Eek. The floors in the dining and living rooms are fully installed.
They look beautiful and make me so happy. Please excuse my crappy phone pictures.
There are still a million things left to do (painting baseboards, installing baseboards and quarter round, filling nail holes, touching up the painting and, oh yeah, completing the board and batten in the dining room). I’m going to stop being so optimistic about finishing ANYTHING in the next week. Because, ha!, life just takes over and everything takes longer than I think. So, maybe in a couple of weeks I’ll have more exciting (and better shot) photos.
A New Mattress
We ordered a new mattress!!!!!!!!!! I know that’s a lot of exclamation points, but my excitement could fill up about three full lines. We’ve been talking about replacing our mattress for years. How long you may ask? Well back in 2015 we moved to a different state and got rid of our mattress (that mattress was ~12 years old). When I landed in our new home state, I ran to Ikea and purchased a cheap queen mattress (this is the one). The idea was that we would quickly replace this mattress with a more substantial one and we could put the Ikea mattress in a guest room.
Yet, somehow, here we are almost 6 years later and we are still rocking that Ikea mattress. To be fair, I sleep just fine. But it’s sooo low to the ground. There is no box spring as I was trying to be cool by getting a platform bed. I’ve been talking about getting a foundation for a couple of years but my husband always talks about his dislike for the mattress. His hatred was strong since day 1 of sleeping in it. However, it wasn’t as strong as his desire to save money (his frugalness has some legendary moments in our marriage).
So, how did it finally happen? Well, I have to tell you something that will let the whole internet know how boring I am. On Sunday afternoons, I will occasionally sit down and watch QVC. Yes, the QVC that grandma’s enjoy watching. To be fair, my relationship with QVC deserves it’s own post and is way less about shopping than you might imagine. Anyway, so I was watching QVC (In the Kitchen with David) and the special value of the day was a mattress. My husband was closely watching the television during that segment and he said, “oh, they almost had me. I was so close to buying it.” My ears perked up because Jer rarely shows interest in buying anything.
I probed him, “Oh? Why don’t you like it?”
He didn’t like that it was treated with something to prevent microbial growth. He fairly argued that he doesn’t want to spend 8 hours sleeping on, I’m assuming, a chemical that we consumers don’t know much about. (FYI: The company reports the technology is safe and sustainable). After a couple of googles, I showed him the same brand of mattress that didn’t have that treatment. It was also on sale. He said order it and so we did. Is that a boring story? I don’t know but it seems on brand that my stories would be boring.
I don’t have any pictures because delivery is in 4-8 weeks because “this item is made to order”. Whhaaattt? I guess I’ll show you in 4-8 weeks how happy I am to have a new bed.
The Time of Year I want to Throw Everything Away
Am I the only one who gets real decisive about throwing things away in January? Lego left on the ground after I gave the warning that I am vacuuming? Ooops there it goes. Not going to worry about it. Oh, this large box of icy-hot patches that no one likes or uses? BYE! This random plastic thing that I keep seeing all over the house. I have no idea what it is and nobody seems to care about it? Trash time. A toy that I generally despise and my son doesn’t really care about? You’re going to the donation box to annoy another parent.
I’m generally the complete opposite of this and my brain is full of thoughts like, “OMG we are going to need that plastic piece and it could potentially save us from buying some essential item.” But January gives me the permission to eliminate all the stuff that drives me crazy in the house. My brain turns off the “what if we need this stuff” thoughts and I become a clutter clearing terminator. Instead of guns and weapons, I have vacuums and trash bags. It’s a scary sight.
Our family is on the cusp of leaving picture books behind as our son mostly wants to read or listen to chapter books. Before it fully passes, I wanted to document our favorite books and book series.
The Berenstain Bears
For some reason the Berenstain Bears books mean the most to me. I don’t know if it’s nostalgia since I had them as a kid or the fact that these books are as much for the adults as the kids, but I am desperate to hold on to them for a couple more years. Most everyday life issues are written about in one of their books. If your child is dealing with something, there is probably a Berenstain Bears book that can help discuss the topic.
I am partial to the originals by Stan and Jan Berenstain. The newer ones are written by their son, Mike Berenstain and have a different feel to them.
I have so many favorites, including Week at Grandma’s, Messy Room, In The Dark, and Too Much Vacation. My son also has his favorites – Double Dare, Too Much Junk Food and No Girls Allowed. They are timeless with evergreen topics.
Mother Bruce, a book about a grumpy bear who is the adopted mom of geese, has become a family favorite. The first book is the best, but the other ones are cute, too.
Pig The Pug
The Pig the Pug series always makes my kid laugh. Pig is a very poorly behaved dog that seems to have all the worst qualities. In the end, he usually gets what’s coming to him. He appears to learn a lesson….but never seems fully reformed.
Elephant & Piggie
Elephant and Piggie is a series by Mo Willems. The books focus on the friendship between these two animals who have different personalities. The books always feel really sweet and ultimately ends with them being the best type of friends.
I Really Like Slop is our family favorite. That’ll be the one I tuck away and save for my future grand kids, but they are all really good.
Laugh Out Loud Picture Books
Many of the books above make my son laugh out loud (Elephant & Piggie, Pig the Pug), but we have a handful of others, too.
I Need a New Butt: I saw this on Instagram and purchased it when B was 4. He laughed at it and we still occasionally read it, but I think it would have been a bigger hit when he was a year or two younger.
Winnie the Pooh: Okay, I think I cheated including Winnie-The-Pooh here. It’s technically a series. Never the less, it’s funny. Our favorite story is when Pooh get’s stuck in a hole.
What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night: We first borrowed this from the library and my son loved it so much we ended up buying a copy.
Aliens Love Underpants: This is one of those books that I did not have high expectations for, but B always wanted to read it and laughed frequently at it.
How to Catch A Monster: Okay, technically this is part of a series, too. However, I’ve never read the other ones. This book has ninja and fart references …and I think that was enough for B to love it.
Have you ever randomly bought a book on a whim and it turns out to be really good? Well these are the books that fall into this category.
Little Wombat: We purchased a book with four Little Wombat stories (here’s the link to it) and, to my surprise, it became one of our most read books when B was younger. Night after night he would bring this into bed and we would read all four stories. Swim, Little Wombat, Swim was a particularly fun one for him, especially when he was younger (2-3 years old). This book fully retired when he was 5, but it had a good run in our family.
What Do You Do With a Chance? I don’t know why, but I felt drawn to this book (and the series in general). The author makes things that are abstract (a chance, a problem) into a physical objects and describes the emotions you have when dealing with it. I personally think it’s great, but B never picks it up by himself. It has a great message and makes more sense as the child gets older. Still a good pick and one I hope to keep in rotation a little bit longer.
Dino Dung: B brought this home from the library one day and when we read it that night, he belly laughed AND learned some interesting facts. Ya’ll, I also know what a coprolite is now.
There’s an Alligator Under My Bed: This also came in a book with two other stories (here’s the link). This book, like Little Wombat, was in heavy rotation from 2 – 5 years of age. All three stories have to do with things that typically scare children when going to bed (a noise in the attic, a fear of the closet and something under the bed). In all the stories, the child overcomes the obstacle and is no longer scared. Maybe it’s comforting for children to hear this message before going to bed? I’m not sure, but B loved it.
The Luckiest Leprechaun: B’s grandma gave this book to him when he was 3 or 4. It’s about a grumpy Leprechaun who begrudgingly becomes friends with a dog.
Well, I haven’t been great about documenting the flooring progress. BUT I have some exciting news. We started installing the floor in the dining room and it’s looking really good!
I know this picture is a little crazy with the top portion of the board and batten installed (unpainted) and only a small portion of the floor laid. We’re hoping to finish everything this week and I’ll share a more in-depth tutorial on installing hardwood floors soon. It’s not necessarily hard but it’s not the easiest project we’ve ever done. Today, I thought I would share the design plan for the dining room since it’s taking shape so quickly! To remind you, here is what the dining room looked like when we first moved into the house.
We live in a classic colonial style home with a typical floor plan layout. The dining room is connected to the kitchen (as you can see above) and the living room (see below). This is the formal dining room, but we use it often. It was painted some shade of white and had orangey wood trim. After we moved in, we changed out the light fixture to this one.
The dining room had a chair rail and textured walls (ugh). Like the rest of the house, the dining room was in fine working condition. The carpet had a few stains but nothing that prevented us from enjoying the room for a couple of years.
I plan on using our existing furniture, so the design plan is more about the floors, walls and accessories. Jer and I purchased a large dining set when we bought our first house in 2010. It has a dark stain and Chippendale style chairs (the chair/table in mood board represent the items but our actual dining set looks a little different). Likewise, we have an old hutch that belonged to Jer’s grandma that I painted off-white a couple of years ago, so the one in the mood board is also just a fill in. As I mentioned above, we had already purchased the light fixture and I purchased the rug a couple of months ago. It’s been living in our family room until the dining room was ready.
Board and Batten: We are doing a slightly different version of the board and batten than what’s pictured here. It’s more like this one. It will go up ~3/4 of the wall and be painted white (same as the trim).
Wall Color – Asiago Valspar: I’ve been collecting paint swatches for a couple of years and I keep returning to this one. It feels more beige than gray but not too yellow. A nice warm neutral.
Dining Table (Similar): This table looks very similar to our actual table. The color is correct and our legs have a slight curve like this one, too. Our table expands with a leaf and was more expensive than this one, so this seems like a pretty good deal!
Blue Buffalo Check Rug: As I mentioned, I purchased this rug a couple of months ago. It was a great deal and it’s an indoor/outdoor rug which is needed for the dining room, at least in my family. It’s super easy to clean and soft underfoot. However, I am worried it makes the room feel too country/farmhouse. I’m not opposed to that style, but I like more transitional. I may not use it here after I see how everything looks in the room.
Dining Hutch (Similar): This hutch is super cute. Ours does not have the open shelving and I removed the grid in the glass, so it’s a little simpler. I am wondering if the white hutch will blend into the wall too much. Perhaps I’ll need to paint it? Maybe a black?
Woven Place Mats: I’ve had these placemats for some time. They are great but with a kid, I’ve found that plastic ones work better (I did a post about placemats here). This room needs some warmth and these woven water hyacinths placements do the trick.
A new year has never felt so welcomed! Below are a couple of things that caught my eye last month.
Dear Therapist: I was the Other Woman. Oh my goodness, Lori Gottlieb’s response to the “other woman” was so good. Her reflection on affairs and divorce sums up the complicated nature of marriage in general. Anyone who has been married for some time should read it. I bet you’ll find some of your own feelings in her descriptions (even if you’ve never dealt with an affair). I’m typically not one for excerpts, but so many of her statements were home runs.
“After all, he had you for sex and connection, and his wife for stability, security, the comfort of a shared history, and a mutual commitment to their children. When the affair came to light and he could no longer have both, what he faced wasn’t a choice between two people, but between two lives.”
“To put it plainly, he would be giving up his entire life as he knows it, all for a younger, single woman he’s known only in the context of an exciting affair, one in which he had no real commitment or responsibility.”
“I mention that nature of affairs because, having been married, he’s likely considered that if you two married, you’d become less shiny versions of yourselves. ….Nor could he really know unless the two of you get deep in the trenches of children and bad moods and health issues and dirty dishes and shared money and annoying habits and existential loneliness and fear of aging and utter exhaustion and years of the same fundamental disagreements and recycled jokes—all of which are revealed only in the experience of a long-term relationship.”
Saving at Work for Retirement: A Perk Coming To More States in 2021. I have mixed feelings about this. This program can make saving for retirement a little easier (and in my opinion only by a very small fraction). Anyone can set up and establish an IRA account (and set up the automatic deposits) right now. This, in my opinion, is not an employer-retirement benefit. The employer contributes nothing. In addition there are very different limits on how much you can contribute to an IRA versus a 401K per year (the IRA is capped at $6K but the 401K is $19.5K). I could see the appeal for part time employees or employees of small businesses, but I worry that companies that can afford to contribute to a 401K will opt for this free “alternative” instead. Ultimately, this will hurt the workers and benefit the companies.
Bridgerton. I was completely sucked into this new Netflix series. I binged watched the season over two days. Juicy and sexy. It’s like Gossip Girl meets Downton Abbey.
Wow! 2020 was one for the books and I couldn’t be happier to have it in the rearview mirror. Although we’re not in the clear for 2021, I am feeling hopeful that life will start looking a little more normal. Since last year was the start of a new decade, I made my first attempt to set 10 year goals. It was challenging at first to think that far ahead, but after giving myself a little structure I came up with reasonable but attainable goals. I thought I would describe my process here in case any one else wants to start making a 10 year plan (or 5 years!) and needs to hear how one person attempted it.
I first created general categories of my life: Financial, Career, Health, Love/Relationships, and Fun. Your categories may be different to reflect what’s valuable to you. In each category I thought of what I would like to accomplish in 10 years. I tried to come up with measurable goals, although some are not (I really don’t know how to quantify the strength of my relationship with my son….that is just something you know!). I then thought about what I could do the first year to start working toward my goals…so I created a 1 year goal column and outlined what I thought would be helpful. Lastly, I created a 5 year column and basically did not fill it out! Ha!
1 Year -2020
Automate: additional $500/mortgage payment/month
Max out Jer and Jen IRA Contributions
Jen/Jer add $650/month to Investment Account
$333/month in B’s college fund
Have the mortgage paid off
Have $1M+ in accounts
Have $60k in B’s college fund
Look into getting Credential /Start process
Continue building a blog – post at least 4 times per month
Get the promotion
Get at least one promotion
Create a body of work with my hobbies/interest
Walk 10,000 steps a day
Sleep 8 hours a night!!
Do anti-anxiety practices
Be of average weight
Have no chronic health conditions
Be anxiety-free in my day-2-day life
Don’t take myself too seriously
Spend quality time with J and B
Make time for friends and create friendship opportunities
Celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary
Have a great relationship with B
Have a network of friends with whom I regularly engage
Execute my style
Try a new hobby
Go to 5 events every year!
Read over 250 books
Try something new every year
Go to at least 50 events
I found having the goals written down helpful. If I started feeling lost in the middle of the year, I revisited the list and got back on track. Of course, 2020 made some of the goals hard. I mean attend 5 events! YIKES! That did not happen. Working from home also hindered my step count (particularly after it got cold outside).
Sine I’m thinking about 2021, I thought I could make note of my progress in 2020 (how did I do? Did I do ANYTHING on this list?) and set goals for 2021.
2020 – Goals in Review
Financial – A+
I completed all the goals on this list. That’s the great thing about financial goals….you can automate them and basically have them completed after one day.
Career – A+
I also completed all these goals. Admittedly, they were not that difficult. My industry has a credential that would increase my salary, so I spoke with the organization who oversees it and had my college transcripts evaluated. They told me what additional classes I need to take before I can sit for the exam. I found a university that offers these classes and I just need to complete my application.
As for the blog, well for the most part I have posted ~4 posts per month. Some months more and some months less, but it averaged to 5 posts per month.
Health – B-
Oye. I didn’t do a great job with most of these items. After we started working from home, I barely walked during the day. I would walk after work when it was warm outside. But now that the weather is cold, I have to make an effort to get any type of reasonable step count in. I’ll definitely be re-evaluating this for the new year.
Ever since I had my son, sleep has become oddly elusive in my life. It’s hard for me to sleep a full 8 hours and I’m tired. I want to sleep. I just can’t seem to stay asleep. I could really use some advice on this one because I’ve been struggling with this for YEARS. Help me. Please tell me how to sleep better.
Anxiety. Well, I’m happy to report that my anxiety decreases every year! I have a list of things to do when I’m feeling anxious/sad, but this year the most effective “intervention” was to acknowledge I’m feeling anxious and basically tell myself this is not something to be anxious about. It has weirdly worked….although I’m not perfect!
Despite not really achieving 2/3 items on this list, I think that I have made good progress on some health-related items that were not on my radar last January. I’m giving myself credit for them here, because they were IMPORTANT and needed attention. (I guess I’m giving myself extra credit?).
Love/Relationships – B
Okay, none of the goals in this category are super measurable and the first “goal” feels a little embarrassing. The first item listed was “not take myself too seriously” and I actually think I did a great job on that one. This is one of the benefits of getting older. You become more comfortable with who you are and you start not giving a shit about trying to be what others want you to be (or what you think they want you to be). Yet, I somehow feel like I still need to remind myself to be silly and myself.
The pandemic basically forced non-stop quality time with Jer and B. Overall it was great. My only criticism for myself is to spend more one-on-one time with B.
Make Time for Friends and Create more Friendship Opportunities: I think I did an OKAY job with making time for friends and a terrible job at creating friendship opportunities. I realized that I never prioritize making friends. For most of my life, it would just happen naturally. Yet, somehow…here I am and I feel like it suddenly has gotten a lot harder in my 30’s. In addition, the pandemic didn’t help this one. I mean, I didn’t have many opportunities to do new things.
Fun – C
Execute my style – I’m honestly not sure what I meant when I wrote this. I think I was trying to say embrace what you love and do it (through decorating/clothes etc). I definitely did some of this…so I guess it’s acceptable?
Try a new hobby – Yes, I did this! I started learning more graphic design and I got a digital pad for drawing on the computer.
Go to 5 Events – I’ve attended a few (virtual events). I don’t think I had 5, but I’m excited to think in 2021 that I could do this more!
Overall – Solid B
I don’t think this is bad for a pandemic year and honestly, I think we all need our goals to be graded on a curve this year…so really it’s an A!
I’m feeling really good about the current plan and have modeled so many possible outcomes based on our current investment and saving levels that I’ve convinced myself that we’re on track. BUT I want to keep making some progress on this, so these are like extra extra baby steps.
Read 1-2 Books on Investing – I’ve read so many beginner books on personal finance that I feel ready to move onto the more complex stuff. Any recommendations?
Move $50/month into Robinhood Account – I know stocks are the worst, but I’ve enjoyed buying stocks this last year. I never invest a ton and I only invest in the companies that I really know (and generally use).
Pretty straight forward goals on this front.
Enroll in Grad Classes to Complete Certification – Well, last year I did all the upfront work to organize the “plan” for getting the credential. I guess this year, I should actually do it.
Post on Blog Regularly 6x per month – I want to make blogging a more regular habit and increase the time I spend on it.
This year it became clear that I have a few things I kind of ignored and I can’t really do that. My goals for 2020 reflect this new sentiment.
Attend all maintenance appointments and procedures: My 10 year goal is to have no chronic health issues, and I know that the key to preventing this is to attend regularly to my health. That means I will start getting my annual exam/physical and ensuring that all maintenance appointments are scheduled/maintained. I’ll have them run my bloodwork to make sure that my cholesterol and other biometrics are looking good.
Complete Cardio and Weights 3x/week: For most of my life, I’ve had some type of work out plan. But I’ve been dreading exercise the last few years because instead of feeling fun it feels like work. I am going to focus on enjoying exercises (here comes some roller blading!) this year.
Learn to Manage Stress: I have coping mechanism and know all about the gratitude lists, walks, sleeping etc. to help control stress. This year, I intend on dedicating more time to learning about managing stress and implementing the interventions.
Have a monthly one-on-one “date” with B: There is nothing like a spending a little one-on-one time with your kid! You REALLY start hearing what’s happenings with them.
Establish Traditions Throughout The Year: We’re pretty good at holiday traditions, but I think it would be fun to incorporate a few more traditions throughout the year. I brainstormed a few ideas, but would love to hear about some of your family traditions!
Send Cards on Birthdays and Celebrate Others: I use to send cards on holidays and birthdays. This kind of got away from me as life got busier. I want to revive it and just let the people I love know I’m thinking of them. A nice card goes a long way.
Make Time for Friends and Create Friendship Opportunities: A repeat from last year. 🙂 It was a good one.
Dance 3x per week: Dancing for me is like a really good antidepressant. I feel great while doing it. I feel awesome after it. Plus, I think this would count as my cardio.
Create Something Once Per Month: Since the family has been mostly stuck in the house due to COVID, we’ve gotten pretty creative with projects (we did paper mache this year!). Those projects were really rewarding and just plain fun. So, I want to make sure I am keeping up with crafting…since it’s been such a nice escape.
Attend 5 (or more!) Events: Ha! I am not letting go of actually doing things in 2021. My fingers are crossed that this will happen.
Tips for Accomplishing Goals
Well, those are the goals I hope to accomplish in 2021. It looks like a lot and it is! But I’m going to tell you a couple of tricks I have to help me complete most of the goals.
January Bulk Completion: In early January, I will spend a day or two doing as much as I can to accomplish goals in one day. For example, this January I will set up an automatic monthly deposit into Robinhood, I will complete my online application for the grad classes, schedule my maintenance health appointments, and enroll in our company’s wellness stress management program.
Plan and Schedule: I will review the remaining goals, brainstorm what to do and schedule it on my calendar. For example, regarding the monthly date with B, I’ll designate a day/time and decide what we’re going to do each month. Then it’s as simple as having the day arrive and just following through with the plan. It eliminates me from scrabbling every month to remember, schedule and think of something to do. Basically, I’m setting up the system for each goal to make it easy to achieve.
Revisit the Goals: I usually revisit the goal list a couple of times a year and spend a couple of mornings updating the plan or expanding on it if needed.
Set Some Discrete Goals: I think it would be really hard to accomplish 10 goals that require daily and/or weekly attention. I recommend having at least a couple of goals that are one-offs (you do it once and you succeed). For example, going to my annual health appointments would be discrete goal. I think even attending 5 events is rather discrete. Of course, not all of your goals can be like this but it helps build confidence, motivation and creates momentum.
Look Forward to the Work: Set goals that align with your values and require things you enjoy doing. For example, I like to read…so reading 1-2 finance books is something I look forward to! If I hated reading, I would try to find 1-2 video classes instead. I enjoy making (or buying) cards…so sending them to my family/friends is also an enjoyable process for me. When I am looking forward to doing the work, the goal is much more likely to be completed.
Think about the Average: You know those articles that will appear in about 3 weeks that say, “80% of people have already failed at their new years resolution.” Well, they are LAME and have the wrong mindset. Creating new routines and habits take time and some weeks you are not going to be perfect. Life just doesn’t always allow for it. Sometimes you are sick, your family is sick, your busy with a work deadline or you are just not feeling it. If you think about the average over the month/year, it will give you the flexibility that life requires. For example, dancing 3x/week is a good enough goal, but there will be weeks where I do not dance at all and others where I dance every night. That’s okay with me because it usually works out in the end. This mindset will also give you the motivation to keep going instead of just giving up when one of those off-weeks happen.
Pay $$ and Put Someone Else in Charge: I find that my goals fall flat because of lack of planning and scheduling. For example, I have a goal to “create” something every month. If I struggle with coming up with projects or gathering the supplies, I could just pay someone to do this for me. My husband thought about getting me the Maker Crate (made by Kiwi). They send you a kit and directions for a monthly craft project. Paying them the monthly fee would eliminate most of the hurdles involved with accomplishing this goal. A similar process could be used for workouts (hire a trainer or purchase a predefined work out program), eating healthy (weekly meal delivery) and more.
Create a Vision Board: I know this is not for everyone, but I really love doing this. I made a vision board in 2017 and I still look at it when I need a boost. It encompasses everything that I value and want out of life. I may update it for 2021, but the process requires you to think about what you want and then your subconscious will always be on the look out for it.
Have a Way to Track You Goals: The tracking method should be as easy and as passive as possible. WHY? Because the more time you spend establishing a tracking system and implementing it, the less time you have for your actual goal (tracking should not be an extra hurdle). I can view all my transactions on Robinhood (so I can easily/passively track the completing of that goal). WordPress will track how many times I post per month, I don’t need to do anything extra. My calendar will track my dates with my son and maybe I’ll always take a picture of us and add it to a folder in my phone (same with the monthly craft thing). My fit bit will track my workouts. Whatever you do, make the tracking simple, simple, simple.
Be Flexible: If a goal is no longer a priority or something more important arises, I am okay with updating the goal list. If 2020 taught me anything, it’s the importance of pivoting when needed.
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your holiday is filled with smiles, laughter and memories. I thought that I would share some of my new favorite Interior Design Instagram accounts. Each of these accounts bring a smile to face and I hope it does for you too!
Favorite (new-to-me) Instagram Accounts
Design Addict Mom : Every room in Stacey-Ann’s house is bright and happy. Her use of color is inspiring and her artwork is on point.
Jeweled Interiors: Jewel REALLY goes for her designs. She takes big risks and the rooms always come out looking great! She’s a DIYer, which makes the rooms even more impressive. Also, the attention to detail shouldn’t be overlooked!
This House 5000: I just adore Elena. Her personality, humor and honesty is great. I also love how she incorporates her husband into her Instagram. Her designs are modern and generally neutral. I love her DIYness and spirit. I feel like she is one to watch and I think we can expect REALLY big things from her in the future.
Maddie Hughes Design: Maddie has a classic/traditional style but she tends to incorporate at least one modern element (Look at that crib!).
Edith-Ann Duncan Design: Bold or neutral, she can do it all. She has a playful interpretation of a traditional home. It feels updated and fresh but classic at the same time.
The first time I made salt dough ornaments, they came out looking lumpy and messy. I promptly threw them in the garbage and didn’t attempt another batch for a couple of years. For some reason, I wanted to give them a try again this year, and I was pleasantly surprised!
The BEST salt dough recipe and directions are on Julie Blanner’s website (found here). You will need more water than what is listed (but the idea is that you add it slowly so you have just the right amount). I find it best to use my hands after the flour, salt and initial water are mixed together. This way you can get a good idea of the consistency as you go. After you have your dough, you must knead it. You can use a mixer for this, but I prefer to do it by hand.
At that point, you’re ready to roll out the dough and start making ornaments. The thicker the dough, the longer your ornaments will need to bake and I witness that my thicker ornaments tended to curve. I found it helpful to break up the original dough ball into three or four (that way I am working with less) to start with and I can easily roll it out to a thinner consistency.
I have the Wilton’s 101 piece cookie cutter set (found here) and 18 piece metal holiday cookie cutter set (here). You get a great selection of Christmas – shaped items and I really like the letters in the 101 piece set. I stuck with classic stars for this batch of ornaments. After your ornaments are cut, I use either my hand or spatula to transfer them to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
The ornaments are baked for 30 minutes at 200o F. I usually flip the ornaments after 15-20 minutes. I’ll occasionally bake thicker ornaments longer…but I just play it by ear. I’m a wild woman like that. I move the cookies to a wire mesh cooling rack and let them sit overnight. Thicker ornaments may need a couple of days. I threaded fishing line (12 lb, Trilene XL Smooth Casting) through the small hole in the ornaments to prep them for painting.
I decided to paint the cookies using a dip method (not really sure if this is the right term – please correct me). I wanted multiple colors and organic lines. It’s pretty straight forward. All you need is cheap acrylic paint, a plastic cup or larger lid (for the bigger ornaments), a skewer and a place to hang your ornaments.
I decided to use red and white for my colors. You could use more but you have to be careful that they don’t create ugly colors when mixed. My technique was to pick a color as a base, I picked white, and then add drops of a secondary color (red). I tried my best to spread the drops out and not have them next to each other.
After a couple of drops of red, I took my skewer and started to swirl the red into the white. I did not completely mix them as I wanted to retain the different colors.
Once I was happy with the swirl pattern, I dipped my ornament into the paint slowly. I used a skewer to help submerge it.
I also tilted the cup to encourage the movement of the paint over the ornament and to create a unique pattern.
After it was completely submerged, I very, very, very slowly removed it from the paint by pulling straight up. It’s fun to see the paint running off of the ornament and to get a glimpse of the end design.
I like to very gently give the ornament a shake or two to help get off access paint. I then hung it up to dry. I monitored the stars for drips. They usually formed on the bottom points. I would just take the skewer and gentle push any drips away.
I think this is such a fun painting method because every ornament will come out completely unique. The more you use the same painting dish, the more the colors start to blend and you’ll start seeing more pink. To continue getting the striped effect, add a few more drops of red paint once it’s pink and swirl it gently like at the beginning. (Side note: I tried to use red as my base with white swirls and the effect was not as dynamic or interesting.)
I’m so happy with how they turned out and I’m excited to make this a family tradition. I already have a million ideas for NEXT Christmas. 🙂
I also made a video showing from start to finish how to make and paint the ornaments.
I also made another ornament that represents 2020. I just molded the dough into a poop shape (or “chocolate ice cream”) and baked it. I dipped it in brown paint and threw gold glitter on it. Ta-day! Clearly, I’m not a classy lady.
Remember last year when I told you I’m terrible at stockings? I, seriously, always wait until the last minute and they always feels like an after thought. Last year, I took my own advice and ordered items early and made the gifts more intentional. When I started to think about the stockings this year, I had an epiphany — I should just create a little formula to follow every year. This is what my parents did growing up and I always loved it. I kind of knew what was going to be in the stocking, but I was excited to see what version of a CD, tooth brush and toy they picked out for me.
This is not ground breaking, but here is my simple formula: Socks, Candy Cane of Candy, Tooth Care Item, Book, Cards/Card Game and a Treat. Below is what I’m planning for our family stockings. Do you have a formula? If so, please tell me. I’m always open to switching things up.
Dolly Parton Will Save Us Again. Guys…you know I love Dolly Parton and the reasons just keep adding up. Dolly made a large contribution to Vanderbilt University to fund research that ultimately helped with the development of the COVID 19 vaccine. This is how you build a legacy people.
Rural Hospitals are Dying. Healthcare is a business and many rural hospitals cannot make it work. Time Magazine tells the story of two hospitals that got creative to keep their doors open.
The hardwood floors hit a hard stop. Jer and I had a few more things to work out with the board and batten. I originally hoped to create the board and batten with standard lumber available at Home Depot, but they had a very limited stock (maybe everyone had the same idea).
I wasn’t too worried about the limited stock since we have so many other lumber stores nearby, but then we realized that the lumber was too thick. When placed against our existing door trim, it looked a little ridiculous. Just take a little glance at the picture below. It would stick out way too far and scream DIY addition.
I didn’t really want to change the design because I was finally happy with it! So, we brainstormed a few solutions – should we remove the trim around the doors and beef it up? The other possibility was using MDF instead of lumber. This would require us to cut out every piece. I deliberated on it a few days and decided to move forward with the MDF boards. The trim throughout the house matches and I worried that changing the trim in one room would look out of place.
Another quirk of the dining room, it has textured walls. It’s hard to tell in pictures, but if you look closely you can see there are some slight variations in depths. It’s a quiet texture and it’s not very noticeable. Most tutorials of board and batten recommend just using the standard drywall as the backing (saves time and money). However, Frills and Drills decided to install boards behind the trim to eliminate the texture wall (highlight: Foyer Reno).
I originally hoped to do that, but after looking at them in person, I worried they were too thick. That would mean we’d need even thinner MDF boards for the rails and stiles which would result in less dimension. I worried the wall treatment would look too flat. Jer and I talked and he thought we should just use the textured wall since it’s so light and, hopefully, unnoticeable.
That, however, created a new item on the to-do list. The chair rail that was in the dining room was installed prior to the previous homeowners adding texture to the wall. So under it was super smooth drywall. In addition, it left a clear indentation of the chair rail around the entire room. I put in one of the photos I snapped when we first removed it and if you look closely you can see the line. The husband had to using joint compound to smooth it out. BUT it couldn’t be too smooth and look drastically different than the textured walls. Oye.
After three coats of joint compound…we have this. I think it’s close enough to the texture wall…but I may paint it white to see how well it blends in with everything prior to starting the install.