down approximately 2″ to give me a finished edge and used Wonder Under to hold the folded strip down.  I attached a strip of mounting tape to the back of that fold and then fastened the top of my curtain directly onto the mini blinds front facing panel.  This gave me a nice, straight, finished top.

    burlap roman shade-7

    Then we used a needle and thread to tie the burlap to the actual strings of the mini blind.  Once on each side and then again in the middle, making sure to carefully count how many slats were between each fold.  For my curtain, we tied it at the bottom and four additional times at equally spaced intervals.  We didn’t have to take the blinds down to do this, although I’m sure it looked a bit awkward as we tried to fit between the window and the shade looking for the needle in the burlap sack.

    burlap roman shade-3

    Doing it this way allows you to still use the mini blind just like before.  When it is down, it looks likes a curtain, but when the blind is pulled up, the burlap poofs out and folds like a Roman shade.  I especially like the look of the contrast between the curtain and the lace doily table runner.  (More on the jar of popsicle sticks later)

    This, {read with Rob Lowe’s voice} literally, could not be an easier curtain.  Tape, needle, thread, fabric – that’s it!


  • August15th

    For those of you who follow me on Pinterest, you may have noticed my recent obsession with living rooms.  Specifically, living rooms with a Rustic Industrial touch.

    pipe bookshelf

    Side note: Can I just tell you how excited I was when I finally realized that was an actual style!  My dad’s been calling my taste “Industrial Trash Bin” for years, and come to find out, he wasn’t that far off the mark.  ;)

    Back to the living rooms…I really want to revamp ours.  We’ve lived here 5 years, and although I love the things I’ve managed to do (reupholstering the garage sale chair and the Craigslist chair, the slip-cover for the couch, the frame wall), it’s the stuff I haven’t done that’s driving me crazy.  So, I’m looking for inspiration… Requirements so far:

    • Cowhide rug – the rancher’s daughter in me NEEDS it

    • Industrial / Unique lighting

    Jeroen van der Spek (eclectic vintage industrial rustic kitchen}

    • Lots of crazy drawers – my all time favorite furniture from Germany is probably out of reach, but a girl can dream…

    My hope is that with a little paint, creativity and a trip to IKEA, I could do my own version.

    IKEA PS 2012 Chest with 5 drawers/1 door IKEA Made of solid wood, which is a durable and warm natural material.

    • Finally, antlers.  Kyle has a couple pair from his grandfather, and I am just ACHING to paint them!

    Thoughts?!   Send me your ideas…

  • March1st

    Burlap Chalkboard-1

    This DIY gift  I loved so much, I kept one for myself…Stenciled Burlap Placemats and Chalkboard Coasters.  It’s super easy and contributed to my secret goal to incorporate burlap into every room in the house!

    I bought some burlap at JoAnn’s and cut it down to 13″ x 17″, an inch wider and longer than I wanted my finished placemat to be.  I followed this great tutorial for how to cut burlap in a straight line, and it saved me so much frustration!  Then I hand washed the rectangles to get rid of that weird burlap smell and soften their texture just a bit.  After ironing them flat again, I did a straight stitch around the edges, 1/2″ from the border, to keep them from fraying.  Then I purposely frayed the edges up to the stitching, just to give them a more unified look.

    Burlap Chalkboard-3

    At this point, they were ready to be stenciled.  I used my Silhouette to cut the stencils for my words.  By cutting out the word, rather than the letters, I didn’t have to worry about messing up the kerning when I stenciled.  For once, having very old craft paint was a huge win.  My black paint had been left over from my mom’s stash and I’m pretty sure it was purchased somewhere around 1987.  It was thick and clumpy, but it worked perfectly to give me very crisp letters.  The paint didn’t bleed out from under the stencil edge at all.

    Burlap Chalkboard-5

    I love chalkboard paint!  If we didn’t rent our house, I’d probably cover the entire kitchen in chalkboard paint.  For this project though, I limited myself to just the coasters.  I purchased the cheap tiles at Home Depot (16 cents each) and glued a piece of black felt to the bottom of each with a hot glue gun.  Then I gave each coaster two coats of chalkboard paint.

    I wanted each coaster to have a toasting phrase and originally planned to stencil that too.  But the font was too small and thin for that to work well, so I ended up tracing my stencil in pencil and then painting it free-hand.  Despite my shaky hand, I liked how they turned out.

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    I’m so glad I kept one set for myself.  They’re my favorite way to set the table!

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