Wednesday, February 29, 2012

40 bags: week one

Week One of our 40 bags in 40 days challenge is in the bag (Literally. Ha!), and it feels pretty amazing. I started out in my kitchen and aside from my fridge and freezer (tomorrow's task) I've made it through every square inch of the room.

So far I have purged our junk drawers, pantry, kitchen desk area, spice cupboard, under the kitchen sink, and the upper and lower kitchen cupboards/drawers.

I've been Instagram-ing as I go, and here's a peek at my progress:

1. A pre-load off to our favorite local charity.

2. My {first ever} homemade printable displayed in my kitchen.
And yes, I think the chicken is beautiful.

3. Day 1: junk drawers, in progress. (Bonus: I now have a completely empty drawer! I still haven't decided what to do with it.)

4. Day 1, complete.

5. Day 2: pantry.
All cleaned out and sporting some DIY chalkboard labels.

6. Day 3: kitchen desk cupboards (where all the random stuff in our house ends up). The little containers are from Ikea and hold things like batteries, loose change and hair ties. The medicine organization was inspired by my friend T's medicine cabinet.

7. Day 4: spice cupboard.
The first step in my purging process - clear EVERYTHING out.

8. Day 4, complete.

9. This week's to do list.

10. Day 5: under the kitchen sink.
Buh bye, old cleaning products and other riff raff.

11. Day 6: upper kitchen cupboards. 
Side note: Fiestaware makes me happy.

12. Day 7: lower kitchen cupboards & drawers. 
I love me a crumb-free silverware drawer!

When it comes to kitchen stuff, I try not to hold on to it unless it's something I use on a weekly basis (with a few entertaining-related items like our ice bucket and a handful of serving pieces), and I try not to keep duplicates unless I really need them. I also look for pieces that can do double duty, like my Fiestaware. The kids eat cereal out of the bowls in the morning, but they're pretty enough to put out at parties too.

Seven days in, and so far I absolutely love the finished product - I'm kind of a dork, but to me there's nothing like opening a cupboard door or looking in a drawer and seeing a stream-lined, organized space. A prayer: May this Lenten season free me to share more and consume less.

Weekend Bloggy ReadingIHeart Organizing

Sunday, February 26, 2012

10 things I love about myself

I had a moment of self doubt the other day that I voiced to my workout buddy in the locker room after our 6am swim: sometimes I feel like I am just too much. 

Sometimes I almost want to apologize to people for being me. And it's not really the bad things that I want to apologize for, it's the good things. I realize this is a little crazy (and I consider myself to be a fairly secure person), but I think most of us have been there at one point or another.

Later that morning I received a very affirming text from said workout buddy.

A couple hours later, I spotted this tweet: @iancron It's national self-compassion day. You're okay, really. 

And after that, I spotted this blog post from one of my favorite bloggers. Sarah of Yes and Yes fame {because yes is more fun than no!} actually went as far as to list out 10 things she appreciated about herself.

Spotlight, anyone?

Theresa and I talked about this idea later on that evening over a couple of martinis, and we decided that maybe more self love was in order.

Our favorite Holy Yoga teacher pointed out to us a few weeks ago in class that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mark 20:30-31). Loving others is important, obviously, but before we can love on others, we have to first love ourselves, and love ourselves well.

I'm not talking about bragging here or needlessly tooting your own horn. I'm talking about appreciating the things that make you different, the things that you are extra good at, the unique qualities and talents that God has gifted you with.

In the spirit of self-compassion and of celebrating the good in each of us, Theresa challenged me to put myself out there and write this post (she also wrote her post here). We hope this encourages YOU to contemplate your own special awesome-ness and to allow your light to shine that much brighter.

{10 things I love about myself}

1. I'm half-full. 
There's a reason why my friends call me Half-Full Kt. I'm quick to chime in with the good in a situation or the upside or the "it could be worse..." comment. Sure, sometimes people want to sock me, but I think mostly, overall, they appreciate my sunny disposition.

2. I see the good in others. 
This goes hand in hand with being half-full. I can most always see the good in people around me, even the ones that kind of irk me. Everyone has a mother. Everyone was created in the image of the Creator himself. And we all have a story to tell, a story that has shaped us and made us who we are. Yes, even that angry driver in the Hobby Lobby parking lot who is shaking her fist at you was once a child. And she is probably, currently, fighting a hard battle.

3. I'm a good leader (when I need to be). 
I am what they call a "reluctant leader". I by no means need to be in charge, but when the teacher asks for the fourth time for a volunteer to be Room Mom or when we desperately needs to get a Girls' Shopping Day date on the calendar, I'm your gal. And once I am in charge, I'm organized and diplomatic.

4. I'm smart. 
When this comes up, I almost always downplay it. You see, I come from very smart stock (Have you met my parents? Or my brother?? I know...I'm doing it again). But the truth of the matter is I am 4.0-Wyoming-Park-Class-of-'97-Valedictorian, 29-on-my-ACT's, Hope-College-summa-cum-laude, I-can-kick-my-friends'-tails-at-Smart-Ass smart.

4. I'm funny. 
I don't have a stand-up career in my future, but I do pride myself in witty remarks, intelligent humor, and playing off of inside jokes. Ask any of my friends, and I'm sure they'll tell you. I'm h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s.

5. I'm generous.
The truth is I find giving to be really fun. I'm not one to give just anything to just anyone. The real joy (and my specialty) is finding a person who needs a certain thing and matching that with something that I am (often uniquely) able to give. If God loves a cheerful giver then I'm his girl.

6. I'm a beaver.
If you haven't read it, The Treasure Tree is a must-read for kids and parents alike. I identify strongly with the beaver character in the book. He is analytical, self-disciplined, industrious, and organized. I very much appreciate my lion, golden retriever, and otter friends, but I really do love being a beaver. I wouldn't have it any other way.

7. I'm not a worrier.
I generally trust that most things will work themselves out, and I tend to believe Jesus when he says, "Do not worry about tomorrow." (Matthew 6:34) My logical {beaver} self is able to talk myself out of worrying, and I've saved myself a lot of needless stress and anxiety this way.

8. I gather friends like it's a full-time job.
I have to smile when Dylan's 1st grade teacher tells me that when she asked the class to write down three of their friends' names on a piece of paper, almost every single child wrote Dylan's name down. He's not the most out-going kid or the most dynamic, but he is kind and caring and when he's with a friend he makes them feel important. I smile because I know that this is how I am. I am able to mesh with many types of people and make others feel welcome. I am thoughtful, helpful, and caring. I realize it is a gift to be able to make and maintain all different types of friendships.

9. I'm getting better with age.
I'm telling you, life begins at 32. I feel stronger, wiser, and more fun than ever. Besides an occasional grey hair, I'm aging surprisingly well. I can only imagine how awesome my golden years will be. Watch out, world!

10. I have the ability to inspire others.
I really don't mean to, but if had a nickel for every thanks-for-sharing-what-you've-been-up-to message, email, or comment that I have received, I'd probably have, like, 50 cents or something (see #4. I told you.) But seriously, I love sharing, I love encouraging, and I love helping others move forward.

That's my ten. What are yours? Take some time today to celebrate yourself, love yourself, and stop hiding yourself. You're the only you there is. 

Closing thought:

“I celebrate myself," the poet Walt Whitman wrote. 
The thought is so delicious it is almost obscene. Imagine the joy that would come with celebrating the self — our achievements, our experiences, our existence. Imagine what it would be like to look into the mirror and say, as God taught us, "That's good.” 
― Joan D. Chittister, Light in the Darkness

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

40 bags: here we go!

I'm starting 40 bags in 40 days today. We're enjoying an amazingly warm, sunny, spring-like day today in Michigan, and it's the perfect setting for cleaning, purging, and organizing. I have already tackled my junk drawers, and I'm feeling tremendously free.
I like to rotate the "art" in my kitchen by using printables I find on Pinterest. I couldn't find anything 40 bags or Lent appropriate,
so I created one myself.
(Disclaimer: This was my first stab at this. No guarantees about the resolution. 
Also, please note: I checked my perfectionism at the door. "Good enough," I say!)

If you're interested in reading more and following along, these two blogs are doing series on the 40 bags idea right now:

Clover Lane {tips and tricks} - featuring updates every Wednesday
White House Black Shutters - featuring a link party every Friday

I'm hoping to post some of my progress {Instagram-style}
every now and then as well. 

Happy purging!

{Linking up here}
52 MantelsLet Birds Fly

Sunday, February 19, 2012 {leap list edition}

I've been working my tail off this week trying to finish up some projects around the house. 

Due to a freak-ish burst of energy, I am happy to report that I can cross off five of the nine items on my {mini} leap list.

Three things you should know before we get started:

1) If you're looking for a little push to get started on some to-do's, post the list in a public place, i.e. your blog. Works like a charm.

2) This is not a normal level of productivity for me. The other 51 weeks of the year, you can either find me curled up with a good book or pinning furiously to my 50-some pinboards.

3) These projects were E-A-S-Y. Like only-requires-a-hot-glue-gun easy. As in your-five-year-old-can-be-your-assistant easy.

First up: adding names to my homemade chalkboard labels.
I cut the contact paper first, rounded the corners, and then sprayed them with 2-3 coats of chalkboard paint. I borrowed T's trusty chalk marker (because there is not one to be found in the greater Grand Rapids area.), slapped them on my fabulous new OXO containers and called it a day. Literally. 
I headed up to bed shortly after this photo was taken.

The next morning, while still in my PJ's, I screwed the legs onto an IKEA LACK side table ($7.99 and no tools required, thank you very much) and started lining up four blue Lego plates in a square. I added some blocks to ensure proper plate spacing and then went to town with a bottle of Gorilla glue. Remember: measure twice, glue once. 

Mid-morning, some friends joined us to work on a little winter break project: prayer pails. So often our kids either aren't sure who or what to pray for or they end up praying for the same things every night. To help spark their little minds, I thought this was a cute and functional activity. On the sticks, D & E wrote the names of friends, family and other people and things that are dear to their hearts. 
So far, they love pulling a stick or two out at bed time to focus on during prayer time. (Last night, Ella prayed for Caden and Dylan prayed for Nana Jen. So sweet).

Next up: a new collage wall for Ella. I realized as I worked on the Lego table for Dylan and re-organized Mady's room that my sweet middle child might start suffering from a teensy case of Middle Child Syndrome if I didn't send some attention her way too! We ended up moving her furniture around and as we did that, I realized she had outgrown the animal flashcards-turned-"art" that have been hanging in her room since she was a baby.

I am in love with how this turned out and the especially exciting part is that it was basically free. The printables I found on Pinterest here and here. The frames were sitting unused in my basement. The fabric came from my scrap pile (I feel so crafty being able to say that I have a scrap pile), and the 'E' was homemade by me at a previous craft night
The only real {kind-of} work was spray painting the three smaller frames Blue Ocean Breeze.  VoilĂ !

The new table is a big hit with our boy. Thank you, Pinterest
I am a better mother because of you.

One last project to round out the week. I had originally planned to wrap this letter in yarn too, but when I started to spot the fabric wrapped ones on Pinterest I knew I wanted to try it. 

Mady's new 'M' required hot glue-ing batting to the front and trimming off the excess. Then I cut a piece of fabric slightly bigger then my overall letter shape (leaving enough to tuck around to the back). I started gluing my way around the letter, folding around the corners the best I could, kind of like wrapped a present. 

Because of the angles of the 'M', I also needed to cover the sides somehow. I ended up creating a one inch strip of fabric by folding and ironing the edges under. I then did my best to carefully hot glue that strip around the edge. I am happy to report, it was a successful venture (with only one minor hot glue burn to report).

* * * * *

There you have it! I'm still a bit of reluctant/closet crafter but I think I need to step up and start owning it. This is fun!

{Linking up to}

The Girl Creativeblah2beautiful52 MantelsLet Birds Fly

Friday, February 17, 2012 {Valentine's edition}

Love was in the air this week! 

Our mailboxes continued to be stuffed with sweet words, 
we enjoyed parties and treats galore, and we got busy tackling some new projects during one of the dreariest times of the year.

Sunday afternoon activity.

The best sugar cookies ever from our favorite neighbors.
{Photo taken less than 24 hours after the plate of cookies entered our house.}

Mady's room is now much better organized, 
featuring more of my favorite labels.

52 things for my hubby.

Spending time in my favorite first grader's classroom.
Cake pops are all the rage this year!

Party #2, down the hall, with the Pre-K-er's.

A special lunch date for Daddy and his three ladies.
On the menu today: PBJ sushi.

Made the dollar store rounds before lunch and found these gems.

Lots of Valentine's loot showed up in the mail this week thanks to the Nana's. Recently acquired treasures: 
Cars2 Squinkies and Legos for Dylan, 
a hula hoop and new book for Ella, 
and a cute, pink! set of bunny Duplos for Mady.

{Linking up to}

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

{mini} Leap List

Thanks to Honda's latest ad campaign, people are buzzing about Leap Lists - lists of things people want to accomplish before the next major milestone in their lives, i.e. getting married, having kids, turning 40, etc. {Note: I'd like to think that Theresa and I are ahead of the game with our Year 32 lists.}

The list that's on my mind right now, however, is less grand in comparison. Below is a list of small-ish {Pinterest-inspired} DIY projects that I'd like to accomplish before Leap Day 2012, two weeks from today.

my {mini} Leap List

Put together a DIY Lego table for Dylan
Prime, paint, and hang frames for Ella's wall collage
Choose printables + easy DIY projects for Mady's wall collage
Prime, paint, and hang Ikea spice rack bookshelves
Create {more} fabric-wrapped balls for Ella's room
Put together prayer pails with the kids
Write pantry staple names on my homemade chalkboard labels

Phew. That's a big list, but luckily I choose my projects primarily on the easy-peasy factor, and I already have most of my materials gathered. Also, I might save a project or two for our March craft night.

In addition, next week marks the start of Lent so I'll be busy purging 40 bags in 40 days {link up your list here!}

Want to place bets on whether or not I'll get it all done? What are your short-term, {mini} Leap List goals?

{Photo Credits}
1. Lego Table @ Creative Thoughts from an Ordinary Mom  2. Sunshine & Love Printables @ J & A and Company  
3. Owl Printable @ Mine for the Making  4. Fabric Letter @ Little Things Bring Smiles  
5. Spice Rack Bookshelves @ IKEA Hackers  6. Fabric Balls @ Landee See, Landee Do  
7. Money Jars @ A Thoughtful Place  8. Prayer Pail @ Lu Bird Baby  9. DIY Chalkboard Labels @ A Thoughtful Place.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Liebster Love!

I've been blogging since Ella was a baby but I haven't ventured much outside of family-related posts. I've written a few organization, crafting, and DIY posts in the past year or so along with some posts on some personal projects I've been working on (exercise, cleaning, resolutions, Year 32, etc.)

I'm starting to realize there is a whole, new blogging world out there including linky parties, features, and new {bloggy} friends. While I have no intention of trying to make money off of this blog, and [warning!] I will continue to blog about the things that interest me, not about what I think this new audience wants to hear, I have to say this is all a little bit fun.

I received an email this morning from Kate @ craft whatever telling me about something called the Liebster Blog award. It sounds very exciting (and it is for a  recreational blogger like me), but it's basically just a way of sharing the blog love for smaller, just-getting-started blogs.

Here are the Liebster Rules: 

The award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers, to promote and encourage new friendships among the blog community.
  1. Post the award on your blog.  
  2. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them. 
  3. Reveal your 5 picks for the award and let them know. 
  4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the blogsphere... other bloggers. 
  5. Finally, the best rule of all, have fun and spread the love!

I will start by saying thank you to Kate! She runs a super cute blog over at craft whatever including loads of tutorials, printables, and recipes (I recently made her Pumpkin Whatever Cookies and they were a big hit!) I also love the idea of her Crafting Bucket List - thanks to Pinterest, I think we all have one these days!

It seems very appropriate to spread some blog love today on Valentine's Day. {My Liebster shout-outs are below.} To my fellow bloggers, enjoy your moment in the spotlight, and I hope you will pass the love on to some other blogs too!

  • Theresa @ party of four: T is one of my dear friends and one of the people who motivates me to keep blogging (she also inspired me to start a 365 project a year and a half ago). Her party of four is soon to be a party of five upon the arrival of their sweet new daughter, Finley Grace. T writes with honesty, and she is one of the best mamas you will ever meet. She has also been working on another sort of labor of love, and I hope you will keep an eye on her blog for the announcement (coming soon)!
  • Kara @ Hobbies of a Homemaker: Kara is my very talented, super creative sister-in-law. She is able to take things that a lot of people might call junk and turn them into amazing creations. She sees the potential in everything and her blog has been booming since she started about a year go (I had to pass this award on to her ASAP because she is currently at 195 followers). She and her husband are committed to real, organic food and a desire to get back to the basics and live as simply as possible.
  • Kelley @ The Grant Life: I recently discovered Kelley's blog and I was super excited when she featured one of my projects last week. Along with her weekly link party, Kelley runs a cool series called Labor of Love featuring other moms' labor and delivery stories.
  • Michelle @ Michelle Lea Design: I found Michelle's blog through the wonders of Pinterest, specifically these cool {free!} printable mini-journals. Michelle is a photographer, graphic designer, and event planner so everything on her blog looks pretty and clean (which I love). She has a 365 project going on too!
  • Christy @ The Changing Room: Christy is a talented local designer and up-cycler. I love her recent client lower level feature, especially as we are getting ready to turn our own basement space into something functional and beautiful. She does a fun event each holiday season where she stuffs her home full of her cool creations and opens it up to the public for a big tag sale.

There you have it. I hope the ladies above felt some blog love and I hope the rest of you discovered a new blog or two to follow!

Saturday, February 11, 2012 {life is lovely}

One of my favorite Saturday morning activities: 
sorting through pictures from the past week in my PJ's, 
cup of coffee in my hand. 

I love the theme of this Instagram link-up: Finding the Lovely
Our life is lovely, indeed. 

1. T-14 weeks until race day. Time to get serious.

2. The Bible in 90, I mean 174 + counting, days (but who's keeping track?)
I finally made it to the New Testament!

3. Another maniac Monday (Daddy's day to work late).

4. "You are lucky, you have the best boy ever, Dad." From Dylan.

5. The nap conundrum continues. She really needed one today.

6. Thanks to Pick Your Plum and my trusty hot glue gun, 
I have five new pairs of earrings!

7. Unnaturally happy about this.

8. Breakfast of champions. Play date snackage for the mamas.

9. In progress: DIY chalkboard labels.

10. Back from the flower shop with Daddy.

11. Mommy got flowers too!

12. First elementary school skating party.
She must have fallen every two feet but she refused to give up. 
Love her.

{Linking up to}

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

40 bags in 40 days

When I first got hooked on Pinterest (28-some weeks ago...time flies when you're having fun), this '40 bags in 40 days' pin was one of my very first pins. It quickly went on my To Do pinboard along with my Year 32 list.

The idea is simple: make a list of 40 areas in your home and in 40 days, get rid of 40 bags of "stuff" from these spots. {Stuff = clutter, junk, excess, and anything else that is no longer used or needed.}

January brought with it a new year, and I thought it might be a good time to revisit this 40 bags idea. I did a little more reading on-line and found that this concept is often tied in with the Lenten calendar.

Spiritual clutter control? I'm so in.

I sent a Facebook message out to some good friends and kindred cleaning spirits and got an overwhelming, yes! let's do it! response. (Have I mentioned lately how much I love my friends??)

We started a private FB group and created and then shared our lists on-line. Some of the girls already have a great start and the rest of us are joining in on February 22, when Lent begins.

free printable by Sugar Tot Designs here

Clearing out the clutter. Finding freedom in less. Intentional living during the Lenten season. Sharing the ride through accountability and community.

40 bags in 40 days. T minus 14 days. Are you in?


Oh boy, what a week!
Here are some blogs where I was featured recently:

I discovered 52 Mantels through Pinterest a couple of months ago, and it's quickly become one of my favorite new reads. I love the look and feel of Emily's blog and her ideas are fresh and super cool.
{She specializes in mantle-spiration + a whole lot of other projects}

52 Mantels

I am very excited for my owl art to be featured today 
as part of her Thursday's are YOUR days! party. 

Click on over for some more awesome ideas!

another feature this week!
I can see how this can become addicting :)

Pop on over to Katie's Nesting Spot,
{How can you not like someone named Katie??}
and check out her latest edition of A Crafty Soiree!

A Crafty Soiree

I was excited to receive an email from Hani @ Craftionary last night
telling me that she would be featuring my owl art as part of her Friday Fun Party!

And here's one more:
Kelley @ The Grant Life is spotlighting my {family} love mail project on Financial Friday.
Thank you, everyone, for all the blog love! You made my week!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012 {winter survival}

January was whirlwind!

We packed, vacationed, [insert sickness time-out], recoveredcelebrated, ran, {winter}rushed, and prepared for Valentine's Day.

We hit the ground running in February.

Here's what the past week looked like for The Terps:

1. Just like my big brother used to do to me.

2. Spaghetti monster.

3. Movie night = pop-up bowl microwave popcorn. We don't mess around.

4. Girls' night! {Boys are at the auto show}

5. Social networking at its best. I won a copy of Aaron Neiquist's new CD straight from the desk of Lynne Hybels.

6. Ants. Dishwasher. Not cool.

7. McDonald's = Monday night survival.

8. {Family} love mail. Now we're really cooking.

9. Brother/baby sister love. Some strings attached.

10. Craft night snackage.

11. Brain food.

12. Sara's {craft night} leafy take on T's butterfly art.

13. This is what happens when your wife has a Groupon 
and a need to check something off her list.

14. Beautiful beads donated by craft night and MOPS ladies 
for a project supporting women in Guatemala through At Risk No More.

15. Ella's first Valentines, all ready to go.

16. Yaktrax. Praying I never need to actually use them!

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