Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Painting and Decorating a Girl - Boy Bedroom

We've lived in our house for almost 6.5 years. During that time Joel has painted every room once and one room twice. And, until earlier this month, I had painted ZERO rooms. Somehow the painting always seemed to be while I was pregnant, which provided me with a guilt-free pass on all the fun!

Is it any wonder Joel refused to paint after Ben was born 4 years ago?!

After 6 years and 4 kids, you can imagine our walls have gotten pretty dirty (not to mention the stray crayon markings). The dirt and the possibility of moving this year influenced Joel to lift the painting ban!! Yippee!! And this time I had the pleasure of helping.

We decided to start in the easiest room - Ellie & Sam's.

I thought I had a couple of pictures of the room before we painted but I can't find them. So here's a picture taken after it was first put together before Will was born in 2003.

I love that room!! It has always been my favorite room in the house! This picture makes the walls look a little purple but I assure you they were blue.

I have to confess I had a few tears when we brought out the primer to cover the blue. It felt like the end of an era. Sort of admitting that my first baby is no longer a baby. {sniff.sniff} (Remember I'm still nursing and had a baby 8 months ago. The hormones are still going strong, folks!)

Those who've been reading here for a while may recall I had a whole decorating dilemma for this room last fall. Eventually I found the perfect quilt and bedskirt for Ellie's twin bed but that was as far as I got.

Well, my decorating block is officially unblocked!! Now I'm full of ideas {sh! don't tell Joel!}!!

I don't think these pictures do justice to the room. The walls are now a soft green (called Milkweed C68-1) and the trim is a soft white (Swiss Coffee 1012).

Idea #1: I need to buy a soft yellow dust ruffle to go under the eyelet ruffle. Also, I want matching soft yellow sheets and pillowcase. I have a sham that matches the quilt but it needs another solid color behind it.

It's hard to see that the quilt has blue ticking stripes between the colored pinwheels. The quilt and walls really work beautifully together!!

Idea #2: Paint the changing table with the trim paint (Swiss Coffee).

Right now it is a flat finish yellow. Which is ok (though the pink pad cover is NOT) but kind of blah. I think the semi-gloss soft white with all white knobs would look great. AND I want a basket to keep the diapers/ wipes box in. I'm toying with the idea of taking the changing pad off and just using it as a dresser. I change Sam on the bed about half the time anyway so this wouldn't be a big deal. Any suggestions?

Here's the crib. It's opposite the changing table. I didn't realize until now that the rail is down so you can't see the bedskirt. It is denim with triangles of bold colors. Because they are on opposite sides of the room, I think it works well with the quilt.

Because of the sunshine, I couldn't take a picture of the window. It's right above the stool you see in the lower right corner. It's covered by a white muslin curtain panels and a white muslin valance with a decorative muslin trim across the bottom.

I love how the curtains play off the white eyelet bedskirt!

Idea #3: Install a white roller shade on the window. The curtains just don't block enough sunlight for naps.

Idea #4: You can't tell from the pictures but there is a fair amount of floor space. I'd like to buy a couple of braided throw rugs for in front of the beds.

Last, but not least, we added a Rubbermaid Closet System. I bought a kit to save us time and aggravation. I love it!! Ellie can hang up her clothes and get her own shoes. As you can see, I haven't filled the shelves yet. I like just looking at all the organizational goodness of this closet!!

We have 2 sliding doors that go on this closet. They are cheap wood doors about the color of the floor. The floor is beautiful but that dark wood really breaks up the lightness of the walls. So I have 3 different options:

Idea #5: Closet Doors - 1. leave them off. 2. hang them as they are. 3. Paint them the same white trim and hang them. My concern with painting them is that the paint will scrape off and look ugly. Any suggestions?

Idea #6: Wall Decorations - Holder for Ellie's bows, Hat rack for Sam, Re-frame some paintings, this print.

Thanks for reading all my decorating ideas. I'd love to hear any suggestions you have. Over all I'd say the room now has a summer cottage feel to it. Which I love! It's still my favorite room in the house!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Books, Layoffs, Paint and Robins!!

I have a blogging plan for this week but it doesn't look like any of the posts are going to make it from my head to my computer. So I'm resorting to a random list.

1. We are enjoying listening to baby sparrows living in a birdhouse Joel and the kids made for our backyard. We've watched the parents all spring and wondered if there would be any babies. They are up too high for us to see into the birdhouse but we can definitely hear their demanding little peeps!

2. While on the subject of birds, so far this spring we have watched a Baltimore Oriole, Cardinal, Blue Jay, and numerous Sparrows and Starlings in our backyard. We've even watched several Robins CATCH AND EAT worms!! Gross, but really cool!! It's been fun to learn the names for these birds and their different characteristics as they visit our little backyard.

3. Saturday I attended a used curriculum sale sponsored by Rhode Island Guild of Home Teachers. I spent $102 and bought OVER 40 items!!! Needless to say I am very excited! And so are my kids.

4. Can you guess what we're doing this weekend? It only took 4 years for Joel to lift the ban! I'm afraid when we're done he will reinstate the ban again.

5. I recently shared that Joel's entire team at work was absorbed into their client company (Company C). Well, last week he was told that starting mid-July there will be lay-offs (not the official words but that's what they meant) in the new company and Joel's team is on the chopping block. I won't bore you with complicated details but it looks like those years of service are going to become really important as they are used to determine severance packages!!

6. This week my brother, his wife and daughter made plans to come to New England for vacation in August!! We are excited to meet my niece, Addi, who will be about 17 months old. We are also excited to introduce them to Samuel!!

I'd better end this random list and get supper cooked. Don't forget to link up your Family Fun Friday posts!! My post this week will be about something cold, yummy and FREE!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Family Fun Friday - Books & Field Trips

Welcome to Family Fun Friday: THE place to share fun and frugal ideas for family activities. Please read the Guidelines and share your ideas with us!!

This week's topic: Books and Field Trips!!

Or as they are calling it at 5 Minutes for Books - 'Book Trips!'

What is a 'Book Trip?'

Any family field trip inspired by or related to a book.

How does it work?

There are a couple of different ways you can approach this Family Fun Activity. You can plan a trip or outing and then read books related to what you will experience on the trip. I found this technique VERY helpful in reinforcing what my kids learned during a trip to Mystic Aquarium last fall.

Or you can read a book and plan a trip based on it's contents. Take The Box Car Children as an example. Visit the museum about the original author in eastern Connecticut. Or take a ride on a real train. Or ride a Ferris Wheel like they do in The Amusement Park Mystery. The ideas are endless!!

I love combining books and outings so much that I suggested Book Field Trips to the ladies of 5 Minutes for Books when they asked for Carnival theme suggestions way back in January. Little did I know they would use the idea for their July Children's Classics Carnival!!

You might say I'm feeling a little pressured to participate next month! But I know my family. If I don't plan something soon July will come and we won't have taken any 'Book Trips' (love that name, by the way!!).

Here are some of my Book Trip ideas for this summer:

Little Men by Lousia May Alcott (The Orchard House)
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (Sculptures in Boston)
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (Blueberry picking)

Do you have any picture or chapter book suggestions for any of the following field trips?

Strawberry Picking
4th of July, Independence Day, Fireworks
Going to the Beach.
Fort Knox

Do you take Book Trips? If so, which was your favorite?

Also, please leave the link to your Family Fun Friday post in Mr. Linky!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Arm & Hammer Products Review

I recently had the opportunity to review a variety of Arm & Hammer products.

I am very familiar with Arm & Hammer baking soda. In fact, I can't remember a time that my Mom and Grandma DIDN'T have a box of baking soda in their freezers and refrigerators.

Through the years I've used baking soda for bee stings, baking biscuits, and occasionally to clean with, but this was my first experience with Arm & Hammer's cleaning products.

First, I tried the Arm & Hammer Essentials Perfume Free Laundry Detergent. The description of this product uses words like "gentle," "biodegradable," and "safe for septic systems."

I confess I was skeptical that it would get my laundry clean. Remember, I have 3 very active children who end most days coated in dirt. And 2 of those children are boys - little boys who leave their clothes with the unique scent of dirt and boy sweat!

I was pleasantly surprised that Arm & Hammer Essentials Laundry Detergent not only cleaned the dirt out of my kids clothes, it also left them smelling clean!

Then I tried Arm & Hammer Essentials Cleaner & Degreaser. I guess I'm just a natural skeptic because words like "smear-free" and "fresh scent" made me wonder if this product would live up to its description.

It did! I now keep the Cleaner & Degreaser under my sink to clean my stove top and counters.

You should know that every Sunday night is pancakes and sausage night at my house. Sausage. It splatters grease everywhere. And I have a tendency to let the splatters sit for a day (or 10).

So I put the Cleaner & Degreaser to an intense stove top test. I removed all my grates (I have a gas stove) and sprayed it down. The gunk wiped right off with a paper towel!!

AND it really does have a "light, fresh scent." There's no harsh chemical smell in my kitchen after I clean my counters. I love that!

Now, y'all know I am all about frugal living and saving money, so I feel the need to tell you, I have no idea how much these products cost (remember, mine came for review).

But, I do know that if you go here and sign up to receive future coupons you will immediately be able to print a $1 off coupon for the Cleaner & Degreaser. I love a good coupon!

In addition to the Cleaner & Degreaser and Detergent, I also received 2 regular boxes and 2 cannisters of Arm & Hammer baking soda. That means I have a whole lot of baking soda to use!! So, I need some ideas and tips (other than baking biscuits. I have that one covered!) for ways to use it up.

So, PLEASE share your favorite tips for using baking soda?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Baseball Birthday Party for William

There seems to be a debate these days about kids' birthday parties. After 4 years of birthday parties my opinion is to keep things as simple as possible. In fact, we probably wouldn't have parties if we had extended family nearby.

But since our nearest family members are over 1000 miles away our kids each get a small party starting at 3 years of age (something I started when I only had TWO kids!). I try to have a general theme related to the birthday kid's current interests.

So what happened for Will's birthday in May?

Well, he talked of nothing but a cowboy birthday party after Ben's party in February. Then about 3 weeks before his party, Will decided cowboys were out and baseball was in. Since our guest list only included 2 families and I hadn't started buying party goods yet, we made the switch.

What do you need to have a baseball themed party for a 6 year old?

Friends wearing baseball clothes!

Bags from the Dollar Store filled with Popcorn!!

A Ball Cake: white frosting with lines of chocolate chips!

And lots of baseball playing!!

A super simple party with lots of fun for everyone!! You can watch some of the fun here:

Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today - Book Review

Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations #4 Amy! If you haven't received an email from me, please send me your full name and shipping address by June 13.

A couple of months ago New Hope Publishers sent me Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today by Kathi Macias to review. If you are unfamiliar with New Hope Publishers maybe you will recognize their parent company - WMU (Women's Missionary Union).

Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today is a devotional book that takes 15 mothers of the Bible, briefly studies each woman's life and applies principles from each woman for mothers of today. Included at the end of each chapter are questions to help you meditate and apply the principles that have been shared.

My favorite chapter, if I have to pick one, is Jochebed: The Greatest Sacrifice. Jochebed, the birth mother of Moses, sacrifices her relationship with her son in order to insure his safety and well-being.

This story certainly isn't new to me, but I don't think I had ever considered Jochebed's devotion to God and her son before. Or the courage it took to allow her son to be raised by another woman.

I found this book to be doctrinally sound and recommend it to any individual or small group wanting to study the lives of Biblical mothers.

In fact New Hope Publishers is providing an additional copy for me to giveaway to one blessed reader!!

To win Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today leave a comment by 8:00 PM (EST) June 12 telling which Biblical mom you would like to study the most. A winner will be chosen via Random.org and notified by email Friday night.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Top 10 Tips for Frugal Menu Planning Newbies

Last week I received an email from a reader. She is new to planning budgets and making menu plans and wanted some advice. Inspired by her questions here are my Top 10 Tips for Frugal Menu Planning Newbies:
  1. Make a realistic budget with your spouse. Whether setting up a budget for all your spending or only your groceries, be realistic about what you currently NEED to spend.

  2. Use the sales flyers for local supermarkets. Weekly sales are full of "loss leaders." These are heavily discounted items intended to get you in the door and spend money on non-sales items. Ask if your favorite supermarket will price match other stores in your area.

  3. Use coupons ONLY if the product is something you will need/use even if you didn't have a coupon. Also make sure the coupon product is the best deal.

  4. Buy generic or store brand. Generic products are often similar in taste and quality to that of name brand. For example: Did you notice a couple of years ago when Peter Pan Peanut Butter issued their recall that Wal-Mart brand peanut butter was also recalled? Because it was made in the same plant! I'm thinking it's the same stuff with different packaging!! Except one is significantly cheaper than the other.

  5. Keep it Simple. If you have never planned a menu before don't start with a month! Start with one week. If your budget is for 2 weeks, consider repeating the menu a second week until you are comfortable with menu planning.

  6. When writing your list of meals, ask other household members to contribute their favorites. You might be surprised by what they do and don't like.

  7. Use the weekly sales flyers to plan your menu. For example, if chicken is on sale this week then plan to have several chicken meals.

  8. Stock up on meat sales. I rarely pay more than $1.99 lb. for boneless chicken breasts, 80/20 ground beef and steak/roast. I buy it on sale and freeze it in meal sized portions.

  9. As much as possible, cook from scratch. It's cheaper and healthier. For example, a box of Hamburger Helper Stroganoff will cost about $2 with a coupon. You get 1 meal from the box. For $1 I can buy a box of pasta that will make 2 meals. Add $.70 for cream of mushroom soup and I spent less for the more food.

  10. Plan to not cook. Keep 1 -2 frozen meals in the freezer for days that you just can't cook. A frozen pizza is much cheaper than take out!
What are you top tips and recommendations for frugal menu planning newbies?

Are you a newbie with a question? Please ask and I'll try to answer it!

Note: Feel free to use my any of my recipes for your menus. I just ask that you leave a comment if you try one and DON'T publish them for profit. Thanks!

Photos by rick and Simon Shek.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Family Fun Friday - The Circus

Welcome to Family Fun Friday: THE place to share fun and frugal ideas for family activities. Please read the Guidelines and share your ideas with us!!

This week's topic: the Circus!!

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus comes to Providence every year during the first weekend of May. Joel and I decided the Circus would be a fun activity for our family to do this year. As you can see from the video below we had a great time!

I was pleasantly surprised by how inexpensive Circus tickets are compared to other attractions. With the cheapest seats only $10 a person, the Circus is cheaper than the movie theaters in my area!!

However, for my family of 6 to attend that still means $50+ just to get in the door (Under 1 year is free but don't forget to add Ticketmaster's fees for everyone else). So, I googled 'Ringling Brothers Circus discount code' and found RetailMeNot.com. There I was able to find, AND USE, a code for 50% off our ticket prices!!

I love it when that happens!

In addition to half-priced tickets, we did two things that helped make our Circus experience really spectacular:
  • Joel took Friday off of work and we attended a morning show. Going in the morning made for a MUCH smaller crowd. I'm all for smaller crowds!! It also meant we didn't have to worry about buying lunch or supper at the venue. It also made the day super special for my kids to know that Daddy had taken off of work to do something fun with them.
  • We arrived an hour early and attended the All Access Pre-Show. This is FREE with your ticket!! You go down on the venue floor where you can watch the Circus performers up close & personal, try on clown costumes and get so close to an elephant you can almost touch her!! This was probably my favorite part of the day!
I realize not everyone lives in an area visited by Ringling Brothers, however, that doesn't mean you can't attend a circus. Watch for smaller, lesser known circuses in your area or traditional circus acts at non-circus events. In fact, one of the dog acts we saw at Ringling Brothers Circus we remember watching at a small circus performance at the Big E.

When was the last time you attended the circus? What is your favorite act? The trained animals? Trapeze? Magic Tricks?
Recommended Ages: Fun for ALL!
Equipment Needed: A sense of wonder and awe.
Cost: Varies.
When: Spring - Fall.

Note: We attended the Ringling Brothers Zing, Zang, Zoom show. The show focuses a great deal on magic tricks and a character named Levitytia. This could be an issue for some people.

Disclosure: Ringling Brothers and other companies linked to in this post in NO way sponsored this post.

Monday, June 1, 2009

My Favorite Summer Activity

Summer has arrived for much of the U.S. and is almost here in Rhode Island!!!

So, I thought I would share with you my favorite summer activity... eating!!! Watch this and you'll understand more:

Don't you agree summer food is the best?! In case you're interested, the Red, White and Blueberry Pie recipe is here.

What's your favorite summer food?

By the way, have you checked out MomTV, yet? Go have a look right now! It free to sign up and once you do be sure to "friend/fan" me. I'm "Stephanie."
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...