Tuesday, March 19, 2013

a tradition

Family Dinners

I don’t know how to begin this entry, but I want to give you the background of this {revived} tradition in my family….so here we go. 

{the inspiration}
Last year was an extremely hard year for the Hebert family. My family experienced a traumatic loss of a cousin, Joseph, in December 2012. The truth is 2013 isn’t proving to be any easier without him. Anyone who knows the Hebert family will be able to tell you this is a very special family. Joseph was a vital part of this family and it is an overwhelming challenge to understand how the Heberts move forward now. I think I can safely say that Joe loved his family more than anything in the world, his hugs alone were proof.  

I think when a family experiences a loss like ours has, it sends a shock to your system. It leaves you craving more time with your loved ones, or regretting being “too busy” last time they invited you somewhere. I think we have all promised to not let this happen anymore. We know we can’t realistically all get together every weekend but we do need to get together more than just Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we {the family} decided on a monthly dinner.

{the family}
The Heberts begin with Granny and Grandad and their children and spouses, then on to the grandchildren {the cousins}. As the family has grown up, it has expanded adding members by marriage, relationships, friends who have quickly earned the title “family”, and now one great-grandbaby. This is what I mean when I say “family” dinner…it is so much more than the traditional use of the word family.

{the location}
The cousins grew up in a very tight-knit family spending weekends {or even weeks} at Granny’s house playing in the large yard, building forts in the woods behind the house, even learning to ride their bikes there. It is only natural for our family traditions to still take place at Granny & Grandad’s. Their home is not huge but we manage to fit as many as 30 people in their dining room and living room area.

{the meals}
Once a month we meet at Granny and Grandad’s for a family dinner. It’s a come-if-you-can, no pressure event. Everyone brings something to contribute to the chosen theme for that month. I have tasked myself with being the organizer. I email everyone the date and theme and they reply to all with what they are bringing. I keep a running list and eventually reply-to-all with the menu. This allows everyone the chance to see if we are missing anything and remind them of what they signed up to bring. The day of the family dinner, we all show up with our cooked food and begin the potluck!

{the themes}
I’m a fan of themes or for organized parties in general. My family puts up with my silly themes but I think they keep us organized and help with menu ideas. Starting in January of this year we began choosing themes and planning the menu based on the chosen theme for the month.

January was Mexican food. We had four birthday’s to celebrate too!

February was Chinese food (for Chinese New Year) – one birthday in Feb, but we had to send her a care package cause she lives out of state!

March was Baked Potatoes and all the fixins – two birthdays in March! 

April is planned and will be a barbecue. This is risky because of the weather but we are doing it because we are all eager for summer!

Yes, if you're wondering I already have the themes/ideas for May and June, but I am sparing my wonderful family too many emails in their inbox from me. {I don't want to end up on their blocked lists!}

Now it should be said that the Heberts are all very good cooks, so potlucks are the obvious route for our dinners. If you don’t cook, try ordering something in, make everyone chip in for dinner! The point is, we are all very busy people hustling from one thing to the next, it’s hard enough to find time to sit down to eat dinner let alone with your loved ones. 

I challenge you to get together with your family and friends on a scheduled basis. You’ll be surprised how effortless it becomes. It’s good for the heart!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Organizing with a planner

That's right! You read that title correctly. I'm going old school....

I started the spring semester at college again {9 credit hours}. I joined a club at school {yes, a club}. I put myself in charge of planning family dinners once a month {more on this later}. I have my normal 8-5 job. I'm working on this blog {at least trying to}. I have set a pretty major fitness goal for myself {more on this later too}. Needless to say, I am keeping myself very busy lately. I am making every effort to stay on top of school-work, house-work, work-work, working out, and eating right to avoid getting stressed out.

So my solution for balancing all that I've signed up for, I am using a paper day-planner. Yes, in the days of digital everything, I am using a paper calendar. I still use my iPhone calendar for reminders but I love my written calendar. I see my whole week at a glance with out straining my eyes to see my tiny calendar on my phone. Plus, I enjoy using my color coded ink to keep track of projects and deadlines.

For me, the best way to grasp what my week holds, I sit down and write out my schedule on my calendar. I have always been a fan of calendars and date-books {I know that sounds as nerdy as I think it does}…I just never had enough going on to actually need a calendar/organizer. Well….I’m finally growing into my love {& need} of calendars.
Let me remind you that I am the sister that doesn't have children but my schedule is packed between work, school, blog, working out, and family stuff! Imagine what it will be like when I do have children...
{oh my goodness, that just overwhelmed me out for a second}
Anyway back to the calendar, I am using a new Erin Condren calendar but you can find a lot of really cute, very useful calendars at Target or any office supply store.

I like using different color ink for each area of my life. (this would be a great idea if you have children with their own schedules – a different color ink for each child?) Here is how I have color coordinated mine:
Red – Bills - due dates
Pink – Blog stuff - schedules and ideas
Orange – School - due dates, homework, class times, club meetings
Green – Fitness - work-out schedule
Teal - Personal appointments - hair, doctor, dentist
Blue – Food - meals, grocery needs
Purple – Special events - birthdays, anniversaries, holidays
Black – Work - scheduled meetings, due dates, deadlines

The way I see it is even if my schedule is getting full, I find it less daunting to look at a full schedule that is organized and colorful. How do you keep your schedule organized? Am I the only person who color coordinates their schedule? Share your ideas!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chalkboard bottles


With the holidays passed, we seemed to have a lot of wine and beer bottles laying around. I cleaned them out and had them in a cabinet because I knew they'd come in handy. While I was painting my chalkboard frame, I figured what better time then to paint the bottles the same.

I let the bottles soak in water to get the labels off. They mostly all came off besides a couple left some sticky residue that wiped right off. I let them sit out to dry while I did some other stuff. 

I used the same roller as I was using for my picture frame chalkboard and did three coats on each bottle. Because they are dark glass, they didn't take as many coats but if you have a clear glass, it may require more. Make sure the paint is completely dry in between coats or it'll clump and streak.

After they were all dry, I decided LOVE is good to write on them since Valentines Day is next month.
A home above our kitchen cabinet is a perfect home for it since its pretty bare up there!
Do you have lots of bottles floating around after the holidays? What a great, inexpensive way to repurpose them.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chalkboard picture frame

When we moved into our new house, I bought this console table from Target and really like it. It matches our dining room table perfectly and I had a great envision of decorating it cute for the holidays or with pretty decor pieces. Then I realized quickly that with two toddlers, that's not practical unless I want stuff broken. I usually have a couple small things in the center of the table that little hands can't reach and nothing underneath since my boys use that as a place to park their cars. But it is so boring looking! It needs something big!
Enter Goodwill (I go there a lot), a $10 ugly gold frame, chalkboard paint and left over white paint from my tv console and we have a chalkboard frame.

I didn't get a before picture of the frame because I am always in a hurry during nap time to get things done but, it was ugly gold. I just did a rough sand and paint it with three coats of the white. On the detailed parts, I used the end of the brush to get into the small crevices to make sure all the detail showed through.

In between coats, I used my chalkboard paint and did three coats of that on the glass from the picture frames. Make sure in between coats your paint dries all the way or it'll become streaky. (I don't think that's an actual word but you get what I mean.)

Once they are dry, put it back together and there is your chalkboard picture frame.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Oil Pan Magnet Board

I am a stay at home mom and am always trying to find new ways to entertain my boys. On a recent trip to Arizona, Kristy gifted us with Leap Frog magnet letter sets and we already had the animal set as a birthday present from Jeannie but...I don't want all that on my refrigerator or dishwasher (stepping on toys is not fun) So, I copied Jeannie's post using a oil drip pan as a magnet board/chalkboard for her little man but, decided to skip the chalkboard part since we already have a chalkboard table.

I believe our large drip pan from Walmart was around $10. I bought the tin containers from the dollar section at Target and already owned the shelf. I topped it off with a Dr Suess printable.

I used the Velcro Command Strips to hang the oil pan and it is holding up pretty good.

My boys love sitting and playing with it. They are a little young for words but we work with our letters and sounds.

Quite the success if you ask me!

Friday, February 8, 2013

One drawer at a time

You are about to notice a trend with my posts.  We are adopting and are in the waiting part of the process which has made me go into a bit of an organizing/purging fit.

Today's task was super simple and only took me about ten minutes from start to finish.  We have this cute little table in our entry way and hubs and I each have a drawer to keep stuff.

My drawer has gotten cluttered and full of all kinds of junk that didn't belong there.

First step, trip the dollar store. The nice people at the store are going to get sick of seeing me,  lots of my recent projects have included Dollar Tree storage. These two little sets were on an end cap and I didn't actually know what I was going to use them for when I grabbed them.

I cleaned out my drawer and these fit great! 

Now the fun part, putting back only what needs to be in the drawer.  Starting at the upper left and going clockwise. 

1. Some of my Scentsy smells and my extra phone screen protectors. 
 2. More Scentsy smells
3. Battery charger (I'm trying to switch over to all rechargeable because we go through them so quickly with little man's toys)
4. Batteries
5. Chap sticks
6. Gift cards (these get misplaced easily in our house)
7. Hand cream

The battery charger cord is run through a hole in the back and plugged in behind the table. 

Now I feel kind of guilty though.  I may need to make a trip back to the dollar store to get some bins for hubs drawer...

One last look at the organizational goodness...sigh, this makes me happy.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dresser turned tv console


In the past couple years, we have been through multiple cheap tv stands. I've been wanting something large and sturdy (aka toddler proof) but unfortunately, my budget isn't so large. Then I ran across some blogs where people re-purposed dressers into tv stands. Genius! Living on base, I always see people selling dressers because of a PCS (move). I found one I liked and saw potential in, although the before isn't so pretty.

B and I knew we wanted it to look worn with some blue and brown showing through to match our living room. So off to Lowes we went to get some sand paper, paint and brushes. We bought sample sizes of the blue and brown and a gallon of the white which was way too much but I will continue using it for other projects.

We spent a couple nights after the boys had gone to bed working on it. First, we sanded it down.


Then I did a coat of the brown. Let that dry and did a coat of the blue. I wish I was bold enough to leave it blue because I LOVE that color but, we decided to stick to the original plan of white.

It took three coats of white for everything to be covered. In the process of doing that, I spray painted the knobs with some spray paint I had bought to do our curtain rods (which I haven't gotten to yet but I will...someday). That took two coats.

We took out the top drawer to hold our cable and DVD player. We measured the length and width then went back to Lowes and had them cut it down to size for us.

Then we painted it to match the white dresser. I did two coats. Now we are ready to put it in the dresser. Only problem is...we didn't think that it wouldn't fit in being that big so B cut it in half then screwed it down in the middle and sides.

We took some sand paper and sanded areas that we thought would show wear, like along the top and sides, on the sides, etc...

Brought it inside and I have to say, I am pleased. We are still needing to make a trip to Lowes to get the panel to cover the cords and I am going to cover the inside area with wall paper so it looks more finished but for less then $100...I love it!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

I’m not sure where I first spotted the phrase “random act of kindness” or "RAOK", but I am seeing it more and more. I love this idea and I am jumping on this train!

In efforts to be completely honest I must admit...I genuinely enjoy doing stuff for people. When people are in need, I want to help them. I like surprising people with random gifts or services. I never finished reading that Five Languages of Love book, but I am pretty sure service or gifts would be my love-language.

I have compiled a small list of ideas that help inspire me to do random acts of kindness. I have divided the ideas into two sections. First a “Service” section which is exactly as it sounds, giving of your time or service just to brighten someone's day or lend a helping hand. Second is the section where it may cost you money, donations, or support in a monetary form. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that your time is not valuable, I just find it easier to divide the list this way. I also have boards on Pinterest devoted to gifts ideas and food gifts. If you are looking for ideas, the possibilities are endless! Here are a few ideas:
Hold the door open for people - so simple but a kind act.
Allow someone to move in front of you in line - that mom with one item and an upset child.
Allow someone to merge in traffic - sometimes this is hard to do...
Clear snow off someone’s car - the other day after my class an older lady was clearing off her car with no gloves and in heels. I cleared my car and helped her with the other half of hers. It took almost no extra time (my car was warming anyway).
Shovel someone's driveway or sidewalk
Rake leaves
Pick up trash
Return your shopping cart to the store – or someone else’s for them
Compliment people - again, very simple but really could make someone's day
Help someone move
Call a friend or relative to say hi, ask how they are doing
Volunteer - there are so many opportunties to help if you're looking
Write a former teacher a thank you note - I need to do this!
Donate blood
Leave positive feedback on a blog - hint hint.... :)
Support a charity by volunteering/collecting - you can support your favorite charity in more ways than just donating money. You can fundraise for them. My family and I are doing our local Heart Run/Walk at the end of April to raise money for the American Heart Association. (This did cost me $20 entry though.)
Use your talent for good
Donate your time to teach someone your talent
Carepacks for homeless or for your local shelter
Pay for someone’s meal/coffee without them knowing - I've never done this but I really want to!
Thank you cards, gifts, food gifts for military, police officers, fire dept, emt workers, hospital workers. My family made Christmas care packages to thank the nurses at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane for all they did for my husband's cousin.
Send a letter/card in the mail to anyone - think about it, we all love to receive mail that isn't a bill.
Adopt a soldier (and family)
Cook a meal for someone
Donate your unused stuff (clothes, toys, other)
Send flowers
Send a care package - I wrote about this one I did for D's family
Thank your mail carrier
Bake someone a cake, cookies, bread
Gift baskets - I am a big fan of gift baskets!
Bring someone a coffee
Leave change on a vending machine
Pay for someone’s groceries
Support a charity by donating money
Sponsor a family for the holidays
Sponsor a child
This is obviously not a list of everything you can do to be kind, but it's an idea list. I would love for you to share your ideas! Leave a comment

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Linen Closet Organization

Clever title for this post huh? 

I'm still on my nesting tangent that I mentioned here so I'll share another one I just finished.

Do you ever feel like one project will snowball into another...or in my case fifteen?  That is the case in our home right now.  I randomly decided to finish up painting the trim and ceilings in our hallway (after four years of procrastinating) and that lead me into clearing out this closet.  It used to hold random boxes of things and our board games and whatever else got shoved in at some point.  This wasn't planned ahead so I have no before pictures, sorry.

I cleared it out because, like our trim and ceilings, it hadn't been painted in a very long time and was an awful, dingy, off white color.  I painted it a crisp, clean white.  Ahhhhh so clean and simple. 

I knew I wasn't bringing the games or shoe box organizers back.  I wanted a real linen closet for once. This closet is placed between our two upstairs bathrooms so it makes sense to store toilet paper there.  I already had the basket and just changed its purpose. 

I'm going to go off on a rabbit trail here, stick with me for a minute. 
Notice the quilts?  We are very blessed to have a Grandma who quilts.  I love quilts!  I think they are the perfect weight for a nap or to snuggle under on the couch.  A bonus with all of our quilts is that they have memories attached to them.  I have the quilt Grandma made my mom when my mom was sixteen, the Strawberry Shortcake one she made me when I was little, the one she made my Grandfather before he passed away, each of my kids have a quilt from her and the list goes on.  Each time we snuggle under one of these it reminds us of my Grandma.  I have recently been pinning lots of beginner quilts because I really want to learn how to quilt and I want my kids and grandkids to also have memories of me that are warm and snugly.

Sorry about that, back to the closet.

I made another (one of many recently) trip to the Dollar Tree for these baskets.

The labels are chalkboard paint so I can erase them and fill the baskets with some thing new if when the mood strikes.  The baskets are for hand towels, dental stuff, soaps, first aid items, nail polish, and one for misc shampoo's and hand soap refills.

So simple but also effective.

I had visions of putting up wrapping paper or something fancy on the back wall but I just painted it so I'm enjoying the crisp, newness right now.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Felt Valentines Wreath


I don't know about you but I love Valentine's day. We don't usually do much for it but I really wanted to decorate. My goal this year is to have a wreath for every holiday (even though B says Valentine's Day is not a holiday). I found a lot of great ideas on Pinterest but really liked this one with the felt heart.

I could not find a heart shaped wreath anywhere. I went to three craft stores with no luck so I used a round one I had here.

I bought a yard of red felt for $4.99 at Joann's (then used a 50% off fabric coupon) and a box of push pins.

B and I turned on a movie and the project began. I used a cup as my guide and traced lots of circles (folding your fabric in half and cutting two at once cuts down some of the cutting). I cut and I cut and then I cut some more and then when I thought I was done, I cut more. Seriously. You need a lot of circles. I should have counted but it was a lot.

After you are done cutting, fold a circle in half and then quarter. Use your push pin and put it through the point then put it the styrofoam wreath. Repeat this process over and over and over again until no styrofoam is showing. You don't have to do the back since that is against the door.

I used some Valentines Day ribbon I had to hang it and I just love it. You can easily change out the ribbon and use it for Christmas too. I finished just as the movie finished so it took a couple hours but well worth it!

(Sorry for the lack of pictures...they accidentally got deleted while attempted to write this blog and take care of my crazies aka toddlers :) But the link gives a great tutorial.)