November 22, 2011

I've moved!

Thanks for stopping by.  I've moved to a new address with a whole new look...

Please visit my new place At Home in the Wilburness!

November 16, 2011

Hands-on literature...

Walk the World’s Rim by Betty Baker was the first of many books I will read aloud to my younger kids this school year. The characters move from place to place with great frequency in this fictionalized account of the Spanish exploration of the New World in the 1500’s, as both the title and the topic would imply.  This made the story somewhat difficult for my kids to follow at times.  As we neared the end of the book the travel rate of our characters seemed to increase, as did the confusion among my listeners. That was when I decided once again to enlist the help of some dogs, cats, monkeys, bears, and assorted other fine actors.
The kids cast each of the characters with stuffed animals whose “personalities” were similar.  This allowed for discussion of what each of our characters were like.  Then they moved the animals from place to place as I read aloud, helping them understand the plot details more fully as they created each new scene.  The only difficult moment was the death of a beloved character, played nicely by a gorilla.  It was tough to see him lie there, lifeless.
We’ve left the 1500’s behind and are now reading another work of historical fiction, this time set just before the American Revolution:  Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes.  Not only have we cast each of the roles, but each stuffed animal is in costume and some are even holding props.  From this point forward I will see John Hancock as a large frog, Paul Revere a furry monkey, and the fictional title character of this classic novel a diminutive bulldog with a very large three-cornered hat.

November 14, 2011

A zero-cost overhaul...

With a recent thorough breakdown came a fresh new start.  I removed just about every knick-knack, picture, and assorted other decorative item from our master bedroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen.  I put extra leaves into our dining room table, moved the chairs out of the way, and laid all the items out on the table in essentially rainbow order.
I then selected an accent color or two for each of the now sparse-looking rooms and selected items for them from that part of the rainbow on my table:  pinks and purples for our periwinkle bedroom, vibrant blues for our yellow living room, red and bits of black for our mint green kitchen, and neutrals and greens for our deep blue dining room.
Being able to see everything at once allowed me to “shop” among my belongings for just the right touches for each little corner, giving each a new look without picking up a paintbrush or spending a dime.

One example: the blue accents play nicely off the almost-neutral yellow of the room and bring some much-needed life to it.

Setting up my personal store in our seldom-used dining room allowed me to take a few days to do the whole project without disrupting the busier areas of our home.  Putting them in rainbow order helped me stick to my selected colors for each room more easily.  It also appears to have inspired our daughter Audra to do a little sorting of her own on her new vanity

November 12, 2011

Put a bow on it...

A grape-colored scarf belt off of my seven-year-old daughter's jeans adds frilly floral flavor when hot-glued to the bright green painted frame around this old calendar picture of cheerful birds and a favorite Bible verse... 

...and hung in this little corner of our home, the whole thing makes it easier to tackle a dreaded chore...

November 10, 2011

And they never need washing...

These new towels have brightened up an area of our bathroom that has needed a facelift for a while.

This is what that corner looked like before, as seen in one of the early posts of this blog... pleasant, but a little boring.

A few candles and pretty glassware complement the low-maintenance monogrammed towels.

Creating the towel bar was simple with the help of a level, a ruler, and the advice of my nine-year-old Zach who knows a thing or two about drawing in perspective.

I drew the bubbles with a compass and then painted them with soft blues, touches of the pink from the towels, and a little white shine.

I wrote the letters in pencil first, then went over them in two shades of pink Sharpie markers, followed by a deeper berry color Sharpie done with short sideways strokes to look like stitches.  No need to sign this painting...

November 6, 2011

It's all yours now...

It was the 80’s, I was a teenage girl, and therefore my hair was big.  A hairstyle of this volume and magnitude took time, and we only had one full bathroom.  The solution?  My parents bought a lovely antique vanity for my bedroom.  It was the perfect place for me to blow-dry, curl, and spray my big hair, and to put on make-up to my heart’s content, all without holding up the rest of the family every morning.
That old vanity has made its home in our bubble-gum pink guest room for quite a long time, long-since retired from big hair duty.  In the photograph of it to the right you’ll see the reflection of my pretty little girl.  For the past few months she has been frequently and quietly pulling a chair up to a full-length mirror in our dining room to brush her hair, put on a headband, or practice her ponytail skills.  If anyone would walk by and notice her doing so, she would immediately stop.  It finally became clear to me that it was time to pass the baton.  A girl needs a place to fuss with her hair and make faces in the mirror in private, whether she is seventeen or seven.
Audra chose this cheerful spring green to revive the vanity and make it her own.  She knew it would be perfect next to the peachy-pink walls of her bedroom.  It also served well to cover up her mommy’s old caked-on hairspray and make-up trapped in the vanity's nooks and crannies.
I painted a coat yesterday and a second one today, and we moved it to her room.  She filled it with all her hair accessories and a few things for her stuffed animals to get ready there with her every morning too.  She also pulled up a little chair a friend painted for her that was just the right touch.
Our guests are just going to have to do without.