Monday, December 2, 2013

A Time to Be Thankful

November has come and gone. It flew by before I knew it. Now it's on to December and time to start thinking about Christmas. Before Thanksgiving is just a memory, I want to share a list of things I am thankful for. I have so many blessings in my life. In no particular order, here's a list:

  • My husband Greg. He works so hard and gives 110% to everything he does. He is a wonderful husband and father. 
  • Dwight and Jordan. I had no idea that two little guys could change my life so much. They are such happy babies, and they make me smile 81 times a day. (I don't really count how many times they make me smile; that's just an approximation.)
  • The rest of my family. Even when they frustrate the heck out me, I'm thankful for the family I was born into and the family I married into. I am glad that my children will have the opportunity to be a part of these groups.
  • Being able to use my talents. I was afraid that if I wasn't teaching, then I wouldn't be able to use things like program planning, problem solving, and facilitating. I am thankful that I've found ways to use those gifts. 
  • Opportunities. The opportunity I've had this year to build our seed business has been a blessing. I am thankful that I've been able to connect with farmers and help to make their farms more profitable by sharing solutions. 
  • Church. Crossroads is a church unlike any other. I am glad Greg and I can benefit from the teaching and give back to the congregation through volunteering. This weekend, we met another family in the church nursery with twins two months older than ours. I am glad Dwight and Jordan will grow up in a church with kids their age. It is a wonderful place to grow our faith. 
  • Friends. They make life fun. End of story. 
This list could continue on and on. This holiday season, take time to remember what is important to you. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pinterest Day!

This past weekend, I hosted a first-ever Pinterest Day. It was a great time! Here's the invite my good friend Toni and I shared with other friends:

Planning the event was very simple. Here's how you can do it. 

  1. Choose a craft. We selected the Christmas ornament wreath from Six Sisters Blog. Instructions can be found here.
  2. Collect RSVPs. You will need the RSVPs in order to make sure you have enough supplies for all of your guests to make the project. We had 10 adults making the wreaths.
  3. Purchase the supplies. We headed over to the good ol'e Dollar Tree to buy an assortment of ribbon and ornaments. Each guest put $10 into the fund to cover the costs. 
  4. Encourage your guests to bring a snack. It was neat to see Pinterest recipes in real life. For example, we had the famous Cake Mix Puppy Chow, Country Time Lemonade Punch, Rice Crispy Paint Brushes, and lots of other neat snacks. 
  5. Gather together, craft, and socialize! It was great having lots of people doing the same craft, so we could help each other along. Here are our finished projects:

It was a great excuse to get together, and we had a neat project to show for the day when we were finished. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Busy bottles

Here's a super-quick project that's kept my boys entertained today. I call it a busy bottle. (The idea for this might be floating out there in cyberspace, but I dreamed it up on my own, so let me be happy with myself, ok?)

I do things in twos around here: change two diapers, get two bottles ready, give two baths... you get the point. So I made two of these in about 5 minutes.

I started with empty water bottles. I filled them 3/4 of the way full with baby oil (I thought the items would float slower in baby oil than water, but it turns out the baby oil wasn't as thick as I thought it would be, so it didn't do much, other than bubble when it's shook up.) Then, I added some goodies. From my craft room, I took small beads, felt pom-pons, and foam shapes. I put them in the bottle, and then I added water to fill it the rest of the way up. I ran a line of hot glue all around the top of the bottle, which holds the lid on tight, so none of the small items escape. 

So far, the boys are occupied!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Married to a farmer

I have a confession to make: I get a little irritated when people complain about their spouses' work schedule. If they think they have a rough schedule or think they work a lot of hours, they should try being married to a farmer.

Ironically, when I started typing the title of this blog post, I left out the last "er," so it read, "Married to a farm." In a lot of ways, we are married to a farm, but I wouldn't change being"Married to a farmer," for anything.

I'm so glad that my husband gets to do something he is 110% passionate about every day. Sure, it means long hours, but I know there's nothing else he would rather do. He is making a difference, right here within a few miles of our home. I hope one day our boys will be able to farm, if that's what they choose to do.

For other farm wives out there, I know this time of year is tough. Long hours and short fuses can get the best of us if we let it. Instead, let's focus on staying positive, and remember there are perks to this job. Where else do you get views like this?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Freezer meals... for the rest of us.

You've probably seen blogs with these claims:

  • "Make 50 freezer meals in a day."
  • "30 days of freezer cooking."
  • "16 freezer meals in one hour."
This is not one of those blog posts. Instead, this is the story of two friends who live in the land of reality and who got together to make freezer meals. Think of the story as "Freezer meals... for the rest of us."

So here's how it went down. 

Toni and I decided it would be fun/practical to get together and prepare some freezer meals. A couple of weeks ago we got together to choose our recipes, so we could plan our shopping lists. Since this was our first time doing a freezer day, we wanted to start small. We chose to each select three recipes: a pork dish, a chicken dish, and a beef dish. We would double the recipe (if necessary; if it was already a large portion, we didn't double it) so we each got enough for one meal and leftovers. Our husbands are "meat and potatoes" kind of guys. Nothing too crazy for them. We looked for recipes that were simple enough to make but were different from something we already make, so we could add some new dishes to our normal line-up. 

Here's what I picked out:
  • Hawaiian Pizza Pockets 
    • Doubled the recipe
    • Put in foil pans, ready to freeze and ready to bake
    • We each ended up with 6 pockets.
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
    • Doubled the recipe
    • Put in foil pans, ready to freeze and ready to bake
    • We each ended up with 2 small pans (each pan is enough for 2 meals.)
  • Crockpot Pizza Casserole 
    • Doubled the hamburger, nothing else
    • Put in gallon-size freezer bags, ready to freeze and put in the crockpot
    • We each ended up with 1 bag (enough for 2 meals.)
And Toni chose:
  • Peachy Pork Picante 
    • Doubled the recipe
    • Put in quart-size freezer bags, ready to freeze and reheat
    • We each ended up with 1 bag (enough for 1-2 meals.)
  • Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole 
    • Did not double
    • Put in foil pans, ready to freeze and ready to bake
    • We each ended up with 2 small pans (enough for 2 meals.)
  • Million Dollar Casserole 
    • Did not double
    • Put in foil pans, ready to freeze and ready to bake
    • We each ended up with 2 small pans (enough for 2 meals.)
A note on the recipes: Six Sisters Stuff has awesome recipes (an crafts, and decor, and tips, etc.) It was hard to find "freezer meal ideas" that involved pork. We relied a lot on Pork: Be Inspired. That website (funded by hog farmers!) has over 75 categories of recipes you can search by.

There are lots of ways to do freezer meal get-togethers, but we decided that we would each bring the ingredients for our recipes to my house, where we would cook and assemble the meals. If we do this again, we might bring the meat pre-cooked, because that took the bulk of our time. We each also had containers to put the meals in. (Freezer bags and foil pans with lids are a must!)

Four hours later, here's what we had:

Now, four hours seems like a long time, but we each ended up with nine dishes (which will generate leftovers as well.) You'll notice we labeled the pans with the recipe name and baking/cooking directions. Basically, all of the recipes we completely prepared except the baking part, so all we have to do is take the pan out of the freezer and stick it in the oven. Also, the four hours included clean-up time, which was nice to share with another person.

Oh, and did I mention dessert?
  • Frozen Strawberry Fluff (did not double, poured into pre-made graham cracker crusts)
  • Easy Ice Cream Cake (layer ice cream sandwiches and cool whip, top with candy bars of your choice and chocolate syrup)
All in all, I think we were happy with our efforts. We can't wait to taste these new recipes and enjoy good, home-cooked meals with the effort out of the way!

Friday, November 8, 2013

One man's trash...

... is another man's treasure.

Once upon a time, I rescued a piano bench out of Greg's grandma's garage. She was ready to junk it. It had obviously seen better days. When I brought it home, it had a rough, chipped particle board top that wouldn't even hold a lowly houseplant. I quickly knocked that off, so all I was left were the legs.

That was at least four years ago. (No joke. I'm sure I did that when we lived at our old house, because I remember moving the darn thing.)

Last week, I threw some stain on her. She looked kind of jazzy.

The roadblock I kept running into, which kept me from moving past the stain step, were these darn tabs on the edge. The original top had sat over them, but I wanted something sturdier. If I added anything too thick, then the top of the bench wouldn't be flush with the frame. And, I couldn't get the tabs to budge. I tried a chisel. I tried a screwdriver. I tried a hammer. I tried a pry bar. NOTHING! I didn't try the sawzaw, because I was afraid the whole thing would collapse into a big pile of sawdust.

So, I cut a new piece of plywood that would fit around the tabs. I'm not going to talk about this part. There were a lot of bad words until the plywood was attached and a lot of, "I hope the boys are still sleeping so they don't hear me cussing."

But, alas, I had victory... ish. The plywood was attached to the tabs with many screws and wood shims. I sat on it, and it didn't collapse, so I figured we might be ok.

I was ready to put fabric on the top and some padding.

There are much easier ways to do this then how I did it, but the screws that were holding the plywood in place kept getting in my way. Let's just saw I used a staple gun, some hot glue, and a whole lot of luck. Oh, and did I mention that I cut open an old pillow and used the padding out of it, because I was too cheap to buy new? Use what ya got.

And here's the finished piece.

Miracles do happen.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pinterest Positives

Ok, so I've admitted before I'm addicted to Pinterest. Admittance is the first step, right? Lately, it seems like people are willing and ready to throw Pinterest under the bus. I've read things like, "Nobody's house should look that perfect," or "Pinterest sets unrealistic expectations for life."

I agree that every pin needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I also agree that someone could go off of the deep end trying to replicate the perfect Pinterest home. But, here's the thing, I think Pinterest is full of positives.

Let's rewind to the mid 20th century. This was the typical housewife:


She kept a tidy home, her children were the center of her world, and she gave her undivided attention to her husband.

Fast forward to today.


Moms have thousands of things on their plates. There are jobs, families, and other tidbits of life thrown in. Somewhere between the first picture and the second picture, I think we have forgotten how to take care of a home. And that's where Pinterest can lead our generation back to the basics. 

There are a few fundamentals of keeping house. First, it should be somewhat clean and orderly. Secondly, you should do your best to make nutritious meals. And lastly, you should throw in a little bit of love to make it feel like a home. Over time, I think people have become so focused on their jobs that they've forgotten these fundamentals. 

Maybe it's a new recipe, a tip for organizing that junk drawer, or a craft to hang on the wall: Pinterest can help the non-functional homemakers out there bring joy to their family. Pinterest brings homemaking to the forefront of our thoughts. 

Forget all the bullcrap about feeling like a failure if your home doesn't look like a magazine spread. Instead, focus on the things you can do to make your family feel loved. If it doesn't come natural for you, find inspiration on Pinterest. You don't have to be the first picture or the second, you just have to be your best self. 

Shameless plug: follow me on Pinterest.

And cue the feminazis now.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

There's no real tutorial for this sign. It was pretty straightforward:
  1. Cut a board to your desired dimensions.
  2. Paint or stain said board.
  3. Project up your letters or freehand them.
  4. Paint letters.
  5. Hang.

As far as the hanging goes, I have a confession. I've mentioned before I tend to get impatient when it comes to finishing projects. Since I didn't have any hangers, I improvised. 

That's two staples from a staple gun and a piece of wire ran between. I definitely wouldn't recommend this for anything heavy, but for this, it worked! Who would've thunk?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How a menu board makes my life easier

One of the great things about being married to a farmer is we always have tons of raised-by-us meat in the freezer. One of the bad things about that is the freezer!

I enjoy cooking, but I have this bad habit of leaving the meat in the freezer until it's time to prepare a meal. Then, I have to spend lots of time defrosting it. Or, I inevitably run into that, "What the heck am I going to cook" dilemma. 

So, a while back, I devised a simple menu board to help me with that planning. I took a picture frame that was laying around collecting dust with no picture, a piece of scrapbook paper, and some sticker letters. I whipped them together and bought a pack of wet-erase markers. Here's the result:

I saw much more complex versions on Pinterest, but this simple idea works for us. At the beginning of the week, I make a menu, and I do my best to stick to it. Of course, there are always last minute plans that change things. (Ie: Greg says he'll be home in 10 minutes to eat, and the meal for that day requires 30. Or, Greg's in the field or at the farm, and I need something easy to take to him.) For the most part, however, the menu board makes life simpler.

It really accomplishes a few things. First, it reminds me to get things out of the freezer. If I need corn or beef the next day, I get it out to defrost the night before. Secondly, it helps me make avoid questions like, "Haven't we already had ham three times this week?" Finally, as I plan, it helps me incorporate new recipes into our meals.

Do you guys do any sort of menu planning? What's it look like at your house?

Monday, October 28, 2013

A bio for the blog

I've been doing some updates and organization on the blog today, so I thought it would be a good time to write up a bio.

It's challenging writing a biography when you don't know who will be reading it, so I'll just tell you the basics.

I've been married nearly five years to this great guy:

We met through a fantastic youth organization called FFA. I could write for days about FFA. But, long story short: I would not be the person I am today without the opportunities I had. FFA literally changed the course of my life. And, I made some of very best friends to this day.

Greg and I didn't start dating until we were students at Ohio State.

I had some fantastic opportunities at OSU. I traveled all of the world, including South America, Europe, and Africa. One day, I aspire to visit all seven continents.

I graduated in 3 1/2 years and became a high school agriculture teacher. Greg and I got married, and I moved to a new part of Ohio. It took me a while to get used to the flat ground, but I've come to appreciate scenes like these:

Greg works full-time and then some on his family's dairy farm. I didn't grow up on a farm, but I've definitely gotten a crash-course being married to a man who lives, works, and breathes farming. I've learned to drive tractors, haul manure, pull trailers, make cow feed, and the list goes on.

This spring, Greg and I started a new adventure called parenthood. We welcomed Dwight Owen (named after Greg's grandpa) and Jordan Scott (Scott is Greg's middle name) into the world. They are absolutely wonderful babies, and we couldn't be happier with our family of four.

This year, I've stepped away from the classroom to spend time with these bundles of joy. I keep myself busy though, helping farmers make good decisions about corn and soybean seed, serving our little township as fiscal officer, designing websites and graphic design pieces, running a corn maze and pumpkin patch during the fall, and of course, keeping up with Greg, Dwight, and Jordan! In my spare time, I love to cook and craft.

That's me in a nutshell. I hope you enjoy reading about our life adventures!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

In love!

First off, credit is due to www.sawdustandembryos for the barn board tutorial (which I talk about here), and to for the inspiration for this sign. This is the picture I saw on Pinterest

I liked it, but I wasn't completely in love with it. Plus, I'm in the process of repainting our shutters and doors red to match the barn we just built, so I knew I wanted to incorporate red. Finally, the original idea used pallets. And, well, see my last post

So, I headed to Lowes, with the boys in tow. That's a challenge to tell you about another day. I purchased 6 1x4x6 (they are cheaper in longer lengths, but I had my SUV, so I opted for 6 ft boards instead of 8.) They were $1.68 a board or something like that. I also bought the red paint, which I'm going to use on our shutters. 

The first step was to cut the boards to length using a miter saw. Then, I splashed on some cream colored paint and white paint left over from other projects. After the paint dryed, I stained over very lightly (using Minwax Provincial.) The result were boards that looked aged. Read the linked post in the above for more details on this process. 

Next, I ripped a 1x4 in half on the table saw. I didn't take pictures of this step, but really, I just put the board through the table saw, nothing like rocket science or anything. Then, I cut the ripped pieces on 45 degree angles on the miter saw to make a frame. I should've painted the boards before attaching them to my sign, but I was too excited. (Sidenote, I tend to get really impatient when it comes to things like letting the paint dry!) So, I proceeded to attached the frames to the sign boards. The process looked something like this:

I laid the boards in the order I wanted them on a table, laying off the edge some. Then, I clamped the frame pieces one at a time, and ran in screws from the back of the sign to the front. This could also be done with nail brads. The only thing that holds all of the sign boards together is the attached frame pieces. Once the frame was attached, I taped it off to paint.

I painted the frame red, and pulled out my handy-dandy overhead projector. I projected up the words and traced with a pencil. (The font for "Welcome" is Great Vibes. "Friends & Family" is Minion Pro- my favorite font!) I painted very carefully inside the lines. Again, this is where I started speed working, so not too many pictures. After the words were done, I decided I wanted some squiggles, so I projected those up too. 

And, here's the finished project! As soon as our shutters are painted, this beauty will hang beside our front door. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My first pallet sign

Pallet signs are everyone on Pinterest, Facebook, Etsy. You get the picture. This inspiration for this project can be credited to a tutorial on Sawdust and Embryos.

Here's the finished product.

And here's how I did it:

Step 1: Prepare wood.

For this sign, I used pallet wood. Afterall, everyone else does it. And, just because everyone else jumps off a bridge, doesn't mean you should. You can buy a 8ft 1x4 at Lowes for around $2. Do it! Like, jump in your car, and go right now. Just because a pallet is free, doesn't mean you should use it. This step took FOREVER! The top left is the sawzaw I used to cut the boards off of the pallet. Then, I ran them through the table saw to get smooth edges. There's some other steps, but I did this project a couple of months ago, and I've lost my mind since then, so I'm not sure what the other pictures are in the collage.

Step 2: Paint wood and make your template.

Excuse the poor lighting. I did this project in my basement, and I was too excited to snap better pictures. Making barn boards is so easy it should be illegal. Seriously, just slap some paint on (top picture), let it dry, rough it up with sandpaper, and stain over it (bottom picture.) Voila!

While the paint was drying, I used my handy overhead projector ($10 on Craigslist!) to make a giant bracket-shaped stencil on cardboard. I taped the cardboard to the wall, traced, and then cut out the shape.

Step 3: Cut out your wood.

I laid the cardboard on the boards and traced around it with chalk. Be careful when you do this step that the stencil fits on the boards well enough that you can easily cut it with a jigsaw. I went to town with jigsaw and was ready for the next step after a good sanding. 

Step 4: Prepare a back.

I cut a piece of 1/2 inch plywood to attach to the back of the boards to hold them all together. The boards are just fastened to the plywood, not to each other. If I was going to do this again, I would ran slats horizontally instead of having a full piece of plywood. I didn't take a picture of this, but I left to of the screws drawed out a little, so I could run wire between them to hang the sign. After I stretch the wire across, I tightened the screws back up. I stained the plywood then.

Step 5: Stencil your letters and paint. 

I hung the sign on the wall, put my transparency back up, and traced the letters using chalk. I didn't realize my sign was a little crooked, so the final product ended up just a little slanted. I used regular latex paint, leftover from painting our house, to fill in the letters. I also painted the edges.

All in all, this project probably took close to five hours, but it would be much quicker if you used 1x4 instead of pallet boards. The options for signs like these are limitless. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Remember that time?

Remember that time I started the 21 Day Blogging Challenge? Well, it turns out I hit a roadblock, so I just stopped blogging. I reached the prompt: "The hardest thing you've ever experienced." I pondered and pondered, and I just couldn't come up with anything. Lame, I know. Truth be told, I honestly couldn't come up with anything.

So then, I started wondering. Had I really never experienced anything hard, or was I just looking for something "blog-worthy?" Surprising, I know, but it was the second. I was so focused on impressing my readers (all 3 of them, probably), that I thought it'd be easier to just not write anything. So, I stopped writing. I waited for inspiration, and it didn't come.

Today, I came across a new blog: The 22nd Year. I've met the writer (after all, FFA-land is a small world), but I don't know her personally. However, her blog really made me think. She often writes about wanting to "find something more." I realized I'm on the same journey, searching for something more. It's a journey that no "blogging challenge" can help me appreciate.

I'm throwing in the towel on the Blogging Challenge. (Truth be told, I threw it in back in July, the last time I blogged.) Instead, I'm going to start blogging about meaningful things. I'm going to write about creating a legacy (through my beautiful boys), inspiring others (as those opportunities hopefully arise) and finding inspiration myself, my goals and dreams for the future, and things that have meaning to me. (I will still throw in a craft or two here or there, because those help me take time to slow down, and I enjoy seeing the projects evolve to completion.)

So, here goes, a new feel for my blog, but hopefully it will help me appreciate this journey I'm on.

Friday, July 26, 2013

It's a beautifulllllll day.... (blared in my best Bono voice)

I have this bad habit of thinking about life in song lyrics. Not necessarily a bad habit for everyone, but I can't sing. Thus, I usually keep it my head. Which is why Bono's "Beautiful Day" is running in my mind right now. Maybe I should just start iTunes.

Anyway, today's blog topic is "5 Things That Make You Happiest." This is going to be short and sweet. In no particular order, here goes:

  1. Listening to my adorable little guys talk to each other: Well, it's more like making sounds, but maybe they really know what they're saying. Who knows. I love listening to them; they always sound so happy.
  2. Watching Greg play with Dwight and Jordan: He's a natural. Even though he works tons of hours and has stuff he needs to do when he comes home, he still takes the time to play and cuddle. Their smiles when they're having daddy time are priceless.
  3. Our church: The teaching is top-notch, and the worship is amazing. I'm glad we found some place where we feel so comfortable and can get so much out of the service.
  4. Having a clean home: I don't know why, but I feel so much more relaxed and productive when our house is clean. Maybe I should clean more often, huh? There's something about everything being in its place that makes me happy. 
  5. Crafting: I'm not extremely crafty, but I love the challenge of tackling a new project and seeing it through to completion, especially when it's something I'm going to gift.
Pretty straightforward. Now, I need some feedback. What makes you happy right now?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Letter to Me

Hi there. Today is day two for me and the blogging challenge posed by Cassie at MILFF. Today's prompt is five lessons you would share with your 16-year old self. Automatically, Brad Paisley's song, "Letter to Me" came to mind.

As I listened to the song, I tried to remember life at 16. I turned 16 in November of my sophomore year of high school. I drove a 1990 red Ford Ranger. It was manual. I didn't quite have the finer points of driving a standard vehicle down, so the first day I drove it to school, I coasted through every stop sign for fear that if I stopped I would stall. FFA was a huge part of my life, as were yearbook, speech/debate, and the school newspaper my friends and I started. I looked forward to the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month (4-H camp counselor and Jr. Fair Board meetings), because then I could see my good friends from other schools. I was convinced I was going to be a veterinarian when I grew up, and even though I didn't have a job at the time, I raised a menagerie of animals that provided a little extra income. I thought I knew most everything, but in hindsight, I was pretty clueless.

Cassie said it best: "I would tell myself a million things. Learn how to sew. Take value in all you read. Listen to the wisdom that is all around you. Do everything in high school you possibly can. Cherish your friendships. Be nicer to your family. Stop procrastinating! You end up with a great guy. Your children are going to be perfect. Save your money. Stop wasting time on people who don't think you're worth the same. Do things whole heartedly. Take out the trash for mom. Study! Don't stay up so late. Take unique classes. Volunteer. Learn how to change your own oil. Walk with purpose. People see everything you do."

I ditto that, but, without further adieu, here are the top five things, in no particular order, I would want me to know at 16.

  1. Don't Take Yourself So Seriously- This is a lesson I really didn't learn until I was in college, but I wish I would've known it sooner. 16-year old Rose, you don't have to be perfect. Nobody is. Take time to laugh at yourself. Be conscious of your imperfections, but don't dwell on them. Have fun. Smile more. Be you.
  2. Look for the Good in Others- Yes, there are idiots in the world. You went to high school with a good number of them. However, everyone has strengths. Focus on those. It can be hard, but instead of dwelling on what drives you nuts about other people, look for the things you admire. Ok, I admit, I'm still working on this one.
  3. You Can't Change Your Family, But You Can Choose Your Friends- There are things that about your family that you don't like, but you can't change. Deal with it. They're still your family, and they always will be. Accept them for who they are. Your friends, you can change those. Take time to choose your friends wisely, and invest time into building those relationships. One of my biggest regrets is letting friendships slide that used to be so important. 
  4. Have Confidence- There is nobody who is a better you than you. Don't worry about what other people think. Be confident in your personality, in your appearance, and in your abilities. The people who don't like you aren't worth your time. Carry yourself with poise and grace, and don't spend so much time shirking in the corner. 
  5. Learn Something New Every Day- It doesn't matter what it is. Don't waste a day not learning. Learn about others, learn about yourself, learn random facts, learn how to do new tasks. It keeps your mind sharp and makes you more unique. 
So there you have it, five things I wish I knew at 16. Don't be a lurker, leave a comment so I know you were here! Tell me what you would add to this list.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

21 Day Blogging Challenge

My good friend Cassie is a MILFF. Not that kind of MILF! She's a Mom Investing in Literature, Family, and Friends. She blogs at
Yesterday, in an attempt to revive her blog, she started a 21 day blogging challenge, and I'm jumping on board!

Here's the fun part - I want you to do it with us! 
Just post your response or answer to the topic in the comments below - feel free to use this challenge on your own social media of choice too. 

21-Day Blogging Challenge
Day 1 - Name 10 random facts about yourself. 
Day 2 - List 5 things you would tell your 16 year old self if you could. 
Day 3 - Name the 5 things that make you the happiest right now. 
Day 4 - What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?
Day 5 - What defines you?
Day 6 - Name 5 of your biggest pet peeves.
Day 7 - Describe a typical day in your life. 
Day 8 - Describe 3 of your best childhood memories. 
Day 9 - Describe 5 of your strengths. 
Day 10 - Describe 5 of your weaknesses. 
Day 11 - If you could have one superpower, what would it be, 
why and what would be the first thing you'd do with it?
Day 12 - List your top 3 hobbies and why you love them. 
Day 13 - Describe your first job and your current job. 
Day 14 - What is your love language?
Day 15 - Name your top 3 favorite childhood toys. 
Day 16 - What popular notion do you think the world has wrong?
Day 17 - If you could have dinner with anyone in history, 
who would it be and what would you talk about?
Day 18 - Name the top 5 people who have influence you most and how. 
Day 19 - What are two life changing events you have experienced?
Day 20 - What are the 3 hardest things you have learned in life?
Day 21 - What do you want to be remembered for?

So, today, 10 random facts.
  1. I was born with 12 fingers. They call it polydactylism or something like that. On each of my pinkies, I had skin and cartilage, but no bone. When I was born, they tied a string around them so they would fall off. In my mom's family it skips a generation. My grandma had it, her grandma had it, etc. Maybe one day one of my grandchildren will have it.
  2. Speaking of fingers, my closest friends know I have sausage fingers. They're short and chubby, and the look like a sausage link. I guess I can thank my dad for that.
  3. Wow, talk about segues. Sausage is a food, which leads me to the strangest food I've ever eaten. (Ok, that was a sketchy transition.) When I was in Ecuador in college, I ate cuy, which is guinea pig. I wouldn't recommend.
  4. Pigs remind me of one of dearest pets growing up: Matilda the Berkshire hog. I won her in an essay contest. She had the most awesome personality, so full of spunk. I named her after the literary heroine in Roald Dahl's books. 
  5. Did someone mention books? Oh yeah, I did. Anywho, my favorite book of all time is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It's such a timeless classic. For a college entrance essay, I had to write about a literary character that I identified with; I chose Jo.
  6. My essay must have been ok, because I was admitted to OSU. That's The Ohio State University, in case you wondered. I absolutely loved my time at OSU. I still get chills when I hear Carmen Ohio. "How firm thy friendship..."
  7. "...Ohio." That's where I was born, bred, and raised. I absolutely love the Buckeye State. There's such a diversity of people, topography, and industries. It's such a neat feeling to drive through the state and admire how different things can be from county to county.
  8. Even though there's a diversity of industries, my favorite is definitely agriculture. I don't know for sure, but I can't imagine an industry made up of more passionate people. Farmers are the hardest working bunch of people out there. They work hard to keep our country running.
  9. My favorite farmer is my husband, Greg. I don't know anyone who works harder. He loves what he does (most days), and he is dedicated to making a great life for me and our family.
  10. I hope our two boys, Dwight and Jordan, follow in their dad's footsteps one day and enter a career in agriculture. After all, they've already been in the tractor, and they sure do love cows. 

So there you have it, 10 random facts. Interested in taking on the challenge? Leave a comment, so I can be sure to follow your blog!

Two little boys and a craft for a girl

So, the last time I blogged, I was finishing up a craft for the twins' nursery. Little did I know they would make their appearance just a few short days later! Dwight and Jordan entered our lives on April 7.

This is them at one month; Dwight is on the left and Jordan is on the right. The first three months have been a heck of a ride. They are so much fun, and Greg and I often look at them and think, "Wow. They're really ours."

More on being a mama later. The boys are sleeping, and I want to share a simple, cute idea for a little one in your life.

I was glad to be able to make this easy project for Greg's cousin who just an adorable little girl.

The original idea came from Pinterest, but the link has since been deleted, so I can't give proper credit. I didn't take pictures as I went, but believe me, it was a piece of cake!

First, I took an old picture frame and removed the staples from the back. I painted the frame with acrylic paint. (I tried this on another frame first using spray paint. Bad idea. It ran like crazy. Save yourself the headache and use acrylic or latex.) After the paint dried, I measured the open space on the back of the frame and decided how far apart I wanted to place the ribbons. I put a dot with a Sharpie at the top and the bottom, and I measured the ribbon before gluing it on. The ribbon is fairly tight. This is the only picture I took, so you can see where I hot glued the ribbon.

The small strips of ribbon are hot glued in the groove of the frame where the glass would go. The ribbon for the hanger is glued onto the outside of the frame.

I turned the frame back over and put dots for the cup hooks. I pre-drilled with a bit, which made the hooks go in very easily. Then, I jazzed it up with a few silk flowers. And, voila!

So, if you haven't figured it out yet, the vertical ribbons are for hair bows. The cup hooks are for headbands, necklaces, etc.

I hear stirring babies, so that's all for now blogosphere...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Babies are almost here... time to finish up the nursery with one more craft!

I love the painted signs you can find at craft shops. I always admire the pretty paint jobs, but I some times gasp at the price. I came across a link on Pinterest to a tutorial for printing your own professional looking letters. 

I decided I could make my own sign for the nursery using this method. Best of all? I had all the supplies I needed, so the project was essentially free!

First, I found a nice scrap board in the garage. I cut it down to the approximate size I needed and proceeded to stain it.

Like my staining bench? It's a big cardboard box in the basement that I use so I don't get paint or stain anywhere. I started on the back of the board, then I did the sides. This way, I was doing the front last, so I could make sure it blended in well with the sides.

I'm kind of impatient, so I barely let the stain dry 15 minutes before I moved on to the next step. In Microsoft Word, I typed the phrase, "We love you to the moon and back." I used the font Optima ExtraBlack in size 110. I printed it off and was ready to proceed.

I cropped the bottom of the page off, so there was an equal margin at the top and bottom of the page, and then I centered it side to side and top to bottom on the board. I secured it with scotch tape. As you can see, my stain wasn't quite dry, because it bled through the paper, but it didn't affect anything.

I was skeptical of the next step, but it worked like a charm. I used a normal ball point point and traced over the letters. It was really hard not to peek, but I didn't want to risk pulling up the paper to look and then not getting the letters lined up again!

If I was going to do this step again, I might trace over each letter twice. It made a good imprint in the wood, but because the stain was dark, it was challenging to see.

I filled in the letters with acrylic paint and a small paint brush. After all of the letters were painted, this is what I had:

I decided it needed something else, so I found some star and moon clipart online, and I repeated the imprint process at the top and bottom. And here's the finished product:

This was seriously a super-easy project. From start to finish, it took a little over an hour. The technique is fool-proof! The sign is now hung on the nursery wall, so these babies can come at any time!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Nursery crafts numero tres

I was inspired by this link on Pinterest. I thought it would make a cute addition to the nursery wall. Like many things on Pinterest, it was easier said than done. However, a few headaches later, I completed my own take on the sunburst mirror:

Here's how I did it.

First, the tutorials on the web called for paint sticks. I felt straight-up weird going to the Lowe's paint counter and asking for 50 paint sticks. I considered swiping them from the unattended counter at Walmart, but a few months ago, I took about 30 paint swatches for another craft project, and I still feel a twinge of guilt. So, I started thinking of other options. I considered wood shims, which is what the link above used, but I wasn't sure how smooth of a finish they would have. I also thought about buying $.50 yard sticks at Wally World and cutting them down. Then, I realized I teach shop, and I have an endless supply of scrap 2x4s! So, as luck would have it, I had a couple of students who had nothing to do, so I put them to work. They used the table saw to rip the scrap boards into approximately 3/16 inch thick pieces. Then, they used the miter saw to cut them to 9 inch lengths. Voila! Problem one solved.

Next, I took the pieces home and painted them with acrylic paint, using the four main colors I'm decorating the nursery with. I started with 40 sticks, because I had no idea how many I would need to go around my 9 inch mirror.

I knew I couldn't glue the sticks directly to the mirror, so I decided to lay out the sticks on a cardboard cake circle. I used an 8 inch circle, since my mirror was 9 inches, but I later put a 10 inch circle behind it for reinforcement, and you can't see the extra cardboard behind the mirror once it's on the wall.

During this step, I also cut every other stick down to 5 inches. This helped free up room and gave the project some dimension. I used a ruler to divide the cake circle like a pie. The long sticks went down two inches on each line, and the short sticks went in between.

I used some hefty craft glue to glue the sticks to the circle, then I placed some heavy books on top while the glue dried. I repeated the same process to glue the mirror on top of the sticks. Two days later, I called it good!

So, here's how that wall of the nursery looks now:

I'm going to attempt one more craft project tonight. Details coming soon!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Nursery Crafts... Part 2

In the last post I shared Greg's and my big news. I also mentioned a few craft projects I've been doing to get ready for the little ones. Today, I have another quick, easy project to show.

I started with a blank, 11x14 canvas from Hobby Lobby ($5.97 for a pack of two.) I also had an assortment of paints, in cream, yellow, sage green, navy, and brown. I picked up a pack up round sponge brushes ($3.97, also at Hobby Lobby), and I went to town.

I started at the top with the biggest foam brushes, and I worked my way down, incorporating smaller dots and leaving more white space. In between brush sizes, I used my blow dryer to dry the previous coat.

I can't paint. It's a known fact. That being said, I guess I shouldn't be too upset with how this turned out. Hopefully it will add a splash of color on a nursery wall.